A common argument for atheism runs as follows: God would not create a world worse than other worlds he could have created instead. However, if God exists, he could have created a better world than this one. Therefore, God does not exist. In this paper I challenge the second premise of this argument. I argue that if God exists, our world will continue without end, with God continuing to create value-bearers, and sustaining and perfecting the value-bearers he has already created. (...) Given this, if God exists, our world—considered on the whole—is infinitely valuable. I further contend that this theistic picture makes our world's value unsurpassable. In support of this contention, I consider proposals for how infinitely valuable worlds might be improved upon, focusing on two main ways—adding value-bearers and increasing the value in present value-bearers. I argue that neither of these can improve our world. Depending on how each method is understood, either it would not improve our world, or our world is unsurpassable with respect to it. I conclude by considering the implications of my argument for the problem of evil more generally conceived. (shrink)
People with the kind of preferences that give rise to the St. Petersburg paradox are problematic---but not because there is anything wrong with infinite utilities. Rather, such people cannot assign the St. Petersburg gamble any value that any kind of outcome could possibly have. Their preferences also violate an infinitary generalization of Savage's Sure Thing Principle, which we call the *Countable Sure Thing Principle*, as well as an infinitary generalization of von Neumann and Morgenstern's Independence axiom, which we call (...) *Countable Independence*. In violating these principles, they display foibles like those of people who deviate from standard expected utility theory in more mundane cases: they choose dominated strategies, pay to avoid information, and reject expert advice. We precisely characterize the preference relations that satisfy Countable Independence in several equivalent ways: a structural constraint on preferences, a representation theorem, and the principle we began with, that every prospect has a value that some outcome could have. (shrink)
Context: The infinite has long been an area of philosophical and mathematical investigation. There are many puzzles and paradoxes that involve the infinite. Problem: The goal of this paper is to answer the question: Which objects are the infinite numbers (when order is taken into account)? Though not currently considered a problem, I believe that it is of primary importance to identify properly the infinite numbers. Method: The main method that I employ is conceptual analysis. In (...) particular, I argue that the infinite numbers should be as much like the finite numbers as possible. Results: Using finite numbers as our guide to the infinite numbers, it follows that infinite numbers are of the structure w + (w* + w) a + w*. This same structure also arises when a large finite number is under investigation. Implications: A first implication of the paper is that infinite numbers may be large finite numbers that have not been investigated fully. A second implication is that there is no number of finite numbers. Third, a number of paradoxes of the infinite are resolved. One change that should occur as a result of these findings is that “infinitely many” should refer to structures of the form w + (w* + w) a + w*; in contrast, there are “indefinitely many” natural numbers. Constructivist content: The constructivist perspective of the paper is a form of strict finitism. (shrink)
It is possible that the world contains infinitely many agents that have positive and negative levels of well-being. Theories have been developed to ethically rank such worlds based on the well-being levels of the agents in those worlds or other qualitative properties of the worlds in question, such as the distribution of agents across spacetime. In this thesis I argue that such ethical rankings ought to be consistent with the Pareto principle, which says that if two worlds contain the same (...) agents and some agents are better off in the first world than they are in the second and no agents are worse off than they are in the second, then the first world is better than the second. I show that if we accept four axioms – the Pareto principle, transitivity, an axiom stating that populations of worlds can be permuted, and the claim that if the ‘at least as good as’ relation holds between two worlds then it holds between qualitative duplicates of this world pair – then we must conclude that there is ubiquitous incomparability between infinite worlds. I show that this is true even if the populations of infinite worlds are disjoint or overlapping, and that we cannot use any qualitative properties of world pairs to rank these worlds. Finally, I argue that this incomparability result generates puzzles for both consequentialist and non-consequentialist theories of objective and subjective permissibility. (shrink)
Kant's account of space as an infinite given magnitude in the Critique of Pure Reason is paradoxical, since infinite magnitudes go beyond the limits of possible experience. Michael Friedman's and Charles Parsons's accounts make sense of geometrical construction, but I argue that they do not resolve the paradox. I argue that metaphysical space is based on the ability of the subject to generate distinctly oriented spatial magnitudes of invariant scalar quantity through translation or rotation. The set of determinately (...) oriented, constructed geometrical spaces is a proper subset of metaphysical space, thus, metaphysical space is infinite. Kant's paradoxical doctrine of metaphysical space is necessary to reconcile his empiricism with his transcendental idealism. (shrink)
Infinity exists as a concept but has no existence in actuality. For infinity to have existence in actuality either time or space have to already be infinite. Unless something is already infinite, the only way to become infinite is by an 'infinity leap' in an infinitely small moment, and this is not possible. Neither does infinitely small have an existence since anything larger than zero is not infinitely small. Therefore infinity has no existence in actuality.
