Combining Philosophers

All the ideas for Michael Burke, Gordon Graham and E.J. Lemmon

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74 ideas

4. Formal Logic / B. Propositional Logic PL / 1. Propositional Logic
'Contradictory' propositions always differ in truth-value [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: Two propositions are 'contradictory' if they are never both true and never both false either, which means that (A↔B) is a tautology.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 2.3)
4. Formal Logic / B. Propositional Logic PL / 2. Tools of Propositional Logic / a. Symbols of PL
That proposition that both P and Q is their 'conjunction', written P∧Q [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: If P and Q are any two propositions, the proposition that both P and Q is called the 'conjunction' of P and Q, and is written P∧Q.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 1.3)
     A reaction: [I use the more fashionable inverted-v '∧', rather than Lemmon's '&', which no longer seems to be used] P∧Q can also be defined as (P∨Q)
That proposition that either P or Q is their 'disjunction', written P∨Q [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: If P and Q are any two propositions, the proposition that either P or Q is called the 'disjunction' of P and Q, and is written P∨Q.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 1.3)
     A reaction: This is inclusive-or (meaning 'P, or Q, or both'), and not exlusive-or (Boolean XOR), which means 'P, or Q, but not both'. The ∨ sign is sometimes called 'vel' (Latin).
If A and B are 'interderivable' from one another we may write A -||- B [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: If we say that A and B are 'interderivable' from one another (that is, A |- B and B |- A), then we may write A -||- B.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 1.5)
We write the conditional 'if P (antecedent) then Q (consequent)' as P→Q [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: We write 'if P then Q' as P→Q. This is called a 'conditional', with P as its 'antecedent', and Q as its 'consequent'.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 1.2)
     A reaction: P→Q can also be written as P∨Q.
The sign |- may be read as 'therefore' [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: I introduce the sign |- to mean 'we may validly conclude'. To call it the 'assertion sign' is misleading. It may conveniently be read as 'therefore'.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 1.2)
     A reaction: [Actually no gap between the vertical and horizontal strokes of the sign] As well as meaning 'assertion', it may also mean 'it is a theorem that' (with no proof shown).
We write the 'negation' of P (not-P) as [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: We write 'not-P' as P. This is called the 'negation' of P. The 'double negation' of P (not not-P) would be written as P.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 1.2)
     A reaction: Lemmons use of -P is no longer in use for 'not'. A tilde sign (squiggle) is also used for 'not', but some interpreters give that a subtly different meaning (involving vagueness). The sign is sometimes called 'hook' or 'corner'.
We write 'P if and only if Q' as P↔Q; it is also P iff Q, or (P→Q)∧(Q→P) [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: We write 'P if and only if Q' as P↔Q. It is called the 'biconditional', often abbreviate in writing as 'iff'. It also says that P is both sufficient and necessary for Q, and may be written out in full as (P→Q)∧(Q→P).
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 1.4)
     A reaction: If this symbol is found in a sequence, the first move in a proof is to expand it to the full version.
4. Formal Logic / B. Propositional Logic PL / 2. Tools of Propositional Logic / b. Terminology of PL
'Subcontrary' propositions are never both false, so that A∨B is a tautology [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: If A and B are expressible in propositional calculus notation, they are 'subcontrary' if they are never both false, which may be tested by the truth-table for A∨B, which is a tautology if they are subcontrary.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 2.3)
Two propositions are 'equivalent' if they mirror one another's truth-value [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: Two propositions are 'equivalent' if whenever A is true B is true, and whenever B is true A is true, in which case A↔B is a tautology.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 2.3)
A 'well-formed formula' follows the rules for variables, , →, ∧, ∨, and ↔ [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: A 'well-formed formula' of the propositional calculus is a sequence of symbols which follows the rules for variables, , →, ∧, ∨, and ↔.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 2.1)
'Contrary' propositions are never both true, so that (A∧B) is a tautology [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: If A and B are expressible in propositional calculus notation, they are 'contrary' if they are never both true, which may be tested by the truth-table for (A∧B), which is a tautology if they are contrary.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 2.3)
A 'substitution-instance' is a wff formed by consistent replacing variables with wffs [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: A 'substitution-instance' is a wff which results by replacing one or more variables throughout with the same wffs (the same wff replacing each variable).
