The Brainstorm Podcast: Philosophy Outside Academia - by Cory Johnson I’ve always felt like a rookie when it comes to philosophy. I grew up in a blue-collar home where work was done ... Read more...
49 minutes ago
A counterfactual of the form ‘If it were the case that p, then it would be the case that q’ is said to be true if and only if, in the closest possible world in which p is the case, q is also the case – where the ‘closest’ possible world in question is the one in which p is the case but otherwise differs minimally from the actual world.Lowe followed that with what would, until relatively recently, have been a stunningly fallacious argument against mental physicalism, all wrapped up in PW talk: a gift to any intelligent physicalist, who’s thence able to refute an objection to her position that comes with all the modern trappings of the authority of modern philosophy. But to step back a bit, what’s wrong with Lewis’s analysis? To begin with, subjunctive talk equivocates like anything. And then there’s the problem of saying what is, in the relevant way, possible; a problem Lewis solved in an implausibly Humean way, which was at least elegant in a principled way, if evidently false. And of course, what is to count as ‘close’?
[...] according to Descartes, whereas the mind has beliefs, desires, and volitions, but no shape, size, or velocity, the body has shape, size, and velocity, but no beliefs, desires, or volitions. [...] it is often complained that it is completely mysterious how an unextended, non-physical substance could have any causal impact upon the body – the presumption being, perhaps, that any cause of a physical event must either be located where that event is, or at least be related to it by a chain of events connecting the location of the cause to the location of the effect.As put, the problem seems to be one of mere conceptual possibility, which is easily answered. By typing into your keyboard you can make virtual beings move about in cyberspace. Clearly you don’t have to be where they are, in cyberspace, to be able to move them about. So it isn’t so very mysterious how such things are possible. And even if it were, why presume that would be a problem for dualism, rather than a personal failing?
Personal faith is not assent to evidence which is so strong as to be beyond reasonable doubt. It is assent to a discernment of God which is personally overwhelming but not objectively testable. This is not discernment of a historical God, timeless and unchanging. It is discernment of an active, loving God, making himself known in personal lives at specific points which become the matrix of a communal response to his will.Keith Ward, Divine Action (London: Flame, 1990), 238.
If good mathematics tells us that there are sets of some size, or functions of some type, or if good science tells us that there are waves or particles or forces or fields, then who is the philosopher to pipe up otherwise? As David Lewis forcefully argued, the philosopher taking any such line is apt only to make himself look foolish. Considering the case of sets in mathematics, Lewis wrote:That was Blackburn on Lewis on Philosophy, in Moore and Scott (eds.) Realism and Religion: Philosophical and Theological Perspectives (2007: 49), in the process of trying to draw a line between the expertise of scientists and that of theologians. This is a fairly common Naturalistic line, and there is, I think, a lot wrong with it.Mathematics is an established, going concern. Philosophy is as shaky as can be. To reject mathematics for philosophical reasons would be absurd [...] I’m moved to laughter at the thought of how presumptuous it would be to reject mathematics for philosophical reasons. How would you like the job of telling the mathematicians that they must change their ways, and abjure countless errors now that philosophy has discovered that there are no classes?Philosophy simply has not got the track record of certainty, or utility, or progress, or unanimity, to mount any such high horse. If it is a question of philosophy versus physics, or philosophy versus maths, everyone knows which side to back.
Cooke says, with regard to ‘Liar sentences’, that ‘they do seem to be saying, not only that they are not true, but also, if less obviously, that they are (therefore) true’. So sentences, he allows, may express more than one proposition, even if they may express one proposition more obviously than another. But if so then one cannot immediately derive, with respect to the previous case that the (one and only) proposition that (4*) expresses is (the obvious one) that God doesn’t believe that (4*) ever expresses a true proposition.A sentence may of course express different propositions, e.g. literally and analogically, or by being equivocal, or when it’s expressed by different people, or at different times or places, or because the language in which it exists changes, etc. But Slater will, I suspect, have difficulty indicating what other proposition could have been expressed by (4*)—or better, (4**)—literally. If he has to use different words to those of (4*), then is it really expressed by (4*)? And if he doesn’t, then why wasn’t it expressed when he used those same words to express the ‘obvious’ proposition?