A reader asks, "What is meant by 'closure' or 'closed under'? I've heard the terms used in epistemic contexts, but I've not been able to completely understand them."

Let's start with some mathematical examples. The natural numbers are closed under the operation of addition. This means that the result of adding any two natural numbers is a natural number. What is a natural number? On one understanding of the term, the naturals are the positive integers, the counting numbers, the members of the set {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, . . .}. On a second understanding, the naturals are the positive integers and zero: {0, 1, 2, 3, 4 . . .}. Either way, it is easy to see that adding any two elements of either set yields an element of the same set. It is also easy to see that the naturals are also closed under multiplication. But they are not closed under subtraction. If you subtract 9 from 7, the result (-2) is not an element of the set of natural numbers.

Now consider the squaring operation. The square of any real number is a real number. So the reals are closed under the operation of squaring. But the reals are not closed under the square root operation. The square root of -4 cannot be 2 since 2 squared is 4; it cannot be -2 either since -2 squared is 4. The square root of -2 is the complex number 2i where the imaginary number i is the square root of -1. The square roots of negative numbers are complex; hence, the reals are not closed under the square root operation.

Generalizing, we can say that a set S is closed under a binary operation O just in case, for any elements x and y in S, xOy is an element of S. In Group Theory, a set S together with an operation O constitutes a group only if S is closed under O.

Now for some philosophical examples. Meinongian objects (M-objects) are not closed under entailment. The M-object, the yellow brick road, although yellow is not colored even though in reality nothing can be yellow without being colored. M-objects are incomplete objects. They have all and only the properties specified in their descriptions. So we say that the properties of M-objects are not closed under property-entailment. Property P entails property Q iff necessarily, if anything x has P, then x has Q.

What goes for M-objects goes for intentional objects. (On my reading of Meinong, an M-object is not the same as an intentional object: there are M-objects that are not the accusatives of any actual

intending.) Suppose I am gazing out my window at the purple majesty of Superstition Mountain. The intentional object of my perception has the property of being purple, but not the properties of being colored or being extended even though in reality nothing can be purple without being both colored and extended. Phenomenologically, what is before my mind is an instance of purple, but not an instance of colored item. What I see I see as purple but not as colored.

Now consider:** If S knows that p, and S knows that p entails q, then S also knows that q.** If you acquiesce in the bolded thesis, then you acquiesce in the closure of 'knows' under known entailment. For what you are then committing yourself to is the proposition that a proposition q entailed by a proposition p you know -- assuming you know that p entails q -- is a member of the set of propositions you know.

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