Sound and Fury

Signifying nothing

What something could not be

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Following Benacerraf’s rightly famous paper “What numbers could not be” a variety of authors have written papers entitled “What * could not be”. Here is a list of the ones I’ve come across:

  • What numbers could not be, P. Benacerraf
  • What conditional probabilities could not be, A. Hajek
  • What structures could not be, J. Busch
  • What possible worlds could not be, R. Stalnaker
  • What chances could not be, J. Ismael
  • What justification could not be, M.T. Nelson
  • What mathematical truth could not be, P. Benacerraf
  • What unarticulated constituents could not be, L. Clapp
  • What equality of oppurtunity could not be, M. Risse

OK, I haven’t read most of these – I just did a google scholar search for “What * could not be”, but it’s interesting to see how a good title is “remixed”… (I’ve only read the top three or four) Also worthy of mention is “Numbers can be just what they have to” by Colin McLarty, another way to refer obliquely to Benacerraf. Another good title is “what is it like to be a bat?” My favourite title to play on this classic paper is “What is it like to be boring and myopic?”


Written by Seamus

December 3, 2008 at 7:00 pm

Posted in philosophy

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