Expressing set-size equality

Bulletin of Symbolic Logic 21 (2):239 (2015)

John Corcoran
State University of New York, Buffalo
The word ‘equality’ often requires disambiguation, which is provided by context or by an explicit modifier. For each sort of magnitude, there is at least one sense of ‘equals’ with its correlated senses of ‘is greater than’ and ‘is less than’. Given any two magnitudes of the same sort—two line segments, two plane figures, two solids, two time intervals, two temperature intervals, two amounts of money in a single currency, and the like—the one equals the other or the one is greater than the other or the one is greater than the other [sc. in appropriate correlated senses of ‘equals’, ‘is greater than’ and ‘is less than’]. In case there are two or more appropriate senses of ‘equals’, the one intended is often indicated by an adverb. For example, one plane figure may be said to be equal in area to another and, in certain cases, one plane figure may be said to be equal in length to another. Each sense of ‘equality’ is tied to a specific domain and is therefore non-logical. Notice that in every cases ‘equality’ is definable in terms of ‘is greater than’ and also in terms of ‘is less than’ both of which are routinely considered domain specific, non-logical. The word ‘identity’ in the logical sense does not require disambiguation. Moreover, it is not correlated ‘is greater than’ and ‘is less than’. If it is not the case that a certain designated triangle is [sc. is identical to] an otherwise designated triangle, it is not necessary for the one to be greater than or less than the other. Moreover, if two magnitudes are equal then a unit of measure can be chosen and, no matter what unit is chosen, each magnitude is the same multiple of the unit that the other is. But identity does not require units. In this regard, congruence is like identity and unlike equality. In arithmetic, the logical concept of identity is coextensive with the arithmetic concept of equality. The logical concept of identity admits of an analytically adequate definition in terms of logical concepts: given any number x and any number y, x is y iff x has every property that y has. The arithmetical concept of equality admits of an analytically adequate definition in terms of arithmetical concepts: given any number x and any number y, x equals y iff x is neither less than nor greater than y. As Aristotle told us and as Frege retold us, just because one relation is coextensive with another is no reason to conclude that they are one.
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