PHIL 100 Notes

Table of Contents

These are Mark Polyakov's notes from taking Philosophy 100, Introduction to Philosophy, at the University of Washington during Autumn 2019.

1 Texts

1.1 Stebbing: Thinking to some purpose

1.1.1 Ch II

It is important to think before acting, even when action seems urgent.

When the occasional quick action is necessary, thinking still shows its purpose – have we thought about this sort of action before? Possible example: we watch movies about heroes so we feel like performing those heroic actions ourselves.

We must not act without thinking, nor let thinking too much prevent us from acting.

People of different nationalities, for example, often have a different view of so-called "facts", such as in which of the uncountably many ones they choose to recall and report and teh significance attributed to each.

Actions reveal the self.

CONCLUSION: People, as wholes, think. There is no "part" of them that thinks.

PREMISE: People hold jobs. Their thinking is influenced by those jobs. If thinking occurred in a separate part than working, this would not be so.

PREMISE: We refer to one as "a person worth knowing", for example. ???

PREMISE: (made through the rest of the chapter) a person's point-of-view is determined by the groups they associate with (country, church) and therefore is not some isolated, purified mechanism of the brain.

Thinking is the process of questioning and answering. Absolute or absolute lack of answers is impossible.

Many questions (once again, a question is one of the bases of thinking) conjure new questions as the answer to the first is investigated. It is a true art to determine which of these child question should be investigated and at which point the original question should take precedence.

People come from different viewpoints and are influenced by different groups. So what do they have in common? The ability to "argue"; the tendency to reject a contradiction. If we hold a contradiction in mind, it is only because we do not consciously realize it. /Objection: One can choose not to investigate a contradiction to the point where it would become impossible to believe./

To make a contradiction manifest, we must sometimes make clear a single, minor contradicting aspect of two beliefs, which leads to overall invalidation and disbelief of the larger beliefs as wholes.

Intelligence is defined as clarity of thought.

Syllogism: Two or more premises that entail a conclusion.

A truth for a class is true for its members.

When an answer suggests the same question it was proposed to resolve, that answer is most likely incorrect (eg, Aristotle suggested natural masters and natural slaves, but some slaves are natural masters, once again asking us how their use as a slave is justified).

THE BIG POINT: Answers sometimes require us to change our lives in a major way. We cannot assume that there is an answer which fits simultaneously with our morals, physical reality, and our present actions.

If intelligence is clear thinking, that thinking must not ignore inconvenient answers; that is not clear.

1.1.2 Ch III: A Mind in Blinkers

Challenge: Distinguishing a belief in ourself supported by evidence and one taken for granted. We also often believe something more strongly than the limited evidence in support of it warrants.

Obviously, a belief can be true but "unsound", i.e, not based in evidence.

We can only communicate and argue effective when points-of-view are remotely compatible.

CLAIM: Our occupation affects our thinking.

PREMISE: We think with our entire self.

PREMISE: What we do during our working day is a part of our self.

"Cherished beliefs" obviously pose a potential threat to clear thinking, but do not have to. A cherished belief is one which is pleasurable to us and of which a refutation would be distressing.

Two questions to ask about your own beliefs:

  • How did I come to believe this?
  • Without regard for the answer to the previous question, is this belief tenable?

CONCLUSION (without premises): Thinking clearly is worthwhile.

PREMISE (ok, maybe there is one): Stebbing would not have written this otherwise.

PREMISE (a better one): Unclear thinking entails (note the nested conclusions/premises!) unclear/muddied/bungled "doing", which can be shown by other means to be undesirable.

CONCLUSION: If two points-of-view differ too much, discussion between those holding these different points of view will be impossible.

PREMISE: None provided! Stebbing asks the reader to regurgitate a personal example.

Suppose you hold that thinking clearly is not worthwhile. Then your POV would be too different from Stebbing's to appreciate her text, and in turn you would not be reading it (or understanding it, at least). Thus, you must hold that thinkin clearly is worthwhile (maybe). But, if you did not hold that, then even this very argument would appear opaque.

DEFINITION: Holding a Prejudice: Believing something without any evidence when it is reasonable to seek supporting evidence.

BIG IDEA: Holding a prejudice precludes clear thinking.

A superstition fits Stebbing's definition of a prejudice, but many people interpret a prejudice as having to be a belief that benefits its believer – not universally true of superstitions.

A valid conclusion supported by valid arguments only exists when the person drawing the conclusion believes that it followed from the argument (i.e, not rationalization).

The way out of prejudice: Notice when you are becoming emotional and recognize you may not be thinking clearly.

When Stebbing speaks of "danger", she mainly means unclear thinking, and by extension unclear action.

CONCLUSION: It is detrimental to clear thinking to search for evidence that supporst a pre-existing belief.

PREMISE: The same conclusion, if true, ought to be reached by a neutral search for arguments.

PREMISE: Evidence against the pre-existing belief, and perhaps stronger than the evidence supporting it, will be suppressed. Thus (mini-conclusion), a partial view of the evidence is not good enough. If a partial view of the evidence is the only option, it is better a sample from all corners than a one-sided one.

BIG IDEA 2: We must justify or find evidence for a belief. Holding a belief without justification, even if it is true, is poor form.

1.2 Descartes: Meditations on First Philosophy

1.2.1 Synopsis

  1. First meditation

    It will be explained why we "can doubt all things". This makes it easy to separate the mind from its surroundings and to "[make] it impossible for us to doubt any further those things that we later discover to be true" (??)

  2. Second meditation and ramblings (focus on ramblings)

    We will learn of fundamental differences between the mind and the body; for one, that the body is a collection of small "substances" and can be broken into many pieces. It's hard to tell what this second meditation is going to be about, precisely, but it's something related to the existance and form of the mind and the contrast of that existance with the existance of the body.

  3. Third meditation

    God's existance will be proven. Nearly.

  4. Fourth meditation

    Definitions of truth and falsehood, and how we know what we perceive is true.

  5. Fifth Meditation

    Another proof of God's existance.

  6. Sixth Meditation

    A smorgasboard of proofs and claims.

1.2.2 First meditation: Concerning those things that can be cast into doubt

We will treat all opinions we cannot free of doubt in the same manner; there is no difference between something that is certainly and possibly untrue.

Most of the things that we think are certainly true are things that we directly observe, but the experience of dreaming shows that even the things we sense are not necessarily correct.

CONCLUSION: We cannot believe our senses.

PREMISE: Our senses can already operate in two completely different modes, awake and asleep, and there exists no surefire method of determining which mode our senses are operating in at this instant.

CONCLUSION: Dreams must be derived from some sort of reality.

PREMISE: Artists cannot devise something "utterly" new – at the least, they must re-use color.

CONCLUSION: Physics and astronomy are not necessarily true, but "arithmetic [and] geometry" are.

PREMISE: (see twice above conclusion) the most fundamental elements of the observed universe must exist.

PREMISE: Arithmetic and geometry build upon only the most fundamental elements of our observed universe.

COUNTER-CLAIM: A God may have created us to be deceived such that, although our world may have fundamental truths in it, we are unable to observe them, or observe them incorrectly ("may I not … be deceived every time I add 2 and 3 or count the sides of a square … ?"). This means, perhaps, that even these fundamental fields are in doubt.

REBUTTAL TO COUNTER-CLAIM: God is said to be good, and would not want to deceive us. (no evidence provided, hence why Descartes later throws out this claim).

CONCLUSION: If there is no God, we are deceived even more than if there is one.

PREMISE: Ability to be deceived is an "imperfection" or "mistake"

PREMISE: Things created by nature or chance have a high degree of imperfection.

PERSONAL REBUTTAL: But we must also doubt that imperfections are more likely by chance than otherwise, or that chance itself even exists.

When one believes things might be true, or deserve some doubt, we are inclined to believe these things almost automatically. Thus, we must assume them to be completely false to convince ourselves not to unwillingly submit to these doubtful ideas.

We will assume god is completely evil and tries to deceive us at every step.

1.2.3 Second meditation

CONCLUSION: We can know at least one thing for certain.

PREMISE: We can either find something that is certain, or be certain that everything is uncertain.

ALTERNATIVE PREMISE: We are already certain that certain things (such as the reality of our senses) are uncertain.


PREMISE: If a God is deceiving me, there exists a me for him to deceive.

PREMISE: If a God is not deceiving me, then my thoughts are true, and thus when I think I exist, I exist for there is an I to reference at all. Alternatively, as we are able to convince ourself of things (say, that the senses are false), there must be a self to convince.

We must be careful not to overstate our new knowlede, that I Exist, but incorrectly assuming what "I" refers to.

CONCLUSION: We cannot imagine what "I" am.

PREMISE: Our imaginations are based in the things we have sensed from the real world.

PREMISE: Nothing of the real world is true.

CONCLUSION: "I" can think; "I" am a thinking thing.

PREMISE: We made the thought, "I Exist"

Although our imaginings are based in that false "real" world, the very power of imagining is real and a part of ourselves.

PERSONAL REBUTTAL: Could imaginations not be supplied to us by the great deceiver?

Real things, which are part of the thinking we know we are capable of: doubting, desiring, imagining, sensing (although the contents of this sensing may be false, sensing itself is a sort of thought). In the words of Descartes' translater: "A thing that thinks. What is that? A thing that doubts, understands, affirms, denies, wills, refuses, and that also imagines and senses."

CONCLUSION: Our imaginations of a thing are not that thing.

PREMISE: We can only imaine specific examples and images.

PREMISE: The nature of a thing is governed by general rules, such as the rule that wax can take any form.

PREMISE: A rule cannot be understood from specific examples.

CONCLUSION: We understand what a thing is exclusively through thinking and the mind.

PREMISE: We do not understand a thing through its corporeal form.

PREMISE: We do not understand a thing through imaginings.