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 2.2)
A wff is a 'tautology' if all assignments to variables result in the value T [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: If a well-formed formula of propositional calculus takes the value T for all possible assignments of truth-values to its variables, it is said to be a 'tautology'.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 2.3)
A 'theorem' is the conclusion of a provable sequent with zero assumptions [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: A 'theorem' of logic is the conclusion of a provable sequent in which the number of assumptions is zero.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 2.2)
     A reaction: This is what Quine and others call a 'logical truth'.
A wff is 'contingent' if produces at least one T and at least one F [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: If a well-formed formula of propositional calculus takes at least one T and at least one F for all the assignments of truth-values to its variables, it is said to be 'contingent'.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 2.3)
A wff is 'inconsistent' if all assignments to variables result in the value F [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: If a well-formed formula of propositional calculus takes the value F for all possible assignments of truth-values to its variables, it is said to be 'inconsistent'.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 2.3)
The 'scope' of a connective is the connective, the linked formulae, and the brackets [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: The 'scope' of a connective in a certain formula is the formulae linked by the connective, together with the connective itself and the (theoretically) encircling brackets
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 2.1)
A 'implies' B if B is true whenever A is true (so that A→B is tautologous) [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: One proposition A 'implies' a proposition B if whenever A is true B is true (but not necessarily conversely), which is only the case if A→B is tautologous. Hence B 'is implied' by A.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 2.3)
4. Formal Logic / B. Propositional Logic PL / 2. Tools of Propositional Logic / c. Derivation rules of PL
∨I: Given either A or B separately, we may derive A∨B [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: Or-Introduction (∨I): Given either A or B separately, we may derive A∨B as conclusion. This depends on the assumption of the premisses.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 1.5)
DN: Given A, we may derive A [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: Double Negation (DN): Given A, we may derive A as a conclusion, and vice versa. The conclusion depends on the assumptions of the premiss.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 1.5)
CP: Given a proof of B from A as assumption, we may derive A→B [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: Conditional Proof (CP): Given a proof of B from A as assumption, we may derive A→B as conclusion, on the remaining assumptions (if any).
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 1.5)
∧I: Given A and B, we may derive A∧B [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: And-Introduction (&I): Given A and B, we may derive A∧B as conclusion. This depends on their previous assumptions.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 1.5)
∧E: Given A∧B, we may derive either A or B separately [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: And-Elimination (∧E): Given A∧B, we may derive either A or B separately. The conclusions will depend on the assumptions of the premiss.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 1.5)
∨E: Derive C from A∨B, if C can be derived both from A and from B [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: Or-Elimination (∨E): Given A∨B, we may derive C if it is proved from A as assumption and from B as assumption. This will also depend on prior assumptions.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 1.5)
RAA: If assuming A will prove B∧B, then derive A [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: Reduction ad Absurdum (RAA): Given a proof of B∧B from A as assumption, we may derive A as conclusion, depending on the remaining assumptions (if any).
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 1.5)
MTT: Given B and A→B, we derive A [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: Modus Tollendo Tollens (MTT): Given B and A→B, we derive A as a conclusion. A depends on any assumptions that have been made
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 1.5)
A: we may assume any proposition at any stage [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: Assumptions (A): any proposition may be introduced at any stage of a proof.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 1.5)
MPP: Given A and A→B, we may derive B [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: Modus Ponendo Ponens (MPP): Given A and A→B, we may derive B as a conclusion. B will rest on any assumptions that have been made.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 1.5)
4. Formal Logic / B. Propositional Logic PL / 2. Tools of Propositional Logic / d. Basic theorems of PL
'Modus tollendo ponens' (MTP) says P, P ∨ Q |- Q [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: 'Modus tollendo ponens' (MTP) says that if a disjunction holds and also the negation of one of its disjuncts, then the other disjunct holds. Thus P, P ∨ Q |- Q may be introduced as a theorem.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 2.2)
     A reaction: Unlike Modus Ponens and Modus Tollens, this is a derived rule.
