I should really have kept up with this thread, as I've been reading through it and I think that many people have not understood my problem with the 'lightbulb' joke.
Here's the original joke:Ricklewis wrote:
Q. How many analytic philosophers does it take to change a lightbulb?
A. None. By definition, lightbulbs emit light. Therefore if it isn't emitting light, it can't be a lightbulb. Therefore there is no lightbulb to change. (Followed by lament: Oh, whatever happened to rigorous philosophy?)
This was my original reply:
Rick - seeing as how this is a philosophy board and that your joke related, in a roundabout way, to analytic philosophy, I'll take this opportunity to point out a glaring hole in your joke. Lightbulbs emit light only when connected to a power source; emittance of light is not a sufficient condition of something being called a lightbulb.
This was criticised by Arising UK, who wrote:
But since when has a non-sufficent condition been enough to refute the necessary condition that for a lightbulb to be a lightbulb, that it be a bulb that is lit?
It was also picked up on by Puto:
Predicate is wholly contained in the subject! Unmarried men are bachelors. I conclude that I am a bachelor, so I'm not married. What is said about what the sentence is about that is what analytics is about. I am unmarried therefore I am a bachelor.
Rick defined light bulb, and how they work in the definition.
I maintain that the problem with the original joke has not been solved. A lightbulb does not emit light 'by definition'. This is because even when it is not emitting light it can still be referred to as a 'lightbulb'. It is not a lit lightbulb, but it is still a lightbulb (hence my point regarding the emitting of light not being a sufficient condition - and I would add to this that it is also not a necessary condition - for something to be called a lightbulb).
Arising, the definition of a lightbulb is not 'a bulb that is lit'. We would ask 'what kind of bulb?'; the answer would be 'lightbulb' so we then end up with the definition of lightbulb as a lightbulb that is lit.
Puto, the predicate is not 'wholly contained in the subject' (as shown above). We are talking about a lit lightbulb - 'lit' is the predicate and it is not contained but rather added onto the subject.
All this being said, if Rick's original joke was simply about the misguided and misdirected 'rigour' of analytic philosophy then all of my comments (and those that followed) are even more misdirected!
p.s. this is similar to the following joke: A peacock lays an egg at the top of a mountain. The wind is blowing 90mph to the east, 60mph to the west, 20 mph to the north and 30 mph to the south. Which way does the egg roll?
The 'correct' answer is: peacocks don't lay eggs, peahens lay eggs. However, the first sentence in the joke tells us that, in this case, a peacock has laid an egg. It's like posing the classic riddle regarding the two trains travelling in opposite directions that meet at a point on their journey, only to then say that actually the trains never departed so they didn't meet.
Put simply, we were asked 'how many analytic philosophers does it take to change a lightbulb?' and then told not only that it takes 'none' (which isn't possible; do lightbulbs somehow change themselves?) but also that anything that isn't emitting light isn't a lightbulb (and not simply 'a lightbulb that isn't emitting light' which would be more precise, analytically speaking).
Anyhow, I'm off to change an actual lightbulb. Seeing as how anything that isn't emitting light isn't a lightbulb then I might stick a cucumber in there and see if that lights up (if it does then I'll call it a lightbulb).