FOM: Wider cultural significance
Kishor A Kale
K.A.Kale at qmw.ac.uk
Thu Mar 4 11:55:25 EST 1999
Ed Mares spoke of 'making inferences about a piece of fiction', so I hope
that I may be permitted to make a point (unrelated to his) which is
philosophical rather than mathematical.
Last year I published a paper _Yes and No: Problems of Closure in Collins's
'I Say No'_ (Wilkie Collins Society Journal, 1998, pp.44-46). In it, I
observe that the novel 'I Say No' is a murder mystery with two suspects but no
conclusive textual evidence against either of them. However, I argue that as
one of the suspects dies at the end of the book (of natural causes) while the
other remains alive, one can use the principle of poetic justice (together
with the reader's knowledge of the fictionality of the text) to deduce that
the suspect who dies must be the murderer.
Now although there is obviously no mathematics involved here, it seems to
me that my argument is a kind of purely philosophical analogue of the
situation in which a mathematical result can be proved in ZFC but not in ZF.
Considering this philosophical argument may be of interest to those on the
list who are debating the wider cultural significance of f.o.m.
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