Monday, October 31, 2011

Accidental identity

Maverick has a long post about ‘truthmaking’. I’m not certain I followed it, but will try to summarise it as best as I can. The identity of Socrates with a sitting being makes the sentence ‘Socrates is sitting’ true. But this identity is accidental, because if Socrates stands up, he is no longer identical with any sitting being. Therefore what makes the identity true at one time, and false at another, is something different from Socrates, given that Socrates always remains identical with himself. Therefore Socrates alone cannot be the truthmaker of ‘Socrates is sitting’.

Is the summary correct? If so, what do we make of this argument?

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56 Comments:

Blogger David Brightly said...

So, first he is one of the sitters, later he is one of the standers. Maybe I lack the appropriate metaphysical bone but I struggle to find anything of significance in this. What am I missing?

10:07 pm  
Blogger J said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3:17 am  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

>>What am I missing?

It was an attempt to make sense of Bill's argument.

8:34 am  
Blogger David Brightly said...

I exaggerate. Your first two sentences make perfect sense. As for the rest---the net comes up empty I'm afraid. Same goes for the BV original. Crikey, I sound like Andrew :-)

10:23 am  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

Well first you have to get your head round ‘accidental identity’. In MPL, identity statements can only be between strictly referential terms, such as ‘Cicero’ and ‘Tully’. Vallicella is using ‘referential’ in a looser sense, such that ‘a sitting person’ refers to all sitting people. This is closer to the medieval notion of ‘supposition’. Thus Socrates = a sitting person, which makes no sense in MPL. The closest you can get is ‘for some x, x is sitting and x = Socrates’ which is not strictly an identity statement.

Then he wants to distinguish between ‘accidental’ and ‘essential’ identities. ‘Socrates = a man’ is an essential identity, presumably because Socrates could not exist at all without being a man. But ‘Socrates = a sitting person’ is accidental, because sometimes true, sometimes false.

I think that much is clear. Then he wants to ask whether Socrates himself can be the ‘truthmaker’ for ‘Socrates = a sitting person’. He argues that not, because if it were, the truthmaker would exist for as long as Socrates exists. But then Socrates exists when he is not sitting. If that truthmaker exists, he would not be sitting, and thus sitting and not sitting. Ergo, Socrates cannot be the ‘truthmaker’ for ‘Socrates = a sitting person’.

That’s as much sense as I can make of it.

11:12 am  
Blogger J said...

In MPL, identity statements can only be between strictly referential terms, such as ‘Cicero’ and ‘Tully’

That 'splains it a bit. He doesn't seem to understand MPL. " Socrates = a sitting person" makes no sense in MPL. Socrates is a human, and humans sit at times (eat, sleep, read Ayn Rand, etc etc)--part of the extension of the class of Human issn't it however f-ing obvious. But not an identity statement.

11:43 am  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

Well I think he does understand MPL. But I think his argument needs some clarification.

1:02 pm  
Blogger David Brightly said...

Thanks, Ed. That gives me something to chew on. I will suppress my prejudice that this is a whirl of words with no content.

My criticism would be that 'Socrates = a sitting person' is not a proposition. Rather it's a family of propositions indexed by time: 'Socrates is one of the persons sitting at time t', for some range of t. It hardly makes sense to ask for a 'truthmaker' for all of these when some are presumably false.

1:57 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

"Then he wants to distinguish between ‘accidental’ and ‘essential’ identities."

That's the part I don't understand. Why distinguish between "accidental" and "essential" identities? And how do you distinguish between them?

2:17 pm  
Blogger J said...

speaking of nominalism--Hobbes:
""No man therefore can conceive anything, but he must conceive it in some place; and endued with some determinate magnitude; and which may be divided into parts; nor that anything is all in this place, and all in another place at the same time; nor that two or more things can be in one and the same place at once: for none of these things ever have or can be incident to sense, but are absurd speeches, taken upon credit, without any signification at all, from deceived philosophers and deceived, or deceiving, Schoolmen.""

