Platonism in modern science (was Re: Genealogy of SpeciousDualisms)

Ken Hanly khanly at
Sun Apr 2 21:59:52 PDT 2000

Commments after selections:

Carrol Cox wrote:
> > [snip]..
> If you read "dog" on a slip of paper you don't back off to keep
> from being bitten. What you do do, of course, is the subject
> of a few million pages in the 20th century alone.
Comment: But dogs are not equations. If you read on a blackboard 2 plus Y = 5 and are asked what Y is, you can say that Y is 3. You don't have to go off and locate the equation supposedly named.
> Similarly it is not an equation on the slip of paper but the name
> of an equation. That too can lead to endless arguments over
> what it means.
Comment: Not so. When I write: "2 plus Y = 5" is an equation, "'2 plus Y = 5'" is the conventional name of an equation following the conventional mode of naming these items. The name mentions the equation- in an iconic form so that what is being named is evident. Writing down the equation uses or asserts it. As Tarski puts it writing down the equation would be the material mode and mentioning it the formal mode, talking about symbols rather than using them. When I write the symbol sequence: 2 plus Y = 5, I am writing down the equation not its name. I wrote down its name in the second sentence of this comment and also the name of that name.Of course if you were a dog lover you could call the equation Spot or Rover. Then I could say that Spot is an equation. If I wrote down the term Spot, unfortunately no one would know what I was talking about unless they knew I meant the equation 2 plus Y = 5. Giving equations dogs' names is not a good plan, not a creative research project.

Cheers, Ken Hanly

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