Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Theories as Conventions

I pulled this quote from a blog of a friend of mine. He is a graduate student in economics and interested in the philosophy of science. I have excerpted parts of my responses (numbered 1 and 2) to his question and have left them incomplete in order to initiate what I hope to be a heated debate…

"Philosophers of science *should* match their program theory with past historical instance. It would be important to show that, for instance, validation has worked in the past. That is, philosophers of science should practice their own discipline. That said, it is insufficient to criticize a philosophy of science theory merely on the grounds that it does not align with history. However, it must be shown that any philosophy of science theory in the past has worked, even though it may not explain the entire history of progression in science. A Popperian, for instance, would attempt to falsify other theories in the philosophy of science on the basis of poor empirical support or disconfirmation.”

(1) I would ask that you explain why, if the theory is strictly normative, the theory of science needs to answer to historical validation. I understand the need for validation if the theory is sold as a descriptive/normative account of science, but for a normative account, I would argue that it would be something akin to a category mistake to require empirical justification for some theory that is not making any empirical claims.

(2) For Popper, his theory of falsificationism is supposed to be initially adopted as a convention, to be justified solely according to its consequences (problem-solving magnitude, though he does not use these words). Popper conceptualizes scientific endeavors as essentially problem-solving endeavors (philosophy in general is also based on problem-solving). As such, hypotheses are proposed solutions to these problems and are only useful insofar as they are good at solving the problem that they have been generated to solve. The problem for a theory of science is, for Popper, a means of successfully demarcating scientific claims from non-scientific claims. He suggests that Falsificationism is well equipped to demarcate science and to uphold various other characteristics that must be upheld in order for some enterprise to be called scientific (various empirical strictures, a conception of progress, etc). So his theory of science is conventional, in that, it does not initially come with a full-fledged rational justification-package, but is to be provisionally accepted as a means of solving the problem at hand. If it solves a problem (the problem of demarcation), then we keep it, if it does not, we provide another solution and examine how well it solves the problem. So a methodological theory is not to be critiqued by another theory and its particular methodological processes, but by how well that theory solves the particular problem that it was proposed to solve. For example, Popper didn’t critique the Positivist’s verification criteria of meaning according to whether it is subject to falsification, but because it did not adequately solve that which it was suppose to solve; i.e, the problem of demarcation.


At 4:38 AM, October 21, 2006, Blogger cheryl said...

Admittedly, I can't say that I have studied that much philosophy of science, but I shall toss in my thoughts anyway.

What disturbs me most about this quote is the statement:

"philosophers of science should practice their own discipline."

Frankly, I can't quite make sense of this at all. Is this is a claim that philosophers of science ought to apply to their own theories the methods they theorize scientists ought to apply to theirs? If so, this seems radically absurd for the simple fact that philosophy is not science, for the reasons that they cannot apply the same methods because they deal with radically different things. If this were not the case, there would be no difference between philosophy and science.

This would be like a doctor who makes up a plan for his patient who suffers from high blood pressure to do all of these things to bring it down, such as what he ought to eat, what sorts of exercises he ought to do, things for relaxation, etc., and then asking the doctor to do all of those things since he is telling his patient to do them. But the doctor doesn't suffer high blood pressure, and thus, all of those recommendations simply don't apply.

That pretty much sums up all I have to say.

I do hope some more people hop onto this blog and participate, as it could get really fun and interesting.

Hey, I'll bake cookies for anyone that participates! Yes, I'm resorting to bribery. ;P But I do bake some damn good choco chip cookies. Or banana bread...

At 1:25 PM, October 21, 2006, Blogger Sarah said...

I'm going to guess (and hope) that once we get through midterms (which should be fairly soon) that things will take off a bit. Tedla has a fun assertion to share with us all that I'm really quite excited about.

But if you are baking... :-)

At 10:22 AM, October 22, 2006, Blogger Marcus Adams said...

In response to above -- much of the contemporary defense of realism seems (to me) to center on the idea that science should be defended via scientific means/method. In fact, it is called the "scientific defense" of realism. Philosophy from this view ought to be continuous with science.

