I’m trying to cut down the number of classified ads on TAR, which makes me glad there are blogs for this kind of thing. In particular, there is an excellent blog run by Tina Huggins,

Philosophy Conferences and Calls for Papers

The name is probably self-explanatory, but it provides links to upcoming conferencs and calls for papers, including calls for conference papers. Hat Tip: Clayton.

Having said that, there is a conference coming up in upstate NY.

Syracuse Grad Conference.

While on the announcements, I notice the Missouri folks were plugging Blackwell’s service for annoucing journal tables of contents by email. This service is useful, but if you really want to keep up to date, the thing to do is to subscribe to the RSS feeds of the various journals. For instance, here is the feed for Mind and for Nous, and there are plenty more available (for free) through Ingenta=. (This post has been edited slightly for clarity.)

Epistemic Liberalism and Luminosity

In the latest Phil Perspectives, Roger White has a paper Epistemic Permissiveness argues against what he calls epistemic permissiveness, the view that in some evidential states there are multiple doxastic attitudes that are epistemically justified and rational. I call this epistemic liberalism, because at least in America liberal is a nice word. (‘In America’ of course functions something a negation operator.) I think there are a few things we liberals can say back to Roger’s interesting arguments. In particular I think a liberalism that allows that there are epistemically better and worse responses among the rational responses, just like we think that among the morally permissible actions some are morally better and worse, has some resources to deploy against his challenges. But for now I want to take a different tack and defend liberalism directly.
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Dump Nedstat!

A lot of philosophers have NedStat counters on their webpage. (A lot of them because I might have suggested it at one stage.) Recently NedStat has taken to having its ‘free’ counters be supported by popup ads. The effect of this is that if your page has a NedStat counter on it, readers may get a lovely popup thrown at them. I’ve already had this on two webpages I visited that are housed on university servers, and where I wouldn’t expect popups. (And I’d think having such commercial popups would be a violation of all sorts of perfectly good university policies.) I’m sure this is all inadvertant, but I’d like to recommend that everyone remove the NedStat counters as soon as possible unless they are sure that their counters do not generate popups.

If I had infinite time

Well, I’d finally clean out my email inbox for a start. And I’d read many more of the things in the papers blog and Brad DeLong’s links. But instead I’ll just mention a finite number of things that I’d like to spend more time on.

David Wallace, Language Use in a Branching Universe – what should our semantics of tense look like if time happens, as a matter of contingent fact, to be branching? I’d be tempted to start using a MacFarlane-style relativist semantics, which Wallace doesn’t consider. But what he does consider looks fascinating.

Paul Pietroski, Interpreting Concatenation and Concatenates – as he says “Some readers may find this shorter but denser version, which ignores issues about vagueness and causal constructions, easier to digest. The emphasis is on the treatments of plurality and quantification, and I assume at least some familiarity with more standard approaches.” I’m not sure that I find ‘shorter and denser’ versions easier to digest, either when we’re talking about stacks of pancakes or semantics papers.

Jeremy Butterfield, Against Pointillisme about Mechanics – an argument that Humean Supervenience can’t handle even the vector quantities of classical mechanics, and in particular that it can’t handle velocity. I’m not sure I follow it all, I’m in particular not sure what he means by ‘perdurantism’, I’d like to be able to follow it all.

Absolutism and Uncertainty

Frank Jackson and Michael Smith have a very nice new paper on a puzzle for absolutist ethical theories. An absolutist ethical theory is a theory that says actions of a certain kind (call it K) cannot be done, no matter how good the consequences that would result from doing such an action. So an absolutist might, for instance, say that it is always impermissible to kill an innocent person, no matter how many lives we might save that way.

Frank and Michael (hereafter FM) point out that it will always be uncertain whether a particular action is or is not of kind K. And an ethical theory that tells us we cannot do things when they are of kind K, should tell us what to do when they are probably, or perhaps, of kind K. That question, they argue, absolutists cannot give a satisfactory answer to. I don’t want to defend absolutism, which I think is generally absurd to be frank, but I’m not sure FM have quite put their finger on exactly where the problem is.
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Hogwarts and Humean Supervenience

One of the ways to understand what Humean Supervenience (HS) amounts to is to work out which worlds it is true at. So I want to explore for now whether HS could possibly be true in the worlds of the Harry Potter novels. This requires only a little knowledge of the Harry Potter novels, most of which Iíll explain as I go along. The payoff for this little investigation will be a rather serious problem for Lewisís theory of laws, but thatís a fair way off.
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Papers Galore

The online papers blog has fallen into a little bit of disrepair (that will hopefully get fixed shortly) but in the meantime I should note a few updates. So here are two.

  • Eric Margolis and Stephen Laurence, Concepts from the SEP

Mike Leigh on IRI

Jerry Dworkin pointed out to me that Mike Leigh’s film “All or Nothing” contains a scene that seems to support interest-relative-invariantism. The script is here, though be warned that link contains pop-ups.

Husband: Give us a clue, then.
Wife: ‘Biblical son of Isaac, five letters.’ Starting with a ‘J.’
H: Jonah.
W: Oh, yeah.
H: No, it ain’t. It’s what’s-his-name. Jacob.
W: Are you sure?
H: Yeah.
W: It’s a thousand pound prize.
H: Is it? No, I ain’t sure, then.

Well, maybe it is only interest-relative-invariantism about ‘sure’, rather than ‘knows’, but it seemed like a good way to celebrate the publishing of Jason Stanley’s book on IRI. More on IRI after the fold.
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