In this memorial essay on Sir Frank Kermode (1919–2010), the author focuses on his own exchange of views with Kermode during the 1970s. In Kermode's book The Sense of an Ending (1966), he had criticized Frank's essay “Spatial Form in Modern Literature” (1945) as part of a larger critique of what the Romantic-Symbolist tradition of English poetry had become in the twentieth century. Yeats, Pound, Eliot, and other late Symbolists had turned artists into advocates of an irrational wisdom (...) superior to reason and common sense, thus isolating—so Kermode argued—the world of art from that of ordinary human concerns. Rejecting their view of art, he turned instead to a pre-Romantic tradition (including Spenser and Milton) that the Symbolists had rejected. Among modern writers, Kermode turned to Wallace Stevens, who became his foil for Yeats, Eliot, and Pound, as well as the most important influence on his own later thinking. Joseph Frank, in this essay, recalls the combination of acerbic intelligence, social concern, gentility, and finally friendship that characterized his debate over these questions with Kermode. Frank recalls as an indication of his respect and admiration for Kermode that he wrote, in 1977, that, even if his own theory of spatial form were to be shown worthless, it would still have value in having provided some of the stimulus for Kermode to write The Sense of an Ending. (shrink)
Recent decades have seen a resurgence of contractarian thinking about the nature and origins of the state. Scholars in this tradition ask what constraints rational, self-interested actors might deliberately impose upon themselves. In response, Hobbes, Rousseau, Locke, and other early contractarians answered that laws of property were an attractive alternative to “the war of all against all.” More recently, James Buchanan, Russell Hardin, Mancur Olson, Gordon Tullock, and others have used contractarian principles to justify laws that solve a variety of (...) Prisoner's Dilemmas and other collective-action problems. And in the distributional realm, John Rawls and others have applied contractarian analysis to investigate how material wealth ought to be allocated among people. (shrink)
Our intention here is to present the essential character of classical, sunnī kalām within a strictly formal perspective and to set out its basic aspects. It was conceived by the mutakallimīn as a rational, conceptual, and critical science and, although kalām differed in a number of basic concepts and constructs and in its analytic system, the topical organisation of the major compendia parallels that of metaphysics as understood in the contemporary Aristotelian tradition. The debates between kalām and falsafa need to (...) be examined within this context. Kalām, however, is theological in the strict sense of the term and it is as such that its problematic and its procedures are primarily to be understood. Thus seen, the object of kalām is to rationalise the cognitive content presented to Believers in the symbolic language of the koranic revelation. It has, then, four principal tasks, sc, to conceptualise, to order, to explain, and where possible to justify the primary doctrines of the community whose belief is held to be normative. Within this framework the differences that characterise the major schools as such and the various tendencies of individual masters within each school may readily be brought to light. On se propose ici de présenter, d'un point de vue strictement formel, la nature du kālam classique sunnite et d'identifier ses caractéristiques principales. II avait été conçu par les mutakallimin comme une science rationelle, conceptuelle et critique. L'organisation des matières dans ses traités reprend celle de la métaphysique dans la tradition aristotélicienne de l'époque, bien que le kalām s'en distingue par plusieurs de ses structures et concepts fondamentaux, ainsi que par son système analytique. C'est dans ce contexte qu'il faut considérer les debats qui s'instaurèrent entre kalām et falsafa. Le kalām, cependant, est d'ordre strictement théologique et c'est principalement dans ce cadre qu'il faut comprendre sa problématique et ses procédures. Le kalām a pour fonction de rationaliser le contenu cognitif offert aux croyants dans le langage symbolique de la révélation coranique. Il en résulte quatre tâches principales; il s'agit de conceptualiser, ordonner, expliquer et, dans le mesure du possible, justifier les doctrines principales reconnues par la communauté faisant référence en matière de croyance. Dans ce cadre, il sera possible de mettre en lumière les différences entre les principales écoles, ainsi que les tendances qui distinguent certains de leurs grands maîtres respectifs. (shrink)
Despite his tragic death at the age of 26, Frank Ramsey remains one of the most intriguing minds of the twentieth century. His thought had a profound influence on both Ludwig Wittgenstein and Bertrand Russell, and many strands of contemporary analytic philosophy find their origin in Ramsey's ideas. _ Frank Ramsey: Truth and Success_ provides a much-needed introduction to the work of this undervalued thinker, and makes an important and profound contribution to our understanding of Ramsey's work and (...) his place in twentieth century philosophy. It will be of interest to all students of logic, metaphysics and the history of philosophy. (shrink)
The article is derived from the accompanying radio portrait. It was published in 1995 in Philosophy 70, 243-262, and is reproduced here by permission of the Editor. Page numbers after quotations from Ramsey refer to F. P. Ramsey: Philosophical Papers, edited by D. H. Mellor, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.
