Combining Philosophers

All the ideas for Peter B. Lewis, Halbach,V/Leigh,G.E and Machamer,P/Darden,L/Craver,C

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25 ideas

3. Truth / A. Truth Problems / 2. Defining Truth
If we define truth, we can eliminate it [Halbach/Leigh]
     Full Idea: If truth can be explicitly defined, it can be eliminated.
     From: Halbach,V/Leigh,G.E. (Axiomatic Theories of Truth (2013 ver) [2013], 1.3)
     A reaction: That we could just say p corresponds to the facts, or p coheres with our accepted beliefs, or p is the aim of our enquiries, and never mention the word 'true'. Definition is a strategy for reduction or elimination.
3. Truth / F. Semantic Truth / 1. Tarski's Truth / b. Satisfaction and truth
If a language cannot name all objects, then satisfaction must be used, instead of unary truth [Halbach/Leigh]
     Full Idea: If axioms are formulated for a language (such as set theory) that lacks names for all objects, then they require the use of a satisfaction relation rather than a unary truth predicate.
     From: Halbach,V/Leigh,G.E. (Axiomatic Theories of Truth (2013 ver) [2013], 3.3)
     A reaction: I take it this is an important idea for understanding why Tarski developed his account of truth based on satisfaction.
3. Truth / F. Semantic Truth / 1. Tarski's Truth / c. Meta-language for truth
Semantic theories need a powerful metalanguage, typically including set theory [Halbach/Leigh]
     Full Idea: Semantic approaches to truth usually necessitate the use of a metalanguage that is more powerful than the object-language for which it provides a semantics. It is usually taken to include set theory.
     From: Halbach,V/Leigh,G.E. (Axiomatic Theories of Truth (2013 ver) [2013], 1)
     A reaction: This is a motivation for developing an axiomatic account of truth, that moves it into the object language.
3. Truth / F. Semantic Truth / 2. Semantic Truth
The T-sentences are deductively weak, and also not deductively conservative [Halbach/Leigh]
     Full Idea: Although the theory is materially adequate, Tarski thought that the T-sentences are deductively too weak. …Also it seems that the T-sentences are not conservative, because they prove in PA that 0=0 and ¬0=0 are different, so at least two objects exist.
     From: Halbach,V/Leigh,G.E. (Axiomatic Theories of Truth (2013 ver) [2013], 3.2)
     A reaction: They are weak because they can't prove completeness. This idea give two reasons for looking for a better theory of truth.
3. Truth / G. Axiomatic Truth / 1. Axiomatic Truth
A natural theory of truth plays the role of reflection principles, establishing arithmetic's soundness [Halbach/Leigh]
     Full Idea: If a natural theory of truth is added to Peano Arithmetic, it is not necessary to add explicity global reflection principles to assert soundness, as the truth theory proves them. Truth theories thus prove soundess, and allows its expression.
     From: Halbach,V/Leigh,G.E. (Axiomatic Theories of Truth (2013 ver) [2013], 1.2)
     A reaction: This seems like a big attraction of axiomatic theories of truth for students of metamathematics.
If deflationary truth is not explanatory, truth axioms should be 'conservative', proving nothing new [Halbach/Leigh]
     Full Idea: If truth does not have any explanatory force, as some deflationists claim, the axioms of truth should not allow us to prove any new theorems that do not involve the truth predicate. That is, a deflationary axiomatisation of truth should be 'conservative'.
     From: Halbach,V/Leigh,G.E. (Axiomatic Theories of Truth (2013 ver) [2013], 1.3)
     A reaction: So does truth have 'explanatory force'? These guys are interested in explaining theorems of arithmetic, but I'm more interested in real life. People do daft things because they have daft beliefs. Logic should be neutral, but truth has values?
3. Truth / G. Axiomatic Truth / 2. FS Truth Axioms
The FS axioms use classical logical, but are not fully consistent [Halbach/Leigh]
     Full Idea: It is a virtue of the Friedman-Sheard axiomatisation that it is thoroughly classical in its logic. Its drawback is that it is ω-inconsistent. That is, it proves &exists;x¬φ(x), but proves also φ(0), φ(1), φ(2), …
     From: Halbach,V/Leigh,G.E. (Axiomatic Theories of Truth (2013 ver) [2013], 4.3)
     A reaction: It seems the theory is complete (and presumably sound), yet not fully consistent. FS also proves the finite levels of Tarski's hierarchy, but not the transfinite levels.
3. Truth / G. Axiomatic Truth / 3. KF Truth Axioms
KF is formulated in classical logic, but describes non-classical truth, which allows truth-value gluts [Halbach/Leigh]
     Full Idea: KF is formulated in classical logic, but describes a non-classical notion of truth. It allow truth-value gluts, making some sentences (such as the Liar) both true and not-true. Some authors add an axiom ruling out such gluts.
