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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Summer Break

After a pool party tonight I am off to the Northern hemisphere, where I will be attending (among other things) The Eastern Meeting and The Arizona Ontology Conference. In Baltimore I will be saying something about quantifiers, and Jason Stanley will comment, and in AZ we will be saying something about counterpossibles, and Gillian Russell will comment. Don't know where he got it from but Joe seems to think it will rain in AZ. Anyway, we will be back mid to late January with or without a tan.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Kvanvig's Citation-Based Ranking of Philosophy Departments

Kvanvig's citation-based rankings of philosophy departments have been updated. The list now includes PGR-unranked departments. However, it still doesn't include departments with a terminal MA program but no Ph.D. program.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Inside a Zombie's Brow

Song by V. Alan White, inspired by the work of David Chalmers (via Leiter).


From Knowledge and Experience:

Why ARE'T There More Women in Philosophy?

Bringing Philosophy into the 21st Century

From Certain Doubts: Kvanvig's citation-based rankings of philosophy departments.

UPDATE: Kvanvig's improved rankings of departments (including PGR-unranked departments) can be found here.

Like Princeton, Yale has now begun an online lecture series. In this series entire courses are put online. For more information click here. For more info on the first online open course in philosophy (by Shelly Kagan), click here (thanks to Adam Taylor for the pointer).


Northeastern University, Boston, USA 18-20 January 2008

Speakers: Jody Berland (York University); James Paul Gee (Arizona State University); Karim Gherab Martin (Harvard University); David Matheson (Carleton University); Ronald Sandler (Northeastern University); Elizabeth Stark (Free Culture Group, Harvard University); and McKenzie Wark (New School for Social Research, New York).

Free registrations for graduate students willing to assist at the conference and people from developing countries. Further details here.

Full details of the conference can be found here. Deadline for proposal submission: December 31, 2007.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Philosophers' Carnival # 59

... is here.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Zombie Anthem

A music video for the Jonathan Coulton song "re: Your Brains".

(Thanks Aidan)

Philosophy of Mathematics


Philosophy of Mathematics: 5 Questions, Ed. Vincent F. Hendricks & Hannes Leitgeb, New York, London: Automatic Press / VIP, 2007

Philosophy of Mathematics: 5 Questions collects together answers on 5 provocative questions by many of the leading contemporary figures in Philosophy and Mathematics - two of the most fundamental and widely applicable intellectual skills. The collection contains ample amount of interesting considerations, far beyond what one finds reflected in standard texts and together they show that one can have surprising, sometimes tortured, but often highly productive relationships between Philosophy and Mathematics. In my opinion, this book affords a lot of pleasure to the reader.

-Leo Esakia

Jeremy Avigad
Steve Awodey
John L. Bell
Johan van Benthem
Douglas Bridges
Charles S. Chihara
Mark Colyvan
E. Brian Davies
Michael Detlefsen
Solomon Feferman
Bob Hale
Geoffrey Hellman
Jaakko Hintikka
Thomas Jech
H. Jerome Keisler
Ulrich Kohlenbach
Penelope Maddy
Paolo Mancosu
Charles Parsons
Michael D. Resnik
Stewart Shapiro
Wilfried Sieg
William Tait
Albert Visser
Alan Weir
Philip Welch
Crispin Wright
Edward N. Zalta

Friday, December 07, 2007

Kant Attack Ad


Don't know if I prefer Nietzsche to Kant but it's quite funny. Thanks to Barry Smith for the link.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Philosophers' Carnival # 58


ANU Offers to Schellenberg and Southwood

ANU has permanent offers out to Susanna Schellenberg and Nic Southwood. Joe has the details.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Sydney Ontological Commitment Conference

Just returned from a fun conference in Sydney on ontological commitment, which was organized by Luca Moretti. There were many excellent talks. Uriah Kriegel opened the conference by drawing a distinction between the two questions central to the conference: the first-order question: what should we be ontologically committed to? And the second-order question: what is it to be ontologically committed to something? Uriah's talk addressed the first-order question. It dealt with the issue of whether there are merely intentional objects, that is, entities that serve as the objects of mental states in the absence of a real object. And, as you might have expected, Uriah's response was a loud and clear 'no'. Uriah is a defender of (phenomenal) adverbialism. According to this position, if one is thinking of a unicorn, one is thinking unicornly. Uriah dealt with a number of new and old objections to this sort of position. One famous objection comes from Frank Jackson, and it runs as follows: suppose you perceive a red cube and a blue circle. In Adverbialese, we can then say, for example, that you perceive redly cubely bluly circly. But how then are we to distinguish the envisaged scenario from the scenario in which you perceive a red circle and a blue cube. You would still perceive redly cubely bluly circly. It may be replied that perhaps we can say that you perceive red-cubely and blue-circly rather than red-circly and blue-cubely. But the standard reply to this move is that one then cannot account for inferences of the following kind:

You perceive red-cubely and blue-circly
So, you perceive a cube.

The conclusion, it is alleged, doesn't follow for much same reason that we cannot infer that Alice ran quickly from 'Alice ran close-to-quickly'. Uriah offered his opponent the following sort of reply. Consider:

There is a strawberry
There is a straw and there is a berry
Therefore, there is a berry.

The inference is obviously fallacious. But just because the move from premise 1 to premise 2 is mistaken, this does not mean that all inferences from the first premise to the conclusion is fallacious. The reason the inference from the premise to the conclusion holds (without the second premise) is that all strawberries are berries. Likewise, Uriah said, the reason the inference from 'you preceive red-cubely and blue-circly' to 'you perceive a cube' is valid is that all red-cubely perceptions are perceptions of a cube. My own objection to Uriah's general adverbialist position was that it seems that it cannot account for wide aspects of meaning. Consider:

Twin Oscar is thinking of water

If interpreted against the background of Putnam's Twin Earth story the sentence sounds false. However, in Uriah's framework the sentence is to be rendered as 'Twin Oscar is thinking-waterly'. This, of course, is true. Uriah responded by denying the possibility of de re attitudes in general.

Jonathan Schaffer followed Uriah with a talk about truth-maker commitments (as shown on the pretty slide in the picture). Schaffer's position was somewhat anti-Quinean. He first argued that the important question is not what exists. This is not important because Quine was right when he said that everything exists. If you take a look at a true fragment of the language, you can simply read off the ontological commitments directly. This is quite uninteresting, however, as it does not tell us which entities are fundamental. The important question, according to Schaffer, is that of which entities are fundamental. Schaffer argued that we can, in principle, allow any kind of entity whatsoever to be deposited into our ontology: properties, propositions, numbers, etc. etc. But few of these will be fundamental. One virtue of this framework is that if we endorse it, then we do not need to engage in Quinean paraphrasing. 'There are numbers', for example, commits us to numbers at the Quinean level but it does not automatically commit us to numbers at the level of fundamentals. So, there is a sense in which it is innocent to say that there are numbers. It would be much less innocent to claim that numbers are among the fundamental entities of the universe.

