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Philosophers

Mortimer Adler
Rogers Albritton
Alexander of Aphrodisias
Samuel Alexander
William Alston
Anaximander
G.E.M.Anscombe
Anselm
Louise Antony
Thomas Aquinas
Aristotle
David Armstrong
Harald Atmanspacher
Robert Audi
Augustine
J.L.Austin
A.J.Ayer
Alexander Bain
Mark Balaguer
Jeffrey Barrett
William Belsham
Henri Bergson
George Berkeley
Isaiah Berlin
Richard J. Bernstein
Bernard Berofsky
Robert Bishop
Max Black
Susanne Bobzien
Emil du Bois-Reymond
Hilary Bok
Laurence BonJour
George Boole
Émile Boutroux
F.H.Bradley
C.D.Broad
Michael Burke
C.A.Campbell
Joseph Keim Campbell
Rudolf Carnap
Carneades
Ernst Cassirer
David Chalmers
Roderick Chisholm
Chrysippus
Cicero
Randolph Clarke
Samuel Clarke
Anthony Collins
Antonella Corradini
Diodorus Cronus
Jonathan Dancy
Donald Davidson
Mario De Caro
Democritus
Daniel Dennett
Jacques Derrida
René Descartes
Richard Double
Fred Dretske
John Dupré
John Earman
Laura Waddell Ekstrom
Epictetus
Epicurus
Herbert Feigl
John Martin Fischer
Owen Flanagan
Luciano Floridi
Philippa Foot
Alfred Fouilleé
Harry Frankfurt
Richard L. Franklin
Michael Frede
Gottlob Frege
Peter Geach
Edmund Gettier
Carl Ginet
Alvin Goldman
Gorgias
Nicholas St. John Green
H.Paul Grice
Ian Hacking
Ishtiyaque Haji
Stuart Hampshire
W.F.R.Hardie
Sam Harris
William Hasker
R.M.Hare
Georg W.F. Hegel
Martin Heidegger
Heraclitus
R.E.Hobart
Thomas Hobbes
David Hodgson
Shadsworth Hodgson
Baron d'Holbach
Ted Honderich
Pamela Huby
David Hume
Ferenc Huoranszki
William James
Lord Kames
Robert Kane
Immanuel Kant
Tomis Kapitan
Jaegwon Kim
William King
Hilary Kornblith
Christine Korsgaard
Saul Kripke
Andrea Lavazza
Keith Lehrer
Gottfried Leibniz
Leucippus
Michael Levin
George Henry Lewes
C.I.Lewis
David Lewis
Peter Lipton
C. Lloyd Morgan
John Locke
Michael Lockwood
E. Jonathan Lowe
John R. Lucas
Lucretius
Alasdair MacIntyre
Ruth Barcan Marcus
James Martineau
Storrs McCall
Hugh McCann
Colin McGinn
Michael McKenna
Brian McLaughlin
John McTaggart
Paul E. Meehl
Uwe Meixner
Alfred Mele
Trenton Merricks
John Stuart Mill
Dickinson Miller
G.E.Moore
Thomas Nagel
Friedrich Nietzsche
John Norton
P.H.Nowell-Smith
Robert Nozick
William of Ockham
Timothy O'Connor
Parmenides
David F. Pears
Charles Sanders Peirce
Derk Pereboom
Steven Pinker
Plato
Karl Popper
Porphyry
Huw Price
H.A.Prichard
Protagoras
Hilary Putnam
Willard van Orman Quine
Frank Ramsey
Ayn Rand
Michael Rea
Thomas Reid
Charles Renouvier
Nicholas Rescher
C.W.Rietdijk
Richard Rorty
Josiah Royce
Bertrand Russell
Paul Russell
Gilbert Ryle
Jean-Paul Sartre
Kenneth Sayre
T.M.Scanlon
Moritz Schlick
Arthur Schopenhauer
John Searle
Wilfrid Sellars
Alan Sidelle
Ted Sider
Henry Sidgwick
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
J.J.C.Smart
Saul Smilansky
Michael Smith
Baruch Spinoza
L. Susan Stebbing
Isabelle Stengers
George F. Stout
Galen Strawson
Peter Strawson
Eleonore Stump
Francisco Suárez
Richard Taylor
Kevin Timpe
Mark Twain
Peter Unger
Peter van Inwagen
Manuel Vargas
John Venn
Kadri Vihvelin
Voltaire
G.H. von Wright
David Foster Wallace
R. Jay Wallace
W.G.Ward
Ted Warfield
Roy Weatherford
William Whewell
Alfred North Whitehead
David Widerker
David Wiggins
Bernard Williams
Timothy Williamson
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Susan Wolf

