FOM: in the privacy of our imaginations ..

Randy Pollack pollack at
Wed Mar 25 13:18:52 EST 1998

>From Randy Pollack;
Research Fellow in computer science at Glasgow Univ.
(My last fom posting was from Aarhus Univ. where I previously worked.)
On Wed, 25 Mar 1998 (11:36:49 -0700) Fred Johnson quoted Wilfrid
Hodges' article in the Bulletin of Symbolic Logic (March, '98):

    The validity of an argument can never depend on you or me 
    doing some particular thing in the privacy of our 
    imaginations.  (Our imaginations might help us *find* a
    valid argument, but that is a different matter.)

What could "The validity of an argument" mean?  An argument is
presented in a book or a paper, or in person by a colleague.  What can
you do?  You might pay no attention to the argument.  Or you might try
to follow it; to understand it and believe it, or to understand (some
part of) it and to see that you don't believe it.  Thus to take any
stand (hold any belief) on the meaning of an argument, its validity,
correctness, (...whatever words you prefer...) can only follow from
some activity of consciousness, i.e. "doing some particular thing in
the privacy of our imaginations".

I there an independent meaning of "validity of an argument"?  Maybe,
but we can only approach it by activity of consciousness.


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