In the Transcendental Ideal Kant discusses the principle of complete determination: for every object and every predicate A, the object is either determinately A or not-A. He claims this principle is synthetic, but it appears to follow from the principle of excluded middle, which is analytic. He also makes a puzzling claim in support of its syntheticity: that it represents individual objects as deriving their possibility from the whole of possibility. This raises a puzzle about why Kant regarded it as (...) synthetic, and what his explanatory claim means. I argue that the principle of complete determination does not follow from the principle of excluded middle because the externally negated or ?negative? judgement ?Not (S is P)? does not entail the internally negated or ?infinite? judgement ?S is not-P.? Kant's puzzling explanatory claim means that empirical objects are determined by the content of the totality of experience. This entails that empirical objects are completely determinate if and only if the totality of experience has a completely determinate content. I argue that it is not a priori whether experience has such a completely determinate content and thus not analytic that objects obey the principle of complete determination. (shrink)
Some argue that theories of universals should incorporate structural universals, in order to allow for the metaphysical possibility of worlds of 'infinite descending complexity' ('onion worlds'). I argue that the possibility of such worlds does not establish the need for structural universals. So long as we admit the metaphysical possibility of emergent universals, there is an attractive alternative description of such cases.
I use modal logic and transfinite set-theory to define metaphysical foundations for a general theory of computation. A possible universe is a certain kind of situation; a situation is a set of facts. An algorithm is a certain kind of inductively defined property. A machine is a series of situations that instantiates an algorithm in a certain way. There are finite as well as transfinite algorithms and machines of any degree of complexity (e.g., Turing and super-Turing machines and more). There (...) are physically and metaphysically possible machines. There is an iterative hierarchy of logically possible machines in the iterative hierarchy of sets. Some algorithms are such that machines that instantiate them are minds. So there is an iterative hierarchy of finitely and transfinitely complex minds. (shrink)
Once one accepts that certain things metaphysically depend upon, or are metaphysically explained by, other things, it is natural to begin to wonder whether these chains of dependence or explanation must come to an end. This essay surveys the work that has been done on this issue—the issue of grounding and infinite descent. I frame the discussion around two questions: (1) What is infinite descent of ground? and (2) Is infinite descent of ground possible? In addressing the (...) second question, I will consider a number of arguments that have been made for and against the possibility of infinite descent of ground. When relevant, I connect the discussion to two important views about the way reality can be structured by grounding: metaphysical foundationalism and metaphysical infinitism. (shrink)
The infinite judgement has long been forgotten and yet, as I am about to demonstrate, it may be urgent to revive it for its critical and productive potential. An infinite judgement is neither analytic nor synthetic; it does not produce logical truths, nor true representations, but it establishes the genetic conditions of real objects and the concepts appropriate to them. It is through infinite judgements that we reach the principle of transcendental logic, in the depths of which (...) all reality can emerge in its material and sensible singularity, making possible all generalization and formal abstraction. (shrink)
"Jim would still be alive if he hadn't jumped" means that Jim's death was a consequence of his jumping. "x wouldn't be a triangle if it didn't have three sides" means that x's having a three sides is a consequence its being a triangle. Lewis takes the first sentence to mean that Jim is still alive in some alternative universe where he didn't jump, and he takes the second to mean that x is a non-triangle in every alternative universe where (...) it doesn't have three sides. Why did Lewis have such obviously wrong views? Because, like so many of his contemporaries, he failed to grasp the truth that it is the purpose of the present paper to demonstrate, to wit: No coherent doctrine assumes that statements about possible worlds are anything other than statements about the dependence-relations governing our world. The negation of this proposition has a number of obviously false consequences, for example: all true propositions are necessarily true (there is no modal difference between "2+2=4" and "Socrates was bald"); all modal terms (e.g. "possible," "necessary") are infinitely ambiguous; there is no difference between laws of nature (e.g. "metal expands when heated") and accidental generalizations (e.g. "all of the coins in my pocket are quarters"); and there is no difference between the belief that 1+1=2 and the belief that arithmetic is incomplete. Given that possible worlds are identical with mathematical models, it follows that the concept of model-theoretic entailment is useless in the way of understanding how inferences are drawn or how they should be drawn. Given that the concept of formal-entailment is equally useless in these respects, it follows that philosophers and mathematicians have simply failed to shed any light on the nature of the consequence-relation. Q's being either a formal or a model-theoretic consequence of P is parasitic on its bearing some third, still unidentified relation to P; and until this relation has been identified, the discipline of philosophical logic has yet to begin. (shrink)
A new computational methodology for executing calculations with infinite and infinitesimal quantities is described in this paper. It is based on the principle ‘The part is less than the whole’ introduced by Ancient Greeks and applied to all numbers (finite, infinite, and infinitesimal) and to all sets and processes (finite and infinite). It is shown that it becomes possible to write down finite, infinite, and infinitesimal numbers by a finite number of symbols as particular cases of (...) a unique framework. The new methodology has allowed us to introduce the Infinity Computer working with such numbers (its simulator has already been realized). Examples dealing with divergent series, infinite sets, and limits are given. (shrink)
In this article, I argue that it is impossible to complete infinitely many tasks in a finite time. A key premise in my argument is that the only way to get to 0 tasks remaining is from 1 task remaining, when tasks are done 1-by-1. I suggest that the only way to deny this premise is by begging the question, that is, by assuming that supertasks are possible. I go on to present one reason why this conclusion (that supertasks are (...) impossible) is important, namely that it implies a new verdict on a decision puzzle propounded by Jeffrey Barrett and Frank Arntzenius. (shrink)
In this paper, two concepts of completing an infinite number of tasks are considered. After discussing supertasks, equisupertasks are introduced. I suggest that equisupertasks are logically possible.
A key premise of the kalam cosmological argument is that the universe began to exist. However, while a number of philosophers have offered powerful criticisms of William Lane Craig’s defense of the premise, J.P. Moreland has also offered a number of unique arguments in support of it, and to date, little attention has been paid to these in the literature. In this paper, I attempt to go some way toward redressing this matter. In particular, I shall argue that Moreland’s philosophical (...) arguments against the possibility of traversing a beginningless past are unsuccessful. (shrink)
The Koch snowflake is one of the first fractals that were mathematically described. It is interesting because it has an infinite perimeter in the limit but its limit area is finite. In this paper, a recently proposed computational methodology allowing one to execute numerical computations with infinities and infinitesimals is applied to study the Koch snowflake at infinity. Numerical computations with actual infinite and infinitesimal numbers can be executed on the Infinity Computer being a new supercomputer patented in (...) USA and EU. It is revealed in the paper that at infinity the snowflake is not unique, i.e., different snowflakes can be distinguished for different infinite numbers of steps executed during the process of their generation. It is then shown that for any given infinite number n of steps it becomes possible to calculate the exact infinite number, Nn, of sides of the snowflake, the exact infinitesimal length, Ln, of each side and the exact infinite perimeter, Pn, of the Koch snowflake as the result of multiplication of the infinite Nn by the infinitesimal Ln. It is established that for different infinite n and k the infinite perimeters Pn and Pk are also different and the difference can be infinite. It is shown that the finite areas An and Ak of the snowflakes can be also calculated exactly (up to infinitesimals) for different infinite n and k and the difference An − Ak results to be infinitesimal. Finally, snowflakes constructed starting from different initial conditions are also studied and their quantitative characteristics at infinity are computed. (shrink)
The paper argues that God does not act but is creative activity, which helps to overcome evil by the possibilities of the good that it opens up for creatures in the face of evil.
