Traditions

Vasubandhu’s Twenty Verses and Comparative Philosophy, Part One

In this duology of posts I’m going to respond to Sonam Kachru’s friendly criticism of my own work on Vasubandhu’s Twenty Verses (Vimśikākārikā). But instead of the usual academic practice of arguing against Kachru’s criticisms, I’m going to suggest that Kachru may be right. Or maybe half-right. In any case, his work has helped my own thinking move toward a new insight: I have come to suspect that I made some mistakes in my own earlier work—and maybe these errors are iterations of deeper mistakes that often occur under the banner of “comparative philosophy.” ¶ In this first post, I’ll discuss my own previous work and Kachru’s criticisms of it, and in part two I’ll say more about what I think all this has to do with comparative philosophy and how we 21st century scholars approach classical Indian texts like the Twenty Verses. ¶ In my 2017 article, “External-World Skepticism in Classical India: The Case of Vasubandhu,” I laid out the debate about whether Vasubandhu’s Twenty Verses should be understood as advocating a form of metaphysical idealism or a kind of epistemological phenomenalism, and I came to the (appropriately cagey) conclusion that in either case, Vasubandhu might be read as providing an invitation to consider something like the issue of external-world skepticism. ¶ In his excellent 2021 study of Vasubandhu’s Twenty Verses, Other Lives: Mind and World in Indian Buddhism, Sonam Kachru develops a novel account of the text that moves away from the contemporary debate about whether Vasubandhu... -

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Kicking off Semester 2 in St Salvator's Chapel

I grew up in Australia: my university training and my initial academic positions took place in the explicitly secular institution of the Australian university. So, it’s an uncanny experience to arrive in St Andrews to become a part of a university in a town marked by martyrdom, in which the Chaplaincy plays a central and visible role. University functions, including graduations, are opened with prayers in Latin. There are regular services in Chapel, including graduation services, and many involve an procession of academics, in robes. The separation of “church” and “state” is nowhere near as sharp here in St Andrews as it was in Australia. The university is explicitly pluralist, and the chaplains work very hard to make space for students of all faiths and... -

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Chat GPT and Student Writing: Some Practical Reflections

ChatGPT: What it is, how it works, the challenge it presents Developed by OpenAI, ChatGPT is an AI text generator that uses a large language model (LLM) to create responses to queries. In many ways it is like your phone’s autocomplete function—when you type a sequence of words into your... -

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PY4601: Paradoxes

py4601: Paradoxes is an honours Philosophy module at the University of St Andrews. It’s coordinated by my colleague, Patrick Greenough, and I’m teaching a small slice at the end on the semantic paradoxes. Here’s what we’re covering. A paradox is a plausible argument for an absurd conclusion. Better still: a... -

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Chat GPT and Student Writing: Some Practical Reflections ChatGPT: What it is, how it works, the challenge it presents Developed by OpenAI, ChatGPT is an AI text generator that uses a large language model (LLM) to create responses to queries. In many ways it is like your phone’s autocomplete function—when you type a sequence of words into your phone, the autocomplete makes a […] Blog of the APA -


PY4601: Paradoxes py4601: Paradoxes is an honours Philosophy module at the University of St Andrews. It’s coordinated by my colleague, Patrick Greenough, and I’m teaching a small slice at the end on the semantic paradoxes. Here’s what we’re covering. A paradox is a plausible argument for an absurd conclusion. Better still: a paradox is an apparently plausible argument, with apparently plausible premises, which leads to an apparently absurd conclusion using apparently valid reasoning. In this module, we... Consequently.org -


Kicking off Semester 2 in St Salvator's Chapel I grew up in Australia: my university training and my initial academic positions took place in the explicitly secular institution of the Australian university. So, it’s an uncanny experience to arrive in St Andrews to become a part of a university in a town marked by martyrdom, in which the Chaplaincy plays a central and visible role. University functions, including graduations, are opened with prayers in Latin. There are regular services in Chapel, including graduation... Consequently.org -


Come and See! (John 1:29-42) I normally don’t speak from notes, but I do know that if I get up in front of a group to speak, my natural duration is the lecture, and at 45 to 50 minutes, that just won’t do for a sermon at chapel. To prevent an over-long talk, I took the time to write things down, and edit it to an appropriate length. Now that I have it, I may as well share the text... Consequently.org -


Collection Frames: What, How and Why? Abstract: In this talk, I give a breezy introduction to Collection Frames (joint work with Shawn Standefer), with an emphasis on how they are technically equivalent to, but conceptually simpler than Routley–Meyer ternary relational frames. The talk is an online presentation at the New Directions in Relevant Logic Online Workshop. The slides for the talk are available here. Consequently.org -


PY4638: Philosophy of Religion py4638: Philosophy of Religion aims to provide a philosophical understanding of the phenomenon of religion and its relation to other central human activities, studying such topics as religious and cultural diversity, religious experience, belief and justification, faith and reason, religious language, religion and metaphysics, or religion and science. In 2022, we will be exploring one important topic in the philosophy of religion from three different perspectives. We will explore the notion that ultimate reality—or God—is... Consequently.org -


PY3100: Reading Philosophy 1—Texts in Language, Logic, Mind, Epistemology, Metaphysics and Science py3100: Reading Philosophy 1–Texts in Language, Logic, Mind, Epistemology, Metaphysics and Science is designed to develop the philosophical skills students have acquired over the first two years of their philosophy study, and acquaint them with key works in core areas of philosophy. The module involves close study of philosophical texts – historical and contemporary – that address a variety of topics within metaphysics, epistemology, the philosophies of logic and language, mind and science. Students will... Consequently.org -