Scientists

Michael Arbib
Bernard Baars
Gregory Bateson
John S. Bell
Charles Bennett
Ludwig von Bertalanffy
Susan Blackmore
Margaret Boden
David Bohm
Niels Bohr
Ludwig Boltzmann
Emile Borel
Max Born
Satyendra Nath Bose
Walther Bothe
Hans Briegel
Leon Brillouin
Stephen Brush
Henry Thomas Buckle
S. H. Burbury
Donald Campbell
Anthony Cashmore
Eric Chaisson
Jean-Pierre Changeux
Arthur Holly Compton
John Conway
John Cramer
E. P. Culverwell
Charles Darwin
Terrence Deacon
Louis de Broglie
Max Delbrück
Abraham de Moivre
Paul Dirac
Hans Driesch
John Eccles
Arthur Stanley Eddington
Paul Ehrenfest
Albert Einstein
Hugh Everett, III
Franz Exner
Richard Feynman
R. A. Fisher
Joseph Fourier
Lila Gatlin
Michael Gazzaniga
GianCarlo Ghirardi
J. Willard Gibbs
Nicolas Gisin
Paul Glimcher
Thomas Gold
A.O.Gomes
Brian Goodwin
Joshua Greene
Jacques Hadamard
Patrick Haggard
Stuart Hameroff
Augustin Hamon
Sam Harris
Hyman Hartman
John-Dylan Haynes
Martin Heisenberg
Werner Heisenberg
John Herschel
Jesper Hoffmeyer
E. T. Jaynes
William Stanley Jevons
Roman Jakobson
Pascual Jordan
Ruth E. Kastner
Stuart Kauffman
Martin J. Klein
Simon Kochen
Stephen Kosslyn
Ladislav Kovàč
Rolf Landauer
Alfred Landé
Pierre-Simon Laplace
David Layzer
Benjamin Libet
Seth Lloyd
Hendrik Lorentz
Josef Loschmidt
Ernst Mach
Donald MacKay
Henry Margenau
James Clerk Maxwell
Ernst Mayr
Ulrich Mohrhoff
Jacques Monod
Emmy Noether
Abraham Pais
Howard Pattee
Wolfgang Pauli
Massimo Pauri
Roger Penrose
Steven Pinker
Colin Pittendrigh
Max Planck
Susan Pockett
Henri Poincaré
Daniel Pollen
Ilya Prigogine
Hans Primas
Adolphe Quételet
Juan Roederer
Jerome Rothstein
David Ruelle
Erwin Schrödinger
Aaron Schurger
Claude Shannon
David Shiang
Herbert Simon
Dean Keith Simonton
B. F. Skinner
Roger Sperry
John Stachel
Henry Stapp
Tom Stonier
Antoine Suarez
Leo Szilard
William Thomson (Kelvin)
Peter Tse
Heinz von Foerster
John von Neumann
John B. Watson
Daniel Wegner
Steven Weinberg
Paul A. Weiss
John Wheeler
Wilhelm Wien
Norbert Wiener
Eugene Wigner
E. O. Wilson
H. Dieter Zeh
Ernst Zermelo
Wojciech Zurek

Presentations

Biosemiotics
Free Will
Mental Causation
James Symposium
 
Max Black

In information philosophy, only a unique individual has exactly the same information as itself.
Max Black was an analytic language philosopher who worked with Peter Geach to translate the philosophical writings of Gottlob Frege. Both Geach and Black were taken by the question of what constitutes identity.

Black wrote a somewhat cryptic dialogue between A and B, perhaps ironically questioning whether A can ever be said to be identical with any B? They cannot, because A always has the property of being A, of being itself, which can never be true of B, while being B.

