• Receiving help from those who do not care
    Perhaps they can care and also get paid. They care enough to organise their lives in such a way that they can continue caring, which means paying the bills amongst other things. There is something special about doing good without reward but for most of us, most of the time, we can sacrifice ourselves only to the extent that we have spare resources to devote to others.

    In crediting people with Liberality their resources must be taken into account; for the liberality of a gift does not depend on its amount, but on the disposition of the giver, and a liberal disposition gives according to its substance. It is therefore possible that the smaller giver may be the more liberal, if he give from smaller means. — Aristotle, Eth Nic, IV, 19
  • When Alan Turing and Ludwig Wittgenstein Discussed the Liar Paradox
    There are areas of knowledge (e.g. arithmetic) where we seem to make stuff up (square roots of negative numbers) but we seem unable to make stuff up just any old how ('there are no irrationals'). The propositions are not logically necessary: they can be denied without self-contradiction. But we can't make sense of much else when we deny them. We can't prove or disprove them by looking for facts. They are somehow independent of any particular experiences. But they are not just playing with arbitrary definitions. Do we need to talk about Kant?
  • Covid denialism as a PR stunt
    ...where you blindly assume/posit equivalencies or symmetries that don't exist....Seppo

    Not at all. The evidence for trusting vaccination is far stronger than any reasons for mistrust. As you say, anti-vaxx is minority and my 'for every person..' is a manner of speaking only.

    And of course some people are manipulated, dim, brainwashed etc. But we cannot assume that because some view seems absurd then the person holding it 'must be' brainwashed or sub-rational in some way. They may or may not be. You cannot tell in general. I would say you need independent evidence of brainwashing etc, aside from the holding of an opinion.

    Another example is the resurrection of the dead. 'We look for the resurrection of the dead,' goes the Creed. People who expect the dead to rise could be classed as mad in the same unthinking way as vaxxers and anti-vaxxers sometime class one another. But perfectly sane, rational, unbrainwashed, unmanipulated people hold this view and announce it publicly every Sabbath. Of course there are also crazy people who believe it. But you cannot deduce craziness or other sub-rationality from the opinion alone.
  • Covid denialism as a PR stunt
    For every person who says "Anti-vaxxers must be brainwashed conspiracy theorists" there is another who says that "Vaxxers must be brainwashed establishment stooges." Neither is correct. It is laziness to hold that the people who disagree with you must be crazy or sub-rational in some other way. The laziness consists in its avoidance of dealing with others as rational beings and listening to what they say - whatever side turns out to be right or wrong.

    That seems more likely.tim wood

    It's the same problem as above. Just as the anti-vaxxers 'must be' crazy, then I 'must be' insincere (or ironic) in failing to say so.
  • Covid denialism as a PR stunt
    So I surmise that the most plausible explanation for covid deniers and the woo-woos is that they are a PR stunt engineered by the stakeholders in the pandemic.baker

    Another explanation could be that they are not mad, insincere or brainwashed or a PR stunt. It is that their views differ from yours and that it is possible to hold their views whilst being sane, sincere, unmanipulated, intelligent and uncorrupted. In exactly the same way, it is possible for you to hold your views whilst being completely sane, etc.
  • Philosphical Poems
    Turning the question round, why did philosophers give up poetry and start writing in prose?
  • Axioms of Discourse
    An unwelcome truth is that the folk who are wrong can equally be ourselves. Charitable understanding of another's position does not presume a possible win/win; it does not compromise on truth or equivocate with definitions. It presumes that we, rather than the other, may turn out to have been mistaken all along. Or we may not.
  • Axioms of Discourse
    Probably, yes. That shouldn't stop us.Xtrix

    True. I'm suggesting that whilst it cannot stop us making the same presumptions, it is an opportunity for us to stop of our own accord. That may in some cases give a chink of possibility of improving the level of debate. In some cases it may not.

    I think my point reduces to giving your second axiom first place. Understanding the other's position includes accepting their definitions, at least for the sake of argument.
  • Axioms of Discourse
    So how can someone who is generally bright, well-meaning and sincere be so wrong and pave the way for so many issues? This is a silly question -- because nearly every evil person not only justifies their actions to others, but believes it all themselves. So the real question is: why do otherwise normal people make choices that go against their goals?Xtrix

    Other people will presume that we are crazy, evil, brainwashed, hypocritical or dim in order to believe what we believe. I don't think there is anything we can do about that. But we can check the same presumptions in ourselves. Until we do, I suppose we won't get far with agreeing definitions or any other finer points of debate.
  • Does Zeno's paradox proof the continuity of spacetime?
    Does Zeno's paradox prove that this has to be the case?Prishon

    Zeno had four paradoxes and he needed all of them for the reason you suggest. He assumed that time is either discrete or continuous and time likewise. He considered all combinations - four possibilities in all. Those pre-Socratics didn't have calculus or anything but speculative theory of matter: but they were no slouches with logic.
  • God Does Not Play Dice!
    'Epistemic identity' is when you can't tell two things apart. So if God and Chance are epistemically identical then you can't tell which created the Universe. OK so far. Then you conclude that God and Chance are the same thing. But they are not. They are not (as you put it) ontically identical. 'Ontic identity' is when two things actually are the same.