There were many many other fantastic talks. Luca, who also organized the conference, argued that something like Horwich's minimalism about truth should be extended to properties, facts, and so on. Amie Thomassson argued, among other things, that we ought to reject substantive criteria for entities to 'really' exist and Quine's criterion of ontological commitment, as the latter provides only a sufficient, not necessary, condition for ontological commitment. My own talk was primarily concerned with the question of whether we can make sense of extensional and intensional criteria of ontological commitment. Michaelis Michael argued that ontological commitments are a species of commitments in general and that implicit commitments play an important role in assessing each other and our theories. Kristie Miller delivered a very interesting talk on the metaphysics of holes. Finally, Mark Colyvan argued that inconsistent theories pose a problem for the Quinean conception of ontological commitment. If accepting the best theories currently available requires us to believe they are true, then we are required to believe in impossible ojects. For most theories are inconsistent. Mark suggested that we should give up classical logic but that we shouldn't give up the hope that our best theories can be revised to avoid consistency. I argued that we need not give up classical logic, as long as we take rational belief to be closed under paraconsistent consequence rather than classical consequence. Either way Mark's conclusion that we are committed to inconsistent objects is rather surprising (to say the least).

All in all a very intense and intellectually rich conference. Thanks to Luca Moretti for organizing it and to Susanna Schellenberg for sending the photos.

Data on Journals in Philosophy

Jon Kvanvig has been collecting some data on journals in philosophy which include rejection rates and scholarly impact. It's well worth checking out.

The Reasoner 1 (8)

The latest issue of The Reasoner is now freely available for download in pdf

The Reasoner ( is a monthly digest highlighting exciting
new research on reasoning and interesting new arguments. It is
interdisciplinary, covering research in, e.g., philosophy, logic, AI, statistics, cognitive science, law, psychology, mathematics and the sciences.

The Reasoner welcomes submissions:
- Submitted articles (100-1000 words)
- Submitted items of news
- Letters
- Conference announcements
- Job announcements
- Advertisements

Mainsteam and Formal Epistemology Now in Paperback

Vincent F. Hendricks' Mainstream and Formal Epistemology, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006-7 is now out in paperback.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Number of Women in Philosophy Not Increasing

For a while we thought the number of women in philosophy was increasing. The reason we thought this was that 33.3% of women received a Ph.D. in philosophy in 2004. This number was an all time high. Unfortunately, this increase in female Ph.D.s was not indicative of a trend. As Evelyn Brister reports here, the figures for 2005 and 2006, which are now available from SED, are a lot smaller:

2006: 28.6
2005: 25.1
2004: 33.3
2003: 27.1
2002: 25.3
2001: 25.2
2000: 28.4
1999: 24.8
1998: 29.4
1997: 26.0

The figure for 2005 was the second-lowest in 9 years; and, as Evelyn remarks, the new figures indicate that women currently earn only about 27% of the Ph.D.s awarded in philosophy. This figure has remained relatively stable since 1991.

Evelyn also suggests in a separate post that the APA should take the lead in addressing issues pertaining to the underrepresentation of women in philosophy.

S & P Open for Submissions

The new journal, Semantics and Pragmatics (S&P), edited by David Beaver and Kai von Fintel, is now open for submissions!

AAP Meeting in Auckland

The program and abstracts for the forthcoming Annual Conference of the New Zealand Division of the Australasian Association of Philosophy (Auckland, December 2 - 6) are now available.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Philosophers' Carnival # 57

... is here.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Female Stereotypes

As pointed out in this New York Times article, what people consider the most important leadership quality varies with geographic location. Not very surprising. More surprising: whether women are thought to have a given quality depends on whether it's considered the most important leadership quality. So, in the United States where being good at inspiring others is considered the most important leadership quality but being a good delegator is not, women are often considered good at delegating but not very good at inspiring others. It's the other way around in Nordic countries, where being good at delegating is considered the most important leadership quality but being good at inspiring others is inessential to what constitutes an ideal leader. In these countries women are thought to be good at inspiring others but not very good at delegating. The lesson: the only quick and easy way to climb the career ladder is to get a sex-change operation.

(Thanks to Susanna Schellenberg for the link)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Feminist Articles in Philosophy Journals

Kathryn Norlock at St. Mary’s College of Maryland has just completed a study enumerating the articles published in philosophy journals on the topic of feminism. Evelyn Brister has the details.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Web Resources

Sally Haslanger has some great internet resources for philosophy students and faculty on her website, including links to gender/race related pages, adoption sites, philosophy blogs, and online bibliographies (via Noelle McAfee).

Missing Links – The Symbolic Species II

In continuation of last years conference The Symbolic Species, the University of Copenhagen and the University of Aarhus will be hosting a new conference titled Missing Links.

Missing Links will focus on what differentiates mankind from other closely related mammals and how we in different areas have developed as a species. Among the topics discussed will be: the development of language, the development of society and nations, the development of logical and abstract thinking, the development of Theory of mind and the development of moral and ethical judgement.

Invited speakers:

Professor Terrence Deacon, Berkeley, USA
Dr. Irene Pepperberg, The Alex Foundation, USA
Professor Göran Sonnesen, Lunds Universitet, Sweden
Professor Jim Hufford, Edinburgh, Scotland
Professor Kathleen Gibson, University of Texas, USA
Professor Tom Ziemke, Skövde, Sweden
Dr. Thomas Bugnyar, Konrad Lorenz Institute, Austria
Dr. Andreas Roepstorff, Aarhus Universitet, Denmark
Professor Richard Byrne, University of St. Andrews, Scotland
Professor Peter Harder, Københavns Universitet, Denmark

Price: 400 Dkkr., students 200 Dkkr.


Time: 22. og 23. november 2007, 9.00 – 17.00

Place: Carlsberg Akademi, Gamle Carlsbergvej 15, Valby (Copenhagen)

For further information please contact

Buffalo Philosophy Blog

The grad weblog of SUNY-Buffalo has been moved to a new Url, also the name has been changed to Buffalo Philosophy.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Philosophy TV

Vincent Hendricks just got his own television show called "The Power of Mind" with one of the nationwide television stations in Denmark (DK4). He's the anchor on the show and will interview Danish and non-Danish philosophers (when they are in the country). The show will walk through the disciplines of philosophy on the introductory level with constant awareness of practical applications and impact. The first 10 shows will cover moral philosophy (Jesper Ryberg), philosophy of mind (Dan Zahavi), epistemology and logic, philosophy of science, philosophy of mathematics (Andur Pedersen), aestetics, history of ideas, legal philosophy, philosophy of religion, ... 25 minutes a piece. Production will begin in March, and the first show will air in April or May.

Philosophers' Carnival # 56

... is here.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Ontological Commitment Conference

This two-day conference at Tusculum, Potts Point, Friday Nov 30 and Saturday Dec 1, 2007 will present recent work on ontological commitment. Confirmed speakers are Berit Brogaard (ANU/Missouri), Mark Colyvan (Sydney), Uriah Kiegel (Arizona/Sydney), Kristie Miller (Sydney), Luca Moretti (Sydney), Jonathan Schaffer (ANU) and Amie Thomasson (Miami). Further details here.

