Eddington's Two Tables   2016  JPG  "There are duplicates of every object about me — two tables, two chairs, two pens. [...] One of them has been familiar to me from earliest years. It is a commonplace object of that environment which I call the world. How shall I describe it? It has extension; it is comparatively permanent; it is coloured; above all it is  substantial .   [...]. Table No. 2 is my scientific table, [which] is mostly emptiness. Sparsely scattered in that emptiness are numerous electric charges rushing about with great speed; but their combined bulk amounts to less than a billionth of the bulk of the table itself. [...] There is nothing  substantial  about my second table. It is nearly all empty space." - Arthur Stanley Eddington,  The Nature of the Physical World ,   1929

Eddington's Two Tables

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"There are duplicates of every object about me — two tables, two chairs, two pens. [...] One of them has been familiar to me from earliest years. It is a commonplace object of that environment which I call the world. How shall I describe it? It has extension; it is comparatively permanent; it is coloured; above all it is substantial. [...]. Table No. 2 is my scientific table, [which] is mostly emptiness. Sparsely scattered in that emptiness are numerous electric charges rushing about with great speed; but their combined bulk amounts to less than a billionth of the bulk of the table itself. [...] There is nothing substantial about my second table. It is nearly all empty space." - Arthur Stanley Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World, 1929

  Harman's Third Table   2016  JPG  "The real table is in fact a third table lying between these two others. And if Eddington's two tables provided the moral support for Snow's two cultures of scientists and humanists, our third table will probably require a third culture completely different from these two. This is not to say that the third culture is a completely, new one: perhaps it is the culture of the arts, which do not seem to reduce tables either to quarks and electrons or to table-effects on humans." - Graham Harman,  The Third Table , 2012

Harman's Third Table

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"The real table is in fact a third table lying between these two others. And if Eddington's two tables provided the moral support for Snow's two cultures of scientists and humanists, our third table will probably require a third culture completely different from these two. This is not to say that the third culture is a completely, new one: perhaps it is the culture of the arts, which do not seem to reduce tables either to quarks and electrons or to table-effects on humans." - Graham Harman, The Third Table, 2012

  Plato's Three Beds   2016  JPG  "Here are three beds: one existing in nature, which is made by God, as I think that we may say --for no one else can be. [...] There is another which is the work of the carpenter. [...] And the work of the painter is a third." - Plato,  The Republic , 360 B.C.E.

Plato's Three Beds

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"Here are three beds: one existing in nature, which is made by God, as I think that we may say --for no one else can be. [...] There is another which is the work of the carpenter. [...] And the work of the painter is a third." - Plato, The Republic, 360 B.C.E.

  Machery's Chair   2016  JPG  "If I judge of an object that it is a chair, my judgment that it is a chair is evidence that it is a chair because I am reliable at sorting chairs from nonchairs." Edouard Machery, "Thought Experiments and Philosophical Knowledge", 2011

Machery's Chair

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"If I judge of an object that it is a chair, my judgment that it is a chair is evidence that it is a chair because I am reliable at sorting chairs from nonchairs." Edouard Machery, "Thought Experiments and Philosophical Knowledge", 2011

  Searle's Chinese Room   2016  JPG  "Suppose that I'm locked in a room and given a large batch of Chinese writing. Suppose [...] that I know no Chinese, either written or spoken [...] Suppose further that after this first batch of Chinese writing I am given a second batch of Chinese script together with a set of rules for correlating the second batch with the first. [...]. They enable me to correlate one set of formal symbols with another set [...]. Suppose also that I am given a third batch of Chinese symbols together with some instructions [...] that enable me to correlate elements of this third batch with the first two batches, and these rules instruct me how to give back certain Chinese symbols [in response]." - John Searle, "Minds, Brains, and Programs", 1980

Searle's Chinese Room

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"Suppose that I'm locked in a room and given a large batch of Chinese writing. Suppose [...] that I know no Chinese, either written or spoken [...] Suppose further that after this first batch of Chinese writing I am given a second batch of Chinese script together with a set of rules for correlating the second batch with the first. [...]. They enable me to correlate one set of formal symbols with another set [...]. Suppose also that I am given a third batch of Chinese symbols together with some instructions [...] that enable me to correlate elements of this third batch with the first two batches, and these rules instruct me how to give back certain Chinese symbols [in response]." - John Searle, "Minds, Brains, and Programs", 1980

  Read's Pencil   2016  JPG  "I am a lead pencil—the ordinary wooden pencil familiar to all boys and girls and adults who can read and write. Writing is both my vocation and my avocation; that's all I do." - Leonard Read, "I, Pencil: My Family Tree as Told to Leonard E. Read", 1958

Read's Pencil

2016

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"I am a lead pencil—the ordinary wooden pencil familiar to all boys and girls and adults who can read and write. Writing is both my vocation and my avocation; that's all I do." - Leonard Read, "I, Pencil: My Family Tree as Told to Leonard E. Read", 1958

