A single argument template---the EPH template---can be used to generate versions of the best known and most challenging skeptical problems. In his brilliantly groundbreaking book Knowledge and Its Limits, Timothy Williamson presents a theory of knowledge and evidence which he clearly intends to provide a response to skepticism in its most important forms. After laying out EPH skepticism and reviewing possible ways of responding to it, I show how elements of Williamson’s theory motivate a hitherto unexplored way of (...) responding to EPH-generated skeptical arguments. Then I offer reasons to doubt the correctness of Williamson’s response. (shrink)
Anti-exceptionalism about logic is the doctrine that logic does not require its own epistemology, for its methods are continuous with those of science. Although most recently urged by Williamson, the idea goes back at least to Lakatos, who wanted to adapt Popper's falsicationism and extend it not only to mathematics but to logic as well. But one needs to be careful here to distinguish the empirical from the a posteriori. Lakatos coined the term 'quasi-empirical' `for the counterinstances to putative (...) mathematical and logical theses. Mathematics and logic may both be a posteriori, but it does not follow that they are empirical. Indeed, as Williamson has demonstrated, what counts as empirical knowledge, and the role of experience in acquiring knowledge, are both unclear. Moreover, knowledge, even of necessary truths, is fallible. Nonetheless, logical consequence holds in virtue of the meaning of the logical terms, just as consequence in general holds in virtue of the meanings of the concepts involved; and so logic is both analytic and necessary. In this respect, it is exceptional. But its methodologyand its epistemology are the same as those of mathematics and science in being fallibilist, and counterexamples to seemingly analytic truths are as likely as those in any scientic endeavour. What is needed is a new account of the evidential basis of knowledge, one which is, perhaps surprisingly, found in Aristotle. (shrink)
The paper challenges Williamson’s safety based explanation for why we cannot know the cut-off point of vague expressions. We assume throughout (most of) the paper that Williamson is correct in saying that vague expressions have sharp cut-off points, but we argue that Williamson’s explanation for why we do not and cannot know these cut-off points is unsatisfactory. -/- In sect 2 we present Williamson's position in some detail. In particular, we note that Williamson's explanation relies (...) on taking a particular safety principle ('Meta-linguistic belief safety' or 'MBS') as a necessary condition on knowledge. In section 3, we show that even if MBS were a necessary condition on knowledge, that would not be sufficient to show that we cannot know the cut-off points of vague expressions. In section 4, we present our main case against Williamson's explanation: we argue that MBS is not a necessary condition on knowledge, by presenting a series of cases where one's belief violates MBS but nevertheless constitutes knowledge. In section 5, we present and respond to an objection to our view. And in section 6, we briefly discuss the possible directions a theory of vagueness can take, if our objection to Williamson's theory is taken on board. (shrink)
ABSTRACT A version of Meno’s paradox applies to intellectualism about knowledge-how. If one does not know that p, one does not know that w is a way of working out that p. According to intellectualists, the latter such knowledge constitutes knowledge how to work out that p. One thus knows how to work out that p only if one already knows that p. But if this is right, nobody can work anything out.
