Definition by Proxy


I take some initial steps toward a theory of real definition, drawing upon recent developments in higher-order logic. The resulting account allows for extremely fine- grained distinctions (i.e., it can distinguish between any relata that differ in their syntactic structure, while avoiding the Russell-Myhill problem). It is the first account that can consistently embrace three desirable logical principles that initially appear to be incompatible: the Identification Hypothesis (if F is, by definition, G then F is the same as G), Irreflexivity (there are no reflexive definitions) and Leibniz’s Law. Additionally, it possesses the resources to resolve the paradox of analysis.

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Samuel Elgin
University of California, San Diego


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