Ahti-Veikko Pietarinen

ahti-veikko.pietarinen@helsinki.fi
Professor, University of Helsinki
Department of Philosophy, History, Culture, and Art Studies
Wuhan Daxue
April 2011
In this mini-course of ten lectures, I will go through some of the basic principles that
characterize analytic philosophy in the western philosophical tradition. First we introduce the
key notions of analytic philosophy. Then we discuss the nature of arguments and issues in
philosophy of science. The last two lectures are practical in their orientation and address the
matters of writing and publishing research papers in philosophy, concluding with some
thoughts on the profession of academic philosophy.

Finland Factbook:
Population: 5.223.442
Languages:
Finnish 92% (official)
Swedish 5.6% (official)
Independence since
1917. Previously a
Grand Duchy in the
Russian Empire for 108
years, and a part of
Sweden for 600 years
before that.
188.000 lakes; 98.000
islands.
Beer drank by Finns /
year 404.193.000 litres.

Essential Analytic Philosophy

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Philosophy of Logic, Action, Norms,
Probability, Induction, Causation:

Cultural Essays:







The Logical Problem of Induction (1941)
Logical Empiricism (1945)
An Essay in Modal Logic (1951)
The Varieties of Goodness (1963)
Explanation and Understanding (1971)
Logic and Humanism (1998)
Many editions of Wittgenstein’s works

• Like Oswald Spengler, vW believed in a decline of Western culture
(”The Myth of Progress”, 1993)

• Philosophy becomes fragmentary
(”Logic and Philosophy in the Twentieth Century”, 1994, Chinese translation by
Chen Bo, Philosophical Translation Quarterly 2, 2000.)
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No, philosophy will thrive, if new
opportunities are used well:
• There are new kinds of logics,
new approaches to
mathematics,new kinds of
thinking,...
Over 30 books:
• Socratic Epistemology (2007)
• The Principles of Mathematics Revisited (1996)
• The Game of Logic (1979)
• Knowledge and Belief (1962)
• Form and Content in Quantification Theory (1953)
And over 300 papers...
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1989

2006
”The ’Nobel Prize’ in Philosophy”
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• von Wright’s and Hintikka’s teacher
• Participated in the Vienna Circle in early 1930s
• Coined the term ”Logical Empiricism”
• Worked on metaphysics, philosophy of science
and psychology.

• Kaila thought that logic is a
”gateway to serious philosophising”
• Much of Finnish analytic philosophy
tradition owes to his teachings

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I: Introducing Analytic Philosophy
1. What is Analytic Philosophy?
2. Analysis
II: Argumentation and Philosophy of Science
3. Argumentation
4. Reasoning in Science
III: Practising Philosophy
5. Writing and Publishing in Philosophy
6. Professional Devlopment in Philosophy
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Ahti-Veikko Pietarinen
Wuhan Daxue, 25 April 2011

Reading: John Searle, ”Contemporary Philosophy in the United States”, 2003.

In this lecture, I look into the characteristic features of the mainstream western
philosophy, commonly known as analytic philosophy. What is it? What are its
methods? What distinguishes it from other areas of philosophy, such as continental
philosophy? How was it born? What is the situation in the contemporary scenery of
analytic philosophy?

The dominant form of Western philosophy
 Roughly 100 years old
 Continuous with the philosophical tradition from the
Antiquity
 Not only Anglo-American:

 Roots in the Central European thought (Bolzano, Frege, the VC)
 Dominant also in Scandinavia; increasingly in Germany, France,...


Began as a ’revolutionary’ movement, now mainstream
Situation now: Crisis? Post-analytic philosophy?

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Core Analytic Philosophy (Areas of Specialization):
 Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Language
 Philosophy of Logic, Philosophy of Mathematics
 Metaphysics & Epistemology (M & E)
 Philosophy of Science
 History of Contemporary (20th Century) Philosophy
 Theoretical Philosophy (Systematic Philosophy)

Especially in North Europe Theoretical and Practical parts
of philosophy are distinguished.

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Theoretical

Language
Mind

Logic
Mathematics

M&E
Philosophy of Science
Phenomenology

Pragmatism

Existentialism

Metaethics

Metaphilosophy
Hermeneutics

Continental

Analytic

Aesthetics
Political philosophy
Ethics

Structuralism
Feminism

Applied ethics

Experimental
philosophy

Practical
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Theoretical

Austin, Kripke
Davidson, Searle

Russell
Frege, Dummett

M&E
Carnap, Quine, Hintikka
Husserl

Peirce, Putnam

Heidegger

Metaethics

Metaphilosophy
Habermas

Continental

Analytic

Aesthetics
Rawls
Ethics

Derrida
Kristeva

Applied ethics

Experimental
philosophy

Practical
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When a beep sounded, a subject had to write down what was
his/her ”last undisturbed moment of inner experience”
(Hurlburt & Schwitzgebel 2009)
 One setting was a philosophy talk (at APA meeting)
The result: People rarely report thinking about the talk:

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

6.