    It is as if, because everyone is a suspect and you don't know who did it, you conclude that they are all guilty. You are writing as if Murder on the Orient Express is the only story.
  • Brains in vats...again.
    Obviously there is in my knowledge of my cat something that is not me, but something else entirely,[.......] you know, experience itself, can you say there is a room still there absent all thisConstance

    First there's a cat independent of your experience. Then there's no room independent of your experience. Where does the cat live?

    Just as shrugging off the private language problem is no answer, so it stirring up dust and contradiction.

    Philosophy cares about issues like this, not the mundane affairs of exchanging meanings that are well familiar.Constance

    You speak for philosophy and you know what it cares about. But listen more carefully to philosophy itself. It has on occasion shown concern for the ways in which words carry or fail to carry meanings.

    So, how does one approach this?Constance

    By slowing down. Clarifying the questions. Checking each thing you write for absurdities. Listening to objections. Yes, it's the long hard slog.
  • God Does Not Play Dice!
    Tell me what the definition of identical means.TheMadFool

    Take a walk outside the philosophy studio for a minute. I am not the same as my brother. Now go back inside. Whatever account of identity we come up with it has to be consistent with that. If we come up with a meaning for 'the same as' in which I'm the same as my brother, we've gone obviously wrong. And not going obviously wrong can often be as good as it gets in philosophy. Sometimes even that is out of reach.
  • God Does Not Play Dice!
    What do we observe? Order. Ergo, it's got to be either God or Chance. Here's where it gets interesting. Our observation of order in the universe can't distinguish between God and Chance.TheMadFool

    OK so far.

    That means, God is just another name for Chance and the converse is true as well, Chance is God's alias. Atheism and Theism are one and the same thing!

    Whoa! Who broke the window? It was either my brother or it was me. You can't tell from observation which of us did it. Therefore my brother and I are the same. That reasoning does not work.

    It's interesting enough before the final part.
  • Brains in vats...again.
    Let the conditions unfold then. I don't think we are bound to this phenomenological singularity because I think it makes all problems go away. I simply ask the question about basic epistemology, and find this inevitable conclusion.Constance

    If you can accept the conclusion that communication is impossible, why attempt it?

    No conclusions are inevitable if words do not make sense, even to the user of them.

    Shrugging off problems is easy enough but it's different from addressing them. The private-language problem is one that confronts the view that all we can know for certain is our own perceptions.
  • Brains in vats...again.
    There is only one conclusion, and I mean only one, that issues form this radical hermenuetics of the brain in vat problem: Nothing whatever can be affirmed outside phenomena, thus, the inside and outside of the brain in a vat is nonsense, for it is nonsense to speak of an outside to something all possible insides and outsides contexts of which are bound to a singularity.Constance

    How do we deal with the problem of private language? If naming-words refer necessarily to internal phenomena - all singularly private and mutually incomparable - then we cannot communicate. 'Yes, I understand, you are saying things are like such-and-such!' - But 'such and such' can be neither like nor unlike anything shared between us, for nothing is shared. Worse, we cannot distinguish one phenomenon from another even in our own case. If the distinctive criteria for some experience make sense to the person having that experience, then those criteria have a sense that can be explained, communicated and shared between us.

    If your view is true then necessarily you cannot explain it to me. Your explanation is a kind of accompanying music to a phenomenal film that is playing in your mind. And my understanding is whatever I might be hearing.
  • Logical Nihilism
    Fingers in ears, la-la-la. Looking forward to it but I'm supposed to be 'working from home' right now.....
  • Logical Nihilism
    Identity: ϑ ⊧ ϑ; but consider "this is the first time I have used this sentence in this paragraph, therefore this is the first time I have used this sentence in this paragraph"

    I'm looking forward to the video at leisure but this leapt out for attention. Isn't it an indexical (context-dependent) utterance? The second utterance expresses a different proposition from the first - so they are not identical propositions and we would not expect identity to hold. The expression "this sentence" refers to a different sentence in the first utterance from the second.

    (Just as my saying "I am Cuthbert" expresses a different proposition from someone else's saying "I am Cuthbert", which explains why the same utterance can be either true or false depending upon context.)

