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Phil 317, Week One Class Notes

by: Armando Ruiz

Phil 317, Week One Class Notes 317

Armando Ruiz
Cal Poly
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These notes cover Bertrand Russel's critique of Mill's solution to the problem of induction, Hegel's logic and traditional logic in general. It also covers Russel's account of abstraction and an in...
History of Analytic Philosophy
Dr. D. Kenneth Brown
Class Notes
philosophy, History of philosophy, Bertrand Russel, logic




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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….


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