Recent Compass Activity

I haven’t posted for a while on what is happening with Philosophy Compass, which is a shame since we’ve had some nice new content go online.

The biggest development is that Compass is now rolling out teaching and learning guides. As the name suggests, these are meant to help those preparing a unit (or even an entire course) on a particular topic. The first of these is by TAR’s own Gillian Russell, and it is on the analytic/synthetic distinction.

We also have a bunch of new interesting articles. There are too many to highlight here, but some that are of particular interest to TAR readers include:

As always, the abstracts are freely available, but you (or your library) has to subscribe to Compass to get the whole article.

In the future we’ll hopefully be setting up a system whereby TAR threads are available for commenting on Compass articles, but that must wait until the New Year.


Good luck to everyone who’s being interviewed at the APA this week.

In some ways it’s a weird, weird process – not obviously geared to producing good results, and clearly torture for some participants. I suppose I can imagine someone arguing that the ability to get through it is a sign that a candidate has some of the qualities they want in a colleague (organisational skills, ability to push on and keep working under stressful conditions, ability to cope with difficult people and formal situations etc.), but when I was reading Pascal Boyer’s Religion Explained recently, and he described a coming of age ceremony in which adolescent boys are subjected to a terrifying ritual in which their deaths are faked (they are held underwater and it is made to look as if a spear is plunged into their bellies) before they are taken away from the village by the older men and basically hazed for an extended period of time, I couldn’t help being reminded of the APA. Good luck keeping your heads, guys.

(N.B. Just to clarify, I haven’t actually heard any stories about APA interviews involving water-boarding. And there is a rumour that girls are sometimes interviewed too.)

Know Thyself

I hadn’t realised, until Matthew Yglesias pointed it out, that Google Reader will recommend blogs to you. So I looked for my recommendations, and happily my blog was the most recommended blog to me. After having his blog recommended to him, Yglesias concluded:

Basically, I have the reading habits typical of someone who would read my blog.

I think that’s a bit quick, or at least it would be in my case. What’s going on for me is that I have most of the philosophy blogs there are already on my reader list. The highest profile philosophy blog I don’t subscribe to is, naturally, my own. The interesting question is whether there is a blog I currently subscribe to such that if I didn’t subscribe to it, it would be more highly recommended given my reading preferences than my own blog. I suspect there are several such blogs, but I’m not in a hurry to check it out.


One of the causes of the lack of updates around here has been that Ishani and I have been getting ready to move in preparation for starting at Rutgers in the spring. We are almost finished moving, so hopefully the regular posting will resume shortly. In the meantime, two calls for papers.

First, the INPC on Carving Nature at Its Joints. Most of the time I regard the question of how to demarcate the natural from the unnatural properties in special sciences, especially the human sciences, as the toughest and most important philosophical question there is. So I hope some of the papers submitted have something useful to teach us on this question.

Second, the Oxford Studies in Metaphysics Younger Scholar Prize. This is my last year of eligibility for it, but I don’t think I’ll be submitting anything. There’s no website to link to, so here is an edited version of the announcement.

Sponsored by the A. M. Monius Institute and administered by the editorial board of Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, the essay competition is open to scholars who are within 10 years of receiving a Ph.D. or students who are currently enrolled in a graduate program. The award is $8000. Winning essays shall appear in Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, so submissions must not be under review elsewhere.

Essays should generally be between 7,500 and 15,000 words; longer essays may be considered, but authors must seek prior approval by providing the editor with an abstract and word count prior to submission. To be eligible for next year’s prize, submissions must be received, electronically, by January 30, 2008 (this is an extension of the deadline from January 15). Refereeing will be blind; authors should omit remarks and references that might disclose their identities. Receipt of submissions will be acknowledged by e-mail. The winner is determined by a committee of members of the editorial board of Oxford Studies in Metaphysics. At the author’s request, the board will simultaneously consider entries in the prize competition as submissions for publication in Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, independently of the prize. Inquiries should be addressed to the editor, Dean Zimmerman, at