The Philosophy of David Kaplan

By Joseph Almog; Paolo Leonardi | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
David Kaplan
Formal Aspects of His Work

C. Anthony Anderson

My assignment is to comment on the formal aspects of David Kaplan’s work, and I will do so.1 When I started to read and reread his articles and think about David Kaplan and his displays of logical philosophy, I realized that the man and his work have influenced me in very many more ways than those of which I had been consciously aware.

I will discuss some of David Kaplan’s work where formal logic plays an explicit or strongly implicit role, but limiting myself to those of his works that I find especially interesting. However, that does not really rule out very much.

I won’t proceed chronologically. Instead, I will intersperse the discussion with various intersections of David Kaplan’s world-line with my own. I’m sure David doesn’t remember all those encounters, and I was a bit startled myself when I recalled the details.

I first set eyes on David Kaplan sometime in the early 1960s. I was an undergraduate in mathematics at the University of Houston, in Houston, Texas, at the time but was also a member of the philosophy club there. Several of us decided to drive to Austin, about a hundred miles distant, to hear a paper at the University of Texas by some guy named “David Kaplan” involving some of the ideas of someone named “Got-lob Frege.”

Apparently David was being considered for a job at the University of Texas, being a Ph.D. fresh out of UCLA. We reckoned that he talked fast, even for a Yankee. (For us, then, there was just the South and everywhere else. Kaplan wasn’t from around there; that was clear.) A bunch of guys with string ties were grilling David about his argument—an ingenious construction from his dissertation showing that on certain attractive and plausible assumptions, one should, and almost must, take the semantical value of a sentence to be its truth-value. This was not the Frege-ChurchGödel slingshot but David’s own. (Note the biblical connection: David

1. The style of this paper is very informal. It was originally presented orally at a Kaplanfest at UCLA.

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