Two ideas for torrent clients

Automatic addition of trackers

With the probable closure of The Pirate Bay (TPB) in the near future the torrent scene will be more decentralized. Especially if the TPB tracker goes down. Luckily there are new upcoming trackers to take its place. The problem is that they are not in many of the torrent files. Besides adding the trackers manually there are some ways to fix it. One way is to re-upload all torrents with more trackers. That doesn’t seem like a plausible method. Another way is the have an indexer site (like TPB, Mininova or BTjunkie) update all the torrents with more trackers. This doesn’t seem like a bad idea.

Another idea, and this is my idea for the client, is to have an option in the client to automatically add more trackers to all torrents loaded. That would be very useful for torrents that do not include any new public tracker such as Openbittorrent (OBT)1 or Publicbittorrent (PBT)2. There could be an editable list of trackers to be automatically added, or there could be function that shares all public trackers for all torrents though I’m unsure of what the consequences will be of that. Even more, one could have peers share public trackers. In that way any new public tracker would quickly spread. There is reason to be cautious, however, a third party, say RIAA, may set up such a public tracker just to sniff IPs.

Automatic force-seeding of torrents with no seeds

The goal is to keep rarer torrents alive easier. Currently I have to manually look through my torrent client for torrents that currently have no seeds and then force seed them so that the peers can finish their download.3 It should probably force seed for a set time. If it forced-seeded only until there were at least two seeds, then complications arise. Imagine that there are two people who are the only seeds and both their torrent clients have this feature. Both their clients would then force seed the torrent until they spot another seed, but then they can see each other and so they will keep bouncing on and off force seeding while the peers would not get much data. A mix of these two ideas may be a good idea.

Footnotes

3We’re presuming here for simplicity that if there is no seed, then there is not a complete file in the swarm. This is false in some cases.

Ad: Courtroom Quotations

This is absolutely hilarious!

rinkworks.com/said/courtroom.shtml

Quoting:

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Some examples:

  • Lawyer: “Now, Mrs. Johnson, how was your first marriage terminated?”
  • Witness: “By death.”
  • Lawyer: “And by whose death was it terminated?”

.

  • Lawyer: “This myasthenia gravis — does it affect your memory at all?”
  • Witness: “Yes.”
  • Lawyer: “And in what ways does it affect your memory?”
  • Witness: “I forget.”
  • Lawyer: “You forget. Can you give us an example of something that you’ve forgotten?”

.

  • Lawyer: “How old is your son, the one living with you?”
  • Witness: “Thirty-eight or thirty-five, I can’t remember which.”
  • Lawyer: “How long has he lived with you?”
  • Witness: “Forty-five years.”

Language, truth makers and truth guides

The issue is what the truth maker is of a certain type (subset), L, of propositions. A proposition belongs to L iff it has the form “X is the correct way to spell the word.”.

Truth makers and truth guides

A truth maker is what makes something true. ‘makes’ here is a semantic relation. What makes the proposition ‘it is raining outside’ true is the fact that it is raining outside. Another way to put it is to ask under which conditions the proposition ‘It is raining outside’ is true. And the answer is exactly when it is raining outside. Such a condition is called the truth condition.

A truth guide is a way to discover what the truth is. Asking your math teacher what the solution to an equation is, is probably a good way to discover the truth. However it is not that the teacher thinks the answer is x that makes it true that the answer is x. And if the teacher is not infallible, and no teachers are, then he might be wrong. It may be hard to distinguish between an infallible truth guide and the truth maker but we need not concern ourselves with this since it is never the case that a truth guide in infallible.

Language claims about spelling

I’m trying to discover what the truth maker is of L-type propositions. So far a number of possibilities have been suggested to me:

  1. How the majority of the general population uses the word.
  2. What the majority of the general population thinks is the correct way to spell the word.
  3. What some special dictionary says is the correct way to spell it.
  4. What the majority of dictionaries say is the correct way to spell it.
  5. How the majority of some subset of the general population uses the word.
    1. How the majority of fluent, educated speakers use the word.
    2. How the majority of fluent, educated speakers and serious writers use the word.
    3. How the majority of serious writers use the word.

The list goes on but I believe the above captures some of the good initial guesses. What makes it so hard to determine is, I think, that even though there is only one truth maker all the possibilities function as truth guides.

