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Could someone explain in layman's terms the difference between truth conditions

Could someone explain in layman's terms the difference between truth conditions and assertability conditions, and what is at stake between them? Thanks for your time.

Truth conditions are often held to be independent of assertability. Thus, the claim that 'snow is white' or '6 is the smallest perfect number' are true, regardless of whether anyone is warranted in asserting these claims. The reason why some philosophers might object to this format is that it appears to open the door to a radical skepticism, e.g. it may be claimed that there are truths that elude our best cognitive posers. Such philosophers thus advance what may be called an epistemic understanding of truth that would make it incoherent to think there are truths that outstrip our warranted assertability. Although I am not a radical skeptic, I am inclined to think that a wide-ranging skepticism is at least coherent --why limit truth to what we have (or ideally might have) justification in asserting?

You might find the work of Roger Trigg of interest in such matters, e.g. Reality at Risk.

Truth conditions are often held to be independent of assertability. Thus, the claim that 'snow is white' or '6 is the smallest perfect number' are true, regardless of whether anyone is warranted in asserting these claims. The reason why some philosophers might object to this format is that it appears to open the door to a radical skepticism, e.g. it may be claimed that there are truths that elude our best cognitive posers. Such philosophers thus advance what may be called an epistemic understanding of truth that would make it incoherent to think there are truths that outstrip our warranted assertability. Although I am not a radical skeptic, I am inclined to think that a wide-ranging skepticism is at least coherent --why limit truth to what we have (or ideally might have) justification in asserting? You might find the work of Roger Trigg of interest in such matters, e.g. Reality at Risk.

If something can’t be defined can it exist? and vice versa

If something can’t be defined can it exist? and vice versa

Some things can be defined that cannot exist, such as "A square circle in two dimensional space" or "2+2=1" --and some things can be described that do not exist but could have existed or might come to exist (unicorns). And, I suggest, that there may be indefinitely many things that exist for which we do not have any successful definition. "Consciousness" might be a candidate, insofar as some philosophers are right in thinking we may never have a good or at-least problem-free definition.

As an aside, your question raises the need for a good definition of definitions. I will not attempt such a philosophy of definitions here, but you might check out the Stanford Encyclopedia entries bearing on philosophy of language for further, useful material. Paradoxically, if nothing can exist than cannot be defined, and we have no definition of being defined, we all might be in trouble.

Thinking further: I suspect you may be principally concerned with the problem of affirming that something (X) exists, and whether this affirmation is meaningful if we lack a definition of X. On the face of it, there would be a problem with someone claiming: "Call the reporters. There is something I will refer to as 'N,' but I have absolutely no idea or definition of what 'N' might be. It could be an animal or number or time of day, for I know." Such a claim would be as bizarre as what we find in Alice in Wonderland. Even so, I suggest that we should distinguish claims about meaningful speech and claims about what does or does not exist. Even if we cannot make claims about what does or does not exist without (at least vague) definitions, it is another thing to claim that there only exists things we can make meaningful claims about. Sadly, we can imagine the whole human species perishing from some force which we cannot comprehend (and thus we cannot define) That is such a grim thought to end this reply, let me change the example: we can imagine that cancer and depression might be eradicated by a force that we human beings cannot comprehend or define.

Some things can be defined that cannot exist, such as "A square circle in two dimensional space" or "2+2=1" --and some things can be described that do not exist but could have existed or might come to exist (unicorns). And, I suggest, that there may be indefinitely many things that exist for which we do not have any successful definition. "Consciousness" might be a candidate, insofar as some philosophers are right in thinking we may never have a good or at-least problem-free definition. As an aside, your question raises the need for a good definition of definitions. I will not attempt such a philosophy of definitions here, but you might check out the Stanford Encyclopedia entries bearing on philosophy of language for further, useful material. Paradoxically, if nothing can exist than cannot be defined, and we have no definition of being defined, we all might be in trouble. Thinking further: I suspect you may be principally concerned with the problem of affirming that something (X) exists, and...

