Saturday, November 04, 2017

Philosophy and Nuance

Luciani Floridi in Aeon, on AI:

Philosophy doesn’t do nuances well. It might fancy itself a model of precision and finely honed distinctions, but what it really loves are polarisations and dichotomies. Internalism or externalism, foundationalism or coherentism, trolley left or right, zombies or not zombies, observer-relative or observer-independent, possible or impossible worlds, grounded or ungrounded … Philosophy might preach the inclusive vel (‘girls or boys may play’) but too often indulges in the exclusive aut aut (‘either you like it or you don’t’).

I don't think Floridi manages to make his broader point about AI, but I thought that this was an interesting claim about analytic philosophy (which is clearly what is in view, given the examples).

('Girls or boys may play', though, is arguably not inclusive vel; this kind of locution in natural language, disjunctive subject with possibilized predicate, is generally equivalent to 'Girls may play and boys may play', and thus is a logical conjunction and not vel at all. But Floridi's point in the claim lies elsewhere, of course.)

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