I've just returned from holiday. On the flight back I noticed that the seating rows were numbered from 1 to 33 and on further inspection that there was no row 13 marked (presumably through superstition). So there were actually 32 rows. My questions are: Does row 13 exist even if it is not numbered? Is there really a row 33, or is it merely row 32 given an incorrect name?

Row 12 is followed by row 14, so that if the steward directed you to sit in row 14, that is where you would go. We should distinguish between the what the rows are called (there is no row called "row 13") and which rows they are. The thirteenth row is still the thirteenth, as could be proved by counting the rows from the first to the thirteenth. You would end up with a count of thirteen rows. But when the steward says, 'Go to row 14,' he does not mean 'Go to the fourteenth row'. He means, 'Go to the row, over there, that you can see has the number "14" written above it' or wherever, even though you might not be able to tell the difference between the thirteenth row and the row numbered "14". Does this help? The thing we shouldn't say is that the fourteenth row is the thirteenth row (that were a contradiction) or that there isn't a thirteenth row. There plainly is such a row, as counting rows shows, and not even superstition can remove it. What is thought to be unlucky is the number thirteen, but - alas! - that still exists, and so does the thirteenth row.

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