Thinking that he should put his cell phone away;
Scratching an itch, noticing how it feels; having a visual experience of a book;
Feeling like he's about to fade into a sweet daydream but no sense of its
content yet;
Feeling confused; listening to speaker and reading along on handout, taking in
the meaning;
Visual imagery of the “macaroni orange” of a recently seen flyer; skanky taste
of coffee; fantasizing about biting an apple instead of tasting coffee; feeling
need to go to bathroom; hearing the speaker’s sentence;
Reading abstract for next talk; hearing an “echo” of the speaker’s last
sentence; fighting a feeling of tiredness.
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Analysis (Greek: ’loosen up’, ’dissolve’) :
1. Progressive analysis
 Plato/Socrates: decomposition of concepts
▪ ’Human being’ (analysandum): rational + animal (analysans)
▪ Knowledge = justified true belief
2.

Regressive analysis

Aristotle, Euclid: start with the proposition and try to find the
first causes or principles that demonstrate the proposition


For example, Pythagoras’s Theorem

Analytic / Synthetic – A priori / A posteriori (Kant)
Conceptual, logical analysis (Bolzano, Frege, Russell,
Moore,...)
’The Linguistic Turn’; Ordinary Language Philosophy
(Wittgenstein, Ryle, Austin, Strawson, Grice,...).
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1.

Began as a revolutionary movement (Vienna, Austria)
 Phenomenalism, positivism (August Comte, Ernst Mach)
 Logical positivism / empiricism, the Vienna Circle
(Morris Schlick, Otto Neurath, Rudolf Carnap,...)
 Wittgenstein → G.E. Moore, Bertrand Russell, Frank
Ramsey,... (Cambridge resistance to Oxford & British
idealism)
 Strive for the ’ideal language’ of mathematics & thought
▪ the Frege-Russell logicism; formalism (axiomatic method, Hilbert)
▪ the Unity of Science Movement, in continental Europe as well as in
the US (Carnap, Neurath, Charles Morris in the US).

2.

After the WWII, the English hemisphere begins to dominate.
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Confrontation because of differences in the methods of doing
philosophy, not so much in the subject matter
The Analytic:
 To strive for increase in knowledge, clearness of ideas, rigour and

cogency of arguments
 To take the role model to be a scientist
 To rely discoveries on experiments, observations and insights
 To leave no room for ’literary philosophy’: use plain language, together
with technical terms that are well defined.

Opposition generates rival ’schools’, ’-isms’
Controversies best addressed on the metaphilosophical level

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History of Philosophy
 History matters: ”No one can think in a vacuum”
 But not to study history only for its own sake
 Problems and questions define the subject matter, not what

somebody has said about something (the idea of systematic
philosophy).

Breaking up with the tradition?
 Study history as if it is a contemporary phenomenon, ”as if Frege

was just a fellow of another college” (results in anachronisms?)

Or continuing the tradition?
 Study problems and questions that originate from Aristotle, Kant,...
 No radicalism anymore in the main ideas and methods

(and certainly less so than in some parts of continental philosophy)
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The dominant philosophy now in the US, UK, Canada,
Australia, New Zealand, Scandinavia, Germany,...
 Increasingly more in France, South Europe, Latin America,
China,...
 Progress and crisis?

 Considerable expansion of the scope of analytic philosophy
 But becoming the ’establishment’ creates opposition and self-criticism
 What is the power of analysis? What is the value of clarity and rigour in

philosophy? What is the success of a rational argument?

We will return to these questions in the later lectures.

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Definite vs. indefinite descriptions
Proper names disguised definite descriptions
Descriptivism about proper names
 Denoting phrases “The A is B” are meaningless as such,

propositions have meaning
1.
2.

”The present King of France is bald”:
”There is one and only one King of France, and whatever is King of
France is bald”:

x( K ( x)  y(( K ( y)  ( y  x))  B( x))).

Criticism of Meinong & Frege
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Ahti-Veikko Pietarinen
ahti-veikko.pietarinen@helsinki.fi
Professor, University of Helsinki
Department of Philosophy, History, Culture, and Art Studies
Wuhan Daxue
April 2011
Reading: Michael Beaney, ”Analysis”, 2009.

This lecture takes a look at the notion of analysis. We observe some developments
in analytic philosophy variously found in the works of Frege, Russell, Carnap,
Quine, Donald Davidson, J.L. Austin and Paul Grice, for example.

What is Analytic Philosophy?
 Study of meaning
1.

The first attempt (1900-1950):
 Search for foundations, do it by reduction:
1.
2.
3.
4.

