The freewheeling use of the word “induction” is a pet peeve of mine. Sometimes it is used to mean any legitimate, non-deductive inference. Sometimes it is used narrowly be mean the inference from Observed Fs are G to All Fs are G. Sometimes it is carelessly used to mean both and other things besides. While I was sorting through old documents, I found this list of importantly different things that get paraded around under the banner of induction.Continue reading “Induction in general”
How it might have ended
I’m sorting through some old documents, and I came across an unused draft for the Epilogue of my book A Philosophy of Cover Songs.1 This draft was a bit ponderous, but I still like the last line.Continue reading “How it might have ended”
In which I am almost Wittgenstein
I am teaching pragmatism this semester, and we are just getting to Quine. So I had cause to open my old file cabinet and take out the hanging file full of Quine related notes and articles.1 In it was a scrap of paper, ripped from the corner of the program for a non-philosophical event I attended. I had scribbled in the corner,
Consider the difference b/n ‘p does not mean q’ if p and q are or are not homophones— correcting usage vs. discussing a language
Readers familiar with Quine can probably reconstruct what I had in mind, but whatever. Imagine this zettel joined with a hundred others like it, passed around as grainy scans and acquiring a moniker like The Taupe Book.2
The Springtime in Paris View of natural kinds
In March 2014, I attended a workshop on natural kinds in Paris. Other attendees included Matt Slater, Muhammad Ali Khalidi, and Thomas Reydon. It seemed to me that, although we disagreed about many of the details, we shared a core conception of natural kinds.1 I mooted the idea of writing a consensus statement. We could give it a flashy name, refer to in our writing, and then maybe other people would start using the phrase too.
Today, while moving the last papers out of my old office, I came across an outline from the conference. Here I’ve quoted it exactly, including the all-caps title.2 Despite agreement from at least some of the others, nobody else assented to sign on.
THE SPRINGTIME in PARIS VIEW
- NKs should be understood by way of scientific classification
- they are natural to the extent that the world constrains classificatory categories3
- metaphysical depth is attained by starting superficially and, by considering evidence, making contingent a posteriori claims of greater depth
Outlook, the new office
In the course of moving down the hall to my new office, I emptied some file cabinets today and found some undated outlines for things I never wrote.Continue reading “Outlook, the new office”
Q: What fruit is most like a pot of giraffe soup?
Release the doggerels
Over at Crooked Timber, Harry Brighouse exhorts readers to write philosophical clerihews.
I was unfamiliar with the form, but it’s not complicated. A clerihew is a four-line poem about some person or other with an AABB rhyming pattern. The sort of thing Ogden Nash would have written if he’d been less pithy.1
I contributed a couple, and I shamelessly cut and paste them here.
The Scotsman Thomas Reid
had a commonsensical creed,
a fondness for calico cats,
and questionable taste in hats.
The mustachioed John Dewey
might have gone all kablam and kablooey
if he had not understood inquiry
in a way that avoided such injury.
Two links about AI
There are some articles that I read and think I ought to blog about that. Then I realize that I basically have. So this is basically a link dump kind of post.
Link #1: Geoffrey Hinton cautions that deep learning is not especially deep
I’ve written some posts about the glitzy fad for “deep learning”. It has the same strengths and weaknesses it had when it traveled under the less-shiny banner of “back-propagation neural networks”.
Link #2: Efforts to understand the bias inherent in algorithms
Procedures that are superficially objective can encode bias. I don’t have anything deep to say here, but I’ve blogged about it before.
Tweets point nowhere
Mark Simonson’s blog got me thinking about information technology and the original aspirations of hypertext. Simonson laments that current technology is too much driven by concepts taken from print media. Part of the problem is the lack of a clearly defined alternative. Ted Nelson, who coined the word “hypertext”, had a vision of multiple texts floating on-screen with lines connecting points in one to points in another. I don’t see how that wouldn’t end up like items on a cork board linked by lengths of yarn, the idiom for madness from A Beautiful Mind which has become Hollywood shorthand for crazy conspiracy theories.
Old school blogging actually seems like a pretty good realization of hypertext. Good blog post take a while to write because you’ve got to provide pointers so that someone who hasn’t got context or who is curious can follow up. Someone who wants even more can search on key terms.
All of this crystallized for me what I don’t like about Twitter. In order to cut a thought down to Tweet length, people leave out context. What are they enraged about? What’s the thrust that drew their clever riposte? I can’t always tell.
Sometimes thoughts that won’t fit into a single tweet are written as a stream, possibly with numbered entries 1/9, 2/9,… I see entry 4 of 9 because someone reweeted it, and it’s a serious investment of effort just to view the original series in order. Even then, I can’t always suss out the context.
Twitter, in short, is hypotext. It eschews the links of hypertext but also the context you’d expect from a letter or newspaper article.
Part of the shift is that many people go on-line primarily with phones or tablets, appliances that are great for scrolling and clicking but bad for following multiple threads. Twitter and Facebook turn our feeds into one-dimensional things. We can scroll through, liking and reposting as we go. But reposting just drops another log somewhere into the flume.
Reader query, re: anagrams
Based on your own sense of how words work, pick one of the following:
- Every word is an anagram of itself.
- Some but not all words are anagrams of themselves.
- No word is an anagram of itself.
There’s a principled case to be made for every answer. Cristyn and I hashed it out over goat cheese last night, but I won’t tell you the considerations we mustered on various sides or what we concluded. I’m curious about what you think.