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philosophy/​ontology directory


“Representational Measurement Theory: Is Its Number Up?”, Michell 2020

2020-michell.pdf: “Representational measurement theory: Is its number up?”⁠, Joel Michell (2020-06-07; ⁠, ; similar):

Representational measurement theory was proposed initially to solve problems caused by disciplinary aspirations of 19th-century mathematicians, who wanted to construe their subject as independent of its applications in empirical science. Half a century later, S. S. Stevens seized the opportunity provided by representational theory’s reconstruction of measurement as numerical coding to rubber-stamp psychology’s own aspirations to be counted as a quantitative science. Patrick Suppes’ version of representational theory rectified defects in Stevens’ theory, making it explicit that representational theory entails that mathematical structure is already embedded in empirical systems. However, Suppes’ theory neglected the fact that attributes, not objects, are the focus of measurement and when that oversight is corrected, it follows that empirical systems sustaining measurement already instantiate positive real numbers. Thus, in measurement, real numbers are estimated, not assigned from without. Representational theory not only misrepresents measurement; it refutes itself.

“The Second Apocalypse: Freedom In An Unfree Universe”, Branwen 2017

Bakker: “The Second Apocalypse: Freedom In An Unfree Universe”⁠, Gwern Branwen (2017-08-01; ⁠, ; backlinks; similar):

Bakker’s Second Apocalypse vs Frank Herbert’s Dune: time loops and finding freedom in an unfree universe. In Dune⁠, humanity is liberated by growth and development and escaping the predeterminism of prescience; in Bakker, they are destroyed by it, and liberation is achieved only by death and reunification with a deeper underlying block-universe/​monistic reality.

Review of SF/​F author R. Scott Bakker‘s long-running Second Apocalypse series, which finished in 2017. The series, a loose retelling of the Crusades, set in a fallen-SF fantasy environment, has drawn attention for its ambitious scope and obscure philosophical message centering around determinism, free will, moral nihilism, eliminativism of cognitive states, and the interaction of technology and ethics (which Bakker terms the ’Semantic Apocalypse’). In this series, the protagonist attempts to stop the apocalypse and ultimately accidentally causes it.

I highlight that Frank Herbert’s Dune universe is far more influential on Bakker than reviewers of Bakker have appreciated: countless elements are reflected in Bakker, and the very name of the primary antagonist, the ‘No-God’, uses a naming pattern from Dune and operates similarly. Further, both Dune and the Second Apocalypse are deeply concerned with the nature of time and temporal loops controlling ‘free’ behavior.

Where they diverge is in what is to be done about the human lack of freedom and manipulability by external environments, and have radically different views about what is desirable: in Dune, humanity gradually grows up and achieves freedom from the time loops by the creation of a large time loop whose stable fixed point is the destruction of all time loops, ensuring that humanity will go on existing in some form forever; in the Second Apocalypse, liberation is achieved only through death.

“The Failure of Analysis and the Nature of Concepts”, Huemer 2015

2015-huemer.pdf: “The Failure of Analysis and the Nature of Concepts”⁠, Michael Huemer (2015; ; similar):

Over the last century, many well-qualified philosophers spent many years attempting to analyze philosophically interesting concepts, such as KNOWLEDGE, FREE WILL, and CAUSATION. Yet no one succeeded in producing a single correct analysis. What went wrong?

I ascribe the aspirations of conceptual analysis to a Lockean theory of concepts that ought to be rejected. I propose an alternative picture of concepts and properties that explains both (1) why linguistic intuitions about cases dominate the evaluation of conceptual analyses; and (2) why most concepts are unanalyzable.

3 tenets of this Lockean theory of concepts are of particular interest here:

  1. Concepts are open to direct introspective examination.
  2. Most concepts are composed of other concepts.
  3. Definitions govern the application of concepts.

“Possible Girls”, Sinhababu 2008

2008-sinhababu.pdf: “Possible Girls”⁠, Neil Sinhababu (2008-05-25; ; similar):

I argue that if David Lewis’ modal realism is true, modal realists from different possible worlds can fall in love with each other.