'Modus ponendo tollens' (MPT) says P, (P ∧ Q) |- Q [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: 'Modus ponendo tollens' (MPT) says that if the negation of a conjunction holds and also one of its conjuncts, then the negation of the other conjunct holds. Thus P, (P ∧ Q) |- Q may be introduced as a theorem.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 2.2)
     A reaction: Unlike Modus Ponens and Modus Tollens, this is a derived rule.
De Morgan's Laws make negated conjunctions/disjunctions into non-negated disjunctions/conjunctions [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: The forms of De Morgan's Laws [P∨Q -||- (P ∧ Q); (P∨Q) -||- P ∧ Q; (P∧Q) -||- P ∨ Q); P∧Q -||- (P∨Q)] transform negated conjunctions and disjunctions into non-negated disjunctions and conjunctions respectively.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 2.2)
We can change conjunctions into negated conditionals with P→Q -||- (P → Q) [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: The proof that P∧Q -||- (P → Q) is useful for enabling us to change conjunctions into negated conditionals.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 2.2)
The Distributive Laws can rearrange a pair of conjunctions or disjunctions [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: The Distributive Laws say that P ∧ (Q∨R) -||- (P∧Q) ∨ (P∧R), and that P ∨ (Q∨R) -||- (P∨Q) ∧ (P∨R)
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 2.2)
We can change conditionals into negated conjunctions with P→Q -||- (P ∧ Q) [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: The proof that P→Q -||- (P ∧ Q) is useful for enabling us to change conditionals into negated conjunctions
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 2.2)
We can change conditionals into disjunctions with P→Q -||- P ∨ Q [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: The proof that P→Q -||- P ∨ Q is useful for enabling us to change conditionals into disjunctions.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 2.2)
4. Formal Logic / B. Propositional Logic PL / 3. Truth Tables
Truth-tables are good for showing invalidity [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: The truth-table approach enables us to show the invalidity of argument-patterns, as well as their validity.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 2.4)
A truth-table test is entirely mechanical, but this won't work for more complex logic [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: A truth-table test is entirely mechanical, ..and in propositional logic we can even generate proofs mechanically for tautological sequences, ..but this mechanical approach breaks down with predicate calculus, and proof-discovery is an imaginative process.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 2.5)
4. Formal Logic / B. Propositional Logic PL / 4. Soundness of PL
If any of the nine rules of propositional logic are applied to tautologies, the result is a tautology [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: If any application of the nine derivation rules of propositional logic is made on tautologous sequents, we have demonstrated that the result is always a tautologous sequent. Thus the system is consistent.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 2.4)
     A reaction: The term 'sound' tends to be used now, rather than 'consistent'. See Lemmon for the proofs of each of the nine rules.
4. Formal Logic / B. Propositional Logic PL / 5. Completeness of PL
Propositional logic is complete, since all of its tautologous sequents are derivable [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: A logical system is complete is all expressions of a specified kind are derivable in it. If we specify tautologous sequent-expressions, then propositional logic is complete, because we can show that all tautologous sequents are derivable.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 2.5)
     A reaction: [See Lemmon 2.5 for details of the proofs]
4. Formal Logic / C. Predicate Calculus PC / 2. Tools of Predicate Calculus / a. Symbols of PC
Write '(∀x)(...)' to mean 'take any x: then...', and '(∃x)(...)' to mean 'there is an x such that....' [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: Just as '(∀x)(...)' is to mean 'take any x: then....', so we write '(∃x)(...)' to mean 'there is an x such that....'
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 3.1)
     A reaction: [Actually Lemmon gives the universal quantifier symbol as '(x)', but the inverted A ('∀') seems to have replaced it these days]
'Gm' says m has property G, and 'Pmn' says m has relation P to n [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: A predicate letter followed by one name expresses a property ('Gm'), and a predicate-letter followed by two names expresses a relation ('Pmn'). We could write 'Pmno' for a complex relation like betweenness.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 3.1)
The 'symbols' are bracket, connective, term, variable, predicate letter, reverse-E [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: I define a 'symbol' (of the predicate calculus) as either a bracket or a logical connective or a term or an individual variable or a predicate-letter or reverse-E (∃).