BV may understand some MPL, but IMO he's always trying to sneak in some...metaphysical ghost (of a scholastic, or pseudo-scholastic sort)--Hobbes however...primitive he might seem to scholastic wannabes demanded referentiality of a sort (TH had read Ockham hadn't he)--if not empirical then..mathematical. MavP's pseudo-scholasticism is quite like what Hobbes criticizes in the Leviathan. Now, I'm sure Mav P or Feser consider Hobbes greatly in error if not an agent of satan, but ...Hobbes understood the scholastics well and...rejects them. The real "first philosophy" debate is something like Descartes vs Hobbes (and Im not convinced...Descartes won)--with Hobbes in a sense initiating not only "empiricism" so-called (and working with experimental science), but..modern political-economic thinking itself. Humans were thus able to exit the scholastic maze (tho granted, that might have led to the sort of reductionism--and Hume a bit later-- that a Feser thinks ...Eeevil itself. Yet respecting Hobbes need not imply agreeing to Darwinian atheism).

2:26 pm  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

On accidental vs essential identity more generally, this is simply a corollary of two ideas.

1 the distinction between accidental and essential predication, which Mill discusses here. Bear in mind that Mill is a nominalist doing a hatchet job on scholastic metaphysics.

2. The idea that all predication really signifies an identity. E.g. ‘Socrates is a man’ is true when the individual that falls under ‘Socrates’ is identical with some individual falling under ‘man’. I don’t think it is controversial, though it is odd.

2:33 pm  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

There is a theory that you can trace a line of descent from Ockham to Hobbes via intermediary writers (I’ve lost the source).

2:41 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

Regarding 1, I'm fully aware that some have attempted to draw a distinction between the accidental and the essential (or the analytic and the synthetic). But I still don't understand why or how one can do that.

>> ‘Socrates is a man’ is true when the individual that falls under ‘Socrates’ is identical with some individual falling under ‘man’

And "Socrates is sitting" is true when the individual that falls under "Socrates" is identical with some individual falling under "sitting individuals".

(Of course these are quite different sentences. In "Socrates is a man", "man" is a noun. In "Socrates is sitting", "sitting" is a verb.)

2:58 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

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3:04 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

(It's also not clear what sense you are using the term "man". As opposed to Socrates is a woman? As opposed to Socrates is a child? As opposed to Socrates is a corpse? As opposed to Socrates is a fetus?)

3:09 pm  
Blogger J said...

I think that's related to naming (and proper nouns) in modern parlance. Name something, and well, we assume it exists, is empirically real in a sense. Def. descriptions? Then an extension of a sort holds for the name--. But the name-variable is not identical to the class, obviously: Socrates is a man--unique-- not humanity, and we assume he existed. As the fiendish Russell pointed out

3:12 pm  
Blogger J said...

accidental and the essential (or the analytic and the synthetic). But I still don't understand why or how one can do that

Troll alert (Im pretty sure I know who the joto is).
What sort of philo-hack doesn't understand the Analytical-synthetic distinction? (which is not related to the old scholastic division of essence/accidentals, at least not directly)


Anyway..lets not forget the Aristotelian chestnuts were sort of primitive physics--trying to account for change/motion, for one (contra-the platonists_). Well, doesn't modern physics sort of overrule that aspect of the older metaphysics-quasi physics? I would say so,as much as Newton (and Einstein etal) replace Aristotle and Ptolemy. When the quasi-scholastic mentions something like "accidentals" we should cringe--that's motion/energy/dynamics in a sense , and a matter of observation and measurement (ie, synthetic). The ultimate "why"--why leave that to Notre dame soothsayers (for now). Does Mav P even believe in Copernicus (not to say Newton et al)? Doesn't sound like it (he sounds anti-externalist).

3:56 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

>> (which is not related to the old scholastic division of essence/accidentals, at least not directly)

According to the logicmuseum link, "It is clear that Mill's distinction is the same as the one Kant draws between Analytic and Synthetic propositions (and Mill even says so in a footnote to the eighth edition)."

>> What sort of philo-hack doesn't understand the Analytical-synthetic distinction?