Regarding the doctor example. I agree that asking the non-high-blood-pressure-suffering doctor to do the same activities would be absurd, but what about if we asked the doctor to justify his method (which seems to be what we're asking the scientist to do)? Would philosophical terms/categories be required? Many philosophers might say that it probably would at some point (e.g., what constitutes death), but I'm not sure the naturalized epistemologist (weak or strong) would.

There's my 2 cents for whatever it's worth.

At 3:48 PM, October 22, 2006, Blogger cheryl said...

[Sorry this got so long! I tend to go off on tangents way too easily.]

"but I'm not sure the naturalized epistemologist (weak or strong) would."

Precisely. Which is why I'm not a naturalist. ;)

[By the way: my writing style for blogging tends to be pretty off the cuff, and usually rushed; so if it feels that way, you know why. ;) I just type out my thoughts as they come to mind, and don't usually go back and reread much.]

I cannot possibly understand how it would epistemically be "okay", for lack of a more precise and rigorous word, that a method is justified internally by utilizing that very method itself. We justify scientific method by using scientific methods? That seems absurd. I could just as easily use a Tarot deck to justify the method of Tarot reading as a viable method. Sure, we can all do that. But is that really what it means to justify something? That would also be like using the Bible to justify the existence of God. You certainly aren't going to convince an atheist, because you aren't even starting from some common, non-theistic ground to begin with. The same for science. You can't justify the methods of science to someone who doesn't accept them by using scientific methods.

BUT! There is an internal issue here that requires attention: the nature and definition of "justification". If you and I already have radically different conceptions of what justification is, then we'll probably take the method of justification for something, in this case, scientific method, to be very different things. The problem that I see with such a situation, for example, with the N.E., is that we're talking past each other, and well, that's not okay for philosophy in general. It seems pretty disingenuous to the endeavor of philosophy to come to a fundamental disagreement and just end it with, "Well, we agree to disagree", and then part our ways. So the question for justifying the methods of science must address specifically the question of what counts as justification for the methods of science. And frankly, I'm of the opninion that if you're going to allow the methods of science to justify the methods of science, then you might as well let everything else justify itself. Self-justification for everyone!

No no no, that's not right, now is it? We'd all think that's absurd. But why? Probably because we have this feeling that science is somehow special. Okay, yes, and I agree. But that's just what is at issue, what must be discovered: how and why is science special above other kinds of methods (for the acquisition of empirical knowledge or whatever)? What makes science so special? Why those methods? This is NOT a scientific question, and therefore, not something that scientific methods can be employed to answer.

But, there is a further problem about such discussions of scientific methods: what are the scientific methods? What exactly falls into this little category that we hold so dear? That, too, is a philosophical rather than a scientific question. Is it just the methods that scientists use? 'Cause, boy, there are lots of 'em! There isn't some step-by-step process that scientists use every single time they engage in science, like the way you follow a recipe or something. (Why do I keep thinking about cooking and baking here? lol.) If you read accounts of physicists, for example, since they're a good example, because philosophers love to pick out physics as THE science, and how they came up with their theories, I think many people would be really surprised. One of the most influential and important figures in 20th c. quantum mechanics P.A.M. Dirac explicitly said that in doing physics, constructing theories, all of that, etc., he would specifically look only for beauty, because he believed outright that beauty would lead straight to truth. He taught all of those who studied underneath him, Do not seek for truth, forget about that, just look for beauty, and you will find truth. And following this principle, he accomplished a lot. So, does that count as one of the scientific methods? And it's not just Dirac who espoused such an idea, our dear Einstein did, too, and so many other physicsists, and they still do today. Why did physicists get so hyped about string theory? They didn't have a lick of evidence for it. But it was beautiful! The fact that it appeared to solve the inconsistency between relativity and quantum mechanics was so attractive in and of itself, but additionally, it had so many other qualities that physicists were just drooling over based purely on how gorgeous they were.

