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2013-06-11
Hi Matt,

This is a very interesting paper.  I am in agreement with the basic premise, namely, that we should be suspicious of moral intuitions which are highly contingent or "flippable".  However, I have one or two questions about the argument.

In one section, you're dealing with the problem of "typing" mechanisms.  The point, as I understand it, is to show that your argument defeats demandingness intuitions but does not defeat other moral intuitions (such as those concerning the wrongness of slavery).  You say:

Given these considerations, how generally should we type the testimonial process behind my moral belief that slavery is wrong? The reliability of (say) my mother’s anti-racist moral testimony in the actual world should not necessarily be impugned by the unreliability of her moral testimony were she a racist bigot, for her epistemic situation (i.e., her foundational moral beliefs) in the latter case would be radically mistaken. The two types of testimonial processes, then, are plausibl ... (read more)

Latest replies: Permanent link: http://philpapers.org/post/7812 Reply

2013-05-02
One of the correlations I find interesting in the survey is of a predominance (among the target group) of atheists with a predominance of moral cognitivists. This conforms to the several books that have come out in the last decade by so-called New Atheists who nevertheless continue staunchly to defend morality (and often as well their particular moral take on things). While the correlation in the survey is therefore not surprising to me, it is surprising to me in a kind of normative sense, in that I have latterly come to see morality as but a relic of "that old time religion." Of course the correlation has an honored and ancient pedigree, beginning with Plato's "Euthyphro." But isn't it about time that the analytic consensus moved towards a robust moral abolitionism, in the manner of, say, Richard Garner, rather than forever attempting to salvage a way of speaking that perpetuates attitudes we seem more than happy to discard in the case of religion?
Latest replies: Permanent link: http://philpapers.org/post/7772 Reply

2013-05-02

This may be a commonplace in statistical science, but it came as a pleasant surprise to me to see "It is surprising" operationally defined in this paper, namely as reaching a level of dashed expectation by philosophers who took the metasurvey. "It is surprising" is one of countless expressions that, in my view, are used to subtly and illicitly but powerfully and even unawares used to bring others around to seeing things the way oneself does. I described an example in this passage: 

The point I want to make in the present chapter is that the natural tendency to objectify what is essentially subjective is pervasive in our experience, even beyond morality. Consider the seemingly innocuous sentence, “The results were surprising,” which I quote from a book about the physiology and psychology of marine animals. The context is the discussion of an experiment to determine whether crustaceans can feel pain. The subjects were hermit crabs living inside abandoned snail shells that had been outfitt ... (read more)


2013-05-02
Occasionally I have been asked by students what I myself believe, especially when it come to more sensitive topics dealing with a  religious outlook.  My answer typically is that I do not want to influence their own classroom discussion by intruding my personal outlook.  In this way I can continue to play Socrates,constantly challenging positions put forward without having to defend any stand of my own.

The truth of the matter, though, is that I am very uncomfortable with that term "belief."  Again, in the classroom, I will often cite as an axiom the idea from William James that beliefs are rules for action so that the content of a belief matters less to me than how it determines someone's behavior.  Consequently, I am far less interested in many of the standard debates dealing with metaphysical or epistemological issues than I am with discussions involving ethics and political theory.   At the same time, though, I understand full well that there are certa ... (read more)
Latest replies: Permanent link: http://philpapers.org/post/7763 Reply

2013-05-01
The majority of the correlational research published in the experimental psychology journals is based on correlations with r values ranging from .40 upwards. According to the authors of the popular elementary book Psychology—Gleitman, Gross, and Reisberg—these numbers reflect relationships strong enough to produce recognizable patterns in the data. When we are working with r values much less than .40, we begin to grasp at straws. However rock solid the inferential statistical analysis in this paper, the foundation of the inferences is the correlations. When we have correlations that are drastically below the r values acceptable for publication in the experimental journals, one should seriously question what to make of inferential analyses of them. Using inferential statistics to make any broad claims based on such low r values is bad, and I worry that people unacquainted with statistical research will use the analysis provided in the paper for more than satisfying their curiosity. If&n ... (read more)

2013-04-30
Dear authors,

Thank you for this very interesting and illuminative paper and a chance to get acquainted with it. I'm interested in one particular moment. How many philosophers did describe themselves as a 'followers' of Wittgenstein? I'm investigating the problem of unpopularity of Wittgenstein in contemporary Analytic philosophy and I would very appreciate if you could make the result of your survey on the question stated above available.