The following four theses all have some intuitive appeal: (I) There are valid norms. (II) A norm is valid only if justified by a valid norm. (III) Justification, on the class of norms, has an irreflexive proper ancestral. (IV) There is no infinite sequence of valid norms each of which is justified by its successor. However, at least one must be false, for (I)--(III) together entail the denial of (IV). There is thus a conflict between intuition and logical possibility. (...) This paper, after distinguishing various conceptions of a norm, of validity and of justification, argues for the following position. (I) is true. (II) is false for legislative justification and true for epistemic justification. (III) is true for legislative and false for epistemic justification. (IV) is true for legislative justification; for epistemic justification (IV) is true or false depending on the conception taken of a norm. Our intuition in favour of (II) must therefore be abandoned where justification is conceived legislatively. Our intuition in favour of (III) must be abandoned, and our intuition in favour of (IV) qualified, where justification is conceived epistemically. (shrink)
This paper investigates the view that digital hypercomputing is a good reason for rejection or re-interpretation of the Church-Turing thesis. After suggestion that such re-interpretation is historically problematic and often involves attack on a straw man (the ‘maximality thesis’), it discusses proposals for digital hypercomputing with Zeno-machines , i.e. computing machines that compute an infinite number of computing steps in finite time, thus performing supertasks. It argues that effective computing with Zeno-machines falls into a dilemma: either they are specified (...) such that they do not have output states, or they are specified such that they do have output states, but involve contradiction. Repairs though non-effective methods or special rules for semi-decidable problems are sought, but not found. The paper concludes that hypercomputing supertasks are impossible in the actual world and thus no reason for rejection of the Church-Turing thesis in its traditional interpretation. (shrink)
Leibniz said that the universe, if God-created, would exist at a unique, conjoint, physical maximum: Of all possible worlds, it would be richest in phenomena, but its richness would arise from the simplest physical laws and initial conditions. Using concepts of ‘‘variety’’ and algorithmic informational complexity, Leibniz’ claim can be reframed as a testable theory. This theory predicts that the laws and conditions of the actual universe should be simpler, and the universe richer in phenomena, than the presence of observers (...) would require. Tegmark has shown that inhabitants of an infinite multiverse would likely observe simple laws and conditions, but also phenomenal richness just great enough to explain their existence. Empirical observations fit the claim of divine choice better than the claim of an infinite multiverse. The future of the universe, including its future information-processing capacity, is predicted to be endless. -/- . (shrink)
Much recent academic literature on the afterlife has been focused on the justice of eternity and whether a good God could allow a person to experience eternal suffering in Hell. Two primary escapes are typically suggested to justify never-ending punishment for sinners: the traditional view focuses the blame for an individual’s condemnation away from God onto the sinner’s freely chosen actions; the universalist position denies the eternality of the punishment on the grounds that God’s inescapable love and eventual victory over (...) evil will bring all souls into His presence. I propose a third option that hinges on the possibility of Heaven itself being experienced as eternal punishment to demonstrate that if God’s presence is both the blessedness of Heaven for some and the agony of Hell for others, then the biblical affirmation of the universal restoration of all with the eternal punishment of some need not remain paradoxical. (shrink)
A new computational methodology allowing one to work in a new way with infinities and infinitesimals is presented in this paper. The new approach, among other things, gives the possibility to calculate the number of elements of certain infinite sets, avoids indeterminate forms and various kinds of divergences. This methodology has been used by the author as a starting point in developing a new kind of computer – the Infinity Computer – able to execute computations and to store in (...) its memory not only finite numbers but also infinite and infinitesimal ones. (shrink)
Based on a recently published essay by Jeremy Gwiazda, I argue that the possibility that the present state of the universe is the product of an actually infinite series of causally-ordered prior events is impossible in principle, and thus that a major criticism of the Secunda Via of St. Thomas is baseless after all.
Using Riemann’s Rearrangement Theorem, Øystein Linnebo (2020) argues that, if it were possible to apply an infinite positive weight and an infinite negative weight to a working scale, the resulting net weight could end up being any real number, depending on the procedure by which these weights are applied. Appealing to the First Postulate of Archimedes’ treatise on balance, I argue instead that the scale would always read 0 kg. Along the way, we stop to consider an infinitely (...) jittery flea, an infinitely protracted border conflict, and an infinitely electric glass rod. (shrink)
