Friday, November 27, 2009

Werewolf to meet koalas, kiwis

In three days, I'll be flying out to Australia to give a bunch of talks! There are two full-length papers I'm presenting, both of which have annoying rhymes in their titles. There's also a short paper I'll be presenting at the New Zealand AAP conference, which has its own absurd title. If you're interested in knowing where I'll be, here's the schedule:

December 1 - Australian National University - The Gap Between Thought and Ought
December 3 - University of Waikato - The Trouble With Double Effect
December 7-10 - New Zealand AAP - How Jenny and the cannibal desire Orlando Bloom
December 14 - University of Sydney - The Gap Between Thought and Ought
December 15 - Macquarie University - The Trouble With Double Effect
December 16 - University of New South Wales - The Trouble With Double Effect
December 17 - University of Western Australia - The Trouble With Double Effect
(Update: there was a Jan. 4 talk in NZ, but that probably won't happen.)

I'll be spending Christmas with colleague Ben Blumson in Brisbane. Apart from that, late December and early January are open, and I'll probably be wandering around New Zealand.

If you're curious what all these talks are about, here are some abstracts.

The Gap Between Thought and Ought
According to Nishi Shah and David Velleman, it is a conceptual truth about belief that it is governed by a norm of truth. They claim that their view helps to explain the difference between imagination and belief, and explains why the deliberative question "whether to believe that p?" inevitably gives way to "whether p?" They call this phenomenon "transparency." I argue that it is merely a synthetic truth about belief that it is correct if and only if true. First, their view does little to help us distinguish believing from imagining. Second, when people reject the norm of truth for belief, we regard them as substantively mistaken rather than incoherent. Third, we can give better explanations of transparency without regarding the concept of belief as having any normative content.

The Trouble With Double Effect
According to the Doctrine of Double Effect, it is worse to intend something harmful as a means to a good end than to intend the good end while foreseeing that it will cause harm. For example, it is worse to kill one person as a means to save five lives than it is to save the five in a way that then kills the one. I will argue that belief in Double Effect is produced by systematically misleading psychological processes. Intended harms seem worse because we imagine them more vividly than merely foreseen harms, resulting in more intense emotional responses. This is not a reliable way of forming true beliefs about which option is better. I will discuss recent experimental results from psychology and neuroscience that support this explanation and this criticism of Double Effect.

How Jenny and the cannibal desire Orlando Bloom
Michelle Montague argues that propositionalism, the view that all of our intentional attitudes are propositional attitudes, fails in the case of liking. I first discuss two advantages of propositionalism in the case of desire. Propositionalism correctly identifies the cases in which we regard two agents as desiring the same thing, and it also allows desire to do the explanatory work that it is supposed to. I then extend these arguments to propositionalism about liking. I conclude by considering ways for objectualists to defend their view in light of these arguments.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Nietzsche's Postmoralism is in Southampton

Or at least, that's where the conference is on July 7-9 of 2010. I think it's 2010, though the website says 2009 in some places. I hope they know that the eternal recurrence doesn't work that way.

This could be a nice stop on the trip back to Singapore after the summer 2010 run of talks.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

NIP Journal

The Northern Institute of Philosophy is thinking of starting up another Analysis-like philosophy journal that specializes in shorter papers. Philosophers can vote in their poll about whether they should do it. I think this is great! Sometimes I've been told that articles I've submitted were too short, and larded them up with not-as-important stuff to make them properly lengthy. That's a bad situation for everybody. Having another short-paper journal would really help.

I hope they make the journal open-access and free like Philosophers' Imprint! From what I've heard, librarians are eager to help out with that sort of thing.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

It's possible that MP3 pirates exist...

Me and Ben Blumson before a Halloween shindig in the NUS philosophy grad room. We're discussing the Barcan formula. I was an MP3 pirate for Halloween -- you can see the headphone wires running down my shirt.

Oxford's Neda Agha Soltan philosophy scholarship

Oxford, being awesome. Iran, denouncing the awesomeness.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Great deeds

I'm trying to keep politics on the other blog, but occasionally big awesome things happen. And I am just in awe of this woman. She beat Social Security privatization in 2005 by refusing to concede anything to Bush.

She used the John Murtha resolution to turn the Democrats into a wholeheartedly anti-Iraq-War party in 2006, over the objections of Rahm Emanuel and Steny Hoyer.

This year she's gotten the climate change bill through the House by a 219-212 vote.

And now we've won a 220-215 vote for health care reform. We've still got to pass it through the Senate, strip the Stupak amendment in conference committee, and get the conference report through both chambers. Conference reports are not amendable, so passing those ends up being easier. But this is a tremendous step, and we're further along than anyone has ever gone. In terms of getting good things done, Nancy Pelosi and her longtime ally Henry Waxman (who will spend the rest of his career taking us from this bill towards single-payer) are the best people in American politics.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Paper titles

Has anyone yet written a paper on demonstratives titled "What is the meaning of 'this'?" ? It needs to happen, but I don't know anything about demonstratives so somebody else will have to do it.