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 4.1)
4. Formal Logic / C. Predicate Calculus PC / 2. Tools of Predicate Calculus / b. Terminology of PC
Our notation uses 'predicate-letters' (for 'properties'), 'variables', 'proper names', 'connectives' and 'quantifiers' [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: Quantifier-notation might be thus: first, render into sentences about 'properties', and use 'predicate-letters' for them; second, introduce 'variables'; third, introduce propositional logic 'connectives' and 'quantifiers'. Plus letters for 'proper names'.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 3.1)
4. Formal Logic / C. Predicate Calculus PC / 2. Tools of Predicate Calculus / c. Derivations rules of PC
Predicate logic uses propositional connectives and variables, plus new introduction and elimination rules [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: In predicate calculus we take over the propositional connectives and propositional variables - but we need additional rules for handling quantifiers: four rules, an introduction and elimination rule for the universal and existential quantifiers.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965])
     A reaction: This is Lemmon's natural deduction approach (invented by Gentzen), which is largely built on introduction and elimination rules.
Universal elimination if you start with the universal, introduction if you want to end with it [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: The elimination rule for the universal quantifier concerns the use of a universal proposition as a premiss to establish some conclusion, whilst the introduction rule concerns what is required by way of a premiss for a universal proposition as conclusion.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 3.2)
     A reaction: So if you start with the universal, you need to eliminate it, and if you start without it you need to introduce it.
Universal Elimination (UE) lets us infer that an object has F, from all things having F [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: Our rule of universal quantifier elimination (UE) lets us infer that any particular object has F from the premiss that all things have F. It is a natural extension of &E (and-elimination), as universal propositions generally affirm a complex conjunction.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 3.2)
With finite named objects, we can generalise with &-Intro, but otherwise we need ∀-Intro [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: If there are just three objects and each has F, then by an extension of &I we are sure everything has F. This is of no avail, however, if our universe is infinitely large or if not all objects have names. We need a new device, Universal Introduction, UI.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 3.2)
UE all-to-one; UI one-to-all; EI arbitrary-to-one; EE proof-to-one [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: Univ Elim UE - if everything is F, then something is F; Univ Intro UI - if an arbitrary thing is F, everything is F; Exist Intro EI - if an arbitrary thing is F, something is F; Exist Elim EE - if a proof needed an object, there is one.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 3.3)
     A reaction: [My summary of Lemmon's four main rules for predicate calculus] This is the natural deduction approach, of trying to present the logic entirely in terms of introduction and elimination rules. See Bostock on that.
4. Formal Logic / C. Predicate Calculus PC / 2. Tools of Predicate Calculus / d. Universal quantifier ∀
If there is a finite domain and all objects have names, complex conjunctions can replace universal quantifiers [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: If all objects in a given universe had names which we knew and there were only finitely many of them, then we could always replace a universal proposition about that universe by a complex conjunction.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 3.2)
4. Formal Logic / C. Predicate Calculus PC / 2. Tools of Predicate Calculus / e. Existential quantifier ∃
'Some Frenchmen are generous' is rendered by (∃x)(Fx→Gx), and not with the conditional → [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: It is a common mistake to render 'some Frenchmen are generous' by (∃x)(Fx→Gx) rather than the correct (∃x)(Fx&Gx). 'All Frenchmen are generous' is properly rendered by a conditional, and true if there are no Frenchmen.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 3.1)
     A reaction: The existential quantifier implies the existence of an x, but the universal quantifier does not.
5. Theory of Logic / B. Logical Consequence / 8. Material Implication
The paradoxes of material implication are P |- Q → P, and P |- P → Q [Lemmon]
     Full Idea: The paradoxes of material implication are P |- Q → P, and P |- P → Q. That is, since Napoleon was French, then if the moon is blue then Napoleon was French; and since Napoleon was not Chinese, then if Napoleon was Chinese, the moon is blue.
     From: E.J. Lemmon (Beginning Logic [1965], 2.2)
     A reaction: This is why the symbol → does not really mean the 'if...then' of ordinary English. Russell named it 'material implication' to show that it was a distinctively logical operator.
