• Kripke's skeptical challenge
    Kripke allows that mathematicians can adequately specify the rules of addition. That's not being called into question.frank

    If you mean the mathematical justifications of the rule, that's true - within the rules (practices, language games) of mathematics. But what justifies those? "This is how we do it. You need to learn that. Then we can discuss justification." It's not quite foundationalism and not quite some form of coherentism. As usual, he manages to not quite fit in.
  • Kripke's skeptical challenge
    The rule is in effect, and in some sense then it produces factsMoliere
    There are rules for which the process that brings them into effect is quite clear. They are what we call laws, but there are other varieties. They are imperatives, not really different from the order given by the general. Other rules, like mathematical rules about how to calculate are different. There are proofs of such rules. What makes them effective? Which is to say, what justifies them? That's where the sceptical pressure (which W also applied) and his appeal to practices comes in. But that involves saying that the rule doesn't really of itself produce facts; human beings have to carry out the calculations (or psersuad machines to do it for them. Those results are facts, i.e. have the authority of facts? Only the calculation, which can't produce a wrong result. That means that if a result does not fit in to our wider lives in the way it is expected to, we look for the fault in the calculation and the calculator, not the rule.

    At the bottom of this is the fact that "+1" can be applied to infinity. How can we know that? Certainly not by applying the rule to infinity. By definition, we can never exhaustively check that the infinite application of the rule will work out.

    The skeptic has to be pointing out that we're inclined to believe there's a fact where there is none in order for the skeptic to have a point at all.Moliere
    If you mean a fact that justifies the rule and/or justifies how the rule is applied. I sometimes think that the quickest way to state the problem is to point out that the rule cannot be a fact, because the rule has imperative force and no fact can do that - a version of the fact/value distinction. For the same reason, no fact can, of itself, justify the rule.
  • Kripke's skeptical challenge
    logical nihilism or pluralism.Apustimelogist

    I prefer pluralism coupled with pragmatism. Horses for courses. Logical analysis can give a kind of clarity.
  • Kripke's skeptical challenge
    The side effect of neat clean concepts is they lose all the fuzzy non-linearity which makes them exceptionally good at being used in real life.Apustimelogist

    Yes, that's true. I'm a bit inclined to say the W sees that "fuzzy non-linearity" as inherent in all concepts. So what do we say about logic? What makes it special? (I'm not asking because I know, or think I know, the answer.)

    because here we have truths that we arrive at because of the conditions of assertabilityMoliere

    Maybe we should distinguish between what brings the rule into effect (I chose that word carefully because after it becomes effective it is correct to say that there is a rule that ...) Can we see conditions of assertability as comparable to the licence conditions for someone to perform a wedding? If so, laying down a rule is or at least is comparable to, a speech act. We then have to explain that in some cases, the rule is not formally laid down, but informally put into effect (as when language changes, and "wicked" comes to mean the opposite of what it meant before). Once the rule is in effect, there is a fact of the matter, as when your king is in check or 68+57=125.
  • Kripke's skeptical challenge
    neurons that are physical enslavedApustimelogist
    impelling the perceptions forced upon usApustimelogist
    I hope so. It's the only way that we get reliable information - and, in great part, we do.

    making it look like we are acting in these kinds of mysterious ways that seem somewhat messy and underdetermined by our concepts and so can only be described as "games, practises, forms of life".Apustimelogist
    I'm sure there's a lot of quick and dirty solutions and heuristic dodges involved. Anything remotely like formal logic would be too slow to be useful.

    I dunno; I think looking at this way, as I seem to understand what you have said, plays down everything else that Wittgenstein seems to be getting at in philosophical investigations.Apustimelogist
    I was only talking about relying on a memorized table, instead of doing the basic calculations. It's an example of a quick and dirty solution.

    One result is that I now know how to defuse Goodman's "grue".Ludwig V

    This "paradox" is structurally the same as Kripke's. Here's the link to Wikipedia, which mentions, but does not discuss, Kripke and his solution. I think that Wittgenstein's discussion of rule-following applies to both of these puzzles. Does that help? To take it much further would probably require another thread, don't you think?

    Another is that it seems that Kripke has made the private language argument superfluous. I need to think about that.Ludwig V
    This point is made elsewhere. The complication is that the private language argument does rely on some of the things he says about rule-following, particularly the importance of understanding what does and does not conform to the rules about ostensive definition. But numbers are not sensations, so the cases are not exactly the same.

    A third - minimal - result is that Kripke has added to the stock of examples that pose Wittgenstein's problem.Ludwig V
    W likes lots of examples. In one way, Kripke's case is just another one, although W does mention the point at PI 201 "This was our paradox: no course of action could be determined by a rule, because every course of action can be brought into accord with the rule. The answer was: if every course of action can be brought into accord with the rule, then it can also be brought into conflict with it. And so there would be neither accord nor conflict here." I had forgotten this quotation. In time, I could no doubt find what he was referring back to. It gives a short answer to both Goodman and Kripke.

    The fourth is that I notice that we have all appealed to the wider context, both of mathematics and of practical life to resolve it. Kripke's case is effective only if we adopt his very narrow view,Ludwig V
    Isn't that an accurate reflection of what we've been saying about practices?

