Stuff from around the web. I’ve turned off comments since it is mostly links to places with comment sections.

  • There is a very interesting discussion over at PEA Soup about sentences like “Sydney is less hot than Glasgow is cold”.
  • I have a new post up at the Arche Methodology Blog called A Plea for Case Studies. The blog itself is already great success with several fascinating threads going at any one time, so I strongly encourage everyone to read it regularly.

And there are several new Compass articles out. (Note that this has been updated since I made the original post, because two articles hit the web minutes after the post originally went up.)

Compass News

The RSS feed for Philosophy Compass, like for most Wiley-Blackwell journals, has changed. The new feed is.

There is also now a pay-per-view option for Philosophy Compass, with most articles being $1.99. More details are available here. I realise this is not as cheap as open access journals, but I think it is decent by the standards of commercial journals.

I wanted to stress one article from yesterday’s round-up of recent releases, namely Neil Levy and Michael McKenna’s article on free will. Here is its abstract.

In this article we survey six recent developments in the philosophical literature on free will and moral responsibility: (1) Harry Frankfurt’s argument that moral responsibility does not require the freedom to do otherwise; (2) the heightened focus upon the source of free actions; (3) the debate over whether moral responsibility is an essentially historical concept; (4) recent compatibilist attempts to resurrect the thesis that moral responsibility requires the freedom to do otherwise; (5) the role of the control condition in free will and moral responsibility, and finally (6) the debate centering on luck.

Due largely to editorial blunders on my end, this article took much longer to appear than it should have. Since the main point of Compass is its pace, this was a fairly bad mistake of mine. I trust that the paper will still be of lots of value though to people working in free will and, more importantly, to people who want to know what’s happening on free will. Although it is longer than the typical Compass paper, it is an excellent survey of a big area.

Finally, here are four new papers that have recently gone online, and which will be in the next ‘volume’ of Compass.

Stephen Finlay, “Four Faces of Moral Realism” and Terence Cuneo, “Recent Faces of Moral Nonnaturalism”

Here is the abstract for Stephen Finlay’s article.

This article explains for a general philosophical audience the central issues and strategies in the contemporary moral realism debate. It critically surveys the contribution of some recent scholarship, representing expressivist and pragmatist nondescriptivism (Mark Timmons, Hilary Putnam), subjectivist and nonsubjectivist naturalism (Michael Smith, Paul Bloomfield, Philippa Foot), nonnaturalism (Russ Shafer-Landau, T. M. Scanlon) and error theory (Richard Joyce). Four different faces of ‘moral realism’ are distinguished: semantic, ontological, metaphysical and normative. The debate is presented as taking shape under dialectical pressure from the demands of (i) capturing the moral appearances; and (ii) reconciling morality with our understanding of the mind and world.

The full article is available here.

Here is the abstract for Terence Cuneo’s article.

Despite having occupied a peripheral position in contemporary metaethics, moral nonnaturalism has recently experienced a revival of sorts. But what is moral nonnaturalism? And what is there to be said in favor of it? In this article, I address these two questions. In the first place, I offer an account of what moral nonnaturalism is. According to the view I propose, nonnaturalism is better viewed not as a position, but as a theoretical stance. And, second, I critically engage with three recent arguments for moral nonnaturalism offered by Russ Shafer-Landau, Kit Fine, and Jean Hampton, respectively.

The full article is available here.

There is also a joint Teaching and Learning Guide for these articles.

This is an open thread on Prof Finlay’s article, Prof Cuneo’s article, and the joint TLG.

Gillian Russell, “The Analytic/Synthetic Distinction”

Here is the abstract for Gillian Russell’s article.

The distinction between analytic and synthetic truths has played a major role in the history of philosophy, but it was challenged by Quine and others in the 20th century, and the distinction’s coherence and importance is now controversial. This article traces the distinction’s historical development and summarises the major arguments against it. Some post-Quinian accounts are discussed, and the article closes with a list of five challenges which any contemporary account of the distinction ought to meet.

The full article is available here.

There is also a Teaching and Learning Guide. The guide concludes with the following focus questions.