For a philosophy student, what is the best language to learn? Particulary, a

For a philosophy student, what is the best language to learn? Particulary, a student interested in moral and political philosophy, and epistemology too. I think is english, and that's why I'm already learning it. If I'm right, what is the best after english? I'm a spanish native speaker.

Great question! Your choice of language may depend on your philosophical interests. If you are interested in Greco-Roman and philosophy in late Antiquity and Medieval philosophy, then Greek and Latin would be excellent. If you are interested in Indian or Hindu philosophy sanscrit would be best. Your Spanish will be good for reading a very fine, dynamic Spanish philosopher and essayist, Jose Ortega Y Gasset. Spanish philosophy (that is, philosophy in Spain, not just in Spanish) experienced hard times after the defeat of democracy in 1939, but after the restoration of democracy in 1978, Spain has been a place of multiple, alternative philosophical debates. Two outstanding philosophers to consider (AFTER you have read some Ortega, who is fabulous), I suggest you consult J.L. Lopez Aranguren and J.M. Valverde.

I think your pursuit of English is a great choice. I could be wrong, but I believe that probably the most number of philosophical works available today are accessible in English, more than any other single language. This is not just do to the works that are first published in English, but due to the wide ranging works that have been and are being translated into English. English is also more easy to learn than, say, Chinese in terms of numbers of characters and punctuation. When I was in graduate school (long, long ago...), after English the languages of choice were French and German. Because life is short, and in mastering English and reading current Spanish speaking philosophy (which also is flourishing in Mexico, Central and South America; on this, see Latin American Philosophy Today, edited by Jorge J. E. Garcia), I suggest choosing French or German, depending on your interests. If you want to read Heidegger in the original, go with German, if you want to read Sartre in the original, I suggest you go with French.

Great question! Your choice of language may depend on your philosophical interests. If you are interested in Greco-Roman and philosophy in late Antiquity and Medieval philosophy, then Greek and Latin would be excellent. If you are interested in Indian or Hindu philosophy sanscrit would be best. Your Spanish will be good for reading a very fine, dynamic Spanish philosopher and essayist, Jose Ortega Y Gasset. Spanish philosophy (that is, philosophy in Spain, not just in Spanish) experienced hard times after the defeat of democracy in 1939, but after the restoration of democracy in 1978, Spain has been a place of multiple, alternative philosophical debates. Two outstanding philosophers to consider (AFTER you have read some Ortega, who is fabulous), I suggest you consult J.L. Lopez Aranguren and J.M. Valverde. I think your pursuit of English is a great choice. I could be wrong, but I believe that probably the most number of philosophical works available today are accessible in English, more...

My question concerns whether or not questions should be taken into consideration

My question concerns whether or not questions should be taken into consideration in understanding the answers to those questions. Let's take the following question and answer as an example: Q: What time are you leaving for your lecture today? A: I'm leaving at 2:00. The answer could be interpreted to mean that the the answerer is leaving for the lecture at 2:00 today. Yet the answer could also be interpreted to mean that the answerer is leaving at 2:00 on some day (not necessarily today) to go somewhere (not necessarily the lecture). Another example follows and it is this one upon which I ask your opinion. Given the following question and answer, which of the two possible interpretations of the answer would you choose if you were required to select only one without being able to provide an explanation of any kind. This is not a hypothetical question as I, along with other people, faced the exact same situation recently. Q: Is anybody in all of Athens wiser than Socrates? A: No. No one is wiser...

Very interesting! A philosopher who worked hard on this very matter was Paul Grice. He studied what he called conversational implicature, a fancy term for the ways in which the meaning of what we say can be shaped by a variety of conditions. For example, if you asked me to pass you some water and I replied saying that I am glad to hand you a glass of water which, as it happens --and then I go on to tell you all the properties of water, how much water is there on earth, and so on. Most people would (I think) conclude that I am trying to be funny or I am insane or simply a bore. I can imagine this exchange between two philosophers. George: "Good to see you. Based on seeing you, I now think it more likely that all ravens are black.' Ringo: "So, you are still trying to solve the Raven Paradox! Give it a rest!" An "outsider" would not get this, but for students of induction and reason they would also (probably) infer that the only reason someone would say what George did is if he was thinking about the Raven Paradox. So, I think context is important, both to pick up on clues about what a question is about, as well as to disambiguate remarks. Someone might yell out a question "Prune?" and it is not clear she is referring to a fruit or the act of pruning as in pruning a bush.