Neopragmatism has been accused of having ‘an experience problem’. This paper begins by outlining Hume's understanding of perception according to which ideas are copies of impressions thought to constitute a direct confrontation with reality. This understanding is contrasted with Peirce's theory of perception according to which percepts give rise to perceptual judgments which do not copy but index the percept (just as a weather-cock indicates the direction of the wind). Percept and perceptual judgment thereby mutually inform and correct one another, (...) as the perceiver develops mental habits of interpreting their surroundings, so that, in this theory of perception, as Peirce puts it: “[n]othing at all…is absolutely confrontitional”. Paul Redding has argued that Hegel’s “idealist understanding of logical form” ran deeper than Kant’s in recognising that Mind is essentially embodied and located, and therefore perspectival. Peirce’s understanding arguably dives deeper still in distributing across the space of reasons (and thus Being) not just Mind’s characteristic features of embodiedness and locatedness, but also its infinite corrigibility. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: Compilation of eleven short essays that reflect authors view on various themes. Themes covered under this compilation are: • Right or wrong, good or bad, beautiful or ugly, these are all undefined and indefinable abstractions. • Communication: we're losing this ability; we are hiding behind a screen. • Ecology and environment: what can we do? • From kings to subjects: a society founded on the principle of dishonesty, arrogance and inequality. • Globalization and constraints, we must respect and protect (...) diversity! • The Internet: the most possible objective analysis. • Everybody isn’t equal in front of law and you cannot speak about justice... • The World’s Government, our money does not belong to us anymore! • We are reducing our planet into a giant landfill: we ourselves are becoming garbage! • School: an obstacle to reasoning, reflection and research. • Let’s entrust the highest roles of the State to young people and women! (shrink)
Physicists Brian Greene and Max Tegmark both make variants of the claim that if the universe is infinite and matter is roughly uniformly distributed, then there are infinitely many “people with the same appearance, name and memories as you, who play out every possible permutation of your life choices.” In this paper I argue that--while our current best theories in astrophysics may allow one to conclude that we have infinitely many duplicates whose lives are identical to our own from (...) start to finish--without either further advances in physics or advances in fields like biology, psychology, neuroscience, and philosophy, Greene’s and Tegmark’s claims about the ways in which our duplicates lives will differ from our own are not a consequence of our best current scientific theories. Rather, I argue that Greene and Tegmark’s conclusions rely on philosophically imprecise usages of the language of “possibility.”. (shrink)
In "To Bet The Impossible Bet", Harmon Holcomb III argues: (i) that Pascal's wager is structurally incoherent; (ii) that if it were not thus incoherent, then it would be successful; and (iii) that my earlier critique of Pascal's wager in "On Rescher On Pascal's Wager" is vitiated by its reliance on "logicist" presuppositions. I deny all three claims. If Pascal's wager is "incoherent", this is only because of its invocation of infinite utilities. However, even if infinite utilities are (...) admissible, the wager is defeated by the "many gods" and "many wagers" objections. Moreover, these objections do not rely on mistaken "logicist" presuppositions: atheists and agnostics traditionally and typically hold that they have no more--or at any rate, hardly any more--reason to believe in the traditional Christian God than they have to believe in countless alternative deities. (shrink)
In what follows, I suggest that, against most theories of time, there really is an actual present, a now, but that such an eternal moment cannot be found before or after time. It may even be semantically incoherent to say that such an eternal present exists since “it” is changeless and formless (presumably a dynamic chaos without location or duration) yet with creative potential. Such a field of near-infinite potential energy could have had no beginning and will have no (...) end, yet within it stirs the desire to experience that brings forth singularities, like the one that exploded into the Big Bang (experiencing itself through relative and relational spacetime). From the perspective of the eternal now of near-infinitepossibilities (if such a sentence can be semantically parsed at all), there is only the timeless creative present, so the Big Bang did not happen some 13 billion years ago. Inasmuch as there is neither time past nor time future nor any time at all at the null point of forever, we must understand the Big Bang (and all other events) as taking place right here and now. In terms of the eternal now, the beginning is happening now and we just appeared (and are always just appearing) to witness it. The rest is all conscious construction; time and experience are so entangled, they need each other to exist. (shrink)
Recent work in the philosophy of religion has resurrected Leibniz’s idea that there is a best possible world, perhaps ours. In particular, Klaas Kraay’s [2010] construction of a theistic multiverse and Nevin Climenhaga’s [2018] argument from infinite value theory are novel defenses of a best possible world. I do not think that there is a best world, and show how both Kraay and Climenhaga may be resisted. First, I argue that Kraay’s construction of a theistic multiverse can be resisted (...) from plausible assumptions about set theory. Next, I argue against the value-theoretic assumptions that underlie Climenhaga’s argument and show how to give an infinite value theory where there is no best world. (shrink)
If the computational theory of mind is right, then minds are realized by machines. There is an ordered complexity hierarchy of machines. Some finite machines realize finitely complex minds; some Turing machines realize potentially infinitely complex minds. There are many logically possible machines whose powers exceed the Church–Turing limit (e.g. accelerating Turing machines). Some of these supermachines realize superminds. Superminds perform cognitive supertasks. Their thoughts are formed in infinitary languages. They perceive and manipulate the infinite detail of fractal objects. (...) They have infinitely complex bodies. Transfinite games anchor their social relations. (shrink)