  Thomson's Violinist   2016  JPG  "You wake up in the morning and find yourself back to back in bed with an unconscious violinist. A famous unconscious violinist. He has been found to have a fatal kidney ailment, and the Society of Music Lovers has canvassed all the available medical records and found that you alone have the right blood type to help. They have therefore kidnapped you, and last night the violinist's circulatory system was plugged into yours, so that your kidneys can be used to extract poisons from his blood as well as your own. [If he is unplugged from you now, he will die; but] in nine months he will have recovered from his ailment, and can safely be unplugged from you." - Judith Jarvis Thomson, "A Defense of Abortion," 1971

Thomson's Violinist

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"You wake up in the morning and find yourself back to back in bed with an unconscious violinist. A famous unconscious violinist. He has been found to have a fatal kidney ailment, and the Society of Music Lovers has canvassed all the available medical records and found that you alone have the right blood type to help. They have therefore kidnapped you, and last night the violinist's circulatory system was plugged into yours, so that your kidneys can be used to extract poisons from his blood as well as your own. [If he is unplugged from you now, he will die; but] in nine months he will have recovered from his ailment, and can safely be unplugged from you." - Judith Jarvis Thomson, "A Defense of Abortion," 1971

  Goldman's Book of Life   2016  JPG  "While browsing through the library one day, I noticed an old dusty tome, quite large, entitled “Alvin I. Goldman.” I take it from the shelf and start reading. In great detail, it described my life as a little boy. It always gibes with my memory and sometimes even revives my memory of forgotten events. I realize that this purports to be a book of my life.” - Alvin I. Goldman, "The Book of Life: A Thought Experiment", 1968

Goldman's Book of Life

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"While browsing through the library one day, I noticed an old dusty tome, quite large, entitled “Alvin I. Goldman.” I take it from the shelf and start reading. In great detail, it described my life as a little boy. It always gibes with my memory and sometimes even revives my memory of forgotten events. I realize that this purports to be a book of my life.” - Alvin I. Goldman, "The Book of Life: A Thought Experiment", 1968

  Eubulides' Sorites Paradox   2016  JPG  Imagine a heap of sand. Now imagine removing one grain. Is it still a heap? Imagine repeating this process until there is one grain of sand left. Is a single grain of sand a heap? If not, at what point did the heap change into a non-heap? The Sorites Paradox is attributed to Eubulides, who lived in the 4th century B.C.E.

Eubulides' Sorites Paradox

2016

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Imagine a heap of sand. Now imagine removing one grain. Is it still a heap? Imagine repeating this process until there is one grain of sand left. Is a single grain of sand a heap? If not, at what point did the heap change into a non-heap? The Sorites Paradox is attributed to Eubulides, who lived in the 4th century B.C.E.

  Plato's Equal Portions   2016  JPG  "What would you say of equal portions of wood and stone, or other material equals? And what is the impression produced by them? Are they equals in the same sense as absolute equality? Or do they fall short of this in a measure?" - Plato,  Phaedo , c. 380 B.C.E.

Plato's Equal Portions

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"What would you say of equal portions of wood and stone, or other material equals? And what is the impression produced by them? Are they equals in the same sense as absolute equality? Or do they fall short of this in a measure?" - Plato, Phaedo, c. 380 B.C.E.

  Leibniz's Identity of Indiscernibles   2016  JPG  "It is never true that two substances are entirely alike, differing only in being two rather than one." - Wilhelm Gottfried Leibniz,  Discourse on Metaphysics,  1686

Leibniz's Identity of Indiscernibles

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"It is never true that two substances are entirely alike, differing only in being two rather than one." - Wilhelm Gottfried Leibniz, Discourse on Metaphysics, 1686

  Molyneux's Problem   2016  JPG  "Suppose a man born blind, and now adult, and taught by this touch to distinguish between a cube and a sphere of the same metal, and nightly of the same bigness, so as to tell, when he felt one and the other, which is the cube, which is the sphere. Suppose then the cube and the sphere placed on a table, and the blind man made to see: query, Where by his sign, before he touched them, he could now distinguish and tell which is the sphere, which the cube?" - William Molyneux, letter to John Locke, 1693

Molyneux's Problem

2016

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"Suppose a man born blind, and now adult, and taught by this touch to distinguish between a cube and a sphere of the same metal, and nightly of the same bigness, so as to tell, when he felt one and the other, which is the cube, which is the sphere. Suppose then the cube and the sphere placed on a table, and the blind man made to see: query, Where by his sign, before he touched them, he could now distinguish and tell which is the sphere, which the cube?" - William Molyneux, letter to John Locke, 1693

  Newcomb's Paradox   2016  JPG  "Suppose a being [offers you] two boxes, (B1) and (B2). (B1) contains $1,000. (B2) contains either $1,000,000 ($M), or nothing. [...] You have a choice between two actions: (1) taking what is in both boxes (2) taking only what is in the second box. Furthermore [...] (I) If the being predicts you will take what is in both boxes, he does not put the $M in the second box. (II) If the being predicts you will take only what is in the second box, he does put the $M in the second box. [...] First the being makes his prediction. Then it puts the $M in the second box, or does not, depending upon what it has predicted. Then you make your choice. What do you do? - Robert Zozick explaining William Newcomb's thought experiment in "Newcomb's Problem and Two Principles of Choice", 1969

