Philosophy Research Archives

Volume 11, 1985

Michael R. Baumer
Pages 635-655

Sketch for a Modal Interpretation of Descartes’ Cogito

In his logical exegesis of Descartes’ cogito, Hintikka has claimed that, formulated as an inference, it would be question--begging and that it is best understood as a performance, But (1), Hintikka’s discussion of an inferential interpretation omits reference to the possible relevance of modalities, and (2), Hintikka assumes that to beg the question is to assume what one is trying to prove. Question-begging is better understood in terms of how evident the premisses are in relation to the conclusion. In this paper I construct a modal inferential interpretation, defend it against any charge of question-begging, and outline a system of quantified modal logic which would validate it.