Analyzing (1) and (2)

(1) seemed like a good proposal to me, that is, for all I knew it might be true. However when analyzed closer it becomes clear that (1) is not a good proposal at all. All we have to do to see this is to ask ourselves what ‘general population’ we’re talking about. Suppose we’re talking about the  danish language. The general population seems to be danes. But then how about other people that can speak danish? Danish is taught in schools in other countries like Greenland. And how about danes that can’t speak danish? Presumably some people have managed to become citizens of Denmark without being able to speak danish. Do they belong to the general population? It seems not. The general population then is not a good idea at all because it is unclear what this refers to, and if it refers to speakers of danish, then it is equivalent to (5).

Similarly (2) becomes an extended version of some (5)-type proposal.

Analyzing (3) and (4)

(3) also seemed a good proposal to me but again when analyzed closer it loses its status. When I proposed the theory Pyrrho wrote:

“You also have the oddity of there being, according to your theory, no right way to speak or write before dictionaries were invented, which is very curious indeed. Was there not a difference between fluent speakers of English and those who were not before the invention of dictionaries? Was there not a difference between being very literate and not so literate before the invention of dictionaries?”[1]

That is a curious implication indeed. One way to fix it is to say that the truth maker of L-type propositions changed some time after dictionaries were invented. This is obviously an ad hoc assertion and makes the theory less simple.

Another oddity arises for (3), as Pyrrho writes:

“Yet another oddity of saying a particular dictionary is the “truth maker” is that it would mean that there could be no such thing as a misprint, as it being in the dictionary, according to that theory, is what makes it true. It is a very odd theory that postulates the impossibility of a misprint.”[2]

Indeed that is a very odd implication. Clearly it is not impossible to misprint and thus (3) is false.

Analyzing (5)

One obvious problem is to discover what the necessary and sufficient conditions are for a given person to belong to the group of people’s who makes L-type propositions true.

A ‘Fluent’ speaker means a speaker who is “able to speak a language accurately and confidently.”[3] It is unclear why fluent speakers have anything to do with L-type propositions since they do not necessarily write anything. Most people do not write much but speak a lot and most speak fluently too. Why does it matter how they spell a particular word when they rarely write it?

It is unclear what ‘educated’ refers to in this case. Educated about what? The language? Are we talking about a formal education or will an informal doo? Most of one’s first language is probably not learned via any formal education but by mimicking parents and other people around one. ‘Educated’ is too vague to be a useful condition.

It is also unclear what a ‘serious writer’ is. Perhaps it’s just someone who writes a lot. It would be odd if only how a minority of writers wrote was the truth maker. How does one decide if the writer is serious in that sense? It seems that disposing of the unclear ‘serious’ is a good idea and just settle on ‘mere’ writers of the language.

Another trouble is how to deal with the majority thing. Suppose that there are n writers that write a particular word in one way and there are n writers that write the same word another way. Suppose further that n+n is equal to the whole population of writers. Which way is the correct way? There seems to be no answer to that question. Indeed the best idea seems to be to reject the question and say that there are two correct ways. Suppose we accept that. Again it can be asked what the correct way to write a particular word is if the group of writers is exactly divided into three groups. Again one might answer that there are three correct ways. However if we continue this way we will reach the conclusion that if all writers wrote it in their own way, they would all be correct. This is a curious implication.

However in practice this is not a problem since it is never the case that writers are that divided. In reality is suffices to say that if writers are divided somewhat equal into, say, five groups, then all these are acceptable and that they ought to find a particular way to spell the word to avoid confusion.

One thing remains to discuss about (5) and that is whether it is how writers use the word or how they think it is spelled correctly that is the truth maker. I know of no way to decide this question since they correlate so much: Writers write the way they think is correct and writers think the way they write is correct. It doesn’t seem like an important question to settle this.

Conclusion

The majority of dictionaries theory (4) and the majority of writers theory (5d) seem to be equal in explanatory power but since the writer theory is more simple, then we ought to prefer it.


[1] www.freeratio.org/showthread.php?p=6012232#post6012232

[2] www.freeratio.org/showthread.php?p=6022242#post6022242

[3] en.wiktionary.org/wiki/fluent

Grammatical conjugation with verbs

A little experiment using another style of writing. My inspiration is this short story by Smullyan.1 It is very good. Some background knowledge of epistemology is advised.