     From: Halbach,V/Leigh,G.E. (Axiomatic Theories of Truth (2013 ver) [2013], 4.4)
     A reaction: [summary, which I hope is correct! Stanford is not wholly clear]
7. Existence / B. Change in Existence / 2. Processes
Activities have place, rate, duration, entities, properties, modes, direction, polarity, energy and range [Machamer/Darden/Craver]
     Full Idea: Activities can be identified spatiotemporally, and individuated by rate, duration, and types of entity and property that engage in them. They also have modes of operation, directionality, polarity, energy requirements and a range.
     From: Machamer,P/Darden,L/Craver,C (Thinking About Mechanisms [2000], 3)
     A reaction: This is their attempt at making 'activity' one of the two central concepts of ontology, along with 'entity'. A helpful analysis. It just seems to be one way of slicing the cake.
8. Modes of Existence / B. Properties / 12. Denial of Properties
We can reduce properties to true formulas [Halbach/Leigh]
     Full Idea: One might say that 'x is a poor philosopher' is true of Tom instead of saying that Tom has the property of being a poor philosopher. We quantify over formulas instead of over definable properties, and thus reduce properties to truth.
     From: Halbach,V/Leigh,G.E. (Axiomatic Theories of Truth (2013 ver) [2013], 1.1)
     A reaction: [compressed] This stuff is difficult (because the axioms are complex and hard to compare), but I am excited (yes!) about this idea. Their point is that you need a truth predicate within the object language for this, which disquotational truth forbids.
8. Modes of Existence / C. Powers and Dispositions / 2. Powers as Basic
Penicillin causes nothing; the cause is what penicillin does [Machamer/Darden/Craver]
     Full Idea: It is not the penicillin that causes the pneumonia to disappear, but what the penicillin does.
     From: Machamer,P/Darden,L/Craver,C (Thinking About Mechanisms [2000], 3.1)
     A reaction: This is a very neat example for illustrating how we slip into 'entity' talk, when the reality we are addressing actually concerns processes. Without the 'what it does', penicillin can't participate in causation at all.
8. Modes of Existence / E. Nominalism / 1. Nominalism / c. Nominalism about abstracta
Nominalists can reduce theories of properties or sets to harmless axiomatic truth theories [Halbach/Leigh]
     Full Idea: The reduction of second-order theories (of properties or sets) to axiomatic theories of truth is a form of reductive nominalism, replacing existence assumptions (e.g. comprehension axioms) by innocuous assumptions about the truth predicate.
     From: Halbach,V/Leigh,G.E. (Axiomatic Theories of Truth (2013 ver) [2013], 1.1)
     A reaction: I'm currently thinking that axiomatic theories of truth are the most exciting development in contemporary philosophy. See Halbach and Horsten.
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 2. Understanding
We understand something by presenting its low-level entities and activities [Machamer/Darden/Craver]
     Full Idea: The intelligibility of a phenomenon consists in the mechanisms being portrayed in terms of a field's bottom out entities and activities.
     From: Machamer,P/Darden,L/Craver,C (Thinking About Mechanisms [2000], 7)
     A reaction: In other words, we understand complex things by reducing them to things we do understand. It would, though, be illuminating to see a nest of interconnected activities, even if we understood none of them.
11. Knowledge Aims / C. Knowing Reality / 3. Idealism / d. Absolute idealism
Fichte, Schelling and Hegel rejected transcendental idealism [Lewis,PB]
     Full Idea: Fichte, Schelling and Hegel were united in their opposition to Kant's Transcendental Idealism.
     From: Peter B. Lewis (Schopenhauer [2012], 3)
     A reaction: That is, they preferred genuine idealism, to the mere idealist attitude Kant felt that we are forced to adopt.
Fichte, Hegel and Schelling developed versions of Absolute Idealism [Lewis,PB]
     Full Idea: At the University of Jena, Fichte, Hegel and Schelling critically developed aspects of Kant's philosophy, each in his own way, thereby giving rise to the movement known as Absolute Idealism, see reality as universal God-like self-consciousness.
     From: Peter B. Lewis (Schopenhauer [2012], 2)
     A reaction: Is asking how anyone can possibly have believed such a bizarre and ridiculous idea a) uneducated, b) stupid, c) unimaginative, or d) very sensible? It sounds awfully like Spinoza's concept of God. Also Anaxagoras.
14. Science / D. Explanation / 2. Types of Explanation / e. Lawlike explanations
The explanation is not the regularity, but the activity sustaining it [Machamer/Darden/Craver]
     Full Idea: It is not regularities that explain but the activities that sustain the regularities.
     From: Machamer,P/Darden,L/Craver,C (Thinking About Mechanisms [2000], 7)
     A reaction: Good, but we had better not characterise the 'activities' in terms of regularities.
14. Science / D. Explanation / 2. Types of Explanation / h. Explanations by function
Functions are not properties of objects, they are activities contributing to mechanisms [Machamer/Darden/Craver]
     Full Idea: It is common to speak of functions as properties 'had by' entities, …but they should rather be understood in terms of the activities by virtue of which entities contribute to the workings of a mechanism.