Descartes also notes that language itself can distract us from the nature of things – when it is said that "I see her", you really see the corporeal manifestation of her – yet the language implies the two are one and the same, something (if the assumption holds that the world is certainly false) we have proved not to be the case.

Descartes does not claim that our perception of the wax, or anything, that we form in our mind is correct – he is just stating its nature.

1.2.4 Third meditation: Concerning God, That He Exists

We have said we are "certain" of a number of things. We will show, later, that, once we "clearly and distinctly" perceive something (a term used to refer to our mental image of the wax in 2nd meditation), we are certain of it.

Perhaps the meditator will achieve this by provin that God exists, and is not a deceiver – then we can know that our clear and distinct perceptions are true, since there is no being that could tamper with them.

CONCLUSION: "Ideas" and "Wills" cannot be false. There is no notion of truthiness or falsiness for them.

PREMISE: If we have an idea, there is no argument to be had over whether the idea has been had. The content of an idea has no bearing on whether or not the idea has occurred to us.

CONCLUSION: "Judgements" do have elements of true and false.

PREMISE: We make judgements about the external world.

PREMISE: The judgements we make about the external world do not always manifest.

Judgements are what bridge our thoughts and the corporeal world.

Three types of ideas/judgements:

  • Innate: Ones we've always had.
  • Adventitious: Introduced by the world.
  • Produced by me: That we developed through our lifetimes.

It's time to look at the ideas that we believe to be adventitious and determine whether, as judgements, they are true; do the ideas match up with reality?

CONCLUSION: The ideas we get about the nature around us are not necessarily true.

PREMISE (example): The sun appears small, but is likely large (note Descartes background in the sciences).

COUNTER-PREMISE: It seems obvious that the idea we get of a real world object, from its shape, its feel, its smell, its temperature, are representative of that object's true nature. Why would it be unrelated?

CONCLUSION: Our perceptions of nature may not come from the external world and its objects but rather a "faculty" of our own minds which we do not yet consciously acknowledge. The fact that we do not "will" these perceptions, as we do imaginations, is not proof that they are truly adventitious.

To summarize the above conclusion in parallel structure to the one before it: The ideas we get about the nature around us are not necessarily initiated by that nature.

PREMISE: We have identified several internal sources of ideas and thoughts, such as our will and our imagination.

PREMISE: When we dream, some ideas about things enter our brains without the will, yet we seem sure these are not based in reality. This is an unnammed and misuderstood faculty.

conclusion I did not understand: About objective reality latter end of 40

"Light of Nature": Some compelling force that instills in us a sense that something is true. Perhaps the source of clear and distinct perceptions? Descartes emphasizes that our senses of the world (eg, that the fireplace is hot) are not functions of the light of nature, they are simply beliefs suggested to us.

CONCLUSION: A cause must have at least as much reality as its effect.

PREMISE: Something cannot come from nothing.

PREMISE: Reality has nowhere to come from, if not the cause (ok, this is the same as the last premise).

CONCLUSION: Something more perfect cannot come from something less perfect.

PREMISE: Perfection and reality are fundamentally correlated.

PREMISE: Previous conclusion.

PREMISE by example: A stone can only come from the material of a stone.

PREMISE by example: Something can only be heated by something hot.

(my) COUNTER-EXAMPLE: Fiction writing

(in-class) Clear and Distinct Perception: Self-evident, almost the definition of certainty.

CONCLUSION: Clear and Distinct thoughts are true.

PREMISE: I am certain I think and exist.

PREMISE: I am certain of such because I clearly and distinctly perceive it.

PREMISE: If CDP were not necessarily true, I would not necessarily exist.

Modus Tollens: Deny the consequences of an argument to refute it (in this case, the consequence of CDP being false would be uncertainty in own existance).

1.2.5 Fourth Meditation

CONCLUSION: God is good and would not deceive us.

PREMISE: Deception is malice.

PREMISE: Malice is an imperfection.

CONCLUSION: A "complete" and "independent" God Exists (yes, again)

PREMISE: I am "incomplete" and "dependent". I am also capable of doubt.

PREMISE: If something partial exists, something total must exist too.

CONCLUSION: God created me without an intentional ability to make mistakes.

PREMISE: God is not malicious and does not deceive.

PREMISE: Explicitly enabling one to make mistakes is a deception of sorts.

COUNTERPOINT: We are able to make mistakes.

CONCLUSION: Our ability to make mistakes is a lack of perfection, not an addition of some imperfection.

PREMISE: God is on one end of the spectrum, perfect and complete.

PREMISE: Nothingness is on the other end of the spectrum, completely imperfect and entirely incomplete.

PREMISE: We are in-between God and nothingness.

Thus, God did not intionally design us to make mistakes – he is the only being that cannot make mistakes.

Descartes is making a point about positive/negative here – negative attributes aren't real attributes, just a lack of their positive counterpart.

PERSONAL COUNTERPOINT: Why would God make anything imperfect at all?

1.2.6 Sixth Meditation

  1. In-Class

    Body is divisible, the mind and self are not.

    Ways to think about mind/body:

    • Substance dualism: Mind and body are fundamentally different (Descartes)
    • Property Dualism: Mind and body are part of the same thing, but differ in their properties.
    • Physicalism (Monism): Bodies are all there are.
    • Idealism (Monism): Minds are all there are. The real world is an imagining, perhaps. What about neuroscience? If the whole world is an imagining, whatever's "proved" empirically within it is unimportant.
  2. From reading

    CONCLUSION: The corporeal world exists.

    PREMISE: I "Clearly and Distinctly" perceive the real world (this does not mean it is real. I just perceive it).

    PREMISE: God can create anything i can clearly and distinctly perceive.

    PREMISE: We can imagine the real world.

    PREMISE: Our imagination builds upon things "immediately present" to it; things which exist.

    Explanation of imagination vs "intellection": A chiliagon (1000 sides) and myriagon (10000 sides) look the same when we imagine them, yet we intellectually understand their difference.

    CONCLUSION: The imagination is distinct from the mind

    PREMISE: Intellection and imagination are different.

    PREMISE: Intellection/understanding/thinking is what defines/necessitates the existance of self.

    Imagination may be something that occurs in the body. This, in a sense, proves the existance of the body.

    CONCLUSION: Our bodies/the corporeal world exists.

    PREMISE: Imagination might occur in a/the body.

    PREMISE: No other explanation for the faculty of imaination presents itself.

    Descartes admits that the above conclusion is not well-supported – the lack of an alternate hypothesis is not a strong proof. If you ask me, it seems like Descartes has proved that imagination could be independent from the mind, but has not ruled out the possibility that imagination is simply a non-essential faculty that still resides within the mind.

    QUESTION: What does Descartes mean: "material things exist … at least insofar as they are the object of pure mathematics" and "but I am in the habit of imagining tmany other things, over and above that corporeal nature which is the object of pure mathematics"? What is this distinction between the parts of corporeal nature that can be described by "pure mathematics" and that which cannot?

    CONCLUSION: The things we sense do not come from within (old belief, before meditating).

    PREMISE: Perceptions are more vivid than imaginings.

    PREMISE (alternate): We cannot will ourselves to sense something, or will to not sense something.

1.2.7 Objections

  1. George Lichtenberg: "There is thinking going on"

    but we cannot definitively show there is an "I"

1.3 Elisabeth: Letters to Descartes

1.3.1 In-Class

How can the mind move the body without contacting it?

Similarly, how can

1.3.2 Reading

  1. First Letter: Elizabeth -> Descartes

    I wish I was able to meet with you to discuss my concerns in-person!

    How can the mind move the body, when the mind is immaterial and all movements require contact?

    Alternatively, without contact (QUESTION: How would this work? Maybe a fan blowing?), there must be some "extension" (i.e, physical existance and physical properties) of the thing doing the pushing.

    The mind does not contact the body nor have an "extension" with special properties that might move the body.

  2. First Response

    Your letter is even better than meeting you in person, for I will not be distracted by your opulent home or unparalleled attractiveness!

    In my meditations, I focused on the existance of self since it reinforced my point about mind/body separation the best. But there is another truth to: The mind/body "act and suffer" together.


    While there are many things in our mind, they are all described by "originals" – very basic and general thoughts and concepts, like Points in geometry.

    Some of these originals apply to everything whatsoever – ideas of time/duration, of being/not being, and number/count.

    The only original that applies only to the corporeal, the body, is that of extension.

    The only original that applies only to the soul, the mind, is that of thought.

    The only original that is relevant to the discussion of the soul and body together is that of the "union" between them. Is this the conclusion? That the union cannot be explained, essentally sidestepping Elisabeth's question?

    Originals are distinct. Do not allow them to interfere. Eg, do not use the imagination (which only works for extended things) to try and understand the mind.

    Elisabeth is applying concepts which stemmed from the original of extension (how one "body" moves another "body") to that union of soul and body. A common mistake.

    The soul is like weight. Weight is a quality that is irrevocably tied to an object, and it's crazy to conceive that it's somehow a separate substance. Similarly, the soul can affect an object without needing to have a discrete physical substance.

    If I wrote more, I would insult your intelligence. Yet, of course, I cannot pretend this is a complete exploration of the topic. I will end writing here.

  3. Elisabeth -> Descartes 2

    You praise me too much – I have heard praise from people who invariably lie, which means that their praises must be false. It is because I know these praises are false that I do not hesitate to admit your corrections to my reasonings are correct.

    I do not follow your parallels between weight and soul. If weight can be shown to be completely immateial, then yes, there is some evidence. But given the current state of physics, it is just as likely that weight does have an extended manifestation that would suggest the soul must also be material (or, at least, fail to prove that it can be immaterial).

    If the soul is extended into the real world, then thinking can occur in the real world – something you posit is impossible.

    How could the reasoning of the mind be affected by "vapors" (drinks, etc) if it is not extended whatsoever?

