Combining Philosophers

All the ideas for Michael Burke, Melvin Fitting and Andrew Bowie

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24 ideas

2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 1. On Reason
Art can make reason more all-inclusive, by articulating what seemed inexpressible [Bowie]
     Full Idea: The early German Romantics argued that art pointed to a more all-inclusive conception of reason, which can offer ways of articulating what is not conceptually accessible.
     From: Andrew Bowie (Introduction to German Philosophy [2003], 5 'Reason')
     A reaction: [This is Novalis, F.Schlegel, Schleiermacher, and Hölderlin] I'm in favour of expanding reason, to include assessment of situations and coherence, rather than just stepwise reasoning. Not sure that art 'articulates' something new.
4. Formal Logic / E. Nonclassical Logics / 8. Intensional Logic
If terms change their designations in different states, they are functions from states to objects [Fitting]
     Full Idea: The common feature of every designating term is that designation may change from state to state - thus it can be formalized by a function from states to objects.
     From: Melvin Fitting (Intensional Logic [2007], 3)
     A reaction: Specifying the objects sounds OK, but specifying states sounds rather tough.
Intensional logic adds a second type of quantification, over intensional objects, or individual concepts [Fitting]
     Full Idea: To first order modal logic (with quantification over objects) we can add a second kind of quantification, over intensions. An intensional object, or individual concept, will be modelled by a function from states to objects.
     From: Melvin Fitting (Intensional Logic [2007], 3.3)
4. Formal Logic / E. Nonclassical Logics / 9. Awareness Logic
Awareness logic adds the restriction of an awareness function to epistemic logic [Fitting]
     Full Idea: Awareness logic enriched Hintikka's epistemic models with an awareness function, mapping each state to the set of formulas we are aware of at that state. This reflects some bound on the resources we can bring to bear.
     From: Melvin Fitting (Intensional Logic [2007], 3.6.1)
     A reaction: [He cites Fagin and Halpern 1988 for this]
4. Formal Logic / E. Nonclassical Logics / 10. Justification Logics
Justication logics make explicit the reasons for mathematical truth in proofs [Fitting]
     Full Idea: In justification logics, the logics of knowledge are extended by making reasons explicit. A logic of proof terms was created, with a semantics. In this, mathematical truths are known for explicit reasons, and these provide a measure of complexity.
     From: Melvin Fitting (Intensional Logic [2007], 3.6.1)
5. Theory of Logic / A. Overview of Logic / 8. Logic of Mathematics
Classical logic is deliberately extensional, in order to model mathematics [Fitting]
     Full Idea: Mathematics is typically extensional throughout (we write 3+2=2+3 despite the two terms having different meanings). ..Classical first-order logic is extensional by design since it primarily evolved to model the reasoning of mathematics.
     From: Melvin Fitting (Intensional Logic [2007], §1)
5. Theory of Logic / F. Referring in Logic / 3. Property (λ-) Abstraction
λ-abstraction disambiguates the scope of modal operators [Fitting]
     Full Idea: λ-abstraction can be used to abstract and disambiguate a predicate. De re is [λx◊P(x)](f) - f has the possible-P property - and de dicto is ◊[λxP(x)](f) - possibly f has the P-property. Also applies to □.
     From: Melvin Fitting (Intensional Logic [2007], §3.3)
     A reaction: Compare the Barcan formula. Originated with Church in the 1930s, and Carnap 1947, but revived by Stalnaker and Thomason 1968. Because it refers to the predicate, it has a role in intensional versions of logic, especially modal logic.
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...
10. Modality / E. Possible worlds / 3. Transworld Objects / a. Transworld identity
Definite descriptions pick out different objects in different possible worlds [Fitting]
     Full Idea: Definite descriptions pick out different objects in different possible worlds quite naturally.
     From: Melvin Fitting (Intensional Logic [2007], 3.4)
     A reaction: A definite description can pick out the same object in another possible world, or a very similar one, or an object which has almost nothing in common with the others.
11. Knowledge Aims / C. Knowing Reality / 3. Idealism / b. Transcendental idealism
Transcendental idealism aims to explain objectivity through subjectivity [Bowie]
     Full Idea: The aim of transcendental idealism is to give a basis for objectivity in terms of subjectivity.