Phenomenalism (logical positivism)
Behaviourism
Conventionalism (social, linguistic)
Logicism

 Conceptual, logical analysis (later the ’Linguistic Turn’)
1. Analyse ordinary language
2. Develop better, ideal, formal, symbolic, artificial language
(especially the Unity of Science Movement)
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There were problems finding the foundations!
2. The second attempt (1950-):

Rejection of the analytic-synthetic distinction

Quine (”Two Dogmas of Empiricism”, 1951)

Rejection of conceptual schemas (critique of Quine)

Davidson (”On the Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme”, 1975)

Criticism of the fact-value distinction

Austin-Searle (speech act theory); Paul Grice (logic of communication)
Hilary Putnam (Reason, Truth and History, 1981)

Rejection of foundationalism

Wittgenstein...

(These are steps towards pragmatism...)
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So what remains?
 New philosophies of science have emerged
▪ Cognitive Science & AI; Biology; Economics; Law;...

 Take distance to the problematic tradition (Frege,

Russell,Quine,...)
 Avoid excess naturalism; leave some room for metaphysics
 Back to a renewed kind of conceptual analysis
▪ New logics, new tools, new methods
▪ Study of semantics and pragmatics

Are we entering the post-analytic phase?
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“Analytic philosophy should really be seen as a set of
interlocking subtraditions held together by a shared
repertoire of conceptions of analysis upon which individual
philosophers draw in different ways.” (Beaney 2009)

The ancient idea of analysis (Greek: ’loosen up’, ’dissolve’) :
1. Progressive analysis
 Plato/Socrates: decomposition of concepts
▪ ’Human being’ (analysandum): rational + animal (analysans)

Regressive analysis

2.

Aristotle, Euclid: start with the proposition and try to find the
first principles that demonstrate the proposition
Pythagoras’s Theorem
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“The point of philosophy is to
start with something so simple as to not
seem worth stating and to end with
something so paradoxical that no one
will believe it” (B. Russell)

The 20th century notions of analysis:
3. The interpretive analysis


Translate the statements into the correct logical form
(Frege, Russell,...)
(1), (2) and (3) are already found in medieval philosophy
(John Buridan, Summulae, c.1350)
Port-Royal Logic (1662) emphasises philosophical method:
”The art of arranging a series of thoughts properly, either for
discovering the truth when we do not know it, or for proving to others
what we already know, can generally be called method.”
”Hence there are two kinds of method, one for discovering the truth,
which is known as analysis,... The other is for making the truth
understood by others once it is found. This is known as synthesis
[method of composition, instruction].”
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Translate statements into their correct logical form

Frege:

Move from subject-predicate form to function-argument forms
For example, ”Socrates is a philosopher”:
f(x) = x is a philosopher, a = Socrates, f(a) = content/judgment

Russell:
1.
2.
3.

”The present King of France is bald”:
”There is one and only one King of France, and whatever is King of
France is bald”:

x( K ( x)  y(( K ( y)  ( y  x))  B( x))).

Wittgenstein:

”Logic (truth-functional analysis) is really the structure and nature of the
world” (Tractatus)
”Philosophy is a matter of getting clear about the misleading &
insufficient forms of our language/logic” (Philosophical Investigations)
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Rudolf Carnap:
”Quasi-analysis”: don’t seek anything more fundamental by
decomposition, but give a specific relation between concepts that
then defines or constructs things (”abstraction”)
f (a)  f (b) if and only if R (a ,b ).

For example:

The number of a’s = The number of b’s iff there are just as many a’s as b’s.
The direction of a = The direction of b iff a is parallel to b.

Analysis is thus ”explication” or ”rational reconstruction”.
”The task of making more exact a vague concept used in everyday
life ... replacing it by a newly constructed, more exact concept.”
(Carnap 1947)

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Sir Michael Dummett: ”The only route to the analysis of thought goes through
the analysis of language.” (1993) (A strong claim...)
Linguistic Philosophy (Ryle, Davidson, Chomsky, Austin, Strawson, Searle, Grice...)
Language before thought?


”Find the logical geography of concepts” (Ryle)
”Syntax determines semantics” (Chomsky)
”Use the theory of truth as a theory of meaning” (Davidson)

Thought before language?

”Study the ordinary use of language”: speech-act theory, pragmatics (Austin,
Strawson, Searle)
”Explain meaning in terms of intentions to communicate” (Grice 1957):
Literal meaning: ”Sentence S means X among the group of language users G :=
Members of G use S to communicate that X”
Speaker’s meaning: By uttering S to the interpreter A, a member U of the group G
means X by intending to:
1.
get A to believe that X,
2.
get A to think that U intends (1), and
3.
get A to recognize U’s intention (1) as a reason to believe that X.
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What ’analysis’ means in recent analytic philosophy:
 Elucidation (explication, explanation)
 Explain the conceptual components, instead of trying to reduce them to

some ’ideal’ notation
 Investigate the use of concepts and practices associated with concepts,
instead of giving the necessary and sufficient conditions that are intended
to define their meaning.

