[FOM] Wittgenstein Inspired Skepticism

Thomas Klimpel jacques.gentzen at gmail.com
Tue Feb 28 05:59:08 EST 2017

Tim Chow wrote:
> Thomas Klimpel wrote:
>> If it would really show that, than it would indeed be a major
>> achievement. But then it should be clarified how it is different from
>> the skeptic denying any possibility to communicate meaning at all.
> As I said, I believe that there is a spectrum or continuum of commitment
> levels.  The skepticism that you're referring to here is targeted at an even
> more fundamental level.  What's different about Kripkenstein is that it's
> targeted precisely at the level (i.e., rule-following) that mathematicians
> instinctively retreat to, as I explained above.  That is, Kripkenstein
> argues that even if you accept the possibility of certain basic
> communication capabilities, there is still a barrier to surmount if you want
> to be able to follow rules.

This clarifies things indeed. I decided now that I will read Kripke's
"Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language". Because even so this
sounds interesting and convincing, I don't want to go down a
ChowKripkenstein over SilverKripkenstein rabbit hole.

And this is not because I think that ChowKripkenstein or
SilverKripkenstein would be worse than Kripke's text, but Kripke's
text is written down and "unchanging", while the other two arise from
the interaction between the people communicating here.

> Certainly, what you say about going beyond Turing machines is true, but what
> I was implicitly referring to was the tendency of mathematicians to retreat
> to Turing machines if you push their backs to a wall.

But the official retreat is (or at least has been for a long time)
ZFC, no? In addition to the consistency line of defence related to
Turing machines, also the von Neumann cumulative hierarchy
justification can be evoked. And the "primacy" of first order logic
might be evoked too, which also goes a bit beyond Turing machines.

> (It is not unlike physicists' reaction to
> probing questions about quantum mechanics---they will, if pressed, point out
> that everyone agrees on how the calculations should go and what the
> experimental predictions of the theory are, even if there is disagreement
> about Copenhagen or Everett or pilot waves or whatever.)

The physicists' reaction in real life that I could observe personally
were different. Especially the calculations themselves are no safe
retreat, because of non-convergent asymptotic series, relativistic
complications (i.e. the need for QFT) and "unpracticality" if you
deviate too much from Copenhagen. But they do agree on the
experimental predictions (and observations), and that some form of QM
is needed to explain those.

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