Now, if one wants to claim that all of this is not part of scientific methods, one has to face up the fact that (a) so many physicists do incorporate the concept of beauty in the way they do their work, and (b) the use of beauty in physics has produced so much progress and work, it really seems to work. And maybe there's one more thing, (c) if you read historically through science, the concept of beauty has really always been present and incorporated into the development of theories, all of the great scientists throughout our history that made some of the most monumental discoveries and such, they all talked about beauty in one way or another.

Okay, I had better shut up now, I do apologize for the incredibly long tangent. It's just a topic that I got so deeply interested in--the use of beauty in science--about 6 or 7 years ago and studied it quite a bit, and I still think it's a really awesome topic to discuss, and it has its own attractiveness. I've got some other ideas about it, but I really need to shut up now.

At 8:35 PM, October 22, 2006, Blogger Tedla said...

Hey folks:

Yes, Sarah is intentionally enticing me to participate in this blog (about which I’m really grateful to her and others who invented it for us all) and, yes, she has succeeded in what she’s doing and here are some of my thoughts about the post which is being discussed. [Sarah, just wait for some more days for me to post my “assertion” you and other fellow bloggers-at least one more of the bloggers- have found to be perhaps wildly controversial. Perhaps it is, perhaps it’s not; we’ll see.

Now Synapsomatic (hereafter SS-too long to write every time) has shared a number of interesting ideas and I pick up some to just raise some questions that we might want to pursue further. If some argue that scientific methods can or legitimately justify scientific methods or truths that scientific methods deliver that seems to be absurd, and I see the problematic nature of such reasoning. But wait a minute one might say and would ask us, the philosophers, whether philosophical method -whatever it is-is not used to justify philosophical conclusions that philosophical method is supposed to deliver. Isn’t such a reasoning or practice analogously absurd? We, the philosophers, seem to be in trouble!

In an analogous way, SS calls into question using the Bible to argue for the existence of God and I do see why that is a problem, once again. It’s committing circular reasoning in a vicious way at that! But then I beg to differ here, at least for the sake of argument. I think a theist can argue for the existence of God using the Bible even when an atheist insists on denying the existence of the God of the Bible. A theist does not need to ask an atheist to believe in the existence of God when she argues for the existence of God using the Bible. A theist can simply ask an atheist to assume that theism is true or the best explanation for some philosophically interesting claims as opposed to, let’s say, naturalism, and see if a naturalistic atheist would have explanatorily superior stories to tell about, for example, the existence of the universe, the nature of human beings, etc. Would it be absurd to think that such arguments or rather reasoning is philosophically acceptable at least between a theist and an atheist? The reasoning I’m invoking for in behalf of a theist is a family of IBE or something like that. Then, are all arguments, for example, based on IBE absurd? I’m not saying that SS believes that reasoning based on the IBE is absurd but then I’d not want to dismiss some arguments as absurd simply because they smack of something akin to circular reasoning for we need to be clear what circular reasoning commits one to before we summarily dismiss such reasoning. One thing to be clear: I’m not defending any position here. I’m just raising possible clarifications or objections about some thoughts that I’ve found worth responding to.

Another point I want to say something about is about beauty and its connection to truth in the example SS brings up. This is a very interesting idea to pursue philosophically. I’m not sure what Dirac and those who followed his footsteps, and, of course any scientist, means by beauty. I’ve no expertise in aesthetics and wouldn’t say much about beauty. But that does not prevent me from asking some pertinent questions about the connection between beauty and truth. Now one wonders whether aesthetic properties are mind-independent and hence objective or they are subjective and/or intersubjective. If there are such mind-independent aesthetic properties whenever a scientist attributes beauty to theories in physics or philosophy for that matter, it seems right to wonder whether realism about beauty w/t scientific theories would lead one to realism about truth. The desideratum “do not seek for truth, in your work as a scientist, look for beauty for beauty will lead you to truth”, when both aesthetic properties and truth are taken objectively, in a realist sense, seems to underwrite some connection between truth and beauty. [In other words, Dirac and his ilk seem to be committed to: Reject beauty and thereby you reject truth but then the converse is not true. One wonders why such a claim needs to be accepted without further arguments but let that pass for now].At any rate, such a desideratum seems to imply that one’s talk of beauty is a round about way of talking about truth without explicitly saying so. A scientific realist might think that that is so neat for her robust realism underwrites the empirical success of science and would thank Dirac and his followers for their contribution for scientific realism.