First is the dialogue. Then there is some additional promotion I wrote together with a friend when we were waiting for a train to arrive.

Dialogue

Mr. Language change

Grammatical conjugation with verbs, I hate it.2 It’s pointless. We ought to stop doing it. There is nothing gained by having to use difference versions of verbs just because we’re talking about different kinds of persons.

Mr. Doubt

But might there not be something gained from it? Perhaps less ambiguity?

Mr. Language change

Languages where there is no grammatical conjugation with verbs do not suffer from any additional ambiguity. I have learned danish and I can verify that there is no additional confusion introduced because the danish language lacks grammatical conjugation with verbs. The danish word for ‘to be’ is ‘er’. Always! It doesn’t matter if one is talking about plural or singular, first or third person.

Mr. Doubt

Perhaps you are right. But what does it harm that there is grammatical conjugation with verbs?

Mr. Language change

It’s harmful because people have to learn additional rules of grammar before they are able to flawlessly communicate with a language. It’s a virtue for a language to be easy to learn. This is the reason why we ought to remove grammatical conjugation with verbs; It makes the language harder to learn but does not cause anything good to compensate for it. If it helped in some way it would maybe be a good idea to keep it around. Right now it’s just an archaic artifact of english, a relic from the past with no purpose.

Mr. Doubt

Right. But which version of the verbs should we then settle on? If the verb in question is ‘to be’, for instance, which should we always use? Am, is or are?

Mr. Language change

That’s something I haven’t given much thought. However I can quickly imagine a good way to find out. We need some criteria. What sounds good is one. What is easy to distinguish from other words is another. Obviously it’s a good idea not to make it harder to understand the language.

Mr. Doubt

Sounds good to whom? I agree with the other criteria.

Mr. Language change

Hmm. Users of the language. I suppose one could make some representational group of people and ask them what version they think sounds the best. Together with the other criteria I think that’s a fairly good way to discover which version is the best to use.

Additional promotion

To be or not to be, That is the question. We’re a group who believe that grammatical conjugation with verbs is pointless. We also believe that to be should always be be, not ‘is’ or ‘are’. The root is ‘to be’ after all, not ‘to is’ or ‘to are’. Also, ‘be’ is used to write about future states. E.g.: It will be cold this afternoon.

Win consequence: Pirate speak will be easier to do.

To assimilate this new grammatical feature into language, we’ve decided to write a poem to demonstrate it’s usability.

The bumble bees be busy breaking billard balls.

The bountiful booty be beautifully bouncing booms.

Bambi’s balloon be big bang, boom!

Bring best banned ballistic bombs boldly.

Implying a category error

It sometimes happens that one is analyzing some theory and one discovers that the theory in some sense implies something meaningless.

But that doesn’t make sense when we think about it. Meaningfulness/meaninglessness is only applicable to sentences, and not to propositions. Implication is only defined in relation to propositions. So when we encounter the scenario that a theory “implies something meaningless” we should say that the theory implies that some sentence is meaningful but it isn’t. In that way we can use an inference (MT) to conclude that the theory is false. We can’t do that with something meaningless.

When I write ‘applicable’ I mean only in meaning, not some possibility of some sort.

Sound arguments and rationally convincing arguments

I’ve read many times and places that an argument is sound iff

1.      The argument is valid.

2.      All the premises of the argument are true. [1]

Let’s call this the standard definition of a sound argument. Now consider this argument:

1.      If the Earth is a planet, then there is a satellite above Denmark this moment.

2.      The Earth is a planet.

3.      Thus, there is a satellite above Denmark this moment.

The argument is valid. (Form: Modus ponens.) Is this argument sound? The second premise is true. The first is true from time to time but I guess it is false most of the time. It follows then, given standard definition, that this argument is sound from time to time.

But still this argument should never convince anyone. Why not? It should not because the first premise is never justified for anyone. Even though the argument is sound from time to time given the standard definition, it should not be convincing for anyone at anytime. This flies in the face of the normal practice in discussions of trying to establish that one’s arguments are sound.

Consider this revised definition of a sound argument. An argument is sound iff

1.      The argument is valid.

2.      All the premises of the argument are justified.

This seems to solve the above problem but it’s still not good enough. Here is why. In the second condition, justified for whom? Oneself? If so, then soundness becomes subjective. I take this as a reductio. Soundless is an objective matter. Thus, the revised definition is false.

