Freedom of scientific enquiry must be distinguished from freedom to communicate scientific results. The former demands freedom for scientists to communicate among one another, without which progress is hampered, but not, in itself, freedom to communicate conclusions to the public. The latter freedom may be taken as resting on a general principle of free speech, or, more specifically, on the right of all members of society to knowledge gained by that society, especially by means of public expenditure: it is not (...) to be viewed as resting on the superior rationality of scientists as individuals. More important than knowledge are the social and practical consequences of scientific research, of which the most striking example is that of nuclear weapons; we may assume that the net practical effects of research will be, perhaps increasingly, disastrous. The social consequence, and the liability of scientists to prejudice, may both be illustrated by work on IQ and its genetic determination. Adequate safeguards are impossible; but some discouragement of what seems likely to be socially or practically malign Hnes of research may be exercised by relatively autonomous bodies in control of State funding. (shrink)
Philosophy as an academic subject -- What is a philosophical question? -- Philosophy as the grammar of thought -- Science -- Psychology and scientism -- Religion and philosophy -- Religion and morality -- The influence of Gottlob Frege -- Frege's analysis of sentences -- Frege's theory of meaning -- Gadamer on language -- The paradox of analysis -- Thought and language -- Realism -- Relativism -- The future of philosophy.
In this short, lucid, rich book, Sir Michael Dummett, perhaps the most eminent living British philosopher, sets out his views about some of the deepest questions in philosophy. The fundamental question of metaphysics is: what does reality consist of? Dummett puts forward his controversial view of reality as indeterminate: there may be no fact of the matter about whether an object does or does not have a given property.
Ulrich Meyer's objections to Dummett's arguments on the time continuum fail because he takes Dummett to endorse Hume's atomistic doctrine that events are ‘loose and separate’, In fact, Dummett rejects this doctrine. He used it in his original article only to indicate that certain implications which are conceptually possible fom the point of view of the classical model of time are not actually conceptually possible.
Justificationism differs from realism about how linguistic meaning is given, and hence in its associated conception of truth, and in particular in rejecting bivalence. Empirical discourse differs from mathematical primarily in that an effective decision-procedure for an empirical statement may cease to be available at a later time. The contrast is not that empirical knowledge is derived from what is mind-dependent, namely perception, whereas mathematical knowledge is not so derived. Mathematical knowledge does not accrue simply because a proof exists: the (...) proof has to be understood and recognized to be valid. Most ordinary mathematical proofs are indirect: they supply an effective means, in principle, to construct a direct or canonical proof. An indirect justification for asserting an empirical statement does not, in general, supply a means for bringing into existence a direct justification; it merely provides a ground for supposing that a direct justification would be or have been available for someone suitably placed to make the necessary observations. But it is by what constitutes direct evidence for a statement that its meaning is given; a grasp of its meaning does not rest on an ability to survey all conceivable indirect evidence. A direct justification of an empirical statement of the kind capable of being used as a report of observation must be an actual or possible observation by a suitably placed observer. A possible observation need not be explained by means of a counterfactual: it may be taken as consisting of the appropriate physical stimuli. This way of understanding it evades all three of the untenable choices Peacocke offers the justificationist. Unlike mathematical ones, empirical statements are often justifiably asserted on probabilistic grounds. When the statement admits of a conclusive justification, probabilistic evidence will not figure as a direct justification for asserting it, and hence as determining its meaning, so no circularity is involved, as Peacocke charges. There may, however, be empirical statements that can neither be reports of observation nor admit of a conclusive justification. Such statements can be asserted only on inductive or abductive grounds; this goes to characterize their meanings. Their meanings must therefore be explained by specifying such grounds as the most direct justifications of them that can be given, although they are difeasible rather than conclusive. Peacocke appears to deny that there can be statements that transcend all possible verification. To vindicate such a view from a realist standpoint is surely very difficult: it requires a demonstration that we could not grasp what it would be for such a statement to be true. It is very obscure what a realist's conception of truth is. The principle of bivalence remains a strong mark of differentiation between a justificationist and a realist conception of truth; a clear argument why the principle should be accepted would greatly help to clarify how the realist conceives of truth. I enjoyed reading Peacocke's article, but remain as perplexed as I was before just how he does conceive of truth. (shrink)
A (would-be) sophisticated answer to the question of the title might be, ‘The question is senseless. We should not conceive of time at all. We should just get on with our ordinary lives, asking and answering the usual questions, such as “What Time is it?”, “How long will it take?”, and so on, which we understand perfectly well. St. Augustine understood such questions, phrased in Latin, as well as we do. He should have been content with that, instead of bothering (...) his head with the misbegotten metaphysical question, “What is time?”’. (shrink)
Our model of time is the classical continuum of real numbers, and our model of other measurable quantities that change over time is that of functions defined on real numbers with real numbers as values. This model is not derived from reality or from our experience of it, but imposed on reality; and the fit is very imperfect. In classical mathematics, the value of a function for any real number as argument is independent of its value for any other argument: (...) the analogue is Hume's doctrine that events are loose and separate. This makes continuity in the change of any quantity a contingent law of physica, rather than a conceptual necessity. The article explores alternatives to this classical model. (shrink)
