April 21, 2005

Ontological Confusion

There are two Pick 'n Saves a little bit south and a little bit west of my apartment. This explains some things. It may not explain others.

Posted by Matt Weiner at April 21, 2005 10:18 AM

I doubt there are some things explained by:
"There are two Pick 'n Saves a little bit south and a little bit west of my apartment."

Posted by: Ron Mallon at April 21, 2005 11:05 AM

Why? It explains, for instance, why I keep running across a Pick'n'Save in an unexpected place. It may not explain my occasional disorientation within one or the other Pick'n'Save; that might be because the Pick'n'Saves are laid out differently; or they may be laid out identically, like Dennett's restaurant*, and it may be that I become disoriented because sometimes I enter the main aisle space from one end and sometimes from the other.

You may say, "But in neither case is the explanandum completely explained by the explanans! We must add, 'Weiner is a ditz.'" But I think that premise is implicit in, well, everything.

*I may be misremembering this example in every particular.

Posted by: Matt Weiner at April 21, 2005 11:27 AM

I like the fact that Mapquest describes how to get to your destination with "Maneuvers". That must make every trip exciting.

Posted by: ben wolfson at April 21, 2005 02:55 PM

Mapquest does, indeed, make every trip exciting. In that "I'm lost again" kind of way.

Posted by: bitchphd at April 21, 2005 07:13 PM

Snort, b. Note that the map takes you from one Pick'n'Save to another; my apartment is not marked on the map (though I can reveal that it's basically in the upper right hand corner).

Posted by: Matt Weiner at April 22, 2005 10:03 AM

My worry wasn't about complete explanation. Rather, my thought was that not much is explained by the fact that "There are two Pick 'n Saves a little bit south and a little bit west of my apartment." There may be lots of things that are explained by facts that are entailed by that fact. E.g. the fact that there is a Pick'n'Save a little bit from your apartment. I was doubting that the *conjunction* of these facts explains much more than what is explained by the individual facts so conjoined.
Consider, for example, if Solomon Grundy was facing off against the Wonder Twins. Suppose that Grundy alone can beat either Twin, but together, the Twins can beat Grundy. (And suppose everyone knows this). The fact that Zan entered the room did not cause Grundy to run nor the fact that Jana did. Rather, it's the conjunction of those facts (that both Zan and Jana entered the room) that explains Grundy's flight (partially).
So, anyway, I was doubting that your fact explains much in this way (qua its conjunction of other facts). But maybe some of your cases do require reference to the whole caboodle.

Posted by: Ron Mallon at April 22, 2005 10:59 AM

I see. I think my general confusion--which is what I was thinking of--requires the conjunction of the two facts. If there were only one Pick'n'Save in that area I would have a better handle on where it was. (There's something puzzling about that last sentence.)

Posted by: Matt Weiner at April 22, 2005 11:44 AM

I think you'd have a better handle on the locations of Pick'n'Saves in the area if it were the case that there was only one region close to your house that was exactly occupied by Pick'n'Saves. The number of Pick'n'Saves seems irrelevant to your disorientation, if we think pick-n-saves can be colocated or multi-located. Though even if someone says those types of location are possible, maybe those worlds are too far away to be relevant . . .

Posted by: Shieva at April 24, 2005 01:35 AM