Monday Message Board

As I’ve mentioned before, I get a lot of requests these days to have things announced via the blog. So I’m constantly trying to find a way to balance getting announcements out with keeping the site uncluttered and content-focussed. Here’s the latest attempt.

Every Monday, I’ll put up a ‘message board’ post where people can leave announcements in the comments of any kind they want concerning philosophy or things connected to philosophy. Because the spam situation is getting under control, I’ve loosened some of the restrictions on links in comments, so you should be able to include links in the announcements. If there’s something you want publicised on the blog then, announce it on the message board.

In comments I’ve left two messages that people sent in before I started the message board. Obviously in future it would be easier to cut out the middle man (i.e. me) and post these directly.


Via Finnegans Wake, I found a link back to a really well written obituary of David Lewis by Jane O’Grady. I remember at the time that the American obituaries about Lewis mentioned modal realism and very little but modal realism. And while of course modal realism gets a run here, it’s a very good systematic account of what’s valuable in Lewis’s philosophy. (As well as mentioning many of the reasons so many people were so fond of Lewis in person.) Anyway, the reason I’m linking to it here is to note the start of the final paragraph.

Lewis restored philosophical respectability to systematic metaphysics. Like Hume, he tried to reconcile a scientific conception of the world with how it actually appears to us.

I’m not entirely sure this is the most perspicuous way to describe Hume, but as a claim about Lewis it seems just right. I bring this up mainly to be self-deprecating. I think focussing on this reconciliation project is the right way to read Lewis, but I don’t think in saying that I’m being particularly groundbreaking. Still, I’m not sure it’s been said in the unpopular press quite so clearly before, so perhaps there’s some value in me continuing to say it.

Four Six Links

Peter Lasersohn’s paper Context Dependence, Disagreement, and Predicates of Personal Taste is now out in Linguistics and Philosophy (subscription required). This is potentially going to have a big impact on the debates about relativism. Laserhohn used to be a contextualist about taste, but changed to being a relativist, much like my trajectory on conditionals.

My Lewis seminar has been (and will be) discussing whether the role that qualities play in Lewis’s metaphysics, and whether that role could be best played by quantities instead. (Short answer: Yes. The longer answer is being written.) The biggest influence on my thinking on this has been discussions I’ve had with John Hawthorne, but I should also mention a paper by David Denby called Determinable Nominalism (subscription required) that discusses many of the motivations for moving away from a pure object/property view towards an object/quantity view. (UPDATE: Denby’s paper is now available via Tufts.)

Metaphysical Mayhem is being transformed this year from a faculty-based conference to something largely directed at grad students. See here. Something more like the traditional Mayhem is the Mereology, Topology and Location conference taking place in October. By Nozick’s ‘closest continuant’ principle, I think I’m tempted to say that the conference called ‘Mereology etc’ is this year’s Mayhem, and the conference called ‘Mayhem’ is a new conference type. Perhaps we should have a conference on conferential identity to work this out.

Finally, frequent TAR commentor Robert Allen has a paper on The Mereology of Events in the latest Sorites. I don’t think I kept track of Sorites when I ran OPP, which was a mistake on my part, but one that I see that Jonathan has corrected.

UPDATE: Two more links.

The latest Philosophical Studies is on bridges between formal and traditional epistemology. From browsing the abstracts some of the bridges seem more elaborately designed on the side of the formal shore, but hopefully there is interesting stuff here. There is obviously a lot of potential for this kind of project (see, for instance, Williamson’s anti-luminosity argument) as long as we take both sides of the river seriously.

At the Symposium on Gender, Race and Philosophy, Elizabeth Anderson’s reply to the comments on her paper “Uses of Value Judgments in Feminist Social Science: A Case Study of Research on Divorce” has now been posted.

Syracuse talk

The pride of Syracuse, Jason Stanley is coming home to do a talk at S.U. next Friday at 3.30pm in the philosophy department. The title is “Meaning, Use and Truth”. If I was doing the talk I would have rearranged the second and third conjuncts for historical resonance.

APA Article Prize

If you want to nominate an article from the last two years for the APA Article Prize, note that the deadline for nominations is March 15. The last two article prizes have been won by friends of mine, as was the last book prize, so I’m hoping for a continuation of this trend. Articles with a publication date of 2004 or 2005 written by folks under 40 at the time of publishing are eligible for the prize, which is worth $2000. More information, including info on how to nominate, is here.

Follow Ups

Jim Pryor sent a link to the following amusing correction.

An interview on June 5, 2005, with Carl Icahn misstated a word of the title of a thesis he wrote while he was an undergraduate at Princeton. As a reader informed The Times two weeks ago, it is “The Problem of Formulating an Adequate Explication of the Empiricist Criterion of Meaning,” not “Imperious Criterion.”

I’m a rationalist, so I think writing ‘imperious’ for ‘empiricist’ isn’t that bad, but still, this shouldn’t happen!

On the weekend I put up a post on updating vague probabilities which was meant to come after, not before, this frivolous post on conditionals. Sadly my blogging skills prevented this. Anyway, Seth Yalcin pointed out that he had a similar idea that he puts to very good use towards the end of his theory of epistemic modals. So credit to Seth for this idea, and go check out his paper.

Conditionals aren’t Contextual

Over at Certain Doubts, they’re having a discussion of Sly Pete conditionals. Jon Kvanvig says, a propos of the pair of conditionals uttered,

Both assertions are appropriate, but both can’t be true (without introducing contextuality into the account).

I think that’s not right unless you’re just going to ignore the relativist. (Or treat the relativist as a kind of contextualist.) I think that both assertions are appropriate because both are true relative to the context in which they are uttered, though only the second assertion is true in both contexts. Some days I think that the Sly Pete cases are the strongest cases for relativism about indicative conditionals, which seems to be a very plausible theory to me.

In fact, it’s one of the four (major) things I want to do this year. I’m writing out that list here as a way of reminding myself to do them, and perhaps providing some needed encouragement. (Unlike Jason if I’d only written a 60 page article by February 10 I wouldn’t appear to regard that as having not done much!) Here they are:

  • Write a paper on the state of play in debates about dogmatism

There should be more on the last point later this weekend, embedded in a long post I’m working on concerning heterodox approaches to probabilistic updating. If that doesn’t excite you about what’s upcoming, I don’t know what will!

Arché Blog

Arché now has a blog where all members of Arché can post. (I’m not exactly sure who is a member in this context. I don’t think I’m one, though I have some connection to the vagueness project.) So far it’s just Robbie Williams and Roy Cook posting, but I’m sure there will be more to come.

Arché blog

HT: Carrie Jenkins