And so Indeed are Perfect Cheat

  • John Woods
Part of the Applied Logic Series book series (APLS, volume 32)


In this present chapter, we shall see how the concept of arguments that make reference to personal factors extends to a class of arguments more usually associated with the notions of ad populum. In their most elementary and ad verecundiam sense. These are arguments that rely on a structure of relations having to do with how other people behave. Part of this story involves an examination of bias.


Common Knowledge Tacit Knowledge Cognitive Agent Epistemic Community Pythagorean Theorem 
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  1. 2.
    For a contrary view see Fain and Griffiths: “There is no proposition so compactly true that no one could miss it” [Fain and Griffiths, 1972, p. 10].Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Perhaps this is too fast. For let T be any empirically adequate theory and E the total evidence adduced for T at time t. There are philosophers who hold — for example, Quine and van Fraassen — that E at t makes unboundedly many theories Ti, alternatives to and incompatible with T, are equally adequate empirically [Quine, 1975; van Fraassen, 1980]Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    But see footnote 10.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    Epistemic trust and the indispensability of truthfulness are discussed in [Hardwig, 1985; Blais, 1987; Woods, 1989a], the latter reprinted here as chapter 20.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    Frames where foreshadowed some forty years earlier in Barlett’s “scripts” [Bartlett, 1932]. See also [Schank and Abelson, 1977].Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    Of course, what it bids is what beings like us already do, more or less automatically.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    “Although [frame-systems] are valuable for chunking information together, they exact a toll in flexibility... [They work well] for highly regular and routine situations” [Holland et al., 1986, pp. 12–13] .Google Scholar
  8. 11.
    Of related interest is Irwin Bross’ approach to hypothesis-testing as a means of signalling new findings to the research community in ways that minimize errors in the signalling process [Bross, 1971] .Google Scholar
  9. 13.
    Astandoff is a particularly intractable sort of disagreement. Standoffs have an interesting logic, concerning which see [Woods, 1992a; Woods, 1996], reprinted here as chapters 12 and 13.Google Scholar
  10. 14.
    True, there are lots of critics of inference to the best explanation. But no one seriously proposes that its offence consists in the violation of these conditions. See [Cartwright, 983a, p. 87 ff], [van Fraassen, 1980, pp. 19–22], and [Hintikka, 1989, p. 4].Google Scholar
  11. 15.
    The inconsistency was pointed out by Berkeley. The calculus of Newton and Leibniz treated the infinitesimals as real numbers of a special kind. But their specialness was realized by way of inconsistent description: an infinitesmal was and was not greater than zero. Berkeley’s complaint was acknowledged and continues to be to this day in standard texts. No one took the inconsistency to disable the calculus. Mathematicians just soldiered on. What explains this astonishing defection from mathematical rectitude? The Cauchy case suggests an answer. It is an enchanting possibility: just as we attribute to Cauchy tacit knowledge of the irrationals, so do we attribute to the history of mathematics tacit knowledge of Robinson’s hyperreals (or, at a minimum, Weierstrass’ limits). Ascriptions to reals, which result in inconsistency, evade the inconsistency, when made to hyperreals. Thus, since that very inconsistency did not disable the calculus, we assume that, all along, talk of infinitesimals was (implicitly) talk of hyperreals, never mind that nobody, until Robinson, would have avowed such. See [Robinson, 1966] .Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Woods
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.The Abductive Systems GroupUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Department of Computer ScienceKing’s CollegeLondonEngland
  3. 3.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of LethbridgeCanada

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