They can, however, be identical with respect to their intrinsic internal information, which neglects the extrinsic properties

This requires ignoring the object’s position in space and time, which is the only remaining distinction between the two spheres in Black’s construct of identical spheres in otherwise empty space.

A. The principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles seems to me obviously true. And I don't see how we are going to define identity or establish the connexion between mathematics and logic without using it.

B. It seems to me obviously false. And your troubles as a mathematical logician are beside the point. If the principle is false you have no right to use it.

A. You simply say it's false - and even if you said so three times that wouldn't make it so.

B. Well, you haven't done anything more yourself than assert the principle to be true. As Bradley once said, "assertion can demand no more than counter-assertion; and what is affirmed on the one side, we on the other can simply deny ".

A. How will this do for an argument? If two things, a and b, are given, the first has the property of being identical with a. Now b cannot have this property, for else b would be a, and we should have only one thing, not two as assumed. Hence a has at least one property, which b does not have, that is to say the property of being identical with a.

B. This is a roundabout way of saying nothing, for "a has the property of being identical with a" means no more than "a is a" When you begin to say " a is . . . " I am supposed to know what thing you are referring to as 'a' and I expect to be told something about that thing. But when you end the sentence with the words " . . . is a " I am left still waiting. The sentence "a is a" is a useless tautology.

A. Are you as scornful about difference as about identity? For a also has, and b does not have, the property of being different from b. This is a second property that the one thing has but not the other.

B. All you are saying is that b is different from a. I think the form of words "a is different from b" does have the advantage over "a is a" that it might be used to give information. I might learn from hearing it used that 'a' and 'b' were applied to different things. But this is not what you want to say, since you are trying to use the names, not mention them. When I already know what 'a' and 'b' stand for, "a is different from b" tells me nothing. It, too, is a useless tautology.

Black's paper was titled The Identity of Indiscernibles, taken from Leibniz's Law, which also has a converse or contrapositive as the Indiscernibility of Identicals.

The Indiscernibility of Identicals can be described as "for every x and for every y, if x is identical to y, then every property F that is possessed by x is also possessed by y, and every property F that is possessed by y is also possessed by x" or in symbolic logic, (x)(y) [x=y → (F)(Fx ↔ Fy)]. Note that given two truly identical things, by definition there can be no discernible differences between them. The Indiscernibility of Identicals may be simply an ideal concept, unrealizable for two distinct material objects.

Black's version (the identity of indiscernibles) may be described as "for every x and for every y, if every property F that is possessed by x is also possessed by y, and every property F that is possessed by y is also possessed by x, then x is identical to y." Again, in symbolic logic terms, (x)(y) [(F )(Fx ↔ Fy) → x=y].

Black's basic argument is if two things were identical, then they would be only one thing, and not two. This is correct in information philosophy. Only a unique individual has exactly the same information as itself.

If we say a is identical to b, Black says that we are using two different names to refer to the same thing. (Cf., the "Hesperus is Phosphorus" example from Frege) If a and b are merely two different names for the same thing, then when we say that "a is identical to b," we are merely saying that "a is a," which is a tautology. According to Black, the idea is trivial that "If there is no difference between a and b, then they are the same."

Black imagines a universe consisting of just two things, two exactly similar perfect spheres. These two spheres could share the same properties and still not be the same, (because they have different dispositional properties, they are in two different places) challenging the identity of indiscernibles.

What we have in Black's simple case of two similar spheres is what Peter Geach and David Wiggins call "relative identity."

Frege Translation
In 1948, Black translated the classic Frege work "Sinn und Bedeutung" as "Sense and Reference," thus establishing the term "reference," where John Stuart Mill and Bertrand Russell had used "denotation." Denotation and connotation nicely fit the difference between naming and meaning. Black also mistranslated Gleichheit ("Sameness") as "Identity." Frege said in a footnote that he was using Gleichheit "in the sense of Identität, but Black changed the footnote, saying Frege used the word "strictly," adding to the confusion.

See our bilingual version of Sinn und Bedeutung

References
Black, M. (1952). The identity of indiscernibles. Mind, 61(242), 153-164.
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