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 5. Individuation / e. Individuation by kind
Persistence conditions cannot contradict, so there must be a 'dominant sortal' [Burke,M, by Hawley]
     Full Idea: Burke says a single object cannot have incompatible persistence conditions, for this would entail that there are events in which the object would both survive and perish. He says one sortal 'dominates' the other (sweater dominates thread).
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Katherine Hawley - How Things Persist 5.3
     A reaction: This I take to be the most extreme version of sortal essentialism, and strikes me as incredibly gerrymandered and unacceptable. It is just too anthropocentric to count as genuine metaphysics. I may care more about the thread.
The 'dominant' of two coinciding sortals is the one that entails the widest range of properties [Burke,M, by Sider]
     Full Idea: Burke claims that the 'dominant' sortal is the one whose satisfaction entails possession of the widest range of properties. For example, the statue (unlike the lump of clay) also possesses aesthetic properties, and hence is dominant.
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Theodore Sider - Four Dimensionalism 5.4
     A reaction: [there are three papers by Burke on this; see all the quotations from Burke] Presumably one sortal could entail a single very important property, and the other sortal entail a huge range of trivial properties. What does being a 'thing' entail?
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 1. Unifying an Object / b. Unifying aggregates
'The rock' either refers to an object, or to a collection of parts, or to some stuff [Burke,M, by Wasserman]
     Full Idea: Burke distinguishes three different readings of 'the rock'. It can be a singular description denoting an object, or a plural description denoting all the little pieces of rock, or a mass description the relevant rocky stuff.
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Ryan Wasserman - Material Constitution 5
     A reaction: Idea 16068 is an objection to the second reading. Only the first reading seems plausible, so we must just get over all the difficulties philosophers have unearthed about knowing exactly what an 'object' is. I offer you essentialism. Rocks have unity.
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 3. Unity Problems / b. Cat and its tail
Tib goes out of existence when the tail is lost, because Tib was never the 'cat' [Burke,M, by Sider]
     Full Idea: Burke argues that Tib (the whole cat apart from its tail) goes out of existence when the tail is lost. His essentialist principle is that if something is ever of a particular sort (such as 'cat') then it is always of that sort. Tib is not initially a cat.
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Theodore Sider - Four Dimensionalism 5.4
     A reaction: This I take to be a souped up version of Wiggins, and I just don't buy that identity conditions are decided by sortals, when it seems obvious that sortals are parasitic on identities.
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 3. Unity Problems / c. Statue and clay
Sculpting a lump of clay destroys one object, and replaces it with another one [Burke,M, by Wasserman]
     Full Idea: On Burke's view, the process of sculpting a lump of clay into a statue destroys one object (a mere lump of clay) and replaces it with another (a statue).
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Ryan Wasserman - Material Constitution 5
     A reaction: There is something right about this, but how many intermediate objects are created during the transition. It seems to make the notion of an object very conventional.
Burke says when two object coincide, one of them is destroyed in the process [Burke,M, by Hawley]
     Full Idea: Michael Burke argues that a sweater is identical with the thread that consitutes it, that both were created at the moment when they began to coincide, and that the original thread was destroyed in the process.
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Katherine Hawley - How Things Persist 5.3
     A reaction: [Burke's ideas are spread over three articles] It is the thread which is destroyed, because the sweater is the 'dominant sortal' (which strikes me as a particularlyd desperate concept).
Maybe the clay becomes a different lump when it becomes a statue [Burke,M, by Koslicki]
     Full Idea: Burke has argued in a series of papers that the lump of clay which constitutes the statue is numerically distinct from the lump of clay which exists before or after the statue exists. The first is a statue, while the second is merely a lump of clay.
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Kathrin Koslicki - The Structure of Objects
     A reaction: Koslicki objects that this introduces radically different persistence conditions from normal. It would mean that a pile of sugar was a different pile of sugar every time a grain moved (even slightly). You couldn't step into the same sugar twice.
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 3. Unity Problems / d. Coincident objects
Two entities can coincide as one, but only one of them (the dominant sortal) fixes persistence conditions [Burke,M, by Sider]
     Full Idea: Michael Burke has given an account that avoids distinguishing coinciding entities. ...The statue/lump satisfies both 'lump' and 'statue', but only the latter determines that object's persistence conditions, and so is that object's 'dominant sortal'.
