The 141 new ideas included in the latest update (of 8th January), by Theme

idea number gives full details    |     expand these ideas
1. Philosophy / A. Wisdom / 1. Nature of Wisdom
A sense of timelessness is essential to wisdom [Russell]
1. Philosophy / D. Nature of Philosophy / 7. Despair over Philosophy
Philosophical disputes are mostly hopeless, because philosophers don't understand each other [Russell]
1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 1. Nature of Metaphysics
Metaphysics is (supposedly) first the ontology, then in general what things are like [Hofweber]
1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 3. Metaphysical Systems
Philosophical systems are interesting, but we now need a more objective scientific philosophy [Russell]
Hegel's confusions over 'is' show how vast systems can be built on simple errors [Russell]
Philosophers sometimes neglect truth and distort facts to attain a nice system [Russell]
1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 4. Metaphysics as Science
Physicists accept particles, points and instants, while pretending they don't do metaphysics [Russell]
1. Philosophy / F. Analytic Philosophy / 5. Linguistic Analysis
Common speech is vague; its vocabulary and syntax must be modified, for precision [Russell]
1. Philosophy / F. Analytic Philosophy / 6. Logical Analysis
We can't sharply distinguish variables, domains and values, if symbols frighten us [Russell]
When problems are analysed properly, they are either logical, or not philosophical at all [Russell]
2. Reason / D. Definition / 7. Contextual Definition
Any linguistic expression may lack meaning when taken out of context [Russell]
2. Reason / D. Definition / 11. Ostensive Definition
Empirical words need ostensive definition, which makes them egocentric [Russell]
2. Reason / F. Fallacies / 8. Category Mistake / a. Category mistakes
'The number one is bald' or 'the number one is fond of cream cheese' are meaningless [Russell]
3. Truth / A. Truth Problems / 5. Truth Bearers
Truth and falsity apply to suppositions as well as to assertions [Williamson]
3. Truth / A. Truth Problems / 7. Falsehood
True and false are not symmetrical; false is more complex, involving negation [Williamson]
3. Truth / B. Truthmakers / 6. Making Negative Truths
It seems that when a proposition is false, something must fail to subsist [Russell]
3. Truth / E. Pragmatic Truth / 1. Pragmatic Truth
If truth is the end of enquiry, what if it never ends, or ends prematurely? [Atkin on Peirce]
4. Formal Logic / E. Nonclassical Logics / 3. Many-Valued Logic
Many-valued logics don't solve vagueness; its presence at the meta-level is ignored [Williamson]
4. Formal Logic / F. Set Theory ST / 3. Types of Set / b. Empty (Null) Set
The null class is the class with all the non-existents as its members [MacColl, by Lackey]
4. Formal Logic / F. Set Theory ST / 5. Conceptions of Set / c. Logical sets
The 'no classes' theory says the propositions just refer to the members [Russell]
5. Theory of Logic / A. Overview of Logic / 3. Value of Logic
Logic gives the method of research in philosophy [Russell]
5. Theory of Logic / B. Logical Consequence / 4. Semantic Consequence |=
Formal semantics defines validity as truth preserved in every model [Williamson]
5. Theory of Logic / D. Assumptions for Logic / 1. Bivalence
In talking of future sea-fights, Aristotle rejects bivalence [Aristotle, by Williamson]
'Bivalence' is the meta-linguistic principle that 'A' in the object language is true or false [Williamson]
5. Theory of Logic / D. Assumptions for Logic / 2. Excluded Middle
Excluded middle is the maxim of definite understanding, but just produces contradictions [Hegel]
Excluded middle can be stated psychologically, as denial of p implies assertion of not-p [Russell]
Excluded Middle is 'A or not A' in the object language [Williamson]
5. Theory of Logic / E. Structures of Logic / 2. Logical Connectives / a. Logical connectives
The logical connectives are not objects, but are formal, and need a context [Russell]
Logical connectives have the highest precision, yet are infected by the vagueness of true and false [Russell, by Williamson]
5. Theory of Logic / E. Structures of Logic / 5. Functions in Logic
'Propositional functions' are ambiguous until the variable is given a value [Russell]
5. Theory of Logic / F. Referring in Logic / 1. Naming / d. Singular terms
'Singular terms' are not found in modern linguistics, and are not the same as noun phrases [Hofweber]
5. Theory of Logic / F. Referring in Logic / 2. Descriptions / c. Theory of definite descriptions
Russell showed how to define 'the', and thereby reduce the ontology of logic [Russell, by Lackey]
The theory of descriptions lacks conventions for the scope of quantifiers [Lackey on Russell]
