:: The End Times

The Anti-Platonist Metaphysician published 20/01/2018

An anti-Platonist like myself has one advantage and one disadvantage over against the Platonist. We have only one realm or domain and so do not need to worry about cross-domain magic. Ockham’s Razor tells us that if we have two equally good theories and one of them commits us to fewer kinds of entities than the other, then we should choose the one with fewer kinds. If nominalism and Platonism can account for and explain the same phenomena, then nominalism should win. The problem with Ockham’s Razor is always that it is rare for theories to be so obviously comparable. Much more often, one theory has some advantages and drawbacks, and the other has different advantages and drawbacks.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Peter Simons.

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Along With The Eggs, Are There Sets Of Eggs In The Fridge Too? And Other Key Questions… published 13/01/2018

The idea that mathematical truths are about human activities is deeply flawed. Even as basic an area as arithmetic deals with quantities human beings can’t handle—numbers greater than the number of particles in the universe for instance. You could say that mathematical truths are shorthand for idealised human activities. But the idealisation involved leaves our actual abilities far behind. And the more abstract the mathematics, the more strained it is to interpret it in such parochial terms.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Alexander Paseau.

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Poise Is Everything… Surfing Uncertainty published 05/01/2018

The core idea is that what matters is not where stuff is encoded, or in what medium, but the uses to which it can readily be put. Poise is everything. Just as it doesn’t really matter, when working online, whether some piece of information is stored on your hard drive or in the cloud, as long as it’s usually ready for access when the need is there.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Andy Clark.

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Spinoza’s Metaphysics and His Relationship To Hegel and the German Idealists published 30/12/2017

The “every determination is negation” formula was extremely important for Hegel, as he considered it an important precedent of his own dialectic. I have mentioned earlier that Hegel viewed Spinoza’s monism as a modern reemergence of Eleatic philosophy. Hegel – just like Della Rocca – was truly enchanted by the Sirens of Elea. He thought that philosophy must begin with Spinozist or Eleatic monism, but that it also must proceed beyond this standpoint, and he considered dialectic – the formation and implosion of contradictions – as the primary vehicle for the unfolding of philosophy. Thus, for Hegel, Spinozism was not only the proper point of departure for philosophy, but it also contained the tool – i.e. dialectic – which allowed philosophy to develop and move ahead.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Yitzhak Melamed.

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Credence: What To Do When We’re Not Certain published 23/12/2017

When I say it’s as likely as not that Ngugi will win next year’s Nobel Prize for Literature, and about time, I’m saying that my credence that Ngugi will win is the same as my credence that he’ll lose. And again when I say I’m 95% confident it will rain tomorrow. So credences are graded doxastic states that a subject like you or me or Ngugi or a robot can be in. They are doxastic states because, like our beliefs and unlike our desires, we use them to represent the way the world is. And they are graded because they come in degrees: I can have high credence it will rain tomorrow, low credence, middling credence, quite high credence, vanishingly small credence, and so on.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Richard Pettigrew.

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Existentialists In Love published 16/12/2017

Lovers can be the best mirrors because they tend to know us more intimately than anyone else. This is a curse too, though, because the more we care about another person, the more we want to know what they think of us, the more power they have over us, the more dependent we are on their views of us, and the more we want to try to control that view. There are two main strategies we use to try to find out the other’s views – their secrets – about us: possession and being possessed. That’s the sadism and masochism. We try to force the other person to reveal what they think of us, or we try to be subservient, to assimilate into the other.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Skye C. Cleary.

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Refer published 09/12/2017

I think it matters, and should matter, to a lot of Americans whether Trump is lying to us or whether he’s just full of shit. Likewise for the Brexiteers. Maybe it’ll only matter for the history books—well, at least until Trump finally gets around to banning those. Still, it matters. If we’re going to do better, we’ve got to start holding people to account, and hopefully in the right sorts of ways. My vague hope is that learning to attend to the various different ways in which our politicians lie to us, mislead us, and otherwise use language to manipulate us might one day help us to start making better, more informed decisions. I just don’t know how we can possibly hope to move forward in the complex, rather fucked-up world we live in if we’re basing our collective decisions not on good information, but on some bullshit that Trump decides to put in a tweet or that Boris Johnson decides sounds good on the side of a bus.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Eliot Michaelson.

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End Times Philosophy Interviews: The First 302 published 08/12/2017

As we hit the 300 mark I thought it might be a good idea to organise them in one place for readers who might find it useful. So here is the whole series so far. The categories used are pretty rough and ready but should help orientate people.

The End Times Catalog – all 302 of the interviews in one place!

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Logics: More Than One Way to Skin a Cat… published 02/12/2017

There is a logic that is nowadays called “classical logic”. It is based on a number of assumptions, including the assumption that a domain of individuals the language of classical logic is used to talk about is never empty, and that every sentence is either true or false but not neither true nor false nor both true and false in a given situation. Historically, this logic is rather young and goes back to work by George Boole and Gottlob Frege in the second half of the 19th century. The first textbook on classical first-order logic appeared in 1927. It may be debated whether the classicality of what is now called “classical logic” is a historical coincidence or whether classical logic is classical for some deeper reasons.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Heinrich Wansing.

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Frege, Dummett, Vagueness, Liars and Julius Caesar published 25/11/2017

I think we need to learn to live with the Liar, the same way we have learned to live with the Gödel incompleteness theorems (to which it is closely related). The interesting question, which is the one I think should get more attention, is what the philosophical consequences of this orientation are. It implies quite directly that there can be no all-encompassing language: no single language in which everything that can be said at all can be said. And it isn’t just language. There will be a corresponding (but forever moving) limit to thought. Our conceptual resources, to borrow a term from Dummett, will necessarily be ‘indefinitely extensible’, without limit, as a matter of necessity. It seems to follow that there can be no single ‘theory of everything’.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Richard Heck.

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