This is a long-awaited new edition of one of the best known Oxford Logic Guides. The book gives an informal but thorough introduction to intuitionistic mathematics, leading the reader gently through the fundamental mathematical and philosophical concepts. The treatment of various topics has been completely revised for this second edition. Brouwer's proof of the Bar Theorem has been reworked, the account of valuation systems simplified, and the treatment of generalized Beth Trees and the completeness of intuitionistic first-order logic rewritten. Readers (...) are assumed to have some knowledge of classical formal logic and a general awareness of the history of intuitionism. (shrink)
This paper addresses two central questions within the philosophy of mathematics: (1) What is the ground of the necessity of mathematical theorems? and (2) How is our belief in the existence of the objects of the fundamental mathematical theories to be justified? Frege's logicist answer to these questions is analyzed in detail, as well as Crispin Wright's attempt to refashion it. Hardly anyone else, claims the author, has even tried to address these questions. The author argues that those mathematical theorems (...) that are genuinely applicable to reality hold of analytical necessity, since (he conjectures) it is possible to reformulate them so that the objects assumed are not purely mathematical objects, but ones abstracted from empirical reality. (shrink)
Michael Dummett is a leading contemporary philosopher whose work on the logic and metaphysics of language has had a lasting influence on how these subjects are conceived and discussed. This volume contains some of the most provocative and widely discussed essays published in the last fifteen years, together with a number of unpublished or inaccessible writings. Essays included are: "What is a Theory of Meaning?," "What do I Know When I Know a Language?," "What Does the Appeal to Use Do (...) for the Theory of Meaning?," "Language and Truth," "Truth and Meaning," "Language and Communication," "The Source of the Concept of Truth," "Mood, Force, and Convention," "Frege and Husserl on Reference," "Realism," "Existence," "Does Quantification Involve Identity?," "Could there be Unicorns?," "Causal Loops," "Common Sense and Physics," "Testimony and Memory," "What is Mathematics About?," "Wittgenstein on Necessity: Some Reflections," and "Realism and Anti-Realism." Serving well as a companion to Dummett's other collections, the essays in this volume are not forbiddingly technical or specialized, and have relevance to many areas of analytic philosophy. (shrink)
In his Grundlagen , Frege held that geometrical truths.are synthetic a priori , and that they rest on intuition. From this it has been concluded that he thought, like Kant, that space and time are a priori intuitions and that physical objects are mere appearances. It is plausible that Frege always believed geometrical truths to be synthetic a priori ; the virtual disappearance of the word 'intuition' from his writings from after 1885 until 1924 suggests, on the other hand, that (...) he became dissatisfied with the notion of intuition as he had employed it in Grundlagen . The belief that a priori intuition is a source of knowledge does not in itself entail idealism: that is a question about what it is that makes true the propositions known in this way. In Grundlagen , Frege expressly states that geometrical truths are objective in the sense of being independent of our intuition. This shows that, even at that period, Frege did not draw the idealist conclusion drawn by Kant. (shrink)
Frege held that logical objects are objective but not wirklich, and that psychologism follows from the mistake of believing whatever is not wirklich to be subjective. It has been suggested that Frege's use of the terms ?objective? and ?wirklich? is in line with that found in Lotze's Logic; from this it has been inferred that Frege's doctrines have been misinterpreted as being ontological in character, but that they really belong to epistemology. In fact, Lotze held that something may be the (...) same for all thinkers, and yet may exist only in thought, not independently of it. For Frege, by contrast, there is nothing intermediate between the content of a single consciousness and what exists independently of being thought at all. This crucial disagreement underlies the divergence between Frege's realism and Lotze's idealism. (shrink)
The short fragment of Frege's Nachlass which bears the above title, given to it by the editors, is in fact a sequence of connected comments by him on the Introduction to Lotze's Logik, or, more exactly, a response by him to that Introduction. It is thus very probably the earliest piece of writing from Frege's pen on the philosophy of logic surviving to us, and, when it is read in this light, the motivation for its author's puzzling selection of remarks (...) and the turns of phrase he employs become intelligible. We see here an early attempt by Frege to attain clarity about a topic that was to preoccupy him throughout his entire philosophical career, the nature of thoughts. (shrink)
H. Sluga (Inquiry, Vol. 18 , No. 4) has criticized me for representing Frege as a realist. He holds that, for Frege, abstract objects were not real: this rests on a mistranslation and a neglect of Frege's contextual principle. The latter has two aspects: as a thesis about sense, and as one about reference. It is only under the latter aspect that there is any tension between it and realism: Frege's later silence about the principle is due, not to his (...) realism, but to his assimilating sentences to proper names. Contrary to what Sluga thinks, the conception of the Bedeutung of a name as its bearer is an indispensable ingredient of Frege's notion of Bedeutung, as also is the fact that it is in the stronger of two possible senses that Frege held that Sinn determines Bedeutung. The contextual principle is not to be understood as meaning that thoughts are not, in general, complex; Frege's idea that the sense of a sentence is compounded out of the senses of its component words is an essential component of his theory of sense. Frege's realism was not the most important ingredient in his philosophy: but the attempt to interpret him otherwise than as a realist leads only to misunderstanding and confusion. (shrink)