Sunday, January 24, 2016

Two New Papers: Aristotelian Structuralism/Metaphysics of Ineffability

I just wanted to call to the attention of any readers that I've put up two papers from last semester! One is on the philosophy of mathematics, and the other is on the metaphysics of ineffability. I made a couple of posts about these issues (e.g., here and here) and these are my more considered thoughts after a semester of reflection.

The first paper is a general overview of an Aristotelian version of structuralism. That paper is here. In that paper I try to lay out as clearly as possible what the view is, and lay out some of the arguments and examples that support the view. Some might find the discussion and argument concerning what I've called "mathematical treating-as" to be interesting. To be honest, I find the view quite compelling.

I wasn't able to come up with a uniform semantics for this view in time to make it perfectly polished, though I do know what I want to say about this now (hopefully more about this in future posts/papers). I am pretty confident now that a uniform semantics for Aristotelian-type structuralism can be given.

The second paper (here) is on the metaphysics of ineffability. I talked about this problem before and was puzzled then. I remain puzzled now. But I feel that I've got a good grasp about what types of ineffability there are and what types of arguments can be given for each. My paper basically identifies several types of ineffability, and defends a substantive version of ineffability against an "idealist" type argument that was conceived by my professor, Thomas Hofweber. I felt quite pleased with this paper by the end of it; it's a very interesting topic and the paper is filled with lots of arguments and examples (hopefully some of them are good!).

If anyone has any thoughts on all of these feel free to comment or shoot me an e-mail!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Quote: Milton Friedman: Free-Market Fundamentalist?

Hardly. Despite his general skeptical tendency with respect to expansive government fiscal policy, Friedman acknowledges both the necessity and the success of several government functions in the service of the common good.
"There have been some exceptions [to the general failures of the government's discretionary fiscal and monetary policy]. The expressways crisscrossing the country, magnificent dams spanning great rivers, orbiting satellites are all tributes to the capacity of government to command great resources. The school system, with all its defects and problems, with all the possibility of improvement through bringing into more effective play the forces of the market, has widened the opportunities available to American youth and contributed to the extension of freedom. It is a testament to the public-spirited efforts of the many tens of thousands who have served on local school boards and to the willingness of the public to bear heavy taxes for what they regarded as a public purpose. The Sherman antitrust laws, with all their problems of detailed administration, have by their very existence fostered competition. Public health measures have contributed to the reduction of infectious disease. Assistance measures have relieved suffering and distress. Local authorities have often provided facilities essential to the life of communities. Law and order have been maintained [...]" (Capitalism and Freedom, p. 199)
I'm not sure what my economic views are, but Friedman's reasonableness is one of the reasons I take him very seriously. He certainly does not fit into the mold of some of his more radical libertarian and anarcho-capitalist colleagues.

Friedman's government is hardly the "night-watchman" state of Nozick, let alone the complete absence of any state as the anarcho-capitalists would have it. Friedman's state collects plenty of taxes, provides ample national defense, breaks up monopolies, maintains a safety net for the poor, directs monetary policy, uses fiscal policy (generally, tax policy) to regulate and influence industry, and even provides several public services for the sake of the common good in cases where the market fails or would be inefficient in doing so; and in fact Friedman admits that he is, in principle, open toward even more government intervention than this, though he happens to be skeptical as to its actual prospects. As such, it would hardly be fair to call him a "fundamentalist" defender of the free market in any meaningful sense.