Category Archives: news

The Practical Ontologist

I’ve launched a new website called The Practical Ontologist. From its about page:

Every few hours a computer at a datacenter scans the web for new philosophical content. It then analyzes, processes, and formats the information. This creates an always updating website for easy perusal.

I built this site to highlight all the public philosophy that is posted every single day online and as a way for people to discover philosophically oriented websites. While there are already many excellent websites that post links to philosophical content, *The Practical Ontologist* is focused on staying fresh and not being a Balkanizing social network. It is the Google News of philosophy blogs.

Check it out and let me know what you think!

Posted in internet, news, philosophy.

Calendar Fall 2016 Update


A few weeks into the semester and the calendar is packed with events (but no one seems to have told the admin of Rutgers Philosophy Dept. webpage). Traffic to the calendar has continued its slow and steadily rise, with a corresponding rise in repeat visitors, that is, people who come back to check for updates. So, hello to all you new and return users. Feedback is welcome, as are event submissions.

I finally got around to looking into the issue where every event had a button to buy tickets, whether or not the event actually required them. If any of you checked the website this afternoon (16 September) you would have noticed that the entire site was down. Only “Error connecting to database” when loading the site. Yep, clicked on the wrong thing in the database and ruined the entire site. Took me a few hours to restore everything, but, hey, no useless ticket buttons anymore. The loss of data do to this crash is also why there are minor changes to how the site looks. Backup your data, people.

I’ve also started relying on a program to check websites for changes. This has been very helpful as my list of different philosophy-related groups has grown. So thank you to urlwatch by Thomas Perl.

image credit:

Posted in news, NYC. Tagged with , .

winter/ spring 2016 calendar update


As per usual, lots of great philosophy talks. I’m still waiting on CUNY to update [updated Feb 1], which is unusual, since they are often first to publish their speaker list. Many departments and groups have been modernizing their websites, too, which is a step forward. Most are not quite there yet, and some departments, apparently, do not even control what goes on their webpage.

In this, the 9th(!) year of the NYC Philosophy Calendar, it seems that there has been greater professional interest in public philosophy: There has been talk about how to engage the public through the internet and new public philosophy awards. (Is the ivory tower starting to shake a little? Or just being dragged into the future?) I’d settle for a little more interdepartmental communication in terms of scheduling. We could have a mini-conference each week if we wanted to, and it could serve as a focus of outreach and community building.

Speaking of outreach — not that I’m actually an academic — traffic to the calendar has steadily risen over the last year. Manhattan has beaten out Brooklyn in calendar pageviews in the last few weeks, which is rare. I’ve even met people who found talks through my calendar. (No beer donations, sadly.) Also, for the first time ever, I rejected a request to be on the calendar: don’t write me a cloying email saying how insightful my blog has been in the last few months (when I hadn’t actually posted anything, and not that it has ever been insightful) and then ask to get your cult leader/ dvd seller/ pyramid scheme talk on the calendar.

One idea I had was to become a degree granting institution. That’s right, a NYC Philosophy Calendar Degree in philosophy!  I’ve been developing a way to register which talks you’ve been attending, and when you take enough talks, you get credit towards a degree. Enough credits equals a minor, then major, eventually all the way up to PhD. Yes, this will all be based off fake internet points, and you will have to self-report your attendence, but, hey, people love tracking progress and getting awards for it.

Have a great semester, all.

[image credit: Often gleefully NSFW.]


Posted in news, NYC, philosophy.

Update Fall 2015

It has been an interesting 2015 for me philosophically. I’ve been writing feverishly because I had something published — to my great surprise — in Analysis. Figure I need something to follow up with. The paper is a modified version of my post Punny Logic, from back in January, and was the top download of both June and July. If you have institutional access, you can click here, else click here for the preprint. Hopefully I’ll have some new posts and papers to show soon.

As per usual the philosophy calendar is going strong. Lots of philosophy talks, workshops and conferences are scheduled for the coming semester in and around New York City. Even more will be posted as websites and departments update.

My only regret is that I don’t have plans to get to England in the next few weeks to witness the glory of Dismaland:


Posted in news.

Xmas post

Happy Holidays!

As is my Xmas tradition, I watched “Die Hard”. Surprisingly one of the characters reminded me of the current state of internet philosophy:

Posted in internet, news, philosophy. Tagged with .

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 rather not have had to make the decision in the face of a sometimes irrational cyber-mob”

I think this contradiction in characterization — either the anti-PGR faction is well-organized or it is an irrational mob, but not both — reveals something interesting going on with the PGR and philosophy.

I’d like to focus on the compliment of the organizational skills as it is the more revealing.

Let’s assume that complimenting your opponent’s organizational skills was not done out of magnanimity. Instead, it works to shift the blame away from the pro-PGR arguments and moral standing: the opponents won because of reasons that were not pertinent to the discussion, not “legitimate” reasons. That is, no one is paying attention to the pro-PGR arguments because they are so blinded by the ‘organization’ of the anti-PGR faction.