I don't know if you consider him a philo-hack, but according to Stanford Encycopedia of Philosophy, "Beginning with Frege, many philosophers hoped to show that knowledge of logic and mathematics and other apparently a priori domains, such as much of philosophy and the foundations of science, could be shown to be analytic by careful “conceptual analysis.” This project encountered a number of problems that have seemed so intractable as to lead some philosophers, particularly Quine, to doubt the reality of the distinction."

4:17 pm  
Blogger J said...

Spam time. Mill's not Quine, or Kant. Essence/accidentals is not the analytical/synthetic distinction--perhaps vaguely related--but for one, the ancients considered everything a priori (or at least haven't made the distinction obvious). In modern terms, synthetic is a posteriori, analytical a priori. The essence/accidental issue is something like...extension, ie of a term/name/class..ie "if Socrates is a man, he eats food", ceteris paribus). Got that Tony-troll?

4:44 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

Of course Mill's not Quine, or Kant.

And if you mean something different from essence/accidentals and the analytical/synthetic distinction, that is fine. I was responding to a link to logicmuseum which stated that "It is clear that Mill's distinction is the same as the one Kant draws between Analytic and Synthetic propositions (and Mill even says so in a footnote to the eighth edition)."

>> The essence/accidental issue is something like...extension, ie of a term/name/class..ie "if Socrates is a man, he eats food", ceteris paribus).

Could you elaborate on that? And "Edward", do you agree?

The whole Maverick misunderstanding seems to lie on this distinction between essential and accidental, so a description of exactly what the distinction is (as opposed to a vague notion of what it's "something like") would be helpful.

Maybe we should also define "troll". "Someone who knows more than you" maybe?

4:59 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

Alternatively, maybe we could start with some examples. "Socrates is sitting" is accidental? "Socrates is a man" is essential?

What about "Socrates is a philosopher"? "Socrates is a male"? "Socrates is a bachelor"? "Socrates is Greek"? "Socrates is rational"? "Socrates has eyes"? "Socrates has hair"? "Socrates is alive"? "Socrates exists"?

5:10 pm  
Blogger J said...

Maybe we should also define "troll". "Someone who knows more than you" maybe?

Yr wrong on that definition as well. Obviously you don't know jack about Kant's analytical/synthetic distinction until googling a few minutes ago, or Quine's denial thereof--so you don't know more than anyone Tony-troll (which doesn't help the ..metaphysicians whatsoever-since everything is synthetic a posteriori for Herr Willard--not that you have a clue what that entails). Mill's discussion of utilitarianism --and politics I respect somewhat (maybe google that too, troll-tard). His attempt at demolishing Kant--no comment. You don't understand that either.

5:17 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

(For convenience sake, maybe we should talk about someone who actually is a man. For example, "Dick Cheney is a man". Is this "essential"? And if so, what does that mean?)

5:19 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

I fully admit that Kant's analytical/synthetic distinction doesn't make sense. I thought I made that clear.

I have read about it before. But yeah, I don't "know" it. As far as I can tell, there's nothing there to know.

5:23 pm  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

No name calling on this blog please. Anthony can be a bit wearing, I find it best to ignore him.

On analytic/synthetic, that depends whether Mill’s analysis of essential/accidental is correct.

5:26 pm  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

An analytic statement is one that is true in virtue of its constituent meanings. A synthetic statement is one that is not analytic. That is supposedly different from an a priori proposition. Hence Kant’s ‘synthetic a priori’.

5:29 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

My purpose in bringing up Quine was merely to dispute your appeal to authority suggesting that all philosophers accept the analytical-synthetic distinction. Perhaps I should have just stated that using an appeal to authority is invalid, and left it at that.

5:29 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

>> An analytic statement is one that is true in virtue of its constituent meanings. A synthetic statement is one that is not analytic.

Any true statement is true in virtue of its constituent meanings.

5:41 pm  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

>>Any true statement is true in virtue of its constituent meanings.

No.

5:55 pm  
Blogger J said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6:06 pm  
Blogger J said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:45 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

>> >>Any true statement is true in virtue of its constituent meanings.

>> No.

No statement is true in virtue of its constituent meanings?

8:17 pm  
Blogger J said...

