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By Sylvain Bromberger

During this number of essays, Bromberger explores the centrality of questions and predicaments they bring about in clinical study. He discusses the character of clarification, concept, and the rules of linguistics.

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Extra info for On What We Know We Don't Know: Explanation, Theory, Linguistics, and How Questions Shape Them

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5 The p of ‘p-predicament’ may be thought of as standing for ‘puzzled’ or ‘perplexed’, but mnemonically only. As will become obvious, one need not be either puzzled or perplexed to be in a p-predicament. ) An Approach to Explanation 27 (4) What is the height of Mt. Kilimanjaro? (5) Why do tea kettles emit a humming noise just before the water begins to boil? I know the answer to neither. However I am not equally ignorant with regard to both. This is brought out to some extent by the fact that I am prepared to say that I do not understand why tea kettles emit a humming noise just before the water begins to boil, whereas I am not prepared to say anything of the sort about what the height of Mt.

Mere knowledge of English is not sufficient to produce the question in an episode described by ‘Mme. Rouge explained the third chapter of Moby Dick to Picard’; one must be acquainted with the third chapter of Moby Dick and know something of the questions to which it gives rise. The vagueness characteristic of such statements must be preserved in an adequate formulation of their truth-conditions. But this is easy to achieve. Simply replace (a) of the fourth hypothesis by (a2 ) There is a question about the topic mentioned at the X position that is sound, that is, that admits of a right answer.

Or consider the case of someone assumed to be in a p-predicament but not in a b-predicament with regard to some question. ’ because I took it for granted that the culprit was a full-sized, normal human being. The correct answer was ruled out for me by a false assumption. In all such cases removal of the basis of the p-predicament requires instructions that lead one to revise one’s views. (Einstein had to do something of the sort when he explained why no interference pattern had been observed by Michelson and Morley.

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