Tuesday, November 15, 2011

There will not be an eclipse tomorrow

I checked on the NASA website here, which confirms there will be no eclipses tomorrow (16 November 2011), although there will be a partial solar eclipse on November 25.

So are the statements “there will be no eclipse on 16 November 2011” and “there will be an eclipse on 16 November 2011” both true? We don’t know for absolute certainty, of course. The whole universe may blow up at midnight, or the second coming may happen, or God may just stop the solar rotation of the earth. But we should not confuse mere epistemic considerations with considerations of truth and falsity. It is almost certain that there will not be an eclipse tomorrow, therefore it is almost certain that the proposition “there will be no eclipse on 16 November 2011” is true. Therefore, if the truthmaker-theorists are correct, it is almost certain that the proposition has a truthmaker. But what is that truthmaker?

According to Vallicella, a truthmaker should not be confused with the physical cause of some proposition being true. So the truthmaker for the eclipse proposition is not the current motion of the solar system and associated gravitational laws. So what is it?

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22 Comments:

Blogger Anthony said...

Your argument is flawed from beginning to end, but to pick on the low hanging fruit:

"According to Vallicella, a truthmaker should not be confused with the physical cause of some proposition being true. So the truthmaker for the eclipse proposition is not the current motion of the solar system and associated gravitational laws."

But the current motion and positions of objects in the solar system does not cause the proposition to be true in that (event-causal) sense. It causes the proposition, spoken on 17 November 2011, that there was no eclipse on 16 November 2011, to be true. But that's a different proposition (it's even a different sentence).

What you talk about a proposition "there will be no eclipse on 16 November 2011", what are you talking about? Is it the words, or is it the meaning of the words? The meaning of the words, at least the only meaning of the words which makes any sense and fits the definition of a truthbearer, is that the current motion and position of the objects in the solar system are such that there will not be an eclipse on 16 November 2011.

12:12 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

"Of course, if there is some important distinction between present tense and future tense propositions, then I concede your point."

You don't think there's an important distinction between present tense and future tense propositions?

12:22 pm  
Blogger J said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:25 pm  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

>>that the current motion and position of the objects in the solar system are such that there will not be an eclipse on 16 November 2011.
<<

You may need to think about that one.

2:25 pm  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

>>You don't think there's an important distinction between present tense and future tense propositions?
<<

Well, one is present tense and the other is future tense, I suppose.

2:26 pm  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

One comment deleted for blasphemy and failing to have a sense of humour.

2:27 pm  
Blogger J said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:28 pm  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

>>It causes the proposition, spoken on 17 November 2011, that there was no eclipse on 16 November 2011, to be true. But that's a different proposition (it's even a different sentence).
<<

Do you mean it does cause, or that it will cause ...?

2:56 pm  
Blogger J said...

whats causes what? Naive empiricism again. People observe events/states of affairs/objects. They decide if something's true--ie, and put it in a proposition or not--ie, the truth statement is macro., a translation from the perception (unless purely axiomatic-) Not the ding-an sich. . Or they learn about those events. The Truth-statement doesn't just hit them like a snowball. Intention is involved.

tho' again, you and BV duck the "a priori" issue: what was the truthmaker for, say, the pythagorean theorem?

3:27 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

>> Do you mean it does cause, or that it will cause ...?

I suppose I mean "will have caused", though keeping in mind that this is a hypothetical.

>> >> that the current motion and position of the objects in the solar system are such that there will not be an eclipse on 16 November 2011.

>> You may need to think about that one.

Why? What's wrong with it? Would substituting "there will not be" with "it is metaphysically impossible that there will be" is it more clear?

>> One comment deleted for blasphemy and failing to have a sense of humour.

Which one? Is your comment about God stopping the rotation of the earth meant to be a joke, or meant to be serious?

11:30 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

>> you and BV duck the "a priori" issue: what was the truthmaker for, say, the pythagorean theorem?

BV says that truthmakers only exist for contingent propositions. I say they only exist, at most, for propositions about concretes. (Though I'm not yet convinced they even exist for all of them. Once you get beyond the simplest of propositions, the required truthmakers start to get strange.)

But my big problem with "Edward" is that he wants, or at least wanted, to deny that truthmakers exist at all. And for at least some propositions, e.g. that this keyboard exists, that the truthmaker (this keyboard) exists, is trivial. (I say he "at least wanted" to deny this, because he seems to have somewhat softened his stance to a claim that truthmaking entities are trivial and unnecessary, which is plausible and which Vallicella has not yet addressed.)

11:49 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

>> Is 'snow' refers to snow, and 'white' refers to all white things, then Ed needs to complete his account by telling us how 'is' functions. <<

"Ed", is Vallicella claiming here that the predicate of "Snow is white" is "white", as opposed to "is white"?

12:31 am  
Blogger J said...

