The notion of something being a "fake" seems linguistically odd. Normally, if you have an adjective and a noun, the noun notes what the thing being talked about is, and the adjective describes some quality of the thing in question. A "fake plant", however, doesn't seem to fit that pattern at all, because a fake plant isn't a plant to begin with; the noun seems to be violating its intended function. Is "fake" something other than an adjective, then, perhaps analogous to "not a"? Or is a "fake plant" actually a "fakeplant", i.e. the fake is a part of the noun rather than an adjective, despite its apparent form? Doesn't the adjective "fake" somehow undermine the purpose of nouns?

One point worth noting here is that words like "fake" are, so far as I can see, always intensional. meaning that whether something is a fake F depends upon what property F is, and not just which things are F. They are also "attributive", meaning that an Adj-Noun isn't just an Adj that is Noun, but (roughly) something that is Adj for a Noun. E.g., a tall basketball player is someone who is tall for a basketball player, not just someone who is tall and a basketball player. Attributives are hard enough; intensionality is hard enough; both by themselves. Put them together, and it's a nightmare.

Frege said 'a fact is a thought that is true’. Does that mean truth is factual thoughts?

Frege's views about truth are complex, and there is a great deal of controversy concerning their proper interpretation. (Robert May and I have recently written a paper trying to outline Frege's views .) So I won't try to go into this in detail. But the first point to remember is that, for Frege, a "thought" is not any kind of mental episode. Frege means by a a "thought" roughly what other philosophers mean by a "proposition". So "truth is factual thoughts" would have to mean something like "truth is factual propositions", which probably sounds rather less exciting.

Having an almost three year old daughter leads me into deep philosophical questions about mathematics. :-) Really, I am concerned about the concept of "being able to count". People ask me if my daughter can count and I can't avoid giving long answers people were not expecting. Firstly, my daughter is very good in "how many" questions when the things to count are one, two or three, and sometimes gives that kind of information without being asked. But she doesn't really count them, she just "sees" that there are three, two or one of these things and she tells it. Once in a while she does the same in relation to four things, but that's rare. Secondly, she can reproduce the series of the names of numbers from 1 to 12. (Then she jumps to the word for "fourteen" in our language, and that's it.) But I don't think she can count to 12. Thirdly, she is usually very exact in counting to four, five or six, but she makes some surprising mistakes. Yesterday, she was counting the legs of a (plastic) donkey (in natural...

Most of these questions are not so much philosophical as empirical, and there has been a tremendous amount of extremely important work done in the last few decades on children's concepts of number. The locus classicus is The Child's Understanding of Number , by Rachel Gelman and Randy Galistel, which was originally published in 1978, but this stuff really took off in the late 1990s or so. A lot of people have contributed to this work, but I'll mention two: Susan Carey and Liz Spelke , who are both at Harvard. You will find links to some of their work on their websites. Part of the reason people got interested in these issues is because they are closely related to issues about object recognition and individuation, which had been a focus of a great deal of work just before that. (I.e, people had been interested in the question at what age children start to "pick out" objects from the environment, and to think of them as distinct entities, that continue to exist even when you do not see them....

Why does inconsistency entail validity?

Without disagreeing with anything Alex has said, let me just add one more thing: There are logicians who sympathize with this sort of question, and so who would deny that an argument with inconsistent premises is always valid. There are logics, that is to say, that do NOT validate all inferences of the form: A & ~A, therefore B, for arbitrary B. Such logics are called "paraconsistent, and if you'd like to read about them I'd recommend the Stanford Encyclopedia article as a start.

Only rarely is there a movie that comes out where there is a main female character who is involved is some kind of plot that doesn't involve romantic entanglements with men. If the movie looks good then I will go see it, but it occurs to me that one of the reasons that there aren't many movies like that is because women aren't as interested in them. Could it be that feminism has it wrong when it tries to place it sole focus on blaming men for being chauvinistic pigs rather than working to encourage a vision of womanhood that is more expansive? Obviously feminism does try to do that but at the same time I don't think its directly men's fault if woman don't respond to that message.

I guess the obvious question is whether there is any actual evidence that women aren't interested in movies that in which the main female character isn't romantically involved with some man. I'd rather suspect the opposite: That it's men who won't be interested, if the woman isn't presented as a sex object. Not only have feminists been "working to encourage a version of womanhood that is more expansive", they have had a great deal of success. Try reading Betty Friedan's famous book The Feminist Mystique , or talking to some older female relatives, if you want to know what things were like for women just half a century ago. Since we've just passed the anniversary of Title IX: Did you know that several attempts were made to exclude funding for sports from Title IX, on the ground that women just weren't interested in sports? Fortunately for all of us, those attempts failed, and the rates at which girls and women how do participate has put the lie to that particular assumption.

