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Arthur Volodin

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About Arthur Volodin

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  • Birthday 11/20/1985

Arthur Volodin's Activity

  1. Arthur Volodin added a post in a topic Knowledge: I know it not   


    This is an interesting, and may I say, unusual position. If correct, it seems to me that the term 'knowledge' would have to have as little sense as 'true belief'. Most people, myself included, have very powerful intuitions to the effect that only true things may be known. It's perfectly possible that the whole concept, useful though it may be, could be found to be incoherent. But I personally doubt that it is.

    You seem to have a very odd notion of truth, requiring that a proposition be provable for it to be true. This is clearly not standard usage, in which proof is regarded as a guarantee of truth - but an absence of proof leaves open the possibility and, in some cases, even the probability of truth. I find it particularly odd given that you allow that there are facts and that propositions attempt to refer to them. The notion of proof seems to me to assume a notion of truth, being nothing other than a series of inferences from known premises in such a way as to establish the truth of a given conclusion.

    Also, there are some propositions which it seems to me are provable. 'If we accept the axioms of geometry, then Ptolemy's theorem obtains' seems to me to be one of them. Or are you denying the certainty of logical laws? In that case, how about 'there are thoughts' and 'something exists'?
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  2. Arthur Volodin added a post in a topic Knowledge: I know it not   


    I hadn't come across that answer. I rather like it, though. A dose of scepticism can certainly be a very healthy thing. It seems to me, though, that it's more of a justification of epistemology in general than the knowledge-analysis project. To some extent you can argue that the justification carries over, I think, but when I asked the question I had in the mind a wider concern as to why philosophers should be interested in analysing our use of certain words. This isn't the kind of question which papers or books get written about... what do you think?



    I'm afraid I don't see quite what you have in mind. Is this a diagnosis of the source of the errors? Anyway, I'll try to provide some sort of response if you elaborate on your idea a bit.

    Also, it's worth noting that it may not be a simple matter of 'remembering'. There are people who have and do disagree with this assertion.



    I look forward to it, Michael. Unfortunately I'm about to hit the road and won't be around at the Galilean Library much for the next six weeks, but if I do find time, I'll give this thread priority.
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  3. Arthur Volodin added a post in a topic Knowledge: I know it not   


    Plato's epistemology appears to have changed somewhat over time. I think 'justified true belief' is a fair account of it, and he in fact puts this suggestion forward explicity in the Theaetetus; however, Plato had an unusual notion of justification. He seems to have eventually decided to withhold the term only for use in connection with mathematics and the forms, as he came to hold an infallibilist account of knowledge. You can see him drifting in this direction in the Meno
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  4. Arthur Volodin added a post in a topic A Rational critique of Rationality   


    I'm curious, Hugo: when you say this, do you have in mind any kind of criteria which something has to satisfy in order to count as a 'brand of rationality'? Would you allow, for example, some arbitrary set of rules of inference to count as one?
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  5. Arthur Volodin added a topic in Explore   

    Knowledge: I know it not
    In this thread, I'd like to ask people about knowledge. Last time I wrote an OP with a bunch of questions in it, I found the responses very interesting, so I thought I'd try that again. I think for this topic, a sort of preamble might be helpful, though. Otherwise the problem often seems easier than it really is.


    For well over 2000 years, the analysis of knowledge was one of the only philosophical problems that was widely believed to have a straightforward solution. Plato equated it with justified true belief. But in 1963, a philosopher called Edmund Gettier published a paper in which he gave two counter-examples. In these examples (which can be found here) someone has a justified true belief, but intuitively they still don't know what they believe. In the 42 years since, philosophers have suggested a dizzying number of alternative definitions, none of which are widely believed to have worked.

    One possible reason for this which philosophers are just beginning to catch onto is that when we say Jones knows something, what we're saying may not be purely descriptive. That is, we're not just stating a simple matter of fact (or even a complicated matter of fact), like we would be if we said 'Jones is wearing red shoes'. That's part of it - it has to be a fact that what Jones believes is true, for example - but there are other elements, as well. There seems to be an evaluative element to it, as if we're giving Jones credit or commending him. This comes out in certain examples where Jones might have a justified true belief, but someone else whom he's with is better informed and therefore doesn't share Jones' belief. If that makes sense.

