Keith Donnellan wrote his paper on definite descriptions in 1966 at Cornell University, an environment where nearly everybody was discussing Wittgenstein’s ideas of meaning as use. However, his idea of different uses of definite descriptions became one of the fundamental tenets against descriptivism, which was considered one of the main legacies of the Frege–Russell– Wittgenstein view; and I wonder whether a more Wittgensteinian interpretation of Donnellan’s work is possible.
This paper is a comparison of Kripke’s and Künne’s interpretations of Frege’s theory of indexicals, especially concerning Frege’s remarks on time as “part of the expression of thought”. I analyze the most contrasting features of Kripke’s and Künne’s interpretations of Frege’s remarks on indexicals. Subsequently, I try to identify a common ground between Kripke’s and Künne’s interpretations, and hint at a possible convergence between those two views, stressing the importance given by Frege to nonverbal signs in defining the content of (...) thought. I conclude by indicating a possible direction for further research. (shrink)
In this paper I shall outline a short history of the ideas concerning sense and reference of a concept-word from Frege to model theoretic semantics. I claim that, contrary to what is normally supposed, a procedural view of sense may be compatible with model theoretic semantics, especially in dealing with problems at the boundary between semantics and pragmatics. A first paragraph on the paradox of the concept horse will clarify the attitude concerning the history of ideas that I assume in (...) this paper. In the second paragraph I will discuss some misunderstandings in the shift from the sense/reference distinction in Frege to the intension/extension distinction in model theoretic semantics. In the third I will show how a particular interpretation of the Fregean sense of a concept word may be of interest for model theoretic semantics. (shrink)
In this paper I give a reconstruction of Dummett’s main arguments concerning the theory of the occult origin of the Tarot, and discuss the reasons behind the success of the Tarot pack – in particular the Major Arcana – in the history of card games. I also provide some indication of the links between Dummett’s interest in the history of card games and aspects of his philosophical background. As I am not an expert on card games, this paper is mainly (...) a personal tribute to a side of Dummett’s work to which philosophers have in general paid little attention. (shrink)
In this paper I offer a defence of a Russellian analysis of the referential uses of incomplete (mis)descriptions, in a contextual setting. With regard to the debate between a unificationist and an ambiguity approach to the formal treatment of definite descriptions (introduction), I will support the former against the latter. In 1. I explain what I mean by "essentially" incomplete descriptions: incomplete descriptions are context dependent descriptions. In 2. I examine one of the best versions of the unificationist “explicit” approach (...) given by Buchanan and Ostertag. I then show that this proposal seems unable to treat the normal uses of misdescriptions. I then accept the challenge of treating misdescriptions as a key to solving the problem of context dependent descriptions. In 3. I briefly discuss Michael Devitt’s and Joseph Almog’s treatments of referential descriptions, showing that they find it difficult to explain misdescriptions. In 4. I suggest an alternative approach to DD as contextuals, under a normative epistemic stance. Definite descriptions express (i) what a speaker should have in mind in using certain words in a certain context and (ii) what a normal speaker is justified in saying in a context, given a common basic knowledge of the lexicon. In 5. I define a procedure running on contextual parameters (partiality, perspective and approximation) as a means of representing the role of pragmatics as a filter for semantic interpretation. In 6. I defend my procedural approach against possible objections concerning the problem of the boundaries between semantics and pragmatics, relying on the distinction between semantics and theory of meaning. (shrink)
On the basis of historical and textual evidence, this paper claims that after his Tractatus, Wittgenstein was actually influenced by Einstein's theory of relativity and, the similarity of Einstein's relativity theory helps to illuminate some aspects of Wittgenstein's work. These claims find support in remarkable quotations where Wittgenstein speaks approvingly of Einstein's relativity theory and in the way these quotations are embedded in Wittgenstein's texts. The profound connection between Wittgenstein and relativity theory concerns not only Wittgenstein's “verificationist” phase , but (...) also Wittgenstein's later philosophy centred on the theme of rule‐following. (shrink)