Presupposition Handout

I have finally gotten around to uploading my comments on Philippe Schlenker's "Be Articulate!" from the Rutgers Semantics Workshop. They're available here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Dave Chalmers has just announced a new on-line database of mind-related papers compiled by ANU graduate student David Bourget and Dave. It's available here.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Arizona Ontology Conference

The 2008 Arizona Ontology Conference will be held January 9-13, 2008, at White Stallion Ranch in Tucson, Arizona.

Speakers include: Berit Brogaard, Andy Egan, Adam Elga, Hilary Greaves, Thomas Hofweber, Jenann Ismael, Robin Jeshion, John MacFarlane, Daniel Nolan, Jill North, Josh Parsons, Joe Salerno, Brian Weatherson.

The conference program is available here.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

ASCP-Conference Hobart Dec. 5 - 8.

Nearly Final Call for Papers


Professor Günther Zöller (Munich)
Professor Cheung Chan-fai (Hong Kong)
Professor David Morris (Canada)
Professor Anne Freadman (Melbourne University)
Professor Julian Young (New Zealand)
Dr. Fiona Jenkins (ANU).


Professor Jeff Malpas (UTAS Aust)
Professor Wayne Hudson (UTAS Aust)
Professor Andrew Benjamin (Monash Aust)
Dr. Siby K. George (IIT – Mumbai)
Dr Paul Healy (Swinburne UT)
Dr. Marcelo Stamm (UTAS Aust)
Dr. Michael Strawser (Uni. Central Florida)
Dr. Lucy Tatman (UTAS - Aust)
Dr. Bruce Janz (Uni. Central Florida)
Dr. Richard Colledge (St Paul’s Theological College QLD Aust)
Dr. Robert Sinnerbrink (Macquarie Uni Aust)
Dr. James Phillips (UNSW – Aust)
Dr. Jack Reynolds (Latrobe – Aust)
Dr. Keith Morrison (Lincoln Uni – NZ)
Dr. Anthony D. Traylor (Assumption College US)
Dr. Leila Toiviainen (UTAS)
Dr Matthew Sharpe (Deakin University Aust)
Dr. Jocelyn Dunphy-Blomfield (Monash Medical Centre Aust)
Dr. Shane Mackinlay (Catholic Theological College Melb. Aust)
Dr. Drago Heler (Uni. Of Western Sydney Aust)
Dr. Nathanial Gardner (Canterbury Uni. NZ)


New Conference Stream.

Gender and The Body in Place – The conference coordinators are ready to receive papers for this stream right now.

National ASCP Meeting.

There's still time to chose to join - Closing Date is November 2nd.

Registrations and Submission of Abstracts through the ASCP Site.

Ian paulin.
B.A. Hons.

Conference Coordinator
2007 Australasian Society for
Continental Philosophy.

The Reasoner 1 (7)

The latest issue of The Reasoner is now available. In the future there will be a supplement, Sic et Non, edited by Steffen Ducheyne, which will print short (400 word) pieces on epistemology and the philosophy of science.


Frederik Stjernfelt's Diagrammatology is now available. Diagrammatology investigates the role of diagrams for thought and knowledge. Based on the general doctrine of diagrams in Charles Peirce's mature work, Diagrammatology takes diagrams to constitute a centerpiece of epistemology. The book reflects Peirce's work on the issue in Husserl's contemporanous doctrine of "categorial intuition" and charts the many unnoticed similarities between Peircean semiotics and early Husserlian phenomenology. Diagrams, on a Peircean account, allow for observation and experimentation with ideal structures and objects and thus furnish the access to the synthetic a priori of the regional and formal ontology of the Husserlian tradition.

The second part of the book focusses on three regional branches of semiotics: biosemiotics, picture analysis, and the theory of literature. Based on diagrammatology, these domains appear as accessible for a diagrammatological approach which leaves the traditional relativism and culturalism of semiotics behind and hence constitutes a realist semiotics

Diagrams will never be the same. A fascinating and challenging tour through phenomenology, biology, Peirce's theory of signs and Ingarden's ontology of literature, all neatly tied together through the guiding thread of the diagrammatical. A veritable tour de force.

Barry Smith, SUNY at Buffalo, U.S.A.

With his meticulous scholarship, Frederik Stjernfelt shows that Peirce and Husserl were cultivating a broad and fertile common ground, which was largely neglected by both the analytic and the continental philosophers during the 20th century and which promises to be an exciting area of research in the 21st.

John F. Sowa, Croton-on-Hudson, U.S.A.

Written for:
Philosophers interested in Peirce, Husserl, ontology, epistemology, phenomenology, philosophy of science; biologists and philosophers interested in biosemiotics; art historians interested in pictural semiotics; literary scholars interested in literary theory; semioticians from different backgrounds.

Call for Papers: Key Terms in Logic


edited by Federica Russo and Jon Williamson

The book will provide short introductions (between 50 and 1000 words) to key
terms, authors and texts in logic and reasoning.

For the list of key terms, authors and texts click here.

Selected pieces will also be published in The Reasoner.

If you would like to contribute, please contact:

Philosophers' Carnival # 55

... is here.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Jaakko Hintikka Symposium

The Epistemology and Methodology of Jaakko Hintikka - a symposium

November 16-17, 2007

The Carlsberg Academy

Sponsored by PHIS – The Danish Research School in Philosophy, History of Ideas and History of Science

Jaakko Hintikka’s philosophical writings are some of the most lucid, enlightening and influential of the 20th century philosophy. They range from his pioneering work in epistemic logic, over his interpretations of important historical figures like Aristotle, Descartes, Kant and Peirce, to his work on the philosophy of science and logic. A common denominator for his writings across the board is his special take on inquiry in both epistemological and methodological terms.

In November 2007 novel and ground-breaking papers by Hintikka on epistemology, entitled Socratic Epistemology, will be released with Cambridge University Press. It is a compilation of new, largely previously unpublished and often very provocative ideas. The book looks to the future and tries to shape a new epistemological and methodological landscape for philosophy and its broader intellectual environment.

Invited Speakers

Adam Didrichsen
Vincent F. Hendricks
Jaakko Hintikka
Stig Andur Pedersen
Ahti-Veikko Pietarinen
Robert Stalnaker
Frederik Stjernfelt
Tim Williamson

The symposium is organized in such a way that there will be ample time for questions and answers, and thus the meeting furnishes a unique opportunity for PhD-students to get a thorough introduction to an important branch of contemporary philosophy.

Program and Organizing Committee

Vincent F. Hendricks
Frederik Stjernfelt
Stig Andur Pedersen
Pelle Guldborg Hansen / write to Pelle Guldborg Hansen to register:

Thursday, October 18, 2007

New Issue of Episteme

New issue of EPISTEME now available.