    I hope that's helpful.
  • Kripke's skeptical challenge
    This is all what I meant when I said that meanings and definitions are so impoverished that language should not be usable, yet it is.Apustimelogist

    Yes. There isn't a way of resolving that without going beyond that way of thinking. W's does that. His appeal to games, practices, forms of life etc. is an attempt to explain it. As a general thesis, it is quite unsatisfactory, (cf. God of the gaps), but as a tactic applied in specific situations, it works well (as in this case). There's an obvious catch that it may be misapplied. But that doesn't necessarily mean it is never appropriate.

    therefore it seems weird to me to focus so, on whether some particular rule was used in some specific case.wonderer1

    I think the intention is to distinguish between a heuristic which may be useful in some circumstances, but not in all, and how we would settle the question whether the output of the heuristic is correct or not. The intriguing bit is why we accept one way of calculating as definitive (conclusive). Kripke's problem muddles up the two different ways of getting an answer.

    we impose labels on the world at out own discretion and there are no fixed set of boundaries for those concepts or force us to impose concepts in a particular way.Apustimelogist

    That works in some ways. But the picture of the world out there, waiting to be "carved at the joints", is partial. The world reaches in and prods us, tickles us, attracts us and repels us. We do not start out as passive observers but as engaged actors in the world - which does not always behave in the way that we expect.

    Can you elaborate?Apustimelogist

    H'm. My posts are quite long as it is. I'm concerned I might outstay my welcome or run up against the TL:DR syndrome. Some focus would help.

    I think it'd depend upon how we're trying to judge if someone knows something or not.Moliere

    I get that distinction. Indeed, arguably an assessment whether the knower is in a position, or has the capacity, to know p is appropriate in assessing any claim to knowledge. And I can see that final truth will often be distinct from any such assessment. (The jury has a perfect right to find the prisoner guilty or not. Yet miscarriages of justice do happen - and proving that is different from proving whether the prisoner is guilty or not. (A miscarriage might have reached the right result.)) But I still feel that the distinction is quite complicated. After all, the truth would be the best assertability condition of all, wouldn't it? And the assertability conditions would themselves be facts, wouldn't they? Of course, they need not be the same facts as the truth conditions.
  • Kripke's skeptical challenge
    For example, having worked with digital logic a fair bit, I have all the powers of 2 up to 2^13 memorized and if I see 2048 + 2048 I simply recognize that the sum is 4096 without following any step by step decimal addition rules.wonderer1
    I admire your memory! But isn't it exactly the same as we all (?) do when we memorize the standard multiplication tables and recall what 12x11 is. (It's just a convention that we stop at 12. The table for 13 is no different in principle from the table for 12.) Multiplication reduces to addition, but adding 12 11's by that procedure is long and boring. By memorizing the standard multiplication tables, we have a quicker way of dealing with some questions and of calculating bigger numbers. (Incidentally, how do you deal with 2 to the power of 35?)

    rules and explicit definitions are more like signposts than prescriptions on how to behave.Apustimelogist
    I agree with that. Though Wittgenstein would ask what makes the sign-post point? Again, there's a practice of reading sign-posts, which we all somehow pick up/learn. Perhaps by recognizing a similarity between a pointing finger and the sign-post.

    I don't think this problem has anything to do with practical problems. The quus issue has no bearing on someones ability to perform math.Apustimelogist
    I agree with that. It's a pointless difficulty. Like most sceptical arguments. I like Hume's response - essentially that it is not possible to refute the argument but it has no power to persuade me to believe the conclusion. But that's not how the philosophical game is played - for better or worse.

    Buy "you are following x rule" is factual.Apustimelogist
    There's a nest of complications buried in that. In one way, you are just raising the original question again. However, there is a fact of the matter involved - that I gave 125 as the answer to the question. Whether I was following the rule "+1" is another question. In one way, it depends on whether I had that rule in mind when I gave the answer. In another way, it depends on whether we agree with the answer - and that may depends on the wider context (consistency and practical outcomes).

    It's true because that's the answer we should obtain according to the conditions of assertability, but there are no truth-conditions that make it true.Moliere
    Forgive me, I don't really understand what "conditions of assertability" are as opposed to "truth-conditions". Are they facts? In which case, we may be no further forward.

    What do you think is the interesting result of this story then?Apustimelogist
    That's an interesting question. In one way, the desired result is to defuse the question so that I don't get bothered by it - that is, don't need to take it seriously. Whether that's interesting or not depends on whether you are philosophically inclined or not.

    But I am learning from this. One result is that I now know how to defuse Goodman's "grue". Another is that it seems that Kripke has made the private language argument superfluous. I need to think about that. A third - minimal - result is that Kripke has added to the stock of examples that pose Wittgenstein's problem. The fourth is that I notice that we have all appealed to the wider context, both of mathematics and of practical life to resolve it. Kripke's case is effective only if we adopt his very narrow view, The wider context makes nonsense of it. (I'm not saying that a narrow focus is always a bad thing, only that it sometimes gets us into unnecessary trouble.)

    Wittgenstein says somewhere that he has got himself into trouble because he is thinking about the pure world, but what we need to do is return to the rough ground.

    It (sc. Philosophical Investigationscan be really difficult to read to be fair. Its one of those books where possibly what the book says has not been as influential as what othwrs have said about the book.Apustimelogist
    I agree with that. One of the difficulties is that the text is not difficult to understand (contrast Hegel or Derrida). The difficulty is to understand what the point is. That's where the commentators can help - and sometimes hinder, so don't read them uncritically.

    This book is not written, as most philosophy books are, in the belief that laying out the arguments clearly ("clearly" is complicated, of course) is the most effective way of changing someone's mind. No doubt it is, sometimes. But W thought that philosophical problems were not really susceptible to that treatment. So he provide hints and leaves you to work out what he's getting at. Some of his followers do the same thing.