One particular topic in the literature on Frege’s conception of sense relates to two apparently contradictory theses held by Frege: the isomorphism of thought and language on one hand and the expressibility of a thought by different sentences on the other. I will divide the paper into five sections. In (1) I introduce the problem of the tension in Frege’s thought. In (2) I discuss the main attempts to resolve the conflict between Frege’s two contradictory claims, showing what is wrong (...) with some of them. In (3), I analyze where, in Frege’s writings and discussions on sense identity, one can find grounds for two different conceptions of sense. In (4) I show how the two contradictory theses held by Frege are connected with different concerns, compelling Frege to a constant oscillation in terminology. In (5) I summarize two further reasons that prevented Frege from making the distinction between two conceptions of sense clear: (i) the antipsychologism problem and (ii) the overlap of traditions in German literature contemporary to Frege about the concept of value. I conclude with a hint for a reconstruction of the Fregean notion of ‘thought’ which resolves the contradiction between his two theses. (shrink)
In this paper [submitted in 2008] I discuss the relation between truth and assertion, starting from Linsky's example [her husband is kind to her], used in the debate on definite description by Keith Donnellan and Saul Kripke. To treat the problem of the referential use of definite descriptions we need not only to take into account the contest of utterance, but also the context of reception, or the cognitive context. If the cognitive context is given the right relevance we may (...) even accept the possibility to speak of "pragmatic ambiguity" as Donnellan did. However I will not give a definite answer to the debate between Donnellan and Kripke, but I will try to show that there is a moral to be drawn by the discussion: it is advisable to use truth attribution in a charitable way if we want to entertain conversation with people who have beliefs not necessarily similar to ours. (shrink)
In this paper I apply a well known tension between cognitive and semantic aspects in Frege’s notion of sense to his treatment of indexicals. I first discusses Burge’s attack against the identification of sense and meaning, and Kripke’s answer supporting such identification. After showing different problems for both interpreters, the author claims that the tension in Frege’s conception of sense (semantic and cognitive) accounts for some shortcomings of both views, and that considering the tension helps in understanding apparently contradictory Fregean (...) claims about sameness of sense of sentences with indexicals. I conclude that the Fregean notion of sense, also in its cognitive aspect, cannot be reduced to linguistic meaning, and that the Fregean tension between two notions of sense may also explain the discussion Frege gives on the indexical “I”, proposing to develop a picture of indexicals as hidden complex demonstratives, as originally suggested by Burge. (shrink)
The main point of the paper is the claim that a strong notion of cognitive context can answer the needs of a representation of dialogue context, with a higher generality than the "normative" notion suggested by Gauker. I will discuss some well known claims in the literature about communication and context, and I will suggest giving a central role to the notion of contract or semantic bargaining and to the normative constraints of indexicals and anaphora.
In this paper I shall deal with the role of "understanding a thought" in the debate on the definition of the content of an assertion. I shall present a well known tension in Frege's writings, between a cognitive and semantic notion of sense. This tension is at the source of some of the major contemporary discussions, mainly because of the negative influence of Wittgenstein's Tractatus, which did not give in-depth consideration to the tension found in Frege. However many contemporary authors, (...) after the first attempt by Carnap himself, have tried to make room both for a cognitive and semantic aspect of meaning. I claim that at least some of these attempts (Dummett, Perry and Chalmers) are seriously flawed, mainly due to the difficulty in making a proper connection between the two different conceptions of sense. I shall outline an alternative project, which takes into consideration Frege's requirements on antipsychologism and of the objectivity of thought, while maintaining a close connection between the two aspects of sense. (shrink)
