The Ockham Society (Thursday - Week 5, HT22)

Ockham Society

In Lewis Carroll's funny short story "What the Tortoise Said to Achilles", the Tortoise presses Achilles on why a modus ponens argument is logically valid. In this talk, I advance a rationalist interpretation of Carroll where I take him to be deeply skeptical of the logical consequence relation. After issuing an explanatory demand with respect to logical consequence — in virtue of what does this relation hold? — Carroll's Tortoise is answered only by Achilles' infinite regress, which I argue is vicious and circular. Thus, I take Carroll to reject the coherence of logical consequence on the grounds that it cannot be explained. I conclude that the "problem" with Carroll's view — that it is either self-undermining or else indefensible — is not real, because skepticism about the coherence of logical consequence leads to skepticism about the coherence of differentiated meanings more generally. This leaves Carroll with a view much like Michael Della Rocca's strict monist account of meaning.

Ockham Society Convenors: Lara Scheibli and Kimon Sourlas - Kotzamanis | Ockham Society Website