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Re: [ontolog-forum] Ontology and kantian propositions

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 07 Aug 2011 10:31:55 -0400
Message-id: <4E3EA1DB.1050205@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Doug,    (01)

Before getting to the main issue, I'd like to correct my typo
of 'William' for 'Willard' as Quine's first name.  My only excuse
is that it was late at night and once my fingers started 'Will'
they continued 'iam'.    (02)

But it might have been a Freudian slip.  Quine might have grown up
with a less prickly personality if his parents had called him Bill.
With his few friends, he used the nickname Van.    (03)

>    RULE: bachelor(Benedict) => unmarried(Benedict)
>    GIVEN: unmarried(Benedict)
> does not imply
>    ?: bachelor(Benedict)    (04)

But the definition of 'bachelor' as 'unmarried man' means that
the rule should have a double-headed arrow.  In any case, even
the one-way rule above is sufficient to prove the following:    (05)

    "If Benedict is a bachelor, then Benedict is unmarried."    (06)

> FWIW, celibacy applies to clergy in the Roman Catholic Church,
> but not for clergy in other Catholic Churches of which the
> Pope is head.    (07)

Yes.  But that just adds one more complication that emphasizes
the following point:    (08)

> It seems that the rule for bachelorhood needs to be more complex than
> such unmarried(X) & man(X) => bachelor(X) .    (09)

>> Instead, my recommendation is to use an underspecified
>> collection of terms with very few axioms.  For detailed
>> reasoning about specific problems, use those terms in an
>> open-ended collection of small theories (microtheories),
>> each of which is specialized for a narrow domain.    (010)

> I agree.    (011)

That's the most important point I'd like to emphasize.    (012)

The reason why I chose the example 'bachelor' is that it was
one that Carnap used in his book (which I browsed through when
I recommended it as a good introduction).    (013)

Carnap had a very clear writing style, in which he stated the
issues very precisely.  But he was criticized for oversimplifying
many issues in order to translate them to logic.  He was also
a close friend of Quine, and their lengthy correspondence was
published in the book _Dear Carnap, Dear Van_.    (014)

Quine was equally clear in his writings.  But instead of simplifying
complex ideas, he would dismiss them.  And he would write devastating
critiques of partial solutions that couldn't deal with all the
complexities.    (015)

The distinction between analytic/synthetic is filled with exceptions
and puzzles like the ones we discussed.  Quine used them as a way
of dismissing the distinction altogether.    (016)

Another subject Quine dismissed was modal logic, which also has huge
numbers of problematical issues.  Carnap wrote extensively about
modal logic and possible worlds, but Quine dismissed modal logic
as "a confusion of use and mention."    (017)

Clarence Irving Lewis, who had developed the modern systems of modal
logic, was the head of the Harvard philosophy dept. when Quine started
as a lecturer.  Lewis and Quine criticized each other's ideas for
years, but they never mentioned the other's name in their publications.    (018)

Actually, I believe that Quine's criticism shows the way to a solution:
treat the modal operators as metalevel indicators of the implicit laws.
This idea leads to a version of Dunn's semantics with a partial ordering
of laws by levels of *entrenchment*.  But that's another story.    (019)

John    (020)

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