FOM: Appealing to authority
JSHIPMAN at bloomberg.net
Fri Dec 5 16:00:26 EST 1997
Did Poincare really feel CH was not meaningful?
Anyway, I did not simply *appeal* to Cantor and Hilbert on the meaningfulness
of CH, I *agreed* with them and gave reasons.
There is an asymmetry here -- if one authority says a proposition is true and
another says it is false appeals to authority obviously don't count for much,
but if one authority says a proposition *is meaningful* and the other authority
says it *is not meaningful* there is a presumption in favor of the first
authority. I wasn't saying something is not meaningful because an authority
doesn't understand it, I was saying something is meaningful because two
authorities did understand it, so I am on the privileged side of the asymmetry.
If Poincare actually disagreed with Hilbert and Cantor about what the meaning
of CH was, rather than just saying CH didn't make sense to him, I would have a
harder time arguing for the definiteness and hence the decidability of CH.
-- Joe Shipman
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