Combining Philosophers

All the ideas for Anon (Dan), Samir Okasha and Ned Markosian

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25 ideas

1. Philosophy / G. Scientific Philosophy / 3. Scientism
People who use science to make philosophical points don't realise how philosophical science is [Markosian]
     Full Idea: When people give arguments from scientific theories to philosophical conclusions, there is usually a good deal of philosophy built into the relevant scientific theories.
     From: Ned Markosian (A Defense of Presentism [2004], 3.9)
     A reaction: I love this remark, being thoroughly fed up with knowledgeable scientists who are naïve about philosophy, and think their current theory demolishes long-lasting aporiai. They are up to their necks in philosophy.
3. Truth / B. Truthmakers / 9. Making Past Truths
Presentism has the problem that if Socrates ceases to exist, so do propositions about him [Markosian]
     Full Idea: Presentism has a problem with singular propositions about non-present objects. ...When Socrates popped out of existence, according to Presentism, all those singular propositions about him also popped out of existence.
     From: Ned Markosian (A Defense of Presentism [2004], 2.1)
     A reaction: He seems to treat propositions in a Russellian way, as things which exist independently of thinkers, which I struggle to grasp. Markosian offers various strategies for this [§3.5].
7. Existence / C. Structure of Existence / 2. Reduction
Multiple realisability is said to make reduction impossible [Okasha]
     Full Idea: Philosophers have often invoked multiple realisability to explain why psychology cannot be reduced to physics or chemistry, but in principle the explanation works for any higher-level science.
     From: Samir Okasha (Philosophy of Science: Very Short Intro (2nd ed) [2016], 3)
     A reaction: He gives the example of a 'cell' in biology, which can be implemented in all sorts of ways. Presumably that can be reduced to many sorts of physics, but not just to one sort. The high level contains patterns that vanish at the low level.
10. Modality / E. Possible worlds / 2. Nature of Possible Worlds / a. Nature of possible worlds
Possible worlds must be abstract, because two qualitatively identical worlds are just one world [Markosian]
     Full Idea: Possible worlds are just abstract objects that play a certain role in philosophers' talk about modality. They are ways things could be. That's why there are no two abstract possible worlds which are qualitatively identical. They count as one world.
     From: Ned Markosian (A Defense of Presentism [2004], 3.10)
     A reaction: Brilliant! This looks like the best distinction between concrete and abstract. If two concreta are identical they remain two; if two abstracta are identical they are one (like numbers, or logical connectives with the same truth table).
14. Science / A. Basis of Science / 3. Experiment
Randomised Control Trials have a treatment and a control group, chosen at random [Okasha]
     Full Idea: In the Randomised Controlled Trial for a new drug, patients are divided at random into a treatment group who receive the drug, and a control group who do not. Randomisation is important to eliminate confounding factors.
     From: Samir Okasha (Philosophy of Science: Very Short Intro (2nd ed) [2016], 2)
     A reaction: [compressed] Devised in the 1930s, and a major breakthrough in methodology for that kind of trial. Psychologists use the method all the time. Some theorists say it is the only reliable method.
Not all sciences are experimental; astronomy relies on careful observation [Okasha]
     Full Idea: Not all sciences are experimental - astronomers obviously cannot do experiments on the heavens, but have to content themselves with careful observation instead.
     From: Samir Okasha (Philosophy of Science: Very Short Intro (2nd ed) [2016], 1)
     A reaction: Biology too. Psychology tries hard to be experimental, but I doubt whether the main theories emerge from experiments.
14. Science / A. Basis of Science / 6. Falsification
The discoverers of Neptune didn't change their theory because of an anomaly [Okasha]
     Full Idea: Adams and Leverrier began with Newton's theory of gravity, which made an incorrect prediction about the orbit of Uranus. They explained away the conflicting observations by postulating a new planet, Neptune.
     From: Samir Okasha (Philosophy of Science: Very Short Intro (2nd ed) [2016], 1)
     A reaction: The falsificationists can say that the anomalous observation did not falsify the theory, because they didn't know quite what they were observing. It was not in fact an anomaly for Newtonian theory at all.
Science mostly aims at confirming theories, rather than falsifying them [Okasha]
     Full Idea: The goal of science is not solely to refute theories, but also to determine which theories are true (or probably true). When a scientist collects data …they are trying to show that their own theory is true.
     From: Samir Okasha (Philosophy of Science: Very Short Intro (2nd ed) [2016], 2)
     A reaction: This is the aim of 'accommodation' to a wide set of data, rather than prediction or refutation.