Context is a concept used by philosophers and scientists with many different definitions. Since Dummett we speak of "context principle" in Frege and Wittgenstein: "an expression has a meaning only in the context of a sentence". The context principle finds an extension in some of Wittgenstein's ideas, especially in his famous passage where he says that "to understand a sentence is to understand a language". Given that Wittgenstein believes that "the" language does not exist but only language games exist, we (...) should conclude that he is speaking of the need to consider any sentence always in the context of a language game1. This general attitude is certainly attuned with the contemporary tendency to place contextual restrictions to the interpretations of our sentences. However we find so many kinds and forms of restrictions that this general attitude is not enough to give us a viable tool to find an order in the web of so many different theories of context. To look for an order or, at least a clarification, we may start with two contrasting paradigms of theories: the "objective" theory of contexts, where context is a set of features of the world, and the "subjective" theories of context, where context is the cognitive background of a speaker or agent in respect to a situation2. We have here not only two different ways of using the term "context" but also two different conceptions of semantics and philosophy. The different conceptions are normally associated, respectively, with the classical paradigm of model theoretic semantics (Kaplan, Lewis Stalnaker) on one hand and with the A.I. paradigm (McCarthy, Buvac, Giunchiglia) on the other hand. For sake of simplicity I will restrict my attention3 mainly to Kaplan 1989 and to McCarthy 1993 and Giunchiglia 1993. The two different conceptions can be summarised with the following schema: a) context as: set of features of the world.. (shrink)
In questo articolo parlo della influenza di Einstein su Wittgenstein a partire da alcuni problemi che si pongono all’olismo. L’olismo è stato spesso collegato a Wittgenstein, almeno in forma di “olismo locale”. L’olismo è però soggetto a due tipi di paradossi: il paradosso della comunicazione per l’olismo semantico e il paradosso del relativismo concettuale per l’olismo epistemologico. Dopo aver presentato brevemente i due paradossi, confronto le risposte di Davidson, in difesa dell’olismo, con quelle di Wittgenstein (o di tipo wittgensteiniano). Da (...) questo confronto nasce un problema nell’interpretazione di Wittgenstein. Infatti, dalle sue risposte ai due paradossi emerge una tensione nella sua visione dei giochi linguistici e in particolare nei suoi esperimenti mentali, che sono stati tradizionalmente interpretati in modi contrapposti. La mia proposta è che una rilettura di alcune riflessioni di Wittgenstein su Einstein e la relatività può aiutare a cogliere meglio il significato di questa tensione. (shrink)
The paper "Does Epistemological Holism lead to Meaning – Holism" (Cozzo, 2002) touches one of the main problems of a molecularist theory of meaning: how to restrict the class of inferences connected with a word, in order to define the sense of the word. I will discuss the starting point of this approach, mainly the pre-theoretical criterion against meaning holism: meaning holism, following a well-known argument by Dummett, reduces communication to a mystery. However there is a strong background assumption of (...) this argument: communication is sharing the same meanings. Accepting this assumption without acknowledging it makes the entire proposal more problematic than it appears at first sight. In what follows I will try to clarify the possibility of a different reaction to meaning holism, putting forward some distinctions which come to light when the above stated assumption is made explicit. Then, some other comments will follow on the difficulty of avoiding extreme meaning holism, even within Cozzo's elegant attempt to implement a molecularist vision; in the end, his notion of the sense of a word will appear to be difficult to define, if these holistic aspects of language take the space they deserve even in his theory. I conclude with two remarks regarding two relevant requirements for a theory of meaning (conservativeness and harmony). (shrink)
In what follows I consider the apparent contrast between two kinds of theories of context: a theory of objective context - exemplified in the works of Kaplan and Lewis - and a theory of subjective context -exemplified in the works of McCarthy and Giunchiglia. I consider then some difficulties for the objective theory. I don't give any formalization; instead I give some theoretical points about the problem. A possible result could be the abandon of the double indexing for a development (...) a multi-context theory (I give an example of a case). However other results could be possible and a challenge is posed to solve problems using the best results from each tradition of research. (shrink)
In this paper we give some formal examples of ideas developed by Penco in two papers on the tension inside Frege's notion of sense (see Penco 2003). The paper attempts to compose the tension between semantic and cognitive aspects of sense, through the idea of sense as proof or procedure – not as an alternative to the idea of sense as truth condition, but as complementary to it (as it happens sometimes in the old tradition of procedural semantics).
In this paper I will compare some of Dummett and Davidson’s claims on the problem of communication and idiolects: how can we understand each other if we use different idiolects? First I define the problem, giving the alternative theses of (I) the priority of language over idiolects and (II) the priority of idiolects over language. I then present Dummett's claims supporting (I) and Davidson's claims supporting (II).
