Showing posts from January, 2021

Afro-Pessimism and the Instantiation Thesis

If you've been following debates within cultural studies at all over the past few years you've probably heard about Afro-Pessimism. Being a controversial thesis it has been  much discussed and often maligned and often unfairly. I am going to, in this post, criticise what seems to be an element of it -- but I do so partly because I think it warrants more attention from philosophers of the social sciences, and we're an odd bunch who I think pay attention to things when they are criticisable. But I don't want to contribute to the general pattern of misrepresenting it (though I do in fact almost entirely disagree with it as I understand it) and am very very very far from expert, so really I think interested readers should check out this introduction, and the associated text available here . It is on the basis of reading these, plus participating in or observing a number of informal conversations (and watching the odd lecture available online) that I comment, but I cannot s

Against Progress and Best Explanations

There are stubborn dissenters from modern scientific consensuses that we take to be socially important, and philosophers say we should like to show that we are in some sense really doing better than them. Think of climate change sceptics, or evolution denialists, anti-vaxxers, etc.  This has been pointed out to me as a means of motivating philosophers' projects to develop an account of scientific progress which vindicates our sense that we are doing objectively better than the ancients, or past scientists more broadly. And, relatedly, this is purportedly why we should want an account of scientific theory choice that makes it such that there is a unique best procedure for picking out favoured theories given evidence, or at least that people are pretty severely restrained in what they are allowed to still do and count as being properly scientific. Short post on why I don't find this a convincing rationale for such projects. First, it's a misidentification of the real source

Beckerian Discrimination in Philosophy's Credit Economy

  Let me explain the above image to you. An anonymous account on twitter made it, this account largely dedicated to saying very right wing things of a certain racist sort about philosophy and being annoyed at those who do not. The idea is that the words on the screen characterise my thinking and work. In other posts they clarified that they had seen me say I am interested in and intend to develop ideas from Africana philosophy, and from this drawn the conclusion (or perhaps further bolstered their confidence in the conclusion) that I am low IQ and wrong about everything, and also that the pictured quote would well summarise my view.  Now far be it from me to dispute that I am low IQ and wrong about everything, and even if I did that is surely exactly what someone who is low IQ and wrong about everything would say! So I shan't dispute the characterisation here. Readers can judge for themselves whether it is plausible that I think nothing of value has been done by non African thinke

Call Me Maybe - An Analysis & Defence

I have spent today clearing out old files, and came across a detailed analysis I onnce wrote of the rationality of  the main character in Carly Rae Jepsen's Call Me, Maybe . Start your 2021 off right by seeing what 2012 me thought could be said in defence of the rational good standing of this pop song classic. -------- Recently a friend brought my attention to the following analysis (see this as well) of the hit song Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen. I think both analyses quite fundamentally mistaken, and since I am a fan of the song I think it deserves better. So here’s my own crack at the whip. Note that I will follow the blog post in taking the song lyrics as canonical, rather than events as they (amusingly) transpire in the video. My problem with both of the above analyses is: they use game theory, rather than individual decision theory. Now at first this might seem crazy – isn’t it obvious that the situation involves (at least) two rational agents, with the outcome depende