Neil Gascoigne and Tim Thornton’s Tacit Knowledge is an attempt to find a place for tacit knowledge as “knowledge” within the limits of analytic epistemology. They do so by reference to Jason Stanley and Timothy Williamson’s analysis of the term “way” and by the McDowell-like claim that reference to the tacitly rooted “way” of doing something exhausts the knowledge aspect of tacit knowledge, which preserves the notion of tacit knowledge, while excluding most of Michael Polanyi’s examples, and rendering Hubert (...) Dreyfus’s and John Searle’s accounts irrelevant. This is more a redefinition of terms than an account of tacit knowledge. (shrink)
Knowledge closure is, roughly, the following claim: For every agent S and propositions P and Q, if S knows P, knows that P implies Q, and believes Q because it is so implied, then S knows Q. Almost every epistemologist believes that closure is true. Indeed, they often believe that it so obviously true that any theory implying its denial is thereby refuted. Some prominent epistemologists have nevertheless denied it, most famously Fred Dretske and Robert Nozick. There are closure advocates (...) who see other virtues in those accounts, however, and so who introduce revisions of one sort or another in order to preserve closure while maintaining their spirit. One popular approach is to replace the “sensitivity” constraint at the heart of both of those accounts with a “safety” constraint, as advocated by Timothy Williamson, Duncan Pritchard, Ernest Sosa, Stephen Luper, and others. The purpose of this essay is to show that this approach does not succeed: safety does not save closure. And neither does a popular variation on the safety theme, the safe-basis or safe-indicator account. (shrink)
A wide variety of skills, abilities and knowledge are used in technological activities such as engineering design. Together, they enable problem solving and artefact creation. Gilbert Ryle’s division of knowledge into knowing how and knowing that is often referred to when discussing this technological knowledge. Ryle’s view has been questioned and criticised by those who claim that there is only one type, for instance, Jason Stanley and Timothy Williamson who claim that knowing how is really a form of knowing (...) that and Stephen Hetherington who claims that knowing that is knowing how. Neither Ryle himself nor any of his critics have discussed technological knowledge. Exposing both Ryle’s and his critics’ ideas to technological knowledge show that there are strong reasons to keep the knowing how–knowing that dichotomy in technological contexts. The main reasons are that they are justified in different ways, that Stanley’s and Williamson’s ideas have great difficulties to account for learning of technological knowing how through training, and that knowing that is susceptible to Gettier problems, which technological knowing how is not. (shrink)
This paper is roughly in two parts. The first deals with whether know-how is constituted by propositional knowledge, as discussed primarily by Gilbert Ryle (1949) The concept of mind. London: Hutchinson, Jason Stanley and Timothy Williamson (2001). Knowing how. Journal of Philosophy, 98, pp. 411–444 as well as Stephen Hetherington (2006). How to know that knowledge-that is knowledge-how. In S. Hetherington (Ed.) Epistemology futures. Oxford: Oxford University Press. The conclusion of this first part is that know-how sometimes does (...) and sometimes does not consist in propositional knowledge. The second part defends an analysis of know-how inspired by Katherine Hawley’ (2003). Success and knowledge-how. American Philosophical Quarterly, 40, pp. 19–31, insightful proposal that know-how requires counterfactual success. I conclude by showing how this analysis helps to explain why know-how sometimes does and sometimes does not consist of propositional knowledge. (shrink)
From popular introductions to biographies and television programmes, philosophy is everywhere. Many people even want to _be_ philosophers, usually in the café or the pub. But what do real philosophers do? What are the big philosophical issues of today? Why do they matter? How did some our best philosophers get into philosophy in the first place? Read _New British Philosophy_ and find out for the first time. Clear, engaging and designed for a general audience, sixteen fascinating interviews with some of (...) the top philosophers from the new generation of the subject's leaders range from music to the mind and feminism to the future of philosophy. Each interview is introduced and conducted by Julian Baggini and Jeremy Stangroom of _The Philosophers Magazine_. This is a unique snapshot of philosophy in Great Britain today and includes interviews with: Ray Monk - Biography; Nigel Warburton - the Public; Aaron Ridley - Music; Jonathan Wolff - Politics; Roger Crisp - Ethics; Rae Langton - Pornography; Miranda Fricker - Knowledge; M.G.F.Martin - Perception; Timothy Williamson - Vagueness; Tim Crane - Mind; Robin Le Poidevin - Metaphysics; Christina Howells - Sartre; Simon Critchley - Phenomenology; Simon Glendinning - Continental; Stephen Mulhall - the Future; Keith Ansell Pearson - the Human. (shrink)
