Should England apologize to Alan Turing?

So this story has been circulating for the past few days now:

Now Turing enthusiasts, led by John Graham-Cumming, are petitioning the government to make a formal apology for the treatment of Alan Turing. They say this would give a national recognition to the Turing’s remarkable contributions and would acknowledge the tragic consequences of a life and dazzling career cut short by prejudice.


So first the govt. forces sterilization on the man, and now it wishes to gain political points by “apologizing” to him? In what sense of the word is this “apology” meaningful? I say, to hell with British leeches (is there any other kind of political force?). Alan Turing will be remembered for his accomplishments for years after England dissipates. Great men transcend the barbaric political rituals of the earthly, temporal regimes.

Read more about the man here.


Sliding from possible worlds semantics to truth

Relativism and strong forms of contextualism assert, from what I gather, that the content of a proposition is not true or false simpliciter, but rather true or false at a time/world/context. A motivation for accepting semantic relativism is the success of possible worlds semantics. It becomes easy to make the move from thinking about possible worlds semantics (specifically, what is true at some possible world) to what is true in the actual world. Quite obviously, there is an underlying assumption here that many find it reasonable to deny: that truthmaker theory of some sort is correct.

If you deny the truthmaker theory for, say, Trenton Merricks’ TSB (truth supervenes on being) account, this slide is wholly illegitimate. Perhaps the truth of a proposition is found in it’s constituent parts or a combination of those parts (the proposition) and not in relation to a possible world. One has a good defeater for analytic relativism if you deny that the truth of a proposition is dependent on a relation to a possible world.

Entailment and Inference

I’ve been doing a little thinking about the differences between implications/entailments and inferences, or rather the rules or activity of inferring. The former is a relation between things like premises and conclusions and beliefs. Sentences can be in an entailment-relationship. Inferring seems to be an art form, even in deductive arguments. ‘Drawing an inference’ is a human activity that is an act or event, but inferences are not beliefs. You don’t, properly speaking, believe rules. You either act in accordance with them or you do not.

See here for what happens when these two are confused.

Is male-ness a physical property?

Recall my previous discussion of Descartes’ possible version of the replacement argument. Let’s take this premise:

The mind and body do not have the same essential properties.

And modify it slightly to a specific property (if existence is a property at all, which we will just suppose):

Possibly, I exist and my body does not.

If we take it to be true I am a male in every possible world in which I exist (Josh is essentially male), then there are worlds in which I exist and I am a male, but my body does not exist. I don’t know what that means for Josh’s being essentially male, but it seems that either male-ness is either non-essential or it is not an attribute of the body. I don’t know which is true, but it is an interesting fork.

Daily Analysis: Rigid Designator

Kripke’s term for an expression that has the same referent in every possibly world. This includes proper names and natural-kinds. Example:

“The 44th president of the United States” designates Barack Obama in the actual world, but it does not rigidly designate him because in some possible world John McCain is the 44th President of the United States. However, “Barack Obama” picks out the same essence in every possible world that “Barack Obama” designates anything at all.

Daily Analysis: Trope

Trope: An unrepeatable, simple property that stands in contrast with a ‘universal’. Tropes do not exemplify universals like particulars which are complex events, but belong to the subject alone. An example would be the basketball skills of Michael Jordan or Beethoven’s musical talent. It should not be confused with the linguistic speech act that carries the same name.

Plantinga’s Replacement Argument

*Just a friendly warning*

I’m going to take a few days (or so) looking at Plantinga’s replacement argument along with related issues (Kripke, van Inwangen). I’ll have something by tomorrow afternoon.

Carry on.