A traditional argument is often used against Mill's theory of names (the meaning of a name is exhausted by its referent). Mill's theory implies transparency of proper names (coreferring proper names are substitutable salva veritate); but examples like Frege's and Quine's show that proper names are not transparent in belief contexts. This could be thought to be a reductio ad absurdum of Mill's theory. In " A puzzle about Belief" (1979; 1988) Kripke builds up an argument which aims to show (...) that the same problems, given by the principle of transparency of proper names, can also be generated without the use of that principle, but with some weaker and more general principles, which seem to be difficult to reject. (see Donellan) Therefore, the traditional argument against Mill's theory does not work. If you want to reject Mill's theory with some reductio ad absurdum, you should reject two very intuitive and apparently valid principles. The well known puzzle is based on the assumption that our speaker is normal non omniscient, sincere, reflective and not conceptually confused. The two principles used are the Disquotational Principle (DP) and the Translation Principle (TP). (shrink)
Questa conferenza offre una presentazione semplificata del concetto di contesto nella filosofia analitica,in particolare nella filosofia del linguaggio. E' semplificata perché tralascia una serie di discussioni rilevanti per fermarsi alle grandi linee che segnano l'emergenza del concetto di contesto in filosofia del linguaggio. Inoltre mi concentro su un aspetto particolare del dibattito: la linea di confine tra pragmatia e semantica e il ruolo che il concetto di contesto ha in questo dibattito, cercando di evidenziare i punti di disaccordo tra le (...) parti in causa. Nel primo paragrafo riprendo brevemente alcune idee di Frege, mostrando come aiutano a individuare una tripartizione abbastanza standard del concetto di contesto. Nel secondo paragrafo riespongo una tripartizione fatta da John Perry, cercando di "generalizzare" quello che Perry chiama "contesto postsemantico". Nella serie di esempi che seguono, mostro dove si situa il punto di discrimine tra la teorie più vicine alla semantica tradizionale e le teorie contestualiste radicali, che danno maggior rilevanza agli aspetti cognitivi rispetto a quelli semantici. Riprendo quindi in generale le due strategie alternative che si contrappongono sul modo di considerare i rapporti tra semantica e pragmatica. Nell'ultimo paragrafo provo a indicare quali sono i principali problemi dell'assunzione di una prospettiva radicalmente contestualista. (shrink)
This paper tries to give some substance to local holism, a picture that seems to fit Wittgenstein’s analysis of the working of language. In the first part I state the well-known paradox of semantic holism, as discussed in philosophy of language: if meaning is holistic there is no possibility to share any meaning. In the second part I present the different answers to this paradox, from atomism to different forms of holism. In the third part I give a criticism of (...) the traditional interpretation of Wittgenstein as a supporter of global holism. As an alternative lecture I will suggest some lines of Wittgenstein's thought leading towards a definition of local holism. Eventually I will show connections with ideas developed in Multi Context theories in artificial intelligence, which help to show a possible direction of inquiry about restrictions on locality. (shrink)
Analytic pragmatism is a framework of analysis elaborated by Robert Brandom, whose goal is to explain the relations between meaning and use according to a systematic and general method of inquiry. In April 2009, a workshop was organized to discuss the recent developments of this new theoretical approach. Brandom delivered three lectures, where he explored some aspects of analytic pragmatism and addressed the motivating themes of this enterprise, while the contribution from the other speakers ranged over specific aspects of the (...) theory. This special issue is the outcome of that workshop. In this introduction we briefly outline the context of the debate and present the contribution to this issue selected from a much wider range of papers, using the reviewing process of Philosophia. (shrink)
Insieme a John McDowell, Robert Brandom è uno dei filosofi emergenti della reazione al naturalismo filosofico; seguace Wilfrid Sellars, è l'autore americano che più si avvicina al dialogo con la filosofia continentale e propone una rivalutazione di Kant e Hegel nella filosofia analitica. Già allievo di Richard Rorty, Brandom è diventuo famoso con la pubblicazione di Making it Explicit. Questo ponderoso volume di 900 pagine non ha avuto però ancora una sufficiente attenzione nel dibattito filosofico italiano (a parte alcuni inteventi (...) pubblicati su Iride). Forse questo dipende in parte dalla peculiarità e difficoltà del suo approccio, in parte dalla mole stessa del citato volume. Anche per questo motivo Brandom ha presentato una serie di lezioni2 ove riprende i temi del libro maggiore e ne approfondisce alcune parti. In quanto segue si presentano i temi fondamentale di Making it Explicit, arricchiti con elementi presi dal nuovo approfondimento. (shrink)