Acts of construction (roots in Carnap’s rational reconstruction)
 Find alternative expressions, statements, paraphrases, which need not be

exactly synonymous to the analysandum, but which are exact, fruitful and
simple, and serve the cognitive purposes equally well (or sufficiently
equally well) as the original does.
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So what is Analytic Philosophy?
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

Study of meaning
Emphasis on linguistic meaning
Importance of methods
Some understanding of the method of analysis
Importance of arguments and reasoning
Importance of knowing what goes on in science
”Analytic philosophy, then, is a broad...movement in which
various conceptions of analysis compete and pull in different
directions. Reductive and connective, revisionary and
descriptive, linguistic and psychological, formal and empirical
elements all coexist in creative tension, [which] is the great
strength of the analytic tradition.” (Beaney 2009)
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Ahti-Veikko Pietarinen
ahti-veikko.pietarinen@helsinki.fi
Professor, University of Helsinki
Department of Philosophy, History, Culture, and Art Studies
Wuhan Daxue
27.4.2011
Reading: http://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/fallacies.html
Fisher: The Logic of Real Arguments.

We address the topics such as: What is an argument in philosophy?
How to evaluate arguments? How to develop a cogent argument in
philosophy? What are the common fallacies and how to deal with
them?

Plato:
SOCRATES: Is it not true that p?
GLAUCON: I agree.
CEPHALUS: It would seem so.
POLEMARCHUS: Necessarily.
THRASYMACHUS: Yes, Socrates.
ALCIBIADES: Certainly, Socrates.
PAUSANIAS: Quite so, if we are to be consistent.
ARISTOPHANES: Assuredly.
ERYXIMACHUS: The argument certainly points that way.
PHAEDO: By all means.
PHAEDRUS: What you say is true, Socrates.
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1.

Suppose (as Aristotle believed) that the heavier a body is, the
faster it falls to the ground and suppose we have two bodies, a
heavy one called M and a light one called m. Under our initial
assumption M will fall faster than m. Now suppose that M and
m are joined together thus M+m. Now what happens? Well
M+m is heavier than M so by our initial assumption it should
fall faster than M alone. But in the joined body M+m, m and M
will each tend to fall just as fast as before they were joined, so
m will act as a ‘brake’ on M and M+m will fall slower than M
alone. Hence it follows from our initial assumption that M+m
will fall both faster and slower than M alone. Since this is
absurd our initial assumption must be false.
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2.

Either there is a Christian God or there isn’t. Suppose you
believe in His existence and live a Christian life. Then, if He does
exist you will enjoy eternal bliss and if He doesn’t exist you will
lose very little. But suppose you don’t believe in His existence
and don’t live a Christian life. If He doesn’t exist you will lose
nothing, but if He does exist you will suffer eternal damnation! !
So it is rational and prudent to believe in God’s existence and to
live a Christian life.

1.
2.

Galilei Galileo, Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences, 1638
Pascal’s Wager, 1661.

Question: Find strengths and weaknesses in these arguments!
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Arguments aim at establishing conclusions by
reasoning from the premises
 We argue for a case by giving reasons for accepting
some conclusion.

 Establish: prove, demonstrate, justify, show, support,...
 Conclusion: that what we want to establish
 Reasoning: the method of establishing

 Premises: where we start from, the reasons given, the

assumptions, evidence, facts, data
 Accepting a conclusion: Do the given reasons establish it?
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If the money supply were to increase at less than 5%
the rate of inflation would come down. Since the
money supply is increasing at about 10% inflation will
not come down.

Is this an argument?

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If the money supply were to increase at less than 5%,
the rate of inflation would come down. Since the
money supply is increasing at about 10% inflation will
not come down.

Is this an argument?
 Yes: Premisses: ”If...” and ”the money supply...” Conclusion:
”inflation will not come down.”
Is this a good argument?

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If the money supply were to increase at less than 5%,
the rate of inflation would come down. Since the
money supply is increasing at about 10% inflation will
not come down.

Is this an argument?
 Yes: Premisses: ”If...” and ”the money supply...” Conclusion:
”inflation will not come down.”
Is this a good argument?
 No: This reasoning does not establish its conclusion: the
reasons could both be true and the conclusion false. Why?
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If the money supply were to increase at less
than 5%, the rate of inflation would come down.
Since the money supply is increasing at about
10% inflation will not come down.

Is this an argument?
 It seems: Premisses: ”If...down” and ”the money supply...10%”
Conclusion: ”inflation will not come down.”
Is this a good argument?
 No: This reasoning does not establish its conclusion: the
reasons could both be true and the conclusion false. Why?
 Something else could bring inflation down, for example a fall
in the price of imports.
 So there is an error in the argumentation (it is not sound).
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All philosophers are strange
John is strange
Therefore, John is a philosopher
 6000 people died as a result of drinking last year.
4000 people died as a result of driving last year.
500 people died as a result of drink driving last year.
Therefore, Drink driving is safer than either drinking or driving alone.
 Nothing is better than freedom.
On the other hand, Prison life is better than nothing.
Therefore, Prison life is better than freedom.
 To build a large thing, you need a plan.
To make a plan, you need a written language.
Neolithic British had no written language.
Therefore, Aliens from outer space built Stonehenge.