Newcomb's Paradox

2016

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"Suppose a being [offers you] two boxes, (B1) and (B2). (B1) contains $1,000. (B2) contains either $1,000,000 ($M), or nothing. [...] You have a choice between two actions: (1) taking what is in both boxes (2) taking only what is in the second box. Furthermore [...] (I) If the being predicts you will take what is in both boxes, he does not put the $M in the second box. (II) If the being predicts you will take only what is in the second box, he does put the $M in the second box. [...] First the being makes his prediction. Then it puts the $M in the second box, or does not, depending upon what it has predicted. Then you make your choice. What do you do? - Robert Zozick explaining William Newcomb's thought experiment in "Newcomb's Problem and Two Principles of Choice", 1969

  Wittgenstein's Beetle in a Box   2016  JPG  "Suppose everyone had a box with something in it: we call it a "beetle." No one can look into anyone else's box, and everyone says he knows what a beetle is only by looking at his beetle. Here it would be quite possible for everyone to have something different in his box. One might even imagine such a thing constantly changing. But suppose the word "beetle" had a use in these people's language? If so it would not be used as the name of a thing. The thing in the box has no place in the language-game at all; not even as a something: for the box might even be empty." - Ludwig Wittgenstein,   Philosophical Investigations, 1953

Wittgenstein's Beetle in a Box

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"Suppose everyone had a box with something in it: we call it a "beetle." No one can look into anyone else's box, and everyone says he knows what a beetle is only by looking at his beetle. Here it would be quite possible for everyone to have something different in his box. One might even imagine such a thing constantly changing. But suppose the word "beetle" had a use in these people's language? If so it would not be used as the name of a thing. The thing in the box has no place in the language-game at all; not even as a something: for the box might even be empty." - Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 1953

  Putnam's Twin Earth   2016  JPG  "Suppose that somewhere in the galaxy there is a planet we shall call Twin Earth [that] apart from the differences we shall specify [...] is exactly like earth. [...] One of the peculiarities of Twin Earth is that the liquid called "water" is not H2O but a different liquid whose chemical formula [...] I shall abbreviate [...] as XYZ. I shall suppose that XYZ is indistinguishable from water at normal temperatures and pressures. In particular, it tastes like water and it quenches thirst like water. Also, I shall suppose that the oceans and lakes and seas of Twin Earth contain XYZ and not water, that it rains XYZ on Twin Earth and not water, etc." - Hilary Putnam, "The Meaning of Meaning", 1975

Putnam's Twin Earth

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"Suppose that somewhere in the galaxy there is a planet we shall call Twin Earth [that] apart from the differences we shall specify [...] is exactly like earth. [...] One of the peculiarities of Twin Earth is that the liquid called "water" is not H2O but a different liquid whose chemical formula [...] I shall abbreviate [...] as XYZ. I shall suppose that XYZ is indistinguishable from water at normal temperatures and pressures. In particular, it tastes like water and it quenches thirst like water. Also, I shall suppose that the oceans and lakes and seas of Twin Earth contain XYZ and not water, that it rains XYZ on Twin Earth and not water, etc." - Hilary Putnam, "The Meaning of Meaning", 1975

  Locke's Inverted Spectrum   2016  JPG  "Simple ideas wouldn’t be convicted of falsity if through the different structure of our sense-organs it happened that one object produced in different men’s minds different ideas at the same time—for example, if the idea that a violet produced in one man’s mind by his eyes were what a marigold produced in another man’s, and vice versa." - John Locke,  An Essay Concerning Human Understanding,  1689

Locke's Inverted Spectrum

2016

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"Simple ideas wouldn’t be convicted of falsity if through the different structure of our sense-organs it happened that one object produced in different men’s minds different ideas at the same time—for example, if the idea that a violet produced in one man’s mind by his eyes were what a marigold produced in another man’s, and vice versa." - John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, 1689

  Al-Ghazali's Dates   2016  JPG  "Suppose two similar dates in front of a man, who has a strong desire for them but who is unable to take them both. Surely he will take one of them, through a quality in him, the nature of which is to differentiate between two similar things." - Abu Hamid al-Ghazali,  The Incoherence of the Philosophers,  c. 1100

Al-Ghazali's Dates

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"Suppose two similar dates in front of a man, who has a strong desire for them but who is unable to take them both. Surely he will take one of them, through a quality in him, the nature of which is to differentiate between two similar things." - Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, The Incoherence of the Philosophers, c. 1100

  Jackson's Fred   2016  JPG  "People vary considerably in their ability to discriminate colours. Suppose that in an experiment to catalogue this variation Fred is discovered. Fred has better colour vision than anyone else on record; he makes every discrimination that anyone has ever made, and moreover he makes one that we cannot even begin to make. Show him a batch of ripe tomatoes and he sorts them into two roughly equal groups and does so with complete consistency." - Frank Jackson, "Epiphenomenal Qualia", 1982

