Politics, Morals, and Sexuality

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Gordon Fitch

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Apr 4, 1991, 9:27:44 PM4/4/91
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Mr. Zeleny starts, in a sense, with the fascist Plato; it is
not surprising, then, that we find him declaring that sex
where reproduction is impossible (or some category of sex;
or some other category of innocent behavior) is morally wrong.
Once you start the sausage machine, it produces sausage.

Suppose, as Platonists generally seem to, that there is
something called The Good which exists autonomously. And
suppose human beings can come into contact with it, and know
that it is The Good. Why, then, these human beings, knowing
The (absolute) Good, will have no moral problem in imposing
it on others. After all, it is absolute; it cannot go wrong.
What a pleasant state of affairs for the totalitarian!

However, the believer in The Good has one problem: he cannot
produce it or point it out; he can only wave his hand in its
general direction, which remains cloudy and obscure. This is
not surprising. The Good, God, History, the People, the
Master Race -- fortunately these do not exist except in the
human mind. They are collections or categorizations of
experience, of phenomena. Perhaps there is something behind
them, but we are not able to say reasonably or meaningfully
what it is, or even know whether it -- or he, she, or they --
exist or not. And sex, like everything else that is
really important, remains essentially a mystery.

I wish those who need to prescribe the sexual behavior of
others would cease propagandizing and admit, especially to
themselves, that they are of simply one more peculiar
orientation in humanity's ample menagerie of desire. I have
already proposed a newsgroup subordinate to alt.sex for
its discussion and practice. Although it is an orientation
repulsive to many, I believe in freedom.

--
Gordon Fitch | g...@mydog.uucp | uunet!cmcl2.nyu.edu!panix!mydog!gcf

sc Student

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Apr 5, 1991, 2:07:54 PM4/5/91
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g...@mydog.UUCP (Gordon Fitch) writes:

The above is a rather good analysis, but omits the most
obvious point of all phlosopical discussions. When there is no
abbsolute standard of truth, endless discussions from ignorance
of truth achieve nothing and only lead utimately to utter dispair
as most philosphers have discovered, particularly on their death
bed. To wit: "Flee youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness,
faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure
heart. But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate
strife". 2 Timothy 2:22. These kinds of discussion being proof of that
truth, not to mention AIDS, Herpes, HPV, .............. Fireproof suit on.

Randolph Fritz

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Apr 5, 1991, 3:34:25 PM4/5/91
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Some nameless student writes:

The above is a rather good analysis, but omits the most obvious
point of all phlosopical discussions. When there is no abbsolute
standard of truth, endless discussions from ignorance of truth
achieve nothing and only lead utimately to utter dispair as most
philosphers have discovered, particularly on their death bed. To
wit: "Flee youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love,
peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But
avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate
strife".

Yet people do have personal standards of truth, however defined. And
still people are persuaded of truth and falsehood. So it is possible
to productively discuss philosophy; both with people who agree with
you on epistemology and people who are willing to accept the
possibility of being persuaded. What you have have to give up to do
this are two things: blind faith -- in anything -- and the hope of
being able to force your philosophy on anyone. You have to make room
for freedom and for personal truths. And if there are great,
universal truths -- why then, you will be free to accept them when you
learn of them.

nd t
ou ui
R Press T __Randolph Fritz sun!cognito.eng!randolph || rand...@eng.sun.com
ou ui Mountain View, California, North America, Earth
nd t

Mikhail Zeleny

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Apr 8, 1991, 1:32:20 PM4/8/91
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In article <9104042127.13022@mydog.UUCP> g...@mydog.UUCP (Gordon Fitch) writes:
>Mr. Zeleny starts, in a sense, with the fascist Plato <...>

Your assessment of Plato, aside from being ludicrously anachronistic,
suffers from a fundamental moral failing.

To wit, in this century, the one philosopher who most consistently rejected
``the fascist Plato'' was the Nazi Heidegger.

Moral theory is impossible without objective values.

To assume without an argument any form of sexual behaviour to be morally
innocent begs the question.

So we have nothing to say to each other.


>Gordon Fitch | g...@mydog.uucp | uunet!cmcl2.nyu.edu!panix!mydog!gcf


/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\
| ``If there are no Platonic ideals, then what did we fight for?'' |
| A Spanish Republican |
| Mikhail Zeleny |
| email zel...@math.harvard.edu or zel...@zariski.harvard.edu |
\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/

Gordon Fitch

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Apr 8, 1991, 9:26:48 PM4/8/91
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| In article <9104042127.13022@mydog.UUCP> g...@mydog.UUCP (Gordon Fitch) writes:
| >Mr. Zeleny starts, in a sense, with the fascist Plato <...>

In <63...@husc6.harvard.edu> zel...@walsh.harvard.edu (Mikhail Zeleny) writes:
| Your assessment of Plato, aside from being ludicrously anachronistic,

Anachronistic? Out of the time proper to it? Do you imagine
that people's thoughts are turned off and on like a bunch of
stoplights?

| suffers from a fundamental moral failing.
|
| To wit, in this century, the one philosopher who most consistently rejected
| ``the fascist Plato'' was the Nazi Heidegger.

Ah, guilt by dissociation! Heidegger did not like Plato,
Heidegger was a Nazi, therefore anyone who doesn't like
Plato....

Astonishing. Will you treat us to another exercise of reason?

| Moral theory is impossible without objective values.

No -- now we're going to get faith.

| To assume without an argument any form of sexual behaviour to be morally
| innocent begs the question.
|
| So we have nothing to say to each other.

Heh. "About that of which we cannot speak...." But you should
have started sooner!

Mikhail Zeleny

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Apr 9, 1991, 10:12:13 AM4/9/91
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In article <9104082126.884@mydog.UUCP> g...@mydog.UUCP (Gordon Fitch) writes:
>| In article <9104042127.13022@mydog.UUCP> g...@mydog.UUCP (Gordon Fitch) writes:
>| >Mr. Zeleny starts, in a sense, with the fascist Plato <...>
>
>In <63...@husc6.harvard.edu> zel...@walsh.harvard.edu (Mikhail Zeleny) writes:
>| Your assessment of Plato, aside from being ludicrously anachronistic,
>
>Anachronistic? Out of the time proper to it? Do you imagine
>that people's thoughts are turned off and on like a bunch of
>stoplights?
>

I imagine that, when discussing ideas of Classic Greece, intelligent people
would refrain from judging them in terms of XX century political
conceptions. Yes, Plato's ``Laws'' present a pretty sad picture; however
it is not very productive to measure them with a modern yardstick.

More to the point, had you bothered to read my essay, you would not have
failed to notice that my own political views are about as antiauthoritarian
as they can be without leading to bomb-throwing.

>| suffers from a fundamental moral failing.
>|
>| To wit, in this century, the one philosopher who most consistently rejected
>| ``the fascist Plato'' was the Nazi Heidegger.
>
>Ah, guilt by dissociation! Heidegger did not like Plato,
>Heidegger was a Nazi, therefore anyone who doesn't like
>Plato....
>

Well, you assumed my own guilt by association with ``the fascist Plato''...

The relevant point is that consistent rejection of Platonism (or realism,
or externalism, or what have you...) in the absence of divine commandments
inevitably leads to moral relativism. Like it or not, moral relativism
leads to Nazi Heidegger. The first connexion is logical, the second is
historical. Ignore them at your peril.

>Astonishing. Will you treat us to another exercise of reason?
>

See above.


>| Moral theory is impossible without objective values.
>
>No -- now we're going to get faith.
>

Moral relativism is also a form of faith.

I believe in the power of reason.

A moral relativist believes in its impotence to transcend the boundaries of
the self.

My position allows for seeing knowledge as justified true belief.

A relativist can admit only knowledge of the self, identical with belief.

If you can offer me a way to have a moral theory in the absence of absolute
values, let's hear it. I am eager to learn.

>| To assume without an argument any form of sexual behaviour to be morally
>| innocent begs the question.
>|
>| So we have nothing to say to each other.
>
>Heh. "About that of which we cannot speak...." But you should
>have started sooner!
>

On the contrary, I say the unsayable all the time.

(Fuck LW; his is one game I refuse to play.
Language is too important to be treated as ordinary.)

Unfortunately, in your case it seems futile to continue.

You are welcome to prove me wrong.


>--
>Gordon Fitch | g...@mydog.uucp | uunet!cmcl2.nyu.edu!panix!mydog!gcf

Andrew F. Hampe

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Apr 9, 1991, 7:09:18 AM4/9/91
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In article <1991Apr7.1...@xanadu.com>, na...@xanadu.com (Nadja
Adolf) writes:
|> In article <1991Apr6.1...@watson.ibm.com>
mar...@watson.IBM.com writes:
|> >In <9104042127.13022@mydog.UUCP> g...@mydog.UUCP (Gordon Fitch) writes:
[..]
|> >How about alt.sex.philosophical-bullshit (with apologies to Jon Varley).
|>
|> The new group alt.sex.boredom is precisely the location for this sort of
|> activity.

Ok, of sorts,
but it is not so much
a case of boredom with sex,
as it is an effort
to formalize the orthoganality
of morality and sexuality, so
wouldn't alt.sex.orthoganality.morality be better?

ciao
drieux


ps: just because some of us are sluts is no
excuse to presume that we have no morality.

ceno...@oak.circa.ufl.edu

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Apr 10, 1991, 12:06:50 AM4/10/91
to

>|> >How about alt.sex.philosophical-bullshit (with apologies to Jon Varley).

I'm not sure who brought up the reference to Jon Varley, but a large group
of us at UF would be very interested in knowing where to buy recordings of
some of his stuff. I have a 4th or 5th generation copy of a session he did
at a bar in Buffalo, (had Barnacle Bill, Philosophical BS, anti-Khomeini stuff,
etc), and it's very popular here. We'd be very interested in the whereabouts
of this comedian and copies of his stuff, it's great!

John Houghton

Ceno...@maple.circa.ufl.edu

Russell Turpin

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Apr 10, 1991, 10:37:25 AM4/10/91
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-----
In article <1991Apr10.0...@monu6.cc.monash.edu.au> typ...@monu6.cc.monash.edu.au (John Wilkins) writes:
> ... Gettier puts the cat among the pigeons so far as the
> "justified-true-belief" formula goes. At the least, any knowledge
> is also dependent upon other (causal, social, conceptual) factors.

It is easy to argue that the Gettier paradoxes at most show that
classical logic does not suffice as an inferential mechanism for
causal beliefs. Gettier was not the first to note this; his
paradoxes merely make the point loudly. Philosophical skepticism
about material implication has been around almost as long as it
has, and has largely motivated research into relevance logics.

Russell

John Wilkins

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Apr 9, 1991, 11:41:23 PM4/9/91
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In article <63...@husc6.harvard.edu>, zel...@zariski.harvard.edu (Mikhail Zeleny) writes:
>
> >| Moral theory is impossible without objective values.
> >
> >No -- now we're going to get faith.
> >
>
> Moral relativism is also a form of faith.
>
> I believe in the power of reason.
>
> A moral relativist believes in its impotence to transcend the boundaries of
> the self.
>
> My position allows for seeing knowledge as justified true belief.
>
> A relativist can admit only knowledge of the self, identical with belief.
>
> If you can offer me a way to have a moral theory in the absence of absolute
> values, let's hear it. I am eager to learn.
>
Hang on! As a moral relativist who nevertheless has not only
a moral theory but also a moral stance on most matters, I resent
this gross oversimplification and misconstrual of what moral
relativism implies. First off, relativism is not, pace Mike,
identical with subjectivism or solipsism. The antinomies are:
absolute-relative, objective-subjective. One can be (as I am)
a relativist who firmly believes in objective knowledge. I just
also recognise that other conceptual groups believe that THEIR
firmly held commitments are objectively true.