5. Theory of Logic / H. Proof Systems / 4. Natural Deduction
Or-elimination is 'Argument by Cases'; it shows how to derive C from 'A or B' [Williamson]
5. Theory of Logic / L. Paradox / 4. Paradoxes in Logic / a. Achilles paradox
The tortoise won't win, because infinite instants don't compose an infinitely long time [Russell]
5. Theory of Logic / L. Paradox / 4. Paradoxes in Logic / d. Richard's paradox
Richard's puzzle uses the notion of 'definition' - but that cannot be defined [Russell]
5. Theory of Logic / L. Paradox / 5. Paradoxes in Set Theory / b. Cantor's paradox
Sets always exceed terms, so all the sets must exceed all the sets [Lackey]
5. Theory of Logic / L. Paradox / 5. Paradoxes in Set Theory / c. Burali-Forti's paradox
It seems that the ordinal number of all the ordinals must be bigger than itself [Lackey]
5. Theory of Logic / L. Paradox / 6. Paradoxes in Language / a. The Liar paradox
Vicious Circle: what involves ALL must not be one of those ALL [Russell]
'All judgements made by Epimenedes are true' needs the judgements to be of the same type [Russell]
5. Theory of Logic / L. Paradox / 6. Paradoxes in Language / b. The Heap paradox ('Sorites')
A sorites stops when it collides with an opposite sorites [Williamson]
6. Mathematics / C. Sources of Mathematics / 6. Logicism / b. Type theory
For 'x is a u' to be meaningful, u must be one range of individuals (or 'type') higher than x [Russell]
Classes are defined by propositional functions, and functions are typed, with an axiom of reducibility [Russell, by Lackey]
Russell confused use and mention, and reduced classes to properties, not to language [Quine, by Lackey]
6. Mathematics / C. Sources of Mathematics / 7. Formalism
Numbers are just verbal conveniences, which can be analysed away [Russell]
6. Mathematics / C. Sources of Mathematics / 10. Constructivism / d. Predicativism
We need rules for deciding which norms are predicative (unless none of them are) [Russell]
A one-variable function is only 'predicative' if it is one order above its arguments [Russell]
'Predicative' norms are those which define a class [Russell]
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 1. Realism
If two people perceive the same object, the object of perception can't be in the mind [Russell]
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 9. Vagueness / a. Problem of vagueness
Austin revealed many meanings for 'vague': rough, ambiguous, general, incomplete... [Austin,JL, by Williamson]
When bivalence is rejected because of vagueness, we lose classical logic [Williamson]
Vagueness undermines the stable references needed by logic [Williamson]
A vague term can refer to very precise elements [Williamson]
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 9. Vagueness / b. Vagueness of reality
To say reality itself is vague is not properly intelligible [Dummett]
Equally fuzzy objects can be identical, so fuzziness doesn't entail vagueness [Williamson]
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 9. Vagueness / c. Vagueness as epistemic
Vagueness is epistemic. Statements are true or false, but we often don't know which [Williamson]
If a heap has a real boundary, omniscient speakers would agree where it is [Williamson]
The epistemic view says that the essence of vagueness is ignorance [Williamson]
If there is a true borderline of which we are ignorant, this drives a wedge between meaning and use [Williamson]
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 9. Vagueness / d. Vagueness as semantic
The vagueness of 'heap' can remain even when the context is fixed [Williamson]
The 'nihilist' view of vagueness says that 'heap' is not a legitimate concept [Williamson]
We can say propositions are bivalent, but vague utterances don't express a proposition [Williamson]
If the vague 'TW is thin' says nothing, what does 'TW is thin if his perfect twin is thin' say? [Williamson]
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 9. Vagueness / e. Higher-order vagueness
Asking when someone is 'clearly' old is higher-order vagueness [Williamson]
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 9. Vagueness / f. Supervaluation for vagueness
Supervaluation keeps classical logic, but changes the truth in classical semantics [Williamson]
Truth-functionality for compound statements fails in supervaluation [Williamson]
You can't give a precise description of a language which is intrinsically vague [Williamson]
Supervaluation assigns truth when all the facts are respected [Williamson]
Supervaluation has excluded middle but not bivalence; 'A or not-A' is true, even when A is undecided [Williamson]
Supervaluationism defines 'supertruth', but neglects it when defining 'valid' [Williamson]
Supervaluation adds a 'definitely' operator to classical logic [Williamson]