Jackson's Fred

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"People vary considerably in their ability to discriminate colours. Suppose that in an experiment to catalogue this variation Fred is discovered. Fred has better colour vision than anyone else on record; he makes every discrimination that anyone has ever made, and moreover he makes one that we cannot even begin to make. Show him a batch of ripe tomatoes and he sorts them into two roughly equal groups and does so with complete consistency." - Frank Jackson, "Epiphenomenal Qualia", 1982

  Pascal's Wager   2016  JPG  "Belief is a wise wager. Granted that faith cannot be proved, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its truth and it proves false? If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation, that He exists. [...] A coin is being spun which will come down heads or tails. How will you wager? Reason cannot make you choose either, reason cannot prove either wrong." - Blaise Pascal,  Thoughts , 1670

Pascal's Wager

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"Belief is a wise wager. Granted that faith cannot be proved, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its truth and it proves false? If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation, that He exists. [...] A coin is being spun which will come down heads or tails. How will you wager? Reason cannot make you choose either, reason cannot prove either wrong." - Blaise Pascal, Thoughts, 1670

  Danto's Paintings   2016  JPG  "So next to [a painting of "a square of red paint"] let us place another, exactly like it. [...] And let us, in this vein, imagine a whole set of red rectangles, one next to the other. Beside these two, and resembling each as much as they resemble one another (exactly). [...] Finally, I shall place a surface painted, though not  grounded , in red lead [...] [that] is not a work of art [...]: it is just a thing, with paint upon it." - Arthur C. Danto,  The Transfiguration of the Commonplace , 1981

Danto's Paintings

2016

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"So next to [a painting of "a square of red paint"] let us place another, exactly like it. [...] And let us, in this vein, imagine a whole set of red rectangles, one next to the other. Beside these two, and resembling each as much as they resemble one another (exactly). [...] Finally, I shall place a surface painted, though not grounded, in red lead [...] [that] is not a work of art [...]: it is just a thing, with paint upon it." - Arthur C. Danto, The Transfiguration of the Commonplace, 1981

  Plutarch's Ship of Theseus   2016  JPG  "The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned from Crete had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their places, in so much that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same." - Plutarch,  Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans , 1517

Plutarch's Ship of Theseus

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"The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned from Crete had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their places, in so much that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same." - Plutarch, Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans, 1517

  Kant's Hand   2016  JPG  "We cannot describe the distinction in a given space between things which lie towards one quarter, and things which are turned towards the opposite quarter. Thus if we take solids which are completely equal and similar but incongruent, such as the right and left hands [...] although in every respect which admits of being stated in terms intelligible to the mind through a verbal description they can be substituted for one another, there is yet a diversity which makes it impossible for their boundaries to coincide." - Immanual Kant, "Sensible and Understandable Form and Principles", 1770

Kant's Hand

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"We cannot describe the distinction in a given space between things which lie towards one quarter, and things which are turned towards the opposite quarter. Thus if we take solids which are completely equal and similar but incongruent, such as the right and left hands [...] although in every respect which admits of being stated in terms intelligible to the mind through a verbal description they can be substituted for one another, there is yet a diversity which makes it impossible for their boundaries to coincide." - Immanual Kant, "Sensible and Understandable Form and Principles", 1770

  Locke's Sock   2016  JPG  "It is commonly believed that Locke posed a question regarding how many repairs he could make to one of his socks before it somehow ceased to be the original sock." - Martin Cohen in his 2010 book,  Philosophy for Dummies , explaining the apocryphal story that John Locke created a thought experiment about his sock.

Locke's Sock

2016

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"It is commonly believed that Locke posed a question regarding how many repairs he could make to one of his socks before it somehow ceased to be the original sock." - Martin Cohen in his 2010 book, Philosophy for Dummies, explaining the apocryphal story that John Locke created a thought experiment about his sock.

  Yudkowsky's Pascal's Mugging   2016  JPG  "A compactly specified wager can grow in size  much  faster than it grows in complexity. [...] Suppose someone comes to me and says, "Give me five dollars, or I'll use my magic powers from outside the Matrix to run a Turing machine that simulates and kills 3^^^^3 people." Call this Pascal's Mugging." - Eliezer Yudkowsky, "Pascal's Mugging: Tiny Probabilities of Vast Utilities", 2007

Yudkowsky's Pascal's Mugging

2016

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"A compactly specified wager can grow in size much faster than it grows in complexity. [...] Suppose someone comes to me and says, "Give me five dollars, or I'll use my magic powers from outside the Matrix to run a Turing machine that simulates and kills 3^^^^3 people." Call this Pascal's Mugging." - Eliezer Yudkowsky, "Pascal's Mugging: Tiny Probabilities of Vast Utilities", 2007