In what follows, I suggest that, against most theories of time, there really is an actual present, a now, but that such an eternal moment cannot be found before or after time. It may even be semantically incoherent to say that such an eternal present exists since “it” is changeless and formless (presumably a dynamic chaos without location or duration) yet with creative potential. Such a field of near-infinite potential energy could have had no beginning and will have no (...) end, yet within it stirs the desire to experience that brings forth singularities, like the one that exploded into the Big Bang (experiencing itself through relative and relational spacetime). From the perspective of the eternal now of near-infinitepossibilities (if such a sentence can be semantically parsed at all), there is only the timeless creative present, so the Big Bang did not happen some 13 billion years ago. Inasmuch as there is neither time past nor time future nor any time at all at the null point of forever, we must understand the Big Bang (and all other events) as taking place right here and now. In terms of the eternal now, the beginning is happening now and we just appeared (and are always just appearing) to witness it. The rest is all conscious construction; time and experience are so entangled, they need each other to exist. (shrink)
In this paper, a number of traditional models related to the percolation theory has been considered by means of new computational methodology that does not use Cantor’s ideas and describes infinite and infinitesimal numbers in accordance with the principle ‘The part is less than the whole’. It gives a possibility to work with finite, infinite, and infinitesimal quantities numerically by using a new kind of a compute - the Infinity Computer – introduced recently in [18]. The new approach (...) does not contradict Cantor. In contrast, it can be viewed as an evolution of his deep ideas regarding the existence of different infinite numbers in a more applied way. Site percolation and gradient percolation have been studied by applying the new computational tools. It has been established that in an infinite system the phase transition point is not really a point as with respect of traditional approach. In light of new arithmetic it appears as a critical interval, rather than a critical point. Depending on “microscope” we use this interval could be regarded as finite, infinite and infinitesimal short interval. Using new approach we observed that in vicinity of percolation threshold we have many different infinite clusters instead of one infinite cluster that appears in traditional consideration. (shrink)
In this chapter I argue that choosing to live forever comes with the threat of an especially pernicious kind of boredom. However, it may be theoretically possible to circumvent it by finding ways to pursue an infinite number of projects consistent with one’s personality, taking on endlessly pursuable endlessly interesting projects, or by rekindling old projects once you’ve forgotten about them. However, each of these possibilities is contingent upon having certain traits that you are likely not currently in (...) a good position to assess. I therefore argue that no one is in a good position to be confident about her prospects for living forever. (shrink)
What if your peers tell you that you should disregard your perceptions? Worse, what if your peers tell you to disregard the testimony of your peers? How should we respond if we get evidence that seems to undermine our epistemic rules? Several philosophers have argued that some epistemic rules are indefeasible. I will argue that all epistemic rules are defeasible. The result is a kind of epistemic particularism, according to which there are no simple rules connecting descriptive and normative facts. (...) I will argue that this type of particularism is more plausible in epistemology than in ethics. The result is an unwieldy and possibly infinitely long epistemic rule — an Uber-rule. I will argue that the Uber-rule applies to all agents, but is still defeasible — one may get misleading evidence against it and rationally lower one’s credence in it. (shrink)
It is a familiar point that many ordinary dispositions are multi-track, that is, not fully and adequately characterisable by a single conditional. In this paper, I argue that both the extent and the implications of this point have been severely underestimated. First, I provide new arguments to show that every disposition whose stimulus condition is a determinable quantity must be infinitely multi-track. Secondly, I argue that this result should incline us to move away from the standard assumption that dispositions are (...) in some way importantly linked to conditionals, as presupposed by the debate about various versions of the ‘conditional analysis’ of dispositions. I introduce an alternative conception of dispositionality, which is motivated by linguistic observations about dispositional adjectives and links dispositions to possibility instead of conditionals. I argue that, because of the multi-track nature of dispositions, the possibility-based conception of dispositions is to be preferred. (shrink)
In recent work, the interrelated questions of whether there is a fundamental level to reality, whether ontological dependence must have an ultimate ground, and whether the monist thesis should be endorsed that the whole universe is ontologically prior to its parts have been explored with renewed interest. Jonathan Schaffer has provided arguments in favour of 'priority monism' in a series of articles (2003, 2004, 2007a, 2007b, forthcoming). In this paper, these arguments are analysed, and it is claimed that they are (...) not compelling: in particular, the possibility that there is no ultimate level of basic entities that compose everything else is on a par with the possibility of infinite 'upward' complexity. The idea that we must, at any rate, postulate an ontologically fundamental level for methodological reasons ( Cameron 2008 ) is also discussed and found unconvincing: all things considered, there may be good reasons for endorsing 'metaphysical infinitism'. In any event, a higher degree of caution in formulating metaphysical claims than found in the extant literature appears advisable. (shrink)
