Domains of Sciences, Universes of Discourse and Omega Arguments

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Abstract:

Each science has its own domain of investigation, but one and the same science can be formalized in different languages with different universes of discourse. The concept of the domain of a science and the concept of the universe of discourse of a formalization of a science are distinct, although they often coincide in extension. In order to analyse the presuppositions and implications of choices of domain and universe, this article discusses the treatment of omega arguments in three very different formalizations of arithmetic. In Peano's formalization the domain is a restricted class of individuals, while the universe of discourse is the unrestricted class of all individuals. In Godel's formalization the domain is a restricted class of individuals as in Peano's formalization, but the universe of discourse coincides with the domain. In Whitehead-Russell's formalization the domain is a class of logical notions in Tarski's sense, that are necessarily not individuals, whereas the universe of discourse is the unrestricted class of individuals as in Peano's formalization. The present approach emphasizes the viewpoint that the universe of discourse of a given discourse is important in determining which propositions are expressed by which sentences.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01445349950044198

Affiliations: Department of Logic, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Publication date: October 1, 1999

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