Friday, July 18, 2014

the so-called “non-identity problem”

We have in the studio Bertrand Russell, who talked to us in the series “Sense Perception and Nonsense: Number 7, Is this a dagger I see before me?” Bertrand Russell.
Russell: One of the advantages of living in Great Court, Trinity I seem to recall, was the fact that one could pop across at any time of the day or night and trap the then young G. E. Moore into a logical falsehood by means of a cunning semantic subterfuge. I recall one occasion with particular vividness. I had popped across and had knocked upon his door. “Come in,” he said. I decided to wait awhile in order to test the validity of his proposition. “Come in,” he said once again. “Very well,” I replied, “if that is in fact truly what you wish.”
I opened the door accordingly and went in, and there was Moore seated by the fire with a basket upon his knees. “Moore,” I said, “do you have any apples in that basket?” “No,” he replied, and smiled seraphically, as was his wont. I decided to try a different logical tack. “Moore,” I said, “do you then have some apples in that basket?” “No,” he replied, leaving me in a logical cleft stick from which I had but one way out. “Moore,” I said, “do you then have apples in that basket?” “Yes,” he replied. And from that day forth, we remained the very closest of friends.
It is impossible to read the hilarious Reason and romance: The world’s most cerebral marriage, without being reminded of the  Beyond The Fringe bare plurals sketch I quote above. The Bare Plural (Utrecht Lexicon of Linguistics) long having been a standby of choice for a gag wrangler stuck in a tight corner.

Semantic giggles aplenty:
As they approached the restaurant they passed a wedding shop. In the window was one of those meringue bridal dresses, all petticoats, hoops and trains. “That,” said Janet, jokingly, “is what I shall be wearing tomorrow.” “Do you mean that exact one,” replied Derek, in all seriousness, “or one just like it?”
"Today, Parfit is considered by many of his peers to be the world’s most important living moral philosopher."

Of course he is.

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