Thursday, February 25, 2010

Review Questions Wanted!

Any questions for Tuesday's review? Post as comments: the floor is open!

8 comments:

maddyblake said...

Could you please simply explain what the Verification Principle is? Or go over it in class again?

H. E. said...

Will do. I'll go over it in class. In the meantime, the idea is that we want some criterion for sorting out sentences that make sense from those that are literally nonsense. According to the Verification Principle, when it comes to factual claims--those that aren't just true in virtue of language alone--they are meaningful only if it is possible in principle to verify them in experience.

Ryan said...

I was wondering if you could briefly just paraphrase the verification theory and reductionism.

H. E. said...

According to the Verification Principle, the meaning of a factual claim (i.e. not a tautology) is given by the way in which it's verified in experience. If it isn't possible even in principle to give conditions that would verify such a claim then that claim is meaningless. Reduction, the other dogma of empiricism is the doctrine that there are certain sentences about ontologically fundamental items to which all other claims can be reduced. The kind of reductionism Quine is thinking about in particular is phenomenalism, the doctrine that talk about physical objects can be analyzed in terms of claims about experiences--both actual and possible. The idea is that experiences are more fundamental and physical objects are "constructed" out of them--as Russell in the first piece suggested.

Since this is THE popular question, I'll talk about this in class!

maddyblake said...

Could you please explain how Frege solves the Propositional Attitude Puzzle? I understand what it is, just not how he solves it. Thank you!

H. E. said...

First we need to understand what the puzzle is. The problem is that in sentences like:

(1) George believes that MARK TWAIN wrote Huckleberry Finn

substituting another name that refers to the same guy shouldn't make any difference to the truth value of the sentence. But "Samuel Clemens" is another name for the same guy and substituting it for "Mark Twain" in (1) can produce a sentence with different truth value, i.e.

(2) George believes that SAMUEL CLEMENS wrote Huckleberry Finn

Frege's solves the puzzle by arguing that in propositional attitude sentences like (1) and (2) the names in the embedded sentences don't refer to the same guy--or in fact to any guy at all so, therefore, we should not expect (2) to have the same truth value as (1).

How does this happen? What do these name refer to? Frege argues that within the context "George believes that…" the sentences "Mark Twain wrote Huckleberry Finn" and "Samuel Clemens wrote Huckleberry Finn" refer to their "customary senses," that is the senses they would have if they stood alone. Within the "George believes that…" context those embedded sentences refer to PROPOSITIONS. And the propositions to which they refer are different. So there's no reason to expect that substituting "Samuel Clemens wrote Huckleberry Finn" for "Mark Twain wrote Huckleberry Finn" should preserve truth value.

春天來嚕 said...

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machinephilosophy said...

"the meaning of a factual claim (i.e. not a tautology) is given by the way in which it's verified in experience. If it isn't possible even in principle to give conditions that would verify such a claim then that claim is meaningless."

If the meaning of a non-tautological factual claim is that claim's method of verification, isn't the claim tautological after all by that claimed fact about what it means.

How is the "Verification is the meaning of a claim" claim itself to be verified.

What conditions could verify that verification universal itself, assuming it's a factual claim.


Do the same problems arise for claims about experience as arise for physical objects.

How does one arbitrate ontological fundamentality between the claim that physical objects are constructed and the claim that they are simply there and in some sense necessarily recognized.