UCSB Philosophy Blog

Members of the UCSB Department of Philosophy and anyone else are welcome to talk philosophy with us. Bring your own brain.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Some kind of update

Yeah, we're in the end-of-the-quarter crunch here. Pretty much, yup.
Just a few quick notes: I added another comment to the "Kung-fu argument" thing. I think there are some interesting issues left to discuss about it.
The Wittgenstein group met last Wednesday to discuss the rest of the 5s, but only made it up to 5.55. Probably next time we'll read through the first half of the 6s and just see how far we get in discussion.
The Guerrilla Radio Show had another re-run due to us not having time to prep for a new show. We're hoping to prevent this somewhat frequent occurrence next year by pre-recording some shows to play during busy periods.
I'm going to run a modal logic group during the summer. I don't have a book in mind yet, but we may use some of Hughes & Cresswell, and probably a few papers or excerpts from other books (e.g., Kripke's "Semantical Considerations..."). I may try to collect some "homework problems" for those of us who want to do some, though this will not be required of the group participants. We'll probably do classical modal propositional and first-order logic, semantics (model theory) and perhaps a little metalogic for both of those, and then perhaps some related things like "conditional logic" (sometimes called "counterfactual logic") and who knows what else.
Oh, and surprise, surprise, we're going to have another colloquium here on Monday June 12th (first day of finals week?!) with Ben Caplan!
That's it for now. Come on, Megalon, rise up!

Friday, May 19, 2006

When he's not publishing in ANALYSIS...

Although the spelling here is 'b-r-u-c-k-n-e-r' and not 'b-r-u-e-c-k-n-e-r', I still found it funny.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

More kung-fu

Here's a question that popped into my head today. Consider the following argument:
1. Maybe I know kung-fu.
2. I don't know kung-fu.
---
3. Maybe I know kung-fu.

Is this argument valid? It strikes me as invalid, when I ignore my logical indoctrination. But it looks like 3 is just a reiteration of 1, and reiteration is a valid rule of inference if anything is. My options seem to be to explain how/why it's really invalid by explaining what rules of valid inference are being broken, or to say that it's valid and explain away my impression that it's not. This second option will probably require that we flesh out the situation in which the argument is made, but I'm not sure what kinds of details would be relevant. Do all-y'alls have any thoughts about this?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Who will teach the robots to love?

Hi folks. We're past the halfway point in the quarter and I'm finally grading midterms. Woo! That's part of the reason I'm behind on the philosophy blotter. To catch you up since the last episode:
  • The bowling photos are up

  • We had a cool colloquium with Thomas Hofweber, talking about "Logicism Without Logic"

  • Tomorrow (Friday, May 12) we're going to have another colloquium (the last one this year) with Sam Rickless, talking about "Berkeley's Argument for Idealism"

  • The Guerrilla Radio Show had that second show about paradoxes and puzzles, with special guest star Dylan Dodd on which we discussed the Ship of Theseus (briefly) and the Lottery Paradox (also somewhat briefly) and played a recorded interview with Nathan Salmon about Kripke's Puzzle About Belief.

  • The GRS then took a break this past Tuesday; we'll likely come back next week to talk about skepticism. Ooh, spooky!

  • The Wittgenstein group met and then took off this week; most likely next week we'll discuss roughly the first half of section 5.

  • Somewhat recently, two of our beloved philgrads received awards! Carl Barnes for his teaching, and Jonny Way for an excellent paper. Show me up, will you? [Diabolical laughter]

  • From the rumor mine (we don't have a mill yet): The philosophy of mind reading group may reconvene this summer, after it's golden slumbers.

Ok, that's enough <li> tags for me. Thanks to Huiyuhl for posting and generating discussion. I hope I have time to read through it and perhaps add something (though I'm not up on that literature). And on a random note, if you've ever watched the tv show Wonder Showzen, see if you can catch the "diversity" episode (the one where the letters and numbers are fighting) for a funny presentation of the problem of evil. Best of all possible worlds, my ass. :)

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Voluntary Action and Knowledge

I’m trying to find a plausible principle concerning the relationship between voluntary actions and knowledge. There are three candidates:

(A) If S φs voluntarily, then S knew the relevant facts concerning φ-ing.
(B) If S φs voluntarily, then S would φ if S knew the relevant facts about φ-ing.
(C) If S would φ if S knew the relevant facts about φ-ing, then S φs voluntarily.

First, I thought that (A) is not correct, and thus should be revised as (B). (But now I’m not sure) The counterexample that I thought is the following:

Jack went to the zoo. He saw a building and was wondering what were inside. Thinking that there might be something interesting, he entered the building. But it turned out that the building displayed various kinds of snakes. Since Jack had been scared of snakes, he went out immediately and said, “I would never have entered the building if I had known that the snakes were inside.”

Let ‘φ’ be ‘entering the building’ and ‘p’ be ‘the snakes are around the building.’ It seems that Jack entered the building voluntarily, but he did not know that the snakes were around in the building. (Jack φs voluntarily, but did not know that p)

Someone pointed out that p is not a relevant fact for φ-ing, though. His point was: “let ‘ψ’ be ‘entering the snake house.’ P is a relevant fact for ψ-ing, but not a relevant fact for φ-ing. Thus, the above example is no good: Jack φs voluntarily, but p is not a relevant fact for φ-ing; p is a relevant fact for ψ-ing, but Jack does not ψ voluntarily.”

This objection makes me wonder: “Are φ and ψ are two different actions? Or, are they just different descriptions of one and the same action?” One may think that they are two different actions, and says: “We do not want to say that Oedipus killed his father voluntarily although we want to say that he voluntarily killed the obnoxious old man on the road. Oedipus’s killing his father and his killing the obnoxious old man must be two different actions, because if they are one and the same action, how could one action be voluntary and involuntary at the same time? In the same manner, φ and ψ are two different actions.”

However, it seems to me, intuitively, that φ and ψ are one and the same action. We’re just describing one action differently. About the Oedipus case, I think that it is okay to say that Oedipus killed his father voluntarily. Of course, he would not have killed the old man if he had known that the old man was his father. But still, at the time of killing, he was acting at his own will. Similarly, I think it is okay to say that Jack went to the snake house voluntarily.

So the question is this: let’s say that φ and ψ are one and the same action. Is p a relevant fact for that action (no matter how we describe it - i.e. whether we describe it as φ or as ψ)? (Similarly, in Oedipus case, is the fact that the old man was Oedipus’s father relevant for his action of killing (no matter how we describe it)?) Why or why not?