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Theorem: Reductio ad absurdum (RAA) is not a good method of
proof.
Proof: by Reductio ad absurdum.
1. Suppose RAA were a good method of proof.
2. Then this argument would be good.
3. But this argument is no good.
Therefore, RAA is not a good method of proof.

http://consc.net/misc/proofs.html
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4yBvvGi_2A
http://inquiry.mcdaniel.edu/videos/CrossfireIntelligentDesign.swf
http://web.maths.unsw.edu.au/~jim/worst.html
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If you present a true statement, I will give you
10RMB. If you present a false statement, you
will give me 100RMB or I will give you
500RMB (I choose which), but I will not give
you 10RMB.
 Which statement will you choose?

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If you present a true statement, I will give you
10RMB. If you present a false statement, you
will give me 100RMB or I will give you 500RMB
(I choose which), but I will not give you 10RMB.
 Which statement will you choose?

A: ”You will not give me 10RMB nor 500RMB.”

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If you present a true statement, I will give you
10RMB. If you present a false statement, you will
give me 100RMB or I will give you 500RMB (I
choose which), but I will not give you 10RMB.
 Which statement will you choose?

A: ”You will not give me 10RMB nor 500RMB.”
Proof: If A is true, what it says must be the case. That is, I will not
give you 10RMB and I will not give you 500RMB. But for a true
statement, I have to give you 10RMB. This is a contradiction, so A
must be false. Since A is false, what is says is not the case. That is, I
will give you 10RMB or 500RMB. But I cannot give you 10RMB for a
false statement, so I must give you 500RMB. □
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Sellars has established to McDowell's and my satisfaction that P.
Therefore P. [Bob Brandom]
Sellars argues that P. (Actually, Sellars argues that not-P, but
that was wearing his black hat.) Therefore P. [Bob Brandom]
Someday someone might discover that P, and I want to get the
credit. Therefore P. [Colin McGinn]
The argument for not-P has seven steps, and I'm way too old for
that. Therefore P. [John Searle]

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Ahti-Veikko Pietarinen
ahti-veikko.pietarinen@helsinki.fi
Professor, University of Helsinki
Department of Philosophy, History, Culture, and Art Studies
Wuhan Daxue
28.4.2011

Reading: Papineau, D. (2003). “Philosophy of Science”, The Blackwell Companion to Philosophy.

We introduce essentials of philosophy of science from the point of view of
argumentative structures in science. Topics explained include induction, abduction,
falsification, instrumentalism, realism. How to argue scientifically? What is the
nature of reasoning in science? What is the structure of research?

Epistemology of Science:





What counts as scientific knowledge?
Does science discover truths?
How to choose between competing theories?
What is the relationship between theories and
experiments?

Metaphysics of Science:




Are all events determined by causes?
Is there a purpose in nature?
Can other theories be reduced to others (e.g., to physics)?
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Often expressed as the process by which scientists decide, based
on observations and experiments, that some theory, principle or
law is true (”All A’s are B’s”).

The Problem of Induction
 How to generalise from finite information?
 Is it a threat to scientific knowledge (scepticism)?

Possible reply: Falsificationism (Sir Karl Popper)
 Science does not in fact rest on induction
 First: come up with a hypothesis or a theory, and then see if it stands up to a

test:
▪ If tests prove negative, theory is falsified
▪ If tests fit the theory, continue to uphold it as undefeated.

 Scientific interence is refutation: Some A is not B → not: All A’s are B’s.
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1.

Some questions about falsificationism:
If scientific theories are conjectural hypotheses that cannot be
proved by observation and evidence, what makes science better or
more trustworthy than, say, superstition or religious beliefs?
 Popper: Theories are falsifiable:
▪ They are formulated in precise terms, give definite predictions
▪ In contrast, nothing can refute something like astrology or folk beliefs.

 Falsifiability distinguishes science from non-science

(Popper’s answer to the problem of demarcation):
▪ In science you should be able to say beforehand, what observational
discoveries would make you to change your mind about your theory if
such evidence were to arise in the future (fallibilism: we might be
mistaken about out knowledge ’one by one’, but no scepticism follows)
▪ If no possible, conceivable observation can adjust our thinking, we are
not doing science but are dogmatists about our beliefs.
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Falsificationism does not aim to solve (rather it evades) the
problem of induction

2.

What shows that a scientific theory is right?
What is the rational basis for believing that the predictions that a theory
makes are right? What is the role of past evidence?
We don’t believe in new theories immediately, they start out as
hypotheses.

Do we need to try to solve it?


Yes: Bayesianism

Beliefs come in degrees in which we take something to be probable (these are
subjective probabilities)
Pr( E / H )

Pr( H / E )  Pr(H ) 

(Bayes Formula)

Pr( E )
No: Induction is a natural form of reasoning (see the next slide).
Amounts to rational belief revision

Why do rational thinkers expect future to be like the past?
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1.

