Czech out this exclusive! expanded! three-part version of my 2019 Prague lecture on “Austro-Libertarian Themes in Three Prague Authors: Čapek, Kafka, and Hašek.” Continue reading
It’s been awhile since I’ve “stalked” (i.e., criticized) Jason Brennan, but the opportunities are always there. Here, Jason is riding his well-worn epistemic-political hobby horse: no one knows anything, but luckily, Jason Brennan is alone to know that knows one knows anything.
What is the expected difference between the candidates? Well, that’s usually really hard to say. A recent paper in APSR says that Republican vs Democratic leadership makes no measurable difference in outcomes in a bunch of issues after a few years. What about, say, presidents? Well, again, hard to say. No one could have predicted that Bush II would have to deal with 9/11, or that he would have invaded Iraq and Afghanistan.
No one could have predicted that Bush II would have to deal with 9/11? Phrase it less tendentiously: could anyone have predicted that Bush II would deal with a major terrorist attack initiated by Al Qaeda? Continue reading
To anyone interested in the following session of the Auburn U. Philosophical Society, Friday 6 November at 3:00pm Central (= 4:00 Eastern = 2:00 Pacific), you’re welcome to join us by Zoom. Sessions usually run from between 90 mins. to 2 hrs., with the first half devoted to presentation and the second half to Q&A&A (questions & answers & argument).
Speaker: Dr. Dilip Ninan (Tufts U.)
Title: “Assertion, Evidence, and the Future”
Abstract: “In this talk, I use a puzzle about assertion and the passage of time to explore the pragmatics, semantics, and epistemology of future discourse. The puzzle arises because there appear to be cases in which: one is in a position to assert, at an initial time T1, that a certain event E will happen; one loses no evidence between T1 and later time T2; but one is nevertheless not in a position, at T2, to assert that E happened. I examine a number of possible explanations of this phenomenon: that assertions about the past give rise to an implicature about one’s evidence that are not carried by assertions about the future; that assertions about the future are not “categorical” in the way assertions about the past are; that one can lose knowledge of a fact F when then the passage of time transforms F from a fact about one’s future into a fact about one’s past. I argue that the third of these approaches is the most promising, and attempt to develop a specific version of it in some detail.”
Attendees are being asked to register beforehand. In other words, the link below is NOT the link to the meeting. Instead, if you follow the link below, you’ll be asked for your email address. Once you submit it, the meeting link will be emailed to you. You’ll need to make sure you register before the talk.
We speak, not only of X having reason to A (or of R being a reason for X to A), but also of X having reason to A rather than B (or to A as against B). According to Justin Snedegar, we should always read ‘rather than’ or ‘as against’ in such constructions as meaning but-not. So if I have reason to write this post rather than start scrolling down my Facebook feed, this means that I have reason to take the former option and do not have reason to take the latter option.
And this leads to the following strange result in certain ordinary-enough cases like the one below. (Adapted from Snedegar. The main difference between his case and mine is that I put the [X having reason to A] feature as against the [R is a reason for X to A] feature front-and-center, roughly in line with Daniel Fogal’s framing or reasons and having-reason.) Here is the case:
Future historians will look back at the history of the u.s. in the 20th (and early 21st) century with the gravest suspicion.
According to the received chronology, they’ll note:
- From 1901 to 1909, a president named Roosevelt, formerly governor of New York, held office, promoting policies of corporate elitism in the guise of economic populism.
- From 1933 to 1945, a supposedly different president named Roosevelt, likewise formerly governor of New York, held office, likewise promoting policies of corporate elitism in the guise of economic populism.
- From 1914 to 1918, a worldwide war waged, pitting Germany on one side against France, Britain, Russia, and the u.s. on the other; Germany lost.
- From 1939 to 1945, a supposedly different worldwide war waged, pitting Germany on one side against France, Britain, Russia, and the u.s. on the other; once again, Germany lost.
- From 1950 to 1953, the u.s. was involved, on the southern side, in a war between northern (Communist) and southern (anti-Communist) divisions of a formerly unified country on an Asian peninsula bordering China, with China and Russia giving assistance to the northern side.