No, no, would some say to the above and similar arguments. If one wants to say that aesthetic properties and all attributions of beauty to scientific theorizing is subjective and mind-dependent, that ushers in the debate between realism and anti-realism with respect to what a scientist attributes beauty to. We’re familiar with such debates by now and I do not need to go any longer to make a case for this or that for my idea was just to raise some questions or draw out implications of some of the issues raised in the previous post. Hope that I’ve done such a thing above.



At 10:45 PM, October 22, 2006, Blogger Tedla said...

Hey Folks:

To my surprise I accidentally discovered a totally forgotten blog to which I was contributing-nearly 3 yrs ago- some philosophical issues on the role of intuitions in philosophy and have thought that some of you might want to continue such discussions here in our blog. Here's the link to a blog :



At 11:08 PM, October 22, 2006, Blogger Tedla said...

Hi again:

I've found out (after posting the previous info) about the intuitions stuff that the link I provided seems to be dead. I decided to copy the whole disucussion from the archive into my emaila account to preserve these endangered ideas (had no idea how I'd track down the link in the future if it's dead anyway and hence my decision to copy the discussions into my email account.

If anyone has an idea as to how I can make the link work, resurrect the link, as it were, please shed some light on this dark matter.



At 11:26 PM, October 22, 2006, Blogger Marcus Adams said...

Responding to [But wait a minute one might say and would ask us, the philosophers, whether philosophical method -whatever it is-is not used to justify philosophical conclusions that philosophical method is supposed to deliver. Isn’t such a reasoning or practice analogously absurd?]

Further on this thought ...How do we as we justify deduction? Via deductive means it seems, but this does not seem absurd. The question is whether IBE should be justified via its own method (as maybe deduction seems it is) or through a priori certain epistemic principles.


At 12:07 AM, October 23, 2006, Blogger Tedla said...

Good question Marcus:

Yes, there does not seem to be absurdity if we justify deduction by decutive means and let's grant that is not a problem. Justifying IBE by invoking IBE would seem to be problematic, however.

Now we know that justifying deduction by means of deduction can be seen okay as long as we know that what such a justification does is preserving truth (the role of deductively valid arguments or logical consequences is preservation of truth.) The problem is that the truth of the premisses we use in deductive arguments cannot be acquired or obtained deductively, that is, whether the premises are true cannot be settled by appeal to deduction itself, if I'm correct. This is an important point to bear in mind. We determine whether the premisses we plug into deductive arguments are true or or not based either on (a) inductive (empirical statements etc) or (b) a priori belief/knowledge of necessary truths or analytical truths and we cannot determine the truths of such premisses by appeal to deduction in any obvious way. These are, I think, some of the reasons as I think that justification of deduction via deduction does not seem problematic for there is no viciousness immediately attached to such justifications.

What about philosophical conclusions based on IBE and how is the above points are related to using IBE to to justify IBE. I do not think the reasoning behind IBE is radically different from the ideas I've shared above. I think there is enough analogy between the two to claim that they're on a par.



At 6:53 PM, October 23, 2006, Anonymous Tom said...

I wanted to follow-up with some clarification on "Philosophers should practice what they preach".

Let me frame a scenario, imagine a scientist X who practices falsification. Using this method, the scientist establishes new theories that seemed promising. Inevidibly, as technology progresses, let us say years after scientist X's theories are posited, we are able to do more accurate and sophisticated testing. For whatever reason, scientist X's theories were all wrong. Now, there should be two questions that follow: (1) was it just bad science, that is, did scientist X know what he was saying and (2) did the falsification method fail somehow?

The philosopher of science should be very interested if it was the latter. In fact, I think the biggest argument against the Vienna school (positivism) is that it continually failed to establish persistent theories in science. An analysis of the history of science would reveal this.