  Eddington's Two Tables   2016  JPG  "There are duplicates of every object about me — two tables, two chairs, two pens. [...] One of them has been familiar to me from earliest years. It is a commonplace object of that environment which I call the world. How shall I describe it? It has extension; it is comparatively permanent; it is coloured; above all it is  substantial .   [...]. Table No. 2 is my scientific table, [which] is mostly emptiness. Sparsely scattered in that emptiness are numerous electric charges rushing about with great speed; but their combined bulk amounts to less than a billionth of the bulk of the table itself. [...] There is nothing  substantial  about my second table. It is nearly all empty space." - Arthur Stanley Eddington,  The Nature of the Physical World ,   1929
  Harman's Third Table   2016  JPG  "The real table is in fact a third table lying between these two others. And if Eddington's two tables provided the moral support for Snow's two cultures of scientists and humanists, our third table will probably require a third culture completely different from these two. This is not to say that the third culture is a completely, new one: perhaps it is the culture of the arts, which do not seem to reduce tables either to quarks and electrons or to table-effects on humans." - Graham Harman,  The Third Table , 2012
  Plato's Three Beds   2016  JPG  "Here are three beds: one existing in nature, which is made by God, as I think that we may say --for no one else can be. [...] There is another which is the work of the carpenter. [...] And the work of the painter is a third." - Plato,  The Republic , 360 B.C.E.
  Machery's Chair   2016  JPG  "If I judge of an object that it is a chair, my judgment that it is a chair is evidence that it is a chair because I am reliable at sorting chairs from nonchairs." Edouard Machery, "Thought Experiments and Philosophical Knowledge", 2011
  Searle's Chinese Room   2016  JPG  "Suppose that I'm locked in a room and given a large batch of Chinese writing. Suppose [...] that I know no Chinese, either written or spoken [...] Suppose further that after this first batch of Chinese writing I am given a second batch of Chinese script together with a set of rules for correlating the second batch with the first. [...]. They enable me to correlate one set of formal symbols with another set [...]. Suppose also that I am given a third batch of Chinese symbols together with some instructions [...] that enable me to correlate elements of this third batch with the first two batches, and these rules instruct me how to give back certain Chinese symbols [in response]." - John Searle, "Minds, Brains, and Programs", 1980
  Read's Pencil   2016  JPG  "I am a lead pencil—the ordinary wooden pencil familiar to all boys and girls and adults who can read and write. Writing is both my vocation and my avocation; that's all I do." - Leonard Read, "I, Pencil: My Family Tree as Told to Leonard E. Read", 1958
  Thomson's Violinist   2016  JPG  "You wake up in the morning and find yourself back to back in bed with an unconscious violinist. A famous unconscious violinist. He has been found to have a fatal kidney ailment, and the Society of Music Lovers has canvassed all the available medical records and found that you alone have the right blood type to help. They have therefore kidnapped you, and last night the violinist's circulatory system was plugged into yours, so that your kidneys can be used to extract poisons from his blood as well as your own. [If he is unplugged from you now, he will die; but] in nine months he will have recovered from his ailment, and can safely be unplugged from you." - Judith Jarvis Thomson, "A Defense of Abortion," 1971
  Goldman's Book of Life   2016  JPG  "While browsing through the library one day, I noticed an old dusty tome, quite large, entitled “Alvin I. Goldman.” I take it from the shelf and start reading. In great detail, it described my life as a little boy. It always gibes with my memory and sometimes even revives my memory of forgotten events. I realize that this purports to be a book of my life.” - Alvin I. Goldman, "The Book of Life: A Thought Experiment", 1968
  Eubulides' Sorites Paradox   2016  JPG  Imagine a heap of sand. Now imagine removing one grain. Is it still a heap? Imagine repeating this process until there is one grain of sand left. Is a single grain of sand a heap? If not, at what point did the heap change into a non-heap? The Sorites Paradox is attributed to Eubulides, who lived in the 4th century B.C.E.
  Plato's Equal Portions   2016  JPG  "What would you say of equal portions of wood and stone, or other material equals? And what is the impression produced by them? Are they equals in the same sense as absolute equality? Or do they fall short of this in a measure?" - Plato,  Phaedo , c. 380 B.C.E.
  Leibniz's Identity of Indiscernibles   2016  JPG  "It is never true that two substances are entirely alike, differing only in being two rather than one." - Wilhelm Gottfried Leibniz,  Discourse on Metaphysics,  1686
  Molyneux's Problem   2016  JPG  "Suppose a man born blind, and now adult, and taught by this touch to distinguish between a cube and a sphere of the same metal, and nightly of the same bigness, so as to tell, when he felt one and the other, which is the cube, which is the sphere. Suppose then the cube and the sphere placed on a table, and the blind man made to see: query, Where by his sign, before he touched them, he could now distinguish and tell which is the sphere, which the cube?" - William Molyneux, letter to John Locke, 1693