2.

3.

Deduction:
M is P
S is M
S is (necessarily) P
Induction:
S1, S2, S3,... are M
S1, S2, S3,... are P
Any M is (probably) P
Abduction:
M is P1, P2, P3,...
S is P1, P2, P3,...
S is (plausibly) M

All the beans in this bag are white
These beans in my hand are from this bag
These beans in my hand are white.
These beans in my hand are from this bag
These beans in my hand are white
All the beans in this bag are white.

All the beans in this bag are white
These beans in my hand are white
These beans in my hand are from this bag.

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Fallibilism: Most ideas are probably true, but we
cannot be absolutely sure of any one of them
The Final Opinion: Science can reach a single opinion
agreed upon by all scientists
In the Long Run: If inquiry is pursued indefinitely long,
the final opinion would be reached
Scientific Attitude: No sham reasoning, fake
reasoning
Structure of Scientific Inquiry: Abduction, deduction,
induction
The Economy of Research: Prefer simple, explanatory
and productive hypotheses.
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How do we know about unobservable things?
(Electromagnetic waves, viruses, electrons, quarks,...)
Realists take observable facts sufficient to enable us to indirectly
infer the existence of unobservable things.

1.

Instrumentalists think that theories about unobservables are
useful tools for many calculations and predictions, but say nothing
about their truths.

2.

Scientists postulate all kinds of things but need not believe in them.

Is the distinction between observable/unobservable meaningful in
the first place?



In addition to making predictions, theories explain phenomena
’No miracles’-argument: realism the only philosophy that doesn’t make
progress of science a miracle.

No: Kuhn, Feyerabend
Underdetermination of theories by evidence (The Duhem-Quine thesis)

’Pessimistic meta-induction’: most past theories turned out false.
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Key issues include:
1. Causation and explanation
2. Laws and accidents
3. Teleology and purpose
4. Theoretical reduction
We will not go into these topics this time...

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57

Ahti-Veikko Pietarinen
ahti-veikko.pietarinen@helsinki.fi
Professor, University of Helsinki
Department of Philosophy, History, Culture, and Art Studies
Wuhan Daxue
29.4.2011
Readings: http://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/philosophy.html.
Shatz, D. (2004). ”Peer Review and the Marketplace of Ideas”, in Peer Review: A Critical Inquiry.

In these last two lectures, we look inside the academic profession of philosophy in the
Western tradition. The first lecture focuses on how to write and publish papers in
philosophical journals. What do the editors and reviewers expect of a submission? How
does the peer review work? What was the Sokal Affair? How to find the right journal? What
is the today’s publication scene in philosophy?

Before writing, think of
1. to whom do you write?
2. the scientific attitude
3. how to make the research plan
What is the philosophical question/problem?
2. What is the context?
3. How to tackle the problem? What methods to use?
4. What is the thesis/result/conclusion?
1.

4.

Then comes the implementation (the writing
process, also known as perspiration)...
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59

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.
13.

What is the area of investigation?
What kinds of research problems are there?
For what questions you are searching for answers?
Then try make the topic more precise
Make a structure of the plan
Formulate a preliminary thesis
Is the plan now feasible?
Is the topic worth investigating?
What is the expected contribution?
What background theories are needed?
How is the plan connected with what has been done before?
How do you search for answers? How to solve the problems?
Do some interesting conclusions follow?
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Some common problems in the topic selection:
1. too broad (or too narrow) topic
2. trendy topics
3. ignoring the research strengths of the institution
4. choosing any topic from the instructor
5. changing the topics often

Good topics and good questions produce
new ideas
A big answer to a small question may be
better than a small answer to a big
question...
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Problems/questions clear  Not just a report on what
others have said
Contribution
 Methods for your thesis:
Creativity, ideas
 Criticise
Succesful argumentation
 Defend
Critical attitude
 Find counterexamples
 Compare two approaches
Systematicity, coherence
 Argue that one thesis
Conceptual clarity
implies something else
Communicability
 Argue that one thesis
presupposes something
Scholarly attitude
 ...
...
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The key component: Peer Review
 This is how science really works: journals, press,

conference program committees, job/tenure
committees, funding organizations,... all use peer review
 The referees recommend (and thus determine) the
acceptance/resubmission/rejection
 Seems to ensure the academic quality, protect us from
errors and disinformation, lead to scientific progress
▪ The key requirement for acceptance: The submission makes a
significant contribution to knowledge
▪ Reviewed publications are the most valuable ones for everybody.
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How compelling is this rationale for peer review?
Its not a perfect system:





Slow
Doesn’t keep up well with
technology & the increase in
information
Errors (even frauds) may
undergo undetected
Affiliation bias
Referee/Editorial bias
Heavily cited and famous papers
may have been originally rejected

• Peer review works in the large scale, however... Double or triple
blind review helps here a little bit... But is it enough?
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Some have suggested
”The Marketplace of Ideas” ≈ ”Let the millions of flowers bloom”.
 That is, could we have an open peer review system instead of a
closed one?