F. P. Ramsey was a remarkably creative and subtle philosopher who in the briefest of academic careers made significant contributions to logic, philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of language and decision theory. His few published papers reveal him to be a figure or comparable importance to Russell, Carnap and Wittgenstein in the history of analytical philosophy. This book was the first critical study of Ramsey's work, offering a thorough exposition and interpretation of his ideas, setting the ideas in their historical context, (...) and assessing their significance for contemporary research. The study is intended to complement the reissue of Ramsey's papers edited by Professor Hugh Mellor. (shrink)
The so called Ramsey test is a semantic recipe for determining whether a conditional proposition is acceptable in a given state of belief. Informally, it can be formulated as follows: (RT) Accept a proposition of the form "if A, then C" in a state of belief K, if and only if the minimal change of K needed to accept A also requires accepting C. In Gärdenfors (1986) it was shown that the Ramsey test is, in the context of some other (...) weak conditions, on pain of triviality incompatible with the following principle, which was there called the preservation criterion: (P) If a proposition B is accepted in a given state of belief K and the proposition A is consistent with the beliefs in K, then B is still accepted in the minimal change of K needed to accept A. (RT) provides a necessary and sufficient criterion for when a 'positive' conditional should be included in a belief state, but it does not say anything about when the negation of a conditional sentence should be accepted. A very natural candidate for this purpose is the following negative Ramsey test: (NRT) Accept the negation of a proposition of the form "if A, then C" in a consistent state of belief K, if and only if the minimal change of K needed to accept A does not require accepting C. This note shows that (NRT) leads to triviality results even in the absence of additional conditions like (P). (shrink)
Famously, Frank P. Ramsey suggested a test for the acceptability of conditionals. Recently, David Chalmers and Alan Hájek (2007) have criticized a qualitative variant of the Ramsey test for indicative conditionals. In this paper we argue for the following three claims: (i) Chalmers and Hájek are right that the variant of the Ramsey test that they attack is not the correct way of spelling out an acceptability test for indicative conditionals. But there is a suppositional variant of the Ramsey (...) test which is still stated in purely qualitative terms, which avoids the problems, and which looks correct. (ii) While the variant of the Ramsey test that Chalmers and Hájek criticize is not correct, it is still a good approximation of a correct formulation of the Ramsey test which may be usefully employed in various contexts. (iii) The variant of the Ramsey test that Chalmers and Hájek suggest as a substitute for the deficient version of the Ramsey test is itself subject to worries similar to those raised by Chalmers and Hájek, if it is given a non-suppositional interpretation. (shrink)
In his Truth and Probability (1926), Frank Ramsey provides foundations for measures of degrees of belief in propositions and preferences for worlds. Nonquantitative conditions on preferences for worlds, and gambles for worlds and certain near-worlds, are formulated which he says insure that a subject's preferences for worlds are represented by numbers, world values. Numbers, for his degrees of belief in propositions, probabilities, are then defined in terms of his world values. Ramsey does not also propose definitions of desirabilities for (...) propositions, though he is in a position to do this. Given his measures for probabilities of propositions and values of worlds, he can frame natural definitions for both evidential and causal desirabilities that would measure respectively the welcomeness of propositions as items of news, and as facts. His theory is neutral with respect to the evidential/causal division. In the present paper, as Ramsey's foundations are explained, several problems and limitations are noted. Their distinctive virtue â their evidential/causal neutrality â is demonstrated. Comparisons are made with other foundational schemes, and a perspective is recommended from which nonquantitative foundations are not the be all for quantitative theories of ideal preferences and credences. (shrink)
Haack, S. Is truth flat or bumpy?--Chihara, C. S. Ramsey 's theory of types.--Loar, B. Ramsey 's theory of belief and truth.--Skorupski, J. Ramsey on Belief.--Hookway, C. Inference, partial belief, and psychological laws.--Skyrms, B. Higher order degrees of belief.--Mellor, D. H. Consciousness and degrees of belief.--Blackburn, S. Opinions and chances.--Grandy, R. E. Ramsey, reliability, and knowledge.--Cohen, L. J. The problem of natural laws.--Giedymin, J. Hamilton's method in geometrical optics and Ramsey 's view of theories.