     From: Andrew Bowie (German Philosophy: a very short introduction [2010], 1)
     A reaction: Hume used subjectivity to undermine the findings of objectivity. There was then no return to naive objectivity. Kant's aim then was to thwart global scepticism. Post-Kantians feared that he had failed.
11. Knowledge Aims / C. Knowing Reality / 3. Idealism / d. Absolute idealism
German Idealism says our thinking and nature have the same rational structure [Bowie]
     Full Idea: German Idealism aims to demonstrate that our thinking relates to a nature which is intelligibly structured in the same way as our thinking is structured.
     From: Andrew Bowie (Introduction to German Philosophy [2003], 3 'Limits')
     A reaction: Now that's an idealism I might buy into. Frege thought his logic was mapping rational reality. My angle is that we are a product of this 'reality', so we should expect our thinking to be similarly structured. Reason is derived from nature.
The Idealists saw the same unexplained spontaneity in Kant's judgements and choices [Bowie]
     Full Idea: The Idealist saw in Kant that knowledge, which depends on the spontaneity of judgement, and self-determined spontaneous action, can be seen as sharing the same source, which is not accessible to scientific investigation.
     From: Andrew Bowie (German Philosophy: a very short introduction [2010])
     A reaction: This is the 'spontaneity' of judgements and choices which was seen as the main idea in Kant. It inspired romantic individualism. The judgements are the rule-based application of concepts.
German Idealism tried to stop oppositions of appearances/things and receptivity/spontaneity [Bowie]
     Full Idea: A central aim of German Idealism is to overcome Kant's oppositions between appearances and thing in themselves, and between receptivity and spontaneity.
     From: Andrew Bowie (German Philosophy: a very short introduction [2010], 2)
     A reaction: I have the impression that there were two strategies: break down the opposition within the self (Fichte), or break down the opposition in the world (Spinozism).
Crucial to Idealism is the idea of continuity between receptivity and spontaneous judgement [Bowie]
     Full Idea: A crucial idea for German Idealism (from Hamann) is that apparently passive receptivity and active spontaneity are in fact different degrees of the same 'activity, and the gap between subject and world can be closed.
     From: Andrew Bowie (German Philosophy: a very short introduction [2010], 3)
     A reaction: The 'passive' bit seems to be Hume's 'impressions', which are Kant's 'intuitions', which need 'spontaneous' interpretation to become experiences. Critics of Kant said this implied a dualism.
16. Persons / E. Rejecting the Self / 2. Self as Social Construct
Nazis think race predetermines the self [Bowie]
     Full Idea: The Nazi idea is that the self is predetermined primarily by its race.
     From: Andrew Bowie (Introduction to German Philosophy [2003], Intro)
     A reaction: I suspect that I occasionally encounter this view, in very patriotic people. But then you meet people who feeling that their self is mainly determined by support of a football team. Note, though, 'pre-'determined. Hegel makes this idea possible?
19. Language / F. Communication / 1. Rhetoric
Rhetoric is built into language, so it cannot be stripped from philosophy [Bowie]
     Full Idea: The attempt to rid philosophy of rhetoric falls prey precisely to that fact that what is involved in rhetoric is inherent in what is built into all natural languages by their genesis in the real historical world.
     From: Andrew Bowie (Introduction to German Philosophy [2003], 2 'Hamann')
     A reaction: Rhetoric can range from charming to bullying, and it is the latter which is the problem. The underlying issue is dogma versus dialectic. Some analytic philosophers have a good shot at being non-rhetorical.
25. Society / D. Political Doctrines / 11. Capitalism
Marx thought capitalism was partly liberating, and could make labour and ownership more humane [Bowie, by Bowie]
     Full Idea: Marx did not disapprove per se of capitalism. New divisions of labour and forms of ownership could transform individuals in modern societies, creating a more humane world with the means capitalism had liberated from feudalism.
     From: report of Andrew Bowie (Introduction to German Philosophy [2003]) by Andrew Bowie - Introduction to German Philosophy 11 'Metaphysics'
     A reaction: I'm guessing this might be early Marx, which has less to say about the 'scientific' inevitably of deep change, and the necessity for revolution. Nowadays we tinker with humane changes at the poorer end, while the rich run rampant.