 Probably not:



Too much junk , gobbledegook and crackpot science out there
Better let somebody to do the tough review work for us
Universities, journals, presses need prestige and power
High standards make it easier to judge quality in scholarly
performance
▪ The closed, expert-based system, rather than proliferation, is
bound to lead to truth and scientific progress.
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“Anyone who believes that the laws
of physics are mere social
conventions is invited to try
transgressing those conventions
from the windows of my
apartment. I live on the 21st floor.”

Alan Sokal: ”Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward the
Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity”, Social Text
1996.
 The point was not only to show problems with the journal’s peer review

practices, but to defend the standards of scientific & philosophical work from
the threats of those “postmodern literary intellectuals pontificating on science
and its philosophy and making a complete bungle of both.”

Check out Sokal’s new book: Beyond the Hoax: Science,
Philosophy and Culture, Oxford University Press, 2009.
 Explains the original ’joke’ sentence by sentence
 Includes an ”Afterword” that was rejected by Social Text journal “on the

grounds that it did not meet their intellectual standards”.
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1.
2.

3.
4.
5.
6.

A-class reviewed publications in journals with high impact
factor (typically those in AHCI or ERIH)
B,C-class reviewed publications in journals
Scientific monographs
Reviewed publications in books, conference proceedings
Other reviewed publications (edited collections,
encyclopedia entries)
Non-reviewed publications (book reviews, invited chapters,
translations, newspaper articles, abstracts, etc.)

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And the
winner is...

Some top general philosophy journals
(resubmission rate; aver. review time in
months):
Analysis (4%; 0.69)
Australasian J. of Philosophy (49%; 4.18)
Erkenntnis
Journal of Philosophy (3%; 12.59)
Mind (27%; 7.62)
Monist
Noûs (17%; 3.47)
Philosophical Quarterly (12%; 2.32)
Philosophy and Phenomenological
Research (26%; 2.67)
Philosophical Review (12%; 7.62)
Philosophical Studies (12%; 3.81)
Synthese

Essential Analytic Philosophy

Some top special phil. journals:
British J. for the Philosophy of Science
Bulletin of Symbolic Logic
Economics and Philosophy
Ethics
Journal of the History of Ideas
Journal of Philosophical Logic
Journal of Symbolic Logic
Linguistics and Philosophy
Mind and Language
Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic
Philosophia Mathematica
Philosophy of Science
Studia Logica
Theory and Decision
Vivarium
68

Ahti-Veikko Pietarinen
ahti-veikko.pietarinen@helsinki.fi
Professor, University of Helsinki
Department of Philosophy, History, Culture, and Art Studies
Wuhan Daxue
29.4.2011

This last lecture presents some thoughts on the status of philosophy in present-day
academia. Questions to be taken up include: What is the difference between being a
philosopher and being a philosophy professor? What is the real work professors get to do at
the universities? What is the relationship to other disciplines? Is philosophy science,
humanities, or neither? What is the contribution academic philosophy has to the society?
Where is philosophy now and where is it going?

1.
2.

3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.

How do philosophers and philosophy professors differ from
one another?
What is the real work philosophers get to do at the
universities?
What characterises professionalism?
And what characterises academic job hunting?
How does philosophy relate to other disciplines?
What is the contribution of philosophy to the society?
Where is philosophy?
What does the future of philosophy look like?
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70

”Never let
facts get in
the way of
arguments”
- Gorgias

” He was a
wise man
who invented
beer”
- Plato

1. There are more philosophers than professional philosophers

The former may be less expert but widely attuned to by the society
(politicians, businessmen, artists,...)
But is that philosophy? They are often the Sophists, opponents of Plato

2. Universities’ `Third Mission’ (OECD):

”Expect increased contribution to the society”


What does this mean? Universities have always been in the society
Universities don’t teach ’public intellectuanism’, nor do they should
So how to carry out the Third Mission?
 YES: Learn how to explain complex issues: Write general science, textbooks; Give

public lectures. But don’t overdo.
 NO: Comment on whatever happens to be the current issue in the media.

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Spend their time reading & knowing everything? Publish
bestseller books that go down in history? Engage in peripatetic
discourse with colleagues on day-to-day basis?
Teach a class or two per semester – so how can they be so busy?
”All paid
The Reality:
jobs absorb
 Ok, write that book, and earn about 19$ per year

 Grade student papers until midnight
 Argue with your colleagues, but not quite on philosophy...

and
degrade the
mind”
- Aristotle

 Sit in committees that make no difference to your work...

