A Counterexample to Skepticism

The statement, “Either something happened or something didn’t happen,” is immune to skepticism. If a skeptic tries to doubt it, then something has happened, making the statement true. If no one doubts it and nothing happened, then the statement is again true. Therefore you may have absolute certainty that something has or has not happened. Moreover, this statement has it’s uses: I can imagine mothers all over the country trying to impress upon their teenagers […]

A note on epistemology

Justified true belief does not yield knowledge, and everyone should know this by now. Beyond Gettier’s argument, is this tack I heard given by Jaakko Hintikka: You may believe something, fine, and have whatever justifications you wish. But how do you know the thing is true? The point he was making was that far beyond the issue of problems in having the right sort of justifications is the problem of having truth as well. Whenever […]

Demise, the Fallen and Annihilation

In Being and Time Heidegger makes a distinction between death and demise: death is the ending of Da-sein, or Being, and demise is physical perishing. I think this is a good distinction and since I break up ontology into 3 sorts of things – commitments, objects & descriptions – I will have three ways to die: Fallen: the perishing of all commitments of a living person. Demise: the perishing of physical attributes of a living […]

What is philosophy?

The question of what philosophy is always made me squirm. People would ask me what I do, I’d tell them, and then they would ask me what it exactly was that I do. But now I have a answer. A while back I heard a quote attributed to Russell that went roughly: Philosophy starts out with propositions that everyone would accept as true, and then ends up with propositions that no one would accept as […]

Dependence Logic vs. Independence Friendly Logic

I picked up Dependence Logic: A New Approach to Independence Friendly Logic by Jouko Väänänen. I figure I’ll write up a review when I am finished with the book, but there is one chief difference between Dependence Logic and Independence Friendly Logic that needs to be mentioned. On pages 44-47 when describing the difference between Dependence Logic and Independence Friendly Logic Väänänen says, The backslashed quantifier, ∃xn{xi0,…,xim-1}φ, introduced in ref. [20], with the intuitive meaning: […]

The Monty Hall Problem

[check out my more recent Monty Redux for, perhaps, a clearer exposition] The Monty Hall Problem illustrates an unusual phenomenon of changing probabilities based upon someone else’s knowledge. On the game-show Let’s Make a Deal the host, Monty Hall, asks the contestant to choose one of three possibilities – Door One, Two or Three – with one door leading to a prize and the other two leading to goats. After the contestant selects a door, […]

Psychopharmacological Enhancement

The only ways to enhance the mind is to learn or evolve. Since evolution is out of our hands, all that is left is to learn. Drugs that purport psychopharmacological enhancement do not do what their name states: they may change certain psychological factors but there is no drug that will make you smarter. This would be to eat from the tree of knowledge. However drugs may be able to let you do things that […]

Solved Philosophy

I was reading the philo-blogs and today (7 March) Richard Brown has taken issue with Richard Chappell’s Examples of Solved Philosophy. Brown holds that there is no such thing as solved philosophy (or problems are “only solved from a theoretical standpoint” and hence “involve substantial begging the question”), whereas Chappell happily provides examples that “are at least as well-established as most scientific results.” Now there is something to be said for both sides: Brown is […]

Computers, Intelligence and the Embodied Mind

This interview with Hubert Dreyfus (just the parts about computers: part 1, part 2. via Continental Philosophy) briefly outlines one of the major criticisms leveled against artificial intelligence: computers will never be intelligent because our intelligence is based upon our physical interactions in and with the world. Very briefly, our intelligence is fundamentally tied to our bodies because it is only through our bodies do we have any interaction with the world. If we separate […]