The Generality Constraint [Draft]

Gareth Evans, in The Varieties of Reference, described “thought” in functional and structural terms. He called this the generality constraint. This small article shall gather some formulations of the generality constraint that offer some suggestions on where it can be used elsewhere in and outside of Philosophy.

  • Evans’ definition.
  • Carruthers’ weak&strong formulations.
  • Some considerations such as Camp’s claim that categorial restrictions are not allowed; and my own counter-claim that a basic notion of extensibility does away with the need for such restrictions.
  • Lastly, how to actually use the generality constraint beyond argue over what Evans meant. This includes future directions and applying generality constraint elsewhere outside of Philosophy: type theory for computation, natural language processing, X-Phil tests, cross-cultural associations, cog sci (autism, developmental psych) and so on.

From The Varieties of Reference:
Generality Constraint
(Unrestricted): If an agent can think the thought “A is an F,” and the agent can think the thought “B is a G,” then the agent can think the thoughts “B is an F” and “A is a G.”

Two interpretations of the constraint, via Peter Carruthers in “Invertebrate Concepts Confront the Generality Constraint (and Win)” are as follows:
Strong Generality Constraint: If an agent possesses the concepts A and F (and is capable of thinking “A is an F”), then for all (or almost all) other concepts B and G that the agent could possess, it is metaphysically possible for the agent to think “A is a G,” and in the same sense possible for it to think “B is an F.”
Weak Generality Constraint: If an agent possesses the concepts A and F (and is capable of thinking “A is an F”), then for some other concepts B and G that the agent could possess, it is metaphysically possible for the agent to think “A is a G,” and in the same sense possible for it to think “B is an F.”

(as a work in progress, this will be updated as time permits)

An Introduction

This site encompasses some of my research as a graduate student in Logic, Computer Science, and Mathematics. My interests include computational mathematics, conceptual modeling, feature engineering, and explainable/ethical artificial intelligence.

As time permits I shall publish research material and works in progress. This may include topics in Cognitive Systems (Organic and Machine Learning), Model Theory, and Computational Complexity, but I may also share some anecdotes about methodology as my lab work progresses. Additionally, my previous and forth-coming publications/collaborations shall reside here.