Thank you in advance.

Sincerely yours,
Iurii Kozik
Latest replies: Permanent link: http://philpapers.org/post/7753 Reply

2013-04-30
What possible significance could this article have? I'm surprised that it has even been accepted for publication. If it is publishable anywhere, it belongs in a sociology journal. Its methods are sociological, not philosophical, and terminally flawed by their lack of comprehensiveness with regard to formulating the survey.

Its questions are simplistic, dichotomous, and non-exhaustive. Moreover, many of these dichotomies are false, e.g., "analytic" vs. "continental" juxtaposes a conceptual category with a geographical category, i.e., it should be either "analytic" vs. "speculative" or "Anglo-American" vs. "continental."

Another example: "Theistic" vs. "atheistic" made me laugh. There are just so many other unmentioned options here. Maybe the high-school-educated-person-in-the-street could answer that question, but how could a philosopher answer it?
Latest replies: Permanent link: http://philpapers.org/post/7747 Reply

2013-04-30
I must commend you both on a well written and superbly organized piece. Though I must confess I did not read the entirety of the work (Due largely to the fact that I am still a neophyte as it pertains to the majority of philosophical concepts surveyed among the participants.) it is clear that you two put forth much effort and time into this piece. What I actually did want to discuss though were two particular results that captured my interest. The first being that 72.8% of respondents are Atheist. Now doing the math, we see that 72.8% of the 931 philosophers who responded to this survey equates to 678 people rounding up. Though I did not formally submit a survey I belong to this camp. These results are surely indicative that philosophical thought has all but breezed past the likes of Kant, Spinoza, Aquinas, etc.
     The result that I found far more fascinating and admittedly somewhat perplexing, was the popularity of Egalitarianism. 34.8% of people partake in Egalit ... (read more)

2013-04-30
I have only just skimmed the paper. I noticed that det/indeterminism is not a category. Is this because determinism is viewed as subsumed under the other categories (free will, physicalism, laws of nature, etc)? 
Again, I have only just skimmed the paper, so there may be discussion on this I missed. 

Kind regards,
Clint Ballinger 

(I am interested as your work will be very useful when I get the chance to update "Determinism and the Antiquated Deontology of the Social Sciences




2012-11-12
I am delighted that someone of Kitcher's ability has tackled the meta-ethical implications of understanding morality as an evolutionary adaptation. Further, Christine Clavien has advanced that good cause by providing an inspiringly insightful and clear review of important implications of his work. 

However, the science of the matter actually supports a much stronger hypothesis than Kitcher's "morality evolved to overcome altruism failures".That stronger hypothesis may have different meta-ethical implications.

Relevant criteria for scientific truth regarding morality as an evolutionary adaptation Include explanatory power for descriptive facts and puzzles, no contradiction with known facts, simplicity, and integration with the rest of science. By these criteria, a superior hypothesis can be stated as "morality overcomes a universal cooperation-exploitation dilemma by motivating or advocating altruistic cooperation strategies". That is, morality is composed of assemblies of biolog ... (read more)

Latest replies: Permanent link: http://philpapers.org/post/7433 Reply

2011-09-10
I couldn't find Tim's email so am instead posting here a link to my critical discussion of his paper (which may also be of interest to other readers):
Moral Judgments, 2Dism, and Attitudinal Commitments.


