Wednesday, January 4, 2012

"Pure Michigan" spots parodied

With hilarious, and NSFW results.

You've probably seen the spots, voice over by Michigan's own Tim Allen. Here's a sample:

They are well and truly skewered at this site: NotSoPure Michigan which is now included on the blogroll.

While we are talking Michigan weather, this one is particularly funny. More accurately captures the attitude toward inclement weather.

Watch that language though!

and this one of course, was made a couple of years ago...the language!

What the heck is metaphysics?

That’s the topic of this podcast from Philosophy Bytes, with the always entertaining Kit Fine, of NYU, a very Big Wig in philosophical circles.

Here’s an illustration of what this discussion illustrates, drawn from Fine himself: (See link below for the full paper)

Consider this little argument about a statue:

(1) The statue is badly made
(2) The piece of alloy is not badly made
(3) Therefore, by Leibniz’s Law, the statue and the piece of alloy are not the same.

What is L’s law? Simply stated, it is this. For any two things, A and B, if A is one and the same thing as B, then for any property or relation that A has, B will have it as well.

Applying that to the statue and to the lump of alloy, this argument attempts to prove to you that the statue is not one and the same thing as the lump o’ alloy. Now, usually, unless one is under the sway of nifty little arguments like this, one is not tempted, (or at least it does not occur to one) to consider the statue as being something different from the lump of metal from which it was fashioned. So, you have an interesting sort of quandary here, the sort of quandary that is a classical case of a philosophical problem. These sorts of problems are typically reflected in questions that are left-overs or residual questions once all the facts of a case or circumstance are discovered. What is more, no further fact finding will settle such questions. This particular left-over issue is one that is usually labeled ‘metaphysical’ in the literature. (There are other ‘left-overs’ most obviously, ethical issues, that occupy philosophers’ attention, but we’re dealing here with a metaphysical one.)

Consider our case: What more could we discover that would settle whether or not the statue is one and the same thing as the lump o’ metal? If I go run some metallurgical tests, that won’t allow me to answer the question this argument presupposes. If I determine the exact weight, that’s no help either, & etc.

So, creating an argument like the above seems to be the only way to even begin to attempt to settle the issue. That particular little argument advocates for settling in favor of the view that there are two distinct things in the same place at the same time; the statue and its material ‘stuff.’

Now, consider this similar argument:

(1)* The thing about which I speak when I say ‘the statue is badly made’ is badly made in so far as it functions as a statue.
(2)* The thing about which I speak when I say ‘the piece of alloy is not badly made’ is not badly made, insofar as it functions as a piece of alloy.
(3) Therefore, by Leibniz’s Law, the statue and the piece of alloy are not the same.

Statements 1* and 2* now more clearly indicate what I take the meanings of the two originals to be. But, parsed in this way, they do not support the conclusion, 3. This version of the argument’s two premises does not appear to get you to the same place as the first little argument. In fact, this revised argument supports this version of 3:

(3)* Therefore, by L’s law, the function ‘being a statue’ is not the same function as ‘being a piece of alloy.’

So, we see that functions, (more precisely, serving functions for human beings) are ‘thing’ that inanimate objects can ‘do’ so to speak. They are sorts of relationship that objects can enter into, thanks to the wants and needs and activities of human beings who make use of those objects. More to the point, one and the same physical object can serve more than one such function. So, the correct metaphysical view of the situation, according to this second argument is one according to which there are not two objects in the same place, at the same time, but one object serving two functions, in that one place at that time.

Which position makes more sense to you? That there are two things, that is; that there is (1) a statue and (2) a hunk o’ metal in the same place at the same time, or rather, that there is only one thing sitting there?

Notice, how you come down on this matter (pun not intended) is not going to come down to your having conducted some sort of fact finding mission, and found some key piece of empirical data, but, instead, it will depend on how comfortable you feel with the notion of a universe populated with these sorts of twins, related objects co-existing in space/time. It’s more a question of your comfort with logical consequences of the two ways of picturing things, or perhaps a question of aesthetic taste, or something like it.

These are the sorts of issues that metaphysics deals with.

More give and take on this particular argument HERE