Tom’s Dissertation

Uploaded a PDF copy of son Tom’s undergrad philosophy dissertation “On Incompleteness, Inconsistency and Moral Dilemmas.” By Tom Glendinning, Easter 2008, in which, after applying Godel to the problem he concludes:

“The future for moral debate … has to be concerned with the insurmountable dichotomy between complete and consistent moral systems. As we can no longer expect a unique answer to every situation, we have to decide which is more valuable.”

5 thoughts on “Tom’s Dissertation”

  1. Hi Ian,
    In my view there is nothing wrong with a system being “inconsistent”, the paper is excellent however, especially given that its submitted at undergrad level. (mine was truly auwful)
    I’m afraid that I’m going to harp on about topos again, because it very clearly offers a logical means by which to permit otherwise inconsistent axioms to coexist within a larger logical structure. Given the eloquent use of logical systems to model moral ones in this paper it seems reasonable to call on this nastier maths for the answer. Have been wrestling with the attached pdf for several months I would not reccomend to anyone, but if you had some time on your hands, you might consider that a way out from between these horns might be found here.



  2. Hi Jos,

    I agree with you about “inconsistency” … it’s a matter of accepting or choosing levels on which any kind of consistency is possible, and that a view on many levels provides a view of the whole.

    I’ll let Tom know you liked his paper. I’ll take a look at yours and remind myself of your topos argument.


  3. Hi Ian,
    I’m not exactly sure what Tom’s thesis is claiming and how heavily it relies on Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem for justification, or whether it is just invoked as a kind of analogy. In the book, Godel’s Theorem: An Incomplete Guide to Its Use and Abuse, Franzen points out examples where Godel’s Thm is used to justify claims made about the limitations of religion, politics, and philosophy when such uses are invalid. It’s likely that the same could be said about Tom’s application. It’s worth checking out.

  4. Well if you’re not sure Glenn, you could always read it. Presumptious of you to suggest it is “likely” flawed without a single argument.

    I’ve not read Franzen yet, but have seen it debated. It’s a clever piece of rhetoric “An Incomplete Guide to … ” (A Quine that abuses it’s own argument) and no doubt there are plenty of such abuses. The danger is therefore that people generalize and assume all such references to Godel are flawed or inappropriate. I’ve seen plenty that appear not, and plenty of serious philosophers who are students of Douglas Hofstadter.

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