In a message dated 9/13/2015 5:56:50 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
To describe something which is inevitable as merely 'probable' would be
unusual or a mistake or confusing in ordinary life ... and we must therefore
be clear that when we speak of 'p = 1' we are not referring to what we
normally refer to in terms of probabilities but to what we might normally
to in terms of 'certainties'. ... *And this claim is false unless the
proposition "all non-random events have probability 'p = 1'" itself has a
probability of 'p = 1'. Which it doesn't.
Well, I think 'random' is NOT a term of art. Cicero doesn't use it!
INTERLUDE ON "RANDOM" as per a "Philosophical Lexicon".
'random' is used by certain speakers to mean "having no definite aim or
purpose". It was first used in English with that sense in 1651, from "at
random" (first used in 1560), then meaning "at great speed" (thus,
Ultimately, it is an alteration of a Middle English noun "randon" ("Middle
English" is what Wright thought came between Old English and New English --
"but I can't expect that Middle English speakers knew that"), to mean
"impetuosity, speed" -- and "randon", thus spelt, is attested in 1300.
Geary would think it Anglo-Saxon, but it's actually Anglo-Norman (as in
"Honi soit qui mal y pense"), and ultimately from Old French "randon", a
"rush, disorder, force, impetuosity". French philologists notice that only 2%
French is of Germanic origin and this is one item in that percentage, in
that a "randon" was used by French speakers as deriving it from from
"randir", "to run fast," itself from Frankish *rant "a running". Legrand
it's "from some other Germanic source such as that", and ultimately from
Germanic (hypothetical form) *randa. This hypothetical root has cogntes in Old
High German rennen "to run," and Old English rinnan "to flow, to run;"
which gives us "run" (as in "The lonlineness of the long-distance runner").
In 1980s U.S. college student slang 'random' began to acquire a sense of
William Safire describes 'random' as a college slang noun meaning "person
who does not belong on our dormitory floor." Safire adds, "This must be an
implicature of sorts".
"Random access" in reference to computer memory is recorded from 1953.
Related: Randomly; randomness.
A verb, "randomize", was first used in 1926 (the roaring twenties).
END OF INTERLUDE
McEvoy: "To describe something which is inevitable as merely 'probable'
would be unusual or a mistake or confusing in ordinary life ... and we must
therefore be clear that when we speak of 'p = 1' we are not referring to what
we normally refer to in terms of probabilities but to what we might
normally refer to in terms of 'certainties'"
Not if you are Noel Burton-Roberts.
He wrote an essay where he applied the Square of Opposition, by Aristotle,
as specified for modal notions
It is generally assumed that the following hold:
If □p then p (if it is necessary that p, then p is true).
If p then ◊p (if p is true, then p is possible).
But Burton-Roberts claims that implicature is at play here, and "what is
necessary is possible" is TRUE, even if it would be "misleading, odd" (but
still true) to say the adage, or apply it to specific cases -- the cases that
McEvoy above describes as "unusual", or "confusing".
The whole point of Grice's idea of implicature (versus 'implication' -- "a
distinction denied by Witters") is that it allows for the "misleading but
true". And surely philosophers cannot make THAT mistake.
Noel Burton Roberts is a linguist, not a philosopher, and I'm not expecting
a conceptual analysis from him on 'certainty', but from Grice!
In Grice's essay on Descartes (in "Studies in the Way of Words", or WoW),
Grice distinguishes between:
a. objective certainty: x is certain.
b. subjective certainty: A is certain that p (where "A" can be replaced by
Grice) -- whether in (a), "x" stands for a proposition.
Grice claims, and rightly, that Descartes does not make this distinction
("Descartes's loss," Grice adds).
So, it would be a sort of category mistake to add talk of certainty (or
what Ayer prefers, "sure" -- "I am sure it will rain tomorrow") when we are
talking of minding our ps of probability.
The idea of falsehood being represented by "0" and "truth" by "1" makes
perhaps more sense, as Łukasiewicz was well aware. The problem, according to
Susan Haack (who taught at Warwick and Florida) is that it 'deviates' logic,
and we want our logic to be 'straight and narrow' -- it is for this reason
that Grice sees himself as a heir to "Principia Mathematica", even if
allowing that 'classical logic' has made the occasional mistake (as in Quine)
of ignoring implicatures altogether, when it shouldn't!
How this applies to freewill and Popper's over-extreme caution over a mere
phrase, "probabilistic affair", as if it were a dirty word, next.
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