    That's where the commentators can help - and sometimes hinder, so don't read them uncritically. You'll need a general introduction to start with. Sadly, I'm so out of date that I don't know which are the best ones. But there'll be reviews that will help you choose and you could a lot worse that read an encyclopedia entry, which would be shorter.
  • Kripke's skeptical challenge
    And as for people claiming they are following "other rules", there might be some plausibility to that if the other rules yielded the same results.Janus
    Judging from the ordinary understanding of basic arithmetic and logic I would say their results are self-evident to anyone who cares to think about it.Janus
    It's worth remembering that in geometry, it turned out that rules other than Euclid's (with all their intuitive plausbility) turned out to yield consistent systems, which, in the end, turned out to have "practical" applications.

    indeed, it seems that Kripkes proof shows rules are not objectively true.Banno
    I don't think that's a particularly interesting result. Rules are instructions, so they aren't either true or false. That is, the rules of chess are not true or false; but they do yield statements that are true or false, such as "Your king is in check".

    Well, neither is quite right. It's a question about meaning. What do we claim when we say "Jenny can add"? And more generally, what do we claim when we say that someone follows a rule?Banno
    Well, I would suggest that what is at stake is the refutation of a certain conception of what rules are - the idea that logic/mathematics is some kind of structure that determines the results of all possible applications in advance. Nothing can reach out to infinity. What we have is ways of dealing with situations as they come up which do not appear to have any limitations to their applicability. (That phrase could be misinterpreted. I mean just that "+1" can be recursively applied indefinitely. What we can't do is apply it indefinitely.)

    Again, the point is underdetermination so its not about whether one rule is workable or not, any time you use addition it has an underdetermined characterization, and your ability to use it and practise it has little to do with that.Apustimelogist
    Yes, but that doesn't mean that we cannot have ways of responding to, and dealing with, problems as they come up - if necessary, we can invent them - as we do when we discover irrational numbers, etc. or find reasons to change the status of 0 or 1. In the case of 0, we have to modify the rules of arithmetical calculation.
  • Kripke's skeptical challenge
    I have a distinct sense that some level of consensus is developing. :smile:

    And I'm glad I did some of the homework.Moliere

    And I'm sorry I didn't. He seems to come out so close to W that there doesn't seem much mileage in asking whether his view is W's or not. I didn't know that.

    So we still don't have any basis for determining that S followed a particular rule. We just treat certain circumstances as if she did.frank

    I'm not sure that we don't have to re-think what "S followed a particular rule" means. Even if S's application of a rule agrees with ours, it is always possible that the next application may differ. We even find this happening empirically, when some circumstance reveals that a friend has a very different understanding of a rule we both thought we agreed on.
  • Kripke's skeptical challenge
    An afterthought.

    Kriipke's sceptic does not escape from all this. Posing the problem takes for granted that we can recognize ("get") the difference between addition and quaddition. So posing the problem is based on, and does not bring into question, the agreement..

    Could there be an arch-sceptic who cannot see the difference? Perhaps. But such a person could not join in our debate.
  • Kripke's skeptical challenge
    Imagine there is a wedding, and there are 68 guests from one side of the family and 57 from the other side.Janus
    Of course, applications of "+1" include practical applications. The point is that the rule must be applied to each case; it does not reach out to the future and the possible and apply itself in advance.

    There is a forward problem of mapping rulesApustimelogist
    Yes, that's part of W's point. We can apply the rule to imaginary or possible cases, but we have to formulate them first. We cannot apply a rule to infinity. Hence mathematical induction.

    It is natural simply because we can intuitively get the logicJanus
    There's truth in this. In some ways, "getting" a logical point is like "getting" a joke, If someone doesn't "get" modus ponens or a joke, we don't formulate more arguments. We try to help them "see" the connections.

    But the fact that we mostly agree is not inevitable, not guaranteed. It is a "brute fact", which is the foundation of logic (and other rules). Bedrock is reached.

    Or, to put it another way, if these agreements fail, we become bewildered and attribute the problem, not to the rule, but to the person who cannot follow it.
  • Kripke's skeptical challenge
    It is therefore possible to use alternative concepts without any difference in behaviour.Apustimelogist
    If they don't make any difference, how are they alternative?

    On the other hand, it is perfectly possible for two or more of us to get along quite well for a long time with different interpretations of the same concept or rule. The differences will not show themselves until a differentiating case turns up. This could happen with quaddition or any other of the many possibilities. Then we have to argue it out. The law, of course, is the arena where this most often becomes an actual problem.

    There would only be a logic to countermand if there was a sensible definition of these things in the first place which specified the correct behavior without requiring prior understandingApustimelogist
    I don't think you can give me a satisfying definition of counting or quantity,Apustimelogist
    What is fundamental to understanding concepts is not their definition, but knowing how to apply the definition. That is a practice, which is taught. Learning to count and measure defines number and quantity.

    the natural logic of counting and addition;Janus
    There is a natural logic of these things. But we had to learn how to do it. It seems natural because it is a) useful and b) ingrained. "Second nature".

    Here there's a few bases from which we could confuse one another: arithmetic as a practice, arithmetic as a part of our rational intuition, arithmetic as rule-following, arithmetic as it was in its genesis, and arithmetic as it is.Moliere

    There's certainly a difference between arithmetic in its genesis and arithmetic as it is. For the ancients, arithmetic was developed for severely practical reasons. The first texts on the subject are clearly meant to enable administrators to provision and organize the work force or the army (Ancient Egypt). The Greeks did not count (!) either 0 or 1 as numbers - it was the Arabs who included them. Arithmetic as it is includes all sorts of crazy numbers - irrational, complex, etc. Yet it is always the use of the numbers in calculations that drives the changes.

    However, the idea of arithmetic as rule-following and the idea of arithmetic as a practice are closely related. If you ask me to justify my claim that 68+57 =125, I can do so. But if you ask me to justify my application of the rule "+1", I can only start to teach you to count. Counting is a practice, which is either done correctly or not, where correctly means what we agree on (bearing in mind that pragmatic outcomes provide a semi-independent check on purely subjective mutual agreement).

