the reasoner

                                THE  REASONER 13(12)

                          Volume 13, Number 12, December 2019

                                   ISSN 1757-05 22

The latest issue of The Reasoner is now freely available for download in pdf
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GUEST EDITORIAL / Giuseppe Primiero


– An interview with Jacopo Tagliabue  / Giuseppe Primiero


– Uncertain Reasoning / Seamus Bradley
– Medieval Reasoning / Graziana Ciola
– Science Policy / Vlasta Sikimic


– Events
– Courses and programmes
– Jobs and Studentships

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Kayo – #3 – to the farm.

Kayo had followed them from their old home to the motel where they stayed on the first night, some 30 miles east. How did he know where they were? Bobby had seen Kayo when they left the yard, but when he looked back he could see that his brother-in-law was holding the dog. Somehow Kayo had convinced them he was going to stay put and then when they were not looking he had run after the car. It took him some time but just as they were going to bed in the motel a recognizable scratch was heard on the door.

“It’s Kayo!” Bob shouted. And when he opened the door there he was! “God damn” said Ott. “How did he find us?” “We’ll have to call Hank and ask him to come get the dog.” Bob could sense that Ott was impressed by the dog’s tenacity and though he could use that in his plea for getting Kayo to the farm.

What a dog. Why couldn’t he come? I thought farms needed dogs. His new dad had said, “Kayo’s a city dog; he would be useless on the farm.” Maybe so, but he had followed them for thirty miles and found them at the motel.

The next morning Mom called and asked for Hank to come get Kayo. Hank arrived, took Kayo roughly by the collar and stuck him in the back seat of his car for the return to Denver. “I’ll see to it that he doesn’t follow anymore.” The four of them climbed into the Ford and started again for the farm.

Riding in the back seat Bob kept thinking about why Kayo couldn’t join them on the farm. “I thought farms and dogs went together,” he wondered. “Maybe after they get settled his new step-dad will let him join them. I will have to start a careful plan to get permission,” he plotted. 

Suddenly they turned to the right off the highway and started down a gravel road. Two hundred yards further the car and trailer bounced across a wooden bridge that was just wide enough for one vehicle. Bobby saw a sign near the bridge.

“It’s the Republican River, Mom,” he said proud that he could read.

In the three miles to their new place they passed only one house. He could see it a mile away because of the trees. Every place had trees standing in rows on one side of the house and could be seen leafless from miles away. As you got closer the other buildings came into sight. As they passed the house he could see a man in the yard between the barn and the house. Ott honked the horn. The man waved at them and they all waved back. They climbed a small hill and as they crested it Ott said, “Look, there she is.”

Ahead of them on the right side of the gravel road was a group of trees. They were almost white in the March sun. He could make out the house, which sat back from the road. It looked pretty big. And he could see several other unpainted wooden buildings around the house. The car pulled into the dirt driveway and stopped. “Oh, honey, it’s beautiful,” said his mother in the front seat. She reached over and squeezed her new husband’s leg.

It was good to get out of the car. Bobby ran down toward the barn to see the horses. He couldn’t find them. He opened the barn door, which was hooked with a hook that dropped into a loop of metal fixed to the doorframe. He could smell manure and old straw, but he couldn’t see any animals. “Maybe they are outside running around,” he thought and came out the way he came in.

Bobby, go back and hook that door,” his new stepfather yelled, “you might as well get used to closing the barn door right away.”

“But there’s nothing in there.”

“Of course not, we have to buy some cattle. No one has been living here for several months.”

“And a horse. Where’s the horse?”

“No horse either. Nothin’ here but us people.”

“What kind of farm is this? No animals . . .”

It’s a deserted farm; that’s what it is. But no longer. We’ll fix ‘er up. And get some animals. Don’t you worry.”

Standing in the yard between the house and the barn Bobby could see only two other farms. Off in the distance he saw one, marked by the bare trees, and just a ways away he saw a second. He looked at the road they had just come down but couldn’t see the farmhouse of the man who waved at them because of the hill that they had come down. Drifts of snow lay in the fields and the fields seemed to go on forever. There were three small buildings he could see and one really small one tucked in between the trees and one of the buildings with a fence around it. The small building looked like a play house. It had a shingled roof and a door with piece cut out near the top and no windows. It was only about six feet by four feet in diameter. “That could be a club house,” he thought, “but who will be club members; there is nobody around here.”