Frank Ramsey (1931) wrote: If two people are arguing 'if p will q?' and both are in doubt as to p, they are adding p hypothetically to their stock of knowledge and arguing on that basis about q. We can say that they are fixing their degrees of belief in q given p. Let us take the first sentence the way it is often taken, as proposing the following test for the acceptability of an indicative conditional: ‘If p then (...) q’ is acceptable to a subject S iff, were S to accept p and consider q, S would accept q. Now consider an indicative conditional of the form (1) If p, then I believe p. Suppose that you accept p and consider ‘I believe p’. To accept p while rejecting ‘I believe p’ is tantamount to accepting the Moore-paradoxical sentence ‘p and I do not believe p’, and so is irrational. To accept p while suspending judgment about ‘I believe p’ is irrational for similar reasons. So rationality requires that if you accept p and consider ‘I believe p’, you accept ‘I believe p’. (shrink)
Within the rather large Wittgenstein-collection at the Austrian National Library are 14 letters to Ludwig Wittgenstein from his uncle Paul (1848-1928), written between 1914 and 1923. The last of these letters, written on 1st March 1923, contains a little surprise. On the backside of this letter, the logical remarks and draft graphics which are recorded are obviously penned by the hand of Ludwig Wittgenstein.
In 1925, the 22 year old Frank Ramsey read a provocative paper to the Apostles titled “On There Being No Discussable Subject”. Many of the papers presented to this ‘Cambridge Conversazione Society’ were not terribly serious, and most have left minimal trace. But after Ramsey died in 1930 just shy of his 27th birthday, this paper was pulled from his manuscript remains by Richard Braithwaite, and printed in the posthumously-published The Foundations of Mathematics, under the title “Epilogue”. A snappy (...) passage from it has been taken to express Ramsey’s view on ethics:most of us would agree that the objectivity of good was a thing we had... (shrink)
Frank Ramsey's ‘Truth and Probability’ sketches a proposal for the empirical measurement of credences, along with a corresponding set of axioms for a representation theorem intended to characterize the preference conditions under which this measurement process is applicable. There are several features of Ramsey's formal system which make it attractive and worth developing. However, in specifying his measurement process and his axioms, Ramsey introduces the notion of an ethically neutral proposition, the assumed existence of which plays a key role (...) throughout Ramsey's system. A number of later representation theorems have also appealed to ethically neutral propositions. The notion of ethical neutrality has often been called into question — in fact, there seem to be good reasons to suppose that no ethically neutral propositions exist. In this paper, I present several new, Ramsey-inspired representation theorems that avoid any appeal to ethical neutrality. These theorems preserve the benefits of Ramsey's system, without paying the cost of ethical neutrality. (shrink)
The Cambridge philosopher Frank Ramsey died tragically in 1930 at the age of 26, but had already established himself as one of the most brilliant minds of the twentieth century. Besides groundbreaking work in philosophy, particularly in logic, language, and metaphysics, he created modern decision theory and made substantial contributions to mathematics and economics. In these original essays, written to commemorate the centenary of Ramsey's birth, a distinguished international team of contributors offer fresh perspectives on his work and show (...) its ongoing relevance to present-day concerns. (shrink)
An underappreciated fact in the history of analytic philosophy is that American pragmatism had an early and strong influence on the Vienna Circle. The path of that influence goes from Charles Peirce to Frank Ramsey to Ludwig Wittgenstein to Moritz Schlick. That path is traced in this paper, and along the way some standard understandings of Ramsey and Wittgenstein, especially, are radically altered.
