Welcome to the 30th Philosophers' Carnival. The Philosophers' Carnival project aims to showcase the best philosophical posts from a wide range of weblogs. Philosophers' Carnivals appear every 3 weeks, each time on a different host's website. The next Carnival will be at Kenny Pearce. Check out the Philosophers' Carnival homepage for more info and the carnival hosting schedule.
Following are this carnival's entries, along with either a brief summary or a quote from the post to give you a better idea of what the post is about. See a mistake? Broken link? Please note it in the comments or email me. Thanks.
Note: A few entries have been added in the short time since the original post went up. In case you missed them, they are marked with '*'.
Glen Whitman of Agoraphilia presents Deontology Meets the Mere Addition Paradox: 'One objection to utilitarianism is its difficulty in dealing with questions of population change. Derek Parfit’s “Mere Addition Paradox” (MAP) shows how both total and average tuilitarianism can lead to bizarre and (seemingly) unpalatable conclusions. Now, what I’m wondering is whether an analytically similar problem might afflict some deontologists (e.g., natural rights theorists) who think they’ve managed to dodge the problems of utilitarianism.' Whitman thinks deontology does not dodge these problems.
Crooked Timber's Harry Brighouse opines on Baroque Specialization and the Irresponsibility of Analytic Philosophers: 'Another part of the University’s mission is to contribute, right now and in the near future, to the intellectual life of the larger community; if universities don’t do that, who will? ...So administrators who have the richer vision of the mission of the university in mind (as including, but not being limited to, the wider public and contemporary mission) are right to seek philosophers (and historians, and sociologists, etc) who act as mediums between a wider public and the core of their discipline, seeking “contemporary relevance”. Not to the exclusion of baroque specialists, but certainly a good mix.' Bonus material: when good philosophers went bad in the 1980's and 1990's.
Matt Brown of The Hanged Man considers Two Ways of Getting Science Wrong: Brown is interested in the question of the relation between, OTOH, scientific theory and, OTOH, practical and everyday experience. How do political and social values constrain science? How do our aims constrain scientific theorizing and practice? When do we have evidence for using a theory in practical situations? Even when these sorts of questions aren't at the forefront of our philosophizing, the connection between scientific progress and technical and practical progress seems pre-theoretically quite strong. There may be problems associated with this connection, problems that interfere with our ability to answer questions such as those above. Brown's hypothesis is that our common ways of talking and thinking about science lead to this interference. He sees two broad types of frameworks for the philosophy of science that start off on the wrong foot, causing the aforementioned problems, that he describes and then criticizes here.
*Kevin Winters over at Heideggerian Denken proposes an answer to the classic query, What Good Is Philosophy?: 'Philosophy is often seen as useless--it accomplishes nothing and often leaves images of thinkers in ivory towers in people's minds (with Platonic precedence). Drawing on Martin Heidegger, philosophy is good because it changes us, not the world; it helps us see, it lets being speak without presupposing what it will say, or in what manner it will say it. We should, then, do philosophy because of how it changes us, not because of how it changes the world.'
*Hell's Handmaiden mulls over Vagueness and the Paralysis of Philosophy: 'This is a monster of a post (seven pages in .doc format) bootstrapped from the concept of vagueness but dealing mostly with the use of language in philosophy. It constitutes something of an attack on certain branches of philosophy which tend to tangle themselves too much in words at the expense of reason.'
*Theo Clark, one half of the humbugging duo at Humbug!, says, Opinion, Argument, Fallacy and Humbug! 'An elucidation of the difference between opinions and arguments, as well as how to spot fallacious reasoning and false talk.'
Kenny Pearce, who will host the next Philosophers' Carnival at his blog on Monday, May 12, 2006, contributes Why Is the NSA Data Mining Operation Bad? to this carnival: ' A discussion of the legal and moral issues surrounding the telecoms' (alleged) provision of customer data to the NSA, from a libertarian perspective. The post focuses on the question of if and how the program violates anyone's (negative/libertarian) rights.'