14. Science / B. Scientific Theories / 1. Scientific Theory
Theories with unobservables are underdetermined by the evidence [Okasha]
     Full Idea: According to anti-realists, scientific theories which posit unobservable entities are underdetermined by the empirical data - there will always be a number of competing theories which can account for the data equally well.
     From: Samir Okasha (Philosophy of Science: Very Short Intro (2nd ed) [2016], 4)
     A reaction: The fancy version is Putnam's model theoretic argument, explored by Tim Button. The reply, apparently, is that there are other criteria for theory choice, apart from the data. And we don't have to actually observe everything in a theory.
14. Science / B. Scientific Theories / 5. Commensurability
Two things can't be incompatible if they are incommensurable [Okasha]
     Full Idea: If two things are incommensurable they cannot be incompatible.
     From: Samir Okasha (Philosophy of Science: Very Short Intro (2nd ed) [2016], 5)
     A reaction: Kuhn had claimed that two rival theories are incompatible, which forces the paradigm shift. He can't stop the slide off into total relativism. The point is there cannot be a conflict if there cannot even be a comparison.
14. Science / C. Induction / 1. Induction
Induction is inferences from examined to unexamined instances of a given kind [Okasha]
     Full Idea: Some philosophers use 'inductive' to just mean not deductive, …but we reserve it for inferences from examined to unexamined instances of a given kind.
     From: Samir Okasha (Philosophy of Science: Very Short Intro (2nd ed) [2016], 2)
     A reaction: The instances must at least be comparable. Must you know the kind before you start? Surely you can examine a sequence of things, trying to decide whether or not they are of one kind? Is checking the uniformity of a kind induction?
14. Science / C. Induction / 6. Bayes's Theorem
If the rules only concern changes of belief, and not the starting point, absurd views can look ratiional [Okasha]
     Full Idea: If the only objective constraints concern how we should change our credences, but what our initial credences should be is entirely subjective, then individuals with very bizarre opinions about the world will count as perfectly rational.
     From: Samir Okasha (Philosophy of Science: Very Short Intro (2nd ed) [2016], 2)
     A reaction: The important rationality has to be the assessement of a diverse batch of evidence, for which there can never be any rules or mathematics.
19. Language / A. Nature of Meaning / 4. Meaning as Truth-Conditions
'Grabby' truth conditions first select their object, unlike 'searchy' truth conditions [Markosian]
     Full Idea: We can talk of 'grabby' truth conditions (where an object is grabbed before predication) and 'searchy' truth conditions (where the object is included in what is being asserted).
     From: Ned Markosian (A Defense of Presentism [2004], 3.8)
     A reaction: [He credits Tom Ryckman with the terminology] I am inclined to think that the whole of language is 'searchy', even when it appears to be blatantly 'grabby'. Even ostensive reference is an act of hope rather than certainty.
27. Natural Reality / A. Classical Physics / 1. Mechanics / b. Laws of motion
Galileo refuted the Aristotelian theory that heavier objects fall faster [Okasha]
     Full Idea: Galileo's most enduring contribution lay in mechanics, where he refuted the Aristotelian theory that heavier bodies fall faster than lighter.
     From: Samir Okasha (Philosophy of Science: Very Short Intro (2nd ed) [2016], 2)
     A reaction: This must the first idea in the theory of mechanics, allowing mathematical treatment and accurate comparisons.
27. Natural Reality / D. Time / 1. Nature of Time / h. Presentism
Presentism is the view that only present objects exist [Markosian]
     Full Idea: According to Presentism, if we were to make an accurate list of all the things that exist (within the range of our most unrestricted quantifiers) there would not be a single non-present object on the list.
     From: Ned Markosian (A Defense of Presentism [2004], 1)
     A reaction: An immediate problem that needs examing is what constitutes an 'object'. It had better not range over time (like an journey). It would be hard to fit a description like 'the oldest man in England'.
Presentism says if objects don't exist now, we can't have attitudes to them or relations with them [Markosian]
     Full Idea: If there are no non-present objects (according to Presentism), then no one can now stand in any relation to any non-present object. You cannot now 'admire' Socrates, and no present event has a causal relation to Washington crossing the Delaware.
     From: Ned Markosian (A Defense of Presentism [2004], 2.2)
     A reaction: You can have an overlapping causal chain that gets you back to Washington, and a causal chain can connect Socrates to our thoughts about him (as in baptismal reference). A simple reply needs an 'overlap' though.
Presentism seems to entail that we cannot talk about other times [Markosian]
     Full Idea: It is very natural to talk about times, ...but Presentism seems to entail that we never say anything about any such times.
     From: Ned Markosian (A Defense of Presentism [2004], 2.4)
     A reaction: I'm beginning to think that Markosian is in the grips of a false notion of proposition, as something that exists independently of thinkers, and is entailed by the facts and objects of reality. This is not what language does.