Second, I doubt that moral knowledge is of the same genus as
propositional knowledge, or for that matter any other kind
of knowledge - personal, practical, political, etc. Hence, the
requirement for correspondence between moral statements and
objectively real values is even less required than for
truth conditional statements (if there).

Third, Gettier puts the cat among the pigeons so far as the


"justified-true-belief" formula goes. At the least, any knowledge
is also dependent upon other (causal, social, conceptual) factors.

It is my feeling that the Greek preoccupation with knowledge being
only of eternalities is at fault. I go for a process view of
knowledge, and that can go in spades for moral knowledge.

Finally, a relativistic moral theory? In sketch, how about
"goals and values are intentional states of a (linguistic/
conceptual/social) community"? I have exactly the moral
commitments I want under this view that I have under any other.
If God is dead, so what? We still have to live.

--
John Wilkins, Manager, Publishing & Advertising, Monash University
Melbourne, Australia - Internet: jo...@publications.ccc.monash.edu.au
Nobody's views but mine own -- who'd want them?

Mikhail Zeleny

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Apr 10, 1991, 10:36:16 PM4/10/91
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><...> First off, relativism is not, pace Mike,

>identical with subjectivism or solipsism. The antinomies are:
>absolute-relative, objective-subjective. One can be (as I am)
>a relativist who firmly believes in objective knowledge. I just
>also recognise that other conceptual groups believe that THEIR
>firmly held commitments are objectively true.
>

First off, John, if we are going to be on first name basis, it's Misha, not
Mike. Second, I also recognize that others may, rightly or wrongly,
believe that their firmly held commitments are objectively true. Still,
their belief is only part of the issue; justification is another,
independent aspect thereof. In short, most people believe that Right is on
their side; are they right in believing this?

With my apologies to Putnam, Dummett, & Co., I feel that truth is fully
independent of conceptual scheme. At this time I prefer not to go into a
technical argument, but merely to state that, in the domain of moral
reasoning, Sade presents one of the most fascinating internally consistent
theories ever devised; it is also absolutely false.


>Second, I doubt that moral knowledge is of the same genus as
>propositional knowledge, or for that matter any other kind
>of knowledge - personal, practical, political, etc. Hence, the
>requirement for correspondence between moral statements and
>objectively real values is even less required than for
>truth conditional statements (if there).
>

Well, I think propositional knowledge is a fundamental building block of
all other forms of knowledge. Call moral knowledge dispositional; it will
still rely on some fundamental truths having propositional form.

>Third, Gettier puts the cat among the pigeons so far as the
>"justified-true-belief" formula goes. At the least, any knowledge
>is also dependent upon other (causal, social, conceptual) factors.
>It is my feeling that the Greek preoccupation with knowledge being
>only of eternalities is at fault. I go for a process view of
>knowledge, and that can go in spades for moral knowledge.
>

What's the big deal about Gettier? He relies on a weak first-order notion
of justification; of course he gets paradoxical results. As Ayer has
rightly noted before your hero ever came up with his examples, there can be
no hard and fast criterion for epistemic entitlement. As it happens, the
ones used in Gettier's paper are insufficient for the task. So what?


>Finally, a relativistic moral theory? In sketch, how about
>"goals and values are intentional states of a (linguistic/
>conceptual/social) community"? I have exactly the moral
>commitments I want under this view that I have under any other.

To paraphrase Frege, the expression `the will of the people' has no
meaning. Even if it did, what dignity is there in subjecting your will to
the authority of a community? As a political act, it may be quite
reasonable; as a moral principle it is an utter failiure. What exactly do
moral values have in common with consensus?

>If God is dead, so what? We still have to live.
>

My sentiments exactly.

I just want to know HOW.


>--
>John Wilkins, Manager, Publishing & Advertising, Monash University
>Melbourne, Australia - Internet: jo...@publications.ccc.monash.edu.au
>Nobody's views but mine own -- who'd want them?

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\


| ``If there are no Platonic ideals, then what did we fight for?'' |

| (A Spanish Republican) |
| Mikhail Zeleny Harvard |
| 872 Massachusetts Ave., Apt. 707 doesn't |
| Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139 think |
| (617) 661-81-51 so |

Warren D. Murphy

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Apr 10, 1991, 10:19:09 AM4/10/91
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In article <63...@husc6.harvard.edu>, zel...@zariski.harvard.edu (Mikhail Zeleny)
writes:
/ > A moral relativist believes in its impotence to transcend the boundaries of
/ > the self.

How can you claim to have morals when you are bound to the self?
Morals are a set of standards which transcend the boundaries of the self.

The self, as we know it, is this 96 cent bag of water and organic
chemicals which, for some unknown reason, has become what we call human.
Being human, we have instincts. These instincts are the primary part of
the psyche which keeps us alive.

Jut we have more than just instinct. We have sentience. And, being
aware of our existence, we realize that we are bound to the physical self.
Our instincts drive us to improve ourselves. But when we've reached the
pinnacle of our physical self, where is there to go? It is there that the
concept of transcendance comes to be.

You see, we have this notion of a perfect transcendant being, and our
belief in that being is called spirituality. Our attempts to imitate that
being is called morality.

-W-

P.S. Really, Mikhail, you should read some of the more recent philosophers'
works on transcendance.


Andrew C. Aiken

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Apr 10, 1991, 8:55:27 PM4/10/91
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typ...@monu6.cc.monash.edu.au (John Wilkins) writes:
[ Mr. Zelany's comments deleted ]

>>
>Hang on! As a moral relativist who nevertheless has not only
>a moral theory but also a moral stance on most matters, I resent
>this gross oversimplification and misconstrual of what moral
>relativism implies. First off, relativism is not, pace Mike,
>identical with subjectivism or solipsism. The antinomies are:
>absolute-relative, objective-subjective. One can be (as I am)
>a relativist who firmly believes in objective knowledge. I just
>also recognise that other conceptual groups believe that THEIR
>firmly held commitments are objectively true.

Well, OK, but the question is, " Are these other 'conceptual
groups' right?" I may just be an anachronistic fool, but I happen to
believe that words have meanings. This includes the words 'right' and
'wrong.' I certainly hope that your relativism is not consistent. If
it is, then what's 'wrong', after all, with 'conceptual groups' such as
the Nazis and Bolsheviks commiting genocide? THEY believed that their
commitments were objectively true. Would you stop them?
The problem with moral
relativism today is the same as in Socrates' day: It is an evasion of
thought about morality. Moral relativism is cultural democracy gone
mad: Let a 'conceptual group' such as a pack of thugs terrorize a
peaceful town. After all, who are we to judge? Let us have our bread
and circuses, our perverse amusements, for vice is now made virtue at
the wave of a Sophist's old hand...
I do not mean to seem flippant or obscuritantist, but IF you are
a moral relativist, then how would your philosophy, universally applied,
deter us from rape, theft, murder, or genocide? Surely these acts are
different from other infractions of the social and legal code, such as
disobeying a traffic signal. In a (morally) relativistic society, how
could you JUSTIFY the prevalent morals, except by saying, "That's just
the way it is..." Is that a proper justification ? Would it satisfy
anyone but a child?

>Second, I doubt that moral knowledge is of the same genus as
>propositional knowledge, or for that matter any other kind
>of knowledge - personal, practical, political, etc. Hence, the
>requirement for correspondence between moral statements and
>objectively real values is even less required than for
>truth conditional statements (if there).

How's this for a propositional statement:
GENOCIDE IS EVIL.
Would you care to show that this is not objectively true?
I'm sure that you realize that if you show it to be SUBJECTIVELY true,
then this belief is just an expressed wish, and is not a moral
statement. An expressed wish compares to philosophy as a hearty belch
compares to the Gettysburg Address. (Not that there's anything wrong
with wishes in themselves.)


>Finally, a relativistic moral theory? In sketch, how about
>"goals and values are intentional states of a (linguistic/
>conceptual/social) community"? I have exactly the moral
>commitments I want under this view that I have under any other.
>If God is dead, so what? We still have to live.
>

Well, I would agree that our *mores* are determined by 'the
intentional states of a community," but what about *morals*? E.g., if
a person from another land wanted to kill his wife because she was
unfaithful, and you had the means to prevent the murder from happening,
would you? I don't mean to insult you with this question, but your idea
of a relativistic moral theory seems to imply that each culture exists
in a vacuum, and that Africans, Americans, and Asians do not interact.
But they do.

Morals are largely a personal matter. This does not mean that
morality is entirely personal or subjective. But I respect the quiddity
of each man's morals, and so I trust that you, the reader, will take no
offense or umbrage with what I have written.

Andrew Aiken
aaiken@silver
Indiana University

Jeff The Wonder Horse

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Apr 11, 1991, 6:39:37 PM4/11/91
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In article <00946E50...@MAPLE.CIRCA.UFL.EDU>,

*pause for laughter*

The comedian IS a classic, but the name is JOHN VALBY, not Jon Varley. :)
He also goes by the alias of Doctor Dirty, and yes, we have the same 47th
generation tape here at N.C. State. Despite the fact that my tape contains
Gerald Ford jokes (a BIT old...), Valby's still alive and kicking, and touring
the Northeastern U.S. (at least.) Has a couple of albums out, too.
I know for a fact that he's played Philadelphia in recent months...


*** THE VALBY HOTLINE! ***
P.A.L. Productions
P.O. Box 242
Williamsville, NY 14221

The only I place I know to order Valby albums... :)

jeff "join the PERVERT PACK at NCSU today!" coleburn
ncsu

ceno...@oak.circa.ufl.edu

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Apr 12, 1991, 1:20:13 PM4/12/91
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In article <1991Apr11.2...@ncsu.edu>,
jec...@eos.ncsu.edu (Jeff The Wonder Horse) writes:

>The comedian IS a classic, but the name is JOHN VALBY, not Jon Varley. :)
>He also goes by the alias of Doctor Dirty, and yes, we have the same 47th
>generation tape here at N.C. State. Despite the fact that my tape contains
>Gerald Ford jokes (a BIT old...), Valby's still alive and kicking, and touring
>the Northeastern U.S. (at least.) Has a couple of albums out, too.
>I know for a fact that he's played Philadelphia in recent months...
>
>
> *** THE VALBY HOTLINE! ***
> P.A.L. Productions
> P.O. Box 242
> Williamsville, NY 14221
>
>The only I place I know to order Valby albums... :)


Thank you much. That address was just what I was looking for. We also
heard the name was John Valby, but after searching all of Florida looking for
his tapes, and coming up empty, I thought the name might be wrong when I saw
"Varley" in that post. Maybe the problem is the censorship attitudes in the
state of Florida.

Now the only problem is sneaking it past the military censors in
Kuwait; I have a friend over there that would just love to have some copies.

This posting was NOT cleared by Florida censors.


