Saturday, December 19, 2015

Yuletide links


End-of-semester grading, Christmas shopping, and the like leave little time for substantive blogging.  So for the moment I’ll leave the writing to others:


Crisis on campus?  The president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University speaks truth to pampered privilege: “This is not a day care. This is a university.”

At Public Discourse: Samuel Gregg on David Bentley Hart and capitalism; and Jeremy Neill argues that the sexual revolution will not last forever.

Traditional logic versus modern logic: What’s the difference?  Martin Cothran explains.  (Also, an older post by Cothran on the same subject.)

Spiked interviews Roger Scruton about politics, marriage and Islam.

The millennials are lost to liberalism, right?  “Not so fast” say Don Devine at The American Conservative and Jamelle Bouie at Slate.

“A master without a masterpiece”: Woody Allen, according to Stefan Kanfer at City Journal.

After the Synod, what will Pope Francis decide?  At the Catholic Herald, Fr. Raymond de Souza recommends that we listen to what the pope’s friends are saying.  At First Things, Ross Douthat describes the crisis of conservative Catholicism

Thomas Pink and Martin Rhonheimer debate religious liberty and how to interpret Vatican II’s Dignitatis Humanae.

A Q&A with Candace Vogler on virtue, happiness and the meaning of life.

The National Catholic Register’s Edward Pentin asks: How Islamic are Islamic terrorists?

At the Boston Globe, Niall Ferguson compares the attack on Paris and the sack of Rome.

Stephen L. Brock’s The Philosophy of Saint Thomas Aquinas: A Sketch has recently been published.

Catholic philosopher Dennis Bonnette on Adam and Eve and modern biology.

“Nice ‘n’ Sleazy”: Terry Teachout on Frank Sinatra, at Commentary.

New books reviewed at Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews: Nicholas Jolley’s Locke's Touchy Subjects: Materialism and Immortality; David Svoboda’s Aquinas on One and Many; and Hanoch Ben-Yami’s Descartes' Philosophical Revolution: A Reassessment.

Philosophers and frequent co-authors Stephen Mumford and Rani Lill Anjum on how to write collaboratively.

It’s been 35 years since the release of Steely Dan’s Gaucho -- and since the accidental erasure of the lost, lamented, legendary track “The Second Arrangement,” which now exists only in a demo version or two, along with a recent live version.

19 comments:

Daniel said...

Those two articles on 'traditional logic' are almost willfully misleading - whilst it's true the original predicate calculus left us no way to express necessary connections it was never 'non-metaphysical', indeed from Russell to Quine the great hope was that it could be used to affect an ideal language which would reveal just what our ontological commitments are. One can question this approach but it's still metaphysical with a capital 'M'.

Secondly the presentation of modern logic is radically incomplete since it ignores the development of Quantified Modal Logic, which was developed to overcome precisely the shortcomings with normal QL that the author flags up (right down to C I Lewis concerns with conditionals). Again one might not agree with the philosophical theories its spawned - essentialism, the Platonic menagerie, Broadly Logical Necessity, all concrete worlds existing (ahh the wages of Humeanism are irony) et cetera - but there's no denying the metaphysical emphasis.

If it helps think of it this way: fully developed modern logic is Leibniz' child not Hume's, Kant's or Russell's.

Kiel said...

Merry Christmas, Ed and family.

Anonymous said...

IN response to Paris and the fall of Rome, here is an interesting response.

http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2015/11/20/what-the-paris-attacks-and-the-fall-of-rome-have-in-common-nothing/

Merry Christmas everyone!

Greg said...

So many links of interest here. I want to take a look at just about every one.

I'd also love to get my hands on Fr. Brock's new book there, but alas, I probably should resist buying more books until I can read the ones I have...

Shane Scott said...

Many blessings to you and your family, Dr Feser. Can't tell you what a blessing you work has been in my life!

Gene Callahan said...

You shouldn't like to Ferguson's vapid comparison without also linking to this response.

Peter Smith said...

I love Roger Scruton's trenchant, incisive writing and I see Edward Feser following ably in his footsteps.

Tony said...

Ed, that's got to be one of your funniest pictures yet. Thanks for the laughs! And a merry Christmas to you and all your family. God bless you all.

Daniel Carriere said...

Nice article from Bonnette.

Here is an earlier post from Ed with some comments from Bonnette:

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2014/12/knowing-ape-from-adam.html

Cheers,
Daniel

Glenn said...

Re Cothran’s article:

1. Having fun:

To state it baldly, traditional logic doesn't believe in truth tables.

What an unusual thing to say. One might just as well badly state that painters don't believe in hammers.

[I]n the modern system, statements such as:

If the moon is made of green cheese, then ducks can swim

are considered true statements, since their antecedents ( in this case, "the moon is made of green cheese") is false at the same time that the consequent ("ducks can swim") is false.


Is it not true that only a quack would believe that that it is true that "ducks can swim" is false? **

(Or do I misunderstand the sense in which the term 'ducks' is employed?

(If so, allow me to correct myself, and agree that it is false that "dodges can swim" is true.