Oxford Studies in Metaphysics is the forum for the best new work in this flourishing field. Much of the most interesting work in philosophy today is metaphysical in character: this new series is a much-needed focus for it. OSM offers a broad view of the subject, featuring not only the traditionally central topics such as existence, identity, modality, time, and causation, but also the rich clusters of metaphysical questions in neighbouring fields, such as philosophy of mind and philosophy of science. (...) Besides independent essays, volumes will often contain a critical essay on a recent book, or a symposium that allows participants to respond to one another's criticisms and questions. Anyone who wants to know what's happening in metaphysics can start here. Volume Two begins with a major paper on consciousness by Ned Block. Block examines 'Max Black's Objection to Mind-Body Identity', an argument for a dualism of physical and phenomenal properties, closely related to Jackson's 'knowledge argument'. His extensive exploration of this family of arguments for property dualism includes considerable discussion of John Perry and Stephen White; their responses to Block's paper complete the section on the metaphysics of consciousness.Three papers consider the thesis that the future is, in some sense, 'open'. Eli Hirsch elaborates a view according to which contingent statements about the future can be indeterminate in truth-value, while preserving 'straight logic', including a principle of bivalence. Peter Forrest defends a sort of 'growing block' theory of the passage of time, emphasizing the way such a metaphysics, combined with a truth-maker principle, can provide an analysis of natural necessity. Trenton Merricks presents a trenchant and original criticism of the 'growing block' theory of time.The volume continues with a group of papers on problems of ontology. Thomas Hofweber's paper, defending nominalism from the objection that there are 'inexpressible' properties and propositions, won the first annual Oxford Studies in Metaphysics Younger Scholar Prize. The papers by Phillip Bricker and Michael Loux examine a couple of deep divides within ontology. John Hawthorne's paper raises some extremely puzzling questions about the nature of persons, given the ontology needed for Timothy Williamson's theory of vagueness. Hawthorne uses these problems to motivate an alternative style of epistemicism. The final three papers take up several issues in the metaphysics of traditional theism. Michael Bergmann and Jeffrey Brower raise objections to combining a Platonic conception of universals with the doctrine of divine aseity; while Brian Leftow defends a non-Platonic theory of universals - a kind of divine-concept nominalism. Hud Hudson suggests that contemplation of the possibility of higher dimensions opens up new avenues in theodicy. (shrink)
From popular introductions to biographies and television programmes, philosophy is everywhere. Many people even want to be philosophers, usually in the café or the pub. But what do real philosophers do? What are the big philosophical issues of today? Why do they matter? How did some our best philosophers get into philosophy in the first place? Read New British Philosophy and find out for the first time. Clear, engaging and designed for a general audience, sixteen fascinating interviews with some of (...) the top philosophers from the new generation of the subject's leaders range from music to the mind and feminism to the future of philosophy. Each interview is introduced and conducted by Julian Baggini and Jeremy Stangroom of The Philosophers Magazine . This is a unique snapshot of philosophy in Great Britain today and includes interviews with: Ray Monk - Biography; Nigel Warburton - the Public; Aaron Ridley - Music; Jonathan Wolff - Politics; Roger Crisp - Ethics; Rae Langton - Pornography; Miranda Fricker - Knowledge; M.G.F.Martin - Perception; Timothy Williamson - Vagueness; Tim Crane - Mind; Robin Le Poidevin - Metaphysics; Christina Howells - Sartre; Simon Critchley - Phenomenology; Simon Glendinning - Continental; Stephen Mulhall - the Future; Keith Ansell Pearson - the Human. (shrink)
A collection of interviews with influential theorists working in philosophy of logic. The questions: Why were you initially drawn to the philosophy of logic? What are your main contributions to the philosophy of logic? What is the proper role of philosophy of logic in relation to other disciplines, and to other branches of philosophy? What have been the most significant advances in the philosophy of logic? What are the most important open problems in philosophy of logic, and what are the (...) prospects for progress? Interviews with JC Beall, John Lane Bell, Johan van Benthem, Patricia A. Blanchette, Otávio Bueno, James Cargile, Mark Colyvan, Newton Carneiro Affonso da Costa, Pascal Engel, Susan Haack, Jaakko J. Hintikka, Dale Jacquette, Penelope Maddy, Lawrence S. Moss, Catarina Dutilh Novaes, Ahti-Veikko Pietarinen, Graham Priest, Stephen Read, Nicholas Rescher, Stewart Shapiro, Peter Simons, Timothy Williamson, Jan Woleński. (shrink)
A counterpossible conditional is a counterfactual with an impossible antecedent. Common sense delivers the view that some such conditionals are true, and some are false. In recent publications, Timothy Williamson has defended the view that all are true. In this paper we defend the common sense view against Williamson’s objections.
