The eclipse riddle -- Seeing surfaces -- The disappearing act -- Spinning shadows -- Berkeley's shadow -- Para-reflections -- Para-refractions : shadowgrams and the black drop -- Goethe's colored shadows -- Filtows -- Holes in the light -- Black and blue -- Seeing in black and white -- We see in the dark -- Hearing silence.
Epistemicists say there is a last positive instance in a sorites sequence-we just cannot know which is the last. Timothy Williamson explains that knowledge requires a margin for error and this ensures that the last heap will not be knowable as a heap. However, there is a class of disjunctive predicates for which knowledge at the thresholds is possible. They generate sorites paradoxes that cannot be diagnosed with the margin for error principle.
Drawing inspiration from the ethical pluralism of G. E. Moore's Principia Ethica, I contend that one empty world can be morally better than another. By 'empty' I mean that it is devoid of concrete entities (things that have a position in space or time). These worlds have no thickets or thimbles, no thinkers, no thoughts. Infinitely many of these worlds have laws of nature, abstract entities, and perhaps, space and time. These non-concrete differences are enough to make some of them (...) better than others. (shrink)
Do we need light to see? I argue that the black experience of a man in a perfectly dark cave is a representation of an absence of light, not an absence of representation. There is certainly a difference between his perceptual knowledge and that of his blind companion. Only the sighted man can tell whether the cave is dark just by looking. But perhaps he is merely inferring darkness from his failure to see. To get an unambiguous answer, I switch (...) the focus from perceptual knowledge to non-epistemic seeing. My conclusion is that we see even in the limiting case of absolute darkness - regardless of whether we believe we are seeing. We see little of pratical interest. But in terms of basic information, we see about as much as we do when the lights are on. Depending on what has gone before and after, we may even see ordinary objects. (shrink)
Can God create a stone too heavy for him to lift? Can time have a beginning? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Riddles, paradoxes, conundrums--for millennia the human mind has found such knotty logical problems both perplexing and irresistible. Now Roy Sorensen offers the first narrative history of paradoxes, a fascinating and eye-opening account that extends from the ancient Greeks, through the Middle Ages, the Enlightenment, and into the twentieth century. When Augustine asked what God was doing before (...) He made the world, he was told: "Preparing hell for people who ask questions like that." A Brief History of the Paradox takes a close look at "questions like that" and the philosophers who have asked them, beginning with the folk riddles that inspired Anaximander to erect the first metaphysical system and ending with such thinkers as Lewis Carroll, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and W.V. Quine. Organized chronologically, the book is divided into twenty-four chapters, each of which pairs a philosopher with a major paradox, allowing for extended consideration and putting a human face on the strategies that have been taken toward these puzzles. Readers get to follow the minds of Zeno, Socrates, Aquinas, Ockham, Pascal, Kant, Hegel, and many other major philosophers deep inside the tangles of paradox, looking for, and sometimes finding, a way out. Filled with illuminating anecdotes and vividly written, A Brief History of the Paradox will appeal to anyone who finds trying to answer unanswerable questions a paradoxically pleasant endeavor. (shrink)
Roy Sorenson offers a unique exploration of an ancient problem: vagueness. Did Buddha become a fat man in one second? Is there a tallest short giraffe? According to Sorenson's epistemicist approach, the answers are yes! Although vagueness abounds in the way the world is divided, Sorenson argues that the divisions are sharp; yet we often do not know where they are. Written in Sorenson'e usual inventive and amusing style, this book offers original insight on language and logic, the way world (...) is, and our understanding of it. (shrink)
Poindexter points and asserts `That is Clinton''. But it is vague as to whether he pointed at Clinton or pointed at the more salient man, Gore. Since the vagueness only occurs at the level of reference fixing, the content of the identity proposition is precise. Indeed, it is either a necessary truth or a necessary falsehood. Since Poindexter''s utterance has a hidden truth value by virtue of vagueness, it increases the plausibility of epistemicism. Epistemicism says that vague statements have hidden (...) truth values. If a precise statement can have a hidden truth value conferred indirectly by vaguesness, then a vague statement can have a hidden truth value directly by its own vagueness. (shrink)
Stereotypically, computation involves intrinsic changes to the medium of representation: writing new symbols, erasing old symbols, turning gears, flipping switches, sliding abacus beads. Perspectival computation leaves the original inscriptions untouched. The problem solver obtains the output by merely alters his orientation toward the input. There is no rewriting or copying of the input inscriptions; the output inscriptions are numerically identical to the input inscriptions. This suggests a loophole through some of the computational limits apparently imposed by physics. There can be (...) symbol manipulation without inscription manipulation because symbols are complex objects that have manipulatable elements besides their inscriptions. Since a written symbol is an ordered pair of consisting of a shape and the reader's orientation to that inscription, the symbol can be changed by changing the orientation rather than inscription. Although there are the usual physical limits associated with reading the answer, the computation is itself instantaneous. This is true even when the sub-calculations are algorithmically complex, exponentially increasing or even infinite. (shrink)
