The hardness of the iconic must: can Peirce’s existential graphs assist modal epistemology

Philosophia Mathematica 20 (1):1-24 (2012)
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Charles Peirce's diagrammatic logic — the Existential Graphs — is presented as a tool for illuminating how we know necessity, in answer to Benacerraf's famous challenge that most ‘semantics for mathematics’ do not ‘fit an acceptable epistemology’. It is suggested that necessary reasoning is in essence a recognition that a certain structure has the particular structure that it has. This means that, contra Hume and his contemporary heirs, necessity is observable. One just needs to pay attention, not merely to individual things but to how those things are related in larger structures, certain aspects of which relations force certain other aspects to be a certain way

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Cathy Legg
Deakin University


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