John Houghton

Ceno...@maple.circa.ufl.edu

Valerie Trott er

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Apr 12, 1991, 1:04:46 PM4/12/91
to
dr. dirty does a show about 4 times a year at the club bene
dinner theater in new jersey

Slartibartfast

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Apr 12, 1991, 2:16:23 PM4/12/91
to
Just as a quick followup here. John Valby yours the North East US (as was
mentioned). Up here in Buffalo, I've seen only ONE live show, the rest I
couldn't get into because they proof you at the door. :-(

Anyway, in my home town of Poughkeepsie, NY, I've seen him a few times...
they're a little less anal-retentive in a non-college town. :)

Recently however, I haven't heard hide nor hair (nice hick expression) of
Dr. Dirty. There haven't been any advertisements for his shows in any of the
Buffalo night-life magazines.

I also have quite a few of his albums, but they are store bought. Up here, you
can buy them from Record Theatre and in Syracuse from House of Guitars. All
the albums that I've seen of his (plus his compact discs and tapes) are
recorded and put out by Mark Records.

Marc Boffardi
ACS...@UBVMS.CC.BUFFALO.EDU
BOFF...@ACSU.BUFFALO.EDU
V081...@UBVMS.CC.BUFFALO.EDU
Beware the Dungeon Police: Violators will be toad!

Andrew F. Hampe

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Apr 14, 1991, 8:13:56 AM4/14/91
to
In article <63...@husc6.harvard.edu>, zel...@zariski.harvard.edu (Mikhail
Zeleny) writes:

|> With my apologies to Putnam, Dummett, & Co., I feel that truth is fully
|> independent of conceptual scheme. At this time I prefer not to go into a
|> technical argument, but merely to state that, in the domain of moral
|> reasoning, Sade presents one of the most fascinating internally consistent
|> theories ever devised; it is also absolutely false.

what really is the "Moral distinction" between the Nun
who is UnFrootFul and the young lady who's contraceptive
methodology equally leaves her UnFrootFul????

You have yourself, at one time, faught for an almost
similar sort of postion, {not that i think you would
look all that good in a Habit...} so should we not
condemn both Nun and Slut alike for their lack of
FrootFulNess??? And does this not show the validity
of at least one of the Divine marqui's argument?

ciao
drieux

ps: actually I prefer the 120 days of Sodom as a
far more useful guide for play time suggestions.

Andrew F. Hampe

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Apr 14, 1991, 8:20:00 AM4/14/91
to
In article <63...@husc6.harvard.edu>, zel...@zariski.harvard.edu (Mikhail
Zeleny) writes:
|> In article <1991Apr10.0...@monu6.cc.monash.edu.au>
typ...@monu6.cc.monash.edu.au (John Wilkins) writes:

|> >If God is dead, so what? We still have to live.
|> >
|>
|> My sentiments exactly.
|>
|> I just want to know HOW.

I think one is a bit obliged to clarify the matter
in that, as we first began discussing sexual activity,
that what we really wish to resolve is:

how do I choose which sexual encounter to embark upon.

1. Spread legs doth not an invitation make.

Might just serve as a starting maxim.

ciao
drieux

John Wilkins

unread,
Apr 12, 1991, 2:02:12 AM4/12/91
to
In article <63...@husc6.harvard.edu>, zel...@zariski.harvard.edu (Mikhail Zeleny) writes:
>
> First off, John, if we are going to be on first name basis, it's Misha, not
> Mike. Second, I also recognize that others may, rightly or wrongly,
> believe that their firmly held commitments are objectively true. Still,
> their belief is only part of the issue; justification is another,
> independent aspect thereof. In short, most people believe that Right is on
> their side; are they right in believing this?
>
Sorry, Misha then. As to whether adherents of other schemes are
right, yes of course they are or they wouldn't be committed to
their views. It's a tautology. Whether *I* believe they are
depends on whether they agree with me, or whether I can construe
them as so doing.

> With my apologies to Putnam, Dummett, & Co., I feel that truth is fully
> independent of conceptual scheme. At this time I prefer not to go into a
> technical argument, but merely to state that, in the domain of moral
> reasoning, Sade presents one of the most fascinating internally consistent
> theories ever devised; it is also absolutely false.
>

With my apologies to everyone else, I think that truth is an internal
relation of a conceptual scheme. Sade's theory is true by any test
*he* would accept. The desire for a concept-independent truth function
rests, I believe, on the desire for some way to rationally argue
or reject a Sade. If there is no such way, that's life, and wishing
for it won't make it possible either.
>
> >[my stuff deleted]


>
> Well, I think propositional knowledge is a fundamental building block of
> all other forms of knowledge. Call moral knowledge dispositional; it will
> still rely on some fundamental truths having propositional form.
>

Absolutely. But knowledge of what can be formalised in propositional
terms need not be propositional itself.

> >Third, Gettier puts the cat among the pigeons so far as the
> >"justified-true-belief" formula goes. At the least, any knowledge
> >is also dependent upon other (causal, social, conceptual) factors.
> >It is my feeling that the Greek preoccupation with knowledge being
> >only of eternalities is at fault. I go for a process view of
> >knowledge, and that can go in spades for moral knowledge.
> >
>
> What's the big deal about Gettier? He relies on a weak first-order notion
> of justification; of course he gets paradoxical results. As Ayer has
> rightly noted before your hero ever came up with his examples, there can be
> no hard and fast criterion for epistemic entitlement. As it happens, the
> ones used in Gettier's paper are insufficient for the task. So what?
>

Just a passing comment that the justified-true-belief formula is
insufficient to characterise all knowledge. Not important. I'll read
up on Ayer.

>
> >Finally, a relativistic moral theory? In sketch, how about
> >"goals and values are intentional states of a (linguistic/
> >conceptual/social) community"? I have exactly the moral
> >commitments I want under this view that I have under any other.
>
> To paraphrase Frege, the expression `the will of the people' has no
> meaning. Even if it did, what dignity is there in subjecting your will to
> the authority of a community? As a political act, it may be quite
> reasonable; as a moral principle it is an utter failiure. What exactly do
> moral values have in common with consensus?
>

For that, read: Kuhn, Hull, Wittgenstein, et. al. Are you getting the
flavour of my influences?

> >If God is dead, so what? We still have to live.
> >
>
> My sentiments exactly.
>
> I just want to know HOW.
>
>

I have an evolutionary view (NOT social darwinism) of how social
norms are derived. They are historical traditions rather than
eternal elementals in my view. They are the result of something
like the model of Axelrod and co, and yes, they govern our
choices. So, we live according to our own (more or less local)
interpretations of the prevailing norms.

--
John Wilkins, Manager, Publishing & Advertising, Monash University

Melbourne, Australia - Internet: typ...@monu6.cc.monash.edu.au


Nobody's views but mine own -- who'd want them?

[For my sins, also a Masters research student in philosophy]

John Wilkins

unread,
Apr 12, 1991, 2:04:27 AM4/12/91
to

Hmm, out of my field, but that fact that knowledge is causally
derived is for me the point. The objects of knowledge are also
causal chains rather than Misha's platonic entities, hence the
(abtruse) reference to Gettier.

Elf Sternberg

unread,
Apr 15, 1991, 4:57:45 PM4/15/91
to
ha...@nas.nasa.gov (Andrew F. Hampe) writes:
> ciao
> drieux
>
> ps: actually I prefer the 120 days of Sodom as a
> far more useful guide for play time suggestions.

Drieux, I avoid talking to you. We've never agreed, and here's
where we disagree the most. Before you go saying "But you used one of
his ideas in you stories (Kathy on the Table) !" Let me tell you that
that was a comment in an article. I figured the idea was so interesting
that I had to by "120 Days."
That book is the most foul thing I have ever read. There is not
on shred of sexuality in the entire tome. Sade is obsessed with
scatalogy to the point of revulsion (of course, I understand that that
was his purpose). The book utterly fails to interest or tittilate, and
oddly enough, is terribly boring. There are precious few ideas that I
can imagine enjoyable. Being designed to revolt, "120 Days" fails to
explore any bare sort of consensual pleasures. Besides which, Sade is
not that imaginative; A cursory examination of literature of the time
shows that Sade merely took every basic torture and turned it around into
a pleasure for his "Champions." Sade may have been a moralist and
creator of his own school, but the man was not a sexual innovator, and
using him as a source of playtime suggestions makes you the sort of man I
will never, ever, wish to meet.

Elf !!!

"We're already elves, sir!" - Elmer Keebler

John Wilkins

unread,
Apr 14, 1991, 8:17:46 PM4/14/91
to
In article <aaiken.671331327@silver>, aai...@silver.ucs.indiana.edu (Andrew C. Aiken) writes:
> typ...@monu6.cc.monash.edu.au (John Wilkins) writes:
> [ Mr. Zelany's comments deleted ]
>
> >>
> >Hang on! As a moral relativist who nevertheless has not only
> >a moral theory but also a moral stance on most matters, I resent
> >this gross oversimplification and misconstrual of what moral
> >relativism implies. First off, relativism is not, pace Mike,
> >identical with subjectivism or solipsism. The antinomies are:
> >absolute-relative, objective-subjective. One can be (as I am)
> >a relativist who firmly believes in objective knowledge. I just
> >also recognise that other conceptual groups believe that THEIR
> >firmly held commitments are objectively true.
>
> Well, OK, but the question is, " Are these other 'conceptual
> groups' right?" I may just be an anachronistic fool, but I happen to
> believe that words have meanings. This includes the words 'right' and
> 'wrong.' I certainly hope that your relativism is not consistent. If
> it is, then what's 'wrong', after all, with 'conceptual groups' such as
> the Nazis and Bolsheviks commiting genocide? THEY believed that their
> commitments were objectively true. Would you stop them?

Yes, "right" has a meaning - it means "an inferential license relative
to the active system" or somesuch. Relative to my (humanist) system,
genocide is wrong. I find it interesting that you cite as paradigms
of wrong values two absolutist systems of thought. As to whether I would
stop them - if they came to my country and tried to take over, yes
I would - because I know I am right (qv above).

> The problem with moral
> relativism today is the same as in Socrates' day: It is an evasion of
> thought about morality. Moral relativism is cultural democracy gone
> mad: Let a 'conceptual group' such as a pack of thugs terrorize a
> peaceful town. After all, who are we to judge? Let us have our bread
> and circuses, our perverse amusements, for vice is now made virtue at
> the wave of a Sophist's old hand...

This is an old and hoary chesnut. Relativism is not a might is right
philosophy necessarily, although I believe that there is a Whiggish
cast to it, since the victors write the histories. But if this is so,
why should we deny it? I think it was Hobbes who said "the world is
the way the world is, why should we seek to find it otherwise"?

> I do not mean to seem flippant or obscuritantist, but IF you are
> a moral relativist, then how would your philosophy, universally applied,
> deter us from rape, theft, murder, or genocide? Surely these acts are
> different from other infractions of the social and legal code, such as
> disobeying a traffic signal. In a (morally) relativistic society, how
> could you JUSTIFY the prevalent morals, except by saying, "That's just
> the way it is..." Is that a proper justification ? Would it satisfy
> anyone but a child?
>

Justification, like truth and right, are intratheoretic notions. So I
would have no difficulty justifying a given set of moral notions
within the theory. As I read you, you want extratheoretical
justification, which just aint there on my account. Since every agent
in the story ex hypothesi has a moral stance, justification proceeds
on the basis on that stance. Now reasons why one should adopt one
stance over another are another matter entirely. They are personal
and contingent on my view (at the meta-moral level).