“Truth” like so many other terms is not clear and unambiguous because we use the term in many different ways. Let me talk about just two: there’s capital T Truth and there is small t truth.

Capital T truth often finds its home in certain kinds of texts, most often those called scripture by those who are insiders in a particular group. Religious Truths, political Truths, are the sorts of claims I have in mind. They are proclamations, articles of faith, rules of the game.

  1. The free market is the only way to economic nirvana.
  2. God is love.
  3. God is peace.
  4. Three strikes and you are out.
  5. There are three downs in real football.
  6. On Easter Christ rose from the dead.

Small t truth is quite different. It never parades as fixed and eternal, but is more modest. It is quite clear about its function in a sentence and disappears as soon as possible once its job is done.

  1. It is true that there are 4 beer in the refrigerator.
  2. “It is raining” is true if and only if it is raining.
  3. Evolution is true.
  4. Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox.
  5. It is true that the NFL and the CFL have different rules.

Notice the first set is made up of proclamations. These capital T statements are constitutive rules of the language game they establish. They really are not true or false, but are just True by definition of the game. Notice the absurdity of a baseball player trying to argue with the umpire that he should be allowed four strikes. Or a Christian who doesn’t believe in the resurrection. Small case true is a relational term – it claims a relationship between a statement and a state of affairs. If Noam has scoffed two of the beers in the refrigerator then it is no longer the case that there are four beer in the refrigerator.

Capital T TRUTH is always delivered with certainty. Small case truth is more modest. It attempts to say what is, but can be emended if someone has drunk some of the beer.

Certainty tells us about the speaker’s state of mind and not about a state of affairs. Certainty is demonic.

Mark Twain gets it right: We are always hearing of people who are around seeking after the Truth. I have never seen a (permanent) specimen. I think he has never lived. But I have seen several entirely sincere people who thought they were (permanent) Seekers after the Truth. They sought diligently, persistently, carefully, cautiously, profoundly, with perfect honesty and nicely adjusted judgment- until they believed that without doubt or question they had found the Truth. That was the end of the search. The man spent the rest of his life hunting up shingles wherewith to protect his Truth from the weather.

“What is truth?” asked Pilate of a now famous Roman prisoner a couple of thousand years ago. Unfortunately Jesus did not answer. But let’s imagine that the conversation was recorded by a Jewish scribe.

What IS truth?

Truth is a relational term, Pilate, just as “larger” or “heavier” it requires a relationship between two things – a belief and a condition that IS the case.

A belief? Do you believe that you are the son of God?

As I have said on many occasions I am the son of man. Beliefs come in three flavours, Pilate.  True beliefs, false beliefs, and untested beliefs. It is our obligation as humans to eliminate false beliefs by constantly evaluating and testing our beliefs as to consistency and correspondence. Those that pass these tests we call true beliefs.

Your accusers have called you a miracle worker, a magician, a false prophet. Are these charges true?

That is for you, not me, to determine.

But what of the miracles?

Miracles are in the eye of the beholder, Pilate. They are also used in stories to indicate a special person, a hero. You will recall that your Caesar is called a god and a miracle worker.

The crowd is getting restless, Jesus, I must end this conversation now, interesting as it is.

Stirred up by false beliefs the crowd insisted that this charlatan, this philosopher, this challenger to the TRUTH be put to death.

And it came to pass.


Hank by Bob Lane – ©2018

Bob watched his stepfather’s face as the hail pounded down on the fields west of them. The face of a dry land farmer: leathery, lined, stoic. That face usually revealed no emotion, but for a moment Bob thought his Dad would cry. Then anger clouded his face like one of the lightening flashes announcing that the hail was coming east toward their half-section. He had only seen that look once before in the six years they had been on the farm. They were all coming back from town on Halloween and had spotted a strange pickup in their farmyard. Three young men were about to load their outhouse onto their pickup to take to town for some Halloween mischief. His stepfather had confronted them, carrying his 12-gauge shotgun.

“Better put her back now, boys,” he had said quietly.

“Oh, shit! Yessir, yessir, we will. Sorry about that; don’t know what got into us. We were just funning around. We’ll get ‘er back right away.”