Cheers,
Richard

2011-08-22
Etymologically, "Philosophy" (or related words in many European languages) means "love of knowledge/wisdom". That is the etymology in the West. In Indian context philosophy is called "dorshon", which etymologically means "vision" . I wonder what philosophy is called in Chinese or other cultures. What are the corresponding etymologies/connotations in those cultures?
Latest replies: Permanent link: http://philpapers.org/post/6106 Reply

2010-12-12
Peer-reviewed journals and other publications on Philosophy: do they promote, or, on the contrary, hinder the development of philosophical thinking? What is reviewed in them, why and by whom? Does it not look like a certain kind of censorship?
Latest replies: Permanent link: http://philpapers.org/post/5041 Reply

2010-08-27
The Philosophical Registry is a very interesting project on its own, independantly of any use other than observing and participating in the systemic life of a philosophical community. However, it could lead to various uses and raise ethical questions : suppose that in few years it has grown enough to serve as a basis for the implementation of a philosophical version of the Turing Test, then, even a vote would not suffice to dissipate the ethical issue if it had not been addressed in the beggining.

There may be also issues related to preliminary theories on the nature of philosophy - specially in the last paragraph of the article - that could make this initial forumulation unsuited for an independant method of assessment. What if the new Lao Tzu gets the poorest evaluation?

This exciting project diserves that its ethical aspects receive thorough attention and prospective.

Emmanuel

2010-08-25
http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2642

2010-08-25
A link to an article going in the same direction:
This guy apparently has some theories about socio-technical systems and on academic publishing as a special case of such a system - see for example: http://brianwhitworth.com/STS/STS-chapter1.pdf

Just browsing First Monday for the link I've also encountered
http://www.uic.edu/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2962/2580


Latest replies: Permanent link: http://philpapers.org/post/4563 Reply

2010-07-03
I got an e-mail the other day from someone who was curious about whether there is any important difference between the term "World Philosophy" and "World Philosophies." Why might that matter? Different writers use one or the other term, and it seems that they do so for some reason or other. What, then, might that reason be?

Well, how about checking the literature a bit to see if there might be an important difference? Doing (a little bit!) of googling, I found a few helpful bits of information.

For instance, consider David Cooper's "World Philosophies: An Historical Introduction", (Blackwell, 2003), or Ninian Smart's "World Philosophy", (Routledge, 1999). Both are introductions to philosophy that have a world perspective, i.e., they are not filled with discussions of only 'Western' texts or readings. That implies that non-Western starting points are worth paying attention to when doing philosophy. But then we have Robert Solomon's "World Phi ... (read more)

2009-10-21
Thrillseeking is putting oneself in a position which one knows will trigger all sorts of "danger" reactions in oneself--for fun (though not necessarily only for fun).

Philosophers throughout history have consistently worked to bring their minds to a state in which the conceptual order they belonged to came to appear more and more unstable and in need of serious repair or revision.

It's plausible to think that when one percieves the conceptual order one belongs to as "unstable," one feels as though one is in a sort of danger. Having to forge a new way to make or find meaning in the world is a scary prospect.

But philosophers throughout history have seemed pretty clearly to enjoy this. They did it not only for fun, but at least for fun.

So I suggest that Philosophy can be understood as conceptual thrillseeking. It is bringing oneself to the brink of complete instability in one's conceptual order--and enjoying it.

(Does this allow for system building to be part of philosophy? At times I suspec ... (read more)
Latest replies: Permanent link: http://philpapers.org/post/1834 Reply

2009-05-21
Cross-posted from http://mleseminar.wordpress.com/

...

Handout here, original paper here.

In this paper Brian Weatherson argues that we can in principle make substantive discoveries in theoretical philosophy which correct mistakes in our pre-theoretic beliefs about some subject matter. The crux of the argument is that, according to the right (eg the Lewisian) theory about meaning, the referents of our theoretical terms are often stable over small variations in use. In some domain where there are few very natural candidate referents to which we might plausibly be interpreted as referring , even relatively systematic false beliefs can be tolerated before use is changed enough for reference to change. Thus it can be the case that the correct response to an intuitive counterexample is to reject certain kinds of intuitions in order to preserve overall theoretical unity and simplicity.

The example looked at in detail is the Gettier counterexamples to the JTB theory of knowledge. Weatherson isn’t ... (read more)


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