    Furthermore, there's a practical element involved when we say that someone has knowledge. For example, let's imagine that I need to get to London; I ask my friend if there's a train going in at around two on Friday afternoon. He says yes, there is; he knows because he checked the timetable. So we'd generally say that he knows there's a train.

    But what if I really, really needed to be in London on time? I might ask if he were sure; had he checked that there were no maintenance works on the tracks this week, for example? After all, I have an appointment which I absolutely cannot miss. Suddenly it doesn't look like my friend knows, does it? So whether we think someone knows something depends on what we're relying on the knowledge for.


    One of the questions I want to ask is of course 'What is knowledge?' But I'm actually more interested in the following: do you see this as a philosophical problem? Do you find it interesting, and if so can you work out why? What do you think the value of an answer would be? And if you don't have any ideas on how to define knowledge, do you have any suggestions on how to approach the problem?
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  6. Arthur Volodin added a post in a topic Comments on Philosophical Logic   


    No, you're right. It's essential to choose a domain which will permit you to say everything you want to say in a given instance.
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  7. Arthur Volodin added a post in a topic Comments on Philosophical Logic   


    Thank you for that. That's a really neat way of thinking about it - it's aesthetically pleasing, somehow. I think Wittgenstein would probably prefer to ascribe them to misuse of language ("the set of all sets which don't include themselves" sounds like a sensible construction, right?), but I think it's more fun to imagine them out there, in the noumena.




    The difference is that technically the first one doesn't make any sense. You see, the problem with Frege's work is that he assumed that if you could specify the conditions under which something would belong to a given set, that set existed. Hence Russell produced his paradoxical set. So set theorists had to do away with Frege's very welcoming assumption. They ended up producing an axiomatised set theory, now called Zermelo-Frankel set theory, or ZFC for short. In order to avoid paradox, instead of assuming that sets exist, they start with the most innocuous assumptions they could find and systematically prove that various kinds of sets exist. However, they cannot construct the universal set in ZFC. In fact, there exists a very neat proof that there is no such thing. It follows from two incredibly innocent-sounding axioms.

    So the problem is that we have no consistent system in which we can speak of such a thing; and thereof we must be silent. The reason that you don't run into any obvious trouble with your expression is that there are lots of well-behaved sets which give us everything we need; the set of animals, or the set of all concrete Earthly objects, for example.

    So, the short answer: thereof we can speak, but the only thing we may say is that it doesn't exist.
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  8. Arthur Volodin added a post in a topic Comments on Philosophical Logic   


    These are very ugly indeed. I'll just do the first one. I'm going to omit brackets wherever they're not necessary to avoid ambiguity or to promote clarity.

    To say there are no more than two people in the class with whatever, what we have to write that if there are three people in the class all with whatever, then at least two of them are in fact the same. And more than three dogs is equivalent to four distinct dogs (they may have more than four, but if they have ten, they still have four distinct ones). So, it will look like this:


    Ax0Ay0Az0({(Cx0 ^ Px0 ^ Ew1Ex1Ey1Ez1(Dw1 ^ Dx1 ^ Dy1 ^ Dz1 ^ Ox0w1 ^ Ox0x1 ^ Ox0y1 ^ Ox0z1 ^ ~w1=x1 ^ ~w1=y1 ^ ~w1=z1 ^ ~x1=y1 ^ ~x1=z1 ^ ~y1=z1)) ^ (Cy0 ^ Py0 ^ Ew1Ex1Ey1Ez1(Dw1 ^ Dx1 ^ Dy1 ^ Dz1 ^ Oy0w1 ^ Oy0x1 ^ Oy0y1 ^ Oy0z1 ^ ~w1=x1 ^ ~w1=y1 ^ ~w1=z1 ^ ~x1=y1 ^ ~x1=z1 ^ ~y1=z1)) ^ (Cz0 ^ Pz0 ^ Ew1Ex1Ey1Ez1(Dw1 ^ Dx1 ^ Dy1 ^ Dz1 ^ Oz0w1 ^ Oz0x1 ^ Oz0y1 ^ Oz0z1 ^ ~w1=x1 ^ ~w1=y1 ^ ~w1=z1 ^ ~x1=y1 ^ ~x1=z1 ^ ~y1=z1))} --> {x0=y0 v x0=z0 v y0=z0})