1.4 David Hume: Enquiry

1.4.1 S2

  1. In-Class

    Sense Impression: What we feel when something happens.

    Sense Idea: Our memory/persistent thought that resembles a sense impression. Not as strong as an impression.

    When we make up something that does not already exist (Rock Candy Mountain), we are combining sense ideas that are rooted in the real world. This is a fundamental component of empiricism.

  2. Reading

    CONCLUSION: An imagining or remembering of a sensation never matches that sensation.

    PREMISE: By examples, eg poetry.

    Not only applying to sensations – emotions, desires, wills, etc also have distinctions between more lively and less lively, depending on whether we are living or thinking about them.

    Impressions: The "more lively" feelings – the ones that are "actually happening".

    Thoughts and Ideas: The imaginings, rememberings, or vicariously experienced renditions of impressions.

    CONCLUSION: Our wildest imaginations are actually lame reorganizations of thoughts and ideas which came from impressions and are, in turn, real. Truly original thought is impossible.

    PREMISE: Any complex idea can be broken down into simpler ones.

    PREMISE: The simplest ideas are the ones based in reality. (this isn't quite the way Hume presents the argument)

    Hume then asks for counterexamples, and claims he will break any down into its corresponding impressions.

    PREMISE (alternate): Blind men do not see colors (and related examples: Deaf men not knowing sound, Negroes not knowing wine, etc). Only those who have experienced a thing (had its impression) have thoughts and ideas to match.

    COUNTEREXAMPLE: Suppose we have never seen a certain shade of blue, then are presented with a gradient of all other shades of blue, in order, but the one we have never observed. Won't we then imagine it, despite never having had the impression? (interpolation)

    PERSONAL REBUTTAL TO COUNTEREXAMPLE: The blue is an augmentation of some lighter blue, or a diminishing of some deeper blue. Or, perhaps more simply, a combination of the surrounding blues.

    A new method of philosophy: If all ideas can be boiled down to impressions, then we should inquire as to what the impression behind philosophical terrms are whenever a term seems questionable, in order to discern its true nature.

1.4.2 S4, Part 1

Two types of knowledge: "Relations of Ideas" and "Matters of Fact". ROIs we are certain of; they can be rationally/logically deduced, much like Descartes' conclusions. Matters of fact are typically observed and cannot be proven.

Hume's Fork: Relations of Ideas and Matter of Fact exist in their own little worlds, and nothing may pass between them.

CONCLUSION: Any matter of fact I can distinctly conceive of may be true, and certainly cannot be objectively proven to be false. i.e, two matters of fact may not "imply a contradiction"

PREMISE: Things we have seen in the past are not guaranteed to continue existing in the same fashion indefinitely.

CONCLUSION: No matter of fact can be disputed by a relation of ideas.

PREMISE: It is impossible to prove a matter of fact false.

ALTERNATE PREMISE: Simple, "it can never imply a contradiction". I take this to mean that, since an invented object is novel and original, there is nothing that it can conflict with.

ALTERNATE PREMISE (sorta personal): Relations only connect to the real world through definitions and approximations which can sorta change.

This field of questioning "matters of fact" is new, and therefore I expect to make mistakes. Please, excuse me.

CONCLUSION: When we think about matters of fact and try to prove them, we invariably rely on the laws of cause and effect.

EXAMPLE: If we see a watch on a desert island (effect), we can only assume that it came from a person who crashed on that island before us (cause).

EXAMPLE: If we hear voices in the dark (effect), there must be a person (cause) doing that speaking.

EXAMPLE: If we feel heat (effect), we infer the fire (cause) and, going one step further still, the light (effect). So, effect -> effect relations are possible.

If all our understandings of matters of fact rely on cause and effect relationships with other matters of fact, it is crucial that we know cause and effect is true.

CONCLUSION: Understanding of cause and effect relationships come from repeated observation of those cause and effect relationships playing out.

EXAMPLE: Adam would not have known that you could drown in water, never bein told it and never having heard it from anyone.

EXAMPLE: One could not predict the difference in tensile and shear strength of marble.

EXAMPLE: One could not predict that gunpowder would explode.

EXAMPLE: There are cause-effect relations in the world that we acknowledge but do not have any "reason" for – provided: Why do men enjoy eating bread and milk, but tigers do not?

COUNTER: It seems everything is the result of simple rules, and knowing those simple rules we could dedice more complex cause-effect relations without observing them. (Essentially, Hume is saying that we have shown some cause-effect relations are the result of experience only, but we have not yet shown that they all are).

REBUTTAL PREMISE: Effects and causes are discrete.

REBUTTAL PREMISE: Our first "arbitrary" guess at an effect must be random.

REBUTTAL PREMISE: Even if "suggested" a possible effect (the true one) for a cause, we can think up a million other effects that are just as plausible until observed not to occur. For example, why should a rock move down towards the earth, instead of up?

PERSONAL EXAMPLE: We see a red drink, and assume it will taste fruity. This could be and sometimes is completely wrong; we gained this knowledge from experience.

PERSONAL: One may think that they infer the cause/effect of a complex machine by analyzing its parts, but they still required experiential knowledge of the cause and effects of those individual parts. Then, they apply the laws of cause and effect of what, say, the motion imparted on one gear when an interlocking one is spun. Applied many times, the effect of action on the larger machine is clearly shown by many simple cause and effect rules summed together.

CONCLUSION: The work of philosophy is to discover the broadest and simplest causes, then define more complex causes and effects in terms of those simpler ones. A "theory of everything" can never be discovered.

PREMISE: Causes and effects can only be determined by experience or as a combination of simpler sorts of these relationships.

PREMISE: An infinite chain of relationships defined by simpler relationships is not possible.

Thus, at one point, all our matters of fact knowledge are based in the simplest observations from the real world.

Hume predicts that the base observations from which all other relationships are formed are:

  • Elasticity
  • Gravity
  • Cohesion of Parts
  • Communication of Motion by Impulse

So, the work of natural philosophers are to break down other phenomena (lightning?) into these ones.

CONCLUSION: While mathematics are still in the realm of "relations of ideas" and thus hard to argue with, "mixed mathematics" (i.e, applied mathematics) still rely upon basic observations and our general principles of cause/effect.

PREMISE: Applied math relies upon relations between physical values.

PREMISE: The way these physical measurements interact could not be determined without observation.

1.4.3 S4, Part 2

We asked how we reason about matters of fact, and the answer was cause and effect. We then asked where we get causes and effects from, and the answer was experience. Now we must ask: "What is the foundation of all conclusions from experience"? (i.e, how do we go from experience -> conclusion (about cause and effect, presumably))

BIG CONCLUSION: There is no understandable or logical process that connects experience and the direct conclusions of experience (say, that impact imparts momentum).

We ate a piece of bread once. Our experience, strictly speaking, tells us only that this one piece of bread was edible. Our mind does not understand the connection between the consistency, color, smell, etc of the bread and the fact that it's edible: there's nothing about "brown and slightly mushy" from which directly follows the conclusion that we will be nourished. Somehow, the specifics of our experience must be translated into a general rule. Why do we make the jump from one piece of bread to other pieces of bread when we have no understanding of why its immediately obvious properties lead to its causes (nutrition)?

Hume admits his own flaw in reasoning here: By simply being unable to show the connection or "medium" between experience and cause/effect, he does not prove that such a medium cannot exist. He expects that, in time, many others will attempt and fail to identify this medium, helping to prove his point.

"Demonstrative Reasoning": reasoning about relations of ideas.

"Moral Reasoning": reasoning about matters of fact

Hume reiterates that demonstrative reasoning cannot be used for matters of fact.

Similarity between objects is the basis for our genealizations of cause and effect.

"sensible qualities" and "secret powers": The terms Hume uses for the surface level qualities (color, smell, form, texture) and the underlying functions or unintuitive properties (life, nutritional value, computational ability) of an object, respectively. We observe the sensible qualities, the causes, and somehow know about the unintuitive secret powers.

CONCLUSION (the big one): The way we could possibly show that the past predicts the future would rely on that very assumption that the past predicts the future.

PREMISE: We cannot reason about the real world, our experiences, or, more relevantly, the way that the future proceeds the past, in terms of demonstrative reasoning, and thus the only possible avenue for describing why the future proceeds the past is through moral reasoning.

PREMISE: Moral reasoning relies upon the assumption that the future proceeds the past.

Obviously, if we can't use demonstrative reasoning to show that the future follows the past, and we can't use moral reasoning either, there is no way to show this relationship logically whatsoever! It's complete magic!

How do we know that history repeats itself? Because in the past, history has repeated itself! Why couldn't Hume have put it this way?

The circular argument is a generalization, or stepping up a level. We provide evidence for the very notion of experiential reasoning from experience, thus it cannot be rational.

Hume mentions, once again, that his lack of an explanation for the reasoning that sits in-between experience and cause/effect understanding is not quite a proof that it does not exist. But he provides one more argument: If a baby is able to form these cause/effect relationships so readily, it should not be hard for a learned philosopher to understand the mechanism behind those relationships. After all, philosophers are quick to accept the reasoning that goes into demonstrative reasoning, which is also present in babies, so why is it so tough for them to identify the source of moral reasoning? Most likely because it does not exist. A complex explanation of moral reasoning is just as much an admission it does not exist as no explanation at all.

"Uniformity of Nature": Hume's term for the idea that the future predictably follows the past.

1.4.4 S5, Part 1

The philosophy of skepticism: Nobody wants to do it, and people even despise it because, in Hume's opinion, they are ruled too strongly by bodily wont.

Although "skeptical philosophy" is highly abstract and may seem to make our everyday life worthless, don't worry that this abstract reasoning will ever prevail over our daily and bodily needs or the demands of everyday life.

CONCLUSION: The above paragraph.

