Wholistic reference, truth-values, universes of discourse, and formal ontology: tréplica to Oswaldo Chateaubriand

Manuscrito 28 (1):143-167 (2005)
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ABSTRACT: In its strongest unqualified form, the principle of wholistic reference is that in any given discourse, each proposition refers to the whole universe of that discourse, regardless of how limited the referents of its non-logical or content terms. According to this principle every proposition of number theory, even an equation such as "5 + 7 = 12", refers not only to the individual numbers that it happens to mention but to the whole universe of numbers. This principle, its history, and its relevance to some of Oswaldo Chateaubriand's work are discussed in my 2004 paper "The Principle of Wholistic Reference" in Essays on Chateaubriand's "Logical Forms". In Chateaubriand's réplica (reply), which is printed with my paper, he raised several important additional issues including the three I focus on in this tréplica (reply to his reply): truth-values, universes of discourse, and formal ontology. This paper is self-contained: it is not necessary to have read the above-mentioned works. The principle of wholistic reference (PWR) was first put forth by George Boole in 1847 when he espoused a monistic fixed-universe viewpoint similar to the one Frege and Russell espoused throughout their careers. Later, Boole elaborated PWR in 1854 from the pluralistic multiple-universes perspective.

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


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