Science & Logic

What's It Like to Be a Dinosaur?

Guest blogger Ross Barham writes … ¶   ¶ There’s a scene in Terrence Malick’s 2011 film, The Tree of Life, that depicts a brief interaction between two dinosaurs of different species. One of the dinos, which looks to be predatory, comes across the other more herbivorous-looking one, lying vulnerable on the rocks of a riverbed. The first roughly stands on the head of the other, pushing it against the rocks, but then gently lifts its foot as if to suggest that the other stay down, before withdrawing into the distance with a quick, quizzical, look back at the spared creature. ¶ In writing about this scene for Slate, Forrest Wickman confirmed from both a draft of the screenplay and the testimony of the visual effects supervisor of the film, Michael Fink, that it is meant to depict the first ever Earthly instance of compassion. Wickman, also, however, sought to evaluate the paleontological plausibility of the scene via Slate’s science writer, Brian Switek, who not only denies that creatures with bird-sized brains could tell right from wrong, but further suggests that since “there’s no fossil record of thought, or of empathy”, “we will never know what the internal lives of dinosaurs were like.” ¶ While I’m happy to allow that a singular (let alone fictional) instance of a dinosaur declining from attacking potential prey is insufficient to establish the existence of prehistoric compassion or morality, Switek’s position is at least superficially inconsistent. If we really could know nothing of the... -

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Logical Form: Between Logic and Natural Language

2018.07.17 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews ¶ Andrea Iacona, Logical Form: Between Logic and Natural Language, Springer, 2018, 133pp., $89.99, ISBN 9783319741536. ¶ Reviewed by Gilad Nir, University of LeipzigGilad Nir, University of Leipzig The notion of logical form plays various roles in contemporary philosophy. It is appealed to when we evaluate the validity of arguments; it is said to underlie the structure of sentences; it forms part of theories of meaning; and it figures in debates over the kind of commitments we undertake in asserting sentences. Andrea Iacona's book aims to undermine the idea that there is a single unified notion at the basis of these various philosophical practices. The book advances the following argument. There is a... -

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Formal Epistemology in the most recent BJPS

The most recent BJPS, hot off the presses, includes several articles that should be of special interest to formal epistemologists. These include: Charles T Sebens and Sean M Carroll, “Self-locating Uncertainty and the Origin of Probability in Everettian Quantum Mechanics” Nicholaos Jones, “Inference to the More Robust Explanation” Jan Sprenger, “Two... -

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Workshop on Mathematical Reasoning in Stanford

February 9-10, 2018. Website here. -

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Logical Form: Between Logic and Natural Language 2018.07.17 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Andrea Iacona, Logical Form: Between Logic and Natural Language, Springer, 2018, 133pp., $89.99, ISBN 9783319741536. Reviewed by Gilad Nir, University of LeipzigGilad Nir, University of Leipzig The notion of logical form plays various roles in contemporary philosophy. It is appealed to when we evaluate the validity of arguments; it is said to underlie the structure of sentences; it forms part of theories of meaning;... Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews -


Formal Epistemology in the most recent BJPS The most recent BJPS, hot off the presses, includes several articles that should be of special interest to formal epistemologists. These include: Charles T Sebens and Sean M Carroll, “Self-locating Uncertainty and the Origin of Probability in Everettian Quantum Mechanics” Nicholaos Jones, “Inference to the More Robust Explanation” Jan Sprenger, “Two Impossibility Results for Measures of […] Choice and Inference -


Workshop on Mathematical Reasoning in Stanford February 9-10, 2018. Website here. Choice and Inference -


Philosophy of Science 85, 1 now available Here. Featuring several articles of interest to formal epistemologists, including: Jessi Cisewski, Joseph B. Kadane, Mark J. Schervish, Teddy Seidenfeld, Rafael Stern, “Standards for Modest Bayesian Credences” Thomas F. Icard, “Bayes, Bounds, and Rational Analysis” Benjamin H. Feintzeig, “On the Choice of Algebra for Quantization” Molly Kao, “Old Evidence in the Development of Quantum Theory” Choice and Inference -


What's It Like to Be a Dinosaur? Guest blogger Ross Barham writes …  There’s a scene in Terrence Malick’s 2011 film, The Tree of Life, that depicts a brief interaction between two dinosaurs of different species. One of the dinos, which looks to be predatory, comes across the other more herbivorous-looking one, lying vulnerable on the rocks of a riverbed. The first roughly stands on the head of the other, pushing it against the rocks, but then gently lifts its foot as if... Extinct Blog -


Rebooting the Ethical Soldier In the coming age of high-tech warfare, the old rules of conflict will not apply. The Stone -


