Graham Priest: Sorites Paradox | WSB #8

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sorites paradox
Heap?

The Sorites Paradox, aka the Paradox of the Heap: one grain of sand is not a heap. Add one grain, you will still not have a heap. In fact, for any number of grains of sand you have, adding one more grain will never make the difference between non-heap and heap. This latter claim is called the tolerance principle, and it seems to be undeniably true of most predicates that are in some sense vague. But if this is true, then we can keep adding one grain, over and over again, and each time appeal to the tolerance principle to show that we still don’t have a heap. The paradoxical conclusion is that by the time we’ve reached 10,000 grains of sand, we still don’t have a heap. This problem, which at first appears trivial, is one of the toughest problems facing contemporary logic. In this interview, Professor Graham Priest explains the paradox, how it relates to other paradoxes (including the Liar, via the Inclosure Schema), what makes it so difficult, and gives an outline of his own dialetheist solution to the paradox. We conclude with some words about the continental/analytic split and the relationship between Buddhist ethics and radical leftist political philosophy.

Audio

Video

Next week: Interview with Brian Nuckols on the ontology of dreams
Special thanks for Jackie Blum for the podcast art, and The Tin Box for the theme music.

Topics discussed

1:03 – Introducing Sorites
4:05 – Principle of uniform solution
6:39 – Levels of paradox similarity
10:38 – Inclosure schema
17:30 – Inclosure schema applied to Sorites
24:23 – Does the principle of uniform solution apply?…

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WSB#7 – Graham Priest: Unity and Regress

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Graham Priest
Graham Priest

An interview with Graham Priest about Bradley’s Regress and the Unity of the Proposition. Consider the statement “Socrates is sitting.” It seems to be composed of an object – “Socrates” – and a predicate – “is sitting”. But the statement isn’t merely a list of an object and a predicate. It hangs together as a unified statement. What accounts for that unity? What makes the statement “Socrates is sitting” say something, as opposed to simply listing out a thing and a property? The obvious answer is that there’s a property – instantiation – that connects the object and the predicate. But then a regress arises: how does the property of instantiation hang together with Socrates and the property of sitting? This problem isn’t just about statements. As British idealist F.H. Bradley pointed out, this regress shows up with all property instantiations. After laying out the problem, professor Priest explains his own unique solution to it.

Audio

Video

Next week: Interview with Graham Priest on the Sorites Paradox
Special thanks for Jackie Blum for the podcast art, and The Tin Box for the theme music.

Topics discussed

0:20 – Intro to Graham Priest
1:38 – Unity of the proposition
4:35 – Bradley’s regress
8:13 – Third man argument
10:46 – Regresses in general
11:32 – Vicious regresses
13:42 – Justification regress (Agrippan trilemma)
15:55 – Metaphysical grounding regress (Buddhism)
17:55 – Regress in the Liar Paradox
26:16 – Priest’s solution to Bradley: deny transitivity of identity
29:26 – Paraconsistent logic
35:33 – Frege’s solution: concepts are not objects
38:35 – The dialetheist solution
40:35 – One (the book)

Sources

One: Being an Investigation into the Unity of Reality and of its Parts, including the Singular Object which is Nothingness by Graham Priest…

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Libertarianism: A Branch of the Left?

Murray Rothbard

Rothbard’s “Left”

I’m fond of saying that libertarianism is a branch of the left. My argument is very simply Murray Rothbard’s argument in “Left and Right: The Prospects for Liberty“. I don’t think I’d change or qualify a word of that essay. If you haven’t read it, I couldn’t recommend it more strongly.

Roughly, Rothbard’s argument goes as follows: traditionally, the left has always been the movement positioned against the ruling class. The right was the monarchs and aristocrats, and their goal was maintaining and enriching their own power. The left fought against them. And things could really be as simple as that. But the advent of socialism created a complication: socialists have leftist goals (distributing welfare among the people), but propose to achieve them through rightist means (state power).

Rothbard thus sees socialism as a “middle of the road” movement: left aims, right means. Libertarianism, on the other hand, opposes both the goal of consolidated welfare for a privileged class, and the means of state power. Thus libertarianism should rightly be seen as the modern iteration of the anti-unjust-power tradition of the left.

This is all well and good. I still buy this. This is how I personally think of “libertarianism” and “the left”.

The contemporary “Left”

But I have a confession to make. I know full well that that’s not how most people interpret these words. “Libertarianism” –  although it’s burdened by unfortunate associations with racism, corporate privilege, constitutionalism, and other unsavory dispositions (how fair/accurate those associations are is a subject for another post) – I think people more or less see as I do.…

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