In David & Stephanie Lewis' Article "Holes" the nominalist/realist debate gets taken to a phenomena that all of us are likely directly aware of at one point in our lives.


The absent areas of cheese in a block of swiss, the space of an open window, the inside of a paper towel roll, etc. etc.

Argle and Bargle debate if holes are in fact material objects, or the absence of material objects.

At first the debate seems trivial but it quickly gets into the gritty details.

My question is what logical fallacies did Argle and Bargle commit in their debate?

If you have not encountered it before the 7 page article can be read in its entirety here : Holes

  • Note: there is no tag for nominalism, so I put debate instead. Someone should create a nominalism tag.
    – hellyale
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 16:23
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    There's actually a really good question or two you could construct around that paper and the realist-nominalist debate, but you need to reword it so that you're not asking "who won the debate (in your opinion)" and instead asking something answerable in a philosophy.SE Q&A format. Do you have a specific question from your reading of the article you want help with?
    – virmaior
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 16:26
  • @virmaior I honestly cannot believe you closed this.
    – hellyale
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 16:29
  • @virmaior "rather than facts, references, or specific expertise." The article is linked and quotes are encouraged, this is not an opinion based question, it is encouraging discussion and debate on the article. Is this a philosophy stack or not?
    – hellyale
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 16:31
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    this is first and foremost a stackexchange, meaning it's a Q&A system where people can ask questions to receive answers. The scope of this stackexchange is philosophy roughly defined around the academic discipline. It is not meant for "discussion and debate" but rather specific answerable questions about philosophy. By your own comments, your question is not seeking an answer but rather "discussion and debate"
    – virmaior
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 16:42

1 Answer 1


My answer to the question as stated is: None. Nobody commits a fallacy at any point in the dialogue, as far as I can see. This is utterly unsurprising--a pair of professional philosophers committing a logical fallacy in a published paper would be like a professional basketball player missing a wide open, no-pressure layup. It can happen, but it's really rare.

That doesn't mean that the Lewis' positions are correct, It just means that the premises they give in support of their conclusion do in fact support the conclusion. Whether those premises are actually true is the important thing, and that is not a matter of logic.

There are no generally effective ways of proving which premises are actually true.

  • "Whether those premises are actually true is the important thing, and that is not a matter of logic." Not sure I follow this line of thinking. How is determining the soundness not a matter of logic? If you can use logic to disprove a premise the valid argument rests on are you not using logic to deduce unsoundness?
    – hellyale
    Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 17:11
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    @hellyale Logic can not disprove premises unless they imply contradiction, and then you have a choice of which premises to discard. There are plenty of collections of premises that do not result in contradictions, in which case logic has nothing to say about their truth. Sometimes empirical considerations might, and sometimes their truth can not be proved or disproved by any means whatsoever.
    – Conifold
    Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 20:02
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    Conifold is correct. Logic is a powerful tool, but it isn't sufficient by itself to tell us what to believe. For that we need science, common sense and sometimes philosophical insight.
    – user5172
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 11:21

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