*Philosophers tell scientists to test their theories, philosophers should look in the history of science to see if their methods have been practiced and if they succeeded.

Caveat: A philosophy of science *does not* need to be consistent with history (i.e., Kuhnian type arguments). Just because science was once practiced a certain way does not mean that's how it should be practiced.

-Tom the economist

At 10:44 PM, October 23, 2006, Blogger Trin said...

Logically, there is no way to rationally demonstrate to a deductive skeptic that deduction is a justifiable means of inference. However, this does not represent a problem, for the burden of proof in this case lies with the skeptic. Any given fundamental conception of rationality is inextricably linked to the dictates of logic and, because of this, it is the task of the skeptic to ‘unjustify’ the deductive rules of inference in a way that necessarily moves beyond hand-waving and dogmatism. This reminds me of Quine’s famous passage where he argues that it would be rational to remove any node within the web of belief come what may…of course how he plans on doing this in a rational way is well beyond me. But, by accepting the law of non-contradiction and (potentially) the law of the excluded middle, a veritable hodgepodge of inferential rules follow without complaint. But IBE in this case seems to be highly different and what is being asked to be assumed is certainly more than a principle of logical differentiation: what is being assumed is that a non-deductive mode in inference is truth-preserving (presumably in all cases in which it is appealed). So in this case I would have to state that the differences between the two justification arguments (deduction v. IBE) are vast indeed!
Also, positing rule circularity as concerned with self-justificatory projects seems to be playing fast and loose with the notion of justification for many reasons. First, while entertaining the deductive skeptic, we can demonstrate inconsistency in any given proof by abandoning non-contradiction; thereby providing a reductio to the skeptic’s position (thought they are admittedly probably unimpressed). We can also offer arguments and demonstrations concerning the process of truth-preservation in deductive inferences by distinguishing valid v. invalid instances of the inferential rules (providing instances when the truth-preservation property is justifiably instantiated and when it is not). However, with IBE I don’t think that any quasi-independent ‘proofs’ can be given for the soundness of these inductive inferences beyond the No Miracles Argument (which again is nothing more than a presupposition of that which is to be explained), and there doesn’t seem to be any methodological way to formulate the procedure for ensuring truth-preservation apart from hand-waving. Hence, if we lack the means to adjudicate when we are justified in appealing to IBE, then there seems to be no way of ensuring when we have correctly applied the principle. So my post boils down to the necessity of the IBE theorist to answer the following questions: (1) under what conditions can the IBE rule of inference be appealed to?; (2) under what conditions can it be known that the ‘best explanation’ is the explanation that is being suggested by the IBE theorist (if IBE is, in fact, truth-preserving, then IBE must be in a position to differentiate…)?; (3) are all token instances of IBE on equal ground, epistemically speaking, or is it that IBE is justified as a type of inferential procedure apart from its token instances (the best explanation for why things fall down in general (gravity) is distinct from the best explanation as to why I fell down today on my way to the bathroom (I can’t navigate stairs)); (4) what constitutes a ‘best explanation’?

At 11:39 PM, October 23, 2006, Blogger cheryl said...

Oh now, my dearest Trinity, you will, indeed, get your cookies! ;D

And, you have abbreviated me!!! I'm not quite sure yet how to take this.

And, lastly, in response to all other comments...I'll get back to you all on that...

At 2:17 AM, October 24, 2006, Blogger Tedla said...

Hi SS and Trin:

1) SS: Who is getting the cookies? (a)the person who has abbreviated your, SS's, name and the person who has also responded to your, SS's, post? If the answer is in the affirmative, then there seems to be a misindetification of who's done that given the first sentence by SS in the previous post; the person who's abbreviated your, SS's, name is not identical to the person who has written a great post right before your, SS's, post. FYI, the person who's abbrivaited your name to SS might have used that famous Razor, though wrongly!