PREMISE: The mind performs a leap between experience and a cause/effect relationship.

PREMISE: Cause/effect relationships and moral reasoning feel just as strong as demonstrative reasoning.

So, a non-rational part of the mind is just as strong as the rational part. We'll investiate into this non-rational reasoning a bit more here.

When people say "Custom" to refer to "the way things are done", they use it as a dirty word; it's implied that there's some underlying reason behind the custom. But Hume suggests that Custom is the end; it is the tendency to repeat what has been repeated and to believe that what has been repeated will repeat. Custom is the term for that mysterious and indecipherable mechanism that connects experience and cause/effect understandings.

Hume renews the "ad infinitum"/turtle argument, but to a different effect: All reasoning about matters of facts in the past or future are based in some matter of fact directly observed by the senses; otherwise, it is the result of an inference on other facts which can be traced down to a present observation.

Custom is a part of "human nature" or "natural instincts".

1.4.5 S5, Part 2

CONCLUSION: The difference between "belief" and "fiction" (i.e, something imagined) in our minds is not some idea, which indicates truthiness, and that is attached to all our "beliefs"

PREMISE: Our mind can arbitrarily manipulate and rearrange ideas.

PREMISE: We cannot arbitrarily choose to believe or disbelieve things.

Hume says, then, that truthiness is a "sentiment or feeling"

He also claims that this "sentiment or feeling" is "annexed", or connected, to truths, not fictions. Presumably, this is because, since this sentiment or feeling is a product of natural interaction and not the willing mind, it would not be possible for it to be attached to fictions because there is no external event that occurs every time we conceive a fiction and which could attach this sentiment. PERSONAL: Why couldn't there be a sentiment that is attached to all our thoughts, then dropped from them upon observation?

Mechanism of attachment: We see object, we involuntarily imagine/think of the object, and whenever we think of and see an object simultaneously the sentiment clings onto it.

The sentiment is termed, simply, belief.

Custom is not just our ability to understand repetition – it's our tendency to repeat thoughts, as well. For example, when we see something, a "customary conjunction" leads us to think our corresponding idea.

CONCLUSION: Observing a thing not only strengthens our thoughts in it, raising them to the level of belief most of the time, but also strengthens the vigor of thoughts of things connected to the observed object (either by "resemblance", "contiguity", or "causation")

PREMISE (causation): The conclusion holds true for cause/effect relationships (causation), for how else, upon observing a billiard ball about to strike, does the thought of its target moving come to us so strongly?

PREMISE: Resemblance and contiguity are closely related to causation for these purposes.

PREMISE (contiguity): I think more clearly of something when I am a few miles from it rather than on a different continent, even though there is no direct observation in either case.

PREMISE (resemblance): Catholic services show us things that resemble Jesus and other objects of our worship. They are effective only because we feel closer with these resemblances than by just thinking of God.

Not quite a proof :| most of Hume's proofs in this section are simply tips to the reader on how to introspect in a way that will make his conclusion obvious to any human.

CONCLUSION: Observing an object only strengthens an idea of a related object if we believe in that related object.

PREMISE: By introspection; a picture of a friend, for example, will not strengthen our idea of that friend if we do not believe that friend to be real. PERSONAL: But doesn't it? What if we see a picture of a character whom we know to be fictitious?

QUESTION: What is the third-to-last paragraph saying? "We may observe, that, in these phaenomena…"

1.5 David Hume: Treatise (Personal Identity)

CONCLUSION: There is no such thing as self.

PREMISE: Self is, its proponents would say, unchanging.

PREMISE: Self is an idea

PREMISE: All ideas come from impressions.

PREMISE: No impression is unchanging.

Hume says that "self" is defined but our perceptions, in contrast to Descartes who claims it is defined by our thinking. In the same manner that Descartes says that we cease to exist if we cease to think, Hume says that we cease to exist if we cease to perceive, for if the self is produced by impressions and their subsequent ideas, there is no material for the self to be borne of if there are no perceptions.

PREMISE: Whenever we lack perceptions in real life, say when we are sleeping, we obviously cease to exist.

PERSONAL COUNTERPOINT: When one closes his eyes and plugs his ears and stays still, he continues to think. When perceptions end, ideas still remain.

The mind is a theater; it's quite different depending on what's playing. But Hume tells of the leaks in this analogy; the curtains of our cognitive theaters do not remain the same, nor the seats – the play is all there is.

COUNTERPOINT: We have a predisposition to believe in an idea of self.

Our ability to think of an object having a duration and our ability to think of a "succession" of discrete objects as being related are very similar, to the point of it being reasonable to assume that when we assign something a character (an "identity" or "identity of sameness"), it's usually not actually one object; it's many similar ones in succession. Eg: Boat where all parts are replaced.

Hume also says that when something we have assigned an identity changes to something vastly different, we have a propensity to find some characteristic that links it to the former self, even a different quality than we used to use to relate this series of objects. And, going further, we sometimes have make a "magical" connection between related objects when we cannot conjure such a relation.

CONCLUSION: Objects do not have any objective duration or identity; that is completely a product of the mind.

PREMISE: A wheel added to a bicycle changes its identity (personal example).

PREMISE: A wheel added to the Earth does not change its identity.

Thus, what does or does not constitute a change to an object is not constant or objective.

Alternate line of reasoning:

PREMISE: A large, quick change to an object corrupts its identity.

PREMISE: The same large change, split into small chunks applied sequentially over a long period, does not corrupt its identity.

Thus, if the same change to an object does not always result in the same change to the objects identity, there is no objective fine line between the old object and the new one.

COUNTERPOINT (to the alternate line of reasoning above): At one point, we will notice the cumulative changes, even if they are very slow (the straw that breaks the camel's back). Eg, if you gradually repaint a yellow house in darkening shades until it's green, at one point the owner is going to realize it's not yellow anymore.

REBUTTAL TO COUNTERPOINT: If you rebuild a ship, it's still the same ship. Personal note: Sure, this doesn't disprove the house-painting argument – but that need not be true in all cases. As long as there are some situations where a massive, gradual change is preferred to a massive, quick change in terms of maintaining identity, it is proved to be a cognitive phenomenon.

The reason the ship situation works is because its parts themselves are not the ships identity; the ship's identity is defined by the "shared purpose" of the parts.

Several more examples to make his point about confounding relation and identity: A church, burned and rebuilt with new materials, is the same church; a river is constantly renewed with new water…

1.6 Du Chatelet: Foundations of Physics

Context: Newton and his followers didn't like hypotheses – underlying explanations for phenomena which suggest experiments but ultimately cannot be proven true or false. Du Chatelet argues in defense of the hypothesis.

Critics argue lliwithat hypotheses are bad because they are often wrong and lead us into mistakes. Du chatelet uses example to show this is wrong: If there is a three-way fork in the road, it is impossible to determine which is right without trying them all.

Du Chatelet claims that we never would have discovered the theories of the movements of the planets without hypotheses, for, "if, to calculate the path of the celestial bodies, astronomers had waited untli the true theory of the planets had been found, there would be no astronomy now." But (PERSONAL), this isn't what Newtonians were advocating! They would have observed the movement of the planets then calculated the movement of the planets. Newtonians are not opposed to collecting data, if I'm not mistaken.

Hypotheses suggest experiements we otherwise would not have attempted.

1.7 Heather Douglas: Rejecting the Ideal of Value-Free Science

Most past discussion on value-free science assumes that, almost by definition of science, it is an ideal. Our author, however, will argue that it's not ideal – and how that does not invalidate or dumb down the objectiveness of science.

We'll discuss science that's used to inform policy decisions, not used for the development of new technology.

Decisions are made in science every day – how to collect data, which analyses to run on data, which data to collect…when informing policy, the wrong choice (an error) has consequences, and minimizing error requires weighing these consequneces and, thus, one's values.

Personal Example: Climate change. Scientists may choose to skew the data to make it seem like the world is warming because the consequences of preparing for a warming world are less severe than those of not preparing for it, then suffering from it in its full force. Our author would argue that's okay.

Author's example: Dioxin was fed to rats, but different follow-up studies, funded and ran by different organizations, disagreed on which rats had liver cancer and which ones had benign liver changes. Each group chose whether it was better to under or over regulate the use of the chemical.

CONCLUSION (premises/examples above): Scientists, when choosing how to deal with uncertainty, must introduce values to determine which uncertainties are acceptable and which are not.

COUNTERARGUMENT: Scientists don't choose which way for uncertainties to lean (i.e, overdiagnosing vs underdiagnosing heart attacks, as ER nurses do) – instead, they measure the level of uncertainty in their sources – whether those be other studies or raw data – and then use that to estimate the consequent error of their results. Additionally, this allows them to quantitatively determine which choices will minimize error.

REBUTTAL: It's often impossible to convert source uncertainty into result uncertainty, especially before making the methodological choices that must be made. Thus, scientists use values to choose with methodology they think will minimize uncertainty. They also use values to choose how they will calculate uncertainty.

REBUTTAL: To estimate the chance of error in a procedure not yet followed requires values, to determine what level of error is acceptable, for example. (not totally following this argument – can't we just minimize it? Douglas might argue back at me – they might over or under estimate the chance of the different options depending on how that would affect final results)

Addressing the counterargument of Hume's fork that separates fact and moral: The morals determine which facts we discover or the weight we assign to them.

Earlier, Douglas explained how non-scientists have to use judgements – nurses overestimate the chance of heart attacks to save more patients while judges like to acquit the guilty rather than prosecute the innocent.

COUNTERARGUMENT: Scientists should report, politicans should interpret.

REBUTTAL: Even "raw data" requires value judgements, eg rat liver example.

REBUTTAL: Only scientists have the knowledge to meaningfully interpret their own data.

