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  • From: "Laszlo E. Szabo" <leszabo AT>
  • To: mafla <mafla AT>, fizinfo <fizinfo AT>, Multiple recipients of list <koglist AT>
  • Subject: [Fizinfo] PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE SEMINAR, Program - MAY
  • Date: Thu Apr 12 04:59:04 2001
  • List-id: ELFT HRAD <>
  • Organization: Eotvos University

Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Eotvos University
Budapest, Pazmany P. setany 1/A

Program - MAY

7 May 4:00 PM 6th floor 6.54
(Language: English, except all participants speak Hungarian)

K a t a l i n F a r k a s
Philosophy, Central European University, Budapest

The limits of knowledge

This is a critical introduction into the ideas of Timothy Williamson's
Knowledge and its limits
(Oxford Univ. Press, 2000), a book which is considered by many as the
most original and
significant contribution to epistemology in the last few decades.
Working on theories of knowledge has been a flourishing enterprise in
the twentieth
century. Various versions of foundationalism, coherentism, causal
theories, reliabilism,
subjunctive theories, contextualist theories - and no doubt other
theories - have been
defended and criticised with great erudition.
Williamson's book breaks a new path in approaching questions of
knowledge. Here are
some of the main claims of the book:

- knowing is - contrary to what most contemporary theories of knowledge
hold - a
state of mind
- the state of knowing is unanalysable to further constituents - it is,
to use Williamson's
terminology, a prime condition
- hence it is not possible to give necessary and sufficient conditions
for knowing -
Gettierology was a waste of time
- the state of knowing is explanatory in actions just like states of
beliefs and desires are

14 May 4:00 PM 6th floor 6.54
(Language: Hungarian)

P e t e r G n a d i g
Atomic Physics, Eotvos University, Budapest

Ki lehetett volna ,,talalni'' a specialis relativitaselmeletet 50 evvel
Einstein elott?
(Could special relativity have been "figured out" 50 years before

Kozismert, hogy az elektrodinamika torvenyei teljes osszhangban
allnak a specialis relativitaselmelettel, sot, Einstein eppen a ,,mozgo
testek elektrodinamikajabol'' jott ra a ter es ido ujszeru viszonyara.
Meglepo azonban, hogy ezt a kapcsolatot mar az elektrosztatika
(Coulomb-torveny) es az egyenaramok (pl. egy hosszu, egyenes vezeto)
Ampere-fele magneses tere magaban rejti, s ez a kapcsolat elemi
lepesekkel (az eltolasi aramra, vagy az elektromagneses hullamokra valo
hivatkozas nelkul, s felsobb matematikai apparatust mellozve) felszinre
Megfelelo tolteselrendezest valasztva nehany egyszeru lepes utan
eljuthatunk a Lorentz-kontrakciot, az idodilataciot, az egyidejuseg
relativitasat, az altalanos Lorentz-transzformaciot es az
elektromagneses tererossegek transzformacios kepleteit megado
Erdekes tudomanyfilozofiai kerdes, hogy ha mindez ennyire keszen allt

mar az 1800-as evek kozepen, akkor mi volt az a mozzanat, ami egy fel
evszazadon keresztul meg hianyzott a relativitaselmelet
megfogalmazasahoz. Az eloado velemenye szerint, a toltesek
,darabossaganak'' felismeresere, az atomi reszecskek felfedezesere
kellett varni.

21 May4:00 PM 6th floor 6.54
(Language: English, except all participants speak Hungarian)

Panel Discussion

Balázs Gyenis*
Gábor Hofer-Szabó*
György Kampis*
Miklós Rédei*
László E. Szabó*
Péter Szegedi*

Márta Fehér**
* HPS, Eötvös University, Budapest
** Philosophy, Technical University, Budapest

Reichenbach's Common Cause Principle

No correlation without causation. This is, in its most compact and
general formulation, the essence of
what became called the Common Cause Principle (CCP). If two events A
and B are (positively)
correlated, p(A&B)>p(A)p(B), then either there is a causal connection
between A and B that brings about the correlation or there is a third
event C (common cause) that stands in a causal connection with A and B,
and it is this C that causes the correlation, that is,

(1) p(A&B|C)=p(A|C)p(B|C)
(2) p(A&B|notC)=p(A|notC)p(B|notC)
(3) p(A&C)>p(A)p(C)
(4) p(B&C)>p(B)p(C)

A part of the panelists believe that - although some slight
modifications of the original Reichenbachian
conception seem necessary - (1)-(4) express the proper mathematical
formulation of our causal intuition, and are never violated in reality.
Some others argue that Reichenbach's concept of common cause is
completely pointless and does not apply for many correlations in our

Suggested readings:

- H. Reichenbach: The Direction of Time, University of California Press,
Los Angeles,1956, pp.
- G. Hofer-Szabó, M. Rédei and L. E. Szabó: Reichenbach's Common Cause
Principle: Recent
Results and Open Questions, Reports on Philosophy, No. 20. (2001)
- E. Sober: The principle of the common cause, in J. H. Fetzer (ed.),
Probability and Causality,
Reidel Pub. Co., Boston,1988.
- E. Sober: Common cause explanation, Philosophy of Science, 51 (1984)
- N. Cartwright: How to tell a common cause - Generalization of the
conjunctive fork criterion, in J.
H. Fetzer (ed.), Probability and Causality, Reidel Pub. Co.,
- Hofer-Szabó, G., Rédei, M., Szabó, L. E., On Reichenbach's common
cause principle and
Reichenbach's notion of common cause, The British Journal for the
Philosophy of Science, 50
(1999), 377-399.

28 May 4:00 PM 6th floor 6.54
(Language: English, except all participants speak Hungarian)

M a r t a U j v a r i
Philosophy, Budapest University of Economic Sciences

Time, Tense and the 'Indexical Fallacy' in McTaggart's Argument

The tenser-detenser debate has got impetus from the new indexical,
token reflexive analysis of tensed
language which renders the truth conditions of tensed sentences in
tenseless terms. According to
detensers like Mellor and Poidevin what Taggart's argument shows is
that the A-series account of time is a misconstrual leading to regress.
Tenser E.J. Lowe, however, argues that the A-regress cannot even have a
start since it rests on the indexical fallacy of using compound tenses.
His claim, roughly, is that temporal indexicals just like any other
indexicals cannot be iterated without violating the contextual
constraints on the use, as opposed to the mention, of indexicals.
Further, Lowe claims that extending Taggart's fallacious argument to
space and personality one could equally argue for the irreality of
places and persons.
I will show that Lowe's argument is incoherent. When introducing the
indexical fallacy he makes appeal
to the analogy between temporal and other indexicals. But when he
defends the tensed view he makes
appeal to Taggart's first two premises ( 1. time involves change
essentially; 2.change can be explained
only in terms of the A-series) which invite a disanalogy between
temporal and other indexicals. So, the
indexical fallacy cannot be repeated, pace Lowe, for space and person
within the context of
McTaggart's argument. Consequently, the threat of the irreality of
places and persons does not arise
along taggartian lines.
The other conclusion with broader implications is that even the
indexical analysis shows the specific
metaphysical character of time in consonance with the metaphysical

The organizer of the seminar: László E. Szabó

Laszlo E. Szabo
Department of Theoretical Physics
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Eotvos University, Budapest
H-1518 Budapest, Pf. 32, Hungary
Phone/Fax: (36-1)372-2924
Home: (36-1) 200-7318
Mobil/SMS: (36) 20-366-1172

  • [Fizinfo] PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE SEMINAR, Program - MAY, Laszlo E. Szabo, 04/12/2001

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