[hist-analytic] Fwd: Question for Bruce on

Bruce Aune aune at philos.umass.edu
Tue Nov 10 07:03:18 EST 2009

Begin forwarded message:

> From: Baynesr at comcast.net
> Date: November 10, 2009 6:56:24 AM EST
> To: Bruce Aune <aune at philos.umass.edu>
> Subject: Re: Question for Bruce on
> Bruce,
> I suspect you forgot to send this to the list. I thought, at first,  
> it was just a
> transmission delay to the Approval site, but apparently you hit  
> 'Reply'
> rather than 'Reply All' or some such thing. So just resend to Hist- 
> Analytic
> and it'll go through.
> Regards
> STeve
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Bruce Aune" <aune at philos.umass.edu>
> To: Baynesr at comcast.net
> Sent: Monday, November 9, 2009 10:19:59 AM GMT -05:00 US/Canada  
> Eastern
> Subject: Re: Question for Bruce on
> I think my exchanges with Steve have gone on about as far as they  
> should, because no matter how carefully I describe my position,  
> Steve finds a way of misunderstanding what I say.  I will say (for  
> the last time) just a couple of things about his continued failure  
> to understand, and then point out an instance of what G.E. Moore  
> would have called a "howler" in his reasoning. But this is my last  
> post on the subject; our discussion is going nowhere.
> First, Steve’s continued misunderstanding:
> 1.  I said the set of red shades is fuzzy because the set is "not  
> sharply delimited.” “There are," I said,” a great many clear  
> cases of red shades (vermillion, scarlet, red madder would be  
> instances) but there are also many borderline cases."  Steve  
> responds, "Well, then, it appears there are no determinate colors!  
> And if there were we still would know what they are. You cannot have  
> a determinate color when that color is understood as made up of  
> "fuzzy sets."  This contains a bad inference and an almost complete  
> misunderstanding of what I said.  The fact that there are borderline  
> cases shows that the set of shades is fuzzy; it does not show [here  
> is the bad inference] that vermillion, scarlet, and red madder do  
> not exist.  They are examples I gave of what I mean by “determinate  
> colors.”
> 2.  Steve asks," Now if we form a set consisting of determinate  
> shades, then wherein lies the fuzziness?" My answer: The fuzziness  
> is the result of the uncertainty of where the borderline cases  
> belong; they are not definitely in the set; they have a probability  
> of being in it that is less than 1. (Fuzzy sets have probabilistic  
> membership conditions.)
> 3.  Steve says, "You cannot have a determinate color when that color  
> is understood as made up of ‘fuzzy sets.’”  I never said or  
> implied that a determinate color is made up of fuzzy sets.  I said  
> determinate colors are members of certain fuzzy sets.
> 4.  To my remark, made in my preceding post, “"The ball you see  
> (assuming it to be homogeneous in color)
> is, if red, a determinate shade of red," Steve replied: “All shades  
> are determinate it would seem. But what do you mean when you say  
> this?” My answer:  In saying this I was giving an example of the  
> sort of thing I was referring to when I use the expression “a  
> determinate color.”
> 5.  Steve is greatly impressed by Putnam’s definition of a  
> determinate color, which is built on the relational primitive,  
> “exactly the same color as.”  But how are we to understand this  
> primitive?  What are the terms of the relation it denotes?  Aren’t  
> they determinate colors? They certainly aren’t generic ones.
> I now come to Steve’s howler.  He said, “If color is a continuum  
> then in the sense that there is always a color between any two  
> others there are no discrete colors, which is the view I take.”   
> Isn’t this analogous to saying, “If the relation SMALLER THAN  
> holding between real numbers is dense—such that if x < y, there is  
> a z such that x < z and z < y—then there are no real numbers”?   
> Steve might reply, “I said there are no “discrete colors,” not  
> no colors at all,” but this response raises the question, “Just  
> what are the colors between which there is always another color?”  
> If these colors aren’t “definite,” what are they?  What is  
> Steve talking about?
> I think Steve has gone around the bend talking about color being a  
> continuum.  Suppose I go to a paint store and buy a can of Forest  
> Green paint. I use it to plaint a lawn chair. (I have actually done  
> this many times.) Isn’t the chair I successfully painted now Forest  
> Green in color?  And isn’t that a definite color? (It is in fact  
> another example of what I call a determinate color.)  Where is the  
> color that is continuous with the color of this chair?  And if you  
> can find it for me, show me the color that is between the two—and  
> so on and so on and so on….  What reason is there for believing  
> that the colors we see belong to a color continuum, a continuum of  
> visible (seeable) colors?  I certainly can’t make infinite  
> discriminations.  My computer monitor is capable of displaying  
> “millions of colors,” but not infinitely many of them.  Am I  
> supposed to be capable of discriminating more colors than my  
> computer can display?
> Bruce

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