COUNTERARGUMENT: Scientists should not have to think about consequences, because they report the truth less well that way. They could do this if society agrees that science is always a top priority, or if we have supervisors for scientists who deal with the value implications of their work.

REBUTTAL: Our society has chosen that "epistemic" goals are not categorically more important than non-epistemic ones – hence why we do not allow wanton human and animal experimentation, and why our government does not spend most of its funding on science.

REBUTTAL: We have shown that value-based choices must be made throughout the scientific process, not just at the beginning or end. So this supervisor must be intimately involved with the process at all points, which is infeasible.

Building on the last rebuttal, a supervisor who isn't as scientific as the scientist would not know all of the decisions that need to be made – scientists, by analyzing values and, for example, determining how their research may interfere with those values, discover errors and potential solutions. Author's example: Scientists thought that nuclear tests might "ignite the atmosphere" and ruled out the possibility. How could a supervisor have made that choice when they couldn't even have conceived its possibility?

"Objective" is a big concept – and only a few, narrow definitions of it demand it be mutually exclusive with values.

Objectivity in human-world relationships:

"Mutable Objectivity" – we can bend something to our will, and use it as a tool. Eg, the electron microscope proves the electron exists in some capacity.

"Convergent Objectivity" – we can observe the phenomena in many independent ways and it seems the same.

Objectivity in "individual thought processes":

"Detached Objectivity" – not letting values take the place of evidence. I'm not sure how this can serve as a definition for objective.

"Value-Neutral Objectivity" – Picking values that are not unreasonably strong in any way or another, when values must be used. Eg, if doing a nuclear power study, one observing this style of objectivity might wish to make decisions with a healthy skepticism of nuclear power safety, acting neither as a wanton advocate of it or shying away from it due to emotion alone.

Objectivity in social processes:

"Procedural Objectivity" – different people get the same results. i.e, write your procedure so that anyone can follow it!

"Concordant Objectivity" – Group agreement without premeditation or persuasion; natural concurrence. Aka, intersubjectivity. People come to the same conclusion without collaborating.

"Interactive Objectivity" (coined by Douglas) – Group agreement after fair and extended discussion and argument.

Seven definitions of objectivity, and even the two that mention values are not incompatible with them. Why ditch values just because of an eighth?

1.7.1 In-Class

  1. Types of vales
    1. Epistemic

      truth, accuracy, etc

    2. Cognitive

      How tools work, feasibility, etc

    3. Social

      How will it affect society, how will it affect how people treat me.

    4. Moral

      What's right and wrong.

1.8 Kevin Elliott: What If We Are Uncertain?

James Hansen: Advocated for immediate action on climate change in the 80s in front of Congress, when many of his scientific peers claimed there was not enough evidence to be completely sure (and risk "crying wolf" to Congress).

Critics say that Hansen let values into his work, while the more cautious scientists, rightly, didn't include values. But they just had a different set of values: They didn't want to break Congress' trust. And why did they even care about Hansen's claims at all, if they lacked values? Aren't values and opinions incompatible? (personal)

Colborn case: Made certain chemicals sound dangeous to humans even though they had only been tested on animals. Similar response as to Hansen.

Kangas case: Gave a talk saying extinction as a result of deforestration might be underestimated. Was criticized by a Reed Noss for the potential of deforesters using his study as a justification for increasing deforestration. (opposite of the other two cases)

We can't choose "maximize objectivity" (i.e, avoid any interpretation, whether too cautious or too liberal) (i.e, "clean-hands-science" approach) because we are, really, choosing to be too cautious.

Additionally, being objective and not interpreting leaves the interpretation up to people who are horribly unqualified to do it – they are likely to not interpret it at all or interpret it more poorly than even the most incompetent scientist.

"Advocacy" approach: Be bold with conclusions. Like Hansen and Colborn.

Shrader-Frechette approach: "Objective" not only means presenting the data – it also means preventing misinterpetation of that data. This justifies interpetation of data on the behalf of the scientists, as long as the shortcomings of those interpretations are stated.

Is this Shrader-Frachette approach, the "Modified clean-hands-science" approach, the "qualified" appoach, the "acknowledging" approach, the "heding" approach, the solution? No – while a scientist with attention, using these mechanisms, might produce an ideal result (i.e, no lack of trust in science while inciting substantial action and public understanding of science), scientists taking such an approach generally don't get that prerequisite attention. So, by choosing this approach, a scientist implicitly chooses the caution approach, to some extent, because they know their results will not be interpreted as strongly as they put it. Additionally, qualifications are often dropped through the media (or several branches down the grape vine) leaving only the strong, straightforward, exaggerated message behind.

(personal): Interpetations can be strong, but should be clearly delineated from data and statements of uncertainty.

Direct value influence: Scientists endeavor to find one result or another regardless of what data they collect. "Values are treated as if they are a form of evidence"

Indirect value influence: Scientists change their standards of uncertainty based on what result they would prefer. i.e, choosing statistical significance level lower if they want to find the alternate hypothesis, and making it tougher when they wan to find the null hypothesis.

Douglas coined the two above terms and advocated for the use of indirect values, going so far as to say scientists must allow indirect value influence to be as socially and ethically responsible as a non-scientist.

Four pathways for indirect value influence ("standards of evidence"):

  • Demanding different amounts of evidence (P-value).
  • Weighing evidence from multiple studies differently (eg, how to weigh animal studies).
  • Interpreting data differently (rat slides).
  • Assumptions and extrapolations (eg, that the effects of a high dose of a drug will have proportionally decreased effects even in a small dose).

Only some of these four influences can be mitigated by delegating data interpretation to policymakers; P-values and extrapolations can be deferred, for example, but intepretation is tougher. Occasionally, any of the four categories can include tasks that are difficult for policymakers to perform effectively.

Making indirect value influence choices in a group helps make them more reasonable and better suit society as a whole, rather than a single scientist who makes those choices (eg, setting P-values or tumor identification standards).

Distinctions between science for scientists and science for policymakers, non-scientific magazines, legal cases, etc are important and help minimize spurious social values in science-for-scientists research. Eg, Hansen's testimony may have been suitable for a testimony to Congress, but never would have been accepted as a written conclusion to an academic paper.

Transparency about what standards of evidence are and why they were set that way is a plus and helps justify strange or value-laden choices. Eg, a disclaimer about the horrible economic consequences of a false positive of finding coffee carcinogenic (personal example). "In sum, it is probably best for scientists to learn to be more explicit about their standards of evidence and their reasons for setting them in particular ways. e Types of Philosophy

1.9 Jerrold Sadock: Speech Acts

1.9.1 Intro

Speech Acts: Doing things through speech. Yeah, we're just moving our vocal cords, but all the while we may be declaring war (or worse, divorce!)

Convention: We say what we mean: "Good-Bye!" or "Pass the Salt!"

Intention: We mean something other than what we say and assume that our audience will infer that meaning. Author's e.g: Say that a chocolate was very good to thank the person who gave you a box of them.

Attempted speech acts may deliver the wrong point or no point at all, whether they rely on convention (imagine a speaker of another language) or intention.

1.9.2 Austin's How to Do Things with Words

  1. Types of statements
    A statement to do something.
    A statement to say something.

    Austin argued there's no fine line barrier between these, and that all statements are both performative and constative to varying degrees.

  2. Types of acts

    All under Performative statements.

    Speaking itself. The act of thinking about diction, grammar rules, etc.
    An act the very process of speaking itself performs. I.e, as soon as the speaking is done, so is the act. When we state something, the illocutionary effect is that we have stated that thin. When we ask someone to pass the salt, the illocutionary act is that the salt was requested.
    The physical (non-mental) effects of speaking. If we ask someone to pass the salt, the perlocutionary effect is that they actually pass the salt.


    Speech Locutionary Illocutionary Perlocutionary
    "Shoot her!" He said "shoot", meaning fire a gun, and "her", meaning that woman. He urged/advised me to shoot her. I shot her.
    "I do." She said "do", meaning agree. She agreed to the wedding vows. Other people believe and acknowledge she is married.
    "I christen this vessel the U.S.S. Polyakov" " I named the ship. The name of the ship is painted on the side, other people refer to the ship by its name.

    While Austin had trouble differentiating between types of statements, he was fine with sharp distinictions between the types of acts.

    How do you differentiate between the perlocutionary and the illocutionary? According to Austin, all illocutionaries can be "made explicit", i.e, even if it's not clear what the illocutionary of a certain sentence is, it is possible to construct a sentence that most certainly has that illocutionary. For example, in a war, the sentence "Get down!" seems to have an illocutionary of warning someone about a firing enemy. How do we know this is a valid illocutionary? Because there exists the sentence "I warn you that there is an enemy firing on us!" However, Sadock has a problem – we are only proving that this illocutionary can be an illocutionary, not that this illocutionary applies to the sentence is question ("Get down!")

    It can be argued that the warning is perlocutionary – a natural response to the scary warning to get down.

    PERSONAL QUESTION: What is "conventional?"

    Author's rebuttal to Austin: Threatening is illocutionary, but a simple sentence stating a threat (author's eg: "I threaten you with a failing grade") is not enough to make it so. Personal: Why not? Sure, saying "I threaten you with a failing grade" doesn't work if you aren't a teacher, but christening a ship or declaring a marriage don't work without the proper role, either. I think this is about to be addressed…

  3. Failures of speech

    When a constative fails, it is incorrect or untrue. If I say "The sun is red", I am making a primaily constative statement, and it is false. When a performative fails, it is, as Sadock puts it, "infelicitous". If I, for example, declared a marriage, my statement would be false, but would still be invalid, for it is not performing what it seems I am intending for it to perform.