In this paper, I will discuss a well-known oscillation in Frege’s conception of sense. My point is only partially concerned with his two different criteria of sense identity, and touches upon a more specific point: what happens if we apply Frege’s intuitive criterion for the difference of thoughts to logically equivalent sentences? I will try to make a schematic argument here that will preempt any endeavor to make Frege more coherent than he really is. In sections A and B, I (...) will present two alternative Fregean ways to treat the sense of logically equivalent sentences. Frege really oscillated between two alternative conceptions of sense, and his inability to detect the contrast between the two alternative conceptions is partly due to his strong conception of rationality. To apply the criterion of difference of thoughts to logical matters, we may also use a weak notion of rationality, or at least a notion of rationality of human agents, with limited computational resources. The distinctions towards which Frege was striving are better understood nowadays from the point of view of the treatment of limited rationality, which imposes itself even in logical matters. (shrink)
[This is a larger version of the published article] In the discussion on semantic holism it has been claimed that A.I. is almost entirely holistic. In this paper I show that some of the main lines of research in symbolic artificial intelligence are not holistic; I will consider three classical cases: toy words, frames and contextual reasoning. I claim that these examples from A.I. can be interpreted as implementing molecularist intuitions about language. Eventually I suggest that some assumptions behind the (...) discussion on holism should be re-interpreted, expecially the usual references to Frege and Wittgenstein. (shrink)
This paper is devoted to discuss a general tendency in contextualism which is known as "radical contextualism". In the first part I state the well known paradox of semantic holism, as discussed in philosophy of language: if meaning is holistic there is no possibility to share any meaning. In the second part I present the different answers to this paradox, from atomism to different forms of holism. In the third part I give a criticism of the traditional interpretation of Wittgenstein (...) as a supporter of global holism. I stress some similarities between Wittgenstein's thought and Multi Context theories in artificial inteligence. In the last part I give some argument against a rigid interpretation of "local holism": I claim the need to give restrictions to local holim and to develop a study of the connections between "default" properties and high level rules which are studied in Multi−Context theories. (shrink)
- la prima parte dà una presentazione sommaria dei principali paradigmi di filosofia del linguaggio, mostrando alcune connessioni tra i principali autori di riferimento. Dovrebbe contenere il minimo indispensabile per avere una panoramica delle tematiche della filosofia del linguaggio e addentrarsi negli argomenti in modo più approfondito. La conoscenza dei contenuti di questa parte è un prerequisito per l’esame.
In questo lavoro tratto del problema del rapporto tra semantica e pragmatica, e in particolare cerco di dare una visione generale di cosa si dovrebbe intendere per "competenza pragmatica". Assumo una visione olistica del significato, perché mi permette di mostrare come, anche con una posizione radicale di questo genere, possiamo trovare modi per spiegare la comunicazione e salvare la composizionalità. Il modo per spiegare la comunicazione e salvare la composizionalità passa attraverso la dimensione pragmatica, intesa come il modo di filtrare (...) il livello "giusto" di contesto entro cui elaborare la valutazione e l'interpretazione semantica, e giungere all'interpretazione intesa. Nel § 1 presento i problemi di una teoria olistica del significato riguardo a una teoria della comunicazione; nel § 2 presento una possibile risposta dell'olismo ai problemi della comunicazione, ridefinendo la comunicazione come processo di convergenza del significato. Nel § 3 presento quello che può essere definito il punto cieco della teoria olistica di Davidson: l'idea che la strategia di convergenza è un "processo misterioso". Mostro come diverse linee di ricerca lavorano proprio all'individuazione del "mistero" davidsoniano. Nel § 4 presento una delle linee di ricerca rivolte di fatto a riempire il vuoto della teoria di Davidson: la teoria multicontesti in intelligenza artificiale. Nel § 5 delineo la similarità di tale teoria con altri tentativi in pragmatica, mostrando che ragionare su questa similarità può aiutare a ridefinire il concetto di "competenza pragmatica" come filtro per la semantica. Nel § 6 abbozzo una riflessione su come queste riflessioni potrebbero avere una influenza sul tema della composizionalità. (shrink)
Brandom's "solution" of Kripke's puzzle in Making it Explicit [573-583] is to be read on the background of four main ideas, plus his general concern on inferential role semantics. I will give some hints about these basic presuppositions, because, once they have been accepted, Kripke's puzzle seems to have no more appeal (at least from Brandom's point of view). If already acquainted with Brandom's general ideas, you may skip part I and go directly to part II.
