Monday, September 04, 2006

Philosophers Carnival #35 (Back to School Edition)

Welcome to the back to school edition of the Philosophers Carnival. Sharpen your pencils and tie up those bright white brand new tennies. It's time to register for classes and what a course catalogue we have for you! check with your advisor before adding classes, but feel free to audit as many as you'd like.

Epistemology 107: Belief Goggles
Room: Obtusely, Instructor: Staff
They say that breaking up is hard to do, and I know, I know that it's true...well, at least according to the coherent knowledge structure built with that tart who left me. Now that she's gone, my world just isn't the least not the a priori categories...

Logic 506: Paraconsistency and Dialethism
Room: What Is It Like To Be a Blog?, Instructor: Colin Caret
Paraconsistent logic is the view that a contradiction does not imply the truth of all sentences. Dialethism is the view that there are true contradictions. The two are consistent, but neither requires the other. If you were walking down the street and found a random paraconsistent logician, what would you need to do say in order convert her to dialethism? Would it require dinner and a movie? Dinner or a movie? Not (dinner or not dinner) and (movie and not movie)?

Epistemology 214: Myth or Reality?
Room: Scientia Natura, Instructor: Shalini
We may look at the development of beliefs, both scientific and religious, over time through the lens of adaptation. Belief structures of all types evolve based on the real life experiences of people who hold those beliefs. As such, the picture of theological truth as eternal and unchanging is purely a myth. Karl Popper was right when he said that every hypothesis was born refuted, all beliefs are subject to change and therefore challenge...and lay off the instant ramen.

Epistemology 312: Contradiction as Distinction
Room: Path Effect, Instructor: Staff
Given that Gödel has shown formal axiomatic languages to be insufficient for capturing all truths, is there a way to augment formal languages to include semantically meaningful uses of contradictions?

Epistemology 432: Sentence-Like vs. Map-Like Representations
Beliefs require some sort of representation in the mind. Are these representations map-like or sentence-like in structure? If they are map-like does that mean that men will not pull over and ask for help at the cerebral filling station when trying to figure out where their beliefs are going?

Metaphysics 544: What Physicalism Can't Allow
Room: Guide to Reality, Instructor: Steve Esser
Terry Horgan argues that “…an account of genuine ontological emergence…must fail, given an assumption of physicalism.” To save emergence, an additional ontological postulate must be added. The punchline: a robust physicalistic materialism must therefore posit an additional metaphysical conception to augment physical theory. Oh, the irony!

Metaphysics 561: Phenomenal Realism and Empirical Depth
Room: BrainHammer, Instructor: Pete Mandik
The rising tide of dualism floating David Chalmer's boat leaves questions about the value of realism. Pete argues that one advantage is that it buys you the excess meaning needed for scientific explanation, but it is not always something worth the metaphysical expense...especially if you want to become an expert nice-shirtologist.

Metaphysics 312: Time in Chinese
Room: Lemmings, Instructor: Brit Brogaard
Not all languages, Chinese for example, have forms for verbs that indicate tense. But speakers of these languages are still able to indicate time order and temporal relations. Are tense indicators necessary? We indicate future tense in English without changing the structure of verbs, so why should we have needed to have done it in the past (or for that matter in the past pluperfect)?

Metaphysics 313: Time as Abstraction
Room: A Brood Comb, Instructor: Tanasije Gjorgoski
The phenomenological experience of time is something different from the physical quantity of duration. Metaphysical muddles arise when one considers the physical concept to be the notion of time in cases where one is really referring to the phenomenological, whereas certain longstanding temporal puzzles cease to be puzzling when we view the notion of time in them as the phenomenological version.

Metaphysics 119: South Park and Religion
Room: Siris, Instructor: Brandon
Is atheism all it is cracked up to be? Consult the generally underappreciated text "Red Hot Catholic Love" for a new perspective. Kenny as Christ figure? Hmmmm....

Ethics 312: Suicide vs. Endless Detention
Room: Left2Right, Instructor: J. David Vellemin
If one has no hope of living a life in which one realizes one's true personhood and there is little to no reason to believe that one's circumstances will change, is it morally acceptable to use ending one's life as a statement. Would such a suicide lend meaning to a life whose meaning is attempting to be stripped away?

Ethics 421: Posner's Pragmatic Moral Skepticism
Room: Leiter Reports, Instructor: Thomas Nadelhoffer
Richard Posner, writing as an outsider to academic philosophy looks at ethical theory and contemporary theorists and says, "Who cares?" If the goal of moral philosophy is teach people how to alter the behavior of others, then it is failing miserably. But is that really the goal?