    But there's only one sentence. Ah. Shut ma mouth. I will watch the video. I know it's all a trick, though, so I'm not going to be taken in. Not that I'm prejudiced, of course.
  • Currently Reading
    The Ambassadors by Henry James

    It is one of the funniest books I have ever read. James recommended reading it slowly, perhaps five pages at a time. I sometimes manage only five sentences at a sitting, which may amount to the same thing. When a character meets his friends arriving by train it takes one chapter to get them out of the station. Even then we have to go back to pick up some observations we might have missed. You go to a party and after three or four pages you have just about got across the lawn and sighted some of the guests through the window. Each sentence is a journey and you often arrive holding onto unfamiliar luggage, having unaccountably lost your passport, your return ticket and your left shoe.
  • Brains in vats...again.
    How? We can just as readily imagine a scenario where no vat-concept corresponds in any way with a trans-concept.hypericin

    True. In that case 'I might be a brain in a vat' does not refer to a brain or a vat as we understand them, which is Putnam's argument.

    On Paris, yes, true. If the concepts correspond then there is a corresponding ambiguity. Vat-Texas is Trans-Vat-Texas.
  • Brains in vats...again.
    I'm not sure I buy this. Since we are making up the vat scenario anyway, why not make it up such that vat world concepts correspond with trans vat concepts?hypericin

    That is interesting. If vat-world concepts correspond with trans-vat concepts, then the name 'Paris' in both vat-world and trans-world refers to Paris. [True? or not?] If I can successfully refer to Paris even in a scenario in which I'm a brain in a vat then we seem to have a way out of scepticism. [But have I just played a trick with sense and reference?] I think this is Putnam territory.
  • Anti-vaccination: Is it right?
    Perhaps we have to give big pharma the credit because otherwise we might have to thank the Government - and that is unthinkable. In the UK this conversation happens on talk radio:

    Caller: The Government has mishandled the pandemic and killed tens of thousands.
    Presenter: What about the vaccination programme?
    Caller: Well, that's the scientists and all their great work, not the Government.

    I don't know the answer to your question but it is a very good question!
  • Anti-vaccination: Is it right?
    I don't know how they managed itIsaac

    You are right, it is remarkable. My guess is that they managed it by developing good products which provide more benefit and prevent more harm than any alternative. The crowds, in their wisdom, sense this and so trust the products. There is an element of desperation: we would not normally trust a new drug so quickly and if someone suspects that corners have been cut they may also imagine drowning in their own mucus and ask themselves 'what have I got to lose?' If it turns out (I hope it doesn't) that there are severe long-term harms associated with the vaccines or anything else the companies make then we will know that evil big pharma has hoodwinked us again. We won't hear the end of it. The PR people will still be in a job.

    Many disagree. They think that in their case the benefit to be gained or harm to be prevented do not outweigh the risks and the invasive process. These people are derided, excoriated and threatened. They may well be wrong. But they are not stupid idiot evil kind of wrong. They are voicing the hesitation that would be normal for most of us in less desperate circumstances. They are reminding us that there are many uncertainties and that we are all anxious. We hate reminders like that and so we lay into the people who provide them.
  • Brains in vats...again.

    It's Putnam's argument informally expressed. But there is an answer:

    "If I accept the argument, I must conclude that a brain in a vat can’t think truly that it is a brain in a vat, even though others can think this about it. What follows? Only that I cannot express my skepticism by saying “Perhaps I am a brain in a vat.” Instead I must say “Perhaps I can’t even think the truth about what I am, because I lack the necessary concepts and my circumstances make it impossible for me to acquire them!” If this doesn’t qualify as skepticism, I don’t know what does." (Nagel, 1986)

    So perhaps we are back where we started.
  • A new theory of proof?
    What is the definition of 'is material'?TonesInDeepFreeze