Riassunto: in queste note presentouna breve panoramica della scienza cognitiva, che costituisce a tutt'oggi, a più di vent'anni dalla sua nascita, un coacervo di novità rilevanti nell'ambito della ricerca interdisciplinare. Dopo una prima presentazione generale (§1), traccio una breve storia della disciplina (§2) per passare poi a descrivere nel § 3 uno dei nuclei di fondo della scienza cognitiva: il funzionalismo e l'idea di mente come sistema di rappresentazioni o mappe cognitive. Nel § 4. accenno ad alcune tensioni interne alla (...) scienza cognitiva. Essa è tuttora un campo disciplinare con forti contrasti sui paradigmi da seguire nella descrizione dell'architettura della mente. Una sfida recente è venuta dalla robotica "situata" e dalla tesi che occorre fare a meno delle rappresentazioni mentali nella costruzione di robot intelligenti. Nel § 5 discuto questa sfida mostrando che, nonostante l'entusiasmo suscitato dai primi successi della nuova robotica, il cardine della scienza cognitiva resta solido, anche se bisognoso di completamento. Nella conclusione, al § 6, tocco di sfuggita il tema della coscienza dei sistemi intelligenti (umani e artificiali) e invito a cercare strade per affrontare i problemi che si porranno alle nuove generazioni di studiosi, ormai al di là della frattura tra cultura umanistica e scientifica, frattura che forse trova in Italia uno degli ultimi ambienti in cui sopravvivere. (shrink)
In quanto segue si d× in poche pagine un'idea del paradigma classico della logica assiomatica; Ë un richiamo alla terminologia e ai simboli che si useranno in seguito. I due successivi capitoli presentano i problemi ce hanno segnato la nascita del paradigma classico e un confronto con il paradigma tradizionale della logica aristotelica.
Nel febbraio 1912 Wittgenstein venne ammesso al Trinity College con Russell come supervisor, e iniziò a seguire le lezioni di Moore. E’ probabile che leggesse il libretto di Moore, Ethics, pubblicato al suo arrivo a Cambridge, o che ritrovasse nelle lezioni di Moore alcune delle suggestioni presenti nel libro. Ma dopo il Tractatus Wittgenstein dedicò poco spazio alle riflessioni sull’etica e quel poco in un periodo ristretto di tempo, agli inizi degli anni ‘30, dalla Conferenza sull’etica2 alle lezioni del ’32-33. (...) Alle lezioni del 32-33 assistettero sia Alice Ambrose che George E. Moore, che ci lascianpo diversi tipi di appunti:3 Ambrose riporta frasi di Wittgenstein, Moore presenta e rielabora le sue idee. Una lettura comparata di questi appunti dà un’idea abbastanza chiara di quanto Wittgenstein in quegli anni riuscisse a fondere le sue idee sui giudizi morali con le sue idee sulla grammatica filosofica che veniva elaborando nel Big Typescript. (shrink)
In questo saggio non sviluppo una tesi precisa, ma presento alcune osservazioni sull'olismo e molecolarismo che tentano di mostrare la praticabilita' del molecolarismo e vederne allo stesso tempo le difficoltà: (i) Mi interrogo sulla fortuna del dibattito sull'olismo degli ultimi anni, come ripresa e precisazione delle osservazioni fatte a suo tempo da Dummett nel suo libro su Frege. (ii) Richiamo alcune idee fregeane a proposito di linguaggi formali che definiscono una specie di olismo innocuo, e al contempo impongono una distinzione (...) tra olismo del significato e della competenza. (iii) Pongo il problema dell'allargamento di tali idee dai linguaggi formali al linguaggio naturale; propongo di applicare la distinzione tra significato e competenza alla differenza tra significato socialmente costruito e significato usato dai singoli; in tal modo individuo nell'idea di ''idioletto'' di Frege un problema cui ogni teoria del linguaggio deve rispondere. (iv) Sostengo che il molecolarismo risponde al problema dell'idioletto; difendo percio' la praticabilita' del molecolarismo messa in discussione dal saggio di Fodor e Lepore, in cui cerco di individuare il punto in cui hanno fuorviato il lettore nel credere alla impraticabilita' di tale prospettiva. (v) Sopo aver accennato ad alcuni problemi aperti nella proposta molecolarista di Dummett, presento una possibile interpretazione non olistica del pensiero di Wittgenstein, che pero' non risolve i problemi sopraccennati. (shrink)
