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Constructing the World

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1 Constructing the World
David Chalmers

2 Admin Website/syllabus:
Office hours: Tuesdays 3-5 Assessment: Paper, drafts encouraged. Incompletes: Draft required by end of term, paper by beginning of spring. Discussion list: constructing-the-

3 Laplace’s Demon An intellect which at a certain moment would know all forces that set nature in motion, and all positions of all items of which nature is composed, if this intellect were also vast enough to submit these data to analysis, it would embrace in a single formula the movements of the greatest bodies of the universe and those of the tiniest atom; for such an intellect nothing would be uncertain and the future just like the past would be present before its eyes Pierre-Simon Laplace, 1814

4 Laplace’s Scrutability Thesis
If a Laplacenean intellect knew all the Laplacean truths, then for any hypothesis p it could entertain, it could know whether p. Laplacean truths = current positions of all fundamental (physical?) entities Laplacean intellect = vast enough to submit these data to (ideally rational?) analysis

5 Problems for Laplace’s Demon I
Indeterminism: physical truths at a time not enough Mental truths: physical truths across time not enough? Self-locating truths: objective truths not enough? Negative truths: positive truths not enough? Moral truths, mathematical truths, metaphysical truths?

6 Revising the Thesis I Still: one can handle these problems by expanding the basic class of truths. The following Empirical Scrutability thesis remains on the table:

7 Empirical Scrutability
There is some limited class of Laplacean truths such that if a Laplacean intellect knew the Laplacean truths, then for any hypothesis p it could entertain, it would be in a position to know whether p.

8 Problems for Laplace’s Demon II
Fitch’s paradox: An unknown truth q yields an unknowable truth q and no- one knows q. A problem for: for all truths p, the demon could know p Laplace finesses this: “knows whether p” Also: Can Laplace’s demon know all about its own brain/mind processes? Demon complexity = world complexity?

9 Revising the Thesis II These problems arise from the demon inhabiting the same world that it is to know One can overcome these problems by stating the thesis in terms of conditional knowledge.

10 Conditional Scrutability
There is a limited class of Laplacean truths such that for any true proposition p, a Laplacean intellect would be in a position to know that if the Laplacean truths obtain, then p. Extending the idea: the Laplacean truths are all the empirical information that is needed, so the conditional itself is a priori?

11 A Priori Scrutability There is a limited class of Laplacean truths such that for any truth p, it is knowable a priori (by a Laplacean intellect) that if the Laplacean truths obtain, then p.

12 Primitive Concepts “For all our complex ideas are ultimately resolvable into simple ideas, of which they are compounded and originally made up, though perhaps their immediate ingredients, as I may so say, are also complex ideas.” John Locke, 1690

13 Wierzbicka’s Primitives
substantives: I, you, someone, people, something, body determiners: this, the same quantifiers: one, two, some, all, many/much evaluators: good, bad descriptors: big, small intensifiers: very mental predicates: think, know, want, feel, see, hear speech: say, words, true action and events: do, happen, move, touch existence and possession: there is/exist, have life and death: live, die time: when/time, now, before, after, a long time, a short time, for some time, moment space: where/place, here, above, below, far, near, side, touching logic: not, maybe, can, because, if augmentors: very, more

14 A Sample Analysis X lied to Y = X said something to person Y;
X knew it was not true; X said it because X wanted Y to think it was true; people think it is bad if someone does this.

15 The Aufbau In Der Logische Aufbau der Welt (1928), Carnap proposes a single nonlogical primitive: recollected phenomenal similarity And ultimately proposes that we can dispense with this primitive, yielding only logical primitives All other expressions can be defined in terms of these primitives.

16 Definability Thesis There is a compact class of primitive expressions such that all expressions are definable in terms of that class.

17 Definitional Scrutability
There is a compact class C of truths such that for any truth S, S is logically entailed by C-truths along with definitions. Definitions must have an appropriate logical form, and meet conditions of adequacy: truth, analyticity, apriority, necessity, ...? E.g. ‘For all x, x is a bachelor iff X is an unmarried man’.

18 A Priori Scrutability If definitions are required to be a priori, then Definitional Scrutability entails a version of A Priori Scrutability There is a compact class C of truths such that all truths are logically entailed by C-truths along with a priori truths. Likewise for Analytic Scrutability, Necessary Scrutability, etc.

19 Carnap’s Construction of the World
Carnap defines qualia in terms of phenomenal similarity He defines spacetime in terms of qualia He defines behavior in terms of spacetime He defines other minds in terms of behavior He defines culture in terms of behavior and other minds.

20 Carnap’s Scrutability Thesis
All truths are definitionally entailed by a very limited class of truths There is a world-sentence that entails everything: e.g. x y z Rxy & Rxz & ~Ryz ...