De nada. David Armstrong--not Valli., Ock. or Frege --raised the truthmaker issue. His essay on TMing should be the target of the discussion. He's more of a rationalist than some realize, and holds to universals for one--another issue being avoided--tho' touched upon--ie, to say Rush, or "X is fat" seems to imply a class of "obesity". And to say the predication is true or false (or even correct--ja, es ist Groess! das ist richtig!) involves an observation, and something like truth-assessment (ie, the verb "maker" seems a bit odd).

1:30 pm  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

>>Why? What's wrong with it? Would substituting "there will not be" with "it is metaphysically impossible that there will be" is it more clear?
<<

No. The problem is that your statement is a conjunction containing a future tense statement. Since (as far as I can see) you deny that future tense statements have a truth value, it follows that the conjunction has no truth value.

4:50 pm  
Blogger J said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6:16 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

>> Since (as far as I can see) you deny that future tense statements have a truth value, it follows that the conjunction has no truth value.

You're contradicting yourself. If I claim that the conjunction has a truth value, then, as you can plainly see, I'm *not* denying that [some] future tense statements have a truth value.

1:48 am  
Blogger Anthony said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:51 am  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

>>as you insist on continually mixing sentences and statements and propositions, I sometimes accidentally capitulate and just follow along with the confusion.
<<

There is a longstanding confusion about the usage of these terms in the philosophy of language, and it is something you will have to live with, as it should be clear which use is intended by the context. I think you are being unnecessarily pedantic.

In traditional logic, a statement and a proposition are pretty much the same thing, namely a declarative sentence. A sentence is the genus of which declarative sentence is species. Sentences include prayers, questions and commands.

There is a modern usage of 'proposition' to mean not the statement, but what is stated or said. E.g. when I say "he said something" I don't mean the sentence that we would refer to using quotation marks, but rather by using a 'that' clause. For example:

He said "grass is green".

states that he uttered the sentence "grass is green". It false if he uttered “L'herbe est verte”. But

He said that grass is green.

states that he uttered a ‘proposition’. Which is true even if he uttered “L'herbe est verte”.

Ockham (and many other scholastic philosophers) distinguished between spoken propositions and mental propositions. The latter are close to the modern sense of ‘proposition’.

I am not sure what you mean by any of these terms, anyway. At one point I am sure you maintained that propositions are beliefs.

3:07 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

"There is a longstanding confusion about the usage of these terms in the philosophy of language, and it is something you will have to live with, as it should be clear which use is intended by the context."

It sometimes is. But sometimes you equivocate.

"In traditional logic, a statement and a proposition are pretty much the same thing, namely a declarative sentence."

Depending on what you mean by "pretty much", that sounds like a flaw in traditional logic, at least traditional logic as you understand it. A declarative sentence is not, in itself, a truthbearer.

"I am not sure what you mean by any of these terms, anyway. At one point I am sure you maintained that propositions are beliefs."

A belief would be a concrete instance of a proposition, which is an abstraction.

4:09 pm  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

>>A belief would be a concrete instance of a proposition, which is an abstraction.

No a belief (on the standard account) is a relation between a person and a proposition. Thus ‘John beliefs that grass is green’ relates John to the proposition that grass is green.

>> A declarative sentence is not, in itself, a truthbearer.

In many systems of logic a sentence is the bearer of truth, i.e. that which we predicate truth of. Just look in any standard logic textbook. A lot of the confusion here could have been cleared up by you doing just that.

5:05 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

>> No a belief (on the standard account) is a relation between a person and a proposition. Thus ‘John beliefs that grass is green’ relates John to the proposition that grass is green.

I don't see the purpose of your telling me what the standard account is. If you have a different definition of belief, feel free to tell me what your definition is. I might even wind up agreeing with you. But don't make an argument by appeal to the masses.

(That said, I think your description of the "standard account" is mistaken. See http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/belief/ , especially the second paragraph, which says that most contemporary philosophers characterize beliefs as propositional attitudes, and a propositional attitude as "the mental state of having some attitude, stance, take, or opinion about a proposition or about the potential state of affairs in which that proposition is true".)

>> John beliefs that grass is green

I assume that's a typo, but I can't figure out what you meant to say. "Belief" is the noun. "Believe" is the verb. The noun is not the verb.

5:20 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

"In many systems of logic a sentence is the bearer of truth, i.e. that which we predicate truth of."

Once again with the appeal to the masses.

What is held by "many systems of logic" is irrelevant. I can't argue against "many systems of logic". If you insist on not presenting *your own* point of view, at least pick *one* point of view and stick with it. Otherwise we aren't going to get anywhere.

If your choice is a system of logic in which a sentence is a bearer of truth, then fine, pick that. In such a system, a sentence is a truthbearer, right? Your whole argument that you don't understand what a truthbearer is goes right out the window in such a system, right?

"Just look in any standard logic textbook. A lot of the confusion here could have been cleared up by you doing just that."

How about Introduction to Logic, 7th edition, by Irving M Copi? Can we agree that this is an appropriate "standard logic textbook" for me to get answers to my questions without bothering you?

6:14 pm  

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