Why does God allow evil? One hypothesis is that God desires the existence and activity of free creatures but He was unable to create a world with such creatures and such activity without also allowing evil. If Molinism is true, what probability should be assigned to this hypothesis? Some philosophers claim that a low probability should be assigned because there are an infinite number of possible people and because we have no reason to suppose that such creatures will choose (...) one way rather than another. Arguments like this depend on the principle of indifference. But that principle is rejected by most philosophers of probability. Some philosophers claim that a low probability should be assigned because doing otherwise violates intuitions about freewill. But such arguments can be addressed through strategies commonly employed to defend theories with counterintuitive results across ethics and metaphysics. (shrink)
Despite the importance of the variational principles of physics, there have been relatively few attempts to consider them for a realistic framework. In addition to the old teleological question, this paper continues the recent discussion regarding the modal involvement of the principle of least action and its relations with the Humean view of the laws of nature. The reality of possible paths in the principle of least action is examined from the perspectives of the contemporary metaphysics of modality and Leibniz's (...) concept of essences or possibles striving for existence. I elaborate a modal interpretation of the principle of least action that replaces a classical representation of a system's motion along a single history in the actual modality by simultaneous motions along an infinite set of all possible histories in the possible modality. This model is based on an intuition that deep ontological connections exist between the possible paths in the principle of least action and possible quantum histories in the Feynman path integral. I interpret the action as a physical measure of the essence of every possible history. Therefore only one actual history has the highest degree of the essence and minimal action. To address the issue of necessity, I assume that the principle of least action has a general physical necessity and lies between the laws of motion with a limited physical necessity and certain laws with a metaphysical necessity. (shrink)
Analytic theologians have proposed numerous “solutions” to the Logical Problem of the Trinity (LPT), mostly versions of Social Trinitarianism (ST) and Relative Identity Trinitarianism (RI). Both types of solution are controversial, but many hold out hope that further “Trinitarian theorizing” may yield some as yet unimagined, and somehow importantly different, solution to the LPT. I first give a precise definition of the LPT and of what would count as a solution to it. I then show how, though there are infinitely (...) many possible solutions, all solutions can be grouped together into a finite, exhaustive taxonomy, based precisely on those features which make them either controversial, heretical, or inconsistent. The taxonomy reveals why ST and RI have been the major proposed solutions, and also proves that there can be no importantly different, new solutions to the LPT. (shrink)
It's possible to understand an infinite number of novel maps. I argue that Roberto Casati and Achille Varzi's compositional semantics of maps cannot explain this possibility, because it requires an infinite number of semantic primitives. So the semantics of maps is puzzlingly different from the semantics of language.
Natural resources are infinite. This is possible because humans can create theories whose potential goes beyond the limited imaginative capacity of the inventor. For instance, no number of people can work out all the economic potential of quantum theory. Economic Resources are created by an interaction of Karl Popper's Worlds 1, 2 and 3, the worlds of physics, psychology and the abstract products of the human mind, such as scientific theories. Knowledge such as scientific theories has unfathomable information content, (...) is universally applicable, and infinitely copyable. The point can be made with technological knowledge such as that embodied in the wheel. The theory of the wheel has un- bounded potential to be embodied in unforeseeable new technologies, is useful on the Moon as on Earth, and can be infinitely copied. Unlike a piece of land (using fixed factors), such knowledge shows increasing returns. This helps to explain Julian Simon's observation that "natural" resources are now less scarce than they used to be and why an increasing population can increase resources in the long-run. It was Simon's breakthrough to elaborate on the abstract character of "natural" resources. I further explore this abstract character and thereby explain why natural resources are infinitely expandable. Economic growth and the creation of natural resources depends on the rate of invention. F. Machlup's suggestion (Machlup 1962) that the opportunity for new inventions increases geometrically with the number of inventions at hand is acknowledged for its suggestiveness, but criticised for its conservative position. Frank Tipler's fascinating argument for indefinite economic growth (Tipler 1994), is reinforced by my argument by making a distinction between information in the engineer's sense and the infinite potential "information" in our scientific knowledge based on Popper's notion of information content. (shrink)
