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Philosophy of Language / Indexicals
« Last post by Eric Bright on February 20, 2015, 11:43 AM »
Can more words be so crafted that they refer to a state of affairs like an indexical? We already have examples of such words: I, you, this, now, there, and so on. Also un-retouched-photographs fall under this category (or do they?).

1- How far can this practice be stretched?

2- Can we make a full, working language that only has indexicals? Or mainly has indexicals?

3- Do you know of any language-system (or quasi-language?) built on such a premise?

Fallacies / Re: Could we discuss what fallacies are?
« Last post by Alain Van Hout on January 03, 2015, 02:26 PM »
As I see it, causality is of the most basic principles/rules/heuristics in deduction, and fallacies are patterns of argumentation that typically reduce to a violation of that principle, meaning that they imply that they are following causality but upon closer inspection in fact make use of a broken chain of causality (of the top of my head I can't think of a type of fallacy for which this doesn't apply).

As such, I don't see fallacies as heuristics proper, but as violations of a basic heuristic.
I tried but I failed to see how the examples of the “short-circuit logic” that you mentioned differed from a definition, one way or another, that one might find in a dictionary (albeit, a personal or private dictionary). Would you please help me see the difference?
Fallacies / Could we discuss what fallacies are?
« Last post by Andreas Geisler on January 01, 2015, 11:55 AM »
For instance, I only see deduction as a set of heuristics. And fallacies are then merely bad heuristics, ways of thought we know to have terrible track records.
Right on.
The problem is, the semantic space is pretty amorphous. And many philosophical issues are like with language: we think we know what they are, but they are really rather un-analyzed. Like, say, "What is a word?" - if you ask that question, you can mince and dice and get pretty much nowhere, because "word" is an emergent concept: We don't know how we built it, but it reflects a usage pattern in language.

Personally, I try to apply short-circuit logic with these concepts. For instance, "Free will" becomes "the feeling we have that we do things on purpose", and "consciousness"  becomes "what it feels like to be a brain". From that one can approach the other meanings in step, by asking for instance "Is the feeling we have that we do things on purpose caused by us actually doing things on purpose, or are we merely rationalizing the result of a deterministic neural outcome?".

Does that make sense? In a way, it's like finding the least common denominator, something that definitely exists on both (or all) sides, so that one can begin to arrange the stances in terms of additional semantic loads.
In this situation does 'mean' not simply reflect a reference to the phenomenon that is meant?

(I'm geting a bit twisted up by this meta-meta discussion as to which words to use to convey what I mean :) )
So, are we asking: “What phenomenon (or noumenon?) are we dealing with in the free-will case?" Instead of “What do you mean by "free-will?”

Is that the right distinction you are asking about?

For some weird reason, I always thought I was asking about the phenomenon behind a given term rather than the dictionary meaning of it. Maybe because I could always define my words as I pleased and thought everyone else could do the same, so, hell, “tell me what you really mean by “xyz,”” or “When you say “xyz,” what does it refer to in this universe of ours?” were always the intended questions. The emphasis on “really” should have been explained more gracefully though.

Where am I going with all these? Am I off the track yet?
Let's take a concrete example: Free will.
What does it mean, exactly? How many arguments over free will are really disagreements over semantics, rather than disagreements about what is?
We can always ask: “What do you mean by “xyz”?” can’t we? Then we can compare it with what we mean by the same “xyz.” And try to figure out what we both should have meant by “xyz.”

Actually I am not sure if I understand your question well enough. What should “xyz” actually mean is something arbitrary that can be agreed upon in a conversation. Once it is done, the rest sounds like business as usual. Or, am I missing the whole point?

At this stage of my severely-limited understanding of your question, it seems to be that semes are not things independent from the whole process of an agreement. They don't exist anywhere else but in a discourse and between the involved parties.

Would you please help me fill in the gaps in my understanding once again?
That's a perfect example of the problem, let me (try to) be completely clear:
We are not arguing over words. We are arguing about meanings - not the mappings between words and meaning.
Of course we use words to indicate and select those Semes, but the traditions of Philosophy have made sure to introduce lots of excess verbiage, and lots of excess referents.
So, yes, "What do we ask, and how do we ask it" along with "How do we make sure that we are not arguing about semantics, but about semes".
A classic example is the discussion between secular and religious morality, or the various discussions about free will, consciousness, agency, etc.
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