Supervaluationism cannot eliminate higher-order vagueness [Williamson]
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 9. Vagueness / g. Degrees of vagueness
Stoics applied bivalence to sorites situations, so everyone is either vicious or wholly virtuous [Stoic school, by Williamson]
8. Modes of Existence / A. Relations / 1. Nature of Relations
The only thing we can say about relations is that they relate [Russell]
Relational propositions seem to be 'about' their terms, rather than about the relation [Russell]
There is no complexity without relations, so no propositions, and no truth [Russell]
With asymmetrical relations (before/after) the reduction to properties is impossible [Russell]
8. Modes of Existence / B. Properties / 11. Properties as Sets
When we attribute a common quality to a group, we can forget the quality and just talk of the group [Russell]
8. Modes of Existence / E. Nominalism / 1. Nominalism / a. Nominalism
Nominalists suspect that properties etc are our projections, and could have been different [Williamson]
8. Modes of Existence / E. Nominalism / 2. Resemblance Nominalism
'Blue' is not a family resemblance, because all the blues resemble in some respect [Williamson]
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 3. Objects in Thought
When I perceive a melody, I do not perceive the notes as existing [Russell]
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 4. Impossible objects
Common sense agrees with Meinong (rather than Russell) that 'Pegasus is a flying horse' is true [Lackey on Russell]
I prefer to deny round squares, and deal with the difficulties by the theory of denoting [Russell]
On Meinong's principles 'the existent round square' has to exist [Russell]
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 5. Individuation / c. Individuation by location
Objects only exist if they 'occupy' space and time [Russell]
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 3. Unity Problems / e. Vague objects
If fuzzy edges are fine, then why not fuzzy temporal, modal or mereological boundaries? [Williamson]
9. Objects / E. Objects over Time / 8. Continuity of Rivers
A river is not just event; it needs actual and counterfactual boundaries [Williamson]
10. Modality / B. Possibility / 5. Contingency
Contingency arises from tensed verbs changing the propositions to which they refer [Russell]
10. Modality / D. Knowledge of Modality / 1. A Priori Necessary
We can't infer metaphysical necessities to be a priori knowable - or indeed knowable in any way [Williamson]
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 1. Knowledge
We have inexact knowledge when we include margins of error [Williamson]
11. Knowledge Aims / B. Certain Knowledge / 1. Certainty
We want certainty in order achieve secure results for action [Dewey]
11. Knowledge Aims / C. Knowing Reality / 1. Perceptual Realism / b. Direct realism
I assume we perceive the actual objects, and not their 'presentations' [Russell]
11. Knowledge Aims / C. Knowing Reality / 1. Perceptual Realism / c. Representative realism
Science condemns sense-data and accepts matter, but a logical construction must link them [Russell]
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 4. Sense Data / c. Unperceived sense-data
When sense-data change, there must be indistinguishable sense-data in the process [Russell]
12. Knowledge Sources / C. Rationalism / 1. Rationalism
Empirical truths are particular, so general truths need an a priori input of generality [Russell]
12. Knowledge Sources / D. Empiricism / 5. Empiricism Critique
Full empiricism is not tenable, but empirical investigation is always essential [Russell]
12. Knowledge Sources / E. Direct Knowledge / 3. Memory
We rely on memory for empirical beliefs because they mutually support one another [Lewis,CI]
If we doubt memories we cannot assess our doubt, or what is being doubted [Lewis,CI]
13. Knowledge Criteria / A. Justification Problems / 1. Justification / a. Justification issues
Knowing you know (KK) is usually denied if the knowledge concept is missing, or not considered [Williamson]
13. Knowledge Criteria / B. Internal Justification / 5. Coherentism / a. Coherence as justification
A coherence theory of justification can combine with a correspondence theory of truth [Bonjour]
There will always be a vast number of equally coherent but rival systems [Bonjour]
Empirical coherence must attribute reliability to spontaneous experience [Bonjour]
Incoherence may be more important for enquiry than coherence [Olsson]
Coherence is the capacity to answer objections [Olsson]
13. Knowledge Criteria / B. Internal Justification / 5. Coherentism / b. Pro-coherentism
Objects are treated as real when they connect with other experiences in a normal way [Russell]
Congruents assertions increase the probability of each individual assertion in the set [Lewis,CI]