    This is what Wittgenstein means by saying "justification comes to an end" or "This is what I do".
  • Kripke's skeptical challenge
    Counting makes sense as a genesis of arithmetic. But is doesn't escape from the sceptical question. There is no fact of the matter that determines whether I have counted correctly - except the fact that others will agree with me. This reinforces me in my practice of counting, as my agreement with others about their counts reinforces their practice of counting.

    But counting is just applying the rule "+1", so it doesn't escape Kripke's question.

    But Kripke's question is a mistake. A rule doesn't state a fact; it gives an instruction. So the question here is what counts as following the instruction. The facts can't possibly determine that on their own. It requires acceptance of my response to the instruction. But my acceptance of my response is empty. Acceptance of a response must, in the end, come from other people.
  • is the following argument valid (but maybe not sound)?
    There are other ways to prove the error, sure; I just gave the one I knew aboutMww

    Well, there seems to be a variety ways to prove the error. Something for everyone. Consensus!
  • is the following argument valid (but maybe not sound)?

    This makes it clear that the question is whether action is known only non-mediately, and that would seem to be false, which makes the argument as reformulated valid, but unsound.Janus

    Yes, I see that Janus is chasing the same point about action, and has reformulated the first premiss to avoid the ambiguity of "it".

    I didn't understand that this was a Kantian discussion. I don't know enough about those texts to contribute.

    Thank you for clarifying.
  • is the following argument valid (but maybe not sound)?
    Perhaps I should stay away from this. Perhaps other people have recognized what seems to me to be obviously wrong, but I haven't picked it up. So -

    If anything is an appearance it is known mediately,
    The individual knows that he (or she) acts non-mediately
    Thus, action cannot be an appearance.

    Surely, "If anything is an appearance it is known mediately," is ambiguous, because "it" might refer a) to the appearance, or b) the object of the appearance (i.e. what the appearance is an appearance of. The appearance is what is introspectively perceived, that is, however the object appears to me is its appearance. I perceive appearance directly (non-mediately) and the object of the appearance indirectly (through the appearance and so mediately). If the statement means a), it is false. If it means b) it is true.

    "The individual knows that he (or she) acts non-mediately". This is ambiguous, depending on the description under which the action is identified. a) I know introspectively that I am trying to turn on the light when I press the switch. b) Whether I succeed in pressing the switch or turning on the light, I only know from perceiving the consequences of my attempt. If the statement means a), I know non-mediately. If the statement means b), I know mediately.

    So, without clarification of those ambiguities, nothing can be said as to whether the argument is valid or sound.

    "Thus, action cannot be an appearance." Every appearance is an appearance of something. The object of an appearance is distinct from its appearance. In that sense, this is analytically true and trivial. However, in a different sense, an action can appear to be something it is not, as when I pretend to do something or mimic someone doing it or when I misunderstand what someone is doing. ("Not waving but drowning").

    So, depending on how it is interpreted, the conclusion is trivially true, independently of the premisses, or false.
  • The Identity of Indiscernibles and the Principle of Irrelevance
    Those things seem to be observer dependent. As with all other properties.schopenhauer1

    Yes, this problem seems to me a special case of the general problem about whether there is a reality that exists independently of observers.

    This seems to me embedded in our language and thought, except possibly in sub-atomic physics, and that's a special case because the act of observation directly affects what happens next.

    But the idea of an unobservable reality seems absurd or pointless.

    Either way, what does this particular problem reveal that other objects don't?schopenhauer1

    But although the indiscernibility of identicals seems trivially true, the identity of indiscernibles seems very problematic.

    So this topic gets to me from every direction.
  • The Identity of Indiscernibles and the Principle of Irrelevance
    Sure. But we've already stayed the hand holding the razor to allow unobservable noumena to exist.Count Timothy von Icarus

    I was going to ask about that. But then it had struck me that the companion formula (contrapositive( of the identity of indiscernibles -- (∀x)(∀y)(x=y) → (Fx ↔ Fy) -- does not seem to me to imply or require an observer. Doesn't it follow that ∀F(Fx ↔ Fy) → x=y doesn't imply an observer either?

    Clearly, in a universe with an observer, two things identical in every way can be distinguished by the boundaries of the two things and their positions in space and time.schopenhauer1

    Even if there is no observer and space and time are infinite? (If you want an observer, we could stipulate that both objects are observers.)
  • The Identity of Indiscernibles and the Principle of Irrelevance
    Moreover, if you do consider it, what stops us from considering an infinite number of such in principle forever unobservable entities?Count Timothy von Icarus

    For example, suppose we posit a new fundamental particle, the nullon, that interacts with nothing, nada, no way to see it through any interactions, by definition. This would be an example that by definition cannot be observed.Count Timothy von Icarus

    Wouldn't Occam's razor deal with both of those? Come to think of it, wouldn't it deal with any unobservable noumenon? After all, ex hypothesi, there would be no reason to suppose that such things exist.
  • Belief
    I'm contemplating a thread about Davidson's project. It would be a long one.Banno

    I'm wondering whether the second sentence is a threat or a promise.

    It would stretch my boundaries, but if one can't take risks here, where can one?

    The article is interesting, but hard going.

    For the thread, I would need to read slowly, so not too many pages at one go, please.
  • Belief
    I won't feel obligated to respond here. It would be off-topic.
  • Belief
    I don't see this approach as being of help here. It's a quagmire.Banno

    I must say, I do find the last few posts very difficult to follow. That's probably my fault. But to comment would likely be unhelpful.

    Thanks very much for the pdf. I shall be busy for a while. I'm hoping that I shall at least understand referential opacity better.
  • Belief
    The idea is something like that we sometimes both use and mention; SO "Galileo said that the Earth moves" might be analysed as a conjunct of "The Earth moves" and "Galileo said that", where the demonstrative "that" points to "The Earth moves", or even to Galileo's utterance of "The Earth moves".Banno

    The article doesn't seem to be readily available to me, though a number of criticisms of it are.

