Index of Essays
This is a collection of essays in progress, mostly not very far progressed. They are written in LaTeX, made available in pdf.
An introduction to and an overview of various work in progress.
A discussion of architectural principles for widely distributed collaborative knowledge representation and exploitation systems.
An description of how to define logical truth (as analyticity) and how to demonstrate such truths. This is based on the thesis that set theory is both semantically universal and also is the best way to obtain maximal deductive reach.
The outline of a possible book attempting to construct an epistemology for the future, in the light of the evolution of epistemology to the present day and the technological advances in progress which impact on how our knowledge of the world is expanded.
Speculating about Enlightennent 2.0 on the basis of ideas about its predecessors.
An exercise in synthetic epistmology, constituting architectural principles for a hypothesized future Galactic cognitive system.
Who should know about and/or have influence over, what is taught to children.
A positive reconstruction of Critical Theory.
An attempt to put together a coherent position on the shifting language around sex and gender, and possibly a more general discussion of how to counter the divisive "identity marxism".
Thoughts about gender.
Philosophy should be concerned, among other things, with the big picture. Of late I have been trying to understand everything, philosophically, through the lense of evolution. This essay spans almost the whole of evolution (from a particular vantage point in space time), from the beginnings of life on earth to its proliferation across the galaxy beyond its likely local demise.
A discussion on the nature of consciousness, prefaced by broader considerations about ontology and metaphysics, in which I conclude in favour of the possibility that consciousness is no big deal (though important).
An attempt to sew together into a coherent epistemological narrative my evolving perspective on the ideological currents of our time.
An attempt to understand rationality and those forces which undermine it in the form of a historical narrative.
Notes on the "Paradox of Repressive Tolerance". Discussion of Popper's "paradox of tolerance" and Marcuse's inversion of it as "Repressive Tolerance".
When society proceeds in a largely rational manner, what the average punter understands of the philosophical principles which underpin the social order may not be crucial. When things go awry, not so good. It might be a good idea to have a handbook which is as broadly intelligible as possible. Professional philosophers are rarely good at stripping down the complexity which proves their metal and laying bare key structures. This is me having a go at that.
A philosophical perspective on evolution, and an evolutionary approach to philosophy.
These are notes written in connection with a reading and discussion of Quine based on Orenstein.
I often have doubts about supposed scientific truths. This is a place where I talk about them.
Maybe intended as an essay, but turned out to be a collection of references and notes on some of them. I left more or less the original intent in this abstract. We seem at this moment in history to be unusually well endowed with tales of how our democracies are failing. Against these there is "push back". To push back you need to spot what is going on, to describe it clearly, to understand and articulate why it is pathological, but also to propose and promote an effective remedy. Thinking philosophically about these phenomena may provide more compelling support, for the core values which are threatened, against a range of subversive strategies and tactics. Here we take democracy as the fundamental value and seek to analyse contemporary erosions and consider what kinds of defence might be mounted. An important defence is the light of scrutiny, on the (doubtful) thesis that once we see clearly the threats and the values which they threaten, their strength will be undermined.
This is an assay at the formulation of that part of a progressive liberal constitution for the United Kingdom which provides an account of the fundamental philosophical principles which underly the constitution.
The pace of constitutional change has accelerated over recent decades, and the departure of the UK from the European Union not only in itself requires major constitutional changes, but also exposes weaknesses in the constitution which may provoke further change. Because we do not have a written constitution which has a special status relative to other legislation, controversial changes to the constitution may be undertaken on the basis of a simple parliamentary majority with little or no public consultation. This risks changes which are partisan rather than consensual, and that respond to intellectual or ideological trends alien to our historical traditions including our democracy and the free speech on which it depends. This document provides notes for a discussion of these matters.
A number of factors, conspicuous as we make our way into the 21st century, seem to make a coherent philosophical underpinning for moral, political and economic affairs especially difficult to formulate. These notes are intended to facilitate discussion of the challenges and opportunities and a range of possible philosophical responses to them.
New conception of philosophy inspired in part by synthetic biology.
