The Modal and Epistemic Arguments against the Invariance Criterion for Logical Terms.
In: The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 112, No. 3: pp. 159-167
The essay discusses a recurrent criticism of the isomorphism-invariance criterion for logical terms, according to which the criterion pertains only to the extension of logical terms, and neglects the meaning, or the way the extension is fixed. A term, so claim the critics, can be invariant under isomorphisms and yet involve a contingent or a posteriori component in its meaning, thus compromising the necessity or apriority of logical truth and logical consequence. This essay shows that the arguments underlying the criticism are flawed since they rely on an invalid inference from the modal or epistemic status of statements in the metalanguage to that of statements in the object-language. The essay focuses on McCarthy’s version of the argument, but refers to Hanson and McGee’s versions as well.