(b) if the person who's responded to the post on the relationship and differences between deduction and IBE is the one who's getting the cookies, then you've correctly addressed him by his name, which is, Mr, Trin or Trinity. That brings me to Trin:

2) Yes, Trin, your contribution is a great challenge to the proponents of IBE, whoever they are. But then if you've in mind, perhaps, the version of IBE as defended by Peter Lipton, I do not think that Lipton's IBE would avoid committing some benign circularity that people wonder to also "afflict" deduction, which means, both benign and not vicious. What I had in mind when I suggested that there could be such a parity between these two need not be taken as far as you've taken the parity thesis. It was only suggestive on my part and I'd not compare the function of truth-preservation that deductive validy is taken to accomplish to that of IBE, which is not a deductive argument in the first place nor inductive. That way the analogy need not be taken.

I think it'd be a good idea if we say more about what deductive arguments accomplish in the sense of what they deliver to us in philosophical arguments, in any epistemologically interesting way. If we do not establish the truth of the premisses ( for example , of contingent truths such as being discussed in scientific realism debates) in deductive arguments by way of non-deductive arguments, we're not going to get anywhere in our epistemic state. The reason we feel committing some cirular reasoning by using deductive arguments seems to harbor some dissatisfaction, epistemically speaking, and one sense of such dissatisfaction seems to have something do with the lack of epismic efficacy of deduction. Truth-preservation of deductively valid arguments can be accomplished only when we have truth in the premisses to begin with! Some such epistemic discomfort that a rational epistemic agent might have toward the role of deduction, I think, is comparable to that of IBE and our dissatisfaction with it. What I had in mind when I suggested some parity between deduction and IBE could be captured by the above thoughts, hopefully.



At 9:26 AM, October 24, 2006, Blogger Adam B said...

Two Comments/Questions on Trin's Post:
"But, by accepting the law of non-contradiction and (potentially) the law of the excluded middle, a veritable hodgepodge of inferential rules follow without complaint."

I'm not sure this is right. What rules of inference follow from the law of non-contradiction and the law of the excluded middle alone?

On Quine, you say:
"Any given fundamental conception of rationality is inextricably linked to the dictates of logic and, because of this, it is the task of the skeptic to ‘unjustify’ the deductive rules of inference in a way that necessarily moves beyond hand-waving and dogmatism. This reminds me of Quine’s famous passage where he argues that it would be rational to remove any node within the web of belief come what may…of course how he plans on doing this in a rational way is well beyond me."

Here's how I think Quine might respond (no doubt in more eloquent prose... *sigh*). We're talking past one another. You say rationality is "inextricably linked to the dictates of [classical] logic." OK, fine. What I'll say is--who cares about rationality? What's important is Q-rationality--modifying one's conceptual scheme in whatever ways are necessary to accomodate experience. The point of that infamous passage in "Two Dogmas," then, is that we can conceive of a situation in which it would be Q-rational to revise classical logic, and Q-rationality is what's important.

At 6:28 PM, October 24, 2006, Blogger Trin said...

For a quick and dirty response to the question about inferential rules following from non-contradiction and the excluded middle, please allow me to go the cheap way and just, first, list some rules that can be derived by appealing to Russell and Whitehead's work in the Principia Mathematica dealing with the Law of the Excluded Middle and, if the debate persists, I can provide citations and examples (and please do not think for a second that I have worked all the way through the Principia!!! I have a good friend who did/is and thus most of what I say traces back to him and his infinite patience).
2.1 ~pvp [the law of the excluded middle]
2.11 pv~p [permutation of the law]
2.12 p--> ~(~p) [double negation]
2.13 pv~(~(~p) [lemma together w/ 2.12 to derive 2.14]
2.14 ~(~p)--> p [double negation pt.2]
2.15(~p-->q)-->(~q-->p) [first of four principles of transposition]
2.16 (p-->q)-->(~q-->~p)
2.17 (~p-->~q)-->(p-->q) [second of four principles of transposition]
2.18 (~p-->p)-->p [complement of the reductio ad absurdum]

Russell and Whitehead derive the law of the excluded middle from (p-->p) and what they call the "primitive idea" (p-->q)=(~pvq). Substitution of q for p then allows for ~pvp.