Stepping into the other guy's shoes works best when you resemble him. After all, the procedure is to use yourself as a model: in goes hypothetical beliefs and desires, out comes hypothetical actions and revised beliefs and desires. If you are structurally analogous to the empathee, then accurate inputs generate accurate outputs-just as with any other simulation. The greater the degree of isomorphism, the more dependable and precise the results. This sensitivity to degrees of resemblance suggests that the method of (...) empathy works best for average people. The advantage of being a small but representative sample of the population will create a bootstrap effect. For as average people prosper, there will be more average descendants and so the degree of resemblance in subsequent generations will snowball. Each increment in like-mindedness further enhances the reliability and validity of mental simulation. With each circuit along the spiral, there is tighter and tighter bunching and hence further empowerment of empathy. The method is self-strengthening and eventually molds a population of hyper-similar individuals-which partly solves the problem of other minds. (shrink)
This is a defense and extension of Stephen Yablo's claim that self-reference is completely inessential to the liar paradox. An infinite sequence of sentences of the form 'None of these subsequent sentences are true' generates the same instability in assigning truth values. I argue Yablo's technique of substituting infinity for self-reference applies to all so-called 'self-referential' paradoxes. A representative sample is provided which includes counterparts of the preface paradox, Pseudo-Scotus's validity paradox, the Knower, and other enigmas of the genre. I (...) rebut objections that Yablo's paradox is not a genuine liar by constructing a sequence of liars that blend into Yablo's paradox. I rebut objections that Yablo's liar has hidden self-reference with a distinction between attributive and referential self-reference and appeals to Gregory Chaitin's algorithmic information theory. The paper concludes with comments on the mystique of self-reference. (shrink)
I can get away with it because no one is in a position to call me on it. Professor Robinson cannot consistently complain that (A) begs the question against his thesis that there is no such fallacy. He would discourage anyone from "helping" him by accusing me of committing the fallacy against him. With advocates like that, who needs adversaries? I. EMBEDDING PERSPECTIVES After all, Robinson has a viable reply to my argument. He should simply deny my premise. Later I (...) will show how (A) might rationally persuade Robinson. But my immediate goal is not to convert the skeptic about the existence of the fallacy but rather to use his extreme position to make a point about the nature of question-begging. Those who object that argument (A) begs the question against Robinson must do so on behalf of Robinson. This assistance requires that one launch the accusation from Robinson's perspective and with his dialectical interests at heart. (shrink)
In the twentieth century, philosophers tackled many of the philosophical problems of previous generations by dissolving them--attacking them as linguistic illusions and showing that the problems, when closely inspected, were not problems at all. Roy A. Sorensen takes the most important and interesting examples from one hundred years of analytic philosophy to consolidate a different theory of dissolution. Pseudo-Problems offers a fascinating alternative history of twentieth century analytic philosophy. It seeks to outline a unified account of dissolution that can consolidate (...) the piecemeal insights of analytic philosophers. An accessible account of questionable questions, the book represents an important contribution to the debates about creativity and problem solving. (shrink)
Sorensen presents a general theory of thought experiments: what they are, how they work, what are their virtues and vices. On Sorensen's view, philosophy differs from science in degree, but not in kind. For this reason, he claims, it is possible to understand philosophical thought experiments by concentrating on their resemblance to scientific relatives. Lessons learned about scientific experimentation carry over to thought experiment, and vice versa. Sorensen also assesses the hazards and pseudo-hazards of thought experiments. Although he grants that (...) there are interesting ways in which the method leads us astray, he attacks most scepticism about thought experiments as arbitrary. They should be used, he says, as they generally are used--as part of a diversified portfolio of techniques. All of these devices are individually susceptible to abuse, fallacy, and error. Collectively, however, they provide a network of cross-checks that make for impressive reliability. (shrink)
Vagueness theorists tend to think that evolutionary theory dissolves the riddle "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?". After all, 'chicken' is vague. The idea is that Charles Darwin demonstrated that the chicken was preceded by borderline chickens and so it is simply indeterminate as to where the pre-chickens end and the chickens begin.
Sorensen here offers a unified solution to a large family of philosophical puzzles and paradoxes through a study of "blindspots": consistent propositions that cannot be rationally accepted by certain individuals even though they might by true.
THE PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE IS TO SHOW HOW HUME’S SCEPTICISM ABOUT MIRACLES GENERATES "EPISTEMOLOGICAL" SCEPTICISM ABOUT TIME TRAVEL. SO THE PRIMARY QUESTION RAISED HERE IS "CAN ONE KNOW THAT TIME TRAVEL HAS OCCURED?" RATHER THAN "CAN TIME TRAVEL OCCUR?" I ARGUE THAT ATTEMPTS TO SHOW THE EXISTENCE OF TIME TRAVEL WOULD FACE THE SAME METHODOLOGICAL PROBLEMS AS THE ONES CONFRONTING ATTEMPTS TO DEMONSTRATE THE EXISTENCE OF PARANORMAL EVENTS. SINCE HUMEAN SCEPTICISM EXTENDS TO THE STUDY OF PARANORMAL EVENTS (PARAPSYCHOLOGY), HUMEANS (...) ARE COMMITTED TO SCEPTICISM ABOUT THE STUDY OF TIME TRAVEL ("PARAHISTORY"). (shrink)
This paper is intended to show how epistemologists can profit from the study of ways in which 'know' is vague. Topics include the kk thesis, Incorrigibility of sense data, A resemblance between infinity and vagueness, Common knowledge, Naive holism, Question-Begging, Epistemic universalizability, The prediction paradox, The completability of epistemology, And harman's social knowledge cases.