On your two questions: I think most of us would adopt the first interpretation, and if the speaker meant he was leaving on some other day this was misleading. On the second, I am inclined to the first interpretation, and suggest that if #2 was intended, this would be carrying on to extend beyond the scope of the question. But you are right, so many such interpretations may need confirming and vagueness, ambiguity, and misdirection can spoil a conversation. Though it can also be used in stressful situations to get out of trouble. I was late for an important meeting at the Humphrey Institute due to having a longer than expected lunch with friends. The Dean said: "You are late." I replied "The traffic is terrible. Sorry." On the one hand, I could defend my reply because the traffic that day was jammed. But clearly I was implying that the reason I was late was because of the traffic. I'm afraid I lied or was at least deceptive. If that Dean reads this email: I am sorry, sir. Next time we meet, I will buy you some flowers and a coffee or the drink of your choice, and I will be there on time even if the traffic is terrible.

Very interesting! A philosopher who worked hard on this very matter was Paul Grice. He studied what he called conversational implicature, a fancy term for the ways in which the meaning of what we say can be shaped by a variety of conditions. For example, if you asked me to pass you some water and I replied saying that I am glad to hand you a glass of water which, as it happens --and then I go on to tell you all the properties of water, how much water is there on earth, and so on. Most people would (I think) conclude that I am trying to be funny or I am insane or simply a bore. I can imagine this exchange between two philosophers. George: "Good to see you. Based on seeing you, I now think it more likely that all ravens are black.' Ringo: "So, you are still trying to solve the Raven Paradox! Give it a rest!" An "outsider" would not get this, but for students of induction and reason they would also (probably) infer that the only reason someone would say what George did is if he was thinking about...

Are expressions like "women are beautiful" sexist? Doesn't that imply that women

Are expressions like "women are beautiful" sexist? Doesn't that imply that women exist as something to be admired rather than as beings in and of themselves?

I suggest that when a person calls or describes a gender or species or event or thing as beautiful, this implies or signals that the person believes the gender etc is worthy of aesthetic pleasure or delight. There need not be anything sexist or demeaning in this, and it does not suggest that the object of delight is merely an object of delight or that the beautiful "object" (or the object of beauty) is in some sense passive. One might claim 'the women Olympic athletes swam beautifully today' or 'the women soldiers performed beautifully in their rescue of the orphans yesterday when they met with severe resistance from the hostage-takers' without any sexism coming into play.

Going a bit further: I suspect the phrase "women are beautiful" is somewhat odd. I suppose one might first want to know the scope of the reference: are all women beautiful or the majority or a significant number of women are beautiful? Are women all beautiful in the same way? What are the reasons for thinking all or many or some women are beautiful? Are women beautiful because they are women or for some other reason? What would it be like for a person to actually take aesthetic delight in all living women (as a gender) currently on our planet? Or possibly taking pleasure in all past and future women? I suppose one is more likely to hear a more specific claim like: 'Those women who attended the conference on human rights are doing a beautiful job presenting their case for famine relief'... or something similarly more specific. Similarly, I think one needs to get more specific in order to really be guilty of sexism. Probably the following would be pretty sexist: "the only thing better than a beautiful car is a beautiful woman" or "beer tastes better when you are sharing it with a beautiful woman." I can imagine how these might be said in a non-sexist context, but they move toward sexism insofar as you are comparing a woman to a car or you suggest that if you really like a certain drink, it will enhance your enjoyment of the drink if you are flirting with a woman (woman as sex object and beer enhancer)! Put-downs of women or treating them in a sexist fashion will sometimes seriously depend on context. Imagine Hillary Clinton gives a passionate talk on human rights at the United Nations calling on Syria to stop its abuse of human rights. Imagine further that after Clinton's heated speech the Syrian ambassador rises and rather than address Clinton's admonition and call to action, he said "Your hair is beautiful today! My wife wants to use the same hair stylist. What's her number?'

