« Three Arguments against Capital Punishment Demolished | Main | Could Scollay Square be a Meinongian Nonexistent Object? »

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Cyrus asked me whether being an ostrich indicates a moral defect. He is invited to repeat his question in his own words in the Comments.

So, yes. I asked if being an ostrich indicates a moral defect, and is therefore enough to disqualify someone as a competent practitioner in the sense Bill uses in his argument from disagreement. (This was a sort of belated reply to Bill raising Quine as an example of a competent practitioner who disagreed with a thesis I proposed didn't fall prey to his argument. The thread is on here somewhere.)

>One cannot exclude a priori the existence of genuine aporiai or insolubilia. Curators of logic museums take note.

I’m impressed with the Greek plural.

Logic has little to say about genuine aporiai, if they exist. If A and B are both self-evident, then logic (1) will tell us whether they lead, directly or indirectly, to a contradiction, and (2) may give some insight into the nature of the self-evidence, e.g. whether the predicate is included in the subject, or conversely.

Generally the aporiai result from some elementary logical slip. As Ockham writes

… because it often happens that younger students of theology and other faculties overlay their study with subtleties, before they have much experience in logic, and through this fall into difficulties that are inexplicable to them - difficulties which are nonetheless little or nothing to others - and slip into manifold errors, casting off true demonstrations as if they were sophisms, and taking sophistry for demonstrations, I have been led to write this treatise, not infrequently by clarifying rules by both philosophical and theological examples, as I go along.
Not just younger students, in my view.

Oz,

What do you mean by 'self-evident'?

Generally the aporiai result from some elementary logical slip. As Ockham writes

… because it often happens that younger students of theology and other faculties overlay their study with subtleties, before they have much experience in logic, and through this fall into difficulties that are inexplicable to them - difficulties which are nonetheless little or nothing to others - and slip into manifold errors, casting off true demonstrations as if they were sophisms, and taking sophistry for demonstrations, I have been led to write this treatise, not infrequently by clarifying rules by both philosophical and theological examples, as I go along.

Among scholastics, I slightly prefer Ockham's great rival to Ockham himself.

Cyrus,

Why do you think that an ostrich nominalist suffers from a moral defect?

Bill,

When listing moral flaws in “A Quasi-Pyrrhonian Metaphilosophical Puzzle”, you write that the competent practitioner must be 'a sincere truth seeker, not a quibbler or a sophist'. Ostriches (especially as Armstrong uses the term) are people who refuse to face up to problems with their positions. They “stick their heads in the ground” and hold out come what may. This seems like an indication that they're not sincere truthseekers.

Cyrus,

I believe that there are positions the holding of which shows moral deficiency on the part of the holder. But I doubt that ostrich nominalism is one of them.

Charitably viewed, the ostrich nominalist is so convinced of the untenability of other positions that he 'goes ostrich.' Like almost all philosophers, he is convinced that there just has to be a solution and so he plumps for his own, blind as he is to its problems due to his revulsion at the alternatives.

In virtue of what is 'red' true of the tomato? In virtue of nothing, the ostrich may snort, and follow up by refusing to grant the intelligibility of the question. He might simply deny that there is any such thing as metaphysical explanation.

The ostrich is a bird built close to the ground -- when he is not underground.

He needn't be a sophist or a quibbler.

OZstrich,

>>Generally the aporiai result from some elementary logical slip.<<

That's impossible if the aporiai are genuine. What you want to say is that there are no problems that are both genuine and absolutely insoluble.

Bill,

You're right that this is a more charitable view of ostriches:

Charitably viewed, the ostrich nominalist is so convinced of the untenability of other positions that he 'goes ostrich.' Like almost all philosophers, he is convinced that there just has to be a solution and so he plumps for his own, blind as he is to its problems due to his revulsion at the alternatives.

Thank you.

The ostrich is a bird built close to the ground -- when he is not underground.

He needn't be a sophist or a quibbler.

Just to clarify, I don't think 'quibbler' and 'sophist' are the only alternatives to 'sincere truth seeker' (I'm not sure you think this either, but want to clarify just in case), and didn't mean to imply that ostriches are either sophists or quibblers. I had something more like dogmatists in the pejorative sense outlined below in mind:

The ancient sceptics labelled their opponents 'dogmatists'. The word 'dogmatist' in contemporary English has a pejorative tone – it hints at an irrational rigidity of opinion, a refusal to look impartially at the evidence. In its ancient sense the word lacked that tone: a dogmatist was simply someone who subscribed to dogmas or doctrines. We shall use the word in the ancient sense. The disadvantage of this practice is off-set by the convenience of having a short label for all those who are not sceptical philosophers. (Annas and Barnes, The Modes of Scepticism)

By the way, I realize asking a question like this runs the risk of being a bit rude. I trusted that 'a philosophical bar-room fighter' like Oz can handle a few cuts and bruises when I asked, but I am sorry to anyone I've been rude to or insulted by asking. That isn't my intention.

Cyrus,

I doubt he'll take offense.

The comments to this entry are closed.