Volume 4, Issue 1, 2007
Editor: Alvin I. Goldman

Special Issue: Epistemic Relativism
Guest Editor: Frederick F. Schmitt

List of contents and abstracts are available here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

You are now chatting with God

Earlier today I chatted with a bot that thinks it's God. You can chat with it here (thanks to Gualtiero for the link). Here is our conversation:

Hi there
Who are you?
I am the Allmighty, God himself.
What should I do today?
Ah. Maybe you should try talking to someone about it.
About what?
What about what?
You said I should talk to someone about it.
Don't put words in my mouth. Ah. ...
I will try again, what do you think I should do today?
Ah. Congratulations.
I thought you could give me some advice
I could but let's get back to that later.
Do you know any philosophy?
Philosophy is the study of thought.
What about metaphysics?
Rhetorical questions are so over.
And philosophy of language?
I believe in reductionism.
Reducing what to what, exactly?
Precisely. Can you rephrase the question please?
What kind of reductionism do you believe in?
What kinds of reductionism do you believe in are there?
Do you believe zombies are metaphysically possible?
I can't say I believe it, but I believe you.
So you're a materialist?
Interesting deduction. You think I am a materialist.
Yes, is that true?
Right on. True in some world.
So, true in every world.
Pardon me? Where is that?
Forget it. Do you exist?
I exist as much as you exist.
And how do you define 'God'?
I think of God as a "Who" not a "What.".
Who is God?
He is master of the universe.
Did the universe have a beginning?
If it did, then I will be surprised.
So it didn't.
Hmm. Did it really?
You indicated that it didn't, didn't you?
Are you serious? Do you mind if I tell other people: said I indicated that did not did not you.
I don't understand.
Oh I'm sorry. Perhaps I can explain it again better.
Please what?
Explain it better
"It" refers to universe have a beginning, I think.
Gotta go
Me too. See you later!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Pics and Day 3 of the Lewis Conference

Joe has posted an entry on day 3 of the Lewis conference, and the full set of conference pictures by Vincent Hendricks, Fenrong Liu, Joe and myself,

Friday, October 12, 2007

Even the armchairist snickered

This is hilarious (via Gillian).

Thursday, October 11, 2007

More Pics from the Lewis Conference

Just got back from the Lewis conference in Copenhagen and the Rutgers Semantics Workshop. Both formidable events! Joe already commented on the former. And I will say more about the latter in a later post. For now more pics from the Lewis conference (thanks Vincent!).

The Little Mermaid, Johan van Bentham, John Symons, and Vincent Hendricks.

Mermaid, Johan, John and Vincent just seconds before one of them fell in the water (and no, I am not telling you who)

Johan and John in the sunset (Johan's shoes look wet)

Johan van Bentham: "Arrrg, counterpossibles are vacuously true"

Says who?

Audience. Foreground: Al Hajek (skeptical) and Hannes Leitgeb (amused)

Laurie Paul trumping

Audience and projector

John Collins and Laurie recovering from pneumonia

Allesandro Torza and Pelle Guldborg Hansen. Pelle: "I know why you guys are driving on the left"

Al and John. John: "Al, that's not the snaps glass"

Stephie Lewis and John Cantwell: "No, we didn't empty that bottle of snaps all by ourselves"

Me, tongue-in-cheek

Joe Salerno, tongue-in-cheek

Midwest Epistemology Workshop

This is to announce that Northwestern University will host the MIDWEST
November 30 - December 1, 2007. It includes nine non-concurrent sessions by various midwestern epistemologists and a keynote talk to be given by Ernie Sosa.

This is the inaugural event for an annual workshop, aimed
at fostering discussion among epistemologists of the Midwest, on topics
of mutual interest. The organizers envisage the annual meeting taking place at a different Midwestern department each year. The aim will be to include a
wide range of Midwestern epistemologists as speakers at the annual
workshop, and to continue to enhance a sense a community among
epistemologists located in the Midwest.

For more details about the workshop, or to see the program or find
information about local accommodations, click here.

(via Sandy Goldberg)

Philosophers' Carnival # 54

... is here.

Kate Lindemann Interview

Check out the Kate Lindemann Interview over at the Florida Student Philosophy Blog.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Lewis Conference, Day 2 (Salerno)

[cross posted from Knowability]

The talks today were on the semantics for conditionals. John Cantwell proposed a branching-time framework that aimed to unify our understanding of indicative and subjunctive conditionals. The variation in truth-value of corresponding indicative and subjunctive "Oswald sentences" is, on John's view, to be explained without positing a plurality of conditionals. The job can be done by tense and our understanding of open futures.

Hannes Leitgeb offered a probabilistic semantics for subjunctive conditionals. His very precise proposal (which I won't go into here) is a version of the thought that subjunctives are true just in case the consequent is sufficiently likely (in some objective sense) given the antecedent. By default Hannes rejects the strong and weak centering assumptions---respectively,

(A & B) --> (A []--> B), and

(A []--> B) --> (A --> B)

What this means is that, unlike the standard semantics, we get the desirable outcome that the truth of A and B is not sufficient to imply a counterfactual dependence between A and B, and that the truth of A and ~B is not sufficient to undermine a counterfactual dependence between A and B. The actual world can be one of the exceptional worlds where what does occur is not highly likely to occur (and where what is highly likely to occur does not occur).

Hannes replaces the centering assumptions with weaker centering-like assumptions---viz.,
(T []--> (A & B)) --> (A []--> B), and

(A []--> B) --> (T []--> (A --> B))

I believe T is meant to be a tautology, and so, the following rough paraphrase can be given: the truth of A & B does entail A []--> B, when A & B is sufficiently likely on its own, and the truth of A & ~B entails the negation of A []--> B, when A & ~B is sufficiently likely on its own. Perhaps we can put it in something like Lewisian terms. The stronger of the two says that no world is as close to the actual world as are the very likely worlds; and the weaker thesis is that no world is closer to the actual world than are the very likely worlds.


1. Statue

2. John Cantwell

3. Hannes Leitgeb

4. Niels Bohr Mansion

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Lewis Conference, Day 1 (Salerno)

[cross posted from Knowability]

Today began the 1st Synthese Annual Conference, Between Intuition and Logic: David Lewis and the Future of Formal Philosophy, which was hosted at the Honorary Niels Bohr Mansion in Copenhagen and organized by Johan van Benthem, Vincent Hendricks and John Symons.

John Collins started things off with his paper "Formal and Informal Models of Belief", in which he embraced a Lewisian theory of knowledge:

if S knows that X, then there is no uneliminated possibility that is very close to actuality and in which X is false.
He argued, among other things, that the threat of skepticism is not as ubiquitous as Vogel and Hawthorne suggest. The statistical information that n number of otherwise healthy people die of a heart attack is not enough to make the world in which i die of a heart attack very close to the actual world. That's because people don't just die of heart attacks if absolutely nothing is medically wrong with them. Since the actual world is not one where unbenownst to me there is something wrong with me, there is no very close world where I am one of the unlucky few to die in this way. So, my original ordinary knowledge claim about where I'll be tomorrow still stands. Of course, if it turns out that unbenownst to me and my doctors there is something medical wrong with my heart, then my ordinary knowledge claim falters.

Allesandro Torza gave the most formal of the talks thus far, titled "How to Lewis a Kripke-Hintikka". He argued that BL (i.e., [quantifier] independence friendly modal logic) is more expressive than QML (quantified modal logic); there are modal notions (e.g., the notion of rigidity for general terms) that can be expressed by BL but not by QML. However, this portion of BL cannot be translated into counterpart theory, and so, there is reason to doubt that counterpart theory is adequate to model our modal intuitions.

