[Layer 7: Links] #002; Satirical Thought Experiment


Michael F. Patton Jr. of Syracuse University presents a quandry: what does a brain-in-a-vat do when it’s controlling a runaway train and has to decide between killing two different railmen (all utilitarian considerations included)? Definitely will put a smile on your face. Link.

(via a discussion board post on the Philosophers + Philosophy Facebook application)


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Philosophers’ Carnival #91

A Colourful Ferris Wheel at Luna Park, Sydney

I received many entries for the 91st Philosophers’ Carnival (http://philosophycarnival.blogspot.com/). They all provided some thoughtful insights, so it was very difficult for me to narrow those all down to the submissions below. Thank you to everyone who sent in thier ideas. Without further ado, Philosophers’ Carnival #91!

Chris Hallquist presents The Inanity of Ontology : The Uncredible Hallq posted at The Uncredible Hallq — Thoughts on metaontology and whether or not two pieces of gum are really three things.

larryniven presents In which I disagree with Hume, among others posted at Rust Belt Philosophy — An evaluation of George Dickie’s paper “Iron, Leather, and Critical Principles” that particularly examines “the plausibility of real aesthetic principles.”

Kris Rhodes presents Orig/Deriv pt 2nd: When I read, must the words I’m reading have meaning for me only derivedly? posted at The Extended Cognition Blog — Original vs. derived meaning. Do words automatically trigger their meaning when we read them or do we assign meaning to words as we read?

Paul Gowder presents “I’m not a deliberative democrat, but I play one on TV.” posted at Uncommon Priors — A discussion of whether or not it “matters” if politicians lie, including ideas about whether the pattern of belief affects the normative outcome.

Richard presents Blameworthy Utilitarians posted at Philosophy, et cetera — A “sketch” of what it is to be a virtuous utilitarian.

Avery Archer presents Dilworth’s Propositional Indexing posted at The Space of Reasons — A study of John Dilworth’s theory of classification behavior as it relates to propositional thinking (and the possibility of assigning such behavior to animals that cannot communicate through speech).

Kenny Pearce presents Kant, Libertarianism, and the Limits of Contract Right posted at blog.kennypearce.net — Thoughts on the absolute freedom of contracts in libertarianism, Locke’s philosophy, and how Kantian morals can assist claims about this contractual freedom.

David Gawthorne presents Tye on Chalmers’ Argument for Possible Zombies posted at Intentional Objects — An entry on Tye’s treatment of Chalmers’ zombie argument. Touching on the issues of what it means for something to be positively conceivable and if existence can be a property.

Make sure to check out the next edition of the Philosophers’ Carnival at Philosophengang – The Philosopher’s Walk on June 15th!

Photos from stock.xchng.


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[Layer 5: Blogs] #002; Philosophers’ Carnival 89


Subjunctive Moods is hosting Philosophers’ Carnival #89 — check it out here.

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[Layer 5: Blogs] #001; Philosophers’ Carnival 88


The latest Philosophers’ Carnival is being hosted at blog.kennypearce.net — check it out.

In other good news, seven layer cake will be hosting the Philosophers’ Carnival on May 25th! Expect a lot of content before then, and be sure to check it out!

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[Layer 6: Quotes] #003; Abailard



For what avails correct speech that is not understood by the hearer, when there is no reason whatever for speaking, if what we say is not understood by those to whose understanding we are appealing. The teacher, then, will shun all words that do not inform. It is a mark of a noble character to love the truth in words, not the words. For what is the purpose of a golden key, if it cannot open what we want? Or what objection is there to a wooden key, if it is effective, since we seek only to reveal what is concealed?

Peter Abailard. “Obscurity as Sources of Error.” Sic et Non. Reprinted in Classics in Logic. Ed. Dagobert D. Runes. New York: Philosophical Library, 1962. p. 3

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[Layer 6: Quotes] #002; Russell



University life is so different from life in the world at large that men who live in an academic milieu tend to be unaware of the preoccupation and problems of ordinary men and women; moreover their ways of expressing themselves are usually such as to rob their opinions of the influence that they ought to have upon the general public. Another disadvantage is that in universities studies are organised, and the man who thinks of some original line of research is likely to be discouraged. Academic institutions, therefore, useful as they are, are not adequate guardians of the interests of civilisation in a world where everyone outside their walls is too busy for unutilitarian pursuits.

Bertrand Russell. “In Praise of Idleness.” In Praise of Idleness. New York: Routledge Classics, 2007. pp. 13-4.

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[Layer 4: Thinkers] #001; Dating as Self-Deception



Sartre using dating as an example of self-deception still is one of my favorite philosophical comparisons. He describes a woman’s perspective surprisingly well and makes amusing observations on the whole dating scene. Consider this an official Valentine’s Day post.

“Take the example of a woman who has consented to go out with a particular man for the first time. She knows very well the intentions which the man who is speaking to her cherishes regarding her. She knows also that it will be necessary sooner or later for her to make a decision. But she does not want to realize the urgency; she concerns herself only with what is respectful and discreet in the attitude of her companion. She does not apprehend this conduct as an attempt to achieve what we call ‘the first approach;’ that is, she does not want to see the possibilities of temporal development which his conduct presents. She restricts this behaviour  to what is in the present; she does not wish to read in the phrases which he addresses to her anything other than their explicit meaning. If he says to her, ‘I find you so attractive!’ she disarms this phrase of its sexual background; she attaches to the conversation and to the behaviour of the speaker, the immediate meanings, which she imagines as objective qualities….

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