> >Second, I doubt that moral knowledge is of the same genus as
> >propositional knowledge, or for that matter any other kind
> >of knowledge - personal, practical, political, etc. Hence, the
> >requirement for correspondence between moral statements and
> >objectively real values is even less required than for
> >truth conditional statements (if there).
>
> How's this for a propositional statement:
> GENOCIDE IS EVIL.
> Would you care to show that this is not objectively true?
> I'm sure that you realize that if you show it to be SUBJECTIVELY true,
> then this belief is just an expressed wish, and is not a moral
> statement. An expressed wish compares to philosophy as a hearty belch
> compares to the Gettysburg Address. (Not that there's anything wrong
> with wishes in themselves.)

Care to show how genocide is objectively true? I wait with bated
breath for the final solution to thousands of years of debate.



>
> >Finally, a relativistic moral theory? In sketch, how about
> >"goals and values are intentional states of a (linguistic/
> >conceptual/social) community"? I have exactly the moral
> >commitments I want under this view that I have under any other.
> >If God is dead, so what? We still have to live.
> >
> Well, I would agree that our *mores* are determined by 'the
> intentional states of a community," but what about *morals*? E.g., if
> a person from another land wanted to kill his wife because she was
> unfaithful, and you had the means to prevent the murder from happening,
> would you? I don't mean to insult you with this question, but your idea
> of a relativistic moral theory seems to imply that each culture exists
> in a vacuum, and that Africans, Americans, and Asians do not interact.
> But they do.
>

Of course they do, and no I don't think there is no interaction.
Moral relativism denies the existence or pedigree of moral
absolutes, but it is a logical thesis about the status of moral
pronouncements, not an abdication of moral agency. I suggest
you look into the matter without your (religious?) blinkers a bit
before taking such a simplisitic view of this approach. I don't want
you to accept it necessarily, but you could at least admit that
the view has some merit (and set about showing how yours has more,
rather than just getting stuck into mine as immoral).



> Morals are largely a personal matter. This does not mean that
> morality is entirely personal or subjective. But I respect the quiddity
> of each man's morals, and so I trust that you, the reader, will take no
> offense or umbrage with what I have written.
>

Sorry, but the tone of your response has evoked one in me. I continually
find that absolutists charge relativists with immoralism just because
we do not ground our morality in the same way. It is of the ilk of the
response that Socrates got -- he was a pervert because he didn't
accept the ruling rationale. That he was also an absolutist is
irrelevant (in fact it strengthens my case: which absolutist system
should I accept here?).

> Andrew Aiken
> aaiken@silver
> Indiana University

Andrew F. Hampe

unread,
Apr 16, 1991, 5:40:34 AM4/16/91
to
In article <yqqg1...@halcyon.uucp>, halcyon!e...@seattleu.edu (Elf
Sternberg) writes:

|> Drieux, I avoid talking to you. We've never agreed, and here's
|> where we disagree the most.


I often find it very useful to be condemned in
abstentia - without having even made the effort
to communicate with me. This is a most useful
method of information interchange, and an
exceptional complement to your skills.


ciao
drieux


ps: you are at liberty to email me, and actually
make enquiry into what I may or may not believe
if that is not to bold a notion, or too terrifying
a thought to suggest.

Stephen E. Witham

unread,
Apr 16, 1991, 9:26:50 AM4/16/91
to
In article <aaiken.671331327@silver>, aai...@silver.ucs.indiana.edu (Andrew C. Aiken) writes:
> typ...@monu6.cc.monash.edu.au (John Wilkins) writes:
> >... One can be (as I am)

> >a relativist who firmly believes in objective knowledge. I just
> >also recognise that other conceptual groups believe that THEIR
> >firmly held commitments are objectively true.
>
> Well, OK, but the question is, " Are these other 'conceptual
> groups' right?" I may just be an anachronistic fool, but I happen to
> believe that words have meanings. This includes the words 'right' and
> 'wrong.' I certainly hope that your relativism is not consistent. If
> it is, then what's 'wrong', after all, with ...genocide?...

A simple kind of objective moral relativism in two ideas:
1) Morals exist objectively, relative to individual desires.
2) Humans' desires, at least in their moral implications, are fairly
similar.

So, morals are universal not because moral truths exist independent of
individual desires, but because, as it happens, individual desires are
remarkably compatible. Remarkable to us largely because we continue to
be confused about the matter. The job of ethics is to deconfuse it.
To enlighten our self-interest, right?

Anyway, when anybody considers his desires realistically, it boils down
to, do you want to get along with the rest of the world, or not? Almost
everybody does. There are a lot of objective reasons why that's so, having
to do with what it is to be sentient (and after all, our desires come from
(in principle) objectively describeable processes), but still there's an
element of raw choice in there that can't be gotten rid of or done without,
and the fact that people choose our way is still surprising and wonderful
to me. That's why this statement makes me queasy:

> ...An expressed wish compares to philosophy as a hearty belch


> compares to the Gettysburg Address. (Not that there's anything wrong
> with wishes in themselves.)

I would say, a human desire compares to philosophy as a flower to a
botany textbook. The basic impulse to cooperate does not come from
philosophy, and to belittle it is to belittle the life behind your
concept of "good." Philosophy (and thinking in general) is great and
necessary stuff, but it's only a thin layer constructed by life to
help it in what it was already doing. Morality pretending to stand
independently, obscuring the real moral truth, is a kind of evil.
It leads to stiltedness and confusion that doesn't improve on but
worsens wishywashiness and irresponsibility.

--Steve Witham, s...@smds.uucp
Not-the-fault-of: SMDS, Inc., Concord, MA

Mikhail Zeleny

unread,
Apr 16, 1991, 4:02:43 PM4/16/91
to
In article <1991Apr12....@monu6.cc.monash.edu.au> typ...@monu6.cc.monash.edu.au (John Wilkins) writes:
>In article <63...@husc6.harvard.edu>, zel...@zariski.harvard.edu (Mikhail Zeleny) writes:
>>
>> First off, John, if we are going to be on first name basis, it's Misha, not
>> Mike. Second, I also recognize that others may, rightly or wrongly,
>> believe that their firmly held commitments are objectively true. Still,
>> their belief is only part of the issue; justification is another,
>> independent aspect thereof. In short, most people believe that Right is on
>> their side; are they right in believing this?
>>
>Sorry, Misha then. As to whether adherents of other schemes are
>right, yes of course they are or they wouldn't be committed to
>their views. It's a tautology. Whether *I* believe they are
>depends on whether they agree with me, or whether I can construe
>them as so doing.
>

Would you still say they were right if they believed P and (not P)?

What if they said, pace Tertullian, ``Credo quia absurdum est''?

I ddefine knowledge as justified true belief (following thinkers as diverse
as Plato and Ayer). The above are not just untrue, but analytically false,
or inconsistent. Still, they could very well be believed...

>> With my apologies to Putnam, Dummett, & Co., I feel that truth is fully
>> independent of conceptual scheme. At this time I prefer not to go into a
>> technical argument, but merely to state that, in the domain of moral
>> reasoning, Sade presents one of the most fascinating internally consistent
>> theories ever devised; it is also absolutely false.
>>
>With my apologies to everyone else, I think that truth is an internal
>relation of a conceptual scheme. Sade's theory is true by any test
>*he* would accept. The desire for a concept-independent truth function
>rests, I believe, on the desire for some way to rationally argue
>or reject a Sade. If there is no such way, that's life, and wishing
>for it won't make it possible either.
>>

Just because I have a passionate desire to respectfully refute Sade, it
doesn't mean that I can't do so by appealing to reason, rather than
emotions.

In other words, the mere fact of mu wishing to find a way to do so doesn't
entail that I am doomed to fail in my attempts.

So far you haven't said anything which bears on the fundamental question of
the existence of objective truth.

>> >[my stuff deleted]
>>
>> Well, I think propositional knowledge is a fundamental building block of
>> all other forms of knowledge. Call moral knowledge dispositional; it will
>> still rely on some fundamental truths having propositional form.
>>
>Absolutely. But knowledge of what can be formalised in propositional
>terms need not be propositional itself.
>

If such knowledge can be expressed in language, it must be propositional by
definition. Ditto if it has a content.

Otherwise, what is it, -- some sort of ineffable intuition?

>> < Gettier laid to rest>


>Just a passing comment that the justified-true-belief formula is
>insufficient to characterise all knowledge. Not important. I'll read
>up on Ayer.

Very important for me. Look, Gettier says, as I recall, something like:
See Dick drive a Jaguar. Get a ride from him; chat about the nice car.
Conclude that he owns a Jaguar, and justify your belief with your
observation. Then, in the absence of any info about his girlfriend's
whereabouts, you correctly infer the following (I correct Gettier's
misconception of the semantics of exclusive disjunction):

(a) Dick owns a Jaguar, or Jane is in Munich;
(b) Dick owns a Jaguar, or Jane is in Moscow;
(c) Dick owns a Jaguar, or Jane is in Mecca.

It would seem that you know (a), (b), and (c) on the basis of your
allegedly knowing that Dick owns a Jaguar. In fact, the show-off is merely
renting the car; yet, by sheer coincidence, Jane has decided to grow a
beard and visit Mecca in mufti. So (c) is true, while (a) and (b) are
false. So Plato's criteria are insufficient.

Well, this is a charming story, but I would remark that it shows you to be
rather naive about property, as well as slow to recognize the fundamental
cheapness of your friend Dick. Seriously, you only _thought_ that you
knew; if you wished to know, you should have asked to see the car's title.

Suppose you are a detective, hired to find out what kind of car Dick
drives. Would you be happy with such skimpy evidence, or would you choose
to investigate further? I suggest that Gettier would make a rather lousy
dick.

>>
>> >Finally, a relativistic moral theory? In sketch, how about
>> >"goals and values are intentional states of a (linguistic/
>> >conceptual/social) community"? I have exactly the moral
>> >commitments I want under this view that I have under any other.
>>
>> To paraphrase Frege, the expression `the will of the people' has no
>> meaning. Even if it did, what dignity is there in subjecting your will to
>> the authority of a community? As a political act, it may be quite
>> reasonable; as a moral principle it is an utter failiure. What exactly do
>> moral values have in common with consensus?
>>
>For that, read: Kuhn, Hull, Wittgenstein, et. al. Are you getting the
>flavour of my influences?
>

I am quite underwhelmed by LW, as I would be by anyone whose favorite book
was ``Sex and Character''. (Hitler seemed to share this trait.)
Basically, I've absolutely no problem respecting people regardless of their
ethnicity, religion, or sexual preference; on the other hand, I have very
little respect for self-haters. That LW was one is incontrovertible; that
this trait is reflected in his philosophy is arguably true.

Kuhn seems OK, but Feyerabend is definitely crazy...
I don't know Hull.

My own inluences are Plato, Plotinus, Spinoza, Sade, Baudelaire,
Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Weber, Cantor, Frege, Russell, Church, G\"odel,
Tarski, Cohen, Camus, O'Shaughnessy, and Ginzburg. Doesn't mean that I
agree with all of what they say (I have very few quibbles about Church and
Baudelaire, diverging much more from the others).

>> >If God is dead, so what? We still have to live.
>> >
>>
>> My sentiments exactly.
>>
>> I just want to know HOW.
>>
>>
>I have an evolutionary view (NOT social darwinism) of how social
>norms are derived. They are historical traditions rather than
>eternal elementals in my view. They are the result of something
>like the model of Axelrod and co, and yes, they govern our
>choices. So, we live according to our own (more or less local)
>interpretations of the prevailing norms.

This way you can only come up with a descriptive view; this is what did
Nietzsche (who also has a positive prescriptive theory); and many people
falsely concluded that he was indistinguishable from the scrofulous Nazi
Heidegger. But morals are prescriptive, if at all; so your attempt fails.
The only option open to you in the absence of absolute values, is moral
intuitionism. This may be fine and dandy for you, but not so good for a
Sade character, or the people around him.