There are two ways to understand this:

  1. They are accusing the anti-PGR faction of running a conspiracy. Being well organized implies that there wasn’t really a consensus against the PGR. Instead, only the appearance of a consensus exists through the efforts of the anti-PGR leaders. These masterminds have engineered the appearance of a consensus to gather popular support for their illegitimate cause. The masterminds have fooled the masses into doing their bidding.

       Besides implying that there is no consensus, this is a clever strategy because it puts the the anti-PGR faction into the position of proving a negative: proving that they were not so well organized and hence that there is no conspiracy.

  2. Though the pro-PGR folks understand what has happened, they do not understand HOW it happened. The claim of well-organization is being used as a catch-all in place of a better causal explanation.

I think the latter is the more likely of the two options. Firstly, because confusion is admitted directly in the quote, and secondly because the PGR debate itself is exactly about how to evaluate different philosophies.

The PGR has systematically been evaluating philosophy for years, and hence inherently creates confirmation bias with respect to those rankings. The confirmation bias will, over time, overvalue philosophy at the top of the rankings and undervalue philosophy at the bottom.

What, then, may have happened is that the success of the PGR infected the minds of those most involved with it. The confirmation bias caused them to undervalue and overlook the capabilities of low-ranked philosophies, to the point of atrophy. So when those philosophies became mobilized against them, they couldn’t see or understand what was happening. They became inevitable victims of their own success.

Posted in argumentation, news, philosophy. Tagged with , .

Site Update 2014

After running this site for 7 years, I have done a comprehensive update of the systems that run it, namely migrating it to a brand new database. This has increased the site speed, noticeable in page loading times especially on the calendar. The calendar is going strong, with many talks and events for the Fall of 2014. Please check it out if you are in the New York City metropolitan area.

Posted in internet, news. Tagged with .

NYC Area Philosophy Calendar Spring 2014 update

I’ve updated the NYC Area Philosophy Calendar for Spring 2014. As per usual, there are some great talks and conferences to check out.

I’d love feedback about the calendar, so please get in touch if you have any comments or suggestions.

From my website statistics Brooklyn, NY has the heaviest calendar users. Hello Brooklyn.

Posted in internet, news, NYC, philosophy.

NYC Area Philosophy Calendar Update

I’ve updated my NYC Area Philosophy Calendar, a listing of the philosophy lectures, conferences and events in the NYC metro area. As per usual, if one were to attend the huge amount of lectures and events, they would have a very good academic philosophy education for the price of a Metrocard and some late fees at the public library. Please leave me any comments and suggestions, especially if you know of events and venues that I don’t have listed.

With this update comes technical improvements: Events are color coordinated by location (school color usually) and are tagged by topic (ancient, Kant, epistemology, etc.). The calendar software has different ways to view the data (day/ weekly/ monthly calendar, agenda, poster-board). It also can do subscriptions based on filter, so if you only want to see epistemology events at Fordham, you can use the categories and tags to specify this, and then you can export only those events.

Fordham and CUNY have long lists of fantastic speakers lined up. Some notable events are Noam Chomsky speaking at Columbia’s Dewey lectures, and the 31st Annual Meeting of the Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy (SAGP) with the Society for the Study of Islamic Philosophy and Science (SSIPS) at Fordham, which has a massive program.

Also, as per usual, Columbia is slow on posting events. Rutgers, too, has nothing listed yet. The New School for Social Research has some things posted, but it seems to be mostly cross-listings of other departments, so I expect that the more philosophy-oriented content is still coming. Sarah Lawrence College sometimes has public lectures of interest, but they too have very little posted. I’ll check back in few days and update accordingly.


Posted in news, NYC, philosophy. Tagged with , , .

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: location map of recent visitors
This is pretty typical. A recent breakdown is just over half of the visitors are USA citizens, leaving over 40% to be distributed over the rest of the world.

I’ve noticed lots of different activity on my website. There have been bots (programs) that state their purpose as ‘total website downloaders’, which tend to be from places that don’t have good laws on freedom of speech (I think they are trying to get as much of the internet as they can while they have access). I’ve had hits from Pyongyang, North Korea. I have lots of visitors from China. A posts on game theory was visited by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (probably a bored technician). When I linked to a post critical of the Philosophical Gourmet Report, I had a hit from a UChicagoLaw web server.

With all the recent discoveries about the scope of the US government’s spying—it’s open season on communications to any non-citizen outside the country (which many philosophers are) and 3 degrees of separation from a target (remember, it is thought that everyone in the world is only 6 degrees from everyone else)—it is almost a given that they are monitoring my internet communications in some way. And since they are monitoring me, they are probably monitoring you, too.

I don’t like it, not one bit. But now there is something that can be done about it! Bitmessage is a secure messaging service. It can’t be monitored, at least not in the way they have backdoor access to email. It is encrypted such that only the intended recipient can access the message, and everyone else can’t even know who it is from or to whom it is going. So grab the program and send your first message that the government can’t see! Experience actual freedom of speech, without fear of being monitored, and send me a bitmessage here:


Posted in news, products, technology.