Monday, November 06, 2006

Philosophers' Carnival #38

Welcome to The Splintered Mind's hosting of The Philosopher’s Carnival! My seven-year-old son, Davy, has been asking me what philosophers do, so I thought I’d cast things in playground terms.

The Metaphysical Whirligig:
Whoa, I’m dizzy! Justin Kahn poses some cute and interesting problem cases for the principle of Ockham’s Razor. What kind of sick person would put razors on a children’s whirligig! Wa Salaam gives us mystical reflections on the moon. Phil for Humanity tells all the little children on the gig that Santa Claus – wait, no, I mean God – doesn’t exist, making them cry. How cruel! Ken Taylor claims that smart children can believe in Santa Claus -- or is that God? -- but the question is, how, given that the bad children seem to get just as many toys! Kenny Pearce isn’t so sure that it follows from the fact that he has hands that the physical world exists. The Boundaries of Language reflects on the scope of Dummett’s anti-realism; this is for serious and scholarly children. Heterodoxia warns us that some insights are just too cold for our little hands to handle. We are fearful, hubristic, romantic. The children boo! But Heterodoxia knew they would! Glittering Muse ponders on “nothing” in a way that reminds my son of Heidegger’s remark that “nothing noths” – uh-oh, now there’s this little kid calling himself Carnap who wants to push him off the gig. No, no – Carnap wants to explode the whole gig. Bail out! I here at The Splintered Mind simply wish I knew what metaphysics was.

The Philosophy of Mind Sandpit:
Brain Hammer manages to get the children arguing loudly about whether there’s a difference between the sand’s seeming wet and our simply having the disposition to judge that it’s wet. (But why is it wet, I worry?) Neil Levy reflects on whether the mind stays within the skull or drips and fiddles all over the place. Maybe mine is buried even, right here in this sand! Whoops, not here -- David Chalmers, who is known sometimes to play in the external mind-sands, discovers instead an old, almost entirely ignored article by Fred Dretske spoofing sense-data theories. The Philosopher’s Playground, unearthing a copy of Alice in Wonderland, invites us to reconsider the question of whether we can intentionally believe that the Queen is 101 years old, five months, and a day. Aaron Cotnoir wonders if Alice shouldn’t be blamed if she can’t, or should be if she can. Salamander Candy reflects on what raccoons think of all us children, and how we know whether there’s anything we do look like to raccoons, and how we know there’s anything, indeed, we look like to ourselves. And, if I remember correctly, Philosophy of Memory[sorry for the unspecific link; there seem to be server problems] invites us to think about individual differences in memory.

Philosophy of Language’s Curving Tunnel:
John Greco starts the children off with a serious lesson on contextualism vs. interest-dependent invariantism. Good stuff, but most of the children can’t even pronounce the title. Into the darkness you go! Lemmings asks whether Leibniz would tell all the children that if this piece of play-doh is cruddy but the sculpture they make with it is not cruddy, then the sculpture is not identical to this piece of play-doh. My, my – but I can barely even see it at all, Brit! Dinner Table Don’ts asks about the transitivity of subjunctive conditionals. If only he didn’t talk about this, we’d finally start having fun. If there was a nuclear holocaust, he wouldn’t talk about this. Therefore, if there was a nuclear holocaust, we’d finally start having fun. Wait, that doesn’t seem quite right.... Is this why Gregory Wheeler says conditionals are bad for your health? Benjamin Nelson curves into the deepest darkness of what he calls “Pattern-Oriented Relational Grammar”; too much for a simple seven-year-old like me!

The Epistemic Slide:
Fred Vaughan gives us The Given, but the other children aren’t sure we shouldn’t start our epistemic slide with stainless steel instead. Do you want to stand atop an idea, looking down?

The Moral Teeter-Totter:
Daylight Atheism sets the moral teeter-totter rocking: What we approve of and condemn is historically contingent! Suggested are some issues that future generations might see in a different light. Carnival maven Richard Chappell warns against vigilantism against the Atheistic kid, even if he seems unreasonable – for which the Atheist had better be thankful, I say! Joseph Orosco, however, asks whether “choosing torture might be a democratic prerogative”; playground bullies everywhere agree! Andy Egan wonders if it's fair to ask, though, what the idealized bully self would do. Hell’s Handmaiden argues against the electoral college. College?! Heck, we’re barely in elementary school, shout the kids. Funkified rides the teeter-totter without thinking, purely spontaneously, which he thinks [?] is best! Hueina Su reminds all children that they must love themselves. Westminster Wisdom inquires into the principles of judicial independence; the children make it plain that they like clear rules and consistency, except when the contrary is to their advantage! Moralheath claims that moral objectivity has “fallen upon hard times”, explaining our bad behavior. As though to prove him right, Francios Temblay jumps entirely off the teeter-totter arguing that all morality is just a “religo-political smokescreen”! (But he falls into Pea Soup, where the distinction between moral realism and anti-realism is viscous and murky.)

Philosophy of Science Picnic Table:
The Voltage Gate tells all little children about the politics in the history of the science of human racial diversity. Children of all colors gather round, but they can’t tell each other apart! They may lie about their data, though. Janet Stemwedel wants to know why. Well, of course it's that their parents didn't raise them right! Humbug Online warns all children about too easily dismissing induction. Hasn’t the Humbug learned that each time someone raises this problem it only causes piss and consternation among the boys and girls at the table? Or will it be different, finally, this time?

The Historical Jungle Gym:
A Brood Comb invites us to think about Hegel’s dialectics with the example of left-right. Oh no! Soon the other children are upside-down and reaching the wrong direction, falling off the jungle gym into the deep sand of dialectic! Rethink rails on poor Cleitophon from Plato’s republic, for being concerned only about his reputation and nothing for the common good, a malady he finds all too common. Frankly, I’m surprised to see someone so long dead still taking insults on the jungle gym. But actually, it seems that Cleitophon hasn’t moved much recently – in the last, say, 2000 years at least. Phluaria takes on Socrates himself, asking if he was schizoid! And somewhere in the sand under the Jungle Gym, The Skwib found some of Henri Bergson’s lost PowerPoint slides!

A number of children submitted political diatribes of various sorts. That's not the sandbox I remember! With apologies to them, and in keeping with The Splintered Mind's largely apolitical spirit, I have chosen not to include in this week’s carnival anything that seemed to me more politics than political philosophy.

A Plea for Chaperones:
There is no volunteer for the next carnival. Bloggers: If your blog is listed here, and you have never hosted, I herewith assert that you are morally obligated to host. No, no, children, don’t run away! It’s not as bad as having to set the dinner table, I promise. Go here and sign up! (Or else the Carnival will crumble, and that's the end of all your juicy links....)

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks very much for including me. Great collection of posts I am working through them slowly.

garnet david said...

A hearty and entertaining review of quite a smorgasbord of thought. I am no longer hungry for more than the tidbits you gave, but the sandbox may lure me tomorrow.

I may be able to host the Dec. 18th event, though I'm just a rambling aesthete searching for spurs to hang my meaning on.

garnet david said...

...not that I eat things from sandboxes!

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

I'd encourage you to volunteer, if you're thinking of it. Many -- perhaps most -- of the past hosts have not been professional philosophers.