Are there propositions

  • #1
Hello, here's a question. Looking for insights. More to do with the Platonist / Naturalist divide, but not necessarily limited to that.

So.... Are there propositions? :biggrin:
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
HallsofIvy
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Define "proposition". If you can, then they exist!
 
  • #3
honestrosewater
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HallsofIvy said:
Define "proposition". If you can, then they exist!
Do you say this assuming that a definition is itself a proposition? It surely isn't true in general that if a definition of X exists, X exists- unless we have different ideas of what a definition is.

drunkenfool,
A proposition is usually defined in such a way that "propositions don't exist" is itself a proposition. Do you have a different definition in mind?
 
  • #4
drunkenfool: So.... Are there propositions?

Yes. Propositions are declarative sentences which are either true or false.
That is, they are meaningful statements.
 
  • #5
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Yes they do exist. I am the proof of it. I am predisposed to be right on most of the topics compared to HomoSapiens.
 
  • #6
The question is asked more in the sense of:

do propositions tangibly exist? do they represent some sort of metaphysical certainty? or are they merely concepts employed to help us communicate?

I have an acquaintance who is an ardent Platonist and adamantly refuses to accept that human logic is anything less than the imperfect representation of some sort of pure / perfect logic that exists.

In this context, propositions are then the embodiment of these perfect ideas in a tangible form.

Personally, I see no need to believe in perfection or some sort of Forms for logic and its development to make sense.

Am I off my own topic?
 
  • #7
Tom Mattson
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RoboSapien said:
Yes they do exist. I am the proof of it. I am predisposed to be right on most of the topics compared to HomoSapiens.

:rofl:

drunkenfool said:
do propositions tangibly exist? do they represent some sort of metaphysical certainty? or are they merely concepts employed to help us communicate?

They don't tangibly exist. It's not as if you can stub your toe on a proposition! But they do exist conceptually, as abstract objects. Existence proofs are typically done by construction, so all you have to do is cite an example of a proposition, and there you have it.
 
  • #8
honestrosewater
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Someone just started a similar discussion in the Philosophy of Science and Mathematics forum, and we've had the discussion there before; selfAdjoint pretty much gave my answer.
selfAdjoint said:
Relationships between things exist in the universe. Selecting and relating them to each other is the work of minds. But minds can also invent relationships that are not between outer things, but between thoughts. So the answer is both: people may discover whether the geometry of space is euclidean or not, but they may also discover there is a principle bundle over spacetime with such-and-such a group, not something the intrepid cosmo/astro-naut will ever encounter.
I would put the most emphasis on the process of abstraction. I think Platonic Forms exist as concepts, specifically, as the ultimate abstractions, the most general generalities, but I don't see any reason to think they are anything more.
 
  • #9
honestrosewater
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Tom Mattson said:
They don't tangibly exist.
That's funny. I would count writing and speech as tangible forms. For some reason, I think specifically of copyright laws that require a creative work to be in tangible form in order to be eligible for copyright protection. Here, written or spoken (recorded) form is tangible. Perhaps you're being clever and making a distinction between a proposition and one of its tangible forms.?
 
  • #10
honestrosewater said:
Someone just started a similar discussion in the Philosophy of Science and Mathematics forum, and we've had the discussion there before; selfAdjoint pretty much gave my answer.
I would put the most emphasis on the process of abstraction. I think Platonic Forms exist as concepts, specifically, as the ultimate abstractions, the most general generalities, but I don't see any reason to think they are anything more.

I disagree with the assertion that they are Platonic entities. In fact, I see no reason to allow for Platonic entities. We can do quite well without their existence.

In terms of abstraction etc. I take a very materialistic view to this. Though my entire argument lies on how someone defines reality.. so....

anyhow. if we can accept that "our" reality.. or the reality that can have any meaning to us, is solely what we can sense or tangify. Then ideas and concepts arise from essentially the parameterization of the universe. Which is in effect the result of the desire to be able to communicate...

im sorry if the above isn't particularly coherent. but alas, it is late and i'm just a drunken fool :P.
 
  • #11
Tom Mattson
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honestrosewater said:
That's funny. I would count writing and speech as tangible forms. For some reason, I think specifically of copyright laws that require a creative work to be in tangible form in order to be eligible for copyright protection. Here, written or spoken (recorded) form is tangible.

So do I, but I don't consider "propositions" to be identical to any subset of either writing or speech. In my usage, propositions are that which are conveyed by physical means, not the physical means themselves.

Perhaps you're being clever and making a distinction between a proposition and one of its tangible forms.?

It's not me, it's my logic book. I learned the subject from Logic by Robert Baum, and so I use his definitions, which are...

A sentence--any kind of sentence--can be used to convey meaning. However, the sentence is not itself the meaning. Strictly speaking, a sentence is a physical entity--a collection of ink marks on a page, or a series of sound waves traveling through the air--and it is also a linguistic entity--a collection of letters or words, organized according to some grammatical or other formal principle.

and...

A statement is not a sentence, nor is it a kind of sentence. Rather it is that which can be expressed by a sentence--an assertion, a description, or a piece of information. It is that of which it makes sense to say that it is true or false. We shall treat the term 'statement' as being synonymous, and therefore properly interchangeable, with the term 'proposition'.
 
  • #12
honestrosewater
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drunkenfool said:
In terms of abstraction etc. I take a very materialistic view to this.
How so? I am speaking of abstraction as a thought process.
im sorry if the above isn't particularly coherent. but alas, it is late and i'm just a drunken fool :P.
Eh, I'm sleep deprived myself, but that's nothing new. :yuck:
 
  • #13
honestrosewater
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Tom Mattson said:
So do I, but I don't consider "propositions" to be identical to any subset of either writing or speech. In my usage, propositions are that which are conveyed by physical means, not the physical means themselves.

It's not me, it's my logic book. I learned the subject from Logic by Robert Baum, and so I use his definitions, which are...

and...
Okay, I should have made those distinctions earlier. But a proposition still contains information and so would, in some sense, be tangible, no?
 
  • #14
Tom Mattson
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honestrosewater said:
Okay, I should have made those distinctions earlier. But a proposition still contains information and so would, in some sense, be tangible, no?

I suppose that depends on how metaphysical you want to get. I regard causal efficacy in the physical world as a necessary condition for tangibility. So there is a person who knows a bit of information, which we can call a proposition. That knowledge corresponds to a (physical) brain state that would not exist if the information were not there. So I suppose one could argue for the causal efficacy (and afterwards tangibility) of propositions. But not wanting to get into the Mind-Body problem, I just side with Baum and say that propositions belong to the class of abstract objects, just as mathematical objects do. Besides, causal inefficacy is not the only criterion for being classed as an abstract object. There is also a non-spatiality (that is, non-existence within our physical space) criterion. And as far as I know, no one can point to the location of a proposition.
 
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  • #15
honestrosewater
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Tom,
Good points; I'll drop it. I'm actually trying to avoid the metaphysical for a while.
 

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