Bruno Marchal wrote:
> On 20 Sep 2009, at 02:49, Brent Meeker wrote:
>> So does being "pure thought" mean "without a reference", i.e. a
>> fiction?  As in "Sherlock Holmes" is a pure thought?
> Consider the Many world theory of Everett, or the many histories of 
> comp. Does it make sense to say that Sherlock Holmes exists in such 
> structure? The problem is that a fiction like Sherlock Holmes is not 
> well defined. It is a bit like unicorns. I would not compare such 
> essentially fictional construction with a mathematical object, like a 
> computation or like a number, which admits forms of realism. 17 is prime 
> in all consistent extension of arithmetic, for example. And it makes 
> sense to say that 17 is prime independently of my own thought process, 
> or of any thought process, but it is not clear such independence can be 
> define for fictional object. Any one looking like Sherlock Holmes in the 
> UD* will be just like that: it looks like Holmes, but Conan Doyle could 
> always object by saying that it is not the "real" Holmes. There is a 
> lack of identity criterion. And if you decide to give a (non 
> contradictory) identify criteria for Holmes (like clever detective 
> living in the UK and having solved such an such case ...), then it is no 
> more a "pure thought" and it will exist somewhere in some UD*-history, 
> or in some quantum branch.
> Bruno

But doesn't "not well defined" apply to just about everything beyond 
mathematics and those 
things we can define ostensively.  I can point and perhaps succeed in defining 
chair", but "chairs" is bound to have a fuzzy meaning not quite well defined at 
the edges. 
I agree that fictional constructions like Sherlock Holmes are different from 
constructions because the latter are constrained to be logically consistent 
Holmes companion is sometimes John Watson and sometimes James Watson).  But it 
seems to me 
that being well defined might be the meta-definition of things that don't exist 
physically.  It is by abstracting away all the fuzziness of what constitutes a 
pair of 
shoes, a married couple, twins, two apples, etc...that we arrive at the 'well 
number 2.


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