To understand H.L.A. Hart's general theory of law, it is helpful to distinguish between substantive and methodological legal positivism. Substantive legal positivism is the view that there is no necessary connection between morality and the content of law. Methodological legal positivism is the view that legal theory can and should offer a normatively neutral description of a particular social phenomenon, namely law. Methodological positivism holds, we might say, not that there is no necessary connection between morality and law, but rather (...) that there is no connection, necessary or otherwise, between morality and legal theory. The respective claims of substantive and methodological positivism are, at least on the surface, logically independent. Hobbes and Bentham employed normative methodologies to defend versions of substantive positivism, and in modern times Michael Moore has developed what can be regarded as a variant of methodological positivism to defend a theory of natural law. (shrink)
This paper explains and defends the idea that metaphysical necessity is the strongest kind of objective necessity. Plausible closure conditions on the family of objective modalities are shown to entail that the logic of metaphysical necessity is S5. Evidence is provided that some objective modalities are studied in the natural sciences. In particular, the modal assumptions implicit in physical applications of dynamical systems theory are made explicit by using such systems to define models of a modal temporal logic. Those assumptions (...) arguably include some necessitist principles. -/- Too often, philosophers have discussed ‘metaphysical’ modality — possibility, contingency, necessity — in isolation. Yet metaphysical modality is just a special case of a broad range of modalities, which we may call ‘objective’ by contrast with epistemic and doxastic modalities, and indeed deontic and teleological ones (compare the distinction between objective probabilities and epistemic or subjective probabilities). Thus metaphysical possibility, physical possibility and immediate practical possibility are all types of objective possibility. We should study the metaphysics and epistemology of metaphysical modality as part of a broader study of the metaphysics and epistemology of the objective modalities, on pain of radical misunderstanding. Since objective modalities are in general open to, and receive, natural scientific investigation, we should not treat the metaphysics and epistemology of metaphysical modality in isolation from the metaphysics and epistemology of the natural sciences. -/- In what follows, Section 1 gives a preliminary sketch of metaphysical modality and its place in the general category of objective modality. Section 2 reviews some familiar forms of scepticism about metaphysical modality in that light. Later sections explore a few of the many ways in which natural science deals with questions of objective modality, including questions of quantified modal logic. (shrink)
This special issue of the Canadian Journal of Philosophy is dedicated to Timothy Williamson's work on modality. It consists of a new paper by Williamson followed by papers on Williamson's work on modality, with each followed by a reply by Williamson. -/- Contributors: Andrew Bacon, Kit Fine, Peter Fritz, Jeremy Goodman, John Hawthorne, Øystein Linnebo, Ted Sider, Robert Stalnaker, Meghan Sullivan, Gabriel Uzquiano, Barbara Vetter, Timothy Williamson, Juhani Yli-Vakkuri.
Eighteen leading philosophers offer critical assessments of Timothy Williamson's ground-breaking work on knowledge and its impact on philosophy today. They discuss epistemological issues concerning evidence, defeasibility, scepticism, testimony, assertion, and perception, and debate Williamson's central claim that knowledge is a mental state.
