Free Speech and Spying

I used to think that there was little chance the government would be spying on me. But then I realized that I correspond with people all over the world by email. Moreover, people all over the world come to this site. Take a look at my website hits from the last day or so: This is pretty typical. A recent breakdown is just over half of the visitors are USA citizens, leaving over 40% to […]

Site Update

After running this blog for over 6 years, I’m thinking it is time for a site update. I’d like to give a thanks to the WordPress.org community for making great blogging software freely available, and NearlyFreeSpeech.net for providing site hosting at a reasonable price. That said, there is a good chance I am going to mess something up. The site has been running on the same underlying (MySql) process, perhaps from the start, without any […]

So Prisoners Don’t Follow the Dilemma

Prisoners and their dilemma: We report insights into the behavior of prisoners in dilemma situations that so famously carry their name. We compare female inmates and students in a simultaneous and a sequential Prisoner’s Dilemma. In the simultaneous Prisoner’s Dilemma, the cooperation rate among inmates exceeds the rate of cooperating students. Relative to the simultaneous dilemma, cooperation among first-movers in the sequential Prisoner’s Dilemma increases for students, but not for inmates. Students and inmates behave […]

Cynic Argumentation

Many arguments are called ‘cynical,’ but is there anything that is common to them? Is there a general form of cynical argument? One type of cynical argument is a kind of reductio ad absurdem, a proof by contradiction, to discredit a premise. The first step is to take the premise and associate it with some worldview. Assume P. (premise) P holds under worldviews W.  (Cynical Generalization) Then, the cynic discredits those worldviews. Worldviews W are […]

On Philosophy Publishing

There has been some discussion in the philosophy blogosphere on citation rates in academic philosophy journals. Since I recently decided that I was going to try to get my work published, I have spent a bit of time thinking about this. When John Protevi at NewAPPS asked about citation patters,  I left a comment, but the topic really warrants a longer treatment. Here are some thoughts: Let me postulate, for this discussion, that doing philosophy […]

Fifty Shades of Late Capitalism

Something fun to read: “…What Fifty Shades of Grey offers is an extreme vision of late-capitalist deliverance, the American (wet) dream on performance-enhancing drugs. Just as magazines such as Penthouse, Playboy, Chic, and Oui (speaking of aspirational names) have effectively equated the moment of erotic indulgence with the ultimate consumer release, a totem of the final elevation into amoral privilege, James’s trilogy represents the latest installment in the commodified sex genre. The money shot is […]

An Introduction to the Game Theoretic Semantics view of Scientific Theory

What is a scientific theory?  In an abstract sense, a scientific theory is a group of statements about the world.  For instance the Special Theory of Relativity has, “The speed of light in a vacuum is invariant,” as a core statement, among others, about the world.  This statement is scientific because, in part, it is meant to hold in a ‘law-like’ fashion: it holds across time, space and observer. The Popperian view is that we […]

You think this has nothing to do with you.

Philosophy is disparaged often enough, and by people who ought to know better.  As of late, every time this happens I think of this scene — but with the text (something like) below….. Oh. Okay. I see. You think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your desk and you select, I don’t know, some statistical mathematical model, for instance, because you’re trying to show the world that you take science seriously […]

Risky Kakanomics

Gloria Origgi writes: This is an application of the theory of kakonomics, that is, the study of the rational preferences for lower-quality or mediocre outcomes, to the apparently weird results of Italian elections. The apparent irrationality of 30% of the electorate who decided to vote for Berlusconi again is explained as a perfectly rational strategy of maintaining a system of mediocre exchanges in which politicians don’t do what they have promised to do and citizens […]

On Matthen’s Intelligibility Argument

Mohan Matthen’s post Teleology in Big Systems brought up two options explaining how someone — Tom Nagel in Mind and Cosmos — would choose a teleological explanation over a naturalistic one. The first, below, got me thinking: First, he might be saying that though it is physically possible (by a fluke series of mutations, for example) for mentality to have come about, it would be better explained by teleology. (Let’s call this the “intelligibility” argument.) […]