Lelia Thomas of (what else?) Lelia Thomas discusses Religion in the Modern World: 'In terms of the world today, though, how does religion appear to stand up? How similar/dissimilar are religions on the surface? Where and how does religion play a part, and, statistically, does a population's overall lack or support of faith directly affect a nation?'
Laurence Thomas at Moral Health writes Smiling Faces, Walking Fetus: Beyond Consistency and the Ideology of Abortion: Thomas argues that the ideological reductionism of pro-life and pro-choice positions obscures that they are both unable to see the inconsistency of their positions.
Idris of Palantir argues around Epistemic Internalism and The Agential Regulation of Belief: Epistemic internalists sometimes argue that only if justificatory status supervenes on the internal state of epistemic agents can one hope to regulate one's own beliefs in light of their justificatory status. This is argued on the grounds that only what is internal to an agent is accessible to the agent; Idris argues that such reasoning is unsound.
*Jeremy Pierce, one of the three parableman that make up Parableman, wonders if ID Undermines Itself? 'This post responds to an objection often presented against several kinds of design arguments. The objection says that design arguments have to admit to a fact being both very surprising because of its unlikelihood and very likely because of the theistic explanation for it. I think this drastically misunderstands the nature of design arguments, and if the objection were good it would have to apply also to virtually any inference to the best explanation.'
Steve Gimbel of Philosophers' Playground gets serious about Comedist Sunday School: 'We talked about knock-knock jokes earlier in the week and asked why we teach them to children when they really aren't that funny. In fact, the reason we teach them to children is the same reason they aren't that funny.'
Richard Chappell, organizer of the Philosophers' Carnival, gives us The Limits of Truth Conditions.: 'This post discusses truth-conditional analyses, which explicate a statement by specifying the conditions under which it is true. Claims of necessary coincidence ("necessarily, p iff q") need not provide an analysis of either term. In addition to being able to determine whether a statement is true or false, we also need to understand *why* this is so. Applying this to the analysis of modality itself, I argue that even if we grant Lewis' pluriversal ontology (whereby every distinct concrete universe that could exist, does so), still the existence of an appropriate concrete world is not what the corresponding possibility *consists in*. Lewis' modal analyses would then give us the right results, but for the wrong reasons.'
Francois Tremblay of The Radical Libertarian offers Is Anarchy Utopian?: 'In my previous entry, I talked about arbitration in a market anarchy. This is, I think, the second most popular argument against anarchy. The most popular argument is that anarchy is utopian, either in nature or as a future possibility.'
Roger Scruton of Right Reason ponders Dying Quietly: 'There are, roughly speaking, three approaches to death - the religious, the scientific and the philosophical - and they are not obviously compatible. The religious approach sees death as a point of transition, the entry into another world, and the occasion of judgement. The scientific approach sees death as the extinction of the organism, the point at which the human being ceases, and no longer has a care in the world, or a care out of it. The philosophical approach sees death as a boundary to our projects, an envelope in which life is enfolded, and which casts all our pleasures in its own peculiar light. Death, for the philosopher, is something to be understood, in the way that we understand a person, a text or a work of art - by discerning what it means. '
Brian Weatherson of Thoughts, Arguments and Rants muses about Philosophy 101 Teaching: 'When putting together a syllabus for an intro [philosophy] class, there seem to be two broad strategies one can follow. First, one can do a broad but shallow survey of a lot of different topics in philosophy. As far as I can tell, this kind of approach seems like the dominant one that people use, at least where classes with titles like "Introduction to Philosophy" are taught. Alternatively, one can pick a small number of topics, and focus on them in some depth, hoping that this illustrates what goes on in philosophy.'
Jeff G of Stop That Crow! argues in Vengeance and Justice that getting even and getting justice may be much the same thing after all: In this post Jeff attempts to demonstrate the common underlying principle behind both vengeance and justice and conclude by showing that vengeance and justice are simply different manifestations of the same principle, though the differences are not insignificant. Jeff also attempts to relate these two concepts to the debate between retributive and deterrent punishment.
A big Thank You! to all who submitted posts for the 30th Philosophers' Carnival.