  1. What is a necessary truth? What is an a priori truth? What is a logical truth? How is analyticity related to any of these things?
  2. What kind of thing can be analytic? Sentences? Propositions? Rules of implication?
  3. What should a semantic externalist think about analyticity?
  4. Can analytic sentences contain vague expressions?
  5. ‘If there is no such thing as a priori knowledge, then analyticity looses its philosophical interest’ (E. Sober). Why?

This is an open thread on Prof Russell’s article and TLG.

Michael B. Gill, “Moral Rationalism Vs. Moral Sentimentalism: Is Morality More Like Math or Beauty?”

Here is the abstract for Michael B. Gill’s article.

One of the most significant disputes in early modern philosophy was between the moral rationalists and the moral sentimentalists. The moral rationalists – such as Ralph Cudworth, Samuel Clarke, and John Balguy – held that morality originated in reason alone. The moral sentimentalists – such as Anthony Ashley Cooper, the third Earl of Shaftesbury, Francis Hutcheson, and David Hume – held that morality originated at least partly in sentiment. In addition to other arguments, the rationalists and sentimentalists developed rich analogies. The most significant analogy the rationalists developed was between morality and mathematics. The most significant analogy the sentimentalists developed was between morality and beauty. These two analogies illustrate well the main ideas, underlying insights, and accounts of moral phenomenology the two positions have to offer. An examination of the two analogies will thus serve as a useful introduction to the debate between moral rationalism and moral sentimentalism as a whole.

The full article is available here.

There is also a Teaching and Learning Guide. The guide concludes with the following focus questions.

  1. What are the main differences between drawing a mathematical conclusion and judging that something is beautiful? Is making a moral judgment more like the former or the latter?
  2. When a person judges that an action is right, will he or she necessarily also possess a motive to perform that action?
  3. Is morality necessarily the same for all people everywhere?
  4. How do we justify our moral judgments to others? Is it more similar to how we justify out mathematical conclusions, or is it more similar to how we justify our aesthetic judgments?
  5. Can two people who agree about all the facts about an action nonetheless disagree about its moral status?

This is an open thread on Prof Gill’s article and TLG.

Philosophy Compass Teaching and Learning Guides

One of the new features that we’re rolling out at Philosophy Compass is teaching and learning guides to accompany our survey articles. The guides provide some background, some reading lists, and some focus questions for people teaching a unit (typically 4-6 weeks long) on the subject of a Compass article.

The teaching and learning guides are freely available, and will remain so. This isn’t just a pilot program! As part of the pilot, however, we’re going to make some of the articles that the early teaching and learning guides are attached to available for free over upcoming months. And throughout this week, I’ll be highlighting these articles here at TAR.

The articles will be

Gillian Russell, “The Analytic/Synthetic Distinction”, article, TLG

Michael B. Gill, “Moral Rationalism vs. Moral Sentimentalism: Is Morality More Like Math or Beauty?”, article, TLG

Stephan Finlay, “Four Faces of Moral Realism” and Terence Cuneo, “Recent Faces of Moral Nonnaturalism”, Finlay article, Cuneo article, Joint TLG

Over the week I’ll be putting up longer posts about each of these, and opening comments threads for each article and their TLG.

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.

Compass Articles

There have been several very high-quality articles come through Compass in recent weeks. As usual, clicking the links takes you to the free abstract. If you want to subscribe, please pressure your institution. (Subscriptions are, I’m told, growing at a very rapid pace for a new journal, so your institution may already subscribe.)

More Compass Links

As always, if you click through the link you’ll get the abstract of each article. Compass is a pay journal so the articles are only available to subscribers. So if you’re so inclined, talk your university library into subscribing. It usually isn’t that hard! I’m particularly pleased to have an article by my former colleague Julie Sedivy, who has done some really interesting work on the speed with which different aspects of meaning are processed. This work is, I think, a great example of how careful empirical research can make a difference to philosophical debates.

  • Kantian Virtue, by Anne Margaret Baxley, Washington University in St. Louis

Compass Articles

Here is another new batch of Compass articles. As always, clicking on the link will get you the paper abstract. The articles themselves are subscriber-only, so you’ll have to lobby your library to get a subscription if you want them.