>--
>John Wilkins, Manager, Publishing & Advertising, Monash University
>Melbourne, Australia - Internet: typ...@monu6.cc.monash.edu.au
>Nobody's views but mine own -- who'd want them?
>[For my sins, also a Masters research student in philosophy]

Good luck with the thesis. Do a PhD, while you are at it.

Regards,

Phil Kime

unread,
Apr 17, 1991, 4:41:39 PM4/17/91
to
In article <64...@husc6.harvard.edu> zel...@osgood.harvard.edu (Mikhail Zeleny) writes:

>I ddefine knowledge as justified true belief (following thinkers as diverse
>as Plato and Ayer). The above are not just untrue, but analytically false,
>or inconsistent. Still, they could very well be believed...

>Very important for me. Look, Gettier says, as I recall, something like:


>See Dick drive a Jaguar. Get a ride from him; chat about the nice car.
>Conclude that he owns a Jaguar, and justify your belief with your
>observation. Then, in the absence of any info about his girlfriend's
>whereabouts, you correctly infer the following (I correct Gettier's
>misconception of the semantics of exclusive disjunction):
>
>(a) Dick owns a Jaguar, or Jane is in Munich;
>(b) Dick owns a Jaguar, or Jane is in Moscow;
>(c) Dick owns a Jaguar, or Jane is in Mecca.
>
>It would seem that you know (a), (b), and (c) on the basis of your
>allegedly knowing that Dick owns a Jaguar. In fact, the show-off is merely
>renting the car; yet, by sheer coincidence, Jane has decided to grow a
>beard and visit Mecca in mufti. So (c) is true, while (a) and (b) are
>false. So Plato's criteria are insufficient.
>
>Well, this is a charming story, but I would remark that it shows you to be
>rather naive about property, as well as slow to recognize the fundamental
>cheapness of your friend Dick. Seriously, you only _thought_ that you
>knew; if you wished to know, you should have asked to see the car's title.
>
>Suppose you are a detective, hired to find out what kind of car Dick
>drives. Would you be happy with such skimpy evidence, or would you choose
>to investigate further? I suggest that Gettier would make a rather lousy
>dick.

This solution to the Gettier-type paradox will not work. It aims to show that
you only think you know something unless you have (in the end) irrefutable
evidence for something. This clearly is a sufficient criteria in itself
(justified true belief is aiming at irrefutable evidence) and so this solution
begs knowldege. I mean, come on...have you ever heard of Chisholm and the
'Problem of the Critereon'? I suggest you read up on this and then decide
whether the 'justified true belief' formulation is correct. Why do you
think that generations of epistemologists after Gettier have sought to add
clauses such as 'relevant' justified true belief? If the answer was as simple
as you make out, none of this would be needed. What of the huge interest in
'Naturalized Epistemology?' .It is, in part, a reaction against the
hopelessness of defining knowledge in the way you suggest. The problem of the
criterion is a lot harder to solve than by just saying that every time an
anomaly comes along, you were mistaken in your knowledge claim. It prohibits,
in a very serious way, the possibility of ever formulating a _theory_ of
knowledge. It doesn't prevent knowledge but it _does_ prevent systems of
knowledge such as the JTB formula.
--
=====================================*======================================
| Phil Kime (py...@cu.warwick.ac.uk) |
| Dept. of Philosophy, University of Warwick, U.K. |
=====================================*======================================

Elf Sternberg

unread,
Apr 18, 1991, 3:40:18 AM4/18/91
to
ha...@nas.nasa.gov (Andrew F. Hampe) writes:

> In article <yqqg1...@halcyon.uucp>, halcyon!e...@seattleu.edu (Elf
> Sternberg) writes:
>
> |> Drieux, I avoid talking to you. We've never agreed, and here's
> |> where we disagree the most.
>
>
> I often find it very useful to be condemned in
> abstentia - without having even made the effort
> to communicate with me. This is a most useful
> method of information interchange, and an
> exceptional complement to your skills.
>

Nonsense, dear Boy! I am always pleased to honor you with
commentary in a public forum; I have no fear of you. And I never
condemned you in absentia. We stand in a public forum, my dear drieux,
and you get on your soapbox and I listen, and I stand on mine and maybe
you listen. Of course, I do read my poetry in public, and therefore have
other nasty habits.
But you were never condemned, child. I simply stated how I
opined about you. A very simple thing, after reading your posts. And to
this day, we have yet to agree on some fundamental issues.
Someone commented recently that you were a voluminous participant
on alt.flame. Congratulations. However, I never flame.
And that makes me morally superior to those who do.

Elf !!!

Mikhail Zeleny

unread,
Apr 17, 1991, 10:21:56 PM4/17/91
to
In article <3...@smds.UUCP> s...@smds.UUCP (Stephen E. Witham) writes:
>In article <aaiken.671331327@silver>, aai...@silver.ucs.indiana.edu (Andrew C. Aiken) writes:
>> typ...@monu6.cc.monash.edu.au (John Wilkins) writes:
>> >... One can be (as I am)
>> >a relativist who firmly believes in objective knowledge. I just
>> >also recognise that other conceptual groups believe that THEIR
>> >firmly held commitments are objectively true.
>>
>> Well, OK, but the question is, " Are these other 'conceptual
>> groups' right?" I may just be an anachronistic fool, but I happen to
>> believe that words have meanings. This includes the words 'right' and
>> 'wrong.' I certainly hope that your relativism is not consistent. If
>> it is, then what's 'wrong', after all, with ...genocide?...
>
>A simple kind of objective moral relativism in two ideas:
>1) Morals exist objectively, relative to individual desires.

Individual desires are subjective, if anything at all is.

>2) Humans' desires, at least in their moral implications, are fairly
> similar.

Sade, Nietzsche, and Freud would agree. So do I.

>
>So, morals are universal not because moral truths exist independent of
>individual desires, but because, as it happens, individual desires are
>remarkably compatible. Remarkable to us largely because we continue to
>be confused about the matter. The job of ethics is to deconfuse it.
>To enlighten our self-interest, right?
>

Oh dear, here he comes...

>Anyway, when anybody considers his desires realistically, it boils down
>to, do you want to get along with the rest of the world, or not? Almost
>everybody does.

Give me a break, willya?

Do I want to ``get along with the rest of the world''?

What I WANT is to kill half the world and fuck the other half; and
sometimes I am not so sure about the proportion, distribution, or order of
the above. If there is any Right that supervenes on this bag of meat and
bones of a body I live in, it is due entirely to my conscious mastery over
these WANTS.

> There are a lot of objective reasons why that's so, having
>to do with what it is to be sentient (and after all, our desires come from
>(in principle) objectively describeable processes), but still there's an
>element of raw choice in there that can't be gotten rid of or done without,
>and the fact that people choose our way is still surprising and wonderful
>to me. That's why this statement makes me queasy:
>
>> ...An expressed wish compares to philosophy as a hearty belch
>> compares to the Gettysburg Address. (Not that there's anything wrong
>> with wishes in themselves.)
>

Personally, I applaud the author.

(Nothing wrong with hearty belches, either: just ask the Japanese.)

>I would say, a human desire compares to philosophy as a flower to a
>botany textbook. The basic impulse to cooperate does not come from
>philosophy, and to belittle it is to belittle the life behind your
>concept of "good." Philosophy (and thinking in general) is great and
>necessary stuff, but it's only a thin layer constructed by life to
>help it in what it was already doing. Morality pretending to stand
>independently, obscuring the real moral truth, is a kind of evil.
>It leads to stiltedness and confusion that doesn't improve on but
>worsens wishywashiness and irresponsibility.
>

Vey iz mir...

Now we have life, the great architect of philosophy and thinking in
general... what the hell is there left for me to do, but kick back and
enjoy my place in the food chain?

I'd rather be stilted and confused, but retain some dignity as the master
of my philosophy and thought in general.

If there is any truth to eschatological intuitionism, I wish that everyone
would end up in accordance with his conceptual system. Thus I would end up
in the delightful company of Form and Number. Where do you see yourself
going?

>--Steve Witham, s...@smds.uucp
>Not-the-fault-of: SMDS, Inc., Concord, MA

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\
| ``If there are no Platonic ideals, then what did we fight for?'' |

| (A Spanish Republican) |
| Mikhail Zeleny Harvard |
| 872 Massachusetts Ave., Apt. 707 doesn't |
| Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139 think |
| (617) 661-81-51 so |

Andrew F. Hampe

unread,
Apr 20, 1991, 5:04:04 AM4/20/91
to
In article <VT0k1...@halcyon.uucp>, halcyon!e...@seattleu.edu (Elf
Sternberg) writes:

Honey,

we all do what we have to
when it gets to closing time.


ciao
drieux

ps: and that handbag just doesn't
go with those shoes....

Mikhail Zeleny

unread,
Apr 19, 1991, 10:47:04 PM4/19/91
to
In article <B+{_51&@warwick.ac.uk> py...@warwick.ac.uk (Phil Kime) writes:
>In article <64...@husc6.harvard.edu> zel...@osgood.harvard.edu (Mikhail Zeleny) writes:
>
>>I ddefine knowledge as justified true belief (following thinkers as diverse
>>as Plato and Ayer). The above are not just untrue, but analytically false,
>>or inconsistent. Still, they could very well be believed...

<...>

>>Suppose you are a detective, hired to find out what kind of car Dick
>>drives. Would you be happy with such skimpy evidence, or would you choose
>>to investigate further? I suggest that Gettier would make a rather lousy
>>dick.
>
>This solution to the Gettier-type paradox will not work. It aims to show that
>you only think you know something unless you have (in the end) irrefutable
>evidence for something.

Charity, please. I don't buy your 'in the end'; you are just setting up an
aunt Sally. My point was Ayer's: no hard and fast a priori criterion of
justification can be given outside of a comprehensive theoretic framework
which substantiates it.

> This clearly is a sufficient criteria in itself
>(justified true belief is aiming at irrefutable evidence) and so this solution
>begs knowldege.

At this point you would win, but only against the old girl. I am not to be
found in her general vicinity.

> I mean, come on...have you ever heard of Chisholm and the
>'Problem of the Critereon'? I suggest you read up on this and then decide
>whether the 'justified true belief' formulation is correct. Why do you
>think that generations of epistemologists after Gettier have sought to add
>clauses such as 'relevant' justified true belief?

I wouldn't dream of denying the relevance of relevance; yet, to me, it is
subsumed by justification, when the latter is formulated as an organic part
of a certain adequate worldview. THe point was, Gettier's examples fail on
the adequacy level.

> If the answer was as simple
>as you make out, none of this would be needed. What of the huge interest in
>'Naturalized Epistemology?' .It is, in part, a reaction against the
>hopelessness of defining knowledge in the way you suggest. The problem of the
>criterion is a lot harder to solve than by just saying that every time an
>anomaly comes along, you were mistaken in your knowledge claim.

And yet this is how science, and life in general, work. What you see as an
anomaly, i.e. as a methodological failiure, I see as a theoretical one.

> It prohibits,
>in a very serious way, the possibility of ever formulating a _theory_ of
>knowledge. It doesn't prevent knowledge but it _does_ prevent systems of
>knowledge such as the JTB formula.

Not at all. It just forces you to relativize the validity of your
epistemic claim to the degree of reliability of your justification.
I don't believe in _absolute_ knowledge, that's all.

