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Ideas of Tim Button, by Text

[British, fl. 2006, Graduate student at Cambridge and Harvard. Lecturer at St John's, Cambridge.]

2013 The Limits of Reason
01.1-3 p.8 Realists believe in independent objects, correspondence, and fallibility of all theories
     Full Idea: External realists have three principles: Independence - the world is objects that are independent of mind, language and theory; Correspondence - truth involves some correspondence of thoughts and things; Cartesian - an ideal theory might be false.
     From: Tim Button (The Limits of Reason [2013], 01.1-3)
     A reaction: [compressed; he cites Descartes's Demon for the third] Button is setting these up as targets. I subscribe to all three, in some form or other. Of course, as a theory approaches the success implying it is 'ideal', it becomes highly likely to be accurate.
02.1 p.14 Indeterminacy arguments say if a theory can be made true, it has multiple versions
     Full Idea: Indeterminacy arguments aim to show that if there is any way to make a theory true, then there are many ways to do so.
     From: Tim Button (The Limits of Reason [2013], 02.1)
     A reaction: Button says the simplest indeterminacy argument is Putnam's Permutation Argument - that you can shuffle the objects in a formal model, without affecting truth. But do we belief that metaphysics can be settled in this sort of way?
02.1 p.15 Permutation Theorem: any theory with a decent model has lots of models
     Full Idea: The Permutation Theorem says that any theory with a non-trivial model has many distinct isomorphic models with the same domain.
     From: Tim Button (The Limits of Reason [2013], 02.1)
     A reaction: This may be the most significant claim of model theory, since Putnam has erected an argument for anti-realism on it. See the ideas of Tim Button.
02.2 p.17 An ideal theory can't be wholly false, because its consistency implies a true model
     Full Idea: If realists think an ideal theory could be false, then the theory is consistent, and hence complete, and hence finitely modellable, and hence it is guaranteed that there is some way to make it true.
     From: Tim Button (The Limits of Reason [2013], 02.2)
     A reaction: [compressed] This challenges the realists' supposed claim that even the most ideal of theories could possibly be false. Presumably for a theory to be 'ideal' is not all-or-nothing. Are we capable of creating a fully ideal theory? [L÷wenheim-Skolem]
02.3 p.18 The vagueness of truthmaker claims makes it easier to run anti-realist arguments
     Full Idea: The sheer lack of structure demanded by truthmaker theorists means that it is easier to run model-theoretic arguments against them than against correspondence theorists.
     From: Tim Button (The Limits of Reason [2013], 02.3)
     A reaction: Truthmaking is a vague relation, where correspondence is fairly specific. Model arguments say you can keep the sentences steady, but shuffle around what they refer to.
03.4 p.23 A sentence's truth conditions are all the situations where it would be true
     Full Idea: A sentence's truth conditions comprise an exhaustive list of the situations in which that sentence would be true.
     From: Tim Button (The Limits of Reason [2013], 03.4)
     A reaction: So to know its meaning you must know those conditions? Compare 'my cat is licking my finger' with 'dramatic events are happening in Ethiopia'. It should take an awful long time to grasp the second sentence.
05.1 p.33 Predictions give the 'content' of theories, which can then be 'equivalent' or 'adequate'
     Full Idea: The empirical 'content' of a theory is all its observable predictions. Two theories with the same predictions are empirically 'equivalent'. A theory which gets it all right at this level is empirically 'adequate'.
     From: Tim Button (The Limits of Reason [2013], 05.1)
07.2 p.56 Cartesian scepticism doubts what is true; Kantian scepticism doubts that it is sayable
     Full Idea: Cartesian scepticism agonises over whether our beliefs are true or false, whereas Kantian scepticism agonises over how it is even possible for beliefs to be true or false.
     From: Tim Button (The Limits of Reason [2013], 07.2)
     A reaction: Kant's question is, roughly, 'how can our thoughts succeed in being about the world?' Kantian scepticism is the more drastic, and looks vulnerable to a turning of the tables, but asking how Kantian worries can even be expressed.
14.2 p.143 The coherence theory says truth is coherence of thoughts, and not about objects
     Full Idea: According to the coherence theory of truth, for our thoughts to be true is not for them to be about objects, but only for them to cohere with one another. This is rather terrifying.
     From: Tim Button (The Limits of Reason [2013], 14.2)
     A reaction: Davidson espoused this view in 1983, but then gave it up. It strikes me as either a daft view of truth, or a denial of truth. The coherence theory of justification, on the other hand, is correct.