Timothy Williamson has fruitfully exploited formal resources to shed considerable light on the nature of knowledge. In the paper under examination, Williamson turns his attention to Gettier cases, showing how they can be motivated formally. At the same time, he disparages the kind of justification he thinks gives rise to these cases. He favors instead his own notion of justification for which Gettier cases cannot arise. We take issue both with his disparagement of the kind of justification that (...) figures in Gettier cases and the specifics of the formal motivation. (shrink)
This essay criticizes Williamson’s attempt, in his book, The Philosophy of Philosophy, to undermine the interest of the a priori–a posteriori distinction. Williamson’s argument turns on several large claims. The first is that experience often plays a role intermediate between evidential and merely enabling, and that this poses a difficulty for giving a theoretically satisfying account of the distinction. The second is that there are no constitutive understanding–assent links. Both of these claims are subjected to detailed scrutiny. In (...) particular, it is argued that Williamson’s case of the deviant logician, Simon, fails to constitute an intelligible counterexample to the status of conjunction elimination as an understanding–assent link for ‘and’. (shrink)
[Stephen Makin] Aristotle draws two sets of distinctions in Metaphysics 9.2, first between non-rational and rational capacities, and second between one way and two way capacities. He then argues for three claims: [A] if a capacity is rational, then it is a two way capacity [B] if a capacity is non-rational, then it is a one way capacity [C] a two way capacity is not indifferently related to the opposed outcomes to which it can give rise I provide explanations (...) of Aristotle's terminology, and of how [A]-[C] should be understood. I then offer a set of arguments which are intended to show that the Aristotelian claims are plausible. \\\ [Nicholas Denyer] In De Caelo 1: 11-12 Aristotle argued that whatever is and always will be true is necessarily true. His argument works, once we grant him the highly plausible principle that if something is true, then it can be false if and only if it can come to be false. For example, assume it true that the sun is and always will be hot. No proposition of this form can ever come to be false. Hence this proposition cannot be false. Hence it is necessarily true, and so too is anything that follows from it. In particular, it is necessarily true that the sun is hot. Moreover, if the sun not only is and always will be hot, but also always has been, then it follows by similar reasoning that the sun not only cannot now fail to be hot, but also never could have failed. Anything everlastingly true is therefore, in the strictest sense of the term, necessarily true. (shrink)
Perhaps the most salient feature of Rawls's theory of justice which at once attracts supporters and repels critics is its apparent egalitarian conclusion as to how economic goods are to be distributed. Indeed, many of Rawls's sympathizers may find this result intuitively appealing, and regard it as Rawls's enduring contribution to the topic of economic justice, despite technical deficiencies in Rawls's contractarian, decision-theoretic argument for it which occupy the bulk of the critical literature. Rawls himself, having proposed a “coherence” theory (...) of justification in metaethics, must regard the claim that his distributive criterion “is a strongly egalitarian conception” as independently a part of the overarching moral argument. The alleged egalitarian impact of Rawls's theory is crucial again in normative ethics where Rawls is thought to have developed a major counter-theory to utilitarianism, one of the most popular criticisms of which has been its alleged inadequacy in handling questions of distributive justice. Utilitarians can argue, however, as Brandt recently has, that the diminishing marginal utility of money, along with ignorance of income-welfare curves, would require a utility-maximizing distribution to be substantially egalitarian. The challenge is therefore for Rawls to show that his theory yields an ethically preferable degree of equality. (shrink)
Aboutness has been studied from any number of angles. Brentano made it the defining feature of the mental. Phenomenologists try to pin down the aboutness-features of particular mental states. Materialists sometimes claim to have grounded aboutness in natural regularities. Attempts have even been made, in library science and information theory, to operationalize the notion. But it has played no real role in philosophical semantics. This is surprising; sentences have aboutness-properties if anything does. Aboutness is the first book to examine through (...) a philosophical lens the role of subject matter in meaning. A long-standing tradition sees meaning as truth-conditions, to be specified by listing the scenarios in which a sentence is true. Nothing is said about the principle of selection--about what in a scenario gets it onto the list. Subject matter is the missing link here. A sentence is true because of how matters stand where its subject matter is concerned. Stephen Yablo maintains that this is not just a feature of subject matter, but its essence. One indicates what a sentence is about by mapping out logical space according to its changing ways of being true or false. The notion of content that results--directed content--is brought to bear on a range of philosophical topics, including ontology, verisimilitude, knowledge, loose talk, assertive content, and philosophical methodology. Written by one of today's leading philosophers, Aboutness represents a major advance in semantics and the philosophy of language. (shrink)
