Showing posts from 2022

Nothing That Is Not There

Some brief reflections as we approach the new year. I am just returning from a trip to see my partner's family, wherein I spent much time with my little nephew, Kai. There was something entirely fantastic about seeing how, at one years old, he relates to the world. He is so intensely curious about things that seem so mundane. I saw him experience real joy in the triumph of working out how to turn around so as to climb some stairs in a playground. Once at night we went out for a bit of late grocery shopping and it was remarkable how he would seem so engrossed in all the details of an entirely unremarkable street. If philosophy begins in wonder then he's off to a good start.    It caused me to introspect on who I am, or maybe where I am, as a philosopher. People close to me know that I have been on and off convincing myself that I ought stop doing novel research. I am periodically overcome by the conviction that, in some way, what I do or how I do it is making the field worse --

The Role of Mathematics and Intellectual History in (my) Philosophy

Philosophers tend to think other philosophers are doing bad work and resent their success. I find this tendency most pronounced among mid-to-late stage grad students -- people who are good enough to see the flaws in what's published and aptly feel entitled to critique it as a full fledged member of the community. But who have not yet had the gruelling experience of repeatedly trying to better and realising that you can't, that in fact your work is just fodder for the next batch of sharp eyed youngsters hungry to prove themselves. So it goes, so it goes. One consequence of this is that we all have to get used to justifying our own choice of method or approach to topics. There's always someone out there who thinks its just obvious that you have approached your question in totally the wrong manner, and any non-muddle-head would clearly see that you ought to have... well it just so happens they have a draft manuscript they could share if you are interested. One gets used to fie

Philosophy, Twitter and Hierarchy

This month's post is a guest post by Mason Westfall . Prompted by a recent essay by Martin Janello  there was recently some discussion on twitter about twitter amongst philosophers. Responding to the general discussion, Mason wrote a very interesting thread on the topic -- I invited him to expand those thoughts into a blog post. I thought the results very interesting, so read on and see what you make of it! ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Twitter promises democratization. When you log on, you can talk to… anyone. Your favorite (and least favorite) journalist is here. You can tell them what you think. Political staffers, novelists, celebrities and comedians are all here, talking. In the real world, it’s a rarity to wind up in the same room as the cultural and political elite. They mostly hang out with each other, and you’re not invited. You have to get lucky, and then maybe you’ll get to mumble ‘I love your work’ or yell ‘F

Carnap's Contributions

There was recently on twitter a good natured thread discussing philosophers of science's contributions to the sciences they study. How often does a card carrying academic philosopher make a direct or first order contribution to the scientific enterprise, it was asked. Naturally I went in to provide some Carnap facts since I thought I could just draw from a previous blog post. But it turned out my main man was already covered so I didn't feel the need to say more. However, on doing a bit of review, it made me realise something that I find a bit interesting about Carnap's contribution to the sciences and how they tended to happen, so a short blog post on that. (For anyone interested in the more general question concerning the recent influence of philosophy of science upon the sciences they might find these   two articles interesting. Somewhat more polemical but with more historical cases this article might also be fun. Note that I am not going to have anything interesting

The Case for Reparsanctions

 A Satire upon the Recent "Resolution" of Conflict by Tena Thau It is often argued that reparations should be provided to the victims of past injustices. Reparations can take many forms, but they are typically thought to include some form of financial compensation, and an acknowledgement and apology for harm that has been done. But there may be an even better response to historical injustice than reparations—reparsanctions: imposing economic sanctions on the group of people to whom reparations are owed. This is the US government’s current policy vis-à-vis the people of Afghanistan, and in this essay, I’ll offer an elucidation and defence of the idea. But let’s start with a little background first. After the 9-11 attacks, the Bush administration chose to respond, not by going after the individual perpetrators and bringing them to justice (Evangelista, 2011), but by launching a global “War on Terror”, which has killed an estimated 897,000-929,000 people to date (Brown Costs of

There Will Be No Message Discipline

This is one of those posts I write because I so often find myself making the point that I should like to be able to just have it all written out and available to point to. It concerns a genre of article, tweet, opinion, argument… I often encounter in many different spheres. As ever, I won’t give negative examples, so if this doesn’t resonate with you presumably we have just had different experiences and you may go on your way in the peace of the Lord.  The genre I am concerned with is: people imploring leftists to speak and act in a fashion that is less off putting to the uninitiated. It’s sort of a genre of respectability politics, but lacks the full connotations of that. It’s more just that, say, abolition of the nuclear family is a very unpopular position, so if you lead with a bunch of harsh condemnations of nuclear families as a mode of child rearing you are certainly going to code yourself as non serious or even scary to many listeners. Likewise the left is much more likely to be

Why I Am Not A Liberal

  Those of us in the contemporary academy who are not liberals ought given an account of why not. This asymmetric burden falls on us because the presumption is so strongly that one does fit within the broad confines of liberalism that if one does not explicitly identify out, and explain why one has done so, then two things are may occur. First, people may reasonably presume on statistical grounds that your politics are as such and engage with you with this in mind. This will make intellectual back and forth, the lifeblood of our profession, frustratingly congealed — always having to go back and check unstated presuppositions half way through a conversation, never getting to the meat of things. Second, one allows whatever thinking one does to accrue to the greater glory of an ideology you reject. Since the natural presupposition is that whatever insights you achieve have been achieved through the lens of liberal ideology, it will seem that whatever is good in your work is evidence that