    Sticking to the topic, then. This has to do with referential opacity or transparency. Correct? So do I take you to be saying that p in "Davidson said that p" may sometimes be used and sometimes be mentioned? I wouldn't resist that conclusion. I'm not sure that the same applies to belief.

    In the case of belief, I think that substitutions are sometimes appropriate, even required, depending on the context of a) the believer's beliefs and b) my audience's beliefs. Specifically if the believer refers to an object in one way and the audience refers to the same object in a different way, substitution is needed to communicate accurately what the believer believes. (Roughly).
  • Belief

    But nup. Davidson's analysis.

    That's extremely interesting. But I don't understand it. Could you give me a reference for Davidson's analysis?
  • Belief
    the object of a belief is not a proposition qua proposition, just as when I look through a mirror to see a reflected object my act of sight does not terminate in the mirror itself.Leontiskos

    Another metaphor, but still, it works for me.

    the subjective act of belief prescinds from notions of propositionality or representation.Leontiskos

    I think this is OK. Where do we go from here?

    It is curious, though, that 'belief' insofar as it is distinguished from knowledge really is propositional in the way that Searle is talking about. If I say, "I believe X but I do not know X," then apparently there is an intentional propositionality, and one which is much more common than Searle's example of Bernoulli's principle.Leontiskos

    We are saying roughly that believing uses a proposition rather than mentioning it. But we are also saying that it is possible to believe something of a proposition - second order belief, presumably based on a proposition about a proposition.

    "I believe X but I do not know X" seems to take back or modify in the second half ("..but I do not know X") something that is asserted in the first half ("I believe X"). But it isn't a flat contradiction. So I think you are saying that "I believe X but I do not know X" expresses a view about the certainty of, or evidence for, X - that certainty is less than complete, or that evidence is less than conclusive.

    Is that something like what you meant?
  • Belief
    Beliefs are stated as an association between an agent and a proposition. This superficial structure serves to show that a belief is always both about a proposition and about some agent. It might be misleading as the proposition is not the object of the belief but constitutes the belief.Banno

    The last sentence, in particular, nicely reconciles the issue about the object of the belief. There might be more to be said, but it is a good starting-point.

    This association is such that if the agent acts in some way then there is a belief and a desire that together are sufficient to explain the agent's action. Banno wants water; he believes he can pour a glass from the tap; so he goes to the tap to pour a glass of water.Banno

    Quite so. "Association" is vague enough to enable it to stand up even when he cannot pour a glass from the tap (because the water has been turned off).

    Some folk hereabouts think something like that there are beliefs which are not propositional. It remains unclear to me how that could work. It's supposed that there are hinge beliefs that are in some way not propositional, but that is quite problematic, since hinge beliefs are also supposed to ground other beliefs by implication, and implication relies on propositions.Banno

    That's at least partly about different uses of propositional forms. If I point to something red and announce "That's red.", I may be making an empirical observation, or teaching someone what "red" means, which case the object is a sample and to be used in a different way. That's only an example. There would be other cases to consider.

    Unless your point is that Lois might have inconsistent beliefs?Banno

    Isn't that a problem, though? Any proposition will have a cloud of implications around it. There's no guarantee that I can see that Lois will have drawn all those implication or that she would instantly agree to all of them if they were presented to her, or that she will not draw any false conclusions from what she does believe.

    It seems worth making the point that parsing natural languages into formal languages is not a game of finding the one, correct, interpretation. Rather one chooses a formalisation that suits one's purpose.Banno

    Your analysis of Lois' beliefs illustrates how useful formalization can be.

    Or is it better thought of as a sensation, a feeling, an impression, an intuition?Banno

    I would rather say that sensations and feelings (when expressed in the grammatical form of a proposition) and impressions (ditto) can give rise to beliefs, rather than being beliefs. Not sure about intuitions. One can intuit that...
  • Belief
    If my belief is directed at the world independent of any proposition, then how could I ever be wrong about what I believe?Leontiskos

    The standard way is to post an "intentional object" (in this case a proposition). But then, what's a proposition? The standard "meaning of a sentence" doesn't help much. I believe that Frege thinks it is something like thinking of a state of affairs without affirming or denying it. Are there no other proposals around.

    The other way might be to push your metaphor a little harder and say that if a is directed at b, it can still miss.
  • Belief
    We are supported in understanding the "use of the word in the wild" by formal analysis.Banno

    Mutual support? Interdependence? But perhaps not on topic here.
  • Belief
    actions are related in an explanatory or causal manner.Leontiskos

    Well, if you are happy for me to say that beliefs explain actions, I'm content to do so and to leave the notion of explanation undefined because it is off-topic.

    It has had an effect on what I said, so if you count that as an action, I guess you could say it did.
    But I think that is a different definition of action than the one I had in mind.

    So long as we agree, I won't quarrel about the words and I won't fuss about saying something to oneself silently or about that multifarious word "think".

    The proposition is the content of the belief, not the object of the belief.(Searle).Sam26

    That seems to me to be exactly right. I was never happy with propositional attitudes, though on different grounds.

    It is not inconsistent to say that Lois Lane believes Clark Kent wears glasses, a sentence that can be parsed more formally.Banno

    I wouldn't quarrel with the representation B(X,p), if that's what you mean. But I don't see that it helps any. I would suggest that before settling on a formal representation we need a good understanding of the use of the word in the wild.

    I think most particularly that we need to better understand why beliefs explain actions even when the belief is false.
  • Belief
    I'm saying that if we're to say that Mary has a belief, then for us to know that Mary believes X it must be expressed in some action (linguistic or nonlinguistic).Sam26

    I wouldn't object to saying that a given belief may never be expressed in action, only that it would be if circumstances were right. Though I would look for an episode of acquiring the belief. Just what that might amount to, I'm not sure about.

