Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Modern-Day Convention'list

This comes from Penelope Mackie's 1990 review (Mind 99, available on JSTOR) of Alan Sidelle's Necessity, Essence and Individuation: A Defense of Conventionalism.

I am the very model of a modern-day convention'list;
Though thoroughly empiricist, I'm also an essentialist -
Accept de re modality, and hold (with the majority)
Necessity can co-exist with a posteriority.

I'm well disposed to much of Putnam's teaching on modality:
Think water must be H20 in each eventuality;
On essences I find my views with much that Kripke said agree,
And hold a man's identity depends upon his pedigree.

I show that, though such doctrines may seem realist in tendency,
On analytic principles they all have a dependency;
And since the analytic comes from rules of our invention, all
The modal in my model can be thoroughly conventional.

My argument persuades, I hope, the reader who'll address it, he
Should recognize the mind-dependent status of necessity,
And take my anti-realist empirico-essentialist
To be the very model of a modern-day convention'list.
(Sing to the tune of the Major General's Song.)

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