Ethics 365: Acts and Omissions
Room: Unified View, Instructor: Pejar
Peter Singer uses his utilitarian intuitions to make the claim that we are morally responsible to help fulfill the needs of others when we can. But his argument ignores the crucial role of causal agency in moral responsibility. Pejar argues that when we restore causal responsibility as a condition of moral obligation, Singer should not make me clean up a mess that I didn't have a hand in making.

Ethics 267: Feeling, Action, and Context in Ethics
Room: Stop That Crow. Instructor: JeffG
Classical ethical theory has been based on a false dichotomy between reason and passions. Ethics, on this view, is meant to be rational guide for behavior that conquers mere emotional desire. But when we come to see emotions as having intellectual content, the need to include passionate factors in ethical deliberation undermines the old skool picture needed by utilitarians and deontologists.

Ethics 255: Ethics of Activism
Room: Philosophy, et cetera, Instructor: Provost Chappell
Civil disobedience has been glorified by those seeking to change the world for the better. But there is a cost to attacking evil from outside the system when the system itself is largely a good and in the case of liberal democracy, it is. The process needs to be protected as well as innocent beings and so one ought to be very careful in considering the use of means outside of the law.

Ethics 156: Civil Disobedience
Room: Generative Transformation, Instructor: Brandon Peele
Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience" contains deep insights into the limits of government. But unlike conservative libertarians who want the minimal amount of government possible, there remains a need for a robust governmental structure to meet the needs of the least among us to guarantee their freedom. Sometimes freedom comes from the lack of government and sometimes freedom requires government.

Ethics 119: No Commandments
Room: Daylight Atheism, Instructor: Ebonmuse
Morality may not be devoid of rules, but there are no commandments. Without a Divine will dictating codes of behavior, rationality is the source of moral rules. Further, reason will allow for the flexibility needed for rules to apply to an ever-changing and morally complex real world.

Aesthetics 210: Artiste de merde de vache
Room: Humbug! Online, Instructor: Theo
Tolstoy argued that there are two central distinctions in aesthetics: between art and non-art and between good art and bad art. Of course, Tolstoy was writing before modern art, found art, performance art, and the artist known, once known, and then again known as Prince. Theo, on the other hand, reconsiders the question like it's 1999 (or seven years later). We say that Roger Federer plays tennis artistically, is this a metaphorical use? If it is a literal use do we have to allow that which shocks for the sake of shocking?

Metaphilosophy 411: The Future of Philosophy
Room: Philosophy Talk, Instructor: Ken Taylor
Philosophy, though fragmented and often difficult, has an important role to play in the larger society and how we deal with real life issues that face us. When seen by those outside the academy, philosophy seems aloof, obtuse, and irrelevant. Yet, we know that we are needed. It is the job of academic philosophers to make themselves relevant.

Metaphilosophy 119: Act Your Age, Uh Education, Young Man
Room: Hell's Handmaiden, Instructor: The Maiden
Philosophy is impoverished by professionalization and being locked away like Repunzel in the Ivory Tower. Get out there, damn it, and DO SOMETHING!

Metaphilosophy 215: The Purpose of Philosophy
Room: The Web of Belief, Instructor: Blakely
Ok, so you could live without philosophy, but would you want to? Ok, maybe you would want to, but you shouldn't want to. Why not? Gotcha! That's a philosophical question.

Philosophy of Mind 314: Competence, Computation, and Mechanistic Levels
Room: Brains, Instructor: Gualtiero Piccinini
David Marr's distinction between computation/algorithm/implementation is sometimes mapped onto Chomsky's competence/performance distinction. But this is a mistake, we need to distinguish the distinctions and clean up Marr's concepts if his approach is to illuminate the question of mind at all. Once we've done the clean up work, we see that we no longer have a nice neat distinction, but that doesn't mean the notions aren't useful.

Philosophy of Mind 356: Inversion and the Way Things Seem
Room: Brain Pains, Instructor: Clayton Littlejohn
Is it possible that Laverne's perceptions are inverted in the mind of Shirley? Some say no, but it seems entirely possible. Schlamiel, Schlamazel, Block and Fodor Incorporated.

Philosophy of Education 317: No No Child Left Behind
Room: Sportive Thoughts, Instructor: Jared
A close reading of Dewey's "Education as Growth" gives us a picture of education in terms of increasing relative maturity. This lens through which to view the educational process has implications for how we view the contemporary education policy debates, especially in light of No Child Left Behind. Dewey or don't we want to create intellectually mature citizens?