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A New Theory of Content I: Basic Content

Ken Gemes
Journal of Philosophical Logic
Vol. 23, No. 6 (Dec., 1994), pp. 595-620
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30227242
Page Count: 26
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A New Theory of Content I: Basic Content
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Abstract

Philosophers of science as divergent as the inductivist Carnap and the deductivist Popper share the notion that the (logical) content of a proposition is given by its consequence class. I claim that this notion of content is (a) unintuitive and (b) inappropriate for many of the formal needs of philosophers of science. The basic problem is that given this notion of content, for any arbitrary p and q, [(p ∨ q)] will count as part of the content of both p and q. In other words, any arbitrary p and q share some common content. This notion of content has disastrous effects on, for instance, Carnap's attempts to explicate the notion of confirmation in terms of probabilistic favorable relevance, and Popper's attempts to define verisimilitude. After briefly reviewing some of the problems of the traditional notion of content I present an alternative notion of (basic) content which (a) better fits our intuitions about content and (b) better serves the formal needs of philosophers of science.

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