    Austin defines three modes of failure:

    Declaring a marriage when one is not a priest. i.e, one is not allowed to perform the act, or the act is unperformable.
    An act is allowed, but not performed correctly, despite the speech. Eg, a priest who says the wrong names during a marriage ceremony doesn't wed the people at hand, despite her best effort.
    Insincerety, primarily, but any situation where the act is performably and performed correctly but does not have the usual effects or induce the typical feelings.

    Austin claims there is no fundamental difference between a failed constative and a failed performative. He says, for example, that if we assert that something is true, then are wrong, the performative of assertment is deemed "false".

    (sorta unelated) Many have tried and failed to find the "performative formula" (maybe a sentence structure or pattern of words) that yields purely performative sentences.

1.10 Ryan Muldoon: Free Speech

METANOTE: Throughout this entry I will use PRO to indicate pro-free-speech arguments and ANTI to indicate anti-free-speech arguments. These are premises for the big conclusions, often supported by little conclusions mentioned throughout this entry.

Two primary things happen at colleges: Creation of knowledge (research) and dispersion of knowledge (teaching). There is a third role, however: Campus community. The left says an unrestricted community interferes with intellection by making students feel unwelcome or insecure while the right argues that unrestricted community maximizes intellection by maximizing the spread of all ideas, no matter how unpopular or disturbing. After all, ideas are the basis of intellect and knowledge.

Both left and right agree: The intellectual and communal functions of a college are in "tension".

CONCLUSION (by Mill): Speech we do not like is good for us.

PREMISE: If the speech we do not like is correct, we can improve the clarity and correctness of our views.

PRREMISE: If the speech we do not like is incorrect, we "better appreciate" why it is wrong by the process of arguing against it.

CONCLUSION (by Mill): It is useless to have a correct idea without knowing why it is correct.

PREMISE: One cannot develop new applications for an idea without comprehending that idea's background.

PREMISE: Without applications, an idea is useless.

CONCLUSION (by Mill): Having a "free market" for ideas is good.

PREMISE: Only correct ideas with satisfying explanations will survive in a marketplace.

PREMISE: Only correct ideas with satisfying explanations are worth keeping.

PREMISE (additional): Defending and attacking ideas in a marketplace develops one's skills for reasoning.

PRO: Only the good ideas survive in a free speech world.

PRE: Free speech builds up argumentation and reasoning skills.

COUNTERARGUMENT: The marketplace of ideas can be beneficial in the medium-long term, but in the short term even the most easily dismissable ideas can be highly damaging to sensitive or targeted individuals.

To support the above: If we allow ourselves to argue about, say, holocaust denial, then we are admitting that it is reasonable to discuss, even if we ultimately dismiss the idea.

ANTI: Free Speech can undermine other free speech – if we allow a racist speech to directly precede a speech by a black man or woman, it will linger in our minds and prevent full and proper interpretation of the black man's speech.

Essentially: The nature of the marketplace of ideas itself can be threatened by ideas within said marketplace.

Circular, too: If someone attacks women, women are most likely to attempt to defend themselves, but they are now somewhat discounted.

ANTI: The free marketplace of ideas encourages attacking opponents to prevent them from presenting arguments with affect rather than solely attacking ideas.

Analogy for ^^^: Soccer players being trained to mess with the ref rather than play the game.

Both of these ANTI arguments are closely related – they both say that a free marketplace of ideas undermines the ideals that very marketplace sought to promote.

CONCLUSION: We cannot regulate speech on the basis of whether it "undermines" the ability of a group to participate in the marketplace of ideas.

PREMISE: There are some voices that most participants in the marketplace would like to exclude: holocaust deniers, again, are used as an example.

PERSONAL PREMISE (sorta): Mutual exclusivity between certain groups exists in this free marketplace. For example, a racist would undermine a person of color, but any solution must involve undermining the racist. Thus, it is impossible not to undermine someone.

PREMISE (see above): The author makes my point with a different example: Devout christian vs homosexual. "disagreements about which argument is meant to undermine the other"

We see this every day: People claiming conservatives are belittling immigrants, then conservatives claiming to be the on-campus minority that is being belittled.

The author goes a teensy step further in saying that any attempt to regulate free speech on campus requires taking values and taking sides, which is unacceptable for a public institution.

Interesting: Diverse groups perform better, but homogenous ones think they perform better. The author posits that this is, in part, due to:

  • Wider range of knowledge.
  • Critical-er thinking (people kept on their toes by their diverse colleages).

CONCLUSION: The tension between free speech (intellection) and community is inherent in the collegiate model.

PREMISE: Free speech seems to support intellection the best, via Mill

PREMISE: Free speech negatively impacts communities by excluding them from discussion, the inevitability of which was discussed with the two-party mutual-exclusivity principles above. The author aptly terms this "zero-sum".

The author's solution is pretty dumb: Let people split into groups and have free speech discussions within those like-thinking groups. Then they can apply their own values for determining who's undermining who, I guess? Then, the college can draw a hard line at defending the inclusivity of each of these communities, rather than having to play the pick-and-choose-who's-acceptable-game that they would with everyone together.

Personal problem: Aren't you just delegating to the subgroups to choose who's acceptable? You may say they can choose values, but in response I say what about a group that wishes to foster community and intellection, as the campus' original goal was?

Personal problem: Splitting into groups kills diversity. The author would argue that speech would still primarily be "global" across communities, but the effect of undermining would be more limited because people can always take refuge in their communities and know they are respected and their ideas are valued.

1.11 Mary McGowan: Silencing

1.11.1 Academic types of silencing

  1. Political Correctness

    People are afraid to say things because they fear they will be jided for not being politically correct.

    1. Example

      "Terrie": In a liberal school, with liberal classmates and a liberal professor, "Terrie" chooses not to speak her true opinions on capital punishment in an ethics class because she believes her classmates would not react well to her pro-death-penalty stance.

  2. Microagressions

    People do subtle things, unintentionally, that cause harm over time to a minority group. Eg, someone asking you "where are you from? Originally?"

    1. Example

      EXAMPLE (Microagression) "Harry": Harry is one of two Asian students in a class, and he doesn't look like the other student at all. Yet, his professor keeps mixing up their names. Harry stops talking in class because this is "alienating". DEFINITION: Offense – an internal state or feeling. DEFINITION: Harm – an objective making-worse-off of.

1.11.2 Types of Silencing in general

Some philosopher claimed that pornography silenced women, which led to a number of texts delving into how silencing works. A few types of silencing were developed.

  1. Communicative Interference

    Two people must be "on the same page" (not McGowan's words) in order to communicate well, hence why Heptapod communication was hard and why, if a guy doesn't understand that "No" means "No", women might have trouble communicating a refusal to him. McGowan provides four examples, all building on the woman's "No":

    • Guy doesn't realize "No" means something (i.e, that it has an illocutionary act).
    • Guy thinks "No" means "Yes"
    • Guy thinks she's kidding
    • Guy thinks she doesn't have the "authority" to refuse

    This model can't explain our academic silencing because there was never even an attempt to speak on the behalf of our victims.

  2. Communication Prevention

    There are, for example, physical or legal ways to prevent someone from speaking, which we are not interested in here. Rather, we fascinate ourselves with why someone might disagree to speak, but due to their surroundings:

    • Disagreement: People just don't want to bother with it.
    • Anticipated Testimonial Quieting: We anticipate our speech won't hold any sway, more due to the fact that we are saying it than that the speech is poor. Very common when the person being silenced is a minority group.
    • Testimonial Smothering: In contrast to the above, a worry that one's speech will be taken too seriously and reinforce "unjust social hierarchies". For example, if I admit that one of the DnD players on the third floor of Haggett isn't particularly slender, it reinforces the fat tabletop gamer stereotype that I don't love.
    • Anticipated Communicative Failure: If you know someone's going to misunderstand you, why bother talking to them? Same reason I don't say everything to Dad, although that's not quite "silencing".

    All but "disagreement" involve "incompetent audiences".

1.12 Luvell Anderson: Hermeneutical Impasses

DEFINITION: Hermeneutical Impasse A big word for "misunderstanding". The parties involved still must communicate successfully, but not have the same understanding of that communication.

1.12.1 Types of Hermeutical Impass

  • Different languages, or "mediums of exchange". Solution: Provide a shared medium, eg through a translater or a third language both parties know.
  • Different dialects or jargon. Differing "hermeneutical resources", more formally. Eg, an inside joke, or Australian slang. Solution: Once again, translation, or perhaps
  • Word understanding, but not phrase understanding. Eg, a dense text. Solution: Psych! There ain't an easy one. Often, this would be due to a fundamental misunderstanding of the prerequisite concepts or the writer's culture.
  • When multiple interpretations are possible, picking the unintended one. According to our author, this is because of prejudice. That may, however, be due to a hermeneutical impass between the author and myself – maybe they mean to say that this category is only for prejudice-caused impasses and thus always involves prejudice by definition, while I took it to mean all alternate interpretations of a statement.

1.12.2 How Hermeneutical Impasses come about

  1. Willful Impasses

    Refusals: When the receiver refuses to understand something, eg by not investigating its purpose. Why I don't understand systemd units, for example.

    Deliberate Obfuscation: When the sender intentionally makes their message difficult to understand or hides its primary message behind an ostensible one.

  2. Unwillful Impasses

1.13 John Rawls: A Theory of Justice

1.13.1 In-Class

Social Contract: If everyone were rational and equal, what they would agree upon.

Original Position: The hypothetical state of the world where people choose the principles of society and the social contract. Everyone is free, rational, and equal.

Veil of Ignorance: The people in the original position choose without knowledge of group membership, class membership, etc. This is part of the definition of everyone being "equal". This sorta forces people to follow the golden rule.

1.13.2 At Home

Original Position: We are unaware of our social class, our race, etc; this is the "veil of ignorance".