Prof. Lounasmaa’s receipe for new scientists:
24h = 18h research + 1h eating + 1h socialising + 4h up to you to decide...
(Paul Erdös: make it 19 hours...)
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Tough path to follow:
Grad.student – PhD – Post-doc – Fellowships –
Tenure Tracks (assist./associate prof.) – Tenures – Promotions...

Bottlenecks, reasons for early failures:
 Graduate from a weak program (7 main GPs in the US get 70% of TTs; a TT

call from some of these may get 500+ applications)
 Not enough support from your PhD & post-doc supervisors; Lacking the
mentor
 Without TTs its temporary jobs (= writing grant applications)

Engage in strategic planning:
 Get involved with Projects; Work on Problems; Publish early
 Early and during pre-tenure, don’t waste time with writing
▪ Long books, publication in non-peer reviewed journals, administrative work...

New ideas is all that really matters!
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1.

Disintrestedness
Autonomy of the HE institution

1.

Specialization

2.

2.

Maintanance of academic standards; High degree of job security.
Guaranteed by self-regulation.
Contribution to knowledge; Mastery of methods; Transmissibility of
skills
Hard to balance with the external pressures for more generalization
(needed in science politics, less so in scholarship and education)

Professional research ethics
Autonomy of science

1.

2.

Search for truth; Reliability of knowledge; Objectivity; Progress;...

Norms of research (good scientific practice)
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75

Is it Science or Humanities?
 ”Philosophy: the closest thing to science”, but it is ”using

words in a funny way” (Richard Feynman)
 Be mindful of the ”Ethics of Terminology” (Charles Peirce)
 Does philosophy belong to the humanities? Or to the science?
(The 2010 US post-doc fellowships in humanities: 53, none in philosophy)

C.P. Snow: The Two Cultures (1959)
 This still exists?

The Sokal Affair
 Beyond the Hoax (OUP 2009): The ´Literary Humanists’ never

accepted the joke; just became more on the defensive.
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”The Crisis in Philosophy” (Jason Stanley 2010)
1. Legitimacy issues in its foreign policy?

Happened with the humanities in the 1970s–, needed to justify
themselves, political pressure
Now its philosophy’s turn to justify itself, also given the prevailing
economic situations

Internal dispersion?

2.

Philosophy becomes fragmentary; Non-communication between
groups of, say, analytic and continental philosophers
A cure? Admit that literary philosophy is better off with the
literature/art studies; and the rest with the social & natural sciences.

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Let’s go back to the ’Third Mission’:
1.

What is it that really changes the world?

Political decisions? Wars, natural disasters? Arts?
How about:
Ideas. Scientific discoveries.
New methods and media of communication.

2.

Philosophy is science, whose findings concern fundamental
issues in conceptual thinking.

Rightly understood, our future depends on the progress
of science more than on anything else.
“All men by
nature desire
knowledge”

“It is a miracle that curiosity
survives formal education – the
only thing that interferes with
my learning is my education”

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1. Searle, John (2003). “Contemporary Philosophy in the United States”, in The Blackwell
Companion to Philosophy (2nd Edition). Edited by Nicholas Brunnin and E.P. Tsui-James,
Blackwell, 1-22.
2. Beaney, Michael (2009). “Analysis”, in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Edward N.
Zalta (ed.), http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/analysis/
3. “A Handout on Fallacies”, The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill:
http://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/fallacies.html
4. Papineau, David (2003). “Philosophy of Science”, The Blackwell Companion to Philosophy
(2nd Edition). Edited by Nicholas Brunnin and E.P. Tsui-James, Blackwell, 286-316.
5. a. “Philosophy”, The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill:
http://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/philosophy.html
b. Shatz, David (2004). ”Peer Review and the Marketplace of Ideas”, in Peer Review: A
Critical Inquiry, New York: Rowman, 15-34. (Appeared in 1996 as “Is Peer Review
Overrated?”, Monist 79, 536-563.)
6. a. Leiter Reports: A Philosophy Blog: http://leiterreports.typepad.com/
b. Stanley, Jason (2010). “The Crisis in Philosophy”:
http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2010/04/05/stanley

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Further Sources





http://leiterreports.typepad.com/
http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2010/04/05/stanley
http://philosophysmoker.blogspot.com/
Feibelman, P.J. 1993. A PhD Is Not Enough! A Guide to Survival in Science,
Cambridge: Mass.: Perseus Books.
Feynman, R.P. 1985. ”Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman”, Reading:
Vintage.
Fisher, Alec 2004. The Logic of Real Arguments, 2nd Edition. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Menand, Louis 2010. The Marketplace of Ideas, New York: Norton.
Smyllyan, Raymond 1978. What is the Name of This Book?, Prentice-Hall.

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80

Feynman: ”Theorem: Mathematicians can prove
only trivial theorems, because every theorem that is
proved is trivial.”
(”Statement: Philosophers can say only obvious
things, because every thing that is said is obvious.”)
 Erdös: ”Mathematician is the machine that turns
coffee into theorems”
(Philosopher is the machine that turns tea into
ideas.)

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