>--
>=====================================*======================================
>| Phil Kime (py...@cu.warwick.ac.uk) |
>| Dept. of Philosophy, University of Warwick, U.K. |
>=====================================*======================================

Phil Kime

unread,
Apr 21, 1991, 2:44:18 PM4/21/91
to
In article <64...@husc6.harvard.edu> zel...@zariski.harvard.edu (Mikhail Zeleny) writes:
>In article <B+{_51&@warwick.ac.uk> py...@warwick.ac.uk (Phil Kime) writes:
>>In article <64...@husc6.harvard.edu> zel...@osgood.harvard.edu (Mikhail Zeleny) writes:

>>This solution to the Gettier-type paradox will not work. It aims to show that
>>you only think you know something unless you have (in the end) irrefutable
>>evidence for something.

>Charity, please. I don't buy your 'in the end'; you are just setting up an
>aunt Sally. My point was Ayer's: no hard and fast a priori criterion of
>justification can be given outside of a comprehensive theoretic framework
>which substantiates it.

Mmmm. Ok. Just delete the 'in the end'. As for the qualification that is
represented in the latter half of this paragraph...why didn't you make this
clear when you made the original statement about JTB? It would saved me a lot
of typing...Ayers position gets round some of the criterion problem anyway so
if you had stated this as your position, I wouldn't have needed to post!!

>> This clearly is a sufficient criteria in itself
>>(justified true belief is aiming at irrefutable evidence) and so this solution
>>begs knowldege.
>
>At this point you would win, but only against the old girl. I am not to be
>found in her general vicinity.
>>

Again, delete the 'in the end'. But given your Ayerian qualification, this is
unecessary isn't it?

I mean, come on...have you ever heard of Chisholm and the
>>'Problem of the Critereon'? I suggest you read up on this and then decide
>>whether the 'justified true belief' formulation is correct. Why do you
>>think that generations of epistemologists after Gettier have sought to add
>>clauses such as 'relevant' justified true belief?
>
>I wouldn't dream of denying the relevance of relevance; yet, to me, it is
>subsumed by justification, when the latter is formulated as an organic part
>of a certain adequate worldview. THe point was, Gettier's examples fail on
>the adequacy level.

Oh. You really should have made the 'to me' bit clear in your original post
too. Nevertheless, _if_ one characterises justification in terms of validity,
no relevance is necessary. If you thing that it is, you mistake 'validity' for
'soundness'. (Iseminger 1981 (I think that's the correct year))
A 'relevance' view is expressed by
Anderson and Belnap (ref if you want it) but this falls foul of the above
confusion plus a host of other misconceptions about the status of the logic
that is used in any justificatory analysis.

Another point...Gettier's paradoxes are formulable for _any_ world view.
The're a bit like the old Godel trick...you can do it to anything. _That's_
the problem with Gettier paradoxes, not that one can get round then on any one
particular world view. The example you give in your original post can
easily be ruined by another Gettier paradox that is merely formulated on
the higher level of detail that the example resolves to.

>>If the answer was as simple
>>as you make out, none of this would be needed. What of the huge interest in
>>'Naturalized Epistemology?' .It is, in part, a reaction against the
>>hopelessness of defining knowledge in the way you suggest. The problem of the
>>criterion is a lot harder to solve than by just saying that every time an
>>anomaly comes along, you were mistaken in your knowledge claim.

>And yet this is how science, and life in general, work.

So? Since when has what works been a good indication of what is theoretically
or even methodologically correct?

>>It prohibits,
>>in a very serious way, the possibility of ever formulating a _theory_ of
>>knowledge. It doesn't prevent knowledge but it _does_ prevent systems of
>>knowledge such as the JTB formula.
>
>Not at all. It just forces you to relativize the validity of your
>epistemic claim to the degree of reliability of your justification.
>I don't believe in _absolute_ knowledge, that's all.

n
An 'epistemic claim' is not a system. I thought that this might need a little
elucidation. 'Epistemic claims' are not prohibited...systems that can dtermine
the vercaity of all 'epistemic claims' are. Unfortunately for those who
wish to argue for this 'relativization' of validity to reliability of
justification, a 'JTB' sort of formula is not really available. A nauturalized
epistemology maybe, or maybe an inductive theory, but not a traditional JTB
epistemology. If you don't want this anyway, one has to realise that an
epistemology that utilises any notion of 'justification'(even
relativistically) falls foul of the criterion paradox in much the same way as
three-valued logic falls foul of the same semantic paradoxes that
two-valued logic does. It is not that JTB are badly formulated etc. The
concepts involved lead to the problems, not just the formulations of the
concepts. I find it interesting to see that there is someone who thinks
that they can alter the formulation of the JTB view and come up with something
that avoids both Gettier and the criterion. I would like to hear what you have
to say on this matter and I am interested in your view. Please extrapolate.

Mikhail Zeleny

unread,
Apr 22, 1991, 6:27:05 PM4/22/91
to
In article <LJ'_^!$@warwick.ac.uk> py...@warwick.ac.uk (Phil Kime) writes:
>In article <64...@husc6.harvard.edu> zel...@zariski.harvard.edu (Mikhail Zeleny) writes:
>>In article <B+{_51&@warwick.ac.uk> py...@warwick.ac.uk (Phil Kime) writes:
>>>In article <64...@husc6.harvard.edu> zel...@osgood.harvard.edu (Mikhail Zeleny) writes:

>Another point...Gettier's paradoxes are formulable for _any_ world view.
>The're a bit like the old Godel trick...you can do it to anything. _That's_
>the problem with Gettier paradoxes, not that one can get round then on any one
>particular world view. The example you give in your original post can
>easily be ruined by another Gettier paradox that is merely formulated on
>the higher level of detail that the example resolves to.
>

OK, here's the deal. I see knowledge as intrinsically involved with its
justification; in other words, it's just a special case of belief. On the
highest rung of the certainty ladder we have the Modus Ponens, and its ilk,
i.e. propositions justified by the context which is implicit in all our
thinking. Everything else is more specifically constrained by its
background assumptions; e.g. the LUB theorems of elementary analysis
presuppose some analogue of the Axiom of Reducibility. Point is, these
theorems make no sense when considered in total isolation from such
assumptions. (Did I mention that I was a rationalist? This is just
Spinoza's ``Ethics'' I, Axiom 4: ``Effectus cognitio a cognitione caus\ae
dependet et eamdem involvit.'' (``The knowledge of an effect depends on,
and involves, the knowledge of its cause.''), under the assumption of
conflating causal and logical consequence, so deplored by Schopenhauer...)

So, you see, I really can get away from your buddy Gettier.

>>>If the answer was as simple
>>>as you make out, none of this would be needed. What of the huge interest in
>>>'Naturalized Epistemology?' .

I don't know, but it seems that Quine and Foucault would make such a lovely
couple, but for the traditional sexual preferences of one, and the present
sorry state of the other... To paraphrase your own statement, since when
has a huge popular interest been a good indication of what is true?

>>> It is, in part, a reaction against the
>>>hopelessness of defining knowledge in the way you suggest.

Hey, I try to maintain a post-despair neo-dada outlook.

>>> The problem of the
>>>criterion is a lot harder to solve than by just saying that every time an
>>>anomaly comes along, you were mistaken in your knowledge claim.
>

Not at all mistaken, just not thorough enough for your purposes.

>>And yet this is how science, and life in general, work.
>
>So? Since when has what works been a good indication of what is theoretically
>or even methodologically correct?
>

Agreed (see above). And yet restrictive normative methodological
conceptions are ill-received by working scientists and mathematicians, and
for a good reason. Those who can, do; those who can't do, teach; those who
can't teach, pontificate. How many anti-realist mathematicians do you know?

>>>It prohibits,
>>>in a very serious way, the possibility of ever formulating a _theory_ of
>>>knowledge. It doesn't prevent knowledge but it _does_ prevent systems of
>>>knowledge such as the JTB formula.
>>
>>Not at all. It just forces you to relativize the validity of your
>>epistemic claim to the degree of reliability of your justification.
>>I don't believe in _absolute_ knowledge, that's all.
>
> n
>An 'epistemic claim' is not a system. I thought that this might need a little
>elucidation. 'Epistemic claims' are not prohibited...systems that can dtermine
>the vercaity of all 'epistemic claims' are. Unfortunately for those who
>wish to argue for this 'relativization' of validity to reliability of
>justification, a 'JTB' sort of formula is not really available. A nauturalized
>epistemology maybe, or maybe an inductive theory, but not a traditional JTB
>epistemology. If you don't want this anyway, one has to realise that an
>epistemology that utilises any notion of 'justification'(even
>relativistically) falls foul of the criterion paradox in much the same way as
>three-valued logic falls foul of the same semantic paradoxes that
>two-valued logic does. It is not that JTB are badly formulated etc. The
>concepts involved lead to the problems, not just the formulations of the
>concepts. I find it interesting to see that there is someone who thinks
>that they can alter the formulation of the JTB view and come up with something
>that avoids both Gettier and the criterion. I would like to hear what you have
>to say on this matter and I am interested in your view. Please extrapolate.

Consider my views as naturalized epistemology on steroids. I needn't be
bashful in representing what I consider to be my epistemic entitlement as a
causal account of how I (inevitably) come to have a given belief. In
effect, I see the situation in terms of theories formulated in a language
embedded into a Fregean indirect context, which is given by all of their
presuppositions. So the propositions expressed by such theories reflect
all of these presuppositions in their very constituents and components.
Thus the justification is already built into your epistemic claim. In
effect, this justification is far more interesting than the truth-value of
the proposition in question, as the latter is far harder to determine.
This is a bit like ``truth-value opacity'': just as we can meaningfully
manipulate terms like `the fountain of youth', `the cure for AIDS', `the
first child born in the XXI century', etc., without knowing whether they
denote anything, so we can meaningfully manipulate JB formulae, without
concerning ourselves too much about the ``T'' bit.

>--
>=====================================*======================================
>| Phil Kime (py...@cu.warwick.ac.uk) |
>| Dept. of Philosophy, University of Warwick, U.K. |
>=====================================*======================================

Stephen E. Witham

unread,
Apr 22, 1991, 10:16:50 AM4/22/91
to
(Thread with Mikhail Zeleny about "objectively relative morals," and the
place of moral philosophy vs. inherent goodness, sort of.)

For those reading this in alt.sex, sci.philosophy.tech:
I'm not posting there anymore. If you're interested, look in
sci.philosophy.meta or talk.philosophy.misc.

--Steve Witham

Phil Kime

unread,
Apr 24, 1991, 1:07:29 PM4/24/91
to
In article <65...@husc6.harvard.edu> zel...@osgood.harvard.edu (Mikhail Zeleny) writes:
>In article <LJ'_^!$@warwick.ac.uk> py...@warwick.ac.uk (Phil Kime) writes:
>>In article <64...@husc6.harvard.edu> zel...@zariski.harvard.edu (Mikhail Zeleny) writes:
>>>In article <B+{_51&@warwick.ac.uk> py...@warwick.ac.uk (Phil Kime) writes:
>>>>In article <64...@husc6.harvard.edu> zel...@osgood.harvard.edu (Mikhail Zeleny) writes:

>OK, here's the deal. I see knowledge as intrinsically involved with its
>justification; in other words, it's just a special case of belief. On the
>highest rung of the certainty ladder we have the Modus Ponens, and its ilk,
>i.e. propositions justified by the context which is implicit in all our
>thinking. Everything else is more specifically constrained by its
>background assumptions; e.g. the LUB theorems of elementary analysis
>presuppose some analogue of the Axiom of Reducibility. Point is, these
>theorems make no sense when considered in total isolation from such
>assumptions. (Did I mention that I was a rationalist? This is just
>Spinoza's ``Ethics'' I, Axiom 4: ``Effectus cognitio a cognitione caus\ae
>dependet et eamdem involvit.'' (``The knowledge of an effect depends on,
>and involves, the knowledge of its cause.''), under the assumption of
>conflating causal and logical consequence, so deplored by Schopenhauer...)
>
>So, you see, I really can get away from your buddy Gettier.

