SUNY or later 
For logistical reasons relating to my sabbatical in Pittsburgh, I only today received my letter of appointment from SUNY central dated July 29 and effective Sept 1. It was marked CONFIDENTIAL, so the staff in Albany put the whole letter in another envelope and mailed it to me here.

There were sheets of cotton bond in the envelope. The first was simply congratulations from the SUNY Chancellor on my recent reappointment. The second was a duplicate copy which I was expected to sign and return. Ack!

[Insert caricature of me as the comic strip character Cathy, pulling my hair out]

One frantic phone call later: The acceptance letter is just a formality. I do need to sign and return it, but it is not time sensitive. The paperwork with a deadline was the payroll form I signed back in August. Whew!

A small footnote: My institution is officially the University at Albany, State University of New York. This is often shortened to UAlbany. Nevertheless, people that I meet when I travel inevitably write it down as SUNY Albany. It has been my habit to correct them.

Looking at today's letter, the Chancellor's letterhead has a list of all the SUNY campuses in fine print at the bottom. "University at Albany" is first on the list. However, the typed part of the letter, where it is addressed to me, is directed to the "State University of New York at Albany." If SUNY central can't keep it straight, then perhaps I shouldn't bother either!

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Happy fifth blogiversary!  
Being in Pittsburgh has been productive in many ways - although the initial surge of blogging, consisting mostly of meandering thoughts about Bernard Suits, has subsided. Now that the whole cadre of fellows and scholars are in residence, my blog-quality banter is mostly used up face-to-face.

Today marks the end of this blog's year five. There are (just prior to this one) 203 entries comprising 101,098 words. Of those, 32 entries and 17,348 words were added within the last year. A healthy output, I think, although a year-over-year drop off.

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All F null 
Too often among logical empiricists and their descendants, schematic laws of nature are given to be of the form 'All Fs are Gs' and schematic inductive inference is given as 'This F is G. Therefore, most Fs are Gs'.

A natural complaint about this approach is that actual candidate laws and actual inferences in science rarely if ever take those forms. Philosophical proposals about laws and induction are frustrating, because disputes surrounding them turn in some occult but inextricable ways on the toy representation.

They are cast like sentences and figures of inference in Aristotelean logic, and so bring with them a the whole scholastic sideshow. This is odd, because the the logical empiricists were acutely aware of the limitations of the old logic.

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Puerto Rico and the Suits payoff 
In this post, I consider the game Puerto Rico as a counterexample to Bernard Suits' definition of game. This, finally, is the example that got me started blogging on the subject in the first place. For previous posts, see here, here, and here.

In the last couple of posts, I've been considering Suits' requirement that a game have a prelusory goal - an objective that can be specified independently of the rules of the game.

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Suits not of cards, but of chess 
Here is more about Bernard Suits' Grasshopper. It picks up where the post on RPGs and the post on Suit's definition of 'game' left off.

Recall that Suits defines a game as "the voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles." As such, playing a game involves (1) pursuing a goal (2) while accepting constraints on what means can be used to attain it (3) such that the constraints are partly constitutive of the activity.

The first part of the this formula is what he calls the prelusory goal. It is essential that the goal can be characterized independently of the game itself, since the game is constituted in part by constraints on how players may achieve the goal. If the goal itself depends on the game, then the definition ends up being circular.

Last time I discussed the example of poker. Although Greg points out (in the comments) that my attempt to specify the prelusory goal of poker leaves out a lot, I think the details could be filled in without reference to the constitutive rules of poker.

In this post, I want to consider the game of chess. The goal is to put your opponent's king in checkmate. The way that the pieces move, the fact that players alternate moves, and so on are the constraints on how that goal may be achieved.

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