Similarity of intensional structures

[This post published before I completed it. The post should be updated shortly.]

In Scientific Realism and the Plasticity of Mind (1979), Paul Churchland claims that the ordinary non-philosopher’s view of the intensional structure between the elements of natural language do not overlap exactly. He writes:

And the problem is that perfect isomorphism or exact identity of intensional structure between natural languages (or of systemic structure between idiolects) is not quite what the real world shows us. Close similarities, yes. Perfect identities, no. That is, few if any pairs of natural languages admit of a mutual translation that is optimal in the sense defined earlier. (Churchland 1979, 76)

There is some empirical evidence that seems to tell a different story, one cited and endorsed by Carnap (1956). The data originated in Næss’ 1950 studies on the notion of synonymy in natural languages.  Continue reading

Couldn’t put UW back together again (3 of 3 posts on the state of UW)

Critical though I may have been in the first two posts about the sad state-of-affairs gripping UW, I will argue here that there seems no escape from the hostile academic and financial environment that has unfortunately befallen the state of Wyoming. The oil, natural gas, and coal industry has seized the state, its legislators, its educators, and its citizens. All spending has been frozen, except for those budget items deemed necessary (read “deemed necessary” as “in the interests of those businesses who have staked a claim somewhere in the state”). So, what’s left for Wyomingites to do?

(Part 3 of 3 on the state of UW)

Continue reading

Næss on empirical testing and consistency in nonprofessional responses

A kind of test was made in 1936 … . It made use of open questionnaires related to the antinomy of the liar. The persons speaking the Umgangssprache did not interpret any sentences in such a way that they negated themselves. The existence of a rule of the Umgangssprache that permits it was not in evidence, nor a rule that prohibits it. Rules may be invented that approximately picture the complex regularities of ordinary usage. In that case, there will be no rule of unlimited use of true.

–Arne Næss, “The Empirical Semantics of Key Terms, Phrases, and Sentences: Empirical Semantics Applied to Nonprofessional Language,” in The Selected Works of Arne Næss, vol. 8 (Springer 2005), p. 70

Næss on higher education

“There are people with little capacity and training in articulating problems and taking part in formal discussions. But if they are members of underprivileged groups, it is one of the most important jobs of people with training at the university level to come to their assistance. Therefore all students, all people who have the fundamental privilege of long formal training largely paid for by the public at large, should be equipped with the tools which make them competent in taking up basic issues in debates in general, and with experts in particular.”

– Arne Næss, In Sceptical Wonder, p. 128.

Næss on the objectivity of truth

In §38 of “Truth” as Conceived by Those Who Are Not Philosophers (1938), Arne Næss discusses Gr3-groupings, the objectivity of truth. Each of the “groupings” report findings of Næss’ experiments involving some component of “truth” associated with what in Næss’ mind concerns truth’s objectivity. It seems that very few philosophers have defended the objectivity of truth or discussed it at length. Many contributions, especially recently, have criticized truth’s objectivity (cf. MacFarlane 2005, 2011, 2014; Richard 2008; Scharp 2013, forthcoming ). What we might mean by “objectivity” is, of course, somewhat controversial.

Continue reading

Preparation for the Philosophy job market begins…

The American Philosophical Association’s Jobs for Philosophers (“JFP”) is no longer the point of reference for job candidates seeking tenure-track positions. It has been replaced by PhilJobs.org, created by David Bourget and David Chalmers. When JFP was the one and only resource for job advertisements, there was a seemingly regular and consistent job cycle. In October, tenure-track (and post-doc) positions were announced, and, in February, a second-list of tenure-track and visiting positions were announced. Following on these two publications was a third and (possibly) fourth periodical announcing the availability of visiting positions. With the dissolution of JFP, an irregular pattern of marketing new jobs resulted.

So, preparing for the 2014-2015 job cycle begins now

Continue reading

Equitable Distribution in an International Community of Peoples

Rawls states that his proposed law of peoples is “a political conception of right and justice that applies to the principles and norms of international law and practice” (LP 1999, 3). I will attempt to show that a well-ordered society has a duty to assist a failing society even if that failing society is liberal or decent, despite Rawls’ view to the contrary.

Continue reading