The justificatory force of empirical reasoning always depends upon the existence of some synthetic, a priori justification. The reasoner must begin with justified, substantive constraints on both the prior probability of the conclusion and certain conditional probabilities; otherwise, all possible degrees of belief in the conclusion are left open given the premises. Such constraints cannot in general be empirically justified, on pain of infinite regress. Nor does subjective Bayesianism offer a way out for the empiricist. Despite often-cited convergence theorems, (...) subjective Bayesians cannot hold that any empirical hypothesis is ever objectively justified in the relevant sense. Rationalism is thus the only alternative to an implausible skepticism. (shrink)
In his classic book “the Foundations of Statistics” Savage developed a formal system of rational decision making. The system is based on (i) a set of possible states of the world, (ii) a set of consequences, (iii) a set of acts, which are functions from states to consequences, and (iv) a preference relation over the acts, which represents the preferences of an idealized rational agent. The goal and the culmination of the enterprise is a representation theorem: Any preference relation that (...) satisfies certain arguably acceptable postulates determines a (finitely additive) probability distribution over the states and a utility assignment to the consequences, such that the preferences among acts are determined by their expected utilities. Additional problematic assumptions are however required in Savage's proofs. First, there is a Boolean algebra of events (sets of states) which determines the richness of the set of acts. The probabilities are assigned to members of this algebra. Savage's proof requires that this be a σ-algebra (i.e., closed under infinite countable unions and intersections), which makes for an extremely rich preference relation. On Savage's view we should not require subjective probabilities to be σ-additive. He therefore finds the insistence on a σ-algebra peculiar and is unhappy with it. But he sees no way of avoiding it. Second, the assignment of utilities requires the constant act assumption: for every consequence there is a constant act, which produces that consequence in every state. This assumption is known to be highly counterintuitive. The present work contains two mathematical results. The first, and the more difficult one, shows that the σ-algebra assumption can be dropped. The second states that, as long as utilities are assigned to finite gambles only, the constant act assumption can be replaced by the more plausible and much weaker assumption that there are at least two non-equivalent constant acts. The second result also employs a novel way of deriving utilities in Savage-style systems -- without appealing to von Neumann-Morgenstern lotteries. The paper discusses the notion of “idealized agent" that underlies Savage's approach, and argues that the simplified system, which is adequate for all the actual purposes for which the system is designed, involves a more realistic notion of an idealized agent. (shrink)
Neurological syndromes in which consciousness seems to malfunction, such as temporal lobe epilepsy, visual scotomas, Charles Bonnet syndrome, and synesthesia offer valuable clues about the normal functions of consciousness and ‘qualia’. An investigation into these syndromes reveals, we argue, that qualia are different from other brain states in that they possess three functional characteristics, which we state in the form of ‘three laws of qualia’. First, they are irrevocable: I cannot simply decide to start seeing the sunset as green, or (...) feel pain as if it were an itch; second, qualia do not always produce the same behaviour: given a set of qualia, we can choose from a potentially infinite set of possible behaviours to execute; and third, qualia endure in short-term memory, as opposed to non-conscious brain states involved in the on-line guidance of behaviour in real time. We suggest that qualia have evolved these and other attributes because of their role in facilitating non-automatic, decision-based action. We also suggest that the apparent epistemic barrier to knowing what qualia another person is experiencing can be overcome by using a ‘bridge’ of neurons; and we offer a hypothesis about the relation between qualia and one's sense of self. (shrink)
The article explores the idea that according to Spinoza finite thought and substantial thought represent reality in different ways. It challenges “acosmic” readings of Spinoza's metaphysics, put forth by readers like Hegel, according to which only an infinite, undifferentiated substance genuinely exists, and all representations of finite things are illusory. Such representations essentially involve negation with respect to a more general kind. The article shows that several common responses to the charge of acosmism fail. It then argues that we (...) must distinguish the well-founded ideality of representations of finite things from mere illusoriness, insofar as for Spinoza we can have true knowledge of what is known only abstractly. Finite things can be seen as well-founded beings of reason. The article also proposes that within Spinoza's framework it is possible to represent a finite thing without drawing on representations of mind-dependent entities. (shrink)
I consider the first-order modal logic which counts as valid those sentences which are true on every interpretation of the non-logical constants. Based on the assumptions that it is necessary what individuals there are and that it is necessary which propositions are necessary, Timothy Williamson has tentatively suggested an argument for the claim that this logic is determined by a possible world structure consisting of an infinite set of individuals and an infinite set of worlds. He notes that (...) only the cardinalities of these sets matters, and that not all pairs of infinite sets determine the same logic. I use so-called two-cardinal theorems from model theory to investigate the space of logics and consequence relations determined by pairs of infinite sets, and show how to eliminate the assumption that worlds are individuals from Williamson’s argument. (shrink)
discussion of the extent to which architects can float about history and the inevitable finitude of architectural possibilities from any historical standpoint.
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