    Ach, I hope that's readable. I had to use 'subscripts' to get enough variables. Notice that each of the three coloured bits says the same thing, but about a different variable each time (x0, y0, z0). The content is 'x0 is in the class and a person and there are four dogs, none of which are the same and all of which x0 owns'.

    The second question involves the same sort of thing, but I'd rather leave it to the readers...
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  9. Arthur Volodin added a post in a topic What technology do you use?   

    I'm a Firefox user, myself. Best that I don't say anything about IE, really. I was an Opera user before that, which is also very good, and has some nice features Firefox still lacks. Thunderbird, the mail client complement to Firefox, is also great. I do have MS Word on my computer, as it was there when I got it, but I've recently taught myself to use LaTeX. LaTeX is a wonderful, entirely free program which allows you to produce beautifully typeset documents with very little effort. It's the standard program for writing maths and science papers, and plenty of books get written in it, too.

    Besides my computer, I'm a real luddite. I think the second most technologically advanced thing in my room is probably my hot water bottle.
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  10. Arthur Volodin added a post in a topic Comments on Philosophical Logic   


    Fair question. The reason is that the universal set, if it includes everything, must include Russell's paradoxical set, and plenty of other nasties besides. The set of all sets which don't include themselves is a thing, after all. And a set which contains something paradoxical is itself paradoxical.

    To speak truly, this explanation still doesn't go to the heart of the matter, but it seems to me to make the point in question. The real, mathematical reason is more complicated, and relates to the particular problematic aspects of the naive set theory Frege used, and mathematicians' adoption of an axiomatised set theory where very little is assumed. If the above explanation doesn't satisfy you, I can explain this in more detail, too.

    I know this sounds finicky, but the only reason we ever translate anything into a first-order logic is to be finicky, after all.
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  11. Arthur Volodin added a post in a topic Comments on Philosophical Logic   

    Sorry, I should probably have been clearer when I wrote that. I don't mean so much that Russell's paradox applies here, but it does have a bearing on how we choose the domain which our variable x runs over. When we're using first-order logic, we can't just talk about the set of everything, or let our variables run over such a set, because no one knows what it is or what it would be. For example, does it include the set of all sets which don't include themselves? This is something very much like the original point Russell was making to Frege when he drew attention to the paradox.

    So we always have to specify the set which we're using as our domain. Often, this is just implicit, because there's usually at least one easily thought-of set which is so convenient that we won't really need to pay it any attention for the current purpose. But this being so, we often might as well choose our domain so that it simplifies the logical form of our expressions.

    (Ax) Hx --> Mx is true and translatable as 'Everyone is mortal' for any consistent set which includes all people. But (Ax) Mx is also true and translatable as 'Everyone is mortal' for the case where x runs over the domain of people. Of course, some people (like logic examiners) tend to view this as cheating, but there's technically nothing wrong with it, and Quine actively encouraged it.

    I hope that makes sense.
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  12. Arthur Volodin added a post in a topic Comments on Philosophical Logic   

    Actually, (Ax) Mx is fine, so long as we take x to run over the domain of people, which is a perfectly reasonable thing to do - we have to restrict the domain to something, after all. There is no universal set, as demonstrated by Russell's paradox.
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  13. Arthur Volodin added a post in a topic Berkeley and the ontology of secondary qualities   


    I don't think there are simple, ready answers to this question. Ontology is as contested a discipline as any other in philosophy. However, if you have realist convictions, it seems sensible to grant properties such as the ones you list above a sort of ontological thumbs up. One concern to bear in mind, though, is that we need some account of how they differ from concrete things, like curtains, tables and chairs. This leads naturally on to questions like 'Is an object some sort of existent peg upon which properties like colour and extension may be hung, or is it rather the aggregate sum of those properties we ascribe to it?' I personally wouldn't touch questions like that with a barge pole, but you ponder ontology at your own risk...

