Posts tagged philosophy

[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 ( 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 — 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 — 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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[Layer 6: Quotes] #001; Hegel



Rulers, statesmen, and nations are told that they ought to learn from the experience of history. Yet what experience and history teach us is this, that nations and governments have never anything from history, nor acted in accordance with the lessons to be derived from it. Each era has such particular circumstances, such individual situations, that decisions can only be made from within the era itself. In the press of world events, there is no help to be had from general principles, nor from the memory of similar conditions in former times — for a pale memory has no force against the vitality and freedom of the present.

G.W.F. Hegel. Introduction to the Philosophy of History. Trans. Leo Rauch. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company Inc., 1988. p. 8

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[Layer 7: Links] #001



The Big View – A website whose mission statement reads “if life is a journey, then philosophy is like a compass.” It is about “philosophy in the widest sense,” presenting overviews of a few philosophical topics: pre-Socratic Greek philosophy, Buddhism, the consequences of space time, an introduction to the philosophy of mind, and a copy of the Tao Te Ching. Also features a “past life calculator” and several essays on various topics. This site is in an aesthetically pleasing grayscale with intuitive navigation and lovely images. It has received over a million hits since October 1999 (last updated March 2008).

Pangloss Wisdom – A quote generator for your favorite optimist or Candide fan. Example: “Journalism is merely history’s first draft,” Geoffrey C. Ward.

The Cynic’s Sanctuary – The website for the author of The Cynic’s Dictionary which offers “disgruntled definitions.” This is not for the traditional Greek cynics but for those who present negative views in order to make the world a better place. The Sanctuary includes 714 things to be cynical about, a public list and message board for visitors to contribute their own cynicism, a Cynic’s Hall of Fame (includes Aesop and Jesus), and a quiz for one to know definitively whether or not they’re a cynic. If anything the site is worth looking at for the “What is Cynicism?” page which presents the following re-tooled view of a cynic:

Cynicism, after all, springs not from cruelty or viciousness, but from … a fatal love of virtue. If we were mere realists, we’d have no need for cynicism; the world would never disappoint us because we’d expect so little of it. But the best cynics are still idealists under their scarred hides. We wanted the world to be a better place, and we can’t shrug off the disappointment when it lets us down. Our cynicism gives us the painful power to behold life shorn of its sustaining illusions. … If we were activists, we’d do something constructive about our discontentment. But we’re smart enough to know that we won’t prevail…. So we retaliate with our special brand of wounded wit. If we can’t defeat our oppressors, at least we can mock them in good fellowship. That’s about as much justice as a cynic can expect.

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