Ah. Some propositions may not make sense outside of the context given by their
background assumptions but this does not mean that they _do_ make sense
when they _are_ in the proper context. This is Gettier's point: The problem is
formulable for any given context and need not appeal to context-free concepts.
You may get away from my buddy but he's got a car that automatically
matches the speed of yours and will catch you in the end......


>>>> What of the huge interest in 'Naturalized Epistemology?' .

>I don't know, but it seems that Quine and Foucault would make such a lovely
>couple, but for the traditional sexual preferences of one, and the present
>sorry state of the other... To paraphrase your own statement, since when
>has a huge popular interest been a good indication of what is true?

I hate sneaky reflexive arguments!! I set myself up though. Ok, the
interest in NE means nothing but it _may_ (philosophy must take 'may's into
account) indicate that something is wrong.

>>>>It is, in part, a reaction against the
>>>>hopelessness of defining knowledge in the way you suggest.

>Hey, I try to maintain a post-despair neo-dada outlook.

Hey, I try to maintain a post-(post-despair) outlook.


>>>And yet this is how science, and life in general, work.

>>So? Since when has what works been a good indication of what is >>theoretically or even methodologically correct?

>Agreed (see above). And yet restrictive normative methodological
>conceptions are ill-received by working scientists and mathematicians, and
>for a good reason. Those who can, do; those who can't do, teach; those who
>can't teach, pontificate. How many anti-realist mathematicians do you know?

So? Since when has ill-reception been a good indication of.....

Those who can, do indeed 'do'. However, this 'do' may not involve anything
other that theorising, teaching or pontificating: 'doing' gives one no
authority to talk of anything other than doing. I know lots of 'doers' who
hold their 'doingness' as a beating stick with which to beat those who
don't when it comes to arguments of truth and validity. They are, at best,
beating thin air or ,at worst, beating something that is immune to
pain from sticks.

>Consider my views as naturalized epistemology on steroids. I needn't be
>bashful in representing what I consider to be my epistemic entitlement as a
>causal account of how I (inevitably) come to have a given belief. In
>effect, I see the situation in terms of theories formulated in a language
>embedded into a Fregean indirect context, which is given by all of their
>presuppositions. So the propositions expressed by such theories reflect
>all of these presuppositions in their very constituents and components.
>Thus the justification is already built into your epistemic claim. In
>effect, this justification is far more interesting than the truth-value of
>the proposition in question, as the latter is far harder to determine.
>This is a bit like ``truth-value opacity'': just as we can meaningfully
>manipulate terms like `the fountain of youth', `the cure for AIDS', `the
>first child born in the XXI century', etc., without knowing whether they
>denote anything, so we can meaningfully manipulate JB formulae, without
>concerning ourselves too much about the ``T'' bit.

If the justification is 'built in to your epistemic claim', how is this done?
With many forms of NE, justification is guaranteed by the cognitive structure
that represents the epistemological enterprise. This, of course, won't work as
it falls foul of the genesis/justification distinction...a special case of the
naturalistic fallacy. So how do you guarantee justification? Which
structure performs the task?

Mikhail Zeleny

unread,
Apr 26, 1991, 11:38:12 AM4/26/91
to

No. No sentence means anything outside of its global context, inasmuch as
this context subsumes both the language and the circumstances of its
utterance. The proposition must, of necessity, include all of this context
within itself; thus we are in no position to truly know the proposition we
express each time we utter a declarative sentence (this is just saying that
neither the language in its entirety, nor the circumstances in their full
detail are ever known to us; this is the sole result of Kripke's attempt to
criticize Frege). So your presumptious friend Mr. G. shares one
characteristic with his imaginary adversary: neither of them really knows
what they are talking about.

Put this another way, G. just expands the assumed context, builds more of
it in his interpretation of the sentence, examines the corresponding
``proposition fragment'', and pompously concludes that the observed change
in truth value evinces the inevitably inadequate nature of all criteria.
Wrong; it merely shows that we usually only believe when we think we know.

>>>>> What of the huge interest in 'Naturalized Epistemology?' .
>
>>I don't know, but it seems that Quine and Foucault would make such a lovely
>>couple, but for the traditional sexual preferences of one, and the present
>>sorry state of the other... To paraphrase your own statement, since when
>>has a huge popular interest been a good indication of what is true?
>
>I hate sneaky reflexive arguments!! I set myself up though. Ok, the
>interest in NE means nothing but it _may_ (philosophy must take 'may's into
>account) indicate that something is wrong.
>
>>>>>It is, in part, a reaction against the
>>>>>hopelessness of defining knowledge in the way you suggest.
>
>>Hey, I try to maintain a post-despair neo-dada outlook.
>
>Hey, I try to maintain a post-(post-despair) outlook.
>

Just try not to despair, while you are at it.

Better yet, try dada.


>>>>And yet this is how science, and life in general, work.
>
>>>So? Since when has what works been a good indication of what is >>theoretically or even methodologically correct?
>
>>Agreed (see above). And yet restrictive normative methodological
>>conceptions are ill-received by working scientists and mathematicians, and
>>for a good reason. Those who can, do; those who can't do, teach; those who
>>can't teach, pontificate. How many anti-realist mathematicians do you know?
>
>So? Since when has ill-reception been a good indication of.....
>
>Those who can, do indeed 'do'. However, this 'do' may not involve anything
>other that theorising, teaching or pontificating: 'doing' gives one no
>authority to talk of anything other than doing. I know lots of 'doers' who
>hold their 'doingness' as a beating stick with which to beat those who
>don't when it comes to arguments of truth and validity. They are, at best,
>beating thin air or ,at worst, beating something that is immune to
>pain from sticks.
>

Such a nice metaphor... As for me, I follow Chamfort, who follows Diogenes
of Sinope, known as the Dog:

``Un homme d'esprit est perdu s'il ne joint pas \`a l'esprit l'\'energie de
caract\`ere. Quand on a la lanterne de Diog\`ene, il faut avoir son
b\^aton.''

What good is a lantern without a stick?

(Try playing kendo; there's nothing like the adrenalin rush you get when
you hit another on the head with a stick. Swords are better yet, but I am
trying to cut down...)


>>Consider my views as naturalized epistemology on steroids. I needn't be
>>bashful in representing what I consider to be my epistemic entitlement as a
>>causal account of how I (inevitably) come to have a given belief. In
>>effect, I see the situation in terms of theories formulated in a language
>>embedded into a Fregean indirect context, which is given by all of their
>>presuppositions. So the propositions expressed by such theories reflect
>>all of these presuppositions in their very constituents and components.
>>Thus the justification is already built into your epistemic claim. In
>>effect, this justification is far more interesting than the truth-value of
>>the proposition in question, as the latter is far harder to determine.
>>This is a bit like ``truth-value opacity'': just as we can meaningfully
>>manipulate terms like `the fountain of youth', `the cure for AIDS', `the
>>first child born in the XXI century', etc., without knowing whether they
>>denote anything, so we can meaningfully manipulate JB formulae, without
>>concerning ourselves too much about the ``T'' bit.
>
>If the justification is 'built in to your epistemic claim', how is this done?
>With many forms of NE, justification is guaranteed by the cognitive structure
>that represents the epistemological enterprise. This, of course, won't work as
>it falls foul of the genesis/justification distinction...a special case of the
>naturalistic fallacy. So how do you guarantee justification? Which
>structure performs the task?

Once you follow Plato and Frege in distinguishing between the justification
of a truth from the reasons it can be given, you can see that the former
can be viewed as part of the proposition expressed by the true sentence in
question. In other words, all true propositions are self-evident,
subsuming their iustification in its entirety. For this reason no
proposition is ever known to us in its entirety.

All we have to work with is the sentence, together with an imperfect idea
of what proposition this sentence expresses. At this point our task
becomes to find out enough about this propostition to produce a meaningful
paraphrase of the original sentence.


>--
>=====================================*======================================
>| Phil Kime (py...@cu.warwick.ac.uk) |
>| Dept. of Philosophy, University of Warwick, U.K. |
>=====================================*======================================

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Phil Kime

unread,
Apr 27, 1991, 4:12:12 PM4/27/91
to
In article <65...@husc6.harvard.edu> zel...@zariski.harvard.edu (Mikhail Zeleny) writes:
>In article <W`A_F&&@warwick.ac.uk> py...@warwick.ac.uk (Phil Kime) writes:
>>In article <65...@husc6.harvard.edu> zel...@osgood.harvard.edu (Mikhail Zeleny) writes:
>>>In article <LJ'_^!$@warwick.ac.uk> py...@warwick.ac.uk (Phil Kime) writes:
>>>>In article <64...@husc6.harvard.edu> zel...@zariski.harvard.edu (Mikhail Zeleny) writes:
>>>>>In article <B+{_51&@warwick.ac.uk> py...@warwick.ac.uk (Phil Kime) writes:
>>>>>>In article <64...@husc6.harvard.edu> zel...@osgood.harvard.edu (Mikhail Zeleny) writes:


>>Ah. Some propositions may not make sense outside of the context given by their
>>background assumptions but this does not mean that they _do_ make sense
>>when they _are_ in the proper context. This is Gettier's point: The problem is
>>formulable for any given context and need not appeal to context-free concepts.
>>You may get away from my buddy but he's got a car that automatically
>>matches the speed of yours and will catch you in the end......

>No. No sentence means anything outside of its global context, inasmuch as
>this context subsumes both the language and the circumstances of its
>utterance. The proposition must, of necessity, include all of this context
>within itself; thus we are in no position to truly know the proposition we
>express each time we utter a declarative sentence (this is just saying that
>neither the language in its entirety, nor the circumstances in their full
>detail are ever known to us; this is the sole result of Kripke's attempt to
>criticize Frege). So your presumptious friend Mr. G. shares one
>characteristic with his imaginary adversary: neither of them really knows
>what they are talking about.

I'm not sure I agree that propositions 'necessarily' include context within
themselves. What is this 'within' anyway? Furthermore, I feel that you have
missed my point: I did not say that a sentence does mean anything outside
of it's context...I merely said that Gettier problems are formulable for
any given context.


>Put this another way, G. just expands the assumed context, builds more of
>it in his interpretation of the sentence, examines the corresponding
>``proposition fragment'', and pompously concludes that the observed change
>in truth value evinces the inevitably inadequate nature of all criteria.
>Wrong; it merely shows that we usually only believe when we think we know.

Ok. Then, on your terms, G. shows that the JTB formulation doesn't work
because, in some situations, we can get no further than mere belief even when
the conditions given in the JTB model are satisfied. This
'knowledge-that-turns-out-to-be-belief' is the end product of a putatively
necessary and sufficient set of conditions for knowledge: viz. the
JTB formulation. Thus JTB gives us, in some circumstances, not knowledge, but
knowledge-that-is-actually-belief. This is not satisfactory for an account of
the conditions for knowledge. How can G. 'build' more context into his
interpretation if all of the context is already there by necessity? Surely G.,
on your arguments, is merely properly expressing part of the context that
others have failed to recognise. He may well be evincing the inadequacy of all
criteria but this is due to the effects of this 'necessarily' included
context.