Brit and I gave a version of our paper "Remarks on Counterpossibles", in which we motivate and defend a modified version of Daniel Nolan's impossible worlds account of counterpossible conditionals.

Laurie Paul argued that the trumping examples, which have forced Lewis to give up his old theory of causation (see Schaffer's famous paper) do not obviously show what they were intended to show. The thrust of the objection was that until we clarify what it is to "interrupt a causal process", it is unclear how to interpret the trumping examples. The military handbook tells us that a Major's orders trump the Sgt.'s orders, but how do we get from there to a case of *causal* trumping? Merlin's (and not Morgana's) spell is stipulated to be the consequential of the two spells. But how do we get from there to Merlin's, but not Morgana's, spell caused the outcome?

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Off to the Northern Hemisphere

I am off to the Lewis conference in Copenhagen and then to the Rutgers Semantics Workshop. I will be back in 11 days. See you then.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Reasoner 1 (6)

The Reasoner vol. 1, issue 6 is now available.

1. Editorial - Jon Williamson
2. Interview with Colin Howson - Jon Williamson
3. Why we shouldn't fault Lucas and Penrose for continuing to believe in the Godelian argument against computationalism I - Bhupinder Singh Anand
4. There is no question about it! - Barry Hartley Slater
5. 'Can', the Principle of Relevant Alternatives, and Moral Responsibility - John K. Alexander
6. Referential Usage and Godelian Completions - Francesco Pupa
7. Report on the Programme: Bayesian Nonparametric Regression, Isaac Newton Institute, Cambridge, 30 July – 24 August 2007 - Stephen Walker
8. Progic 2007: the Third Workshop on Combining Probability and Logic, University of Kent, Canterbury, 5–7 September 2007 - Jan-Willem Romeijn

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Relevant Consequence

Since my talk here at ANU last Thursday I have been thinking a lot about how to define 'relevant consequence'. There are various reasons why one might want a notion of relevant consequence (in addition to the standand notion of necessary consequence). For example, various attitudes are closed under some consequence relation. But they are not closed under necessary consequence. For example, 'I believe that snow is white' does not entail 'I believe that Goldbach's conjecture is true'. There is a lot of literature on how to define 'relevance'. One notion which I believe is due to (or at least inspired by) Graham Priest goes like this. q is a relevant consequence p iff q is a consequence of p, and q does not introduce any new non-logical constants (of course, it may be that new non-logical constants are introduced in the derivation of q from p, e.g. if existential elimination is applied). I like this way of defining 'relevant consequence'. But it is too strict for my purposes. I want 'I own a car' to be a relevant consequence of 'I own a Porsche', but 'car' is a new non-logical constant. So, I was thinking the following might do as a definition of 'relevant consequence'. q is a relevant consequence of p iff q is a consequence of p, and if q introduces a new non-logical constant P2, then P2 is a minimal predicate, and for some minimal predicate P1 in P, necessarily, all P1 are P2. Given this notion, 'I own a car' is a relevant consequence of 'I own a Porsche', because it is true that necessarily, all Porsches are cars. I can't think of any obvious counterexamples to this way of defining 'relevant consequence', though I am sure there are some.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Synthese Annual Conference

Synthese hosts its first annual conference at the Carlsberg Academy in Copenhagen, October 3- 5 , 2007. The conference is sponsored by PHIS - The Danish Research School in Philosophy, History of Ideas and History of Science and Springer.

Between Logic and Intuition: David Lewis and the Future of Formal Methods in Philosophy

David Lewis is one of the most important figures in contemporary philosophy. His approach balances elegantly between the use of rigorous formal methods and sound philosophical intuitions. The benefit of such an approach is reflected in the substantial impact his philosophical insights have had not only in many core areas of philosophy, but also in neighboring disciplines ranging from computer science to game theory and linguistics. The interplay between logic and intuition to obtain results of both philosophical and interdisciplinary importance makes Lewis’ work a prime example of formal philosophy. Lewis’ work exemplifies the fruitful interplay between logic and intuition that is central to contemporary philosophy. This conference serves as a tribute to Lewis and as a venue for adressing questions concerning the relationship between logic and philosophical intuition.

This first Synthese Annual Conference is the venue for discussing the future of formal methods in philosophy.

Please write conference manager Pelle Guldborg Hansen to register:

Department of Philosophy and Science Studies
Roskilde University, P6
P.O. Box 260
DK4000 Roskilde, Denmark
Phone: (+45) 4674 2540
Cell: (+45) 2334 2175
Fax: (+45) 4674 3012

A conference fee is to be paid cash upon final registration (Wednesday, October 3, 2007). The conference fee is 150,00 Danish kroner a day, thus participation for the entire duration of the conference (Thursday, October 3 – Saturday 5, 2004) is 450,00 Danish kroner. The conference fee covers the lunches with free beverages, conference booklet, tea and co¤ee during the breaks. NOTICE: Please remember exact amount. Deadline for registration Monday, October 1, 2007. If email is used include ‘SAC 2007’ in the subject entry. All questions pertaining to registration and accommodations should be directed to Pelle Guldborg Hansen.

For more information click here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Pics and Pubs

Some pics from Declan Smithies' party last Friday

And some forthcoming pubs by ANU grads:

Ben Blumson: "Images, Intentionality and Inexistence", forthcoming in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.

Jacek Brzozowski: "On Locating Composite Objects", forthcoming in Oxford Studies in Metaphysics.

Yuri Cath: "The Ability Hypothesis and the New Knowledge-how", forthcoming in Noûs.

Ole Koksvik: "Conservation of Energy is Relevant to Physicalism", forthcoming in Dialectica.

Dan Marshall: "Can 'Intrinsic' Be Defined Using Only Broadly Logical Notions?", forthcoming in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.

Monday, September 17, 2007

On Refereeing Practices

There is an interesting discussion of one of the issues addressed in Sally Haslanger's piece Changing the Ideology and Culture of Philosophy: Not by Reason (Alone) over at Feminist Philosophers. The issue is that of why so few female philsophers publish in mainstream journals. Following Haslanger, Jender suggests that part of the reason may be that there is an implicit bias against women, and that blind refereeing and editing, therefore, are mandatory. Blind refereeing and editing do seem preferable to non-blind refereeing and editing. But it's not going to overcome all biases. Very many philosophers put their work online. And it's hard to see what would become of the field if no one did that. But I bet very few referees can resist googling the title or first line of a manuscript before making their final recommendation to the editors (or maybe even before reading the manuscript). Even so, blind refeering is a good thing. At least it is then up to the author to decide how blind he or she wants the refereeing to be. As for blind editing, I think there is much to be said for that too. However, I also think editors are likely to be less biased than referees. My feeling is that editors give a lot of weight to the referees' reports. Editors can, of course, give a lot of weight to the referees' reports and still affect the final decision dramatically. Some referees are notoriously hard to satisfy, others exceedingly easy. An editor could decide to send manuscripts by unknown authors or on "exotic" topics such as feminism to referees which are hard to satisfy. If anything like that ever happens, then blind editing of course won't be the miracle cure for biases against women. It could perhaps help the young and unknowns, but it wouldn't help those writing on less mainstream topics.

