Recent Responses

Recent Responses

Response by Stephen Maitzen on December 31, 2020

Interesting question! I think you're right that there's something peculiar about this disjunctive syllogism:

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Response by Stephen Maitzen on December 31, 2020

Like you, I'm puzzled by the form of the conditional "Only if A, then B." It doesn't seem to be idiomatic English. One might say "Only if you go to the party will I go," but one wouldn't say "Only if you go to the party, then I will go." That would be unidiomatic. So I presume that the conditional form you're learning is "Only if A, B" rather than "Only if A, then B." I would interpret "Only if A, B" as stating that A is a necessary condition for B, and therefore implying that B is a sufficient condition for A.

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Response by Allen Stairs on December 3, 2020

When you say you are a determinist, that could mean various things. It might mean that the world is governed by deterministic laws, but by itself that doesn't answer the question of whether we are free or morally responsible. Incompatibilists say that determinism in this sense rules out freedom; compatibilists disagree. There are interesting arguments on both sides. I suspect that what you're actually saying is that you think determinism is true and you are an incompatibilist....more

Response by Allen Stairs on November 26, 2020

Funny you should ask. It's grading season and I've spent a chunk of my day reading essays by freshmen. Some are pretty well-written; others not so much. I'm with your prof.

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Response by Jonathan Westphal on November 26, 2020

There is an interesting and much-discussed piece by Richard Hare called "Nothing Matters", in R. M. Hare, Applications of Moral Philosophy (London: Macmillan, 1972), pp. 32–47). Hare develops the point that 'My wife matters' does not have the same sort of logical grammar as 'My wife chatters.' The idea is that chattering is something that my wife does to or at me, whereas mattering is not, in spite of the fact that 'My wife chatters' might be said when my wife chatters to me....more

Response by Stephen Maitzen on November 19, 2020

There is a finite number of arrangements of letters; thus there is a finite number of definitions.

Is that true if we're allowed to use each letter an increasing number of times? If our stock of letter tokens increases without limit, then can't the number (and length) of our definitions also increase without limit? Certainly the names of the numbers will tend to get longer as the numbers they name increase, and those names will reuse letters to an ever-increasing degree.

Response by Stephen Maitzen on November 19, 2020

I assume that there's some nonzero minimum time, however brief, that you require to perform each step of addition. In that case, you will never produce an infinite sequence of numbers: that is, there is no finite time at which you will have produced an infinite sequence of numbers. That fact doesn't imply that the positive integers aren't an infinite sequence of numbers -- only that you can't produce them in the described way in a finite amount of time.

Response by Allen Stairs on November 19, 2020

I've come to the conclusion that you may be confusing "has their own opinion" with "has their own truth."

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Response by Peter S. Fosl on October 30, 2020

One needn't know who first coined a word or even how it was originally used for that word to be meaningful, and similarly the fact that the origins of ancient artworks are murky doesn't entail that they are without meaning. The original meaning may be lost, but new meanings are generated, often retaining traces (often more) of earlier meanings. Now, of course, some words are more commonly understood than others, and there are lots of artworks that hold generally shared meanings for people....more

Response by Peter S. Fosl on October 29, 2020

In cases where the celebrity has intentionally established a false perception that was consciously used to leverage considerable benefits, especially financial benefits, the celebrity owes an apology, at least, to the public (perhaps also resigning from a position, perhaps returning goods). There's a kind of fraud in that. But the responsibility is limited for two reasons: (1) most people commonly try to present themselves in an optimal way and (2) everyone understands that....more