in Undetermined Table d’Hôte Ingar Brinck: Investigating the development of creativity: The Sahlin hypothesis 7 Linus Broström: Known unknowns and proto-second-personal address in photographic art 25 Johan Brännmark: Critical moral thinking without moral theory 33 Martin Edman: Vad är ett missförhållande? 43 Pascal Engel: Rambling on the value of truth 51 Peter Gärdenfors: Ambiguity in decision making and the fear of being fooled 75 Göran Hermerén: NIPT: Ethical aspects 89 Mats Johansson: Roboethics: What problems should be addressed and why? 103 (...) Johan Laserna: Ambivalenta bilder 113 Anna-Sofia Maurin: Metaphysical explanation 161 Kevin Mulligan: Is preference primitive? 169 John D. Norton: How does your garden grow? 181 Johannes Persson & Annika Wallin: The distinction between internal and external validity 187 Johanna Seibt: Becoming our selves 197 Paul Slovic, Robin Gregory, David Frank, and Daniel Vastfjall: Confronting the collapse of humanitarian values in foreignpolicy decision making 209 Peter Sylwan: Det eviga livet 215 Claudine Tiercelin: Chance, love and logic: Ramsey and Peirce on norms, rationality and the conduct of life 221 Epilog 257 Frank Ramsey. (shrink)
Frank Ramsey writes: If two people are arguing ‘if p will q?’ and both are in doubt as to p, they are adding p hypothetically to their stock of knowledge and arguing on that basis about q. We can say that they are fixing their degrees of belief in q given p. (1931) Chalmers and Hájek write: Let us take the first sentence [of Ramsey] the way it is often taken, as proposing the following test for the acceptability of (...) an indicative conditional: ‘if p then q’ is acceptable to a subject S iff, were S to accept p and consider q, S would accept q. (shrink)
Frank Ramsey was the greatest of the remarkable generation of Cambridge philosophers and logicians which included G. E. Moore, Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Maynard Keynes. Before his tragically early death in 1930 at the age of twenty-six, he had done seminal work in mathematics and economics as well as in logic and philosophy. This volume, with a new and extensive introduction by D. H. Mellor, contains all Ramsey's previously published writings on philosophy and the foundations of mathematics. The (...) latter gives the definitive form and defence of the reduction of mathematics to logic undertaken in Russell and Whitehead's Principia Mathematica; the former includes the most profound and original studies of universals, truth, meaning, probability, knowledge, law and causation, all of which are still constantly referred to, and still essential reading for all serious students of these subjects. (shrink)
Frank Ramsey is usually taken to be an emotivist or an expressivist about the good: he is usually taken to bifurcate inquiry into fact-stating and non-fact stating domains, ethics falling into the latter. In this paper I shall argue that whatever the very young Ramsey's view might have been, towards the end of his short life, he was coming to a through-going and objective pragmatism about all our beliefs, including those about the good, beauty, and even the meaning of (...) life. Ethical beliefs are not mere expressions of emotion, but rather fall under our cognitive scope. They can be assessed as rational or irrational, true or false. (shrink)
The paper deals mainly with two problems in the epistemology of Frank Plumpton Ramsey. One concerns his account of knowledge, the other his fallibilism. I argue that Ramsey failed to make room for the social aspect of knowledge and, furthermore, that he did not separate the fallibility of our view from its corrigibility. My positive proposal is to combine social reliabilism and corrigibilism with a rejection of fallibilism.