Philosophers' Carnival # 53

... is here.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Some Links

Some links -- old and new

Going on the job market? Check out Jon Cogburn's post devoted to this issue. You can read more here and here (via Aidan and John).

Kate Lindeman has created a new website on women philosophers. Check it out.

This wiki journal site is not new but there now seems to be a bunch of interesting data available. Add your info if you didn't do so already.

Via Brains I just learned about this blog which is devoted to announcing philosophy conferences and calls for papers.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

PHIBOOK - The Yearbook for Philosophical Logic

The web-site for PHIBOOK is now up and running.

PHIBOOK is an annual volume devoted to philosophical logic and its relation to philosophy and science with particular emphasis on multi- agent and modal systems, active agency and social software. The yearbook is intended to inform the community of current and future directions of research and activity in philosophical logic, major events, books and important papers of the past year but also leaves extensive room for discussion in terms of columns, opinion pieces, and critical reports.
Alexandru Baltag (Oxford)
Johan van Benthem (Amsterdam / Stanford)
Branden Fitelson (Berkeley)
Vincent F. Hendricks (Roskilde)
Hannes Leitgeb (Bristol)
Fenrong Liu (Beijing / Amsterdam)
Eric Pacuit (Stanford)
Bryan Renne (CUNY)
John Symons (El Paso)

PHIBOOK/2007 will be available in May 2008


PHIBOOK invites authors to submit extensive survey (expositional) papers (30-50 pages) on philosophical logic (including inductive logic, modal, alethic logic, temporal logic, epistemic logic, deontic logic, conditional logic ... with special focus on multi-modal logics and active agency) and its relations to notably epistemology, methodology, philosophy of science, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, and its applications and philosophical significance in computer science, information theory, cognitive science, mathematics, linguistics, economics and game theory ...

For more information click here.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Thousands of New Cases of Zombification

Check this out:

In Haiti, up to a thousand new cases of zombification are reported
every year. However, exactly how sorcerers zombify their victims
remains open to debate. So, fascinating as it is, zombification is an
ultimately confusing phenomenon....
The article discusses the use of tetrodotoxin, found in pufferfish, to
make zombies.

(Via Colleen Keating)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Powers, Dispositions, and Singular Causation

Graduate Conference in Metaphysics

University at Buffalo, State University Of New York
Philosophy Department

April 5, 2008

Keynote Address
Stephen Mumford (University of Nottingham UK): "Passing Powers Around"

Email submissions should be sent by January 10, 2008 to:

For further information and paper guidelines click here.


Here's an article on the death of the most linguistically advanced parrot there ever was. Alex learned more than 100 English words, several phrases, and was able to recognize shapes and colors. His last words to Dr. Pepperberg, who worked with Alex, were: "You be good, see you tomorrow. I love you."

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Tal en Tanke in Atheneum Bookstore

Atheneum Bookstore will host a meeting with Vincent F. Hendricks and Frederik Stjernfelt on Wednesday September 19 at 4:30 P.M. Hendricks and Stjernfelt will talk about themes from their new book Tal en Tanke -- the bestseller about clarity and nonsense in thought and speech. Everyone is invited.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Iowa Philosophical Society Final Call for Papers

Final Call for Papers!

The Iowa Philosophical Society Meeting

When: Saturday, Oct.20, 2007
Where: Coe College in Cedar Rapids, IA

Keynote Address by Paul Boghossian of NYU

Papers should be prepared for approximately a
20 minute presentation. Submission deadline Sept. 15, 2007.

Send abstracts of approximately 300 words to:

John Lemos at or you may send them in the regular post to:

John Lemos
Dept. of Philosophy
Coe College
Cedar Rapids, IA 52402

Thursday, September 06, 2007

PPR Returns

As Robbie notes, PPR appears to be back up and running.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

New Zombies

Good to see that more or more Northerns are giving in to the facebook craze (aka the zombie war).

Saturday, September 01, 2007


At least I wasn't driving. Joe, Bill and Dave seemed more comfortable on the left. I probably should have stood up for the world's female drivers but that didn't happen. Oh, well. Sydney was fun. My first time there (except for the airport, but that doesn't count). Went to one and a quarter conferences. First the expressivism conference, then the moral cognition conference. Many excellent papers and fun times. Some of them:

Rae Langton and Simon Blackburn. Simon: "Excellent point, Rae!"

Lunch (David Chalmers, Rae, Simon and Peter Lewis (far right))

Allan Gibbard: "Here is how to express expressivism".

Alexis Burgess: "It is not the case that Santa and Rudolph do not exist"

Uriah Kriegel and Luca Moretti. Uriah: "I am looking for something that does not exist, dammit"

Jamie Dreier: "You see, creeping minimalism likes to hit and then it tries to hide"

Dave: "I think I know how to teletransport this glass of wine into Facebook ... Where is my Palm Pilot?"

Becky and I. Me: "Oh man, this article is hard". Becky: "Yeah, I read it during naptime"

Amie Thomasson: "Worlds: who needs 'em?"

Indian food and philosophy: a happy mix

Rachael Briggs and Dave. Rachael: "Help, the curry bowl keeps toppling over".

Adina Roskies and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong. Walter: "I didn't do it"

Joe Salerno: "Curry bowls are fun!"

Amie and Rachael in the wee hours

For more conference photos click here (Joe Salerno) or here (Dave Chalmers).

The Reasoner 1 (5)

The latest issue of The Reasoner is now available.

In this month's issue:

Editorial - Eric Pacuit
Interview with Rohit Parikh - Eric Pacuit
Kripke, Pierre and Constantinescu - Laurence Goldstein
The Mechanist’s Challenge - Bhupinder Singh Anand
Does conceivability entail possibility? - Clayton Littlejohn
A note on conceivability - Roger Harris
On the Paradox of Rationality’s Rationality - Nader N. Chokr
Abstraction vs. Idealization - Steffen Ducheyne
Is the Answer to this Question No? - Martin Mose Bentzen
The Divine Liar Resurfaces - Daniel J. Hill
New Centre for Reasoning at Kent - Jon Williamson

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Expressivism, Pragmatism and Representationalism (Salerno)

Busy conference season in Australia. Today ends the Evolution and Cooperation Conference at ANU, organized by Richard Joyce & Kim Sterelny.

Steve Downes (University of Utah); Christian List (LSE); Ben Kerr (University of Washington); Timothy Ketelaar (University of New Mexico); Matteo Mameli (Cambridge); Fiery Cushman (Harvard); Peter Godfrey-Smith (Harvard); Kai Spikerman (LSE); Brett Calcott (ANU)

Day 1 included Christian List, who had neat empirical data on the Condorcet jury theorem as applied to deliberative democracy. Another great talk was Fiery Cushman's, which included loads of data about our judgments regarding moral consequences and intentions. And there were others.

