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Knowing who occupies an office; purely contingent, necessary and impossible offices

Duzi, Marie and Číhalová, Martina (2024) Knowing who occupies an office; purely contingent, necessary and impossible offices. [Preprint]


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This paper examines different kinds of definite descriptions denoting purely contingent, necessary or impossible objects. The discourse about contingent/impossible/necessary objects can be organised in terms of rational questions to ask and answer relative to the modal profile of the entity in question. There are also limits on what it is rational to know about entities with this or that modal profile. We will also examine epistemic modalities; they are the kind of necessity and possibility that is determined by epistemic constraints related to knowledge or rationality.
Definite descriptions denote so-called offices, roles, or things to be. We explicate these -offices as partial functions from possible worlds to chronologies of objects of type , where  is mostly the type of individuals. Our starting point is Prior’s distinction between a ‘weak’ and ‘strong’ definite article ‘the’. In both cases, the definite description refers to at most one object; yet, in the case of the weak ‘the’, the referred object can change over time, while in the case of the strong ‘the’, the object referred to by the definite description is the same forever, once the office has been occupied.
The main result we present is the way how to obtain a Wh-knowledge about who or what plays a given role presented by a hyper-office, i.e. procedure producing an office. Another no less important result concerns the epistemic necessity of the impossibility of knowing who or what occupies the impossible office presented by a hyper-office.

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Item Type: Preprint
Duzi, Mariemarie.duzi@gmail.com0000-0002-5393-6916
Keywords: Wh-knowledge; individual offices and hyper-offices; Transparent Intensional Logic; wh-questions and answers
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Mathematics > Epistemology
Depositing User: Prof. Marie Duzi
Date Deposited: 14 Apr 2024 17:10
Last Modified: 14 Apr 2024 17:10
Item ID: 23271
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Mathematics > Epistemology
Date: 2024

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