    It is legitimate to describe what belief does as a way of understanding what belief is.Leontiskos

    That's enough for me.

    one belief can cause multiple effects, and therefore a belief and its effect are not the same thing (even when it comes to thinking).Leontiskos

    I agree that a cause is distinct from its effect, though how far that's an accurate description of science is another question. Since Hume, we establish a cause/effect relationship by observing correlation and contiguity between them. There is no more than that to it. We cannot observe beliefs independently of their effects, (any more than we can observe electrons and their effects independently - or the wind and its effects), so we cannot establish a cause/effect relationship between a belief and its effects.

    Unless you are using "cause" (or possibly "belief") in a way different from the way it is understood in orthodox philosophy.

    I'm sorry to be difficult. But the idea that belief causes appropriate actions seems perfectly commonsensical. I wouldn't deny that there must be something right about it. All I'm saying is that on the orthodox philosophical view of causation, it doesn't make sense. Maybe it makes sense in some other way.
  • Belief
    the examples of beliefs which do not show themselves in actions seem to be countless.Janus

    That's true. But is it absurd to go counter-factual and say that a belief would show in action (where thinking counts as an action) if appropriate circumstances arise? Or are you saying that there is no necessary relation between belief and action?

    Your examples don't include bedrock beliefs, and I'm inclined to think that my belief that I have a hand or two shows every time I pick something up, so they couldn't occur on this list. Is that right?

    The examples on your list all seem to be things that I have learnt or at least thought about, at some point. Would that be a necessary condition?

    Methinks that the Anglo bias towards empiricism is rearing its head and conflating beliefs themselves with the ways in which we empirically detect beliefs in others, even to the point that a belief is re-defined to be the detection of a beliefLeontiskos

    You are, I think, picking up on the lingering traces of logical positivism in that philosophical tradition. But isn't it legitimate to describe what belief does, as a way of describing what belief is? I have in mind the role of belief in our language, which is not reducing it to the question how we know what people believe. Perhaps I'm just fooling myself.
  • On Illusionism, what is an illusion exactly?
    In my view, the conception/meaning of wavelengths is entangled with everyday experience.plaque flag

    That's a very good way of putting it.

    In short, indirect realism that takes the scientific image as the hidden real seems to miss that this image is very much on the side of appearance and only his its meaning in context.plaque flag

    I think I agree with you, only I'm not sure what you mean by "this image" (which image exactly?).

    It is certainly odd that people so often forget that the scientific version of colour is also the product of experience - that's what "empirical" means.
  • Belief
    If I may comment on some of these issues....

    There seems to be some disagreement and confusion about beliefs and actions. Surely we can confidently say that if X believes that p, X will normally act, on occasions when p is relevant, on p. In other words, and in perhaps old-fashioned language, if X believes p, X can be expected to act on p, when X believes that p is relevant, and conversely. Note, speaking includes speaking to oneself and both are actions, so X can be expected to assert that p when X believes that it is appropriate to do so.

    This give a context in which the use of "believes" might be helpfully explained. When we explain actions, we do so by explaining the reasons for them. But one very quickly finds that there are difficulties about this. First, It is not enough for p to be true for it to be correctly posited as a reason for X's action. If p is to count as a reason for what X does, it must be known by X. Second, there are occasions when X carries out an action which is best explained by p, but p is not true. The way to express this, is to say that X believes that p.

    Whether it is appropriate to call such an explanation of the use of a word as a definition, I do not presume to say.

    The question of the object of belief has always bothered me. I'm no fan of propositions. The idea that the object of knowledge is the world, the facts, the way things are makes sense to me. But it doesn't work for belief, because belief can be false. I always thought that was the reason for the invention of the concept of "intentional" objects. Perhaps it can be said that belief aims to have a relation to the world, etc. but may fail. Is that intolerably mysterious, or, rather, is that any more mysterious that the concepts of a proposition or an intentional object?

    I see two more posts have arrived while I was writing this, so I had better stop at that.
  • On Illusionism, what is an illusion exactly?
    I don’t understand the difference between “you have the experience of falling freely” and “you can experience falling freely.”Patterner

    There is no difference of meaning, except that "you have the experience of falling freely" suggests that there is some kind of entity/thing that you in some sense have, whereas "you experience falling freely" does not suggest that.

    No I'm sorry, this got misunderstood.goremand

    OK. But you made me think about how I express myself so there's no harm done.
  • On Illusionism, what is an illusion exactly?
    I can doubt "plainly" without invoking any tricks of the mind.goremand

    Do you mean that I'm using tricks of the mind to express my doubts? I believe that I'm exposing the tricks that make plausible the idea that we have an immersive experience playing in mind and especially the suggestion that everything we experience is an illusion. But I do not intend to malign anyone, so my argument would not claim to prove that the tricks are known or believed to be tricks; proponents of this idea are as taken in by these deceptive arguments as much as anyone else. They are tricks of language or perhaps I should call them misleading features of the grammar of language.

    I'm comfortable for myself, but some people think that they have to refuse to acknowledge that there is a difficult philosophical problem here. That seems most unhelpful, to me.

    It seems to me the text is liked because many people shared with him that assumption but struggled with putting it into words,goremand

    You may well be right. Don't get me wrong. It is a brilliant piece of philosophy, demonstrating that it is perfectly all right to be wrong, so long as you are wrong in interesting ways. I suppose it's just a marginal note to say that the article might well lead to some people who have never worried about the issue getting worried about it, or that, since philosophy thrives on puzzles, some people might buy in because they love a puzzle.

    The defence is that resolving the puzzle can clarify what might be called knots in our thinking.