Why not check the wiki on Analytic–synthetic distinction,Einstein, and not step on my posts (which you fail to understand) or try reading WVOQ's "Two Dogmas", phony. Or better, stick to the t-shirt biz. You have no idea what this about

8:23 pm  
Blogger J said...

Quine's view is IMO essentially evolutionary--ie, given thousands of years, or geological epochs---the meanings--aka definitions-- of "bachelor", or "attorney", or even "modus ponens" or the pythagorean theorem could change or be altered. Even what appear to be necessary truths-- ie logical/mathematical identities-- are therefore not really necessary or a priori--(tho why didn't he discuss the status of say, logical form--MP--in Two Dogmas,instead of the Bachelor issue??). Supposed analytical truths are subject to changes in the lexicon at any particular time,and in more formal contexts subject to "the domain of science" (still verificationist in a broad sense)-- But it's mostly ...a trivial victory, and constructivist--one might say behaviorist as well--eliminating the potential metaphysics of identities. OK, "bachelor"..or "integral" in 2000 years may have a diff. meaning (maybe not). But the identities are fixed for all practical purposes (ie we might call that pragmatic analyticity--ie one mght agree to moderate realism for efficiency's sake, without necessarily agreeing to Platonism with a capital P, or Cantor's dreamworlds, and focus on the real problems of the world--ie economic and political, related to resources, etc).

8:24 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

What wiki are you referring to, "J"?

In any case, you're right that I don't understand your posts.

8:48 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

As I've said before, in order for me to understand the distinction I would need an example. What is a analytic statement? What is a synthetic one?

All dogs are dogs?
All dogs are animals?
All dogs are carnivorous?
All dogs have a nervous system?

Are any of those statements synthetic? If not, is there a non-true statement which *is* synthetic?

9:02 pm  
Blogger J said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:44 pm  
Blogger J said...

gave you an example.

Here is another.

1. Whores are prostitutes.(analytical)

2. Whores are cheap and diseased.(synthetic)

In a sense, you were sort of correct: the analytical proposition (or statement) is true merely by virtue of the meaning of the words (ie, not ..a matter of fact, once one knows the meaning/definition). The terms whore and prostitutes are synonymous (more or less--tho some might quibble). Or the usual example--bachelor and unmarried male.

Whereas with the synthetic propositions like 2 (or say "bachelors are stingy greedy, what have you"), one needs to confirm it.It's a matter of evidence, ie empirical, broadly speaking. Not analytical or synonymous (or in formal contexts, not a necessary truth).

9:45 pm  
Blogger J said...

"All dogs are canines" (analytic, synonymous, "substitutable")

"All dogs are carnivorous" (synthetic...."empirical" more or less). There might be vegan dogs--one would need to fact-check it. Unlikely but the statement is not analytical. Got the difference?


Lets ask Doktor Vallicelli whether he agrees. I don't think so. In Mav-land, everything's true a priori, like in the Almighty's mind. No need for eyes whatsoever (see his latest ghost-rants)--ie blind construction workers might work as well as ones with eyes. Maybe MavP would, given his extreme idealism, hire blind taxi drivers! Yo, ese...it's not necessarily true that one needs eyes to see....

10:41 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

>> 1. Whores are prostitutes.(analytical)
>> 2. Whores are cheap and diseased.(synthetic)

So analytical means true, and synthetic means not true?

>> The terms whore and prostitutes are synonymous (more or less--tho some might quibble).

"more or less--tho some might quibble" does not make for a good discussion, though.

If we are going to say that a statement is analytical or synthetic, that means it's one or the other, not both, not neither, not "more or less", not "some may quibble".

>> "All dogs are carnivorous" (synthetic...."empirical" more or less). There might be vegan dogs--one would need to fact-check it. Unlikely but the statement is not analytical. Got the difference?

No, I don't get it. There are no vegan dogs. There might not be vegan dogs. Dogs are carnivorous. (If you don't believe me, check the dictionary.)

1:25 am  
Blogger Anthony said...

I just realized I typoed above. I asked "a non-true statement which *is* synthetic", but what would actually be helpful is an example of a *true* statement which is helpful.