The outhouse was put back and the three partygoers left. But with the hailstorm there wasn’t anyone to threaten. Mother Nature didn’t give a damn if you had a 12-gauge shotgun or not. You could just watch and do nothing.

In ten minutes it was over. The damage to the neighbors to the west had been total. Their own wheat was bent over but not completely destroyed. After the clouds passed by they walked out into the field.

“Well, it looks like we can harvest some of it, but goddamn it, it will mean a lot more work.” His stepfather leaned over to hold up the plants to see how much of the grain had been knocked from the golden heads. “We’ll have to put pick-up teeth on the bar of the combine to lift all this straw up to the cutting sickle. We better go up to the house and call Hank.”

Kayo #2

Kayo #2

A few years later we moved to a new house that my Dad had built for us to live in. Kayo, of course, was delighted with the new location. He had a somewhat rural place to play. He no longer had to protect me from the doctor. (see Kayo #1) By now there were 5 children (I now had a little sister, Beth) and Kayo living with Mom and Dad. Picture below shows the house that Lester built a few years after the events in this post.

Phyl, Peg, Beth, Bud, Mom, Bob – a few years later

My brother and I slept downstairs in a big double bed. Kayo slept in the room with us in a sort of dog bed. He started each night in his bed, but when it got cold, he would jump on the bed and wiggle his way under the covers. Often, he would wake before us, and leave the bed – taking the covers with him when he exited. Soon the cold would wake us.

Kayo was a big German shepherd. But they called him a Police Dog. Nothing was German anymore because of WWII.  Even the German measles were renamed. They were the Liberty measles. In New Mexico, an angry mob accused an immigrant miner of supporting Germany and forced him to kneel before them, kiss the flag, and shout “To hell with Hitler.” In Illinois, a group of zealous patriots accused Robert Prager, a German coal miner, of hoarding explosives. Though Prager asserted his loyalty to the very end, he was lynched by the mob. Explosives were never found.

Kayo was my dog now. We played together every day and slept together part of the night! It seemed to me that we communicated with each other: me, a five-year-old human talking and Kayo tipping his head to “listen” carefully to my kid-talk. Somehow that tipping of the head with eyes looking directly at the speaker led one to believe he understood what you were saying. He was my companion, my protector, my best friend. On many an afternoon we would take a nap in the front yard together under a tree – my arm around him, feeling very safe because of him. No one dared to mess with me when Kayo was with me.

Kayo was big and strong and obedient. He liked all of us kids, but spent most of his time with me. Our connection grew stronger.

Bobby, Mom and Beth

Three Day Job

The boy stood watching as the man pitched bundles of wheat onto the belt that went up to the mouth of the threshing machine. He had just been tricked into giving up the pitchfork.

Earlier that morning the boy had fallen through a hole in the hayrack bed. He knew that the man had seen his step-father leap across the conveyor belt to pull him up before his leg got caught in the machinery. The bundles on the wagon floor had covered the hole. He had stepped on a bundle while pitching another onto the belt for its trip, heads first, up to the threshing machine separator.

“Is that a new pitchfork?” he had said.
“Yes, we just got it at the Co-op.”
“Let me see it,” the man had said, and when he handed it to him, he knew it was a trick. He had not wanted to have help unloading the wagon filled with wheat bundles, but the man, Raymond Renzelman, was Albert’s brother.

Raymond had his shirt sleeves rolled up to his elbows, the way all the farmers did, and the boy watched the brown forearms as he tossed the bundles quickly into the conveyor. His arms must be twice the size of my own, he thought. He was just about as tall as Raymond now but probably weighed about half as much. It was July and hot and he had turned thirteen in February when it was cold.

He had not been frightened when he fell earlier in the day. He did not yell for help. He felt slightly embarrassed but not scared. The fear had come later when he thought about what could have happened. Fear was like that, he thought, it came be-fore or after but not during. He had been sure he could get out of the mess by him-self. He was willing to suffer a bit of pain to avoid the looks of others. But he was glad to have the help, and after being pulled up he had turned away and mumbled a “thanks” before getting right back to the work at hand.

Only a few farmers still used a threshing machine . Albert Renzelman had decided to bind his quarter section of wheat and to thresh it because he wanted the straw pile for his cattle. Almost everyone now had a self-propelled combine. One man could run the combine. But there was no straw pile at the end because the straw was spread out on the field in a wide swath or in a narrow windrow for baling later with a baler.