  Newcomb's Paradox   2016  JPG  "Suppose a being [offers you] two boxes, (B1) and (B2). (B1) contains $1,000. (B2) contains either $1,000,000 ($M), or nothing. [...] You have a choice between two actions: (1) taking what is in both boxes (2) taking only what is in the second box. Furthermore [...] (I) If the being predicts you will take what is in both boxes, he does not put the $M in the second box. (II) If the being predicts you will take only what is in the second box, he does put the $M in the second box. [...] First the being makes his prediction. Then it puts the $M in the second box, or does not, depending upon what it has predicted. Then you make your choice. What do you do? - Robert Zozick explaining William Newcomb's thought experiment in "Newcomb's Problem and Two Principles of Choice", 1969
  Wittgenstein's Beetle in a Box   2016  JPG  "Suppose everyone had a box with something in it: we call it a "beetle." No one can look into anyone else's box, and everyone says he knows what a beetle is only by looking at his beetle. Here it would be quite possible for everyone to have something different in his box. One might even imagine such a thing constantly changing. But suppose the word "beetle" had a use in these people's language? If so it would not be used as the name of a thing. The thing in the box has no place in the language-game at all; not even as a something: for the box might even be empty." - Ludwig Wittgenstein,   Philosophical Investigations, 1953
  Putnam's Twin Earth   2016  JPG  "Suppose that somewhere in the galaxy there is a planet we shall call Twin Earth [that] apart from the differences we shall specify [...] is exactly like earth. [...] One of the peculiarities of Twin Earth is that the liquid called "water" is not H2O but a different liquid whose chemical formula [...] I shall abbreviate [...] as XYZ. I shall suppose that XYZ is indistinguishable from water at normal temperatures and pressures. In particular, it tastes like water and it quenches thirst like water. Also, I shall suppose that the oceans and lakes and seas of Twin Earth contain XYZ and not water, that it rains XYZ on Twin Earth and not water, etc." - Hilary Putnam, "The Meaning of Meaning", 1975
  Locke's Inverted Spectrum   2016  JPG  "Simple ideas wouldn’t be convicted of falsity if through the different structure of our sense-organs it happened that one object produced in different men’s minds different ideas at the same time—for example, if the idea that a violet produced in one man’s mind by his eyes were what a marigold produced in another man’s, and vice versa." - John Locke,  An Essay Concerning Human Understanding,  1689
  Al-Ghazali's Dates   2016  JPG  "Suppose two similar dates in front of a man, who has a strong desire for them but who is unable to take them both. Surely he will take one of them, through a quality in him, the nature of which is to differentiate between two similar things." - Abu Hamid al-Ghazali,  The Incoherence of the Philosophers,  c. 1100
  Jackson's Fred   2016  JPG  "People vary considerably in their ability to discriminate colours. Suppose that in an experiment to catalogue this variation Fred is discovered. Fred has better colour vision than anyone else on record; he makes every discrimination that anyone has ever made, and moreover he makes one that we cannot even begin to make. Show him a batch of ripe tomatoes and he sorts them into two roughly equal groups and does so with complete consistency." - Frank Jackson, "Epiphenomenal Qualia", 1982
  Pascal's Wager   2016  JPG  "Belief is a wise wager. Granted that faith cannot be proved, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its truth and it proves false? If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation, that He exists. [...] A coin is being spun which will come down heads or tails. How will you wager? Reason cannot make you choose either, reason cannot prove either wrong." - Blaise Pascal,  Thoughts , 1670
  Danto's Paintings   2016  JPG  "So next to [a painting of "a square of red paint"] let us place another, exactly like it. [...] And let us, in this vein, imagine a whole set of red rectangles, one next to the other. Beside these two, and resembling each as much as they resemble one another (exactly). [...] Finally, I shall place a surface painted, though not  grounded , in red lead [...] [that] is not a work of art [...]: it is just a thing, with paint upon it." - Arthur C. Danto,  The Transfiguration of the Commonplace , 1981
  Plutarch's Ship of Theseus   2016  JPG  "The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned from Crete had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their places, in so much that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same." - Plutarch,  Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans , 1517
  Kant's Hand   2016  JPG  "We cannot describe the distinction in a given space between things which lie towards one quarter, and things which are turned towards the opposite quarter. Thus if we take solids which are completely equal and similar but incongruent, such as the right and left hands [...] although in every respect which admits of being stated in terms intelligible to the mind through a verbal description they can be substituted for one another, there is yet a diversity which makes it impossible for their boundaries to coincide." - Immanual Kant, "Sensible and Understandable Form and Principles", 1770
  Locke's Sock   2016  JPG  "It is commonly believed that Locke posed a question regarding how many repairs he could make to one of his socks before it somehow ceased to be the original sock." - Martin Cohen in his 2010 book,  Philosophy for Dummies , explaining the apocryphal story that John Locke created a thought experiment about his sock.
  Yudkowsky's Pascal's Mugging   2016  JPG  "A compactly specified wager can grow in size  much  faster than it grows in complexity. [...] Suppose someone comes to me and says, "Give me five dollars, or I'll use my magic powers from outside the Matrix to run a Turing machine that simulates and kills 3^^^^3 people." Call this Pascal's Mugging." - Eliezer Yudkowsky, "Pascal's Mugging: Tiny Probabilities of Vast Utilities", 2007