Is deduction of use in application to our everyday problems? Aristotle said that in practical matters we cannot use a strictly deductive attitude: "we must be content...in speaking about things which are only for the most part true, with premises of the same kind, to reach conclusions that are no better" (Nic.Eth.I,4 - my underlining). We may content ourselves with conclusions which - according to the usual views - are not true; but what happens when we realize that such conclusions (...) bring us into contradiction with some of our deepest beliefs? We have to pursue our search of rationality in the most compelling manner, and this effort forces us to express our background beliefs in order to check what may be wrong with that. In this paper I will give two classical examples, one form the history of cinema and another from the history of artificial intelligence: in comparing these two examples I claim that logical compulsion - the deep need for convention - is highly valuable where feelings are not enough. (shrink)
In "Wittgenstein in relation to his times" Von Wright1 poses a dilemma regarding the relationship between three wittgensteinian tenets: (i) the view that individual's beliefs and thoughts are entrenched in accepted language games and socially sanctioned forms of life (ii) the view that "philosophical problems are disquietudes of the mind caused by some malfunctioning in the language games, and hence in the way of life of the community". (iii) the "rejection of the scientific-technological civilisation of industrialised societies". The dilemma is (...) the following: is Wittgenstein's rejection of technological civilisation strictly linked to his general view of philosophy? Or is it "only contingently - that is for historical and psychological reasons, connected with the other two in Wittgenstein's thought"? Von Wright argues, even with some doubts, for a strong link between Wittgenstein's rejection of technological society and his general approach to philosophy; the argument is as follows: "because of the interlocking of language and ways of life, a disorder in the former reflects disorder in the latter. If philosophical problems are symptomatic of language, producing malignant outgrowths which obscure our thinking, then there must be a cancer in the Lebensweise, in the way of life itself" (p.119). The argument seems to be not compelling; among some of the main philosophical problems Wittgenstein is willing to "cure" there are misunderstandings lying in the history of our language much time before our technological civilisation (Wittgenstein refers to Augustine and Plato as suffering these disorder of language). We should generalise the criticism to technological society to the effect of enclosing ancient Greece. In this way the criticism seems to loose all its polemical vein, becoming a generic criticism of the structures of western thought since Greece. But probably this was the point Wittgenstein wanted to make in his criticism of the idea of progress and technological civilisation. I will argue therefore for the second horn of the dilemma, relying on another kind of de facto argument: contemporary technological civilisation is embodying some of Wittgenstein's main ideas (we might also note that these ideas are among the strongest points Wittgenstein gives against Greek classical tradition in philosophy).. (shrink)
In this paper we give some theoretical links between the wittgensteinian strategy of language-games and the strategy followed by students in Artificial Intelligence in the seventies. We refer also to the interpretation given by Dummett and Prawitz to the Wittgenstein's slogan of "meaning as use", showing the link of this ideas with the needs of Artificial Intelligence. We sustain that the concept of "procedure" as developed in early Artificial Intelligence is still one of the main attempt, realized in that field (...) of research, to give a definition of meaning , which gives good hopes to be a suitable explicatum of the idea of "meaning as use". (shrink)