(My agreement notwithstanding, I'm not entirely sure that that it is false that "dodges can swim" is true is indeed true -- for according to one report, "[R]oughly half of the players on the Los Angeles Dodges [sic] celebrated clinching the NL West title on Thursday by jumping into the pool at Chase Field."))

2. Cleaning up:

** An intelligent person can mistakenly type some word other than the word he meant to type (or thinks he is typing). Of course. Obviously.

3. Turning serious:

But the fact is that modern logic's treatment of the conditional statement (particularly its treatment of conditional statements in which the antecedent is false) is problematic not because it is complicated; it is problematic because it is problematic.

The rules are simple:

a) A conditional statement is true when and only when it is not false.

b) A conditional statement is false when and only when its antecedent is true and its consequent is false.

c) Thus, if its antecedent is false, or its consequent is true, then the conditional statement is not false, i.e., it is true.

Perhaps what makes modern logic's treatment of the conditional statement seem problematic, or what it is that tends to throw people off, is the fact that the truth or falsity of an antecedent or a consequent frequently is amenable to immediate recognition, while the truth or falsity of a combination of an antecedent and a consequent (i.e., the truth or falsity of a conditional statement) is less frequently as amenable to immediate recognition -- especially when the combination involves seemingly disparate things (as in the case of, say, "the moon is made of green cheese" and "ducks can swim").

Tony said...

In the traditional system a conditional statement is considered true only if the fact that your dog gets wet really occurs as a result of the rain—in other words, if the statement asserts what is called a valid sequence. To put it another way, there must be a real logical relation between the rain and your dog getting wet. The fact of it raining must, in some way, materially imply that your dog will get wet.

You gotta worry about someone who (a) claims a "real logical relation" must exist. The problem is: there's real relations, and there's logical relations, and they aren't identical. You also have to wonder (b) why Cothran makes a fair point that there needs to be a RELATIONSHIP between the truth states of the two, but gets it completely wrong on how to describe that. For example, it is completely acceptable to use an "If A, then B" when B and only B causes A. All that is needed is there to be an inferential relationship, it doesn't have to be one direction from cause to effect.

a) A conditional statement is true when and only when it is not false.

b) A conditional statement is false when and only when its antecedent is true and its consequent is false.


It is just not clear that this is either what (in real life language) we mean, nor what we ought to mean, by "true" in the case of a conditional. It is not clear that that these criteria appropriately account for ALL of the meaning added to the juncture of the 2 statements by "If" and "then".

By the way, I dislike the analysis of saying the "antecedent is true" and "the consequent is true" for what the truth-tablers mean when they resolve the conditional into "statements". Think about this conditional for a second: "If they win the game, then they will go out to drink." Saying that the antecedent is "they win the game" as if it were an INDICATIVE statement loses the subjunctive mood effect of "If". Subjunctive sentences are not necessarily true or false. The hypothetical structure of an if-then allows for the antecedent to be about a future event, and future contingent events ARE NOT YET true or false. I think it is less obscure to say something like "the antecedent obtains" and "the consequent obtains", for this allows for the possibility that sometimes the antecedent comes out to happen and sometimes not, without calling the antecedent "true" or "false".

In any event, would we harm the system of logic if we restricted the identification of "true" for conditionals to the situation where the truth of the consequent follows from the truth of the antecedent? If we restricted "true" to this, it would not be valid to say "A is true, and B is true, so the conditional is true". And, indeed, that is actually inconsistent with the way conditionals are used in speaking. In this way, the conditional COULD be true when the antecedent does not obtain, as long as the relationship indicated in "then" is present: "If they win the game, then they go out drinking" can be a true conditional when they lose the game. Or, they might sometimes go out drinking even if they don't win the game, in which case you could have the antecedent not obtain but the consequent obtains, and the conditional is STILL true. But such a situation, it is not on account of the STATUS of the combination "antecedent does not obtain" plus "consequent is X" (either obtains or not) why the conditional is true. The results for "antecedent does not obtain" have no bearing on whether the conditional is true. In the way we actually speak, the only thing that makes the conditional true is there being some inferential relationship between the parts.

Mr. Green said...

Glenn: Is it not true that only a quack would believe that that it is true that "ducks can swim" is false? **
(If so, allow me to correct myself, and agree that it is false that "dodges can swim" is true.


But can Duck Dodgers swim?


Tony: It is not clear that that these criteria appropriately account for ALL of the meaning added to the juncture of the 2 statements by "If" and "then".

Surely not all; but certainly some of the meaning. If we are talking about a causal relationship, then of course it would be wrong to apply a model that doesn't take that into account. On the other hand, ordinary everyday speech often wants to talk only about correlation. Cothran seems to suggest that this is always problematic, when sometimes it is exactly the right approach. (Dodgery Ducks may or may not swim, but Eager Young Space Cadets certainly cannot fly (at least not without the artificial aid of spacecraft)).

Subjunctive sentences are not necessarily true or false. The hypothetical structure of an if-then allows for the antecedent to be about a future event, and future contingent events ARE NOT YET true or false.