    As an idealist, Berkeley would probably be better off going with something like your second option for explaining properties like solidity and extension - conceptual tools for organising and interpreting sensory evidence. He could probably admit colour into his ontology in some way as it bears such a close connection to the evidence of our senses. But whether he goes on to do this, or even discusses such questions, I couldn't tell you, I'm afraid - I've yet to read anything by Berkeley.

    Regarding your second point, I find your proposed rebuttal intriguing. Again, my ability to comment is limited by my ignorance, as you haven't really outlined Berkeley's argument in much detail. I can only second Mosaic's suggestion that you provide a little more detail here, and then I hope we can be more helpful.
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  14. Arthur Volodin added a post in a topic How do you use the save draft feature?   

    How to get a saved draft back:

    1) Go to the thread in which you were writing that draft and click 'Post Reply'.

    2) Look inside the topic review at the bottom of the page. This is a scrollable window which allows you to read the posts you're replying to whilst you write. Your saved draft will be in here, at the stage in the thread when you saved it (don't worry, only you can see it).

    3) Copy and paste...
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  15. Arthur Volodin added a post in a topic The Greatest Weakness of Philosophy   

    A few points to your points:

    1) The usual name for something like this is an infinite regress problem. In any discipline enquiry could potentially go on forever as the chain of explanation or justification gets longer and longer. Most of the time, we might be willing to make a pragmatic judgement to stop enquiring at a certain stage, but given the emphasis many of the philosophically inclined place on questioning assumptions, it might be felt that this isn't an option in philosophy.

    The first question to ask, I think, is whether an infinite regress of explanations need be bad (the normal way of expressing this question is 'Is the regress vicious?'). I've spoken to scientists who see there job as being to add more and more links to the chain in their chosen field. That the chain might never end is all part of the fun, and doesn't detract from the interest and usefulness of their explanations. There have been attempts by philosophers to solve the problem of induction by means of an infinite regress argument (though admittedly, very few people accept these).

    This kind of thing has been discussed before, particularly in epistemology. You might want to read something about foundationalism, which is a theory about the structure of knowledge. It suggests that there are certain 'basic' beliefs, which we don't have to justify or explain. Once your chain of reasoning arrives at your basic beliefs, you're allowed to stop. (The problem, of course, is how we could possibly have any interesting beliefs which were beyond question to fulfil this role).

    It's also connected with my favourite sceptical argument, which is usually referred to as Agrippan scepticism. I'm sure there'll be information on it somewhere on the internet, but I find it so interesting that if you like I'll start a thread on it.

    2) I would suggest that this 'ultimate thing' problem is not so much a weakness of philosophy as a error on the part of the philosopher. As such, perhaps it should be an example for your third point.

    I say this because it is not obvious that philosophy should lead to some satisfying 'ultimate thing'. Philosophy may justify itself well enough if it alters its practitioners for the better, or if it turns out that it can at best provide only partial answers, for example. If your interest in philosophy is motivated by a desire for a non-disappointing ultimate truth, it would probably be best to give up on the subject now.

    3) Ultimately philosophy is a human construction, so if we do it badly, then that will most likely be translated into a certain weakness within the subject. I personally suspect that we are not naturally very adept philosophers. Recently I've come to believe that a good philosopher, more than a good scientist, mathematician or historian, say, needs several personal qualities which are neither very common nor easily acquired (I find this hard enough, at least).

    Wittgenstein believed that most philosophy was utter nonsense, and that the reason for this was that philosophers used words outside of their proper context. Far from being wiser than others, he felt that philosophers were the most confused people of all, trapped in mazes of their own making. I don't think I'd recommend dipping into Wittgenstein to anyone without quite a lot of philosophy under their belt, but if you want to get an idea of why he thought this a nice plan to start would in my opinion be The Brown Book.

    Ouch, that was a long post. I hope it gives you some ideas about what you could look into.
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