PHIL20030: Meaning, Possibility and Paradox PHIL20030: Meaning, Possibility and Paradox is a University of Melbourne undergraduate subject. The idea that the meaning of a sentence depends on the meanings of its parts is fundamental to the way we understand logic, language and the mind. In this subject, we look at the different ways that this idea has been applied in logic throughout the 20th Century and into the present day. In the first part of the subject, our focus is... Consequently.org -


PHIL30043: The Power and Limits of Logic PHIL30043: The Power and Limits of Logic is a University of Melbourne undergraduate subject. It covers the metatheory of classical first order predicate logic, beginning at the Soundness and Completeness Theorems (proved not once but twice, first for a tableaux proof system for predicate logic, then a Hilbert proof system), through the Deduction Theorem, Compactness, Cantor’s Theorem, the Downward Löwenheim–Skolem Theorem, Recursive Functions, Register Machines, Representability and ending up at Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems and Löb’s... Consequently.org -


The Paris End of Collins Street, or Why Gaston Bachelard–Oops, Jean Baudrillard–is a Nitwit. Sorry about that. I don’t have anything against Gaston Bachelard. Really. He looks like a kindly old gent, if a bit scruffy. There could be an I-told-you-so twinkle in his eye, but it might have just been the light. All things considered, he’s OK. You’ve got to admire a bloke who started off as a … [continue reading] Against Professional Philosophy -


A fine paper recently published on "speculative pragmatism" authored by Stengers and Debaise Not the vapid "stake in the ground" planted by Bogost some years ago, but the real deal, as it should be. Link HERE. After Nature -


David Murray I was lucky enough to have had David Murray as one of my tutors at Birkbeck who I’ve only just discovered, died two years ago (I don’t think I’d any idea that he was originally a Canuck). Here is his obituary in the FT and Toocool2betrue along with a squib from the Edmonton Journal, and so far as… Man Without Qualities -


Microblogging and stigmergy Yet another article that detects a stigmergic dynamic within a digital domain, namely microblogging, made freely available via Sensors.   distributed knowledgemicrobloggingspontaneous ordersstigmergicstigmergic cognitionStigmergy Man Without Qualities -


Free Logic [Revised entry by John Nolt on July 13, 2018. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Classical logic requires each singular term to denote an object in the domain of quantification - which is usually understood as the set of "existing" objects. Free logic does not. Free logic is therefore useful for analyzing discourse containing singular terms that either are or might be empty. A term is empty if it either has no referent or refers to... Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy -


Wesley Salmon [New Entry by Maria Carla Galavotti on July 13, 2018.] Wesley Charles Salmon (1925 - 2001) was a central figure in twentieth century philosophy of science. Working in the tradition of Hume, Salmon developed a sophisticated version of empiricism combining a genuinely probabilistic approach with realism about theoretical entities. Salmon's writings, characterized by a systematic and crystal-clear style, cover a wide range of topics including logic, the philosophy of space and time, the foundations of... Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy -


My Word You can't possibly believe that because you've never doubted it. That is what the belief in the external world amounts to. Ombhurbhuva -


Imaginary Foundations My paper ""Imaginary Foundations" has been accepted at Ergo (after rejections from Phil Review, Mind, Phil Studies, PPR, Nous, AJP, and Phil Imprint). The paper has been in the making since 2005, and I'm quite fond of it. The question I address is simple: how should we model the impact of perceptual experience on rational belief? That is, consider a particular type of experience – individuated either by its phenomenology (what it's like to have... Wo’s Weblog -


The Impossibility of Mind Uploading My most recent post, “Living in a Computer Simulation,” elicited some insightful comments from a reader skeptical of the possibility of mind uploading. Here is his argument with my own brief response to it below. My comment concerns a reductive physicalist theory of the mind, which is the view that all mental states and properties of the mind will eventually be explained by scientific accounts of physiological processes and states … Basically, my argument is... Reason and Meaning -


Tiny Mix Tapes reviews Joshua Abrams's Excavations 1. As Heidegger put it, a simplest object can become weird to us when we approach it “not by looking at it and establishing its properties, but rather by the circumspection of the dealings in which we use it.” Quote from B&T. Enowning -


Cultural Evolution This article explores under what circumstances a species is more likely to evolve. You need mutation but that’s not enough because a potentially salubrious mutation can be snuffed out by random noise; the monkey who has the mutation making him 1% smarter than his peers may get eaten by a lion before his mutation has a chance to spread through the population. If a species goes off to form little breeding colonies periodically and then... Eric Linus Kaplan -


The Mathematics of Boolean Algebra [Revised entry by J. Donald Monk on July 11, 2018. Changes to: Main text] Boolean algebra is the algebra of two-valued logic with only sentential connectives, or equivalently of algebras of sets under union and complementation. The rigorous concept is that of a certain kind of algebra, analogous to the mathematical notion of a group. This concept has roots and applications in logic (Lindenbaum-Tarski algebras and model theory), set theory (fields of sets), topology (totally... Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy -