Showing posts from 2021

Science for Subjectivists

I read this fascinating paper by Greg Gandenberger . It's an argument to the effect that one can give a good Bayesian rationale for, in some circumstances, paying attention to stopping rules. These are rules for data collection, in particular rules which tell you when you have gathered enough data and should stop gathering more. One might compare (and Greg does compare) rules which tell you to stop after some fixed point - say, after one has performed the test on 300 subjects - versus rules which say something like `Keep going until you either run out of money or your data supports your favourite hypothesis to some given degree.' Classical statisticians typically say that for epistemic reasons one needs to pay attention to these rules, whereas Bayesian statisticians argue that one very often need not pay any attention to them (in these cases they are "noninformative"). GG is here to argue that there is a particular class of cases where Bayesians will indeed say you n

Personal Tribute to Charles Mills

Like many in the philosophical world today I am in dismay at the loss of Charles Mills. I feel compelled to honour him with a public tribute, as he meant more to me than almost anyone else in the profession and I think socialised affection and grief are a fitting response to this sort of tragedy. I'll try and say a bit about why Mills was so special to me personally, but I think that the characteristics I saw in him would be familiar to many who interacted with him. In this way I hope that my idiosyncratic impressions and experiences will give some more general idea of the man we have lost. Professionally - by the time I met Mills he was already an international superstar. His work had long been of interest to black or Africana thinkers, but by the mid 2010s when I got to know him he was well established among the white mainstream of political philosophy. As Mills himself would have been first to point out, there are more of them and they have more money for keynote lectures and

Pessimism of the Intellect, Optimism of the Will

I started writing this as a kind of meditation in a notebook, but then I thought maybe it would be interesting to others so I decided to share on my blog. It's my reflections on Gramsci's famous aphorism named in the blog post title - but, while I won't go into depth here, I'll just note that if I were to write reflections on Mark 12:30-31 they would probably be very similar. Nothing profound, but I hope it helps someone nonetheless. Tullio Crali - The Forces of the Bend "Eyyy, I paint'a de race car, it exemplifies'a da ever accelerating forces of de modernity'a and implicitly calls to mind the relentless use of fossil fuels to make that possible'a, mamma mia!" We must always act from a sincere love of our fellows, but never give in to maudlin sentimentality or (worse) facile irrationalism. In theory, so long as one avoids silly ideological tropes , it is not so difficult to keep the two apart. But on a day to day level it can seem very difficu

Further Reflections on Analytic Philosophy

My last blog post garnered some interesting discussion which I thought I would collate here. The impetus for this is that the long-suffering Preston Stovall kindly emailed with a detailed response. We both agreed it would be nice for him to be able to publish the response on my blog post, so it’s below. He did this in a timely manner after I published the blog post, so naturally I’ve sat on it for a month as I deal with my disorganisation and psychodrama. Sorry Preston! Before getting to that, I thought I would link to some of the other discussions so one can get a span of opinions. First, the ever reliable Daily Nous ended up hosting quite a detailed discussion in its comments. I’d say the vibe is most people think I am overly pessimistic, but check it out for yourself!   One style of response that I found quite common in my own interactions was very well spelled out in this blog post - here the thought is that while it is true that philosophers generally cannot plausibly believe

The End of Analytic Philosophy

One of the nice things about having a blog and job security is that I can just make things up. So here's my sense of the recent historical trajectory of what can broadly be called analytic philosophy, and what I think that says about the current moment. Analytic philosophy is a degenerating research programme . It's been quite a long time since there was anything like a shared project of analysing key concepts or a mutual commitment to the linguistic turn . But the lack of such shared projects in themselves didn't really cause a problem for the field --  here's a discussion of Rorty cheerfully noting, in 1982, that analytic philosophy is held together mainly by a certain kind of style and sociological bonds among its practitioners. He didn't think it was a problem, and this  more detailed but equally sympathetic metaphilosophical analysis comes to a broadly similar conclusion. It also doesn't strike me that there is any particular institutional crisis for anal

My Work is Bad

A brief explanation of why all my work is bad: `` What is the State of Blacks in Philosophy? '' -- it's actually my fault that there is a genuinely incoherent non-explanation of what statistics were done in this paper, which is all the more shocking and shameful since largely it was just super basic descriptive stuff -- graphs! On the whole fine for what it is but that's an incredibly basic thing.  `` Causally Interpreting Intersectionality Theory .'' -- the interest of a methodology piece is, of course, the results of applying the methodology. Years out and that's still never been done, despite the fact that this paper is cited a fair bit. People act as if this paper somehow does more work to vindicate intersectionality theory; they're vastly over-estimating how interesting it is. What's more, at least some of the reason the method is yet to actually be applied is that to get anything interesting it requires such large data sets as to perhaps