Classical Logic and Intuitionistic Logic: looking both ways Abstract: We know a great many technical results concerning the relationship between classical logic and intuitionistic logic, whether in the propositional, first-order or higher-order languages. We also know quite a lot about the relationship between intuitionistic and classical theories. In this talk, I will explore some of what these results might mean, from the perspective of partisans of one side or other of the divide, and what kinds of pluralism might be tenable, in the... Consequently.org -


True Contradictions? Why, and Why Not? Abstract: In this talk, I introduce the difference between paraconsistency (adopting a logic for which a contradiction need not entail everything) and dialetheism (the notion that there are true contradictions), and I explain some reasons why one might take there to be true contradictions. I focus on Jc Beall’s recent work on contradictory Christology as one such motivation, and discuss some attractions of the view, as well as some shortcomings to be further explored. The... Consequently.org -


Collection Frames for Distributive Substructural Logics We present a new frame semantics for positive relevant and substructural propositional logics. This frame semantics is both a generalization of Routley–Meyer ternary frames and a simplification of them. The key innovation of this semantics is the use of a single accessibility relation to relate collections of points to points. Different logics are modeled by varying the kinds of collections used: they can be sets, multisets, lists or trees. We show that collection frames on... Consequently.org -


Proofs and Models in Philosophical Logic This is a short book, in the Cambridge Elements series in Philosophical Logic. This is a general introduction to recent work in proof theory and model theory of non-classical logics, with a focus on the application of non-classical logic to the semantic paradoxes and (to a lesser extent), the sorites paradox. After a short introduction motivating general notions of proof and of models, I introduce and motivate a simple natural deduction system, and present the... Consequently.org -


PY4634: Philosophical Logic py4638: Philosophical Logic focuses on some of the main philosophical questions that have been raised concerning the central notions of logic. We’ll be examining contemporary debates on notions such as logical consequence, the normative status of logic, its epistemology, the meaning of the logical constants, logical pluralism, and higher-order logics. Consequently.org -


Proofs with Star and Perp: pluralism and proofs for different logics Abstract: In this talk, I show how to incorporate insights from the model-theoretic semantics for negation (insights due the late J. Michael Dunn, among others), into a properly proof-theoretic understanding of the semantics of negation. I then discuss the different ways a logical pluralist may understand the underlying accounts of proofs and their significance. The talk is a presentation at the Current Debates in the Philosophy of Logic Seminar, European Network for the Philosophy of... Consequently.org -


Worlds: Possible and Impossible Abstract: In this talk, I reflect on the role of worlds–possible worlds and impossible worlds—both in the semantics of various kinds of languages and logics, and in broader issues in metaphysics. I will argue that, given very modest assumptions concerning the role of worlds in semantics, that any defender of possible worlds in such a role should be equally comfortable with impossible worlds. However, this argument for impossible worlds does not transfer straightforwardly to logically... Consequently.org -


PY3100: Reading Philosophy 1—Texts in Language, Logic, Mind, Epistemology, Metaphysics and Science py3100: Reading Philosophy 1–Texts in Language, Logic, Mind, Epistemology, Metaphysics and Science is designed to develop the philosophical skills students have acquired over the first two years of their philosophy study, and acquaint them with key works in core areas of philosophy. The module involves close study of philosophical texts – historical and contemporary – that address a variety of topics within metaphysics, epistemology, the philosophies of logic and language, mind and science. Students will... Consequently.org -


Comparing Rules for Identity in sequent systems and natural deduction Abstract: It is straightforward to treat the identity predicate in models for first order predicate logic. Truth conditions for identity formulas are given by a natural clause: a formula s = t is true (or satisfied by a variable assignment) in a model if and only if the denotations of the terms s and t (perhaps relative to the given variable assignment) are the same. On the other hand, finding appropriate rules for identity in... Consequently.org -


Natural Deduction with Alternatives: on structural rules, and identifying assumptions Abstract: In this talk, I will introduce natural deduction with alternatives, explaining how this framework provides a simple, well-behaved, single conclusion natural deduction system for a range of logical systems, including classical logic, (classical) linear logic, relevant logic and affine logic, in addition to the familar intuitionistic restrictions of these systems. Each of these proof systems have identical connective rules. As we expect in substructural logics, different logical systems are given by varying the structural rules in play. The distinctly... Consequently.org -


Platonism, Nominalism, Realism, Anti-Realism, Reprentationalism, Inferentialism and all that My usual talk (a close-up view of the Old Quad and Arts West at the University of Melbourne). Abstract: In this talk, I will place contemporary research in philosophical logic in a wider historical and philosophical context, showing how recent work in logic connects to the rivalry between Platonism and Nominalism, or realism and anti-realism in metaphysics, and between representationalism and inferentialism in the the philosophy of language. Along the way, I will touch on... Consequently.org -


Comparing Rules for Identity in Sequent Systems and Natural Deduction Abstract: It is straightforward to treat the identity predicate in models for first order predicate logic. Truth conditions for identity formulas are straightforward. On the other hand, finding appropriate rules for identity in a sequent system or in natural deduction leaves many questions open. Identity could be treated with introduction and elimination rules in natural deduction, or left and right rules, in a sequent calculus, as is standard for familiar logical concepts. On the other... Consequently.org -


UNIB10002: Logic, Language and Information UNIB10002: Logic, Language and Information is a University of Melbourne undergraduate breadth subject, introducing logic and its applications to students from a wide range of disciplines in the Arts, Sciences and Engineering. I coordinate this subject with my colleague Dr. Jen Davoren, with help from Prof. Lesley Stirling (Linguistics), Dr. Peter Schachte (Computer Science) and Dr. Daniel Murfet (Mathematics). The subject is taught to University of Melbourne undergraduate students. Details for enrolment are here. Consequently.org -