By the way, you say an analytical statement is true "merely by virtue of the meaning of the words (ie, not ..a matter of fact, once one knows the meaning/definition)". Whose definition are we supposed to use? Or, if there is supposed to be an objectively correct definition, how do we determine the objectively correct definition?

If I define "Tuesday" as the day after "Monday", and you define "Tuesday" as the day before Wednesday: Is "Tuesday is the day before Wednesday" analytic or synthetic? What about "Tuesday is the day after Monday"?

1:40 am  
Blogger J said...

if you can't figure out why statements such as "whores are prostitutes" or "canines are dogs" or "bachelors are unmarried males" are analytical and true by virtue of the terms (whereas synthetic props aren't), I suggest you go back to the wiki, or yr Donny Osmond site or Al Gore fans.com, or yr first syllogism exercise.

2:13 am  
Blogger J said...

One last chance:
A better example might be mathematical--e.g, the pythagorean theorem--true in all possible worlds. Necessary and analytical (tho perhaps some...Kantian types might object). What about say, the economic "law" of supply and demand, however?? Is it true like the pyth. th. is true, or a semantic equivalence (ie, dogs = canines)?? No. The Law of sup/dem. does tend to hold but How often? Most of the time, but there are times when it might not (gluts, etc). So one would have to do much empirical research to show how often it does hold--it's a matter of probability. Perhaps it holds 90% of the time (prob. less). At any rate the so-called law of S/D. it's NOT a necessary truth as the pyth. th.is or the semantic equivalences (however obvious). Ergo, it's a synthetic proposition (or claim, even). Maybe Ed-Ock would like to comment on that definition.

2:22 am  
Blogger Anthony said...

I think you have me confused with someone else. Or maybe you are just confused in general.

Yes, you've presented lots of examples of statements which you say are "analytical". But of the ones you've presented which you say are synthetic, one is false, and the other you claim might be false (even though it is true).

2:45 am  
Blogger Anthony said...

True in all possible worlds? Now you're begging the question.

2:58 am  
Blogger J said...

No, you're just logically inept. Did you check the wiki yet (or, rather can you figure out--deduce!--which wiki to check??), or read through the examples again? No.

Another example: tautologies are analytically true--its either raining or not raining. And...a statement can't be true and false at the same time. Even Aristotle knew that. Care to challenge that? (law of excluded middle, and the law of non-contradiction).

Some synthetic propositions are not necessarily true. Ie, the law of Sup./Dem. Whereas analytical truths are--ie, bachelors are unmarried males. No need for confirmation is there. Whereas with supposed economic "laws" (or most any social science) the synthetic proposition must be confirmed (and usually assigned a probability). It may seem a bit complex to newbies and gets more involved (ie, analytic is not the same as a priori really). Yr hero..Ayn Rand didn't care for it either.

4:03 am  
Blogger J said...

Also re-read your mistaken claim that the pythagorean theorem is not true in all possible worlds.

Do you mean to say something like, it's not true in India, but true in Indiana? No. True on Earth but not true on Mars, or.... a planet in the ring nebula? Maybe try to figure out how stupid you sounded there. It's not petitio principi whatsoever--that's the older definition of analytical a priori truths (Leibniz IIRC).

4:13 am  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

If the meaning of "Tuesday" is "the day after Monday", and that is its entire meaning, then "Tuesday is the day after Monday" is analytically true, and "Tuesday is the day before Wednesday" is synthetically true.

If the meaning is "the day after Monday and the day before Wednesday", then both are analytically true. Simple.

8:05 am  
Blogger Anthony said...

>> Also re-read your mistaken claim that the pythagorean theorem is not true in all possible worlds.

You misread my claim. My claim is that the phrase "all possible worlds" doesn't make any sense. There's only one "possible world" - the universe.

>> If the meaning is "the day after Monday and the day before Wednesday", then both are analytically true. Simple.

Is that the meaning of Tuesday? How do we determine the meaning of Tuesday if the definitions we are given are "Tuesday is the day after Wednesday. Monday is the day after Wednesday and the day before Tuesday." (Simplified for space purposes.) Does "the meaning" of Tuesday automatically subsume "the day after Monday" even though we never defined it that way, and if so, aren't all true statements analytic?