>>So? Since when has ill-reception been a good indication of.....
>>
>>Those who can, do indeed 'do'. However, this 'do' may not involve anything
>>other that theorising, teaching or pontificating: 'doing' gives one no
>>authority to talk of anything other than doing. I know lots of 'doers' who
>>hold their 'doingness' as a beating stick with which to beat those who
>>don't when it comes to arguments of truth and validity. They are, at best,
>>beating thin air or ,at worst, beating something that is immune to
>>pain from sticks.

>Such a nice metaphor...

Thank you...I thought so.

>What good is a lantern without a stick?

Hand held?
What good is a stick without a lantern to guide your blows?


>(Try playing kendo; there's nothing like the adrenalin rush you get when
>you hit another on the head with a stick. Swords are better yet, but I am
>trying to cut down...)

Strange you should say that...I practise Kendo regularly. I usually find that
the adrenalin rush is overpowered by the immense exhaustion that are always
characteristic of the sadistic training sessions I attend...

>subsuming their justification in its entirety. For this reason no


>proposition is ever known to us in its entirety.

So why try to use a formulation that supposedly gives the necessary and
sufficient conditions for knowledge if no proposition can ever be known in its
entirety? I think that my point is that you confuse the task of traditional
epistemology as being one of representation of epistemic processes and
causal/presupposition sequences. Traditional Ep (see Quine's 'Ep.
Naturalised) is a _re-constructive_ affair that attempts to re-construct
our claims to knowledge in rationalistic terms much the same as phenomenalism
was an attempt to reconstruct our talk of objects in purely perceptual terms.
You seem to want the best of two incompatible worlds by using a model couched
in rationalistic terms to describe a system that smacks, more than a
little, of naturalised endeavours. I'll ask you straight...do you like
Naturalised Epistemology??

Phil Kime

unread,
May 6, 1991, 6:21:24 PM5/6/91
to
In article <66...@husc6.harvard.edu> zel...@zariski.harvard.edu (Mikhail Zeleny) writes:
>In article <S_C_!0...@warwick.ac.uk> py...@warwick.ac.uk (Phil Kime) writes:
>>In article <65...@husc6.harvard.edu> zel...@zariski.harvard.edu (Mikhail Zeleny) writes:

>PK>I'm not sure I agree that propositions 'necessarily' include context within
>PK>themselves. What is this 'within' anyway? Furthermore, I feel that you have
>PK>missed my point: I did not say that a sentence does mean anything outside
>PK>of it's context...I merely said that Gettier problems are formulable for
>PK>any given context.

>I disagree. My understanding of context is such that the global context is
>identical with the entire theory, whence it is essentially ineffable, if
>only for our lack of logical omniscience. Look, there are three ways to
>reason: induction, i.e. moving from the particular to the general under
>either logical consequence or some form of entailment, deduction, i.e.
>moving from the general to the particular, and abduction, i.e. moving from
>an effect to its likely cause. Well, each of these presupposes some
>meta-level inference rules, and the application of these rules is subject
>to formulation of meta-meta-level rules, etc. (compare the classic Lewis
>Carroll article re what the turtle said to Achilles); in other words,
>rule-level epistemological foundationalism is impossible; whatever
>``justification of induction'' you might dream up, there still would remain
>the need to justify your justification; ditto for the classical
>metamathematical paradigm, and the historical method, based on abduction
>(my teacher Carlo Ginzburg has a nice article on the latter). The moral of
>this story is that there is no such thing as ultimate justification of a
>given proposition outside of the entire theory to which it belongs.

But presumably Gettier's work can easily be interpreted as a move towards
exactly this sort of conclusion? I think that I may just have seen the
boundaries of the little piece of land that we are fighting over...you say
that knowledge can be seen as justified true belief when we consider the
global context that constitutes the theory that we have 'knowledge' of.
(Please correct me if I err). I rather regard the JTB formulation as a
candidate for a 'criterion' by which we can judge new claims to knowledge
rather that as a description of i epistemological items that have already
attained the position. Like I said before...JTB is only useless as a
_criterion_ but not, perhaps, as a description. I think that we agree on this
in places. I certainly agree with the holistic contextual view that you
expouse but must caution against regarding this as a solution to the
criteriological problems beset classical epistemology.


>MZ>Put this another way, G. just expands the assumed context, builds more of
>MZ>it in his interpretation of the sentence, examines the corresponding
>MZ>``proposition fragment'', and pompously concludes that the observed change
>MZ>in truth value evinces the inevitably inadequate nature of all criteria.
>MZ>Wrong; it merely shows that we usually only believe when we think we know.
>
>PK>Ok. Then, on your terms, G. shows that the JTB formulation doesn't work
>PK>because, in some situations, we can get no further than mere belief even when
>PK>the conditions given in the JTB model are satisfied. This
>PK>'knowledge-that-turns-out-to-be-belief' is the end product of a putatively
>PK>necessary and sufficient set of conditions for knowledge: viz. the
>PK>JTB formulation. Thus JTB gives us, in some circumstances, not knowledge, but
>PK>knowledge-that-is-actually-belief. This is not satisfactory for an account of
>PK>the conditions for knowledge. How can G. 'build' more context into his
>PK>interpretation if all of the context is already there by necessity? Surely G.,
>PK>on your arguments, is merely properly expressing part of the context that
>PK>others have failed to recognise. He may well be evincing the inadequacy of all
>PK>criteria but this is due to the effects of this 'necessarily' included
>PK>context.

>You may never be able to achieve knowledge, but by expanding your awareness
>of the context of the sentences of your theory, you would get a better idea
>of what propositions they actually express. JTB is an ideal point.

Indeed it is an ideal point but it is not an ideal working criterion.

>PK>>So? Since when has ill-reception been a good indication of.....
>PK>>Those who can, do indeed 'do'. However, this 'do' may not involve anything
>PK>>other that theorising, teaching or pontificating: 'doing' gives one no
>PK>>authority to talk of anything other than doing. I know lots of 'doers' who
>PK>>hold their 'doingness' as a beating stick with which to beat those who
>PK>>don't when it comes to arguments of truth and validity. They are, at best,
>PK>>beating thin air or ,at worst, beating something that is immune to
>PK>>pain from sticks.

>MZ>Such a nice metaphor...

>PK>Thank you...I thought so.

>MZ>What good is a lantern without a stick?

>PK>Hand held?

>Whatever you like.

>PK>What good is a stick without a lantern to guide your blows?

>I can move my ears nearly as well as Zato Ichi.

Sounds painful.

>MZ>(Try playing kendo; there's nothing like the adrenalin rush you get when
>MZ>you hit another on the head with a stick. Swords are better yet, but I am
>MZ>trying to cut down...)

>There was a point to my metaphor. I reject the bizarre preoccupation of
>Anglo-American philosophy with sensory experience. As noted Alonzo Church,
>another teacher to whom I owe the little knowledge of philosophy that I
>have, to give preference to (say) seeing over understanding appears
>capricious. Moreover, I would expand Church's Platonic rationalism to
>include an appreciation of that, which for lack of a better term I shall
>call conativism. I claim that the sort of knowledge we derive from doing
>is in no way inferior to that we obtain from seeing or understanding;
>moreover, they are mutually irreducible. Try teaching somebody how to make
>a cut without using a sword; you will see what I mean.
>Only a few thinkers in the Western tradition have recognized the primal
>role played by volitions in our experience; the names of Spinoza,
>Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and O'Shaughnessy come to mind. Philosophy has
>spent far too much time sitting on its ass or kicking rocks. There are
>loftier goals around; I intend to pursue them.

I hardly think that this preoccupation is 'bizzare'. It merely stems from a
view that understanding must have something to work on and thus what it works
on is more fundamental. It may be a little narrow but surely not 'bizzare'?
Surely Dr. J was 'doing' when he assaulted the aforementioned silicon based
life-form?? Nevertheless, doing is indeed important but I think that we
demonstrated with the lamp/stick metaphor, both are needed if we are to become
a succesful intellectual nocturnal mugger. I was merely reacting against those
who thrash about in the dark with no light and then claim great skill when
they messily make contact with something. Precision, light assisted cuts
are prefereable. This is becoming a nice Zen-like metaphor...perhaps we should
patent it?

>MZ>>Consider my views as naturalized epistemology on steroids. I needn't be
>MZ>>bashful in representing what I consider to be my epistemic entitlement as a
>MZ>>causal account of how I (inevitably) come to have a given belief. In
>MZ>>effect, I see the situation in terms of theories formulated in a language
>MZ>>embedded into a Fregean indirect context, which is given by all of their
>MZ>>presuppositions. So the propositions expressed by such theories reflect
>MZ>>all of these presuppositions in their very constituents and components.
>MZ>>Thus the justification is already built into your epistemic claim. In
>MZ>>effect, this justification is far more interesting than the truth-value of
>MZ>>the proposition in question, as the latter is far harder to determine.
>MZ>>This is a bit like ``truth-value opacity'': just as we can meaningfully
>MZ>>manipulate terms like `the fountain of youth', `the cure for AIDS', `the
>MZ>>first child born in the XXI century', etc., without knowing whether they
>MZ>>denote anything, so we can meaningfully manipulate JB formulae, without
>MZ>>concerning ourselves too much about the ``T'' bit.

>PK>>If the justification is 'built in to your epistemic claim', how is this done?
>PK>>With many forms of NE, justification is guaranteed by the cognitive structure
>PK>>that represents the epistemological enterprise. This, of course, won't work as
>PK>>it falls foul of the genesis/justification distinction...a special case of the
>PK>>naturalistic fallacy. So how do you guarantee justification? Which
>PK>>structure performs the task?

>MZ>Once you follow Plato and Frege in distinguishing between the justification
>MZ>of a truth from the reasons it can be given, you can see that the former
>MZ>can be viewed as part of the proposition expressed by the true sentence in
>MZ>question. In other words, all true propositions are self-evident,
>MZ>subsuming their justification in its entirety. For this reason no
>MZ>proposition is ever known to us in its entirety.

>PK>So why try to use a formulation that supposedly gives the necessary and
>PK>sufficient conditions for knowledge if no proposition can ever be known in its
>PK>entirety? I think that my point is that you confuse the task of traditional
>PK>epistemology as being one of representation of epistemic processes and
>PK>causal/presupposition sequences. Traditional Ep (see Quine's 'Ep.
>PK>Naturalised) is a _re-constructive_ affair that attempts to re-construct
>PK>our claims to knowledge in rationalistic terms much the same as phenomenalism
>PK>was an attempt to reconstruct our talk of objects in purely perceptual terms.
>PK>You seem to want the best of two incompatible worlds by using a model couched
>PK>in rationalistic terms to describe a system that smacks, more than a
>PK>little, of naturalised endeavours. I'll ask you straight...do you like
>PK>Naturalised Epistemology??

>Not as long as it is done from the standpoint that all science must
>ultimately rest on sensory information. Incidentally, a lot of genesis is
>part of the justification, at least in the disciplines that recognize
>abduction as a valid inference scheme (e.g. history, sociology, etc.).

Well. You're in luck as not all NE is done from this standpoint. This is
leading into a reasons/causes discussion. Do you have any strong opinions
on this? Maybe we should change the name of the thread?

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