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Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

My main association with modal logic is dentistry - specifically, after recovering from anesthesia for some particularly bad dental surgery, I recited some of the major systems of modal logic (pictured; the three dimensions are reflexivity, transitivity, and symmetry) as a check to make sure I hadn't lost anything during my unconsciousness. I hadn't, but I'd be hard-pressed to recite any of it today. Anyhow, Ruth Barcan Marcus contributed to the foundations of these systems (and the whole concept of modal logic took me through a tour of counterfactuals, possible worlds, relations and connections that informs my work today). She also authored what is to me the final statement on moral dilemmas, which as, as summarized here, "inescapable; and not because of our moral and cognitive limits, nor due to a fault in the moral code, but just because we cannot escape our condition of agents set in a world that we do not control."

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: May 30, 2024 02:36 a.m.

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