Ian Hacking Quotes
25 Sourced Quotes
Now how does one alter the charge on the niobium ball? "Well at that stage," said my friend, "we spray it with positrons to increase the charge or with electrons to decrease the charge." From that day forth I've been a scientific realist. So far as I'm concerned, if you can spray them then they are real.
To conclude: there are two well-known minor ways in which language has mattered to philosophy. On the one hand there is a belief that if only we produce good definitions, often marking out different senses of words that are confused in common speech, we will avoid the conceptual traps that ensnared our forefathers. On the other hand is a belief that if only we attend sufficiently closely to our mother tongue and make explicit the distinctions there implicit, we shall avoid the conceptual traps. One or the other of these curiously contrary beliefs may nowadays be most often thought of as an answer to the question Why does language matter to philosophy? Neither seems to me enough.
The bad player is the one who tries to calculate and play with the odds, as if his game, his life, were one of a large number of games. To do so is at best to succumb to another necessity, the necessity of large numbers. The good player does not fool himself, and accepts that there is exactly one chance, which produces by chance the necessity and even the purpose that he experiences.
The important thing is to be able to understand anyone who has something useful to say. - There is a general moral here. Be very careful and very clear about what you say. But do not be dogmatic about your own language. Be prepared to express any careful thought in the language your audience will understand. And be prepared to learn from someone who talks a language with which you are not familiar.
Pascal is called the founder of modern probability theory. He earns this title not only for the familiar correspondence with Fermat on games of chance, but also for his conception of decision theory, and because he was an instrument in the demolition of probabilism, a doctrine which would have precluded rational probability theory.