Sunday, 14 November 2010

Lecture 5 (Raw Notes)

Hume Lecture Notes

David Hume, 18th century writer and philosopher - Looked up to Newton in many ways. Often referred to as the most intelligent person to come out of the British Isles

The Vienna Circle / Logical positivism - Modern philosophy of science (Based on the work of Hume). Underpins social science.

Hume was openly an atheist but didn't say so as he would have ultimately been executed for it.

Personalities of the movement - Moritz Schlick discussion group for scientists, particularly theoretical physicists. To study philosophy and philosophers to learn the methods and recent discoveries in theoretical physics - 1924 to 1936.

Logical positivism - Don't believe in certain, absolute knowledge. Everything is a matter of probability.

1) Hume and Causation - According to Hume, the idea of 1 thing happening after another exists only in your head. Any relation of causation you see is not in nature, it's in your head, says Hume. You can't show causation - Don't jump to conclusions is essentially the underlying idea here.

2) Hume and induction - Logic is a specific science. Method for analysing truth claims. Use logic to determine - Is it internally consistent?

2 types of logic:

Synthetic - Only true if the axiom is true
Analytic - The conclusion is derived from the subject - The starting point in a chain of synthetic knowledge e.g. All men are mortal.

3) Hume and Locke's epistemology - The Anglo Saxon empiricist school - impressions and synthetic ideas

4) In morality - The "is ought" problem - no morality in phenomena - no teleology.

Synthesise = To build up from simpler elements. Building a tower, for example, is a synthetic action. Hume thinks the synthesising act of the mind is dangerous in some ways.

Morality - (is/ought dichotomy) - You can't say it is cold today but it should be warm - There's no logical path there.

5) Inductive vs synthetic logic

6) Bundle theory of self

7) Method of social science


The Verification Principle - Any truth statement must be capable of independent verification. (Most important aspect of the movement) You can only deal with statements that are verifiable. Metaphysics has to be separated from science.

Statements that can be verified as provisionally 'true' (i.e. non-contradicting)
Statements that can be verified as defiantly true (i.e. contradictory) - For example, 'the moon is the sun' - Clearly false.
Statements that cannot be verified - "gibberish"

The Verification Principle can be linked to how a computer works. For example, if and only if (Object A) is (Object A condition) then (Object B) is (Conclusion)

Karl Popper - The Verification Principle is not scientific. He goes back essentially to Hume, just because an event is repeatable does not mean it will always be repeatable. A statement which is unfalsifiable can never be scientifically valid.

"All men are mortal" cannot be falsified, because there is no finite number of observations - It is always possible that the next person to be born is infact "immortal".


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