In his short life, Alan Turing (1912-1954) made foundational contributions to philosophy, mathematics, biology, artificial intelligence, and computer science. He, as much as anyone, invented and showed how to program the digital electronic computer. From September, 1939, his work on computation was war-driven and brutally practical. He developed high speed computing devices needed to decipher German Enigma Machine messages to and from U-boats, countering the most serious threat by far to Britain..
The three puzzles here considered are shown to have a common structure. And in each, an agent is thrust into a cleverly contrived deliberatively unstable situation. The paper advocates a resolutely Pyrrhonian abandonment of the futile reasoning in which the agent is trapped and advocates an alternative strategy for escape.
Certain paradoxes set us reeling endlessly. In surprise examination paradoxes, pupils' reasonings lead them to reel between expecting an examination and expecting none. With Newcomb's puzzle, choosers reel between reasoning in favour of choosing just one box and choosing two. The paradoxes demand an answer to what it is rational to believe or do. Highlighting other reelings and puzzles, this paper shows that the paradoxes should come as no surprise. The paradoxes demand an end to our reasoning when the conditions (...) they set ensure no end. They equivocate between, so to speak, reasoning in heaven and reasoning on earth; and, on the conditions set, not even an infinite god could reach a conclusion. (shrink)
Successful jokes involve incongruities, but not any incongruity will do—not, for example, one as blatantly bare as an explicit instance of the form p.~p. Substitution in such is no secure generator of fun; and stand-up comedians would be lucky to escape with their lives, if—at the Glasgow Empire on a Saturday night—they delivered one-liners such as “She came from Dungeness and not from Dungeness.” Build-up context, alcohol level, and delivery skills—and it is not impossible that any line, even the p.~p (...) instance, could secure some laughs; but laughs alone need indicate no joke. At a level virtually platitudinous, jokes require an incongruity—a tension—between expectations typically aroused by initial words and resultant sabotaging revelations. We could, no doubt, be a species that laughed at every expressed contradiction, yet one for which banana skins, sexual spasms, and implied inconsistencies raised no flicker. Which particular sayings generate incongruities and not mere laughter is no empirical matter, but one of logic, logic taken sufficiently widely to include semantics and pragmatics. These incongruities, with the masking, the movement and unmasking—the teasing, stripping, and exposed sabotage—are to be found within many philosophical paradoxes as well as within jokes. Laying bare the jokes’ mechanisms can help to resolve such paradoxes. Joking matter itself need be no joking matter; and as jokes and paradoxes rely upon veiled incongruities, an all-seeing god would see no joke and meet no paradox. (shrink)
Here is a tribute to humanity. When under dictatorial rule, with free speech much constrained, a young intellectual mimed; he mimed in a public square. He mimed a protest speech, a speech without words. People drew round to watch and listen; to watch the expressive gestures, the flicker of tongue, the mouthing lips; to listen to – silence. The authorities also watched and listened, but did nothing.
Some people clearly do think of humanism as being a kind of creed or value system. The first “humanist manifesto” published in 1933 talked of humanism as a “new religion”. Nowhere does this idea ring more true than at weekend meetings of Ethical Societies in chilly and austere halls which can resemble Methodist chapels or Christian Scientist temples. It’s hard to resist the cheap shot that a lot of what has passed for atheistical humanism has been a kind of non-conformism (...) without the hymns. (shrink)
Look at any investment advertisement and you will encounter: PAST PERFORMANCE IS NO GUIDE TO FUTURE PERFORMANCE. This statement is a tribute to the power of the Financial Services Authority. Let us see how past performance plays with those down on the farm.
This paper’s aim is to provide overview of the punishment of war crimes. It considers first the rationale of the law of war, the identification and scope of war crimes, and proceeds to consider the justification of punishing war crimes, arguing for a consequentialist view with side-constraints. It then considers the alternative of reconciliation.
Much has been written about recidivist punishments, particularly within the area of criminology. However there is a notorious lack of penal philosophical reflection on this issue. This book attempts to fill that gap by presenting the philosopher’s view on this matter as a way of furthering the debate on recidivist punishments.
Arguing about Judaism differs from other introductions to Judaism. It is unique, not solely in its engaging dialogues between a Reform rabbi and a humanist, atheist philosopher, but also in its presentation of and challenges to the fundamental religious beliefs of the Jewish heritage and their relevance to today's Jewish community. The dialogues contain both Jewish narratives and philosophical responses, with topics ranging from the nature of God to controversies over sexual relations, animal welfare and the environment -- from antisemitism (...) to the state of Israel and Zionism. Although the rabbi and philosopher argue strongly, clearly enjoying the cut and thrust of debate, they do so with sensitivity, charm and respect, revealing the rich intricacies of the Jewish religion and contemporary Jewish life. While essential reading for those studying Judaism and Jewish history, the book aims to stimulate debate more generally amongst Jews and non-Jews, the religious and the atheist -- all those with a general interest in religion and philosophy. (shrink)
In this fun and entertaining book of puzzles and paradoxes, Peter Cave introduces some of life’s most important questions with tales and tall stories, reasons and arguments, common sense and bizarre conclusions. From speedy tortoises to getting into heaven, paradoxes and puzzles give rise to some of the most exciting problems in philosophy—from logic to ethics and from art to politics. Illustrated with quirky cartoons throughout, Can A Robot Be Human? takes the reader on a taster tour of the most (...) interesting and delightful parts of philosophy. It’s for everyone who puzzles about the world! (shrink)
Peter Cave once again takes the reader on a witty, engaging romp through a glorious compendium of philosophical puzzles. With the aid of tall stories, jokes, common sense, and bizarre insights, Cave tackles some of life’s most important questions and introduces the conundrums that will keep you pondering throughout the night. Illustrated with dozens of quirky cartoons, Do Llamas Fall in Love? leaves no stone unturned, covering a smorgasbord of topics including logic, ethics, art, and politics. It will provide a (...) perfect gift for anyone who puzzles about the world! (shrink)
How do you know that you exist? What does it mean to have a future? Are you the same thing as your brain? What does it mean to be free? How can you know what knowledge is? A woman was advising her anguished friend, 'Be philosophical - then you won't need to think about it.' Well, being philosophical is sometimes taken to mean that you should adopt a resigned attitude to the world - a quiet-ism - but the study that (...) is western philosophy, starting with the ancient Greeks and continuing today in universities, bars and cafes - even bedrooms - is far from quiet. Philosophers think - but not just that, for they think about thinking and they think about how we think about the world, about how we conceive of ourselves, about how we possess a sense of right and wrong, about how we find meaning in life (if we do). How to Think Like a Bat might not help you to think like a bat, but it will certainly help you to think like a philosopher. Smart, witty and engaging, this is a superb introduction to the subject by one of Britain's most engaging philosophical writers. (shrink)