Learning and Knowing it All

Here’s a new (or at least new to me) schema for solving the Mary problem. For reasons that will become clear below, it isn’t yet a solution. But someone who knows more about consciousness will be able to convert it into a full solution. The following ideas grew out of some discussions after Derk Pereboom’s talk here last Thursday, and he (and the discussants at the talk) probably deserve the credit for what value there is in it.

We start with some facts about defeaters.
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Following Estzer’s suggestion I have created a Frappr map for TAR readers.

Where are the TAR readers

Click on that link and (a) you’ll have a chance to see where some of the readers are and (b) add yourself. At first I imagine it will be a fairly slim map, but I would like to see where the readers are. Note that although the map doesn’t show all of the US at first, you can scroll around fairly easily to see everyone.

Odds and Ends

When setting up my Lewis blog, I should have noted that there’s already a very good weblog devoted largely to David Lewis’s philosophy, namely Wo’s weblog. Wo himself left a very clever suggestion on my Lewis blog for how to solve the puzzle about defining theoretical terms I wrote about yesterday. I think that he nicely solves the problem I thought I’d found for Lewis.

Barry Loewer wrote in to tell me about a summer course that is being run next July in Budapest on Descrying the World in Physics. It features Barry, David Albert, Tim Maudlin, Katalin Balog Carl Hoefer and David Papineau. It looks extremely interesting, and you get to spend time in Budapest while attending it. Here’s a brief description.

There is a tradition within the history of physics that proposes that our world may have a complete fundamental physical theory. The course will examine this tradition and especially its prospects in view of foundational issues raised by quantum mechanics and statistical mechanics. We will be especially interested in the problem of “descrying” (that is locating and explaining) various features of the macroscopic world, especially the special sciences and features of human mentality and agency within the ontology and laws of fundamental physics.

Some of the time, perhaps most of the time, I think this is the single most important philosophical problem.

Finally, two more links to papers on Scott Soames’s book.

Mark Sainsbury’s commentary
Scott Soames’s reply to my commentary

Summer in Vienna?

For those of you who like slightly longer than usual conferences, the Vienna Circle runs two week summer institutes every year. Next year’s features ANU’s own Geoffrey Brennan, along with Hartmut Kliemt, on philosophy and economics. Details here.

A Puzzle About Defining Theoretical Terms

There seems to be a fairly serious problem with the theory set out in Lewis’s “How to Define Theoretical Terms”, which I’ll set out here. I might be misinterpreting Lewis, and if so I’d like to know. And I’m probably just be repeating something that has been said elsewhere already, and if that’s so I’d really like to know. So comments from Lewis(iana) experts much appreciated.
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Lewis Blog Updates

After some technical glitches came up, I moved the Lewis blog to a new site. The new address is:


That address is still propagating through the internet, so if it doesn’t work for the next few hours, don’t panic!

I’ve also moved and improved the RSS feed.

RSS Feed for Lewis Blog

It should now have full entries in the RSS feed.

I realised while doing this that I might now have full entries in the RSS feed enabled for TAR. If anyone is reading this using an RSS reader and has noticed that they aren’t getting full entries (not that I use extended entries on TAR very often) could you let me know and I’ll try and fix the problem. For example, this entry should have a Lewis quote at the end. If it doesn’t, you aren’t seeing the full entry.
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