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       M U S I C          T H E O R Y         O N L I N E
                     A Publication of the
                   Society for Music Theory
          Copyright (c) 1994 Society for Music Theory
| Volume 0, Number 10   September, 1994    ISSN:  1067-3040   |
  All queries to: mto-editor@husc.harvard.edu
AUTHOR: Rahn, Jay                                                               
TITLE: Reply to Smoliar's "Mathematical Logic"                                  
KEYWORDS: demarcationism, tritone paradox, categorical perception               
REFERENCE: mto.94.0.9.rahn.art
Jay Rahn                                                                        
York University (Canada)                                                        
Atkinson College                                                                
Fine Arts Department                                                            
4700 Keele Street                                                               
North York, Ontario M3J 1P3                                                     
[0] The following reply to Smoliar's "Mathematical Logic" tries                 
to be as brief and constructive as feasible. I focus on three                   
topics introduced into the discussion by Smoliar: demarcationism                
(section 1, below), Diana Deutsch's demonstration of the tritone                
"paradox" (section 2), and "categorical" pitch perception (sec-                 
tion 3).                                                                        
[1] DEMARCATIONISM                                                              
[1.0] Smoliar states that "it is unclear that there is any stan-                
dard of rating which would allow us to conclude that it [i.e.,                  
first order logic] is the best way [to try to describe] [the                    
world] (or that any other way is decisively better)". Plausibly,                
Smoliar is unfamiliar with the concepts of consistency, decida-                 
bility, and semantic, syntactic, and negation completeness. Theo-               
rems concerning these aspects of first (and higher) order logics                
have been proved for more than 50 years. Geoffrey Hunter's *Meta-               
logic* (1971, esp. 259-61) provides a handy survey. For such                    
first order predicate systems as the AH-formulation discussed in                
my essay, Nelson Goodman has provided a way of assessing economy                
which, for Goodman, involves both simplicity and power (1966).                  
Willard Van Orman Quine reports advances in predicative set theo-               
ry in his recent revision of *Pursuit of Truth* (1992).                         
[1.1] At stake in such formulations are issues of truth and onto-               
logy, i.e., what the world is "really". Related empirical issues                
involve reference and "meaning"; extension and "intension"; bound               
and free variables; "recursive" and "cylindrical" quantification;               
"classes", "sets", "numbers", "properties", and individuals; de-                
finition, "postulation", and axiomatization; finite, "infinite",                
and non-finite formulation; verifiability, falsifiability, degree               
of confirmation, strength and weakness of assertion; etc. All                   
these can be framed in terms germane to first order logic, as can               
issues that arise in connection with modal and probabilistic                    
logics. And in applications of the latter via statistics, such                  
concerns as the probability of Type 1 and Type 2 error, goodness-               
of-fit (between model and data), and reliability have been for-                 
mulated in standard ways.                                                       
[1.2] Plausibly, Smoliar has reasons for rejecting all such cri-                
teria: for example, along the lines of Paul Feyerabend's methodo-               
logical anarchy, as advanced in *Against Method* (1975), or of                  
Thomas Kuhn's relativist doctrine of incommensurability in *The                 
Structure of Scientific Revolutions* (1962). However, as both                   
these positions are readily demolished, plausibly Smoliar has in                
mind other arguments against demarcationism.                                    
[2] THE TRITONE "PARADOX"                                                       
[2.0] Smoliar cites Deutsch's public demonstration of the tritone               
"paradox" at the 1990 SMT meeting in Oakland as evidence for the                
view that "two physically identical stimuli may be perceived as                 
different". The sense in which I employ the terms "identical" and               
"identity" follows Goodman (1966). In my usage, any things, x and               
y, are identical (i.e., are identical with each other; are pre-                 
cisely the same thing; are a single thing) if and only if x over-               
laps y, and there is no part of x that does not overlap y, nor is               
there any part of y that does not overlap x. Following Goodman,                 
the overlaps predicate can be rendered verbally as "shares con-                 
tent with". A related materialist or physicalist formulation by                 
Quine holds two things to be identical if and only if they coin-                
cide exactly spatio-temporally, however extended or even scat-                  
tered their shared spatio-temporal "filament" might be.                         
[2.1] As stimuli, the individual sound waves in Deutsch's public                
demonstration differed spatio-temporally. I responded to the por-               
tion of each wave that reached my ears; others responded to the                 
portions that reached theirs. Though these various wave-portions                
were very similar, they were not identical. Plausibly, Smoliar                  
might render "physically identical" as "physically similar in                   
all respects save spatio-temporally" or as "physically similar                  
but not identical in content". In any instance, Deutsch's demon-                
stration provided evidence for the assertion (among others) that                
physically similar, but not identical, stimuli may be perceived                 
as different. This is a truism of psychology. Helpful in sorting                
through questions of similarity relevant to both psychology and                 
music is Goodman's exposition of "Seven Strictures on Similarity"               
[3] "CATEGORICAL" PITCH PERCEPTION                                              
[3.0] In psychology, a distinction has been advanced between "ca-               
tegorical" and "continuous" perception. As the survey cited by                  
Smoliar documents, any putative "distinction" between these "two"               
"kinds" of perception is really a matter of degree; a matter of                 
opposites, not complements. Evidence of relatively categorical                  
perception consists in the relatively wide plateau and relative-                
ly steep slopes in the statistical distribution of a particular                 
sort of response. There is no clear, privileged cut-off point                   
between relatively categorical and relatively continuous percep-                
[3.1] Although I do not deal with categorical perception in the                 
essay to which Smoliar's response is addressed, another publica-                
tion (Rahn 1992: cited in the essay in question) introduces a                   
probabilistic logic that should suffice for this and other proba-               
listic formulations in music theory. Links between this probabi-                
stic logic and the first order AH formulation are established in                
the earlier article. Plausibly, Smoliar has reason to disagree                  
with my account in this regard. In general, his reasons for con-                
demning and praising my essay remain quite unclear to me. I hope                
my reply here might help him articulate these more effectively.                 
REFERENCES CITED                                                                
Deutsch, Diana. 1991. "The Tritone Paradox: An Influence of                     
Language on Music Perception." Music Perception 8, 4: 335-47.                   
Feyerabend, Paul. 1975. Against Method: Outline of an Anarchistic               
Theory of Knowledge. London: NLB.                                               
Goodman, Nelson. 1966. The Structure of Appearance. Indianapolis:               
______. 1972. "Seven Strictures on Similarity." *In* Nelson Good-               
man. 1972. Problems and Projects. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill.                  
Hunter, Geoffrey. 1972. Metalogic: An Introduction to the Meta-                 
theory of Standard First Order Logic. Berkeley: Univ. of Califor-               
nia Press.                                                                      
Kuhn, Thomas. 1962. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chi-               
cago: Univ. of Chicago Press.                                                   
Quine, Willard Van Orman. 1992. Pursuit of Truth. rev. ed. Cam-                 
bridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press.                                             
Rahn, Jay. "An Advance on a Theory for All Music: At-Least-As                   
Predicates for Pitch, Time, and Loudness." Perspectives of New                  
Music 30, 1: 158-83.                                                            
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