30 votes

Why can't numbers be 'used up'?

Does a song get 'used up' when we sing it? Does a story get 'used up' when we read it? Does a path get 'used up' when we walk it? Forgive the computer science analogy here, but all of these things — ...
Ted Wrigley's user avatar
  • 19.6k
20 votes

Why can't numbers be 'used up'?

Actually, your young student friend may be contemplating an astoundingly subtle notion. Linear logic (invented (or is it discovered?) by Jean-Yves Girard) is a substructural logic that's resource-...
eigengrau's user avatar
  • 585
12 votes

Does prediction really have epistemic value?

You can always find a model that explains the past, but is wrong (so fails to explain the future). Prediction is such a strong indicator of correctness because it means the model still works on ...
kutschkem's user avatar
  • 2,290
12 votes

Can we know that something exists even if we can't explain or define it?

Gravity is a great example to illustrate that yes, we can be certain a thing exists without having the ability to adequately explain or define it. As with the case of gravity, we can observe it and ...
mkinson's user avatar
  • 495
11 votes

Can we know that something exists even if we can't explain or define it?

You need at least some definition, but it doesn't have to be exact or detailed. You can't tell me whether "adfgiuadhfg" exists, because you don't know a definition of that word. A child can ...
HolyBlackCat's user avatar
10 votes
Accepted

Was Kant an Intuitionist about mathematical objects?

You're right to see some resonances between intuitionism and Kant. However, there's no uncontroversial sense in which you could blithely categorize Kant as an intuitionist. I'm not sure I've ever seen ...
transitionsynthesis's user avatar
8 votes

Why can't numbers be 'used up'?

Monkey Brain Although it seems trivial at first, there are a few interesting implications about his question, why do we talk about abstract ideas as if they are real objects? Because that is the ...
Lawnmower Man's user avatar
8 votes

Does the want to seek determinism in physics come from a fallacy that it explains more?

You seem to have it backwards with regards to what science (in particular physics) is doing. Where mathematics, logic and to some extend religion build a universe from the ground up, so where they ...
haxor789's user avatar
  • 5,881
8 votes

Can we know that something exists even if we can't explain or define it?

For something to exist, it needs to be observable, either directly or indirectly. Physical objects and phenomena can be observed directly and measured. Abstract ideas can be observed indirectly by ...
Pertti Ruismäki's user avatar
7 votes

Why can't numbers be 'used up'?

I suspect the problem is that the child is imagining a machine with preset number tiles. When it spits out the only tile with a "2", of course it's used up. If you clarify that it has a huge ...
Owen Reynolds's user avatar
7 votes

Does prediction really have epistemic value?

But you can't actually see or verify that happening. It's not that it's a weak explanation because it accommodates data. It's a weak explanation because it doesn't actually explain anything, And ...
haxor789's user avatar
  • 5,881
7 votes

Does prediction really have epistemic value?

True vs. Useful Most theories are not strictly "true" or "false". Newton's theory of gravity depends on a view of spacetime that is generally agreed to be false (roughly true in ...
Matt's user avatar
  • 171
7 votes

How important is explanatory power when it comes to assessing the likelihood of a hypothesis?

In cases such as this, the probability of a correct prediction made using a model is to be compared with the probability of a correct prediction caused not by the operation of the model but instead by ...
niels nielsen's user avatar
7 votes

Should reducing and simplifying explanations be a core aspect of Philosophical practice?

Suppose you are confronted with an intricate knot, like the Gordian one say, hard to untangle, and out of which a thick tapestry has been woven, blocking access to some wondrous treasure chest, or the ...
Kristian Berry's user avatar
6 votes

How do we answer the question of "what is it"?

1.) Before answering a ‚What is?‘-question it may help to clarify: Which type of statement would I accept as a satisfying answer? We are not familiar with objects like electrons, protons, positrons, ...
Jo Wehler's user avatar
  • 31.5k
6 votes
Accepted

Is the use of feminist stories sufficient evidence to claim misogyny keeps women out of STEM fields?

Short Answer It depends on your metaphysical presuppositons. What you are asking is a question regarding the normativity of explanation. So, depending on whether you're inclined towards critical ...
J D's user avatar
  • 26.6k
6 votes

How to explain the cosmic expansion?

Some points to remember here: The way we walk back through time to eventually get to the instant when the so-called Big Bang began is by mathematically raising the density, pressure and temperature of ...
niels nielsen's user avatar
5 votes

Why can't numbers be 'used up'?

... he could not understand how when you put '2' into the machine you it's not gone, you can get it back and put it into the machine again. One potential idea to think about here is to "design&...
Paul Ross's user avatar
  • 5,441
5 votes

Why can't numbers be 'used up'?

Short Answers [W]hy do we talk about abstract ideas as if they are real objects? And from this, is it a property of abstract 'objects' or ideas that there is no situation where they do not 'exist'? ...
J D's user avatar
  • 26.6k
5 votes

Why can't numbers be 'used up'?

Free new instances of the same class Perhaps the proper analogy to use here is to note that each invocation of the number 2 is a 'separate instance' of the general concept of number 2 - you may obtain ...
Peteris's user avatar
  • 1,297
5 votes

Why can't numbers be 'used up'?

Numbers are names Numbers are names and functions are not machines. Your name, say "Roger", does not get used up when your friends refer to you. If you have two apples in a basket, you can ...
Mankka's user avatar
  • 151
5 votes
Accepted

Can an extraordinary hypothesis ever be the best explanation for a set of historical facts?

Sure, and have been so. 'Extra-ordinary' is contingent upon historical accident and context. Let's take germ theory of disease. When miasma theory was dominant, the notion of tiny living beings ...
J D's user avatar
  • 26.6k
5 votes

Should reducing and simplifying explanations be a core aspect of Philosophical practice?

I am very happy to live in an era where I have access to the useful insights of generations of prior deep thinkers. Wisdom is cumulative, and today just one educated adult knows more about their ...
Dcleve's user avatar
  • 13.7k
5 votes

Can we know that something exists even if we can't explain or define it?

If we can discuss something, and the participants in the discussion have similar understandings of that thing, then it clearly exists in some ontological sense. We don't have to be able to explain it ...
Barmar's user avatar
  • 1,710
5 votes

Can we know that something exists even if we can't explain or define it?

Perhaps this is a frame challenge, but I think the real question posed by the question you link to: "Why is it "is there free will?" and not "what is free will?" isn't so ...
JimmyJames's user avatar
4 votes

According to Chalmers, can neuroscience resolve the "hard problem of consciousness"?

Q: What exactly is referred to by the "hard problem". A: The hard problem of consciousness, according to Chalmers and the majority of philosophers that use this term, is the problem of how ...
user287279's user avatar
4 votes

Is the use of feminist stories sufficient evidence to claim misogyny keeps women out of STEM fields?

Yes, anecdotes are a form of evidence as all experience is a form of evidence. When Portuguese travelers came back from Japan in the sixteenth century and told anecdotes about samurai, those anecdotes ...
David Gudeman's user avatar

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