Eddington's Two Tables

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"There are duplicates of every object about me — two tables, two chairs, two pens. [...] One of them has been familiar to me from earliest years. It is a commonplace object of that environment which I call the world. How shall I describe it? It has extension; it is comparatively permanent; it is coloured; above all it is substantial. [...]. Table No. 2 is my scientific table, [which] is mostly emptiness. Sparsely scattered in that emptiness are numerous electric charges rushing about with great speed; but their combined bulk amounts to less than a billionth of the bulk of the table itself. [...] There is nothing substantial about my second table. It is nearly all empty space." - Arthur Stanley Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World, 1929

Harman's Third Table

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"The real table is in fact a third table lying between these two others. And if Eddington's two tables provided the moral support for Snow's two cultures of scientists and humanists, our third table will probably require a third culture completely different from these two. This is not to say that the third culture is a completely, new one: perhaps it is the culture of the arts, which do not seem to reduce tables either to quarks and electrons or to table-effects on humans." - Graham Harman, The Third Table, 2012

Plato's Three Beds

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"Here are three beds: one existing in nature, which is made by God, as I think that we may say --for no one else can be. [...] There is another which is the work of the carpenter. [...] And the work of the painter is a third." - Plato, The Republic, 360 B.C.E.

Machery's Chair

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"If I judge of an object that it is a chair, my judgment that it is a chair is evidence that it is a chair because I am reliable at sorting chairs from nonchairs." Edouard Machery, "Thought Experiments and Philosophical Knowledge", 2011

Searle's Chinese Room

2016

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"Suppose that I'm locked in a room and given a large batch of Chinese writing. Suppose [...] that I know no Chinese, either written or spoken [...] Suppose further that after this first batch of Chinese writing I am given a second batch of Chinese script together with a set of rules for correlating the second batch with the first. [...]. They enable me to correlate one set of formal symbols with another set [...]. Suppose also that I am given a third batch of Chinese symbols together with some instructions [...] that enable me to correlate elements of this third batch with the first two batches, and these rules instruct me how to give back certain Chinese symbols [in response]." - John Searle, "Minds, Brains, and Programs", 1980

Read's Pencil

2016

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"I am a lead pencil—the ordinary wooden pencil familiar to all boys and girls and adults who can read and write. Writing is both my vocation and my avocation; that's all I do." - Leonard Read, "I, Pencil: My Family Tree as Told to Leonard E. Read", 1958

Thomson's Violinist

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"You wake up in the morning and find yourself back to back in bed with an unconscious violinist. A famous unconscious violinist. He has been found to have a fatal kidney ailment, and the Society of Music Lovers has canvassed all the available medical records and found that you alone have the right blood type to help. They have therefore kidnapped you, and last night the violinist's circulatory system was plugged into yours, so that your kidneys can be used to extract poisons from his blood as well as your own. [If he is unplugged from you now, he will die; but] in nine months he will have recovered from his ailment, and can safely be unplugged from you." - Judith Jarvis Thomson, "A Defense of Abortion," 1971

Goldman's Book of Life

2016

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"While browsing through the library one day, I noticed an old dusty tome, quite large, entitled “Alvin I. Goldman.” I take it from the shelf and start reading. In great detail, it described my life as a little boy. It always gibes with my memory and sometimes even revives my memory of forgotten events. I realize that this purports to be a book of my life.” - Alvin I. Goldman, "The Book of Life: A Thought Experiment", 1968

Eubulides' Sorites Paradox

2016

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Imagine a heap of sand. Now imagine removing one grain. Is it still a heap? Imagine repeating this process until there is one grain of sand left. Is a single grain of sand a heap? If not, at what point did the heap change into a non-heap? The Sorites Paradox is attributed to Eubulides, who lived in the 4th century B.C.E.

Plato's Equal Portions

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"What would you say of equal portions of wood and stone, or other material equals? And what is the impression produced by them? Are they equals in the same sense as absolute equality? Or do they fall short of this in a measure?" - Plato, Phaedo, c. 380 B.C.E.

