Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Philosophers' Carnival Sequicentmensial!

Sesquicentmensial? Okay, I admit, I made the word up. I was going to say "sesquicentennial", but it's been 150 months, not 150 years, so I swapped in "mensis" ("month" in Latin) for "annus" ("year"). I think you'll agree that the result is semi-pulchritudinous!

The Philsosophers' Carnival, as you probably know, posts links to selected posts from around the blogosphere, chosen and hosted by a different blogger every month. Since philosophers are just a bunch of silly children in grown-up bodies, I use a playground theme.

The Metaphysical Whirligig:
All the kids on the playground know who Thomas Nagel is. He's the one riding the Whirligig saying he has no idea what it's like to be a bat! Recently, he's been saying something about evolution and teleology that sounds suspiciously anti-Darwinian. But maybe most of us are too busy with our own toys to read it? Peter at Conscious Entities has a lucid and insightful review (part one and part two). Meanwhile, Michael McKenna at Flickers of Freedom is telling us that "free will" is just a term of art and so we can safely ignore, for example, what those experimental philosophy kids are doing, polling the other kids in the sandbox. Whoa, I'm getting dizzy!

The Philosophy of Mind Sandpit:
Some of the kids here are paralyzed on one side of their body, and they don't even know it. How sad! They grab their toys only from one side and the toys tumble out of their hands. Glenn Carruthers at Brains muses about what these anosognosics' lack of self-knowledge really amounts to. I like the nuance of his description, compared with the black-or-white portrayals of anosognosias some of the philosophy kids offer.

The Curving Tunnel of Philosophy of Language:
Wolfgang Schwarz is looking down the tunnel at a single red dot, viewed through two tubes, one for each eye -- but he doesn't know it's only one dot! What he really sees, Wo says, is just another Frege case, nothing requiring centered worlds, contra David Chalmers. In the comments, Chalmers responds. Meanwhile Rebecca Kukla and Cassie Herbert are listening to what the philosophy kids are whispering to each other on the side in "peripheral" forums, like blogs. Why are the boys getting all the attention?

The Epistemic Slide:
Some children stand at the top of the slide, afraid to go down and ruining the fun for everyone. Me for instance! I remain unconvinced that Hans Reichenbach or Elliott Sober have satisfactorily proven that the external world exists.

The Moral Teeter-Totter:
At Philosophy, Et Cetera, Richard Chappell is scolding those fun-loving up-and-down moral antirealists: Though they might think they can accept all the same first-order norms as do moral realists, they can't. Concern for others, is for antirealists, just too optional. Anti-realists thus fail to see people as really mattering "in themselves". Are the antirealist children hearing this? No! They plug their ears, sing, and keep on endorsing whatever norms they feel like! At the Living Archives on Eugenics Blog, Moyralang discusses a fascinating case of parents trying to force a surrogate mother to abort her disabled baby. Some children just can't play nice with the special needs kids.

The Philosophy of Science Picnic Table:
See that kid sitting at the table with a winning lottery ticket? Why is she crying? At Mind Hacks, Tom Stafford gives a primer on research that money won't buy happiness. Meanwhile, the kids at Machines Like Us are gossiping about a new study suggesting that a large proportion of neuroscience research is unreliable due to small sample size. And that girl at the picnic table with the iPad? She's just seeing what Google autocompletes when you enter "women can't", "women should", "women need", vs. "men can't", "men should", "men need", etc. Nothing interesting there for us boys, of course!

The Historical Jungle Gym:
Steve Angle, at Warp, Weft, and Way -- what have you just put in your mouth?! Steve argues against PJ Ivanhoe's interpretation of the Confucian tradition as treating the moral skill as a kind of connoisseurship, like cultivation of taste in wine (or bugs). After all, even the poorly educated know that bugs taste bad!

The Metaphilosophy Spiderclimb:
What have all these children learned, really? Not much, maybe! Empty boasting might be the order of the day. Joshua Knobe at Experimental Philosophy pulls together the existing empirical evidence on philosophical expertise.

The Issues in the Profession Nanny:
Why aren't there more children on the equipment, you might wonder? So do I! It turns out they're wasting all their time applying for grants! Shame on them, says playground watcher Helen De Cruz at NewAPPS -- or rather, shame on the system. Children should be playing and jumping and throwing sand at each other, not forced to spend all their time hunting around in the grass for nickels. Meanwhile, Janet Stemwedel at Adventures in Ethics & Science tells a nice anecdote about the philosophy boys' cluelessness about the prevalence of sexual harassment -- still! But I know you philosophy blog readers won't be so ignorant, since you've been keeping up with the steady wave of shockers over at What Is It Like to Be a Woman in Philosophy?.

The next Philosophers' Carnival will be hosted by Camels with Hammers.

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