Most Important Books

Over at Fragments, David Chalmers asks for suggestions for the list of the most important recent-ish books in philosophy of mind. He seems to like books from long ago, thinking nothing post-1970 matches up with the best 1920-1970 work, and nothing post-1987 matches with the best 1970-1987 work. Is he right?

If I had more time (and a pony) it’d be fun to run a poll to figure out now that we’ve got some critical distance the most highly regarded books in several fields in philosophy. (What about metaphysics, for example? Language? I guess political philosophy is relatively easy, but overall it’s tricksy.) But as it is we’ll have to settle for discussion threads.

PS: No discussion of best philosophy of mind books here. All that talk should happen over at Dave’s place.

Fun with Google

One of the effects of academia, especially philosophy, having moved so quickly to establish a presence online is that philosophers can have strikingly high Google rankings. Since a high Google ranking is to the 21st century what an ancient title was to the 20th century, this is worth some note. Obviously most philosophers, except those with particularly common names, are the first Google hit if you search their full name. The issue is how high up you are if you search just one of their names. For instance,

  • Benj is both the first Benj and the first Hellie, which is quite a feat
  • Ishani is the second Ishani, and the third Maitra

On the slightly less impressive front (though we can work on improvements!) we have

This is mostly to be filed under weekend frivolity, but while I’m here I should note the papers blog has been updated.

PGR Data

Over at Crooked Timber, Kieran Healy has put together a study of the Gourmet Report voting data. The striking results are that philosophers agree very strongly on which departments are strongest, and that there is a large difference between how much strength in different areas of philosophy correlates with overall ranking. (From my unbiased perspective in central New York, I think the discipline is shamefully neglecting the importance of ancient and medieval philosophy, but that could just be me.) Lots of stuff to read and highly recommended.

Aesthetics Anarchy

The inaugaural Aesthetics Anarchy conference now has a webpage. I notice that I’m still listed as an invited speaker despite being somewhat short of material. The show they’re putting together there looks lots of fun, and it should be my first trip to the great state of Indiana.


Much much thanks to everyone who has offered suggestions about Wittgenstein and the synthetic a priori. There’s an impressive range of differences of opinion there, so I’ve got lots of lines to follow up. It’s remarkably generous of everyone to be so helpful.

The first entry to the papers blog is up for the year. I didn’t put in as many abstracts as I would have ordinarily liked because of time pressures (i.e. being disorganised). And there are some links people sent me over the summer that won’t be added until the next update (probably Thursday). But hopefully there’s some ideas there for everyone’s interest.


I’ve been back a week and the papers blog still isn’t done and this blog isn’t moving far either. I have excuses (snow, campus visits, snow, start of semester, snow, etc) but overall must do better. And we will soon!

In the meantime, I was wondering if anyone knew where I should look for what later Wittgenstein might have written on the synthetic a priori. I’m, to say the least, no Wittgenstein scholar, but it turns out I need to know what Wittgenstein thought about the synthetic a priori for something I’m writing, and I really don’t know where to begin to look. So any help would be more than appreciated!

(The title, by the way, is a by-now-familiar-in-the-blogtropolis shortening of “blog beg”.)


So I’m back in Ithaca, where it is snowing rather heavily. This is slowing down everything I have to do, so I’ve been rather slow in answering emails, updating websites, etc. My apologies for this; I’d really hoped to be on top of things earlier. Hopefully by early next week I’ll be caught up on the things I have to do (track 262 webpage changes for OPP, answer just about as many emails etc.)

The snow is rather magical, in both the positive and the negative senses of that term. Maybe more on this to follow.

Some Announcements

I just got back from a fun week away, first in Hobart and then in Canberra. I took a lot of pictures, and hopefully I’ll post some when I get back to America.

I did two talks in Canberra, and in only one of them did every substantive claim I make get comprehensively refuted in questions, which has to count as a success given the quality of the questioners there! While I was away some announcements piled up.

As most hip cats will be aware by now, David Chalmers has a blog. That will certainly go on the RSS feed.

Jeff Helzner alerted me to the Fourth International Symposium on Imprecise Probabilities and their Applications to be held in Pittsburgh over July 20-23. If I weren’t teaching I would be trying to get myself on the program.

And a reminder of the three interesting conferences I’ve already spruiked this year.

As well of getting a ton of hits (and interesting comments) on the Problem of Evil and Jobs in Philosophy posts (over 2500 on each!) I got a ton of comment spam over the time I was away. It’s all remarkably unpleasant, and I want to rain curses down from on high on the purely evil people who sell software to promote this kind of spam.

The Problem of Evil hits the papers

One of the striking things about the tsunami coverage here in Melbourne has been how much of it has focussed on religion. The recent op-eds in The Age have been full of people arguing about how, or whether, religious views can accommodate tragedies such as we’ve seen in south Asia. Since I’ll be teaching the Problem of Evil as part of philosophy 101 this spring (using God, Freedom and Evil as the primary text), I’ve been following these discussions with some interest. I was surprised to find one of the responses I always dismissed as absurd actually has a little more bite to it when I actually tried thinking about it.
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