I offer a method for uniquely picking out possible people who are in love with us and not with our counterparts. Impossible lovers and trans-world love letters are considered.

Anticipating objections, I argue that we can stand in the right kinds of relations to merely possible people to be in love with them and that ending a trans-world relationship to start a relationship with an actual person isn’t cruel to one’s otherworldly lover.

“Watchmaker [Watchmen, Chapter 4]”, Moore 1986

1986-moore-watchmen-chapter4-watchmaker.pdf: “Watchmaker [Watchmen, Chapter 4]”⁠, Alan Moore (1986-12-01; ; backlinks)

“Semantic and Conceptual Development: An Ontological Perspective”, Keil 1979

1979-keil-semanticandconceptualdevelopment.pdf: “Semantic and Conceptual Development: An Ontological Perspective”⁠, Frank C. Keil (1979-01-01; ⁠, )

“Seven Strictures on Similarity”, Goodman 1972

1972-goodman.pdf: “Seven Strictures on Similarity”⁠, Nelson Goodman (1972-01-01)

“Natural Kinds”, Quine 1969

1969-quine.pdf: “Natural Kinds”⁠, Willard Van Orman Quine (1969-01-01; backlinks)

“An Atomist Illustration In Aristotle”, West 1969

1969-west.pdf: “An Atomist Illustration In Aristotle”⁠, Martin L. West (1969; backlinks; similar):

[Textual criticism of translations/​interpretations of a Democritus passage in Aristotle⁠. West argues that the translation of a passage generally translated as the generic observation

Tragedy and comedy come out of the same letters.

or the more abstract observation

Tragedy and Comedy come out of the same letters.

should be read as Democritus engaged in word play:

For ‘Tragedy’ [τραγωδία] and ‘Comedy’ [τρυγωδία] come to be out of the same letters.

Because the surrounding passage in Aristotle strongly implies that Democritus is defending the position that small changes (in atoms) can yield large changes (in observed appearance or behavior or property), in the same way that a word can alter its meaning completely based on a single letter (emphasis added):

A similar criticism applies to all our predecessors with the single exception of Democritus. Not one of them penetrated below the surface or made a thorough examination of a single one of the problems. Democritus, however, does seem not only to have thought carefully about all the problems, but also to be distinguished from the outset by his method. For, as we are saying, none of the other philosophers made any definite statement about growth, except such as any amateur might have made. They said that things grow ‘by the accession of like to like’, but they did not proceed to explain the manner of this accession. Nor did they give any account of ‘combination’: and they neglected almost every single one of the remaining problems, offering no explanation, eg. of ‘action’ or ‘passion’ how in physical actions one thing acts and the other undergoes action. Democritus and Leucippus, however, postulate the ‘figures’, and make ‘alteration’ and coming-to-be result from them. They explain coming-to-be and passing-away by their ‘dissociation’ and ‘association’, but ‘alteration’ by their ‘grouping’ and ‘Position’. And since they thought that the ‘truth lay in the appearance, and the appearances are conflicting and infinitely many, they made the ’figures’ infinite in number. Hence—owing to the changes of the compound—the same thing seems different and conflicting to different people: it is ‘transposed’ by a small additional ingredient, and appears utterly other by the ‘transposition’ of a single constituent. [For Tragedy and Comedy are both composed of the same letters.]

West states that if Democritus had not intended this wordplay, he would have used other terms for ‘tragedy’ and ‘comedy’. Hence not using his alternative reading and translation renders the passage ‘unintelligble’.]

“Symposium: Universals and the 'Method of Analysis'”, Joseph et al 1926

1926-ramsey.pdf: “Symposium: Universals and the 'Method of Analysis'”⁠, H. W. B. Joseph, Frank P. Ramsey⁠, R. B. Braithwaite (1926-01-01)

“Universals”, Ramsey 1925

1925-ramsey.pdf: “Universals”⁠, Frank P. Ramsey (1925-01-01; ; backlinks)

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