Friday, May 29, 2009

The Wisdom of Wikipedia

Ye gods. The Wikipedia entry for Definite Descriptions until a moment ago read:

Bertrand Russell ... proposed according to his 'theory of descriptions' that when we say "the present King of France is bald", we are making three separate assertions:
1. there is an x such that x is the present King of France.
2. for every x that is the present King of France and every y that is the present King of France, x equals y (i.e. there is at most one present King of France).
3. for every x that is the present King of France, x is bald.
So Russell solved a problem about a sentence with a non-denoting description by analysing it into a conjunction of three sentences with the very same non-denoting description. Terrific.

I thought about leaving it as a bear trap for unwary students cribbing essays. But I couldn't, and it's been minimally corrected. It will interesting to see how long that lasts before some idiot changes it back.


Jonathan said...

I'm guessing you were referring to the page 'Definite description' rather than 'Theory of descriptions', which was even worse:

-there is an x such that x is the Emperor of Germany.
-there is no y, other than x, such that y is the Emperor of Germany (i.e., x is uniquely the Emperor of Germany).
-x is gray.

(the third part is particularly hilariously bad)

I've fixed that one too.

Ocham said...

I don't think this is right (or at least it is only right in a qualified sense).

I comment here

Ocham said...

N.b. On the infinite regress objection Robert Bacon says "si in omni verbo differunt compositio et res verbi, contingit ire in infinitum in expositione huius verbi ‘est’, sic: ‘est’, idest: est ens, istud ‘est’ adhuc potest exponi per ‘est’, et illud, et sic in infinitum nisi stemus in primo."

And Nicholas of Paris says "cum dicitur ‘homo est’, cum in omni enuntiatione oporteat esse quod dicitur de altero, et de quo dicitur, et medium per quod, manifestum est quod in hac non est aliud quod dicitur de altero quam participium sumptum ab hoc verbo ‘est’, ut sit sensus: ‘homo est’ idest: homo est ens; sed cum dicitur ‘homo est ens’, si hoc verbum ‘est’ sit eiusdem rationis cuius erat prius ergo poterit in suum participium resolvi, ut dicatur sic: homo est ens ens, et sic usque in infinitum; ergo cum non sit procedere in infinitum, manifestum quod alterius est rationis, cum est secundum adiacens, et cum est tertium.

Gregory Kohs said...

There was clearly a mistake on Wikipedia when it read:

-x is gray.

Since this is Wikipedia, after all, I believe it was supposed to more correctly read:

-x is ghey!!! LOLOLOLOLOL! Eat it, Josh!!!!!!!!!