At 6:47 PM, October 24, 2006, Blogger Trin said...

It posted my comment while I was still writing it so please let me continue. Allegedly, these and many more inferential rules can be derived solely by appeal to the law of the excluded middle, but whether all of the valid rules of inference can be so derived is something I am not in any way prepared/qualified to answer. but I think the prospects are interesting nonetheless.

I am interested in your (Adam) response to my claim concerning rationality via a ghost of Quine reply. First, I am not so sure that we can reduce the complaint to one of talking past one another for the simple reason that the nature of the debate has been shifted to accomodate the shift in the concept of rationality (which I think that you are absolutely right in suggesting what Quine's response would be). Further, I think that the requirement to shift the meaning of the concept to allow for accomodations relating to experience is a move that will require justification and, in so doing, will presuppose a [traditional) rational method of doing so. (the ghost of) Quine certainly has a reason for suggesting that rationality allow for accomodations concerning experience, and I do not see how this reason/justification would not presuppose some method that does not depend on what he is trying to allow to be discarded. If Quine (again, his instantiated spirit) believes that q-rationality is important, then it is fair to ask why he believes it such, and to then ask for a reason for his response to the 'why' question. In so doing, I cannot see how this presupposes no rules of inference and a traditional conception of rationality.

At 7:47 PM, October 24, 2006, Blogger Adam B said...


Sure, plenty follows from LEM, PNC, *and* a veritable hodge-podge of other logical goodies (DN, transposition, etc.). I wasn't questioning that. I was concerned that you were arguing that LEM&PNC alone give you lots of interesting stuff. But your comment helps me to say what you were getting at (misread you, my bad).

I think that your response is the natural one (and the one I like to make to myself when Quine begins to speak through me), but it raises an interesting question. How much classical logic do you need to do belief revision? Not too much, I imagine. Quine can't reject the whole shebang (it seems like you need modus tollens at least), but it seems like he could chuck a few pieces. There are, after all, all sorts of funny non-classical logics in which lots of important classical theorems hold. (Apparently even some in which PNC holds, but LEM does not, which I didn't realize until I just did a google search and found

More later (if I get to it tonight)

Hrm... I just failed the "look at these letters and type them in this box" test.

At 12:01 PM, October 25, 2006, Blogger Sarah said...

I'd apologize for the word verification, but it makes sure we don't get spammed. The older posts (from round 1) have some serious spam issues.

Perhaps I will use my blog-god status and delete them...some day.

At 3:22 PM, October 25, 2006, Blogger Adam B said...

Oh, don't think I was criticizing word verification--I think it's great! ... it's just that it makes me feel stupid when I fail the test.

At 7:09 AM, October 26, 2006, Blogger Sarah said...

It's a bit like a Rorshach test sometimes isn't it?

*Oddly enough I just failed the test on the first attempt to post this comment*

At 3:34 PM, October 28, 2006, Blogger cheryl said...

*Ack* There has so much added, and I have so little time, at the moment. But the discussion looks fantastically interesting and I do want to dive in, and I will, soon.

To clarify the cookie proposition: my original comment in reference to cookies bears the intent to mean that, all who participate on this blog--the "blog" does not refer merely to this particular post, but as a whole, the collective of what falls under the blog here named "Undetached Rabbit Parts"--and who are now part of the graduate philosophy program at WMU--"now" being bound to refer via the time of my typing, not via the time of the reading--possess the priviledged access to my superb, homebaked from scratch cookies.

A bag of chocolate of chips has been purchased, and the collection of other ingredients live in various cabinets and shelves in my kitchen; thus, the process of producing the cookies has officially begun. I shall make an announcement in a new and separate post in this blog when the completed cookies have presented themselves as fit for consumption. Distribution shall take place in my office, only upon the condition of a correct recitation of a password, by the one who desires the cookies, not by myself, of course.

Anyone who is discovered to leak such confidential information will be prosecuted and punished in accordance with the severity of his crime, which is solely up to whatever I see fit. Removing oneself from the bindings of this contract--oh yes, it is indeed a contract--is strictly and absolutely not an option.


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