Timothy Williamson’s project in Knowledge and Its Limits (Williamson, 2000)1 includes proposals for substantial revisions in the received approach to epistemology. One received view is that knowledge is conceptualized in terms of a conjunction of factors that are individually necessary and jointly sufficient for knowing. A central aim of epistemology is to state such necessary and sufficient conditions. Against this received view, Williamson argues that a necessary but insufficient condition need not be a conjunct of a non-circular (...) necessary and sufficient condition. Although being coloured is a necessary but insufficient condition for being red, we cannot state a necessary and sufficient condition for being red by conjoining being coloured with other properties specified without reference to red. Neither the equation ‘Red = coloured + X’ nor the equation ‘Knowledge = true belief + X’ need have a non-circular solution. (3) Williamson further argues that we have inductive reasons for thinking that no analysis of the concept knows of the standard kind is correct. The inductive reasons are simply the history of failed attempts at such “factorizing” or “decompositional” analyses. Williamson not only rejects the prospect of explaining knowledge in terms of belief, justification, and evidence, but he proposes to reverse the order of explanation. That order of explanation has been reversed in this book. The concept knows is fundamental, the primary implement of epistemological inquiry. (185) It is not altogether easy, however, to reconcile this radical program with other things Williamson says in the book. In particular, the book contains two rather unrelated accounts of knowing, and one of these accounts appeals to some of the same ingredients that traditional (or semi-traditional) analysts have used in the past. The first account, which appears in Chapter 1, says that knowing is the most general factive stative propositional attitude. The account is presented in terms of three conditions: (1) If Φ is an FMSO [factive mental state operator], from ‘S Φs that A’ one may infer ‘A’.. (shrink)
This essay deals with property rights in body parts that can be exchanged in a market. The inquiry arises in the following context. With some exceptions, the laws of many countries permit only the donation, not the sale, of body parts. Yet for some years there has existed a shortage of body parts for transplantation and other medical uses. It might then appear that if more sales were legally permitted, the supply of body parts would increase, because people would have (...) more incentive to sell than they currently have to donate. To allow sales is to recognize property rights in body parts. To allow sales, however, makes body parts into “commodities”—that is, things that can be bought and sold in a market. And some view it as morally objectionable to treat body parts as commodities. (shrink)
This paper aims to identify the constitutive rule of assertion, conceived by analogy with the rules of a game. That assertion has such rules is by no means obvious; perhaps it is more like a natural phenomenon than it seems. One way to find out is by supposing that it has such rules, in order to see where the hypothesis leads and what it explains. That will be done here. The hypothesis is not perfectly clear, of course, but we have (...) at least a crude conception of constitutive rules, which we may refine as we elaborate the hypothesis. Although no attempt will be made here to define ‘rule’, some remarks on constitutive rules will focus the discussion. (shrink)
According to Timothy Williamson, we should accept the simplest and most powerful second-order modal logic, and as a result accept an ontology of "bare possibilia". This general method for extracting ontology from logic is salutary, but its application in this case depends on a questionable assumption: that modality is a fundamental feature of the world.
The paper clarifies and defends the orthodox view that counterfactual conditionals with impossible antecedents are vacuously true against recent criticisms. It argues that apparent counterexamples to orthodoxy result from uncritical reliance on a fallible heuristic used in the processing of conditionals. A comparison is developed between such counterpossibles and vacuously true universal generalizations.
Writing in 1912, before the Bolshevik Revolution, American socialist John Spargo said that it was “inconceivable” that a democratic socialist society would ever abolish the “sacred right” of freedom of publication which had been won at so great a sacrifice. According to Spargo, “every Socialist writer of note” agreed with Karl Kautsky that the freedom of the press, and of literary production in general, is an “essential condition” of democratic socialism.