How can phrases mean things their words don't appear to mean? For example, if I'm eating a salad, my friend asks how it is, and I say "not bad," the words "not bad" seem to be extremely open - the salad could be amazing, it could be okay, it could be great or it could be totally neutral; it might even be horrible, so long as it isn't "bad." However, I would normally be understood as saying the salad was okay, rather than any of the other logically plausible alternatives. How does that work?

I think there's rather more that can be said here (and, for what it's worth, I don't actually agree that "words mean what we use them to mean"). We probably need to distinguish a couple different things here. One kind of case is that of idiom . These are linguistic expressions, like "kicked the bucket", whose meaning has nothing to do with the component words. These sorts of phrases are really just single words, but long ones, and there are good tests for when you have an idiom. Note, e.g., that I cannot say "The bucket was kicked by John" and have it mean the same as "John kicked the bucket", where the latter is the idiomatic use meaning "John died". It might well be that "not bad" in this kind of case is an idiom, but the case seems to me to have many features of a case of implicature . Here's a standard kind of example. Suppose Professor Jones writes a letter of recommendation for Mr Smith. The letter says: To whom it may concern: Smith has excellent handwriting and was never late...

Why is C.I. Lewis' strict implication not taken seriously in this day and age? Clarence Irving Lewis was known for criticizing material implication and for instead proposing strict implication. Why is he, his criticisms, and his proposed strict implication not taken seriously today? Many contemporary logic, philosophy, and mathematical texts refer to material implication rather than strict implication.

It should also be said that there is nowadays a lot of formal, logical work that is devoted to various forms of implication, like strict implication. Part of this is done within so-called "modal" logic; part of it is done in theories of conditionals generally; some of it concerns non-classical logics like relevant logic.

Is "understanding" a proposition necessary, but not sufficient, for "believing" that same proposition? Further, where could one find arguments (discussion) for and/or against either position?

Let's assume the following: (1) If you understand a proposition, then you also understand its negation. (2) It is necessary, if you are to believe a proposition, to understand it. (3) It's perfectly possible to believe a proposition and not believe its negation. It follows from these that understanding a proposition is not sufficient for believing it. So there's an argument. One might wonder why we should accept (1)-(3), of course. I think most people would take (2) to be obvious enough. What's meant here by "understanding" is something like: being able to take mental attitudes towards. Belief is just such an attitude. Regarding (1), this just seems to follow from your understanding what negation is. For detailed discussion, however, one might look at Frege's last essay "Negation". Regarding (3), one would hope that it is true! Even if we sometimes believe contradictions, one would hope we didn't always have to do so!!

Okay, this is an odd question probably but something about interacting with a dog makes me feel strange and kind of awkward. There is a consensus that dogs aren't conscious in the way humans are because they don't have "self-consciousness" or at least that is what people believe. So when I am around a dog I am thinking why should I even pet this dog? The dogs seems to want me to pet him/her presumably because they want affection but is that motive even possible if they don't have self-consciousness? In human interactions affection has a subject-predicate relational structure of I- (like,want,love,want to touch)- you and you couldn't conceive of affection without some idea of at least two separate and self-aware selves. So maybe it is the same for dogs? Maybe the whole idea that animals such as dogs lack self-consciousness is disproved by the mere fact that they want you to pet them? But it is awkward because I feel like I'm around a being that society and general consensus says shouldn't be granted the...

This is an interesting question. It's related, in a way, to a famous objection to Descartes's "I think, therefore I am". The objection was: What's with the I? Why not just: Some thinking is happening? So maybe the dog can be thinking: Petting would be good. Eating is good. Baths are bad! Frisbee is good! Etc, etc. Another important point to make is that one doesn't have to think that dogs have the same worth or dignity as human beings to think they have worth and dignity, even that they have quite a lot of worth and dignity. Personally, I'm more of a cat person, and, whether or not my cats are self-conscious, they are sophisticated social beings, with each of whom I have a complex, individual, and mutual relationship. There are no doubt limits to their mental capacities. But there are limits to our mental capacities, too. And I think it would definitely go too far to say that they have no appreciation at all of the difference between minded and unminded things. There are lots of things they do...