Leibniz's Identity of Indiscernibles

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"It is never true that two substances are entirely alike, differing only in being two rather than one." - Wilhelm Gottfried Leibniz, Discourse on Metaphysics, 1686

Molyneux's Problem

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"Suppose a man born blind, and now adult, and taught by this touch to distinguish between a cube and a sphere of the same metal, and nightly of the same bigness, so as to tell, when he felt one and the other, which is the cube, which is the sphere. Suppose then the cube and the sphere placed on a table, and the blind man made to see: query, Where by his sign, before he touched them, he could now distinguish and tell which is the sphere, which the cube?" - William Molyneux, letter to John Locke, 1693

Newcomb's Paradox

2016

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"Suppose a being [offers you] two boxes, (B1) and (B2). (B1) contains $1,000. (B2) contains either $1,000,000 ($M), or nothing. [...] You have a choice between two actions: (1) taking what is in both boxes (2) taking only what is in the second box. Furthermore [...] (I) If the being predicts you will take what is in both boxes, he does not put the $M in the second box. (II) If the being predicts you will take only what is in the second box, he does put the $M in the second box. [...] First the being makes his prediction. Then it puts the $M in the second box, or does not, depending upon what it has predicted. Then you make your choice. What do you do? - Robert Zozick explaining William Newcomb's thought experiment in "Newcomb's Problem and Two Principles of Choice", 1969

Wittgenstein's Beetle in a Box

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"Suppose everyone had a box with something in it: we call it a "beetle." No one can look into anyone else's box, and everyone says he knows what a beetle is only by looking at his beetle. Here it would be quite possible for everyone to have something different in his box. One might even imagine such a thing constantly changing. But suppose the word "beetle" had a use in these people's language? If so it would not be used as the name of a thing. The thing in the box has no place in the language-game at all; not even as a something: for the box might even be empty." - Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 1953

Putnam's Twin Earth

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"Suppose that somewhere in the galaxy there is a planet we shall call Twin Earth [that] apart from the differences we shall specify [...] is exactly like earth. [...] One of the peculiarities of Twin Earth is that the liquid called "water" is not H2O but a different liquid whose chemical formula [...] I shall abbreviate [...] as XYZ. I shall suppose that XYZ is indistinguishable from water at normal temperatures and pressures. In particular, it tastes like water and it quenches thirst like water. Also, I shall suppose that the oceans and lakes and seas of Twin Earth contain XYZ and not water, that it rains XYZ on Twin Earth and not water, etc." - Hilary Putnam, "The Meaning of Meaning", 1975

Locke's Inverted Spectrum

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"Simple ideas wouldn’t be convicted of falsity if through the different structure of our sense-organs it happened that one object produced in different men’s minds different ideas at the same time—for example, if the idea that a violet produced in one man’s mind by his eyes were what a marigold produced in another man’s, and vice versa." - John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, 1689

Al-Ghazali's Dates

2016

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"Suppose two similar dates in front of a man, who has a strong desire for them but who is unable to take them both. Surely he will take one of them, through a quality in him, the nature of which is to differentiate between two similar things." - Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, The Incoherence of the Philosophers, c. 1100

Jackson's Fred

2016

JPG

"People vary considerably in their ability to discriminate colours. Suppose that in an experiment to catalogue this variation Fred is discovered. Fred has better colour vision than anyone else on record; he makes every discrimination that anyone has ever made, and moreover he makes one that we cannot even begin to make. Show him a batch of ripe tomatoes and he sorts them into two roughly equal groups and does so with complete consistency." - Frank Jackson, "Epiphenomenal Qualia", 1982

Pascal's Wager

2016

JPG

"Belief is a wise wager. Granted that faith cannot be proved, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its truth and it proves false? If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation, that He exists. [...] A coin is being spun which will come down heads or tails. How will you wager? Reason cannot make you choose either, reason cannot prove either wrong." - Blaise Pascal, Thoughts, 1670

Danto's Paintings

2016

JPG

"So next to [a painting of "a square of red paint"] let us place another, exactly like it. [...] And let us, in this vein, imagine a whole set of red rectangles, one next to the other. Beside these two, and resembling each as much as they resemble one another (exactly). [...] Finally, I shall place a surface painted, though not grounded, in red lead [...] [that] is not a work of art [...]: it is just a thing, with paint upon it." - Arthur C. Danto, The Transfiguration of the Commonplace, 1981

Plutarch's Ship of Theseus

2016

JPG

"The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned from Crete had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their places, in so much that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same." - Plutarch, Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans, 1517

Kant's Hand

2016

JPG

"We cannot describe the distinction in a given space between things which lie towards one quarter, and things which are turned towards the opposite quarter. Thus if we take solids which are completely equal and similar but incongruent, such as the right and left hands [...] although in every respect which admits of being stated in terms intelligible to the mind through a verbal description they can be substituted for one another, there is yet a diversity which makes it impossible for their boundaries to coincide." - Immanual Kant, "Sensible and Understandable Form and Principles", 1770

Locke's Sock

2016

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"It is commonly believed that Locke posed a question regarding how many repairs he could make to one of his socks before it somehow ceased to be the original sock." - Martin Cohen in his 2010 book, Philosophy for Dummies, explaining the apocryphal story that John Locke created a thought experiment about his sock.

Yudkowsky's Pascal's Mugging

2016

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"A compactly specified wager can grow in size much faster than it grows in complexity. [...] Suppose someone comes to me and says, "Give me five dollars, or I'll use my magic powers from outside the Matrix to run a Turing machine that simulates and kills 3^^^^3 people." Call this Pascal's Mugging." - Eliezer Yudkowsky, "Pascal's Mugging: Tiny Probabilities of Vast Utilities", 2007

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