Serious Presentism says things must exist to have relations and properties; Unrestricted version denies this [Markosian]
     Full Idea: Mark Hinchliff distinguishes between 'Serious' Presentism (objects only have relations and properties when they exist) and 'Unrestricted' Presentism (objects can have relations and properties even when they don't exist).
     From: Ned Markosian (A Defense of Presentism [2004], 3.1)
     A reaction: [Hinchliff 1996:124-6] Markosian votes for the Serious version, as being the only true Presentism. I think he is muddling language and reality, predicates and properties.
Maybe Presentists can refer to the haecceity of a thing, after the thing itself disappears [Markosian]
     Full Idea: Some Presentists (such as Adams) believe that a haecceity (a property unique to some entity) continues to exist even after its object ceases to exist. A sentence about Socrates still expresses a proposition, about 'Socraticity'.
     From: Ned Markosian (A Defense of Presentism [2004], 3.4)
     A reaction: [Adams 1986] This is rather puzzling. In what sense could a haecceity 'exist' to be referred to? Existence, but not as we know it, Jim. This smacks of medieval theology.
Maybe Presentists can paraphrase singular propositions about the past [Markosian]
     Full Idea: Maybe Presentists can paraphrase singular propositions about the past, into purely general past- and future-tensed sentences.
     From: Ned Markosian (A Defense of Presentism [2004], 3.5)
     A reaction: I'm not clear why Markosian worries about singular propositions, but is happy with general ones. Surely the latter refer as much as the former to what doesn't exist? Markosian objects that the paraphrase has a different meaning.
Special Relativity denies the absolute present which Presentism needs [Markosian]
     Full Idea: The objection to Presentism from Special Relativity is this: 1) Relativity is true, 2) so there is no absolute simultaneity, 3) so there is no absolute presentness, but 4) Presentism entails absolute presentness, so 5) Presentism is false.
     From: Ned Markosian (A Defense of Presentism [2004], 3.9)
     A reaction: I don't accept this objection. There may be accounts that can give Relativity one present (Idea 12689-90). Maybe Einstein was too instrumentalist in his account. Maybe we can have Presentism with multiple present moments.
27. Natural Reality / D. Time / 2. Passage of Time / k. Temporal truths
Objects in the past, like Socrates, are more like imaginary objects than like remote spatial objects [Markosian]
     Full Idea: Maybe putative non-present objects like Socrates have more in common with putative non-actual objects like Santa Claus than they have in common with objects located elsewhere in space, like Alpha Centauri.
     From: Ned Markosian (A Defense of Presentism [2004], 3.7)
     A reaction: We can see Alpha Centauri, so we need an example beyond some 'event horizon'. He credits Arthur Prior with this line of thought. He seems to me to drift towards a Descriptive Theory of Reference (shock!). Does the nature of reference change with death?
People are mistaken when they think 'Socrates was a philosopher' says something [Markosian]
     Full Idea: People sometimes think that 'Socrates was a philosopher' expresses something like a true, singular proposition about Socrates. They're making a mistake, but still, this explains why they think it is true.
     From: Ned Markosian (A Defense of Presentism [2004], 3.8)
     A reaction: A classic error theory, about our talk of the past. Personally I would say that the sentence really is true, and that needing a tangible object to refer to is a totally bogus requirement. 'I wonder if there are any scissors in the house?'
27. Natural Reality / G. Biology / 5. Species
Virtually all modern views of speciation rest on relational rather than intrinsic features [Okasha]
     Full Idea: On all modern species concepts (except the phenetic), the property in virtue of which a particular organism belongs to one species rather than another is a relational rather than an intrinsic property of the organism.
     From: Samir Okasha (Darwinian Metaphysics: Species and Essentialism [2002], p.201), quoted by Michael Devitt - Resurrecting Biological Essentialism 4
     A reaction: I am in sympathy with Devitt's attack on this view, for the same reason that I take relational explanations of almost anything (such as the mind) to be inadequate. We need to know the intrinsic features that enable the relations.
29. Religion / D. Religious Issues / 2. Immortality / a. Immortality
Resurrection developed in Judaism as a response to martyrdoms, in about 160 BCE [Anon (Dan), by Watson]
     Full Idea: The idea of resurrection in Judaism seems to have first developed around 160 BCE, during the time of religious martyrdom, and as a response to it (the martyrs were surely not dying forever?). It is first mentioned in the book of Daniel.
     From: report of Anon (Dan) (27: Book of Daniel [c.165 BCE], Ch.7) by Peter Watson - Ideas
     A reaction: Idea 7473 suggests that Zoroaster beat them to it by 800 years.