I suggest that when a person calls or describes a gender or species or event or thing as beautiful, this implies or signals that the person believes the gender etc is worthy of aesthetic pleasure or delight. There need not be anything sexist or demeaning in this, and it does not suggest that the object of delight is merely an object of delight or that the beautiful "object" (or the object of beauty) is in some sense passive. One might claim 'the women Olympic athletes swam beautifully today' or 'the women soldiers performed beautifully in their rescue of the orphans yesterday when they met with severe resistance from the hostage-takers' without any sexism coming into play. Going a bit further: I suspect the phrase "women are beautiful" is somewhat odd. I suppose one might first want to know the scope of the reference: are all women beautiful or the majority or a significant number of women are beautiful? Are women all beautiful in the same way? What are the reasons for thinking all or many or...

Suppose Jane, while growing up, somehow learned the wrong meaning for the word

Suppose Jane, while growing up, somehow learned the wrong meaning for the word "migraine," and came to believe that any particularly strong headache, regardless of whether it occurred on one or both sides of the head, was a migraine - i.e. that "migraine" and "headache" were mostly synonymous terms. Suppose Jane then has what we would call a headache, a severely painful sensation in her head distributed across both sides of her head, and tells us "I have a migraine." According to her understanding of the term "migraine," her statement is true, but according to her community's differing understanding of the term, her statement is false (because we call them migraines only if they affect one side of the head only). Is there a hierarchy between the contexts in which we can understand her claim? Is her claim ultimately either true or false, or is its truth-value ambiguous?

This is the sort of question that has vexed many in philosophy of language (Hilary Putnam, Tyler Burge, Lynne Baker, etc). Actually, in my dictionary "migraine" designates the pain as "usually confined to one crania" as opposed to always being so confined. But let's assume the public definition is more restrictive. Philosophers who are sometimes called 'externalists' locate meaning primarily in terms of social discourse. On this view, Jane has said something false. Philosophers (like me) who are sometimes called 'internalists' tend to think of meaning in terms of the speaker's intention. On this view, what she meant to say is true, though the words she used simply failed to identify what the public thinks she is referring to. To feel some of the intuitive appeal of internalism, imagine a man walks into a room where he sees a group of women and some female dogs. He does not know English very well, but he does know that "bitch" refers to female dogs. He says: "Look at all those great bitches!' ...

Seeing that most languages require that sentences to have tense, can we actually

Seeing that most languages require that sentences to have tense, can we actually have any progress discussing time? I mean every sentence by its structure already assumes a understanding of time , how do we ever transcend the bounds of our current understandings of time if we still using "time" bound language?

Great issue(s)! Two thoughts to consider: first, it may not be obvious that all language is time-bound or tensed. The sentence 'two plus two equals four' or 'squares are four sided' might be interpreted as tensed (both sentences were true on Monday, and on Tuesday, etc) but they may also be understood as tenseless (their truth does not depend on temporality unlike the sentence uttered by me 'I am writing in response to your question now'). Second, I suggest that we can have interesting, competing philosophical theories of time when we look at the meaning of what you are calling "time bound language." So, for example, those who embrace what is often called four dimensionalism, treat all times as equally real. On this view, the French Revolution is occurring in 1789, and that is as real as the Battle of Waterloo which is occurring in June of 1815 and my writing you a reply in 2012. According to what is sometimes called presentism, only the present is real, so while it is true that the French Revolution occurred in 1789, that is past and it is not (in some fashion) still going on in 1789. Four dimensionalism winds up making time out to be akin to space and treats temporal objects as containing temporal parts (just as, for example, a week consists of seven days, it might be said of a person, that she consists of, say, a lifetime of N number of years), whereas presentists think of temporal objects as either fully and entirely present or not (on this view, you are fully and wholly present now, and not just a time slice of your lifetime as a whole). Check out the free online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on time for engaging arguments and sources.