Somehow, Rawls shows that, from the original position, people will naturally come to instill two-to-three principles into society:

  • Difference Principle: Inequalities can only exist if they benefit everyone, even the worst off.
  • Equal Opportunity Principle: Inequalities are only achieved through "equality of opportunity" (eg, election instead of inheritance). Somewhat meritocratic.
  • Greatest Equal Liberty Principle: Maximum liberty except where it interferes with the liberty of others.

Rawls also ordered these rules:

  1. Greatest Equal Liberty Principle
  2. (2b) Equal Opportunity Principle
  3. (2a) Difference Principle

He said that it does not matter how nice things are in the latter categories if their prerequisites are not filled, and that the people negotiating the social contract from the original position would never trade the upper principles for the lower ones.

1.14 Robert Nozick: Anarchy, State, and Utopia

Argued for a bit more of a state than the anarcho-capitalists do; a private military and protection service provider would become dominant and act as a state, according to Nozick

1.15 Amia Srinivasan: Stop the Robot Apocalypse

CONCLUSION: Philosophy shouldn't try to change the world.

PREMISE: Philosophers like to go to extremes. Extremes, if applied to the real world, can seem atrocious or indefensible.

"Effective Altruists" give lots of money to charity, but carefully study how their money will be used to make sure it's being used effectively. They also (yes, in real life) choose careers based on how it will maximize good – better to become a banker and donate money than work for a nonprofit in a position many others are qualified for.

Qalys are "Quality Adjusted Life Years". One Qaly is a full year in good health (fuck, I'm running through these things like toilet paper!).

Although she hasn't jumped into the heart of her argument yet, Srinivasan makes a jab at Qalys already – dialysis patients rate their quality of life at 56% but people who aren't on dialysis rate it a 39%. Do dialysis patients know what 100% means? Do normal people know what being on dialysis involves? Who makes these choices. PERSONAL: Happiness is relative and these are all bullshit. If you ask a person with serious health issues but a loving family, some hobbies, etc who's overall happy what they consider their percentage quality of life to be, they'll probably rate it lower than a wealthy, healthy, and unhappy person because each of these people know what their quality of life "should be". Societal roles and shit.

In addition to counting qalys, we should consider:

Marginal Value: Value in relation to existing value. Eg, the average bridge over Lake Washington sees a lot of traffic, but that doesn't mean we should build another one. The average value is high, marginal value is low. Alternately: We're trying to play a game of Werewolf but only have 5 players. Both the average and marginal value of players are important; every player plays a significant role in the game and even a single additional player will add substantial nuance and strategies.

Counterfactual Value: What would happen if you did nothing? The argument, of course, is that we should act in a way that maximizes value compared to if we did nothing. So it makes no sense for two people to do CPR at once, for example. PERSONAL: But if we do the CPR, the other person will find something else to do, like call an ambulance or fetch an ice box for the poor guy's organs. The good reaches the same sum, whoever does the CPR. We must consider how other people consider counterfactuals, in other words, which usually nullifies them.

Replaceabiliy Thesis: One tenet of counterfactual thinking, especially as it relates to choosing a job. "If I become a banker and donate my money, there's good. If I don't, someone else will but won't donate"

Srinivasan's first angry: MacAskill assumes everything can be fixed within the bounds of capitalism and from his home-sweet-home. He's so sure everything has a solution that fits within his world-view.

COUNTERARGUMENT: The best things to do might not have measurable good and thus will never be done.

PREMISE: Large, radical changes cannot be scientifically measured.

PREMISE: Large, radical changes have the potential for great good.

COUNTERARGUMENT: Effective Altruism can be made to tell us what we want to hear.

PREMISE: X-risks, like a meteor destroying the earth, pose a huge threat in terms of Qalys.

PREMISE: Slightly decreasing the risk of an already unlikely x-risk is more beneficial than doing real-world good today.

PREMISE: It's easy to come up with an arbitrary X-risk

So, google engineers say we need to do more AI research to prevent it from going haywire and NASA employees say we need a stronger asteroid redirection force. Oh well…

COUNTERARGUMENT: EA doesn't look at the big problems.

PREMISE: Big problems and their solutions can't be measured in a lab – we can't control them.


COUNTERARGUMENT: EA, at least as peddled by MacAskill, doesn't really do the most good.

PREMISE: MacAskill recommends starting with a 10% donation.

PREMISE: A more than 10% donation would do more good.

PERSONAL REBUTTAL: MacAskill is just doing his part to maximize good because he knows that the best way to convince other people to do good isn't to tell them the truth – in this case, that more than 10% is best.

COROLLARY: If EA doesn't want us to maximize good by becoming "extreme altruists", it isn't novel.

PREMISE: Almost everyone wishes to increase good.

PREMISE: EA aims to increase good.

PERSONAL COROLLARY/COUNTERARGUMENT: EA maximizes good per dollar or per hour, but other systems where we put in more hours or more dollars may be more effective overall.

PERSONAL COUNTERARGUMENT: EA wouldn't work if everyone did it – if all humanity does is donate to deworming agencies, there's nobody left to de-worm!

COUNTERARGUMENT: You are important and EA doesn't care.

This one's a bit too ethical to back up with premises.

REBUTTAL (hypothetical, from MacAskill's viewpoint): It's ok to help you friends under EA because EA doesn't demand maximum good – just a lot.

DOUBLE REBUTTAL: That doesn't justify EA. Even if you hadn't completed any good recently, it's always ok to help your friend.

MacAskill calls personal connections "arbitrary" – what a motherfucker.

This reminds me of "The Cold Equations" science fiction story. I need to read that sometime.

COUNTERARGUMENT: EAs only look at individuals. They also discount the effects of everyone becoming an EA. Partially, this is because that's how algorithms and quantitative stuff works – by the unit.

COUNTERARGUMENT (not by Srinivasan, some letters or somethin'): There are unintended consequences of choosing weird, unintuitive actions. Eg, mosquito nets being used to decimate animal populations.

COUNTERARGUMENT (idk who came up with this one. It might've been me): When we do something counterintuitive, it makes us feel so smart and fuzzy inside. But unintuitive is often wrong.

PERSONAL: Don't we owe something to everyone, not just those most in need?

PERSONAL COUNTERARGUMENT: If everyone donates to the same, effective things in the same, effective ways, we'll never discover new good things. Research on new hydroponics may not have proven itself worthwhile yet, so it won't get funded. We can't possibly guess the probability of it being significant.

1.16 Susan Wolf: Meaning in Life & Why it Matters

The demarcations between sections below are my own.

1.16.1 Background

Two models of human motivation:

  • Egoist: Completely self-motivated.
  • Dualist: Partially self-motivated, partially motivated by something higher. For Kant, that something higher was "pure reason".

Models of reason ("practical reason"):

  • Rational Egoism: We are rational iff it benefits us.
  • Dualist: We think about the needs, wants, etc of the universe. We think from the "point of view of the universe" and what would be rational for everyone and everything, all the time. Wolf classifies things like justice and duty as existing only in the eyes of the universe, under this dualist perspective. Roughly, these categories align with happiness and morality.

People seem to do things and rationalize for another reason to: To give some sort of meaning to their lives, or to make their lives worth living. Wolf plans to spend most of her essay describing what these reasons are and wouldn't want to spoil it, but she tells us right away that meaning /= happiness.

Goal: Explain meaning and why we should want it.

Maybe self-interest and morality, which we claim to already understand, will seem different after understanding meaning.

1.16.2 Reasons of Love

There are things we do that neither serve the greater good nor provide some obvious benefit to the self. Wolf attributes our motivation for these things to "reasons of love". Not just loving people: Hobbies can be boring and morally fruitless. Loving a person or pursuit justifies it and explains it.

Reasons of love gone wrong: Incorrect application of love (i.e, our actions don't benefit the loved object) or loving where love isn't deserved.

Wolf claims that when we act for reasons of love towards an object that deserves such love, we are acting in a "justified" and "important" way.

Definition of meaning? "Loving objects worthy of love and engaging with them in a positive way."

1.16.3 Subjective and Objective

Another definition of meaning? "Meaning arises when subjective attractino meets objective attractiveness"

Wolf calls endlessly working on crossword puzzles meaningless…grr

It's not enough to "recognize" that something is valuable and to believe in it. If you say you're Christian when someone asks but you've never prayed, you aren't living a meaningful life.

The endoxic method: Instead of using known facts to support our conclusion, we use our conclusion to support a commonplace belief then take tha as evidence for our conclusion.

Endoxic method for Wolf's meaning: People say you should "do what you love" and get involved in something "larger" than oneself. These correspond, respectively, to the subjective and objective components of Wolf's meaning.

When we think our lives meaningless, we refer to a lack of subjective value. When we think another's life meaningful, we refer to its objective value.

PERSONAL: Subjective = egoist, Objective = moral. Wolf hasn't shown well that meaning is its own thing, yet, just the union of the other two.

PERSONAL: If meaning is not synonymous with self-interest, then why do we want to do it? Same thing goes for morality, too.

  1. The Fulfillment View (Subjective)

    This is a view of meaning not held by Wolf. It's the "do what you love" half of the "popular view" of meaning (the other half being the advice to get involved with something "larger" than oneself)

    Fulfillment: Opposite of "boredom" and "alienation"

    Fulfillment is good, but not necessarily happy or gleeful.

    Fulfillment seems to explain why some people with good jobs and a happy marriage still lack "meaning", and thus fulfillment alone can be a definiton of meaning. But, it's really darn similar – just maximizing one feeling instead of another (happiness).

    CONCLUSION: Fulfillment cannot be the entire definition of meaning.

    PREMISE: Fulfillment doesn't care what activity spawned it.

    PREMISE (by example): Some activities cannot be a part of a meaningful life. Eg, what if sisyphus was fulfilled by rolling his stone back up the hill? Or if someone was fulfilled by playing sudoku?

