, Volume 192, Issue 4, pp 1157–1171 | Cite as

On exhibiting representational validity

  • Alexandra ZinkeEmail author


We can distinguish two non-equivalent ways in which a natural language argument can be valid: it can be interpretationally or representationally valid. However, there is just one notion of classical first-order validity for formal languages: truth-preservation in all classical first-order models. To ease the tension, Baumgartner (Synthese 191:1349–1373, 2014) suggests that we should understand interpretational and representational validity as imposing different adequacy conditions on formalizations of natural language arguments. I argue against this proposal. To that end, I first show that Baumgartner’s definition of representational validity is extensionally inadequate. I present a number of natural language arguments that we pre-theoretically hold to be representationally valid, but are not representationally valid according to Baumgartner’s definition. I then point to two further untenable features of Baumgartner’s definitions: (i) according to Baumgartner’s definition of a representationally correct formalization, we cannot arrive at formalizations in a recursive way, and (ii) Baumgartner’s definition of representational validity is non-monotonic. I conclude that interpretational and representational validity cannot be understood as merely imposing different adequacy conditions on formalizations. If we want to capture our interpretational and representational intuitions, we need two different formal definitions of validity.


Logical formalization Logical validity Representational validity Interpretational validity Etchemendy 



I am indepted to Michael Baumgartner, Wolfgang Freitag, Wolfgang Spohn and Holger Sturm for discussions and comments on an earlier draft of this paper.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of PhilosophyUniversity of KonstanzKonstanzGermany

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