Phil 317, Week One Class Notes
Phil 317, Week One Class Notes 317
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Armando Ruiz on Wednesday March 30, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to 317 at California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo taught by Dr. D. Kenneth Brown in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 17 views. For similar materials see History of Analytic Philosophy in PHIL-Philosophy at California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo.
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Date Created: 03/30/16
History of Analytic Philosophy Notes Phil 317, Week One, 3/283/30 1. Bertrand Russell and G. E. Moore developed their philosophies when Hegel was reigning supreme. They saw that an insufficient analysis of language was the reason for Hegel’s best of philosophical speculation. Russell went a step forward from Moore and developed a more technical account of philosophy with a much stronger emphasis on logic. They say Hegel’s philosophy lacks meaning because if we subject his work to the necessary and sufficient conditions of meaningfulness, which Russell and Moore develop, we find his work to be unmeaningful. a. Statements can have a structure that lend itself to meaning. Statements can be separated into two groups: meaningful and meaningless. b. Meaningless statements are typically not considered part of a philosophical work precisely because there’s nothing of value to philosophize about in the statements. c. Statements of meaning, as described by Russell, are those which are verifiable, those which are true or false. i. We can then divide meaningful statements into true statements and false statements. True statements are verified and false statements are unverified (note, that unverified does not mean unverifiable). 2. Bertrand Russell wants to replace speculative metaphysics with hardnosed logic. To do so Russell first lays out the problem of induction (p. 43) and uses that discussion as a springboard to develop his account of logic. a. Hume pointed out that our inferences of the future, if justified on previous inferences of the future, is circular. So Hume concludes that our inferences of the future are due to expectation. It is important to note that induction is reasoning toward future projections, which is of great importance in any empirical study. This is how we account for regularities that describe a small sample applying to a larger sample of unobserved cases. This is how most science is done. b. Mill famously advocated that the law of causation justifies inductive reasoning. Insofar as the law causation applies to future cases the law of causation is justified. This is the justification of an inductive principle, namely, causation, by inductive reasoning. However, Russell notes that Mill gives us three ways or reasons to suppose the law causation could be true: first, the law of causation can be justified a priori, second, the law of causation can be justified by a postulate (a principle assumed true), and third, the law of causation can be justified by an inference. Russell walks us through the three reasons and why each is implausible. i. An a priori justification is implausible because we must assert that everyone has this a priori principle. ii. Postulates are also difficult to accept because they are mere unproven assumptions. iii. Using an inference to justify an inference is circular, but Mill thinks it is possible. Mill explains why he justifies causation with a particular inference called empirical generalization. c. Empirical generalizations are justified by induction. Mill employs the process of induction by what he calls simple enumeration, which is, that the greater your sample is, the more likely your generalization is to be true, and therefore the more justified a generalization it is. If you have the entire sample, it would not be a generalization, it would be a deduction. Empirical generalizations are how most of scientific reasoning operates. The induction of empirical generalizations gives us probabilities. 3. Russell argues that there are two gaps in Mill’s reasoning. a. First, the justification for simple enumeration. Second, the principled reason as to why high probabilities approach definitely to certainty. i. Russell points out that if you are looking at larger and larger proportions for your sample, the probability of generalizations being false shrinks, but the possibility of error never goes away. Also, you cannot know, through simple enumeration, how large your data set is. As you cannot know if the proportion you used to justified your generalization is an aberration of the entire data set, which is of unknown size. So the first problem with simple enumeration is that we can never achieve certainty since you are provided only probabilities, and these probabilities never reach certainty or escape possibility of error. In the second problem we see that if we grant simple enumeration is justified by a principle, as the one stated on p. 46, we still cannot know how large a data set is and if our proportion (sample) is indeed representative of the majority of a data set. [This is Russell’s criticism of the second gap in Mill’s reasoning] ii. Russell explains that his criticism of Mill’s justification for simple enumeration depends on Mill’s need for a principle to justify simple enumeration. Russell goes on to explain that any justification for this principle to justify induction cannot be proved by induction. Also, since the nature of induction is to go beyond the empirical data at hand (the data in your sample), induction cannot be proved by empirical observation alone. Russell concludes from this criticism that if any such principle exists, the requirement for justification is that it is known independent of experience. b. Russell concludes that any such principle of induction has the logical difficulty of explaining the certainty behind high probability (which he thinks is not possible) and that any principle which could account for the certainty of high probability would need to be known independent of experience (which he also thinks is very unlikely). With this conclusion, Russell (although not explicitly mentioned in the text) can explain why the certainty of Rationalism’s typical mode reasoning is faulty. He says that understanding the structure of logic (and specifically induction) can provide us with insights into how we acquire and justify knowledge. At the very least we do know that all knowledge is not grounded in experience and that all knowledge cannot be derived a priori. 4. Russell goes on to Hegel and criticizes his logic. He wants to make the point that Hegel and Mill operate under defective logic. Their logic is subjectpredicate logic that uses a connector. Russell argues that this is a very limited logic. Hegel attempted to categorize all knowledge into categories that are related to the “Absolute.” In this way, Hegel could say all predicates are held in the absolute. This logic resembled Aristotelian logic in its structured form of subjectpredicates. However, Russell thinks that these forms of logic are a straitjacket. a. Russell says that a new logistic or mathematical logic is superior to traditional logic and can convey the greater subtleties that philosophers deal with. Russell explains that the subjectpredicate logic leads to confusion where we, for example, treat Platonic forms (which are universals) as particular things. It seems to be contradiction to say that all blue things share in the universal of blueness, then say that the universal is a particular universalthis is where the confusion lies. Russell wants to emphasize the need for a more flexible logic that is separate from natural language, because natural language can often not account for abstract conceptions in a very precise nature. b. Russell’s idea is that we can reduce everything we say into basic factual statements or logical statements. With Russell’s new logic we can find the smallest logical unit of information. i. To do this, Russell has to get rid of speculative metaphysics of absolutes universals and forms, among other things. Russell tries to deal with this by replacing generalities with sets of things. For example, we can have a bag of blue that all things blue belong to. If all the things in the set of blue have the similarity of being blue, then the set itself of blueness is not necessary as an entity or mysterious thing being blueness. In other words, to embody the set as a universal which all blue things share in, is not necessary. It is not necessary because if all that is required for abstraction is one similarity among many particulars, then membership in a set is enough; both membership in a set and sharing in the universal of blueness is superfluous. c. By approaching particulars with this method of sets, Russell gets rid of the ontology of forms and universals. The naming of an object in abstraction is only in that objects membership in a set. Russell calls this application of set theory the principle of abstraction. The principle of abstraction is that the membership of an object in a set identifies it similarity with other objects within that set. d. Russell finds that the abstraction principle, described with sets, fits well with the logistical/mathematical logic he seeks to develop. In application, when we look at subjectpredicate logic, we can identify the subject as a set and the predicate as another set. We can then relate one set to another. For instance, the set of blue is in the greater set of color. By separating the subjects and the predicates as individual sets we can analyze the content of a statement separately from the logical form of a statement. Simply, the new logic better distinguishes the logical relations of sets from the content of the sets themselves. Traditional logic attempted to reduce all knowledge to four types, which constrains what we can do with logic. The new logic reduces the tools of logic to match the simplest statements of knowledge (atomic propositions). 5. The simplest statements are facts. Facts are simple statements of reality. When we talk about facts, are not talking exactly about things, we talk about the way things are in their qualities and relations. a. A fact is true or false about reality. A proposition is a statement that is true or false. A proposition that expresses a fact is an atomic proposition. These facts are about the way reality so the atomic proposition is a statement that expresses reality through a fact….