Perhaps a new definition of soundness is not what is needed but rather a distinction between the soundness and convincingness of arguments. There are at least two kinds of convincingness of arguments. One kind of convincingness is that the argument convinces someone to change their beliefs. The argument may be completely bogus (e.g. invalid) but the person does not realize that.

But philosophers are usually not interested in rhetoric. Philosophers usually, thus, talk about arguments being rationally convincing. This is the second kind of convincingness. I take it to mean that an argument ought to convince a rational person. Let’s work with this.

What are the criteria for an argument being rationally convincing? Soundness is neither a sufficient nor a necessary condition of rationally convincingness. I wonder what is. Maybe a subjective definition works here. Consider this definition of a rationally convincing argument. An argument is rationally convincing for person p iff

1.      The argument is valid.

2.      All the premises of the argument are justified for person p.

A person may not recognize when something is justified for him to believe, and so he can fail to be convinced (i.e. change beliefs) by an argument that is rationally convincing for him.

A person may know of an argument that is rationally convincing for him. Suppose that I don’t know that argument and it contains some proposition that I’ve never heard of. Then it follows that the argument is not rationally convincing for me. Further, suppose that I know the argument and one of the premises are not justified for me. Then, the argument is rationally convincing for him but not for me. I’m happy with the implications above. They seem to capture what is meant with rational convincingness.

So, next time when we are in a discussion, we are not really trying to prove that our arguments are sound. We are trying to prove that they are rationally convincing for the other person. The confusion might arise because the two, soundness and rationally convincingness, overlap much of the time.

The reason why I started thinking about this is a fine tuning argument. I don’t particularly recall the argument but let’s suppose that it has three premises. I think that two of them are true but the last one I don’t know about, and neither does the proponent or anyone else. The last premise is unjustified for everybody. The argument might be sound but no one knows. The interesting thing seems to be whether it is rationally convincing not whether it is sound.

Readers of this essay may want to read this essay as it is relevant.[2]


[1] Here’s two: www.fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soundness#Sound_arguments,

[2] deleet.dk/2009/02/23/jtb-and-the-first-person-perspective/

Stone-paradox – revised and explained

I posted this text a long time ago in Danish and I translated it and used it on the forum. I think I forgot to post the English version here as well. I apologize for the low quality English in the text.

-

I have earlier written a short article about why the stone-paradox not is a real paradox and therefore do not disprove omnipotent entities.

The paradox

The paradox is usually formulated thus:

Can an all-mighty [god, entity] create a rock so heavy that it cannot itself lift it? If it can, then it is not all-mighty and if it cannot, then it is not all-mighty. Given either outcome then the [god, entity] is not all-mighty.

Let us formulate the argument more explicit:

  1. If god exists, then god is all-mighty.
  2. Either god can a rock so heavy that he cannot lift it, or he cannot.
  3. If god can, then he is not all-mighty.
  4. If god cannot, then he is not all-mighty.
  5. Given either outcome, god is not all-mighty. (2, 3, 4)
  6. God does not exist (1, 5)

The problem

I claim that the problem lies with premise 3. It simply doesn’t follow that if god can create an object, which causes him to lose omnipotence, then he is not omnipotent. I will explain why later, let us now look at a similar argument which catches the problem mere clearly.

  1. If god exists, then god is all-mighty.
  2. Either god can remove his own all-mightyness or he cannot.
  3. If god can, then he is not all-mighty.
  4. If god cannot, then he is not all-mighty.
  5. Given either outcome, god is not all-mighty. (2, 3, 4)
  6. God does not exist. (1, 5)

It should be clear that premise 3 is false. If it in some way is not clear to you, then let me explain exactly where it goes wrong.

Actuality and potentiality – the root of the problem

All-mightyness is often defined as ‘can do everything’. This is too vague for us. Let us look at what one calls logical omnipotence (logical all-mightyness); one can do all which is logically possible. Logically possible is the weakest form of potentiality, because it just says that the thing is not self-contradictory.

If an entity can do all actions which are logically possible, then it can also create a rock so heavy that it cannot lift it. But this does not make it impotent; non-all-mighty. It is first when the rock becomes actual that the entity is no longer all-mighty. There being a possibility creation of a rock does not mean that it is created. Therefore there is a conflation of potentiality (can) and actuality (is) at the adherents to the argument.