     From: report of Michael Burke (Dion and Theon: an essentialist solution [1994]) by Theodore Sider - Four Dimensionalism 5.4
     A reaction: Presumably a lump on its own can have its own persistance conditions (as a 'lump'), but those would presumably be lost if you shaped it into a statue. Burke concedes that. Can of worms. Using a book as a doorstop...
13. Knowledge Criteria / E. Relativism / 3. Subjectivism
'Subjectivism' is an extension of relativism from the social group to the individual [Graham]
     Full Idea: What is called 'subjectivism' is really just an extension of relativism from the level of the social group to the level of the individual.
     From: Gordon Graham (Eight Theories of Ethics [2004], Ch.1)
     A reaction: Personally I prefer to stick with 'relativism', at any level. 'Relative' is a two-place predicate, so we should always specify what is relative to what, unless it is obvious from context. Morality might be relative to God, for example.
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 1. Goodness / g. Consequentialism
Negative consequences are very hard (and possibly impossible) to assess [Graham]
     Full Idea: Negative consequences make the extension of the consequences of our actions indefinite, and this means that it is difficult to assess them; it may make it impossible, since there is now no clear sense to the idea of THE consequences of an action at all.
     From: Gordon Graham (Eight Theories of Ethics [2004], Ch.7)
     A reaction: The general slogan of 'Do your best' covers most objections to the calculation of consequences. It is no excuse for stealing a wallet that 'at least I wasn't committing genocide'. How easy were the alternative actions to do?
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 1. Goodness / i. Moral luck
We can't criticise people because of unforeseeable consequences [Graham]
     Full Idea: It is unreasonable to say that people have acted badly because of consequences which were not merely unforeseen but unforeseeable.
     From: Gordon Graham (Eight Theories of Ethics [2004], Ch.7)
     A reaction: Interesting, and it sounds right. A key question in moral philosophy is how much effort people should make to assess the consequences of their actions. We must surely absolve them of the truly 'unforeseeable' consequence.
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 1. Nature of Ethics / g. Moral responsibility
The chain of consequences may not be the same as the chain of responsibility [Graham]
     Full Idea: From a utilitarian point of view, the error of Archduke Ferdinand's driver (he turned up a cul-de-sac) was the worst in history, ...but the chain of consequences may not be the same as the chain of responsibility.
     From: Gordon Graham (Eight Theories of Ethics [2004], Ch.7)
     A reaction: Can you cause something, and yet not be responsible for it? The driver was presumably fully conscious, rational and deliberate. He must share the responsibility for catastrophe, just as he shares in the causing of all the consequences.
23. Ethics / A. Egoism / 1. Ethical Egoism
Egoism submits to desires, but cannot help form them [Graham]
     Full Idea: Egoism is inadequate as a guide to good living. Though it tells us what to do, given pre-existent desires, it cannot help us critically form those desires.
     From: Gordon Graham (Eight Theories of Ethics [2004], Ch.9)
     A reaction: A crucial point in morality. It also applies to utilitarianism (should I change my capacity for pleasure?), and virtue theory (how should I genetically engineer 'human nature'?). I think these problems push us towards Platonism. See Idea 4840.
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / h. Right feelings
Rescue operations need spontaneous benevolence, not careful thought [Graham]
     Full Idea: If more lives are to be saved in natural disasters, what is needed is spontaneity on the part of the rescuers, a willingness not to stop and think but to act spontaneously.
     From: Gordon Graham (Eight Theories of Ethics [2004], Ch.7)
     A reaction: This seems right, but must obviously be applied with caution, as when people are drowned attempting hopeless rescues. The most valuable person in an earthquake may be the thinker, not the digger.
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 4. Categorical Imperative
'What if everybody did that?' rather misses the point as an objection to cheating [Graham]
     Full Idea: I can object to your walking on the grass by asking 'What if everybody did that?', but the advantages of cheating depend upon the fact that most people don't cheat, so justifying my own cheating must involve special pleading.
     From: Gordon Graham (Eight Theories of Ethics [2004], Ch.6)
     A reaction: It is, of course, reasonable to ask 'What if everybody cheated?', but it is also reasonable to reply that 'the whole point of cheating is that it exploits the honesty of others'. This shows that Kant cannot simply demolish the 'free rider'.
