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Vivek Iyer
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Great post. It would be interesting to hear more about the adaptive pressures on Lewis's evolving idea in this respect. I have a sort of hazy memory that there was the problem of every counterfactual having a 'smaller' counterfactual that could be its truthmaker. Also no biological life could exist if 'it is a logical truth that any two worlds governed by the same deterministic laws that are different at any time must be different at every prior time' Did that motivate Lewis's 'miracles'? Perhaps something like evidentiary decision theory (which gives wiggle room for backward causation without the difficulty posed by the impossibility of establishing an entropic arrow for time for Stalnaker-Lewis) better captures the 'folk' understanding of counter-factuals?
Toggle Commented Sep 5, 2013 on The Simple Theory of Counterfactuals at
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Navigating to this page by accident, it nevertheless sustained my interest for some reason I'm unable to put my finger on. I actually read through all the comments, some of which were very funny and none utterly demented- a hiatus valde deflendus I nobly write this to repair- and felt oddly heartened by the intelligence and passion for education on display. My pennyworth- loads of problems expressed symbolically graded so as to teach not stuff about the real world but exam oriented heuristics with an emphasis on speed and accuracy. This does not turn out geniuses- they will come up anyway- but it boosts people of ordinary intelligence on to a plane where, with application, their life chances are dramatically boosted. The point is, in real life it tends to be dangerous to reason things out analytically for yourself. Far better to get a professional to do it. How do you pay the professional? By being a specialist yourself. Specialization in accordance with the Principle of Comparative Advantage. Can't beat it really- and what that means for pedagogy is no more of this mixing of subjects- language skills being tested simultaneously with maths, political correctness (Hypatia was a woman and she was killed by nasty Christian fundamentalists)and so on. Sure, using manila paper and sellotape to introduce topological ideas is a good idea- but there it must end. I can't see why logic shouldn't be taught as part of English Language. Stuff like the distinction between alethic and deontic propositions, or paradoxes of the sorites type, lie at the heart of natural language reasoning but don't crop up much in math based professions.
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May 30, 2010