107

I think part of the problem is: Science doesn't prove anything. Science, at its core, is simply a method of generating testable hypothesis that explain events, which are valued because of their use in predicting future results. Let me give an example. Based on observations, science came up with a theory for an orbital period, correlating orbital speed and ...


81

My personal point of view is that mathematicians invented the axioms and the rules of operation, the rest are discovered. Mathematicians invented the notations for writing down the concepts which are discovered within the universe of an axiom. The concept of numbers exists, but we invent the notation that the glyph '1' and the sound /wʌn/ refers to the ...


49

Ultimately, it all comes down to what you mean by "exist". Werewolves and ghosts do indeed exist, as fictional objects. And thus they can be distinguished from each other within the fiction, even though neither one exists in the real world. If you wish to pursue this, I'd recommend you look into Husserl's notion of "regional ontologies", which attempts ...


48

I would say that generally, the burden of proof falls on whomever is making a claim, regardless of the positive or negative nature of that claim. It's fairly easy to imagine how any positive claim could be rephrased so as to be a negative one, and it's difficult to imagine that this should reasonably remove the asserter's burden of proof. Now, the problem ...


39

The literature on these questions is immense, starting from Plato all the way to the modern mathematical logicians. Since your question is about the existence of numbers, you are concerned with the ontological status of numbers. So, with ontology in mind, you can distinguish the following schools of thought, according to the answer they give to your question....


32

This is an excellent question, and deserves more discussion than I can really provide here, but I'll try to give a simple and clear delineation between the two fields. Metaphysics is a very broad field, and metaphysicians attempt to answer questions about how the world is. Ontology is a related sub-field, partially within metaphysics, that answers ...


31

No, it is not a flawless argument even if you accept the premise. It simply does not follow that, from the premise that existence is a part of essence, the most complete essence must exist; it is a non sequitur. Consider Anselm's argument: Premise: God is that than which nothing greater can be thought. Argument: The greatest thing must exist, or ...


26

This is only a partial answer: As a mathematician, I have been asked this sort of question from time to time. Like most other mathematicians, I tend to sort of evade the question, because it's tricky. Usually, the question is put in the form, "Are you a platonist?" The reference here is to Plato's eternal form that we are able to recognize, and that allows ...


24

Like you, I think most uses of the terms 'probable' and 'random' are just epistemic, i.e. they relate to how much information we have. We say of a toss of a coin that it is random, and that there is a probability of (approximately) one half of it falling heads, but this just reflects the information we possess. Tell me more about the force and vector of the ...


21

We don't know. There are some very valiant attempts to engage the question here, and many of them even explore concepts well worth exploring. But just because we live in such a complex, information-packed age doesn't mean we need to pretend we know things we don't. The oracle at Delphi said that Socrates was the wisest man in Athens simply because he ...


20

I would like to argue that the topic (especially the search for proof for it) is rather useless. With a search for evidence, this topic is very similar to the topic of the search for evidence that God exists - which is, naturally, an assumption that brings the term "God" into a field it simply cannot exist in. You can't search for an ontological evidence for ...


19

Before anything else one should be aware of the instrument used to answer questions. That instrument is human language. While there is no guarantee that such a system of patterns is powerful and expressive enough to reason about the necessity of all that is, we can still examine what can we reasonably say and understand about this. Let us begin by finding ...


16

It seems to me that Badiou is himself providing the criticism or response, specifically to theorists like Heidegger and Deleuze. I'm not sure anyone has published any major criticisms of his arguments. In a way, he's attempting to rescue the idea of objectivity, to rehabilitate truth and the notion of the subject, from the ontological criticisms set forth by ...


16

In the absence of context, this is definitely a semantic debate. Is anyone who ever played a note on a musical instrument a musician? Is anyone who has ever written a word on paper a writer? Clearly not, for most intended purposes of those terms. When we speak of someone as "a philosopher", we are usually intending someone whose dominant activity has ...


