Ineffective Searches

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This is post #1025 for this blog, and I wanted to take the opportunity to say something of very little consequence that bothers me far more than it's worth. Occasionally I wonder what people might be searching for when they turn up my site. Sometimes I feel sorry that they didn't find what they were looking for. Sometimes I take great delight in the fact that they get this post when searching for something about moms having sex with their daughters (and this happens at least a few times a day, sometimes much more frequently). Sometimes the way a search is phrased, I can tell they're looking for confirmation of some controversial claim that I can't imagine any motivation to search for that isn't thoroughly immoral, e.g. the person who searched early this morning for vocabulary level of people who are against affirmative action. It saddens me that someone would even search for something like that, because the assumption seems to me to stem from complete idiocy, but I hope the person learned that the affirmative action issue isn't as clear-cut as they originally assumed, since it led to one of the most balanced posts I've written on the subject.

Sometimes, however, it just seems obvious to me that they should know better than to search for something. Sometimes there's just nothing to be found, because the nature of what they're searching for is such that there's no information on it. I got a hit from the following AOL search last night: john locke's view on gay marriage. I'm sure such a search might provide lots of nice information on the gay marriage debate, perhaps with some helpful principles from John Locke, who was a pretty good political philosopher (even though I think he was downright awful at metaphysics and not that great at epistemology, both of which he helped send in entirely the wrong direction for hundreds of years, despite Leibniz's attempts to retain the advances of the medievals that we've only in the last forty years recovered, e.g. their advanced modal logic and the de re/de dicto distinction that showed what was wrong with anti-essentialist arguments from Locke to Quine, all of which were in Leibniz's criticisms of Locke and which he'd gotten from the medievals).

Whatever you think of Locke's work, I don't see how it's even possible to find information about his view on gay marriage, at least not without also being able to discover what he thought about the United Nations or special relativity.

4 Comments

Modal logic? That one was new so I had to look it up. I found a Standford site that explained that. What is advanced modal logic? I see there is a book out on the subject but I also see it is written in German.

I'm not looking for anything time consumming.

Modal logic is the logic of necessity and possibility. In contemporary times, it uses boxes and diamonds for the necessity and possibility operators (or occasionally some holdovers use L and P) and then talks about which sentences are possibly true or necessarily true and how those relate to each other. The advanced stuff gets pretty complicated, but it involves models of possible worlds and which worlds are closer worlds in terms of being nore like the actual world.

De dicto modality is which sentences are possible or necessary taken as sentences, and de re modality is about which properties are essential or impossible for a given thing. It's about whether the necessity or possibility operators range over the whole sentence or just a smaller part of it, which can be ambiguous in sentences in natural language:

A. If God knows p, then p must be true.
B. Necessarily: If God knows p, then p.
C. If God knows p, then necessarily p.

The first is ambiguous between B and C. Essential omniscience implies B but not C. This is one place where bringing modal logic from the medieval period dealt with a pretty lame argument about God's foreknowledge. More sophisticated arguments have come in, but that one was a howler, and the medievals knew it, but the top philosophers of the first half of the 20th century all thought it was a brilliant argument until Plantinga came along with God and Other Minds in the late 60s.

Maybe he was searching for the John Locke character on the TV show Lost, although they haven't done anythng on gsys or gay marriage.

Sherry, Being a LOST fan and one who enjoys studying philosophy, I considered which one they were thinking about; it seems someone trying to think about a logical reason for supporting gay marriage would look for the philosopher but someone seeking LOST fan-fiction might have read or written something on that topic. Of course neither the philosopher nor the actual ABC-TV version of LOST's character John Locke have dealt with this character so far.

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