The principle of wholistic reference

Manuscrito 27 (1):159-171 (2004)
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In its strongest, unqualified form the principle of wholistic reference is that each and every proposition refers to the whole universe of discourse as such, regardless how limited the referents of its non-logical or content terms. Even though Boole changed from a monistic fixed-universe framework in his earlier works of 1847 and 1848 to a pluralistic multiple-universe framework in his mature treatise of 1854, he never wavered in his frank avowal of the principle of wholistic reference, possibly in a slightly weaker form. Indeed, he took it as an essential accompaniment to his theory of concept formation and proposition formation. Similar views are found in later logicians, and some of the most recent formulations of standard, one-sorted first-order logic seem to be in accord with a form of it, if they do not actually imply the principle itself.

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John Corcoran
PhD: Johns Hopkins University; Last affiliation: University at Buffalo


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