16

Attempts to show that God exists by looking at nature such as the Kalam Cosmological Argument can only assert "generic theism", as you rightly point out. If the argument holds, then how does anybody know anything about this god/God? The answer is revelation or prophecy. When theologians talk about revelation, they are talking about ways that God ...


15

Not necessarily tied to philosophy, but in formal debates the sides agree on a proposition to make arguments about. One side will assert the proposition and assume the burden of proof while the other side will refute the proposition. But the structure of the proposition may be anything the two sides can agree to debate. Using your example, the proposition ...


13

I would compare it to someone believing that if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, it does not make a sound. The definition of the question limits us to not being able to answer it, and both silent-tree-believers and solipsists opt for the most sceptical position, that is opposed to our common sense understanding of the world. Our ...


13

Metaphysics generally covers topics such as cosmology (space and time), determinism and free will, mind and matter, ontology (being, existence, reality), necessity and possibility, identity and change, among others. Ontology is just one of those subtopics of metaphysics; it focuses on the categories of being and whether things can be said to exist or not. ...


13

I propose that we cannot know whether we are living in a simulation. One of the ways to detect a simulation supposedly is to detect errors from the inside. But there is no reason whatsoever to believe that our version of the universe has anything to do with the real reality. Every last single piece of our physics etc. could be artificial, hand-picked by our ...


12

I tend to share your puzzlement. A lot of contemporary metaphysicians seem to have an outdated view of physics, not only about determinism but also about locality or mereology. (This was criticized by Ladyman and Ross in "everything must go".) I think the main reasons are the following: Generally, philosophers are not trained in physics (except ...


12

Introductory remarks This is subject to debate and there is no definite answer. The general consensus is that no definite set of properties can possibly be given and if it is done, these sets are relative to the end they serve and the historical as well as the cultural context, i.e. we live in a "post-essentialist world" (Ramsey 2013) when it comes to the ...


11

I think the words "invention" and "discovery" are a bit poor to describe the birth of mathematic if there is one. It makes no sense to me to say mathematic has appeared as when Christophe Colomb discovered America or was invented as the boomerang. The word mathematics might have been invented, the language in which the mathematics are written might have ...


11

Kronecker famously said: „Die ganzen Zahlen hat der liebe Gott gemacht, alles andere ist Menschenwerk.“ (something like: "God made the integers; all else is the work of man") ...but I think even this is not true (besides there is no god ;-) Even for the integers, e.g. the concept of one-ness, two-ness asf, you need some kind of abstraction, an ...


11

Definition: We say X is logically impossible if it entails a contradiction, and logically possible otherwise. Definition: Given a set of assumptions, a sufficient explanation for X is a demonstration that not-X is logically impossible within those assumptions. Lemma: If not-X is logically possible within a set of assumptions, then there does not exist a ...


10

I'm going to posit, admittedly without any research whatsoever about those who've preceded these thoughts, that an "invention" is a kind of "discovery," and that whether a thing qualifies as an invention is—yup, you saw it coming—subjective. For example, we might say that the wheel was "invented" on grounds of (1) non-naturality (originality), ...


10

Douglas Adams said: A guy said to me, 'yes, but the whole theory of evolution is based on a tautology: that which survives, survives' This is tautological, therefore it doesn't mean anything. I thought about that for a while and it finally occurred to me that a tautology is something that if it means nothing, not only that no information has gone ...


10

Philosophy comes from the Greek words philo (loving) and soph(ía) (wisdom). Philosophers are thus—in a very liberal sense—simply "lovers of wisdom". However, I would imagine virtually everyone loves wisdom; at least in some way we all want to be "wise", and thus the term would apply to everyone and not really be of any real value. In the modern sense, it is ...


10

I believe it is impossible. I recommend you read (if you haven't already) Descartes' meditations where he famously concludes I think therefore I am - http://www.sacred-texts.com/phi/desc/med.txt: Archimedes, in order that he might draw the terrestrial globe out of its place, and transport it elsewhere, demanded only that one point should be fixed and ...


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