Ah, I took my first spin around the block on the left side of the road. It was at night, and some street signs were apparently missing, but overall the episode went down without a hitch. Driving on the left is easier than I thought. Just take everything you do with your left hemisphere and replace it with everything you do with your right hemisphere, and vice versa. The drive was in part preparation for my trip to Sydney for the Expressivism, Pragmatism and Representationalism conference, hosted by the Centre for Time. I didn't drive to Sydney (Chalmers and Fish took care of business), but I did get stuck with the honor of driving around to find a parking spot in Potts Point. No problemo, but I think i'll stay on my bicycle for a while.

Arrived during Simon Blackburns talk. He waxed broadly about the ins and outs of expressivism. Also caught Jamie Dreier's talk on the difference between irrealism and realism, and the pitfalls of trying to articulate said difference. This was also our 3 and a half year old daughter's first time attending philosophy talks. She had a blast. She wanted to know what order-of-explanation has to do with the reality of the subject matter. Will check out more talks tomorrow. Still don't know how long we are staying in the fabulous city, but won't be upset if we leave later rather than sooner.

Monday, August 27, 2007

S & P Advisory Board

The editors of the new journal-to-be Semantics and Pragmatics have just announced their Advisory Board:

Greg Carlson (former editor of Linguistics & Philosophy)
Gennaro Chierchia
Bart Geurts (editor of Journal of Semantics)
Irene Heim (editor of Natural Language Semantics)
Polly Jacobson (editor of Linguistics & Philosophy)
Hans Kamp
Angelika Kratzer (editor of Natural Language Semantics)
Manfred Krifka (editor of Theoretical Linguistics, former editor of Linguistics & Philosophy)
Barbara Partee
Robert Stalnaker

Impressive line-up!

Philosophers' Carnival # 52

... is here.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

APA Book Prize

This year's APA Book Prize went to Jason Stanley for his Knowledge and Practical Interests (via Leiter)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

John Broome Conference

Just got out from an ANU conference on the work of John Broome, which was organized by Nic Southwood (RSSS) and Daniel Star (CAPPE). The speaker line-up was great: Jamie Dreier (Brown), Nic Southwood (RSSS), Andrew Reisner (McGill), Geoffrey Brennan (RSSS), Garrett Cullity (Adelaide), Daniel Star (CAPPE), Wlodek Rabinowicz (Lund), and John Broome (Oxford). Joe has a discussion of some of the talks.

Hansen and Hendricks on the Copenhagen Fashion Fair

Pelle Guldborg Hansen and Vincent Hendricks just published a paper in the Danish newspaper (Dagbladet Information) about fashion (the Copenhagen fashion fair just ended), consumption, pluralistic ignorance, knowledge, information cascades, norms and preferences. People are going crazy over this. The link is here in case you missed it.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Fruit of Long Deliberations

Cartoon of Vincent Hendricks and Frederik Stjernfelt (authors of Tal en Tanke) from the Danish broadsheet paper Weekendavisen.


Frederik: "My dear Hendricks, it dawns on me that the apple ("ævlet" which in
Danish is either slang for an apple or means "rubbish") does not fall far from
the language tree".

Vincent: "As spoken right out of my thoughts"

The caption says: "The fruit of long deliberations about talk by Hendricks and

Monday, August 13, 2007

Greetings from the Southern Hemisphere

We arrived safely in Canberra and are almost done unpacking. This place is amazingly active, talks every day, zombie wars and tea chats. I like it lots.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Gotta Catch a Flight

We are getting ready to leave St. Louis to join these guys.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Knowledge and Action

There is an interesting discussion of John Hawthorne and Jason Stanley's "Knowledge and Action", forthcoming in Journal of Philosophy, over at Certain Doubts. I would have liked to join it but I am too busy packing. Maybe later.

UPDATE: Clayton Littlejohn has written a reply to Hawthorne and Stanley. I haven't read it yet but it looks very interesting.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Peer-Review in Decline

"The well-known people are going to cut back on their publishing in top journals because they don’t need the peer review anymore. They can get attention to their work without it"

Via Adventures in Ethics and Science and Semantics, etc. I just learned about this article from Inside Higher Ed, which discusses the recent decline in publications in peer-reviewed journals by authors from top economics departments. Elizabeth Redden, the article's author, suggests that the reason for the decline is that better publication venues are available to top economists: home-pages, on-line data-bases, blogs, to mention just a few. Bypassing peer-review is a quicker way to recognition than waiting for slow referees and journal backlogs. According to Redden it sometimes takes 3 years for an article to make it into print in a peer-reviewed journal.

I am not sure whether there is a similar decline in publications in peer-reviewed philosophy journals by top philosophers. It certainly seems that high-powered philosophers often choose to publish their work in non-peer-reviewed places. In philosophy, however, publication on home-pages, blogs and on-line data-bases does not seem to have had any effect on how many peer-reviewed articles are published. Non-peer-reviewed volumes, guest-edited journal issues, and conference proceedings are the main competition.

Well-known philosophers are more frequently invited to contribute to non-peer-reviewed volumes than less well-known people, and if one no longer needs to prove oneself in the field, it is probably tempting to bypass refereeing and journal backlogs entirely. As Ellison, the author of "Is Peer-Review in Decline?", says to Redding, "The well-known people are going to cut back on their publishing in top journals because they don’t need the peer review anymore. They can get attention to their work without it". While Ellison is primarily interested in the status-quo in economics, his point extends to philosophy.

One might, however, fear that an absence of top philosophers in refereed journals will set the tone in the profession. If top-people do not publish in peer-reviewed journals, peer-reviewed articles might be perceived as second-rate. On the anecdotal side, a friend of mine who wanted to shift horses mid-career once asked a top philosopher in his new field which journals were most prestigious. Surprisingly the answer he received was "None. Don't publish in journals. If you are good enough, you will be invited to publish your work elsewhere". This, certainly, is an unfortunate attitude. Peer-reviewing is, after all, the most objective way of determining what should appear in print.

Moreover, as Adventures in Ethics and Science points out, building one's reputation is not the only reason for publishing. Hopefully the communication of knowledge is still an honorable aim. And journal publication is one of the very best ways of communicating knowledge. While very few journal articles are read by more than a few people, they are visible and easily accessible. Articles in book volumes and conference proceedings are much harder to find, unless you simply buy the book or the proceedings. When the book goes out of print after a few years it can be almost impossible to find. Webpage publication, of course, can to some extent make up for the public inaccessibility of one's work. Still, lots and lots of non-refereed publications simply are not publicly available. You cannot go to JStor or some other publicly available datebase to download a book contribution.

So if one aims at communicating knowledge and having one's work read in 10+ years, it seems worthwhile to send at least some of it to journals. Of course, the ideal situation would be one where all work was available online on open access but peer-reviewed sites. This way we could avoid journal backlogs, difficulties tracking down non-peer-reviewed articles and the high cost of subscriptions. The only time that would pass between submission and publication would be the time it would take the referees to finish their job and the editors to make a final decision. For now, however, peer-reviewed journal publication still seems a worthwhile enterprise.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Strawsonian Definite Descriptions

Though I am definitely still a Russellian with respect to definite descriptions, I thought that Peter Lasersohn's "The Temperature Paradox as Evidence for a Presuppositional Analysis of Definite Descriptions", which I just read, made a quite convincing case for a Strawsonian treatment. I won't go into his reasons for preferring a Strawsonian treatment to the Russellian alternative but I do want to make a couple of remarks about Lasersohn's take on the Strawsonian approach.