Great issue(s)! Two thoughts to consider: first, it may not be obvious that all language is time-bound or tensed. The sentence 'two plus two equals four' or 'squares are four sided' might be interpreted as tensed (both sentences were true on Monday, and on Tuesday, etc) but they may also be understood as tenseless (their truth does not depend on temporality unlike the sentence uttered by me 'I am writing in response to your question now'). Second, I suggest that we can have interesting, competing philosophical theories of time when we look at the meaning of what you are calling "time bound language." So, for example, those who embrace what is often called four dimensionalism, treat all times as equally real. On this view, the French Revolution is occurring in 1789, and that is as real as the Battle of Waterloo which is occurring in June of 1815 and my writing you a reply in 2012. According to what is sometimes called presentism, only the present is real, so while it is true that the French...

What does 'all things equal' actually mean? I don't understand the expression at

What does 'all things equal' actually mean? I don't understand the expression at all. It surely isn't to be taken literally...unless one is constructing a thought experiment. But philosophers don't only use the phrase when constructing thought experiments. I'm lost.

Like any real experiment, a thoughtexperiment (or analogy, case study or example) in order to be validevidence for some position, has to be conceived of as beingrepeatable. So, my thought experiment should be compelling onits own terms, and not because of some special context that makes itcompelling. Only then will the thought experiment (or whatever) havevalidity beyond that context. 'All things being equal' is thus akinto the notion of controlling variables.

The Latin for the term is: ceteris paribus. When a philosopher is articulating a thought experiment, she may use the expression 'all things being equal' or 'other things being equal' / ceteris paribus, to put aside extraneous factors not essential to the thought experiment. So, to take a simple example, imagine a philosopher is developing an argument from analogy for the conclusion that it is permissible for a nation to launch a preemptive attack against a nation that is threatening it. She might ask you to imagine the following: you are an innocent person and you are alarmed by the sight of someone you believe has assaulted and killed another innocent person drawing a gun and he appears to be getting ready to shoot you. Under these circumstances, when there are no police around and there is not time to run away or attempt to verbally confront the apparent assailant, wouldn't it be permissible for you to harm or perhaps even kill the person on grounds of self-defense? Why should you be compelled...

I have a question about the the usage of words.

I have a question about the the usage of words. If a word has a particular meaning in a specific context that contradicts, ignores or stretches beyond the way that word is used in more general context, is that word being used wrong? For instance, consider the term "game." I've frequently come across arguments in different spheres about what constitutes a "game" and how such-and-such use of the term is mistaken. In some contexts a "game" can be all sorts of things (consider the bewildering variety of video games that have almost nothing in common with one another), in others it must be something competitive (there are people who express hesitation at calling solitaire a true "game"), in other contexts "games" need to have a structure of some kind or another (some say that children's imaginative games are not games, but merely "play" in a vague sense). My question is, if certain contexts use a term in a certain way, one that deviates from the understanding of that term in broader contexts, are those...

I would say that there is, in any general sense, a right or wrong way to use a word. There are various generalizations about how people actually use words that are captured in dictionaries. Dictionaries tell us how people do use words, not how they should use them. There is no such thing as the correct use of the term 'game', or any other term. If a person uses a word intending to mean something by it that is not in line with the dictionary, there is nothing wrong with that per se. We do it all the time. for many reasons, many of them very good. We just need to be careful not to be misunderstood. And we might use a word thnking we are using it in line withe dcitionaries and be wrong about that.

Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynmann said "People often complain of the unwarranted extension of the ideas of particles, paths etc. into the atmomic realm." He responds to the complaint that the extension is unwarranted "Not so at all; there is nothing unwarranted about the extension. We must, and we should and we always do extend as far as we can beyond what we a;ready know, beyond those ideas that we have already obtained ... it is the only way to make progress" (The Character of Phusical Law). He could have said the same thing about using the words 'particle' etc. in a new way. Calling something 'a particle' when it isn't a particle in the usual sense, can be a vital way to make progress.

