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April 20, 2005

#521

"521. Compare 'logically possible' with 'chemically possible'. One might perhaps call a combination chemically possible if a formula with the right valencies existed (e.g. H-O-O-O-H). Of course such a combination need not exist; but even the formula HO2 cannot have less than no combination corresponding to it in reality."

--from Philosophical Investigations


When is something "logically possible"? We tend to use this phrase to describe some hypothetical state of affairs, the only limitation of which might be that we can imagine it. This is the space in which most philosophical discussions take place.

Even though there is a vast space of "chemically possible" states, we do not care about them; chemistry does not study these combinations unless they are (at least potentially) actualized in some chemical. Why this difference between the treatment of "logically possible" and "chemically possible"?

The interesting thing is that so many philosophical discussions take place in the region of "logically possible" space that has no experiential correlate.

Posted by tiet0024 at April 20, 2005 10:38 PM | Investigations

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