Category Archives: Epistemology

Concept-Checking and Assumption-Checking

Just as there are numerous websites, agencies, and sources that ‘fact-check’ the various statements made by politicians, public figures, and the like, I want to use part of my platform here to ‘concept-check’ and ‘assumption-check’ different statements made by whomever (historians, philosophers, journalists, etc.).

Concept-checking will involve ensuring that all of the technical concepts are being accurately and, at least initially, fairly portrayed in articles or books or magazines I read. So, for instance, if someone claims that Nietzsche’s ‘eternal recurrence’ is about how badly he wishes he could experience the joy of riding his bicycle for the first time extended over an infinity, then I would assert that they are incorrect and need to be concept-checked (along with the relevant authoritative evidence and argumentation).

Assumption-checking will involve pointing out some common sense and likely events or situations in all (or at least most) of our lives differ from the assumption being offered. So, for instance, if someone talks about how free each individual in the United States is, I would point out how that assumption doesn’t ring as true as they would like. For instance, consider the divergence in experiences among POC and white America. There are VAST differences that cannot and should not be glossed over, especially when engaging in philosophical analysis and truth-seeking. That same principle applies here.

Moving forward, I will specifically mark the CC and AC posts and provide all the proper documentation that I can. If you think of any or come across any articles you think would be interesting, please send them my way!

Sentential Logic Practice: Symbolizing More Natural Sentences

1.) Natural sentence: Either I will eat ham or I will eat turkey.
Library: H = I will eat ham, T = I will eat turkey
Symbolization: H v T

2.) Natural sentence: Yesterday, we danced, played, and ate so much!
Library:  D = we danced so much, P = we played so much, A = we ate so much
Symbolization: [D & (P&A)]

3.) Natural sentence: Harrison or John will win Prom King
Library: H = Harrison will win Prom King, J = John will win Prom King
Symbolization: H v J

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A Fantastic Introduction to Philosophy Video!

I have show all of my 120+ students this semester this video. Luckily for those who don’t have the textbook yet (but better be getting it soon), this video covers most of the same vital information!

Philosophers as Meta-Scholars

The philosopher is a meta-scholar.

    • What is a meta-scholar? A meta-scholar is one who understands, at a bare minimum, the fundamentals of a particular field of study or discipline (or historical enterprise or, most broadly, anything capable of being described, articulated, and/or analyzed — (e.g. any event, person, process, or object)).

      • The ‘fundamentals’ of a field of study or discipline refer to the sprawling mosaic of methodological rules, axiomatic and auxiliary operating assumptions, and normative and demarcating practices inherent to that field of study/discipline and its actively practicing members. Think of Lakatos’s ‘hard core’ or Kuhn’s ‘[dominant] paradigm.’

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Contra Ainslie: Multi-variable Measures of Akrasia

Throughout his explanation of akrasia as hyperbolic discounting, Ainslie focuses on the temporal dimensions of the discounting process, noting that when the possibility of experiencing satisfaction from a particular reward is less delayed, then the agent is more likely to engage in akratic actions or be swayed by akratic behavioral dispositions.

Ainslie uses the term “imminent” to describe how strongly an agent may feel an internal pull towards a particular reward and its accompanying satisfaction (Ainslie 30). “Imminent,” when properly understood within hyperbolic discounting, includes but should not be limited to temporal considerations. Akratic actions involve internal calculations guided by desire or emotion with an emphasis on, or at least a preference for, the likelihood of certainty in obtaining satisfaction from a reward. This aspect of certainty is what some psychological experiments mentioned by Ainslie fail to properly take into account.

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An Introduction to Akrasia

Skele Akrasia has traditionally been defined as “incontinence” or “weakness of will” and occurs when an agent, endowed with certain rational and volitional faculties (deliberation and free will), chooses a poorer course of action. Akrasia has wide-reaching implications for topics such as motivation (what causes akratic actions?), impulsiveness (how does one prevent akratic actions?), moral accountability (is akrasia similar enough to addiction or compulsion to warrant lesser moral culpability?), and the like. As scholar George Ainslie points out, the practical application of akrasia has been, and is currently being, studied by scholars coming from numerous disciplines including philosophy of mind, sociobiology, economics, neurophysiology, and cognitive psychology (Ainslie 7). The importance of understanding the concept and what it means for human beings should not be understated.

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Sentential Logic Practice: Assessing Some Proofs

1.) A&B, B > (D&E), derive B > E
(A&B)
B
(D&E)
E
B > E

2.) S > (Q&R), S, derive R
S
(Q&R)
R

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Sentential Logic Practice: Symbolizing Natural Sentences

1.) Natural sentence: Either Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders will get the Democratic Presidential Nomination.
Library: B = Biden will get the Democratic Presidential Nomination
S = Sanders will get the Democratic Presidential Nomination
Symbolization: B∥S

2.) Natural sentence: If you take proper precautions, then you can help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Library: T = you take proper precautions
S = you can help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus

Symbolization: T→S

3.) Natural sentence: Eat your vegetables and your meat before you have dessert.
Library: V = eat your vegetables
M = eat your meat
D = you have dessert

Symbolization: (V&M)→D; (V&M)≡D*
*material bi-conditional/material equivalence, stronger logical symbolization of the statement

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What’s More Preposterous? A Survey of the Beliefs of Professional Philosophers

Recently, Brian Leiter (of the blog The Leiter Reports) published the results of an internet poll about various philosophical views. More specifically, this internet poll sought to rank the most to least preposterous philosophical belief systems or concepts (reread that again to make sure you got them in the right order). In total, over 1300 current professional philosophers were surveyed and the 6 philosophical belief systems or concepts that were utilized (and in this particular order) include…

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