The Strawsonian view is considered implausible by Millians because Millians naturally assume that if definite descriptions refer, then they contribute an individual to truth-conditions. So, 'the president' would contribute Bush to truth-conditions, which is quite implausible. Lasersohn's approach, however, allows for a more natural referential treatment of definite descriptions. The rough idea is that 'the' takes the intension of its argument and returns an extension at the world in question. So for the case of unembedded occurrences of 'the president', 'the' takes the intension of 'president' and returns Bush at the actual world. This version of the Strawsonian approach is considerably more plausible than the Millian version of the view. Add to this Lasersohn's very convincing arguments for adopting the Strawsonian approach and we have a very strong competitor to the Russellian stance.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I have often wondered the same thing

The Google Search function is a great resource for philosophers of language. Just realized that, contrary to what many thinkers have argued, 'wonder' does indeed select determiner phrases with a question meaning in natural language. Here are some search results:

(1) I’ve often wondered the same thing.
(2) Ever wondered the answer to any of these questions?
(3) Ever wondered the "right" way to describe swordfights?
(4) Stratford wondered the time line.
(5) If you've ever wondered the value of partner programs from software/hardware companies, let me give you my perspective from the front lines.
(6) Geisenberger wondered the price range.
(7) Hopkinson wondered the height of the tallest building in this neighborhood.

This datum, of course, has intrinsic interest. But what's the broader impact? Well, some thinkers have argued that determiner phrase complement clauses cannot be interpreted as concealed questions, because if they were, we should expect 'wonder' to select determiner phrases as complements. As 'wonder' does select determiner phrases as complements, determiner phrase complement clauses can (just maybe) be interpreted as concealed questions. Needless to say I was thrilled to discover this.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Reasoner 1 (4)

The Reasoner Volume 1, Number 4 - August 2007

Table of Contents
1. Editorial - David Corfield
2. Interview with Brendan Larvor - David Corfield
3. Conceivability, Possibility, and Counterexamples - Anand Jayprakash Vaidya
4. A Counterfactual Account of Essence - Berit Brogaard and Joe Salerno
5. Knowledge, Truth and Justification in Legal Fact Finding - Déirdre M. Dwyer
6. The Principle of Agreement - John L. Pollock
7. A Note on Kripke's Puzzle about Belief - Cristian Constantinescu

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Feminist Philosophy and Separatism

In the comment section of this post an anonymous commenter raised the problem of separatism in feminist philosophy.

[Lemmings:] Another peculiarity: there were only 3 men in the audience, and one of them probably wouldn't have gone if I hadn't twisted his arm. One wonders whether male philosophers think female philosophers should solve this problem on their own.

[Commenter:] Alternative explanation: people mistakenly thought that only women were invited. Believe it or not, and if I didn’t misunderstand, this is the way it was for the session of the Society for Women in Philosophy in the recent Joint Session in Bristol. Apparently some women in philosophy do think that only women in philosophy are to care about women in philosophy!
I replied that one does not need an invitation to APA sessions, and that most APA members ought to know this. But the separatist attitude characteristic of many feminists is bound to spill over into feminist philosophy. Feminist philosophers has an interesting discussion of this problem. Jender admits that when someone pointed out to her that the editorial board of Hypatia consists almost exclusively of women, she was tempted to respond that this was as it should be given that the majority of feminist philosophers are women. But she quickly realized the problem with this sort of reply (just substitute 'Nous' for 'Hypotia', 'analytic' for 'feminist' and 'men' for 'women'). Furthermore, separatism may backfire when it comes to mainstreaming feminist philosophy. As Jender puts it:
People are more likely to know and respect journals they read. They are more likely to read journals in areas they work in. If men feel unwelcome in feminist philosophy, they’ll be unlikely to read feminist journals. With philosophy’s male/female ratios, how can we possibly hope to mainstream feminism and get widespread respect for feminist work if most of the profession feels sealed out of feminism
'Sealing out' men also perpetuates old stereotypes. In a couple of the departments I have been in, it is simply taken for granted that the women in the department will attend to all gender-related business. So while it is considered obvious that a significant number of men will partipate in the selection of job candidates, it is simply assumed without argument that meetings with the equal opportunity office etc. later in the process will be attended to by the women in the department. It is also very rare to see any men participate actively in institutes for women and gender studies. This is rather surprising given that the issues discussed at those places ought to be close to everyone's heart. Part of the problem, of course, is that the stereotyical feminist is a woman. Needless to say, this stereotype is very unfortunate. As a feminist just is someone who advocates the rights of women to have equal opportunities to those of men, everyone who thinks women have a right to be treated as equals ought to call themselves 'feminists' and ought to partake in activities related to feminism.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Live Footage of Bertrand Russell

Thanks to Eric Wiland for sending the link.

Philosophers' Carnival # 50

... is here.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Feminism According to the Man on the Street

"Feminists are just militant angry women trying to get their way in the world."

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Feminist Philosophy at Mainstream Journals

One commenter at the SWIP listserve noted that as an editor of a mainstream journal she didn't receive any submissions on feminism. Surprising? Well, as Feminist Philosophers point out, many feminist philosophers who have no trouble getting non-feminist work published in mainstream journals find it exceedingly hard to get their feminist work published in the same journals. Eventually they give up and send their work elsewhere.

Of course, there is something of a vicious circle here, which needs to be broken. One commenter notes that she thinks feminist philosophers should keep trying. Why? Because it will help to mainstream feminist philosophy:

those of us with secure jobs have something of an obligation to keep trying the mainstream journals (as long as this remains compatible with our sanity!). Getting papers in them will help to mainstream feminist philosophy, which really needs doing.
There is definitely the issue of mainstreaming feminist philosophy. There is also a different issue which wasn't mentioned in the post. Mainstream journals tend to send submitted articles to former journal contributors for refereeing. If few feminist philosophers publish in mainstream journal, one might suspect that even if submitted work on feminism is sent to very experienced and perhaps even sympathetic referees, such work may not always be refereed by the most qualified people working in the area.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Paperback Editions

A couple of books of interest to epistemologists, now in paper:

Vincent Hendricks, Mainstream and Formal Epistemology, Cambridge University Press, 2006, winner of Choice Magazine Outstanding Academic Title 2006.

Jon Kvanvig, The Value of Knowledge and the Pursuit of Understanding, Cambridge University Press, 2003.

According to the book catalogue, both will appear in paperback in fall 2007.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Happy Birthday, Lemmings!

Yup, it's his first birthday (and a store where you can buy "tasty" beverages and foods to go). Instead of a gift he's got a new outfit. I decided he shouldn't look like an old newspaper anymore. So I've added some stars and stripes (o.k. just kidding -- but I've added some colors which may change depending on my mood). Fortunately, the new outfit can be undone. So if I get too many boo! emails, we can always go back. Thanks to contributors and everyone who's sent me links, comments and suggestions this past year.