The 3 Rs of Publishing Philosophy

So you want to publish philosophy? Follow the three Rs! 1. Rhetoric No matter how good your results are or how technically sophisticated your argumentation, if it is done in an obscure way, your paper will not be published. There are at least two, but more usually three or more people that will read your paper when it is sent to a journal. First is the head editor and/or section editor. If they can’t make […]

public philosophy stories, issue 1: Free Muffin

You only have so many skills when you’re 20. I was a few years past that when this happened, but didn’t look it. The cashier at the Brooklyn coffee shop was 20, though, and was caught in a spot of trouble. Some guy in his late 40s took issue with her SNITCH tattoo — Harry Potter, not gangster. He was over-educated and enjoying himself denigrating the book series. She couldn’t abandon her post, less her […]

On the Dangers of Running the PGR

Something that caught my eye in the recent PGR debate was a compliment of the anti-PGR faction’s organizational skills that was stated right along side an insult to their actions. Specifically: “I really do not understand what is going on. You [did x]…  The response has been a well-organized attempt to force you to [do y]. But [doing x] had exactly nothing to do with [doing y].” This well-organization stands in contrast to: “I would […]

More on Philosophy Publishing: Cartels and Rhetoric

Here is a selection three reviewers’ comments from two well-ranked journals about a paper of mine: “Be that as it may, there really isn’t a recognizable philosophical project here that would merit consideration by [Misspelled Journal Name].” “I do not see how the author can improve the paper, since its motivation is ungrounded.” “This paper makes interesting, important claims and it should with improvements appeal to a broad and diverse audience.” It would be one […]

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 […]

The Paradox of Unreasonability

“You’re being unreasonable!” One or more of you may have had this directed at you. But what does the speaker mean by it? Presumably the speaker believes that the listener is not acting according to some given standard. However, if the speaker had an argument to that effect, the speaker should’ve presented it. Hence, all the above statement means is that the speaker has run out of arguments and has resorted to name-calling: being unreasonable […]

Against Physics as Ontologically Basic

1.  Biology is epistemically independent of physics: Let’s assume that biology is not epistemically independent of physics, i.e. to know any biology we must first know something about physics.  However, consider evolution as determined by natural selection and the struggle for survival.  We can know about the struggle for survival and natural selection without appealing to physics — just as Darwin did when he created the theory — and hence we can fundamentally understand at […]

Fodor May Yet Be Clever

I was trying to figure out what Fodor could have been thinking.  Here’s what I came up with: If we are trying to figure out what Evolution has done, then we presuppose that Evolution is capable of doing something. If Evolution is capable of doing something, then there must be some mechanism of Evolution that does the doing. Now imagine yourself in the position of the mechanism of Evolution that does the doing, i.e. the […]

On Block and Kitcher on Fodor

Ned Block and Philip Kitcher have posted a review of Fodor/Piatelli-Palmarini’s “What Darwin Got Wrong” (via Leiter). It is a well executed, though flawed, counter to Fodor’s arguments.  First they give a nice rundown of the underdetermination issue I posted about here. Then they discuss the “intensional fallacy”.  They argue that the crux of F & P’s argument can be seen as trying to split up the causal efficacious trait and the selected-for trait.  This […]