Life continues past the months of June, July, and August and so must the counselors of Day Camp.

3.22.2006

A puzzle for you all

For my Philosophy of Language class we have to break down a puzzle that an old Philosopher (Bertrand Russell) wrote about, and then offer someone else's (Gottleob Frege) response. The puzzle, standing alone, is kinda fun, and so I thought I would pass it along. If anyone wants to take a stab at it - be my guest. Oh, the things that philosophers deal with nowadays.

Here's the puzzle:

Russell sets up his first puzzle with a law of logic from Leibniz: “If A is identical with B, whatever is true of the one is true of the other, and either may be substituted for the other in any proposition without altering the truth or falsehood of that proposition.” Russell then refers to an example that seems to create a problem in light of Leibniz’s law. Sir Walter Scott was a well-known English poet, and when he published the novel Waverley, he chose not to reveal his authorship. Waverley was enormously successful, and curiosity grew about who had written the book. A number of people suspected that the author was Sir Walter Scott. With this storyline as the backdrop, Russell presents two true premises: PR1) “George IV wished to know whether Scott was the author of Waverley,” and PR2) “Scott was the author of Waverley.”
If we let ‘Scott’ be A, and ‘the author of Waverley’ be B, then A is identical to B because Scott is the author of Waverley (PR2). According to Leibniz’s law, we can substitue A for B without altering a sentence’s truth value, but if we do this in PR1 we end up with, “George IV wished to know whether Scott was Scott,” and this statement is false. It seems as if we have gone from two true premises, and by applying a law of logic, we’ve come out with a false statement. So is the law of logic false or not universally applicable, is the example flawed, or is something else going on here? These are the type of questions that arise from Russell’s first puzzle.

Have "fun."

19 Comments:

Blogger Frodo said...

my head hurts...you b*****d

11:30 AM

 
Blogger Spiffer said...

Logic is held in the hands of subjectivity, unrealized. Objective truth can not be known to subjective creatures because of the lenses in which they interpret objective truth. Logic is logic, but the flaws lie in its interpretation.

Good post, Fish.

12:36 PM

 
Blogger Fisher-man said...

"Objective truth can not be known to subjective creatures" - - - really?

12:43 PM

 
Blogger Fisher-man said...

I'm sorry, I think that I've flummoxed the blog. Forgive me.

4:18 PM

 
Blogger Gator said...

Something else is going on here.

5:28 PM

 
Blogger Michael K. said...

In PR1, Scott and "author" are two separate entities. It's a flawed example because the first premise already sees "Scott" and "Author" as two distinct people; the logic is attempting - ineffectually - to work backwards, applying to a statement that already posits that the A and B are NOT the same thing.

6:00 PM

 
Blogger Gator said...

Alright so before someone else Googles this and takes the credit:

It's the difference between meaning and naming. You're allowed to substitute terms with the same meaning, but naming is entirely different.

For example, I can say that "last summer I kicked Fisher's ass 12 times a day at four square", but it's an abstraction to say that "last summer I kicked Fisher's ass the number of months per year at four square." Sure, they name the same quantity, but because they don't have the same meaning, I run into trouble.

Fun game, Fish, can I try?

1) God is perfectly good.
2) Every perfectly good thing will stop any evil thing when it is within its power to do so.
3) God is omnipotent.
4) Evil exists.
-----------
5) Therefore God doesn't exist.

6:04 PM

 
Blogger Michael K. said...

And there you have, at least one aspect of, Russell's "Why I Don't Believe in God."

6:51 PM

 
Blogger Fisher-man said...

First Michael: “In PR1, Scott and “the author of Waverley” (I’m pretty sure this is what you were saying by “author”), are two separate entities.” You are asserting that the example is flawed because in this premise we are presupposing that these things are separate, and if this is true, then there is no way that these things could be the same – and by imputing information from a different premise (PR2) via a logical law we create an apparent contradiction. I’m not exactly clear how you were thinking that this works, but your “contradiction” seems to rest on the idea that in Premise One I am presupposing two separate entities by the words "Scott" and "the author of Waverley".

My opinion: Your problem doesn’t work. Let’s put this information into a different example, and using natural language we’ll see if we are presupposing two separate entities. (I realize this could open this thing up huge if I make some error in my example, but I’ll give it a shot anyway.)

Stipulation about the context of the situational example: I have no knowledge about who has been hired to what position for this summer. (This is not important, so don’t mess with it – just accept it.)

In a conversation with Gator, or anyone else for that matter, I could very likely say something like, “I wonder whether Who is the Day Camp Director for 2006.” Am I presupposing that “Who” and “The Day Camp Director for 2006” are different entities? No, my question is whether the exact opposite is true: Is "Who" the same entity as "The Day Camp Director in 2006". I am inquiring as to whether they are the same entity, how is it possible that I am presupposing that they are two separate ones?

My un-expert logical opinion: No good. Not a false example on the grounds you brought.

(I want to respond to the other stuff, but it is longer, and I am still working on this darn final as we speak. I will poke out my head occasionally and offer my highly un-expert opinions when I have a chance to do so.)

7:53 PM

 
Blogger Fisher-man said...

I think G8R is closer, but I honestly haven't had enough time to look at it yet.

But I can totally nail the existence of God thing - unless someone else comes and knocks you off before I have a chance.

7:59 PM

 
Blogger Spiffer said...

The "Problem of Evil" G8R brings up is an already established argument (Leibniz), almost quoted verbatim.

In regards to the pragmatic argument of subjective/objective truth, Google Durkheim on his argument, which has been established as a valid supposition in many scholastic circles.

...and my question: Is "google" now a colloquial verb? Cuz I just used it, and so did Fish. ? If so, that's sick.

8:47 PM

 
Blogger Christopher said...

I would love to research this and give my opion. But I have Science HW.

9:14 PM

 
Blogger Christopher said...

p.s. I think fishes hair is grey matter that his head can't contain.

9:15 PM

 
Blogger Spiffer said...

What the heck was that last comment Spidey?

10:27 PM

 
Blogger Michael K. said...

Gator and I are essentially saying the same thing.

As soon as you name something with two different words, you're making a linguistic distinction saying - to varying degrees - that they are not the same. In fact, to think of two things as "the same" is to admit - fundamentally - that they are in some way different things.

My objection definitely stands.

11:13 PM

 
Blogger Frodo said...

nerds...all of you.

9:06 AM

 
Blogger Christopher said...

Spiff- I'm saying fish's brain is so big it can't fit in his head. (We all know, however, it's the other way around.)

I really DO love you fish,
~Spidey

8:10 AM

 
Blogger Christopher said...

replace [brain] with [head]

replace [head]with [cascade's A & B]

8:12 AM

 
Blogger Bruin said...

Gator,
Google is a colloquial verb. I heard it used twice as a verb in a movie recently. And you know if its showing up in the media, the kids have been using it on the streets for some time now. Plus, I've been using it for like, weeks.

10:38 AM

 

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