Tymoczko on the Epistemology of Mathematics

Ilkka Pättiniemi Lately, as one does, I have been reading up on the philosophy, and especially epistemology of mathematics. In doing so, I chanced upon the great, late philosopher of mathematics, Thomas Tymoczko. In his paper “Computers, Proofs and Mathematicians: A Philosophical Investigation of the Four-Color Proof” (1980) Tymoczko gives five very sensible criteria forContinue reading “Tymoczko on the Epistemology of Mathematics”

Pratchett on Truth: Trust, Responsibility, and Truth

Ilkka Pättiniemi A bit of levity for this week, but with serious undertones.  In the 25th book of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, The Truth, there is a discussion between the commander of Ankh-Morpork’s city watch, Vimes, and an intrepid journalist William de Worde on trust and responsibility: Vimes said, ‘I don’t trust you, Mr deContinue reading “Pratchett on Truth: Trust, Responsibility, and Truth”

No Escape from Method

Petri Turunen While doing metaphilosophy, one can come across some rather hostile attitudes. This is particularly true if one dares to consider such questions as how is, can, or even should philosophy be practiced. Some say that such methodological considerations are a non-starter since philosophy, by its very nature, should not have any constraints. PhilosophyContinue reading “No Escape from Method”

Does Science Require Metaphysics? – The Case of Vagueness

Ilkka Pättiniemi Some time ago, Ilmari made a general case against the metaphysicians’ claim that science requires metaphysics. I agree with what was said there, but wish to make a more piecemeal case against such claims. To that end, I will look at vagueness, and see whether a metaphysical (or a merely philosophical) solution toContinue reading “Does Science Require Metaphysics? – The Case of Vagueness”

How to Abolish Minds: What Is It Like to Be a Zombie?

Ilkka Pättiniemi Last time around, Thomas Nagel (1974) came to the rescue for the dualist: we after all can know that there are other minds. Notice, however, that the dissolution of skepticism about other minds rests on the notion of similarity between subjects. This similarity has to be physical/behavioral or else risk begging the questionContinue reading “How to Abolish Minds: What Is It Like to Be a Zombie?”

New Article on Scientism Published!

The paper “How Not to Criticise Scientism” written by Helsinki Circle members Johan Hietanen, Petri Turunen, Ilmari Hirvonen, Janne Karisto, Ilkka Pättiniemi, and Henrik Saarinen was published in Metaphilosophy on 21 July 2020. The article is an open access publication and it can be read here.

They Are Merely Conventional Signs!, or, Realism, Conventionalism, and Classification

Ilkka Pättiniemi When it comes to the subject of classification, a conventionalist view might at first blush seem quite welcoming. After all, many classificatory systems are in place for our convenience, and as such we should be free to change them if a new system seems to be doing a better job (given our needs).Continue reading “They Are Merely Conventional Signs!, or, Realism, Conventionalism, and Classification”

Are You Serious?! Zeno’s Paradox and the Impossibility of Movement

Ilkka Pättiniemi In a recent piece on Starts With a Bang, Ethan Siegel takes up Zeno’s paradox and argues that it takes physics to solve it. Here I will not so much look at Siegel’s piece as take it as an opportunity to look at the absurdity of Zeno’s paradox seriously. Again this will takeContinue reading “Are You Serious?! Zeno’s Paradox and the Impossibility of Movement”

In Search of the Right Logic

Rami Koskinen The later development of logic in the 20th century has emphasized the importance and centrality of first-order logic (FOL) at the expense of second-order logic (SOL) and other “nonstandard” logics. There are, of course, many perfectly valid mathematical and pragmatic reasons for the popularity of FOL. However, it is sometimes argued in philosophicalContinue reading “In Search of the Right Logic”

A Brief Remark on Thought Experiments, or Did Galileo Refute Aristotle?

Ilkka Pättiniemi The use of a specific a priori method in philosophy is often justified by remarking that the same method is also used to good effect in physics. The method in question is, of course, the use of thought experiments to refute, or to support, claims or theories. A thought experiment can be characterizedContinue reading “A Brief Remark on Thought Experiments, or Did Galileo Refute Aristotle?”

Normative Relativism Isn’t Good for You

Ilmari Hirvonen Let’s start with a bold conjecture: you’re not a normative relativist. Not at least when it comes to issues like morals, linguistic interpretation, or inference. Indeed, adopting normative relativism in regards such topics would be, at the least, detrimental. But what is this thing called “normative relativism” anyway, and what’s so bad aboutContinue reading “Normative Relativism Isn’t Good for You”

The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Natural Language

Ilkka Pättiniemi In his classic paper “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences” (1960), Eugene Wigner tells a story of two friends meeting after a long while. One of them has become a statistician working in population trends. He shows a reprint of his recent paper to his friend, who, upon seeing aContinue reading “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Natural Language”

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