23. Ethics / F. Existentialism / 1. Existentialism
It is more plausible to say people can choose between values, than that they can create them [Graham]
     Full Idea: To say that individuals are free to choose their own values is more naturally interpreted as meaning that they are free to choose between pre-existent values.
     From: Gordon Graham (Eight Theories of Ethics [2004], Ch.5)
     A reaction: Existentialism seems absurdly individualistic in its morality. Nietzsche was the best existentialist, who saw that most people have to be sheep. Strong personalities can promote or demote the old values on the great scale of what is good.
23. Ethics / F. Existentialism / 2. Nihilism
Life is only absurd if you expected an explanation and none turns up [Graham]
     Full Idea: If 'life is absurd' just means 'there is no logical explanation for human existence', we have no reason for anguish, unless we think there should be such an explanation.
     From: Gordon Graham (Eight Theories of Ethics [2004], Ch.5)
     A reaction: This is aimed at Kierkegaard and Camus. 'Absurd' certainly seems to be a relative notion, and we have nothing to compare life with. However, life does strike us as a bit odd sometimes, don't you think?
23. Ethics / F. Existentialism / 5. Existence-Essence
Existentialism may transcend our nature, unlike eudaimonism [Graham]
     Full Idea: It is the freedom to transcend our nature which eudaimonism seems to ignore and existentialism brings to the fore.
     From: Gordon Graham (Eight Theories of Ethics [2004], Ch.9)
     A reaction: It is wildly exciting to 'transcend our nature', and very dreary to polish up the nature which is given to us. In this I am a bit conservative. We should not go against the grain, but we shouldn't assume current living is the correct line of the grain.
23. Ethics / F. Existentialism / 6. Authentic Self
A standard problem for existentialism is the 'sincere Nazi' [Graham]
     Full Idea: A standard problem for existentialism is the 'sincere Nazi'; there were undoubtedly some true believers, who saw in Nazism a creed that they wanted to believe, and who freely chose to endorse it.
     From: Gordon Graham (Eight Theories of Ethics [2004], Ch.5)
     A reaction: The failing of Nazis was that they were not good citizens. They might have been good members of a faction, but they were (in my opinion) poor citizens of Germany, and (obviously) appalling citizens of Europe. The objection to existentialism is good.
23. Ethics / F. Existentialism / 7. Existential Action
The key to existentialism: the way you make choices is more important than what you choose [Graham]
     Full Idea: The chief implication of existentialism is this: what you choose to do, how you choose to spend your life, is not as important as the way you choose it.
     From: Gordon Graham (Eight Theories of Ethics [2004], Ch.5)
     A reaction: While existentialists place emphasis on some notion of 'pure' choice, this is very close to the virtue theory idea that in a dilemma there may be several different choices which could all be rightly made by virtuous people. Integrity is a central virtue.
29. Religion / D. Religious Issues / 1. Religious Commitment / a. Religious Belief
The great religions are much more concerned with the religious life than with ethics [Graham]
     Full Idea: The fact is that the great religions of the world are not principally concerned with ethics at all, but with the religious life for its own sake. ..The Sermon on the Mount, for example, is mainly concerned with how to pray and worship.
     From: Gordon Graham (Eight Theories of Ethics [2004], Ch.9)
     A reaction: This seems to me a highly significant point, given that most people nowadays seem to endorse religion precisely because they wish to endorse morality, and think religion is its essential underpinning. See Idea 336 for the core problem ('Euthyphro').
29. Religion / D. Religious Issues / 2. Immortality / a. Immortality
Western religion saves us from death; Eastern religion saves us from immortality [Graham]
     Full Idea: For Western minds, religion entails the belief and hope that we will be saved from death and live forever, but the belief of Eastern religions is that we do live forever, and it is from this dreadful fate that we must look to spirituality to save us.
     From: Gordon Graham (Eight Theories of Ethics [2004], Ch.9)
     A reaction: Nice. I have certainly come to prefer the Eastern view, simply on the grounds that human beings have a limited capacity. I quite fancy three hundred years of healthy life, but after that I am sure that any potential I have will be used up.