Notes for a philosophical discussion on The Open Society
Notes for a philosophical discussion on scepticism and positivism
Positivism, latterly logical positivism and particularly the philosophy of Rudolf Carnap, was a scientifically oriented philosophy, in which the aim of philosophy was to support science, and philosophy was expected to strive for scientific standards of objectivity and rigour. A particular impetus for logical positivism and the philosophy of Carnap was the advances made in logic by Frege, and the conception of scientific philosophy advanced by Russell, in which philosophy was to be purely logical. However, beyond the advances which permitted deductive reason to be entirely formalised, the philosophies of Russell and Carnap were influenced by empiricist agendas logically distinct from an advocacy of logical rigour, which also inspired a rejection of most of the philosophical tradition and made a broad acceptance, even of the pure logical core, unlikely. In this essay I attempt to isolate a core philosophical framework suitable to underpin the widest adoption of formal methods to ensure logical rigour in all areas where deductive reasoning may have a role to play. In practice, at present, the principal users of formal derivations and of the software to facilitate their application are not logicians, mathematicians, scientists or philosophers, but engineers, who seek clarity in presentation of their designs and assurance that they realise their intended purpose.
Notes for a philosophical discussion on rationality
Notes for a philosophical discussion on the future of humanity.
This is a place for drafting materials to be posted to my Roger Bishop Jones blog, or elsewhere.
Notes for a philosophical discussion on why and how we should choose foundations for mathematics.
More than one attempt at an abstract for submission to SOTFOM II, an upcoming symposium on the foundations of mathematics.
The ancient Chinese philosophy of Dao provides ideas which may be seen as fundamental to contemporary ideas in ethics, politics and economics and therefore which together provide a basis for new approaches to practical philosophy.
Some thoughts about the nature of philosophy and the kinds of philosophy.
This note offers an alternative to a proposal by Rob Arthan for a simpler and more powerful replacement for the mechanisms currently provided in the various HOL implementation for defining new constants. [The document is derived from Rob's paper and is mostly exactly the same since I didn't get very far in making the intended changes. My guess is that it is only in the description at the beginning that there may be some differences. The material which it modifies was I think presented by Rob at one of the HOL conferences (probably 2013) without mention of the ideas here, but at the time I write this codicil to the abstract Rob is in preparing final amendments to a version of his paper for publication in a special edition of the Journal of Automated Reasoning and his intention is, as I understand it, to include mention of this possibility in the paper, the details of which we have recently discussed.]
Issues properly belonging to the semantics of set theory are now being addressed using results about forcing. This essay considers the relevance of forcing to semantics.
A description of my efforts in the foundations of mathematics over the past 25+ years.
A discussion of the philosophical programme of Rudolf Carnap, its place in the philosophy of the twentieth century and of its sigificance for the applications of interactive theorem proving software.
A discussion of the relationship between these two different systems of ideas.
An informal discussion of abstract ontology.
A development of aspects of the philosophies of Leibniz and Carnap in the direction of design automation.
An informal sketch of the development of my ideas about non well-founded ontologies for the foundations of mathematics.
A discussion of issues in the design of formal logical foundation systems suitable for use in machine supported formal derivations of analytic models. The outlines of a proposed system with a roadmap for turning the outline into a specification for implementation.
Positivists have often been antipathetic to metaphysics. Here, however. a positive role for metaphysics is sought. Problems about reality which may not be resolved by the methods of the deductive or empirical sciences are considered. In this domain, the identification of meaningful problems, or of plausible methods is itself an achievement, and is the main purpose of this essay.
A speculation about what the fundamental differences between the philosophies of Rudolf Carnap and Paul Grice might have been had they survived into the twenty first century.
A discussion of methods for the formalisation of Physics.
An interview conducted by Tony Dale with Roger Bishop Jones on mechanised proof.
Mainly about his {\it lingua characteristica} and {\it calculus ratiocinator}.
A description of the specification and proof tool ProofPower.
An exercise in classical (possibly even pre-historic) skepticism. Of necessity this exercise has the character of tentative ideas rendered as sketchy notes. These notes document a retreat in which ideas on the scope for objective ontological knowledge are progressively narrowed. The last ditch in this process is the question of how many things it is logically possible that there might be.
Various set theoretic definitions of the concept of analyticity are presented and their characteristics consdered. It is noted that certain techniques for abstraction prevent defining the synthetic as complementary to the analytic, and the consequences of this problem are explored, leading to new ways of defining analyticity.
The scope of deductive reason is considered. First a connection is discussed between the scope of sound deductive inference and the notion of set theoretic truth via the concepts {\it demonstrative} and {\it analytic}. Then the problem of determining the meaning of set theory and the extension of set theoretic truth is addressed.
An assortment of essays I wrote a long time ago.

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