So far every true statement has been analytic. So let's get back to "All dogs are carnivorous", because that one blows a hole in the whole supposed distinction.

"J" says that "All dogs are carnivorous" is synthetic, that it is empirical, and that there might be vegan dogs.

I say that "All dogs are carnivorous" is analytic. I agree that it is empirical, but I say that all truths are empirical. Without observation, we cannot form proper definitions. All dogs are carnivorous.

The dictionaries I've read happen to agree with me, but I'm sure there are other competing definitions. Furthermore, I'm sure there was a time in history, before we knew what the word carnivorous meant, that dogs were defined differently, based on things we were able to observe. And even today, my son, who probably doesn't realize (or maybe not even understand) that dogs are carnivorous, still has a definition of "dog", but it is a definition that doesn't include "carnivorous". So who is right? Is "All dogs are carnivorous" analytic or synthetic? Is it analytic when I speak it, and synthetic when "J" speaks it? What if someone speaks it who hasn't defined "dog" yet? How do we resolve the dispute?

And what's to stop us from adding all facts about a concept into the definition? What is the underlying truth which we are trying to capture?

Let me skip a step for you, because this goes right to the heart of your "essential" vs. "accidental" dichotomy. According to Aristotle, the answer would be that "essence" is a metaphysical reality; "that the essence or nature of a thing is more fundamental and immutable than its existence".

That, I guess, is what I'm disputing. Yes, concepts have essences. But these essences are not inherent. They are tools of knowledge, which we use to keep definitions simple - to keep them from growing unbounded every time we discover a new fact. And they thus change depending on our context of knowledge. First we define "dog" as "a cute furry thing that hangs around Grandma", then we expand our definition to "a cute furry thing that hangs around people", then we refine it to "a cute furry thing that has four legs and hangs around people". Eventually we come to "any carnivore of the dogfamily Canidae, having prominent canine teeth and, in the wild state, a long and slender muzzle, a deep-chested muscular body, a bushy tail, and large, erect ears". As our knowledge expands, our definitions change.

12:00 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

By the way, "J", if you define a triangle as a shape with three straight sides, and you define "straight" as the path which is taken by light, then the Pythagorean theorem doesn't hold here on earth, as the earth is not in an inertial frame of reference, and the Pythagorean theorem only holds in an inertial frame of reference.

12:43 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

"The speed of light in a vacuum is 299,792,458 meters per second."

Is this synthetic or analytic?

1:47 pm  
Blogger J said...

So the Pythagorean theorem's empirical-synthetic? How about ..the law of the excluded middle? No. You just don't know squat about logic, perp.

And all dogs are carnivorous may be true (do you have evidence of all dogs?/ no), but it's not analytic. It's just inductive--ie, all swans are white..Then they found some black swans.

Satan marches on.

3:21 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

>> So the Pythagorean theorem's empirical-synthetic?

I did not say that at all. I am denying that there is a distinction in the first place.

>> And all dogs are carnivorous may be true

It is true. Did you check the dictionary?

>> (do you have evidence of all dogs?/ no)

Do you have evidence of all bachelors?

>> but it's not analytic.

Why not?

>> It's just inductive--ie, all swans are white..Then they found some black swans.

I'm not sure what you mean by "just inductive". Our knowledge is completely dependent on induction. Induction is the way that we form concepts.

3:58 pm  
Blogger J said...

Yr not doing anything, Byro-dreck aka "Anthony" , except derailing the site with your usual hamfisted ugliness. You simply don't understand the analytical-synthetic distinction, or for that matter logic whatsoever.

Just mumbling away confusedly, and you don't know fuck about Quine's TDOE either

4:36 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

>> "You simply don't understand the analytical-synthetic distinction"

Well duh. That's what I've been saying all along.

5:08 pm  
Blogger J said...

Yr not rejecting the ana./syn. distinction, StoogeRon, aka "Tony" --since you don't even know what it is, anymore than you know what a valid argument is--yr like doing a Moe Howard routine.

6:28 pm  

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