Costs and Benefits
What good is language? Wouldn’t we be better off without it – given that people employ language to lie to, mislead, deceive, defame, bad-mouth, insult and tell on other people? Of course, although possessing a language can have its social (and biological) costs, it also has
Is our mind explainable in terms of neural mechanisms? How we concieve of ourselves seems strongly to depend on how we respond to this question. In the present work an attempt at an affirmative answer is made. Currently, there are good reasons to believe that we can give a neural-mechanical explanation of how our mind works. In order to show this, first, a concept of mechanistic explanation is developed that is applicable to biological cognitive systems. This accomodates the fact that biological systems are usually complex, integrated systems that cannot be decomposed into a relatively small number of working parts like a clockwork. Complex biological mechanisms exhibit emergent behavior. The complexity of biological systems can be tackled with the aid of a number of methods of analysis. Models of a whole human brain are, for instance, well in reach that can be used to find integrated mechanistic explanations of cognitive capacities. Mind would thus be qualitatively reducible to neural mechanisms.
The purpose of teaching logic in philosophy is to enable us to evaluate arguments with respect to (formal) validity. Standard logics refer to a concept of validity which allows for the relation of implication to hold between premises and conclusion even in cases where there is no “relevant” connection between the premises and the conclusion. A prominent example for this is the rule “Ex-Falso-Quodlibet” (EFQ), which allows us to infer an arbitrary proposition from a contradiction. The tolerance of irrelevance endorsed by standard logics unfortunately engenders that they cannot adequately fulfill their intended task of analyzing and evaluating philosophical, scientific and everyday-life arguments – instead, their application even gives rise to a multitude of artificial philosophical pseudoproblems (like the problem of the disposition predicates or the problem of counterfactuals). As alternatives to standard logics, there exist non-standard systems called “relevance logics” or “relevant logics” meant to avoid irrelevance. The problem with these systems, however, is that the mainstream relational semantics (“worlds semantics”) available for them is to be considered unintuitive and complex to a degree which is apt to render relevant logics unattractive to the majority of philosophers who are on the lookout not only for adequate, but also simple and efficient technical means for evaluating arguments. Therefore, the main aim of this treatise is to provide an alternative semantics (“rules semantics”) which is comparatively easy to grasp and simple in application. A second aim of the book is to extend the semantics as least as far as it takes to cover more or less all the logical notions philosophers need in their “everyday analyzing”. This includes first order predicate logic, higher order logic (for analyzing talk about “properties” etc.), identity, definite descriptions, abstraction principles and modal logic. This book can be read without having any more background than a good introductory course in classical logic provides.
The central aim of this volume is to foster a new understanding of Aristotle’s Sophistical Refutations and thereby to enrich our knowledge of the beginnings of logical analysis. An important service for the scientific community to support this aim is the edition of a new translation of Aristotle’s work into English. The contributions discussing the original work were inspired by a onference in 2009 in Berlin which was the first one exclusively dedicated to Sophistical Refutations of Aristotle and brought together nearly everyone working on the main topics Aristotle deals with in that work. In Aristotle we see the onset of systematic theorizing about argumentation, including an account of the ways in which arguments, despite of being incorrect, may appear to be correct and of the relations between different types of argumentation (in science, in discussions with various purposes, in everyday life), but also of the connections with more general philosophical issues, like the meaning of words and the ontological status of universals. Fallacious Arguments in Ancient Philosophy It is, however, primarily because of its account of argumentation that Aristotle’s Sophistical Refutations, together with the Topics, has caught the attention of those working in the field of argumentation theory. This collection shows that the study of argumentation theory in Ancient Philosophy, and with Aristotle in particular, is in good shape. At least some of the points made in the articles brought together here will withstand scrutiny and will advance our understanding of the beginnings of logical analysis. The authors: Jonathan Adler (†), Susanne Bobzien, Robert Bolton, Luca Castagnoli, Louis-André Dorion, Paolo Fait, Adrian Frey, Pieter Sjoerd Hasper, Wolfgang Kienzler, Colin Guthrie King, Raina Kirchhoff, Ermelinda Valentina di Lascio, Yakir Levin, Christof Rapp, Carrie Swanson - the first translation of Aristotle’s Sophistical Refutations (transl. by P.S. Hasper)