    Wolf correctly claims that it might be hard to accept the last conclusion because it involves making a claim about someone's life that is inconflict with their own belief about it. How can we know someone's life better than they do? She uses the "Sisyphus fulfilled" counterexample to show that it's ok to believe someone else's life meaningless.

  2. The Larger-Than-Oneself View (Objective)

    Larger than oneself? More important.

    But what if we dedicate our lives to caring for one person? They are not more important than ourselves. Or worse, how can we measure the importance of a hobby against the importance of our precious selves?

    More important? Independent, alien. Something that would go on without you. Something you are not an integral part of. Those last few points are personal and aren't so much qualifiers of something meaningful (you, personally, might be singly significant to the other, say an elderly relative) as they are signs of one. You can still see the independence of a dementia patient compared with a sudoku puzzle, though.

    PERSONAL: Would Wolf think building model aircraft is meaningful? If someone gives their models to relatives or brings them to trade shows, does this hobby become meaningful?

    Definition of larger than oneself: "Something the value of which has its source outside the subject"

  3. Bipartite View

    Balance. Hummmmmmmmmm…

    What I call the Matrix argument. The subjective and objective components must go hand-in-hand – in other words, the person living the meaningful life must think of both as one. This is best explained through counterexamples:

    • (Wolf's example) if Sisyphus' stone-rolling scared away birds for a local village but he didn't know, the objective and subjective would be completely discrete. His life isn't meaningful.
    • If sudoku playing helped fold proteins but the sudoku player didn't know (say their protein-solving potential was retroactive and could be gleamed from completed puzzles), they weren't living meaningfully.
    • The Matrix: Some people may be fulfilled living in the matrix and they do serve some purpose (refueling the robots), but the two are disconnected and even in conflict.
    • (Wolf's example, and my favorite): "Or imagine that the pot-smoker's secondary marijuana smoke is alleviating the pain of the AIDS victim next door."

    Both halves can be known but still not connected, if the person is not "emotionally engaged" with the larger purpose.

    When we tell someone to get involved with something greater than themselves, we expect them to be fulfilled by it and find it engaging – we don't recommend it to them just to further the cause we are asking them to contribute to (eg, Mom didn't tell me about Math Olympiad volunteering because she believes in Math Olympiad so much – she knows a thing or two about meaning).

  4. Fulfilled Sisyphus Bad

    Sisyphus must be hallucinating or dumber (ahem, "less intelligent") than he was before the injection to find stone rolling fulfilling. Thus, he could be seen as "worse off".

1.17 Peter Singer: Famine, Affluence, and Morality

Assumption: "Suffering and death from lack of food, shelter, and medical care are bad"

Main principle: "If it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance, we ought, morally, to do it"

PERSONAL: Singer claims that this last principle requires us only to think about preventing bad, not causing good. But in choosing what is of "comparable moral importance", which usually means giving up something good (such as your expensive dress), we are forced to determine how much suffering is equal and opposite to a certain amount of good.

Two main (dis)qualifiers that shouldn't matter in the context of Singer's Principle:

  • Distance
  • Other people who could help

Distance: We can better judge how much suffering is going on and perhaps are able to do more to help, but we have no more reason to help someone nearby. Modern technology also negates this.

Other people: If everyone gave $5, we could feed the starving kids in Africa, and I wouldn't be obligated to donate more than $5! Sure, but those dollars haven't been donated yet. So, we should donate as much as is reasonable for our own well-being (until we are almost as starving as the bengalis, Singer might argue).

Singer argues that charity is not "supererogatory" – i.e, it is not just a nice thing to do, but it is wrong not to do it.

Singer explicitly qualifies his argument against trying to maximize happiness here – he's only trying to prevent suffering. Namely, he says that maximizing happiness still might be a charitable deed – i.e, one that we aren't obligated to perform – but minimziing suffering is a duty.

Buying luxury goods instead of giving to charity is outright wrong and ought to be condemned.

Why doesn't society already condemn this, if it follows from a principle that most everyone agrees with? Perhaps, our ideas of "duty" are the things that keep our society rolling – laws against murder, and such – so helping another society survive is obviously not a socially understood duty.

2 Justice

From crash course.

Is Justice about fairness? Equality? Or getting what we "deserve"? Or simply "playing our part" to keep society running smoothly?

Nice definitions:

POSITIVE RIGHT: You're entitled to something.

NEGATIVE RIGHT: You're protected from something.

2.1 Distributive Justice

How "stuff" is distributed. Eg, Elizabeth Warren's view.

2.1.1 Equality-based

Everyone gets the same stuff. Eg, the start of Settlers of Catan.

Personal: What about people? You can't give everyone the same family. Or are we just saying, hypothetically, what if everyone could have the same family, same partners, same children?

2.1.2 Need-based

People get stuff depending on what they need.

2.1.3 Merit-based

What people "deserve", based on their work – not innate needs.

2.1.4 Rawls

Sure, some people get more for merit, but only if that benefits the people at the bottom.

2.1.5 Nozick

  1. Basketball/Chamberlain thought experiment

    What if Will Chamberlain requested that he be paid more than other players for each game he was in, and that games he played in cost more to attend than games without him? Doesn't he deserve that?

2.2 Punitive Justice

2.2.1 Retributive Justice


2.2.2 Welfare Maximization/rehabilitation

Utilitarian. Help criminals; "rehabilitate" them.

2.2.3 Deterrence

We don't do eye-for-an-eye because we want to see the criminal suffer, but rather because we want to stop it from happening again (i.e, it can still be utilitarian).

2.2.4 Restorative Justice

Try to fix things that went wrong during the crime.

3 Types of Philosophy

3.1 Theoretical Philosophy

3.1.1 Metaphysics

What exists? What is there?

Is the world fully material? Eg, is the mind synonymous with the brain?

Are gender and race biological? Social?

3.1.2 Epistemology

Study of knowledge, very meta.

How do we know anything? What does it mean to know something?

3.2 Practical Philosophy

3.2.1 Ethics

What is right and wrong? Do means justify the ends, or must the means be based on a well agreed-upon, universalizable principle?

3.2.2 Social & Political

Justice, relationships.

How should burdens of society be distributed? What are ideal human relationships made of?

4 People

4.1 Socrates

Oracle @ Delphi said he was the wisest, which he didn't understand. He was tried for corrupting the youth, etc for ripping on politicians and dissing the gods a bit. Overall, Socrates wanted to know "how to live". Socrates questioned people to try and find out what their expertise was, especially in fields such as justice and law. He found that they had no idea what they were doing.

Eg, a stablemaster is an expert in horses, but judges have no idea about justice.

The life unexamined is not worth living.

He was convicted and made choices that led to his death (he refused to admit his guilt, essentially). Some criticized him for not making a compromise, admitting guilt, and living; he said there is more to life than thinking about life and death. One must consider good and bad, the right and the wrong.

4.2 Stebbing

Apply philosophy to real life. Critical thinking and philosophical education is necessary for many effective democracies. Disliked prejudice, etc. Facts aren't absolute. Separate emotion and reasoning.

4.3 Du Chatelet

Scientist, worked with Voltaire, translated Newton, attempted to connect the work of Newton with that of Leibniz.

Newton: Inductivist science. We can explain how something works, there's no need to bother with why. His methodology is incompatible with hypotheses, which suggest that there are big, underlying rules that can not only explain what we've observed but predict things that we have yet to observe.

4.4 Vavilov and Lysenko

Vavilov was a well-trained agricultural scientist. Somewhat theoretical, geneticist. Lysenko was from a peasant background, but less academic, and seen as more marxist. Stalin supported him, Vavilov made into a scapegoat and put into prison. Geneticism was seen as western and not practical.

5 History of Philosophy

5.1 Pre-Socratics

Explained based on natural phenomena, without the supernatural. Their interest in self and nature sometimes undermined the gods.

5.2 Sophists

Skilled at rhetoric and winning arguments via logic. Often professional tutors. Made fun of socratics. Eg: Aristophanes, who made a play "Clouds" in parody of Socrates.

6 Random Thoughts

Can we have free thought but no free will? Our thoughts always seem to coordinate with our actions, so to truly free our thoughts in the lack of free will we would need to be satisfied thinking things we could never do.

7 Words

Lack of originality; cliche-ness; especially when presented as an original or thoughtful.
Conforming to the "letter of the law" to a fault; overly conscious of academic or legal norms and technical correctness.
Statement made under oath.
Express via maneuvering; suggest.
External in origin. Antonym of innate.
A 1000-sided almost-circular shape, usually used as a demonstration of either extenting something to the nth degree or of the non-obvious distinction between discrete and continuous.
A chiliagon, but with 10,000 sides!
Required; mandated.
An unsettling and deep-seated feeling/thought that something should not/cannot be believed. Eg, one might have a scruple at first imagining that prime-ordered groups have no subgroups, until they learn about Lagrange's theorem. More directly, one might have a scruple with Hume's idea that there is no self. Derived from the word "scrupulous" – when we are scrupulous enough to detect an error, that thought is a "scruple".
Make clear; explain, but not necessarily in simple terms.
About knowledge, in a pure way.
Opposite of felicitous, you little bitch!
"Having a special ability for suitable manner or expression, as a person" (I like this definition). Someone who conforms well to societal expectations and standards.
A derivative that maintains "ornamental" features of the original. For example, the user intefaces of most software from before this decade were designed to emulate their predecessors, eg apple sticky notes and calendar. Other examples: Fake woodgrain, electric fireplaces & candles, and software analog clocks.
An official participant in a discussion. E.g, an interviewer or interviewee, but maybe not the people casually sitting nearby, at a Starbucks interview.
Self-serving, egoist.
Good to do, ok not to do. Like giving to charity, according to most non-Singers.
Striking, prominent, profoundly distinct. "The most salient point of her speech was…"

Author: Mark Polyakov

Created: 2020-02-12 Wed 11:20