We can no more expect a precise definition of coherence than we can of the moral ideal [Ewing]
A well written novel cannot possibly match a real belief system for coherence [Bonjour]
The objection that a negated system is equally coherent assume that coherence is consistency [Bonjour]
A coherent system can be justified with initial beliefs lacking all credibility [Bonjour]
The best explanation of coherent observations is they are caused by and correspond to reality [Bonjour]
13. Knowledge Criteria / B. Internal Justification / 5. Coherentism / c. Coherentism critique
If undetailed, 'coherence' is just a vague words that covers all possible arguments [Ewing]
Mere agreement of testimonies is not enough to make truth very likely [Olsson]
Coherence is only needed if the informations sources are not fully reliable [Olsson]
A purely coherent theory cannot be true of the world without some contact with the world [Olsson]
Extending a system makes it less probable, so extending coherence can't make it more probable [Olsson]
13. Knowledge Criteria / D. Scepticism / 6. Scepticism Critique
Global scepticism is irrefutable, but can't replace our other beliefs, and just makes us hesitate [Russell]
14. Science / A. Basis of Science / 5. Anomalies
Anomalies challenge the claim that the basic explanations are actually basic [Bonjour]
14. Science / D. Explanation / 1. Explanation / b. Aims of explanation
Scientific explanation aims at a unifying account of underlying structures and processes [Hempel]
15. Nature of Minds / C. Capacities of Minds / 5. Generalisation by mind
It is good to generalise truths as much as possible [Russell]
18. Thought / A. Modes of Thought / 2. Propositional Attitudes
To know, believe, hope or fear, one must grasp the thought, but not when you fail to do them [Williamson]
18. Thought / A. Modes of Thought / 6. Judgement / b. Error
Do incorrect judgements have non-existent, or mental, or external objects? [Russell]
18. Thought / C. Content / 1. Content
The complexity of the content correlates with the complexity of the object [Russell]
19. Language / B. Reference / 1. Reference theories
References to the 'greatest prime number' have no reference, but are meaningful [Williamson]
19. Language / C. Assigning Meanings / 9. Indexical Semantics
Science reduces indexicals to a minimum, but they can never be eliminated from empirical matters [Russell]
19. Language / D. Propositions / 1. Propositions
If p is false, then believing not-p is knowing a truth, so negative propositions must exist [Russell]
19. Language / D. Propositions / 2. Abstract Propositions / a. Propositions as sense
Without propositions there can be no beliefs or desires [Hofweber]
19. Language / D. Propositions / 2. Abstract Propositions / b. Propositions as possible worlds
It is known that there is a cognitive loss in identifying propositions with possible worlds [Williamson]
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / h. Respect
Individuals need creativity, reverence for others, and self-respect [Russell]
25. Society / B. The State / 7. Changing the State / b. Devolution
We would not want UK affairs to be settled by a world parliament [Russell]
Democracy is inadequate without a great deal of devolution [Russell]
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 2. Social Freedom / e. Freedom of lifestyle
We need security and liberty, and then encouragement of creativity [Russell]
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 4. Legal Rights / c. Property rights
The right to own land gives a legal right to a permanent income [Russell]
25. Society / D. Political Doctrines / 3. Anarchism
Anarchy does not maximise liberty [Russell]
25. Society / D. Political Doctrines / 5. Democracy / a. Nature of democracy
On every new question the majority is always wrong at first [Russell]
Unfortunately ordinary voters can't detect insincerity [Russell]
25. Society / D. Political Doctrines / 5. Democracy / c. Direct democracy
Groups should be autonomous, with a neutral authority as arbitrator [Russell]
25. Society / D. Political Doctrines / 6. Liberalism
Theoretical and practical politics are both concerned with the best lives for individuals [Russell]
25. Society / D. Political Doctrines / 8. Socialism
When the state is the only employer, there is no refuge from the prejudices of other people [Russell]
25. Society / D. Political Doctrines / 11. Capitalism
Men unite in pursuit of material things, and idealise greed as part of group loyalty [Russell]
27. Natural Reality / C. Space-Time / 2. Time / a. Time
We never experience times, but only succession of events [Russell]
29. Religion / D. Religious Issues / 2. Immortality / d. Heaven
That our heaven is a dull place reflects the misery of excessive work in life [Russell]