By Jérôme Dokic
Regardless of his tragic loss of life on the age of 26, Frank Ramsey (1903 - 1930) continues to be probably the most fascinating minds of the 20th century. His idea had a profound impression on either Ludwig Wittgenstein and Bertrand Russell, and lots of strands of up to date analytic philosophy locate their foundation in Ramsey's rules. Frank Ramsey: fact and luck presents a much-needed creation to the paintings of this undervalued philosopher, and makes an incredible and profound contribution to our figuring out of Ramsey's paintings and his position in 20th century philosophy. will probably be of curiosity to all scholars of good judgment, metaphysics and the background of philosophy.
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Extra info for Frank Ramsey: Truth and Success
20 The link between Ramsey’s conception of theories and his own dispositional-functional conception of beliefs and desires as defined by their causes and their effects, thus becomes clear, even if Ramsey himself did not pretend, unlike Lewis, to use this definition in order to reduce mental states to physical states, in the materialist fashion. The scope of the Ramseyan instrumentalistic procedure is not limited to psychology. It has been used in a number of other areas. 21 In a quite different context, meta-ethics, Frank Jackson and Philip Pettit (1995) have defended a “moral functionalism” according to which our folk moral 37 R E A L I S M A N D P RA G M AT I S M vocabulary is implicitly defined by a set of platitudes which one could arrange in a network described by a Ramsey sentence.
Another difficulty is that the last occurrence of “p” in the paraphrase above must express a well-formed sentence containing a verb, and that we have to reintroduce “is true” for the sentence to be correct, thus losing any benefit of eliminating it. Elsewhere Ramsey suggests that in order to remove the ambiguity introduced by his paraphrase between variables in nominal position (first occurrence of p in (1)) and in sentence position (last occurrence of p in (1)), we should consider these variables as pronouns, as in “If John loves Mary, then he wants to date her”.
It is a familiar fact that the very distinction between laws and accidental generalisations has to be formulated in terms or counterfactual conditionals. For instance the law “Sugar dissolves in water” supports the counterfactual “If this lump of sugar had been put into water it would have dissolved”, whereas “All the people in this room are red-haired” supports no counterfactual such as “If you had been in this room you would have been red-haired. As we saw, many of our causal beliefs, as well as our changes of beliefs, have a conditional form, when we envisage the conditional probability of q given p.
Frank Ramsey: Truth and Success by Jérôme Dokic