Sunday, December 05, 2004

Philosophy Carnival


Carnival time is here!

Welcome to the 6th philosophy carnival! What is a philosophy carnival? Basically, it's a round-up of philosophy blog posts from the last few weeks, and represents author's pick-of-the-crop. It's a good way to stay of top of the philosophy zeitgeist , read some interesting articles, or keep tabs on ones colleagues. For information about once and future carnivals, visit

Questions Of Existence

Why are we here? This section is dedicated to the kinds of questions that broadside you at 2pm on some idle Tuesday, leaving you wondering about your place in the world...

Title: Aquinas's First Way

Author: Siris
Description: This is a set of notes on the interpretation of Aquinas's 'First Way'.

Title: Critique of Argument for Intelligent Design

Author: Illusive Mind
Description: In this essay I illustrate the critical flaws in Behe's argument for intelligent design, including those problems inherent in the idea of irreducible complexity, Behe's characterisation of the processes of evolution, Behe's inference to intelligent design and the issue of defeasibility.

Title: Finding an ethical center

Author: The Picket Line
Description: How does a rationalist ground ethics? In this Picket Line blog entry, the author traces his own personal geneology of morals from a naive hunt for Gods and Principles to an utter ethical skepticism and finally to a form of virtue ethics he describes as being like an existentialist living a "choose your own adventure" novel and saying "there is no God and I serve Him anyway!"

Philosophical Readings

Many philosophers of note have been highly inscrutable, and thus some kind people have recorded their thoughts and interpretations for posterity, so that the others among us might benefit from their perspectives.

Title: Heidegger on Philosophy

Author: Mormon Metaphysics
Description: Why Heidegger and certain other philosophers following him, such as Derrida, read other philosophers the way they do is a matter of much criticism. Generally they are accused of misreading them. This was a brief aside on a quote from an other blog that I used as an opportunity to discuss this matter of destruction or deconstruction.

Title: Was Nietzsche a Moral Cognitivist?

Author: Fake Barn Country
Description: Some people, including myself, are tempted to attribute a fictionalism about value to Nietzsche. Fictionalism is roughly an error theory (cognitivism plus anti-realism), plus an explanation why speaking falsely in that way is in some sense worthwhile. Brian Leiter has questioned the justification for attributing cognitivism to Nietzsche. I defend that attribution.

Title: Understanding, Knowledge and Truth, again

Author: Mumblings of a Platonist
Description: This is a post questioning the relationship between understanding, knowledge, and truth. It is questioning whether one can understand some thing that nonetheless turns out to be false and, if so, whether that understanding is different from someone's understanding of something true.

Matters Arising

These posts didn't seem to "fit" under any popular category for this carnival, and mostly deal with issues in our context.

Title: Pedagogy of Charity

Author: Oohlah's Blog Space
Description: Davidson's principle of charity is an important contribution that does not receive as much attention as it probably should. In this entry, I try to draw lessons of the principle of charity from epistemology into the classroom.

Title: Impossible God Computer

Author: Becoming Forever
Description: In the course of the discussion one of them brought up the idea of a computer programmed with all the laws of the universe, seeded with the current state of everything, being capable of predicting everything and anything.

Title: By Request: Reasoning

Author: Mixing Memory
Description: This is the first in what is likely to be a series of posts on cognitive theories of different types of reasoning. It looks at a couple types of reasoning errors.

Title: "Marriage and Childrearing"

Author: Philosophy, et cetera
Description: Some oppose gay marriage on the grounds that childrearing is the purpose of marriage. The obvious retort is that childless straight couples also marry. However, one might try to dodge this by appealing to the crudeness of law. In this post, I critically assess such an argument against gay marriage. In particular, the post questions whether sexual orientation is the best indicator of child-rearing intent, and suggests that the appeal to 'blunt law' fails to negate the force of the 'childless straight couple' counterexample.

Title: Adopting Social Responsibility

Author: Melbourne Philosopher
Description: For the most part, we all fulfill our responsibilities to our country, and that's as far as it goes. Australia is not an anarchy - proof by example that we are sufficiently law-abiding. But what about people who believe that's not enough?

Title: Causal loops and time travel

Author: Doing Things With Words
Description: In David Lewis' defense of time travel, he makes an analogy between causal loops and God or the Big Bang. The latter two are inexplicable and uncaused, but no one seems to mind, so what's the problem with causal loops? I argue that he overlooks an important distinction between contingent and necessary events. When we explain contingent events, we typically want causal explanations, but this is not the case for necessary events. This suggests that time travel may very well be problematic because it raises the specter of contingent events with no cause.

Nominations of Interesting Posts

Many fine individuals, presumably too busy hobnobbing with hobnobs, have written good posts without having submitting them to this aggregation. Fortunately, we have managed to include some of them anyway.

"A Puzzle About Utilitarianism" at PEA Soup,

Jason Stanley's guest post on "Language and Mind" at Leiter Reports,

Allan's "Athletic Phenomenology" at Fake Barn Country,

"J'Accuse" at Garden of Forking Paths , which argues that free-will Libertarians are hard-hearted,

and lastly we have Metatome's timely discussion of
"The PGR, Teaching and Advising" . Please note - this article has been accused of containing misinformation, although I see nothing obviously flawed in its presentation. For a resulting blog post on the topic of the responsibilities of bloggers towards the truth, look here. I am unwilling to take down the article just from an accusation, but am happy to flag it as suspect. Ooooh, scandal!

Parting Words

All of the authors thank you for reading their posts, and we all hope you will continue to pay attention to future philosophy carnivals.



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