    However, I think I should temper and depersonalize my language about this.

    I can doubt "plainly" without invoking any tricks of the mind.goremand

    I seem to remember that you doubt that phenomenal properties are real. Is that what you are referring to?

    Which conclusion do you mean? I try to read him, but can’t usually get far.Patterner

    I realized after I wrote that sentence that I was going too far. It is true that Nagel aims to raise a question, not present a conclusion. But Nagel does propound his example as suggesting a problem and I think that problem is an illusion.

    Are you saying a machine that was given consciousness would no longer be a machine?Patterner

    Yes and no. Perception is something that distinguishes consciousness beings from non-conscious (and unconscious) beings. If you say that a machine can perceive something, it is important to be clear in your own mind whether you are using "perceive" in a metaphorical way or whether you intend to attribute consciousness to it. When the EPOS machine says "Thank you", you don't believe that it is thanking you, do you?

    At the moment, the only solid stance I’ll take about subjective experiences is that they exist.Patterner

    I wouldn't want to quarrel with that, so long as you don't get misled into clouds of philosophical problems by false analogies.

    Let me try another example.

    The word "appearance" gets used in two different ways. When I am waiting for a procession, (funeral, VIP, celebration) to pass by, we can say that eventually the parade appeared at the end of the street. Or that the parade made its appearance at the end of the street. These two ways of putting it mean the same thing, that the actual parade appeared, not something that looks like it or sounds like it. The appearance is an event, not an object in the sense that the cars and motor-cycles and people that make it up are objects. Right?

    There's another sense of appearance which marks a distinction or contrast between appearance and reality. If we pay attention to the grammatical feature of language that an appearance is always an appearance of something, or perhaps more accurately, there is always an object that exists independently of any appearance of itself. Appearances may or may not coincide with the their objects. The stick appears to be bent or looks bent (or looks as if it is bent) is the best way to say this. This is the sense that gives trouble, especially when, as in the case of illusionism, there is no reality to distinguish appearance from - that's the philosophical move.

    Experience is similar. By making a bungee jump, you have the experience of falling freely in perfect safety. But if you say it that way, you are heading for philosophical perplexity. However, if you say, by making a bungee jump, you can experience falling freely, there is less temptation to wonder what kind of object an experience is.
  • On Illusionism, what is an illusion exactly?
    What do you think the things dualists invented the term for actually are? I mean, you see blue, and taste sugar, and feel pain. What category of existence do you attribute to them?Patterner

    Well, you've identified/described three experiences quite clearly. You used a sentence, which consists of a subject, a verb and an object. So it looks as if an experience is a relationship, or (especially in the case of seeing, an activity). There are three different kinds of object, a colour, a substance and a sensation. What more do you want me to say?

    Totally color blind people surely believe those of us who see in color have subjective experience.Patterner

    I'm not sure about total colour blindness, or about what colour-blind people believe. If they don't know that colour-blindness exists, they likely believe that everybody sees the same way they do. But I'm not denying that there's such a thing as subjective experience - that's true by definition. The question is whether a subjective experience is an object in its own right. That's why I prefer to stick to the verb "experience" rather than its associated grammatical form, the noun "experience".

    I don’t know that argument, or how it deflates the debate. Actually, not sure exactly what debate you mean.Patterner

    The best way to explain is to give you a link - section 2.3.3.

    If you think that our knowledge of our own minds is just like our knowledge of tables and chairs, you will think that subjective experiences are a premiss for an argument, that they are true or false. If our "knowledge" of our own minds isn't like our knowledge of tables and chairs, then the problem disappears. I should confess that this is not a simple either/or.

    I think something we don’t understand is going on....Something is added by experience.Patterner

    I agree with that. But I don't think it is helpful to jump to conclusions, which Nagel does. The issue is what is added by experience, or, to put it in a more neutral way, what the difference is between knowing and experiencing.

    A first step is to observe that knowing that p adopts a third-person (hopefully objective) point of view; experiencing is a first-person point of view. There's a big difference between knowing that someone is in pain and being that someone.

    (Don't forget that what you know actually affects how you experience things. If you know that the earth goes round the sun and not the other way round, you see the sunrise differently. When you do a bungee jump, your knowledge that you are securely fastened make a big difference to how you experience the fall.)

    We’ve created machines that do the same.Patterner

    If a machine did do the same, it would be conscious and consequently not a machine. But they don't, so they're not. That's a bit unfair, but condenses another complicate topic about what the difference is and how one might create a conscious.
  • On Illusionism, what is an illusion exactly?

    Mine too. That's why I object to it so much.

    Wittgenstein says somewhere that the philosophical solution he is looking for is the one that enables him to stop doing philosophy when he wants to.
  • On Illusionism, what is an illusion exactly?
    I’m asking your opinion. Do you think qualia are non-physical things?Patterner

    I can't give a straight answer to that, because the question presupposes that qualia exist, which I'm not sure about, especially since I'm not clear what category of existence is attributed to them. It seems to me very unlikely, if and insofar as they exist, that they can possibly be physical objects. But the term was invented in order to justify the philosophical theory known as dualism, which I do not accept.

    I don’t see anything wrong with anyone writing about topics on which there is not universal agreement, even controversial topics, from their pov.Patterner

    You misunderstand me. I wasn't objecting to Nagel writing about his ideas. I was just disagreeing with them.

    But there’s an obvious difference between that action and a car’s or brain’s.Patterner

    Certainly. I was suggsting that if we can't expect to give a complete description of something as simple as a computer (or a rock) on a desk, we can't expect to give a complete description of an autonomous system like a car or a brain.

