Validity and Interpretation

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 88 (2):247-264 (2010)
This paper claims that there is a plausible sense in which validity is a matter of truth preservation relative to interpretations of the sentences that occur in an argument, although it is not the sense one might have in mind. §1 outlines three independent problems: the first is the paradox of the sorites, the second concerns the fallacy of equivocation, and the third arises in connection with the standard treatment of indexicals. §2 elucidates the claim about validity, while §§3-5 show how the three problems outlined can be handled in accordance with it. §6 explains how the claim squares with the traditional idea that validity is related to formality, and in particular with a broadly accepted definition based on that idea, the model-theoretic definition of logical consequence. Unlike other works on the subject, this paper does not focus on necessity. It is not its intention to provide a characterization of necessity that conforms to some ideal of rigour or to some pre-theoretical understanding of validity. What follows can be taken as conditional on the assumption that such a characterization can be provided
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DOI 10.1080/00048400902941307
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