Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Four quarks for muster mark

Blog aficionados will want to head over to Three Quarks Daily, a site with which you will want to become familiar in any case, to nominate your favorite posts for one of four annual prizes. Plus you can see which posts everyone else likes; plus a big photo of Head Quark Abbas R. Check it out here!

Monday, May 25, 2009


Jon Hassell is one of my fave musicians/recording artists, and his new record Last Night The Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes in the Street is – if I may gush like a fanboy for a moment – like, totally great. Join a discussion about it here. And buy the record!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Williamson interview

Interview with Timothy Williamson, here. The money quote:
[Vagueness] seemed to present the strongest challenge to the classical, realist picture that has always rung true to me, on which the world is largely independent of us, and the principle of bivalence holds ― every proposition is either true or false (and not both), even if we do not and perhaps cannot know which ― and other standard principles of logic hold too. The problem was that, on an unqualified realist picture, there must be a point at which subtracting just one grain from a heap takes it from being true to being false that there is a heap in front of you, which seems to be incompatible with the vagueness of the concept of a heap, which has no precise definition. For a long time I could see no satisfactory way round that objection. Then, as I was finishing my first book, Identity and Discrimination, I started thinking about the way in which ordinary knowledge requires a margin for error. It dawned on me that the need for a margin for error would explain why, even though ordinary concepts have sharp boundaries, we can’t know where those boundaries are located. That explanation solved the main objection to the logical view that I had always wanted to hold. So the hard part was working out the epistemology; the logic was the easy bit. The larger purpose underlying my book Vagueness was to argue for realism like this: if realism is wrong about anything, it is wrong about vagueness (that premise was generally agreed); but realism is not wrong about vagueness; therefore it is not wrong about anything. [my bold]
Well, that's one view of the matter, anyway. Or we could just marvel at how no nettle can be too sharp for the desperate realist to grasp. I had heard this before, actually – that he was trying to defend realism against what seemed to him to be its toughest challenge – but sometimes it's better to learn to crawl before you try to walk.

HT: Butterflies & Wheels