    "In Nagel’s words, there is something that it is like to be a bat. "

    Philosophy is a strange business. I'm about to complain that an ordinary expression that I understand as well as anyone else is incomprehensible. But seriously, what, exactly does "something it is like to be a bat" mean? Nagel makes another empty gesture when he says he means the subjective experience of a bat, which he believes cannot be described. So he knows that there is no answer to the question what it is like to be a bat. He provokes you to try to answer and prevents you from answering at the same time. That's the point of the question. The only sensible option is to refuse his trap and refuse to answer the question.

    "these (sc. qualia) are taken to be intrinsic features of visual experiences that ... are accessible to introspection, ...."

    Introspection is a very strange concept. It is supposed to be readily available to anybody, because it is an essential feature of human consciousness and yet there is endless disagreement about what it amounts to. Yet here, it is presented as if it were completely unproblematic. There is one argument, for example, that introspection is not knowledge, which I think is not exactly right, but is an important part of the concept. If that's right, the entire debate is deflated.

    "It rests on the idea that someone who has complete physical knowledge about another conscious being might yet lack knowledge about how it feels to have the experiences of that being."

    That doesn't mean that there is some magical thing that the subject of an experience knows that no-one else can know. It just means that knowing is not the same as experiencing.

    There is a thesis that I think has at least an important part of the truth here. It is sometimes called the transparency thesis. "According to this thesis, experience is ... transparent in the sense that we “see” right through it to the object of that experience, analogously to the way that we see through a pane of glass to whatever is on the other side of it. Gilbert Harman introduced such considerations into the contemporary debate about qualia in a now-famous passage: “When Eloise sees a tree before her, the colors she experiences are all experienced as features of the tree and its surroundings. None of them are experienced as intrinsic features of her experience. Nor does she experience any features of anything as intrinsic features of her experiences.” (Harman 1990, 667) As Harman went on to argue, the same is true for all of us: When we look at a tree and then introspect our visual experience, all we can find to attend to are features of the presented tree. Our experience is thus transparent; when we attend to it, we can do so only by attending to what the experience represents. "

    That makes sense to me and doesn't need any reference to qualia. It may not be quite complete, but it settles a wide range of cases.
  • On Illusionism, what is an illusion exactly?
    It's really hard to know how to proceed with this. I'll do my best.

    Do you think the definition is correct?Patterner

    It depends what you mean by correct. It's not as if there is an existing definition, or even an existing (mutually agreed) phenomenon that we are trying to "capture". We can agree what a rainbow is, both in the dictionary and in the world. So there can be an argument about the correct definition - and there isn't one, because there are criteria.

    In my book, Nagel is trying to persuade us that there is a phenomenon to be captured, one that everybody can recognize. But he also knows that there isn't universal agreement about that. It's a pity he doesn't actually engage with the issue.

    That list of events captures - or perhaps describes, it all.Patterner

    It's not that simple. If you try to list every event, both the ones that are relevant to what the car does and the ones that are incidental, like comfortable seats or a sun roof and the ones that are irrelevant - side issues - like (in years gone by - the pollution it creates, you would, I suggest never come to the end.

    Make a complete list of all the events going on in the desk that is supporting your computer.

    If we did the same for a brain, a much more gargantuan task,Patterner

    The brain is important, but not the whole story. It is probably true that the brain has a dominant role in the processing of information. But our minds do much more than that. The brain depends on the entire nervous system, all the sense organs (supplying information) and all the muscles (enabling action) to function. Our hormones regulate all sorts of things, including our emotions. I don't think we will come even close to explaining the mind unless we include our entire body in our explanations.

    If one considers how we can answer similar questions about what a computer does and compare that to the questions we are asking about the brain, it becomes clear that we are barely in the foot-hills of the project, and in no position to blandly assume that we know what will happen. We don't even know which events in the brain are relevant and which are not. We don't even know what all the chemistry of the brain is never mind what parts of it are relevant and which incidental.

    We haven't yet mentioned emergent properties. One of the essential functions of the car is that it moves itself. What part of the car is the one that moves it? The wheels? The engine? The body? None of them, on their own. All of them, in their systematic relations. And here's the paradox of analysis, that what you are trying to analyze, in a sense, inevitably disappears when you take it to pieces.

    Consider the rainbow. Or ask how a clock tells the time. These are systems. One can analyze them, but one will not find one-to-one correspondence between one level of analysis and the next.

    If one considers the conceptual revolution that we required for us to understand the simplest physical object works, it seems to me arrogant to assume that this project will not also involve conceptual revolutions that we cannot imagine. When one considers how much our idea of matter has had to change in the process of understanding that, why would one think that understanding the mind will not involve similarly radical new concepts?

    Philosophy often gets ahead of itself and tries to answer questions that it does not have the conceptual equipment to answer. Qualia is an example.

    I'm sorry if this is too much, but it seems right to show what is involved in this issue.
  • On Illusionism, what is an illusion exactly?
    The fact that consciousness is not physically reducible is the reason some people say it doesn’t exist.Patterner

    Consciousness may not be physically reducible now. But that doesn't mean it always will be. One day, I'm sure, there will be a physical account.

    I think we have enough brain scans and dissections to know that the brain does not reshape itself into to match things we see.Patterner

    If you are asking for an explanation how we see the table, it doesn't help to say that a copy or imitation or model of a table appears in our heads. Even if we found a little model of a table, how would that explain anything?

    There is no hint of qualia.Patterner

    Of course, a list of physical events won't include any qualia. They are defined as non-physical things.

    We need a different list to capture the experience.Patterner

    What do you mean by "capture"?

    Nagel, according to this video summation of What Is It Like to Be a Bat? (particularly beginning at 17:07) says such a list is not possible.Patterner

    Lists aren't necessarily helpful. But it is certain that a list of all the parts of a car isn't a description of a car, nor an explanation of how it works, and a car is not the same thing as a list of its parts, or a description of it, or an explanation of how it works.