New Papers, Comments Changes, etc

I’ve updated my papers page for the first time in a while. The main highlight is The Asymmetric Magnets Problem, which systematises and updates some of the stuff I’ve been thinking about intrinsicness and quantity. It started life as a fairly small problem, and small paper, but as the number of things that need to be said in order to solve the problem seemed to grow, so did the paper. So it is now a fairly ambitious piece, much more than I expected it to be.

Because I’m going to be offline for a while, I’ve closed down the comments threads. This is partially to stop the spammers, and partially to stop cowards who like leaving anonymous defamatory comments around here. I do wish that such lowlifes would get their own websites. (It would make my life easier if they also got a life, but I don’t wish for that; I’m perfectly happy for them to stay miserable.)

While I was tinkering with the website, I also put on a slightly updated version of my CV, though the research interests are still rather out of date.

Closing down comments just a temporary move – regular features will be resumed shortly.

Message Board

It’s been rather busy around Chez TAR these days, and that combined with my laziness has led to a lack of posts. Those two attributes (busyness and laziness) aren’t going away any time soon, so this blog will be fairly quiet for a while. Until then, use this as another message board for philosophical announcements.

In other news, the Online Philosophy Conference has hit week three, with some lively threads.

More Cornell Rumours

As Brian Leiter reported yesterday, Terry Irwin has accepted a Professorship at Oxford University. This has led elsewhere to a fair bit of speculation (some of it quite irresponsible if you ask me) about what Gail Fine will be doing. So I thought I’d clear that up.

Gail was also offered a position at Oxford, but she has declined it and will be staying at Cornell. She will be on leave, and in Oxford, each spring semester for the forseeable future. But the main news here is that she has declined the Oxford position, and will be remaining a full member of the Cornell department, and we are all very happy that she is staying.

Losing Terry is obviously a large loss for Cornell. His wit and (especially) his wisdom have been such signature features of the Sage School for so long, that it is going to be hard to imagine the department without him. (I hope, given the way Gail’s teaching situation is arranged, that he’ll still be a frequent visitor to Ithaca, so we won’t have to go cold turkey on being without his presence.) It is obviously a great achievement to be offered a chair at Oxford, so while Terry will be missed at Cornell, it is pleasing to see that his talents, and his contributions, are being justly honoured.

Cornell Hires

I’m very happy to announce that the Sage School at Cornell has hired three new faculty. They are:

Michelle and Nico will be starting in Fall this year, while Derk will be starting in Fall 07.

We’re obviously very happy with the new hires!

I’ve already mentioned Nico’s hiring, so let me say something about Michelle and Derk.

Michelle specialises in post-Kantian philosophy, and you can get a very good idea of her interests from looking at her forthcoming book on Freedom and Reason in Kant, Schelling, and Kierkegaard. I obviously don’t have any standing to say how good her scholarship is, though I trust the optinion of the many who speak very highly of her work. I will say that I’ve never heard anyone talk on early 19th Century philosophy who has done as good a job at making clear what those philosophers’ philosophical interests were, and how this relates to contemporary philosophical concern.

Derk’s role in the department will be to make it the case that I’m not the most general of the generalists. Well, that and cover philosophy of mind, free will and action theory, philosophy of religion, early modern philosophy, and whatever other interests take his fancy. There aren’t many philosophers around who are (justly) held in as high esteem as Derk is across such a wide range of fields, and at (relatively) small departments like Cornell, such generalists are worth their weight in gold. Derk was also a great colleague to have while I was at ANU last year, so I’m looking forward to getting back together with him at Cornell.

Obviously it’s been a tough couple of years for Cornell with a few very talented colleagues (and close friends) departing for greener (or at least other) pastures. But adding people like Derk, Michelle and Nico adds a lot back to the department.


I’ve been meaning for a while to write something encouraging philosophers to write entries for Wikipedia. I was hoping to have part of this encouragement be a link to a page I’d added or substantially improved, but sadly that hasn’t happened, so this is an all talk no action post. But sometimes it is good for people to do as I say, not as I do, and this is one of those times!

I’d particularly like to encourage philosophers who have written encyclopedic articles, and have copyright over what they wrote, to consider uploading a version to Wikipedia. It is a great way to spread philosophical knowledge to the wider world.

The best encyclopedia article I wrote was the Stanford piece on intrinsic properties, and it would probably be a good idea to do something similar for the Wikipedia page, which right now consists mostly of the introduction to my Stanford piece. Maybe when I get a little more spare time…


I’m sure most of you knew this already, but I was under the impression that Stalnaker’s Inquiry was out of print for a while, and it was hard to get a hold of it. Anyway, it is now back in print, and available through Barnes and Noble. Grab ‘em while they’re hot. (Unless this is old news and I’m only just finding out about it, in which case they aren’t actually that hot, but you should still get ‘em.)

UPDATE: Since I posted this, Barnes and Noble have gone out of stock. So here’s the link to Amazon.

Experimental Philosophy

Europa Malynicz pointed out to me that the BBC currently has a discussion of famous thought experiments in ethics, including Judith Jarvis Thomson’s violinist case, and a few variants on runaway trolley cars. As of this writing, over 12000 people had sent in their votes on the moral status of actions in the examples, and it is interesting to see what this (self-selected, non-random) sample of the folk think. I’ve got some comments on the results below the fold, but I’d rather everyone here went and voted before seeing the votes, so I’ve put them below the fold. Continue reading “Experimental Philosophy”