     From: Machamer,P/Darden,L/Craver,C (Thinking About Mechanisms [2000], 3)
     A reaction: I'm certainly quite passionately in favour of cutting down on describing the world almost entirely in terms of entities which have properties. An 'activity', though, is a bit of an elusive concept.
14. Science / D. Explanation / 2. Types of Explanation / i. Explanations by mechanism
Mechanisms are not just push-pull systems [Machamer/Darden/Craver]
     Full Idea: One should not think of mechanisms as exclusively mechanical (push-pull) systems.
     From: Machamer,P/Darden,L/Craver,C (Thinking About Mechanisms [2000], 1)
     A reaction: The difficulty seems to be that you could broaden the concept of 'mechanism' indefinitely, so that it covered history, mathematics, populations, cultural change, and even mathematics. Where to stop?
Mechanisms are systems organised to produce regular change [Machamer/Darden/Craver]
     Full Idea: Mechanisms are entities and activities organized such that they are productive of regular change from start or set-up to finish or termination conditions.
     From: Machamer,P/Darden,L/Craver,C (Thinking About Mechanisms [2000], 1)
     A reaction: This is their initial formal definition of a mechanism. Note that a mere 'activity' can be included. Presumably the mechanism might have an outcome that was not the intended outcome. Does a random element disqualify it? Are hands mechanisms?
A mechanism explains a phenomenon by showing how it was produced [Machamer/Darden/Craver]
     Full Idea: To give a description of a mechanism for a phenomenon is to explain that phenomenon, i.e. to explain how it was produced.
     From: Machamer,P/Darden,L/Craver,C (Thinking About Mechanisms [2000], 1)
     A reaction: To 'show how' something happens needs a bit of precisification. It is probably analytic that 'showing how' means 'revealing the mechanism', though 'mechanism' then becomes the tricky concept.
Our account of mechanism combines both entities and activities [Machamer/Darden/Craver]
     Full Idea: We emphasise the activities in mechanisms. This is explicitly dualist. Substantivalists speak of entities with dispositions to act. Process ontologists reify activities and try to reduce entities to processes. We try to capture both intuitions.
     From: Machamer,P/Darden,L/Craver,C (Thinking About Mechanisms [2000], 3)
     A reaction: [A quotation of selected fragments] The problem here seems to be the raising of an 'activity' to a central role in ontology, when it doesn't seem to be primitive, and will typically be analysed in a variety of ways.
Descriptions of explanatory mechanisms have a bottom level, where going further is irrelevant [Machamer/Darden/Craver]
     Full Idea: Nested hierachical descriptions of mechanisms typically bottom out in lowest level mechanisms. …Bottoming out is relative …the explanation comes to an end, and description of lower-level mechanisms would be irrelevant.
     From: Machamer,P/Darden,L/Craver,C (Thinking About Mechanisms [2000], 5.1)
     A reaction: This seems to me exactly the right story about mechanism, and it is a story I am associating with essentialism. The relevance is ties to understanding. The lower level is either fully understood, or totally baffling.
14. Science / D. Explanation / 3. Best Explanation / b. Ultimate explanation
There are four types of bottom-level activities which will explain phenomena [Machamer/Darden/Craver]
     Full Idea: There are four bottom-out kinds of activities: geometrico-mechanical, electro-chemical, electro-magnetic and energetic. These are abstract means of production that can be fruitfully applied in particular cases to explain phenomena.
     From: Machamer,P/Darden,L/Craver,C (Thinking About Mechanisms [2000], 7)
     A reaction: I like that. It gives a nice core for a metaphysics for physicalists. I suspect that 'mechanical' can be reduced to something else, and that 'energetic' will disappear in the final story.
15. Nature of Minds / C. Capacities of Minds / 3. Abstraction by mind
We can abstract by taking an exemplary case and ignoring the detail [Machamer/Darden/Craver]
     Full Idea: Abstractions may be constructed by taking an exemplary case or instance and removing detail.
     From: Machamer,P/Darden,L/Craver,C (Thinking About Mechanisms [2000], 5.3)
     A reaction: I love 'removing detail'. That's it. Simple. I think this process is the basis of our whole capacity to formulate abstract concepts. Forget Frege - he's just describing the results of the process. How do we decide what is 'detail'? Essentialism!
26. Natural Theory / D. Laws of Nature / 11. Against Laws of Nature
Laws of nature have very little application in biology [Machamer/Darden/Craver]
     Full Idea: The traditional notion of a law of nature has few, if any, applications in neurobiology or molecular biology.
     From: Machamer,P/Darden,L/Craver,C (Thinking About Mechanisms [2000], 3.2)
     A reaction: This is a simple and self-evident fact, and bad news for anyone who want to build their entire ontology around laws of nature. I take such a notion to be fairly empty, except as a convenient heuristic device.