- From 1961 (or so) to 1975, the u.s. was involved, on the southern side, in a supposedly different war between northern (Communist) and southern (anti-Communist) divisions of a formerly unified country on a supposedly different Asian peninsula bordering China, with China and Russia once again giving assistance to the northern side.
- In 1988, a New England preppy turned Texas oilman named George Bush was elected president; shortly after being elected, he sent troops to invade Iraq in opposition to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
- In 2000, a supposedly different New England preppy turned Texas oilman likewise named George Bush was elected president; shortly after being elected, he too sent troops to invade Iraq in opposition to (the same) Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
The historians will say: it’s clear enough what’s happened here. Evidently two somewhat inconsistent chronologies have been overlaid on each other, creating a series of artificial doublets. Surely there was just one president Roosevelt, just one Germany-versus-u.s.-plus-everybody war, just one northern-Communists-versus-southern-u.s.-allies Asian peninsular war, just one president George Bush, and just one u.s.-versus-Iraq war.
After all, no one in their right mind would choose to live through any of those things twice.
If another member of the Trump family gets elected president in the next few years, the hypothesis will only be confirmed. (As it would likewise have been had a second president Clinton been elected in 2016.)
Some readers may remember that back in May, I resigned my position as Associate Professor of Philosophy at Felician University in protest at malfeasance I encountered at the university, malfeasance that upper-level university administration wanted covered up. These same administrators apparently expected me to help them cover it up, but I wouldn’t and didn’t; after a ten-day standoff with these assholes, it became clear that they wanted me off of payroll and out of the way. As an at-will employee at a non-tenure-granting institution (five years on the AAUP’s censure list), I had no viable institutional options for dealing with corruption that willful and entrenched, so I quit before they fired me. I’m glad I did. As I’ve been saying for years, Felician is a sinking ship. It’s only a matter of time before it goes under. Continue reading
This is a paper draft (still a bit drafty; helpful to have more of the context of debate, but hopefully the key points are accessible on their own; comments welcome). The actual working title is below (not the playful title of this post).
(i) oughts and requirements and the PL model
(ii) the PL model: dig it!
(iii) how extant “two kinds of reasons” reduction strategies fail
(iv) a better strategy: put fitting-attitudes meat on the PL model
(v) meeting Snedegar’s challenge: explaining the covariation (easy cases)
(vi) “going structural” to tackle the hard cases (morality)
I. OUGHTS AND REQUIREMENTS AND THE PL MODEL
I’m rereading Justin Snedegar’s paper, “Reasons, Oughts, and Requirements” (2016, https://philpapers.org/rec/SNEROA). He’s interested in whether “reasons firsters” about normativity broadly speaking can account for normative requirements, given that they are distinct from normative oughts. Continue reading
This weekend is, for me, a tragic anniversary of sorts. On Saturday, October 11, 1986, I got the news that my cousin Waseem Toosy had died in a traffic accident in Saudi Arabia–on his way, ironically enough, to medical school. Waseem had periodically lived with us while he studied here in the States; he was like a brother to me. He was, I think, 18 or 19 when he died; I was 17. In yet another irony, his late father had been an orthopedic surgeon, and his brother Naeem ended up becoming an emergency-room physician. Continue reading
If I think Braelyn is a good person, I think this is so in virtue of her having certain descriptive features, like being kind or generous. And similarly, it seems, for other evaluative or normative features (Braelyn being morally required to refrain from injuriously striking Herro when he has minorly offended her, Braelyn having reason to tie her shoes, etc.). Meno-like, we might draw out and precisify our intuitions here.
(1) The ‘in virtue of’ refers to a kind of non-causal metaphysical determination or dependency (sometimes called “grounding” by philosophers). In this, it is in the same broad category as a thing being red in virtue of it being crimson (or it being crimson making it the case that it is red). Such determination or dependency does not happen across time and is not causal (e.g., it is not of the same type as my painting the object red making it red). Continue reading