Timothy Williamson's epistemology leads to a fairly radical version of scepticism. According to him, all knowledge is evidence. It follows that if S knows p, the evidential probability for S that p is 1. I explain Williamson's infallibilist account of perceptual knowledge, contrasting it with Peter Klein's, and argue that Klein's account leads to a certain problem which Williamson's can avoid. Williamson can allow that perceptual knowledge is possible and that all knowledge is evidence, while at (...) the same time avoiding Klein's problem. But while Williamson can allow that we know some things through experience, there are very many things he must say we cannot know. Given just how very many these are, he should be considered a sceptic. (shrink)
Timothy Williamson is one of the most influential living philosophers working in the areas of logic and metaphysics. His work in these areas has been particularly influential in shaping debates about metaphysical modality, which is the topic of his recent provocative and closely-argued book *Modal Logic as Metaphysics* (2013). The present book comprises ten essays by metaphysicians and logicians responding to Williamson’s work on metaphysical modality. The authors include some of the most distinguished philosophers of modality in the (...) world, as well as several rising stars. Each essay is followed by a reply by Williamson. In addition, the book contains a major new essay by Williamson, ‘Modal science,’ concerning the role of modal claims in natural science. This book was originally published as a special issue of the *Canadian Journal of Philosophy.*. (shrink)
Stephen Cole Kleene was one of the greatest logicians of the twentieth century and this book is the influential textbook he wrote to teach the subject to the next generation. It was first published in 1952, some twenty years after the publication of Godel's paper on the incompleteness of arithmetic, which marked, if not the beginning of modern logic. The 1930s was a time of creativity and ferment in the subject, when the notion of computable moved from the realm (...) of philosophical speculation to the realm of science. This was accomplished by the work of Kurt Gode1, Alan Turing, and Alonzo Church, who gave three apparently different precise definitions of computable. When they all turned out to be equivalent, there was a collective realization that this was indeed the right notion. Kleene played a key role in this process. One could say that he was there at the beginning of modern logic. He showed the equivalence of lambda calculus with Turing machines and with Godel's recursion equations, and developed the modern machinery of partial recursive functions. This textbook played an invaluable part in educating the logicians of the present. It played an important role in their own logical education.". (shrink)
Although liberals too often forget it, the health of the liberal publicorder depends on our ability to constitute not only political institutions and limits on power, but appropriate patterns of social lifeand citizen character. Liberal character traits and political virtuesdo not, after all, come about “naturally” or by the deliverance of an “invisible hand.” Even Adam Smith did not think that, as we will see below. Harry Eckstein gets closer to themark by suggesting that “stable governments…are the productof 'accidental' conjunctions (...) of conditions which do sometimes, but rarely, occur in actual societies.”. (shrink)
The book is primarily an essay on the epistemology of the sort of armchair knowledge that we can hope to achieve in philosophy. The possibility of such knowledge is not to be explained by reinterpreting philosophical questions as questions about words or concepts. Although there are philosophical questions about words and concepts, most philosophical questions are not about words or concepts: they are, just as they seem to be, about the things, many of them independent of us, to which the (...) words or concepts refer. Nor is our linguistic or conceptual competence the basis for our philosophical knowledge; such competence merely …. (shrink)
Timothy Williamson gives an original and provocative treatment of deep metaphysical questions about existence, contingency, and change, using the latest resources of quantified modal logic. Contrary to the widespread assumption that logic and metaphysics are disjoint, he argues that modal logic provides a structural core for metaphysics.
Between the later views of Wittgenstein and those of connectionism 1 on the subject of the mastery of language there is an impressively large number of similarities. The task of establishing this claim is carried out in the second section of this paper.
Necessitism is the view that necessarily everything is necessarily something; contingentism is the negation of necessitism. The dispute between them is reminiscent of, but clearer than, the more familiar one between possibilism and actualism. A mapping often used to ‘translate’ actualist discourse into possibilist discourse is adapted to map every sentence of a first-order modal language to a sentence the contingentist (but not the necessitist) may regard as equivalent to it but which is neutral in the dispute. This mapping enables (...) the necessitist to extract a ‘cash value’ from what the contingentist says. Similarly, a mapping often used to ‘translate’ possibilist discourse into actualist discourse is adapted to map every sentence of the language to a sentence the necessitist (but not the contingentist) may regard as equivalent to it but which is neutral in the dispute. This mapping enables the contingentist to extract a ‘cash value’ from what the necessitist says. Neither mapping is a translation in the usual sense, since necessitists and contingentists use the same language with the same meanings. The former mapping is extended to a second-order modal language under a plural interpretation of the second-order variables. It is proved that the latter mapping cannot be. Thus although the necessitist can extract a ‘cash value’ from what the contingentist says in the second-order language, the contingentist cannot extract a ‘cash value’ from some of what the necessitist says, even when it raises significant questions. This poses contingentism a serious challenge. (shrink)