21 Problems for the Aufbau
Goodman: definition of qualia fails Quine: definition of spacetime fails Newman: logical construction is vacuous Quine: no analytic/synthetic distinction Kripke: names inequivalent to descriptions Many: most expressions are undefinable

22 Responding to the Problems
The first three problems are problems only for Carnap’s very limited bases Expand the base! The last two (or three?) problems are problems only for Carnap’s definitional entailment relation Weaken the relation!

23 A revised Aufbau thesis
Where Carnap said: All truths are definitionally entailed by logical/phenomenal truths It’s still viable to say All truths are a priori entailed by a compact class of truths

24 Problems for Definitions
The counterexample problem: For many terms in natural language, all purported definitions appear to have (actual, conceivable, possible) counterexamples So those definitions aren’t true, a priori, necessary.

25 The Case of Knowledge Knowledge = justified true belief
Counterexample: Gettier Knowledge = JTB not inferred from falsehood Counterexample: fake barns Knowledge = 12-clause Chisholm definition Counterexamples: still coming...

26 Definitions and A Priori Entailment
So: ‘know’ may not be definable in more primitive vocabulary But this is compatible with the claim that ‘know’-truths are a priori entailed by truths in a more primitive vocabulary

27 Gettier Case G = 'S believes with justification that p. S has no evidence concerning q. S forms a belief that p or q, based solely on a valid inference from p. p is false but q is true.’ K = ‘S does not know that ‘p or q’ Then: ‘If G, then K’ is arguably a priori

28 Analysis without Definitions
So: a priori scrutability doesn’t require definitions. It requires only casewise analysis: a priori conditionals regarding specific scenarios Modeled by an intension (mapping from scenarios to truth-values), not a definition Counterexample arguments threaten definitions but not intensions/scrutability.

29 Kripke’s Antidescriptive Arguments
Modal argument: ‘N = the D’ isn’t necessary Concerns necessity, not apriority No objection to a priori scrutability Epistemic argument: ‘N =the D’ isn’t apriori An argument from counterexample No objection to a priori scrutability.

30 Scrutability of Reference
Once we know enough about the world, we’re in a position to know what our terms refer to (without further empirical information). E.g. ‘Hesperus’, ‘Godel’, etc. Problems: (i) unclarity of ‘know what terms refer to’ (ii) Quinean inscrutabiity (permutation)

31 Scrutability of Truth Once we know enough about the world, we’re in a position to know whether our utterances (and beliefs) are true (without further empirical information). Better: there’s a compact class of truths such that for any true sentence S, one can know (a priori) that if the C-truths obtain, S is true.

32 Scrutability Base Scrutability base = Class of truths from which all truths are scrutable Scrutability thesis: There’s a compact scrutability base

33 Compactness What is it for a class of truths to be compact?
(i) Involve a small finite class of expressions, or of families of expressions (ii) No trivializing mechanisms Better definitions welcome -- but it won’t matter much in practice.

34 Potential Scrutability Bases
Carnap: logic, or logic plus phenomenal similarity Chalmers & Jackson: physical, phenomenal, indexical, that’s-all CTW: phenomenal, nomic, indexical, that’s-all Others: spatiotemporal, quiddistic, mathematical, normative, ontological?

35 Multiple Bases There will be many scrutability bases, and even many minimal scrutability bases. Is there a privileged scrutability base? Maybe: invoke a conceptual grounding relation more fine-grained than a priori entailment Require/hope that there will be a scrutability base involving primitive concepts

36 Fundamental Scrutability
Fundamental scrutability: All truths are (a priori) scrutable from metaphysically fundamental truths Where: metaphysically fundamental truths are the metaphysical grounds for all truths (and will necessitate all truths).

37 Roles of Scrutability Why is the scrutability thesis interesting?
It has many applications.

38 Epistemology The scrutability thesis is a watered- down version of the knowability thesis -- its plausible core? Some scrutability theses have anti- skeptical applications

39 Modality One can use a generalized scrutability thesis to construct the space of epistemically possible worlds, or scenarios E.g. maximal consistent sets of sentences in a generalized scrutability base. Useful for many epistemological purposes Closely related to metaphysically possible worlds?

40 Meaning One can use a generalized scrutability thesis to define intensions (cf. 2D): functions from scenarios to truth-values functions from scenarios to extensions Nice epistemic properties (cf. Fregean sense) A is true at all scenarios iff A is a priori ‘a’, ‘b’ have same intension iff ‘a=b’ is a priori

41 Other Applications Content: Define narrow contents?
Metaphysics: Adjudicate realism/anti- realism, and/or what’s fundamental? Unity of Science: A chain of reductive explanation? Metaphilosophy: Philosophical optimism?

42 Plan The Aufbau [1 week] Formulate scrutability theses [1]
Argue for scrutability theses [2] Address hard cases, minimize the base [2] Foundations (apriori, concepts, reference) [3] Applications (modality, meaning, content) [4]

43 Next Week Next week: The Logical Construction of the World, parts I-IV. Especially sections 1-16*, 38-44*, , *, , *.

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