Extending the use of terms in the way Feynman discusses is vital to the progress of knowledge. But of course we have to try our best to be carful when we do this, so as not to create confusion.

Great question(s). Your choice of examples is interesting, as the philosopher Wittgenstein used the term "game" to make his case that the meaning of some terms is not at all strict and relies more on what he called "family resemblance" than a strict appeal to necessary and sufficient conditions. His view is that we might meaningfully use terms without precision and he then went on to speak of different "language games," by which (I believe) he meant different contexts or domains in which different rules (or practices) apply. So, in the "language game" of the physical sciences, the term "cause" may have a different meaning than in the "language game" of religion. That aside, certain practices like philosophy may stipulate that terms have special meaning that may not match ordinary usage. Philosophers in the recent past have used terms like "manifest image" that is vaguely related to the way we ordinarily use the terms "manifest" and "image" but give it a special, specific meaning (the world as it...

Hello. This submission will include two questions. The panelist´s are of course

Hello. This submission will include two questions. The panelist´s are of course free to answer only one of them, if the other turns out to be of no interest. I´m no student of philosophy in the conventional sense, but lately it does consume much of my time. I remember reading Frege´s "The thought: a logical inquiry" a while back, and his answer to "an unusual objection" he thought he heard, puzzled me; "what if it were all a dream?" It seems to me that questions of this kind are unanswerable, and that Frege´s answer to this question is unsatisfactory. The (short) reason for this is simply that the question is one of fact, and one would have no possible way of empirically proving that one is not. What is your take on my objection? (I am aware that it is not one of the sections in the article that did the most impact on future philosophy) The second question relates to the distinction between analytic and extra-logical statements. After reading "Two dogmas of empiricism" by Quine, I am left wondering...

Thank you for these interesting reflections! As for your first point, there are a number of philosophers who address radical skepticism (e.g. can any of us know with certainty that we are not, as we seem to be, wide awake and acting in the world rather than, say, dreaming?) in the way you suggest. Arguably, life may continue just as it appears until one's death and yet there would be no decisive reason to rule out the possibility one was merely a brain in a vat. And because of this, some philosophers think that such radical skeptical hypotheses are idle or nonsensical or of no interest. I am somewhat of the other mind: I think we can imagine radical hypothetical states of affairs in which we are indeed systematically mistaken in almost all our beliefs about ourselves in the world (in brief, I think it conceivable that we might be in the matrix). While this does not have awesome practical consequences, I think it should humble us in our knowledge claims. As for the second point, Quine set out to dismantle the very categorical distinction between the analytic and synthetic. Today, some think he was spot on, but there are large numbers of philosophers (including myself) who believe the analytic category is sensible and intelligible. I think it is an analytic truth that 1+1 equals 2 --based on the principle of identity or A is A (because 2 simply is '1+1' and so 1+1 equals 2 because 1=1 equals 1=1. You ask about explanations. On that point, things get quite interesting. The concepts of necessity, impossibility, and possibility can be explained in terms of one another. So the statement '1+1 = 2 is necessary' is equivalent to '1+1=2 is possible and 1+1 is not equal to 2 is not possible. To many of this, explanations like this are acceptable, but to some radical thinkers, such explanations are considered insufficient. For a great defense of the analytic category and the concepts at issue, check out Alvin Plantinga's classic On The Nature Of Necessity.

Thank you for these interesting reflections! As for your first point, there are a number of philosophers who address radical skepticism (e.g. can any of us know with certainty that we are not, as we seem to be, wide awake and acting in the world rather than, say, dreaming?) in the way you suggest. Arguably, life may continue just as it appears until one's death and yet there would be no decisive reason to rule out the possibility one was merely a brain in a vat. And because of this, some philosophers think that such radical skeptical hypotheses are idle or nonsensical or of no interest. I am somewhat of the other mind: I think we can imagine radical hypothetical states of affairs in which we are indeed systematically mistaken in almost all our beliefs about ourselves in the world (in brief, I think it conceivable that we might be in the matrix). While this does not have awesome practical consequences, I think it should humble us in our knowledge claims. As for the second point, Quine set out to...

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