    moderate-sized specimens of dry goods — Austin

    I think 'dry' refers more to Austin's tone than to the goods. We could include liquids and gases.
  • On Gödel's Philosophy of Mathematics
    The second video looks at the paradox in depth and more seriously and without the teasing. You're right about the disinformation and I would think in a case like this it's probably ok in the classroom where the confusion can be sorted out afterwards - but publishing it on line may just cause more.
  • On Gödel's Philosophy of Mathematics
    Yes, thanks, I missed out the reply sign, that's what I meant! :up:
  • On Gödel's Philosophy of Mathematics
    Ha ha! very good - this is the same topic in a bit more depth
  • Banno's game
    You are probably right. Sorry, I haven't got a clue.
  • On Gödel's Philosophy of Mathematics
    You can play a variety of chess with new rules that the queen can move only two squares in any direction and there are no pawns. But you can't do any kind of arithmetic by stipulating that 3 + 5 does not equal 8. That's because queens and pawns are our constructions and a queen is and does whatever we say and without us there is no such thing as a queen. But there were two atoms of hydrogen to one of oxygen in water before we came along. If there hadn't been we couldn't have evolved to learn to count them.
  • Banno's game
    Mornington Crescent.
  • Brains in vats...again.
    Then the sun goes round the earth. That's how it seems and if what seems is all there is then that's how it is. It's a revolution - or perhaps a counter-revolution.
  • Brains in vats...again.
    Ok, let it be so, brain in vat time again and all aboard for the ride. But if my brain is a brain in a vat it would not be a brain as I understand brains because what I now understand to be a brain is (I'm imagining) an illusory brain. And it would not be a vat as I understand a vat because I only know illusory vats. So I would not be a brain in a vat. I would be something and I would not be able to say what that thing is because all I seem to perceive now is some kind of psychological trickery and I have no experience of reality. So it turns out that I cannot coherently state the situation that I am supposing to be possible. And that makes me pause to think whether it is a coherent supposition at all.
  • Anti-Realism
    I wonder whether the guy who looks after the brains in vats is ever tempted to let one of them in on the secret. I think about that guy sometimes. Lonely job - all those brains and nobody to talk to.
  • Short Story Competition: POLL

    je ne sais quoi.Amity

    Moi non plus.

    Just kidding. Of course I know what je ne sais quoi means. But I wouldn't let everyone know that.
  • Short Story Competition: POLL
    In other news, I am going to vote for anyone who has not voted for themselves. Fortunately I did not submit a story and so just manage to avoid Russell's paradox by the skin of my teeth.

    (If someone points out that teeth don't have skin then I will leave the discussion with whatever might be left of my dignity intact.)
  • Short Story Competition: POLL
    I don't know what that is that Wittgenstein would make of it, but here the literary meaning is obscuring for you the real, unuttered meaninggod must be atheist

    Some evidence shows that W struggled to make this distinction.

    Apparently Wittgensteinn telephoned a friend in hospital, Fania Pascal, who told the following story:

    “I had my tonsils out and was in the Evelyn Nurshing Home feeling sorry for myself. Wittgenstein called. I croaked: “I feel just like a dog that has been run over.” He was disgusted: “You don’t know what a dog that has been run over feels like.”

    Despite appearances, Fania did not claim to know what a dog feels like. She needed the kind of sympathy that a kind person would show to a dog that's just been run over. Her statement was a bid to elicit such sympathy. It was not a philosophical claim about canine other-minds.

    Likewise, Banno thinks that wishing good luck equally is a wish that probabilities should be distributed in a certain way and pointing out that equal bad luck would lead to the same distribution. (Actually, I imagine he doesn't think that, he's just pretending. I guess. It's fun.) As you say, it's not about probabilities. It's an expression of good will.

    It's a matter of 'literal' vs 'figurative' understanding. It is also a matter of appreciating what kind of speech act is being performed by the person making the utterance. Is it a bid for sympathy or a philosophical claim? Is it an expression of desire for certain random factors to be distributed in a particular way; or an expression of friendly good will to contestants?
  • The best argument for having children
    True. If you have kids in order to improve the quality of conversation at home then you're taking a gamble. If you go into school teaching in order to hear interesting questions from children then again it's quite a risk.
  • Wittgenstein AND/OR Family!
    It's a common misunderstanding that Witty is an advocate for 'vagueness' or somesuchStreetlightX

    Yes, I agree. I stated the criticism about vagueness but finished 'I tend to think not' as my post was long enough already. 'Vague' can be a pejorative term but it can also mean just 'adaptable to circumstances'. If we take the same time to walk round the block that is a different kind of 'same time' as the same time it takes two Olympians to run 100m.

    In every case it must be asked: does that word fulfil its purpose? And if so, it's exact as it can be.StreetlightX

    I think there are practical examples in medicine and law, for example. What is diabetes? Diagnostic criteria are very specific and a yes/no diagnosis is possible by following them. So the Socratic method works. But not quite. There are patients marginally outside the criteria who would benefit more from treatment than other who are marginally inside. So fix the criteria. But we know that this will never be perfect. So make the criteria somewhat adaptable, analogously to case law: you make 'anti-social behaviour' criminal and then decide on each case and by precedent. The 'purpose' of the concept 'diabetes' in this context is to get people to treatment who need it and not inflict invasive treatment on people who don't. Fixity and adaptability (which may be 'vagueness' with the pejorative tone taken out) are both needed.