Well, mathematical types like to brush off those messy non-quantifiable details like time. But I think that there are generally ways to interpret things so as to make that work (assuming that the logical model we're applying fits the context in other ways — I guess in your examples, it is precisely by accounting for causality that we don't have to worry about time).

Glenn said...

Tony,

>> a) A conditional statement is true when and only when
>> it is not false.

>> b) A conditional statement is false when and only when
>> its antecedent is true and its consequent is false.

> It is just not clear that this is either what (in real life language)
> we mean, nor what we ought to mean, by "true" in the case of
> a conditional. It is not clear that that these criteria
> appropriately account for ALL of the meaning added to
> the juncture of the 2 statements by "If" and "then".

Yes, of course.

And Copi, e.g., basically acknowledged as much when he wrote:

"Of course many, if not most, conditional statements assert more than a material implication to hold between their antecedents and their consequents. So our proposal amounts to suggesting that we ignore, or throw away, or 'abstract from' part of the meaning of a conditional statement when we translate it into our symbolic language." (Introduction to Logic, 6th ed., p 296.)

The proposal is a one-size-fits-all approach to evaluating symbolically the truth or falsity of conditional statements, namely this: the conditional statement "if P then Q" is to be considered true (i.e., 'true') whenever "not(P and not(Q))" is true.

One potentially deleterious consequence of this one-size-fits-all approach is that informative, meaningful and otherwise relevant differences between, e.g., logical implication [1], definitional implication [2], causal implication [3] and decisional implication [4] are airbrushed out, whitewashed away, or simply treated as if not existing.

Yikes.

My point about the rules for modern logic's evaluation of the truth or falsity of a conditional statement was not that there really isn't anything wrong with modern logic's treatment of that kind of statement, only that the rules with which it treats of that kind of statement is, at least functionally, easy to understand. Much havoc can be wreaked by something very simple.

- - - - -

[1] Ex.: "If all humans are mortal and Socrates is a human, then Socrates is mortal." (Intro to Logic, p. 291)

[2] Ex.: If Leslie is a bachelor, then Leslie is unmarried." (ibid)

[3] Ex.: If this piece of blue litmus paper is placed in acid, then this piece of blue litmus paper will turn red." (ibid)

[4] Ex.: "If State loses the homecoming game, then I'll eat my hat." (ibid)

Glenn said...

("...the rules with which it treats of that kind of statement is..."

(For a moment there I thought I was typing 'are'. Hm.)

Glenn said...

Mr. Green,

But can Duck Dodgers swim?

Ah, forgot about him. Thanks for bringing him up.

(I hope you had help.)

Glenn said...

Quick logic quiz:

What kind of implication is involved in Daffy Duck's famous and contemptuously uttered conditional statement, "If HE'S a duck, then I'M a skunk."

a) logical implication;
b) definitional implication;
c) causal implication;
d) decisional implication; or,
e) none of the above.

Vishal Mehra said...

Are the modern logicians employing the term "consequent" properly?
It seems to me that the term "consequent" implies a causal relationship.
If we are ignoring or not affirming the causal relationship, then the term "subsequent" would be less misleading.

Tony said...

But can Duck Dodgers swim?

If this is the 24th (and a half) century, then Duck Dodgers can swim.

Glenn said...

Vishal Mehra,

Are the modern logicians employing the term "consequent" properly?

Maybe, maybe not. It depends.

On the one hand,

If when speaking of a logical matter the modern logician employs the term 'consequent' in a manner not consonant with its logical meaning, then the modern logician is not employing the term 'consequent' properly.

On the other hand,

If when speaking of a logical matter the modern logician employs the term 'consequent' in a manner consonant with its logical meaning, then the modern logician employs the term 'consequent' properly.

It seems to me that the term "consequent" implies a causal relationship.

In logic, the term 'consequent' refers to the resultant clause or conclusion of a conditional statement. Thus, since Q is the resultant clause or conclusion in the conditional statement "if P then Q", it is right, proper and correct to refer to Q as the consequent.

Outside logic, or at least with respect to a domain which may include but is not restricted to logic, the term 'consequent' refers to, amongst other things, anything that follows upon something else, with or without a causal relationship. On this account, then, given Monday, Tuesday is a consequent.

If we are ignoring or not affirming the causal relationship...

When "if P then Q" is said, it is being said that if P is true, then Q is true. That is, it is being said that, in the context of the conditional statement itself at the very least, the truth of Q is a consequence of the truth of P. If the causal relation between antecedent and consequent of a conditional statement is ignored, then the statement effectively would cease to be a conditional statement.

...then the term "subsequent" would be less misleading.

Although it is frequently the case, it is neither necessary nor required that the position of the antecedent in a conditional statement precede the position of the consequent. As along as 'if' precedes the antecedent, it is acceptable that the antecedent be positioned subsequent to the consequent in a conditional statement. So, "Q if P" is a perfectly acceptable conditional statement. In this case, it is not easily understood that referring to that which precedes as the 'subsequent', i.e., it is not easily understood that referring to the Q in "Q if P" as the 'subsequent', might not be in some way misleading.