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Monday, October 31, 2005

Philosophers' Carnival XXI

Welcome to the 21st Philosophers' Carnival! For those who have just tuned in, the carnival aims to showcase some of the top philosophy posts of the last three weeks from around the blogosphere. There were a lot of entries this time around, so I've broken them up into categories...

Religion and Naturalism

Mathetes brings a refreshingly practical slant to abstract questions of God and Time:
This paper sets out to prove that the man on the street, who has no other source of hope for a better future but God, should hold on to his hope if God is atemporal, but should put his hope elsewhere if God is not.
He makes some questionable assumptions along the way, but it should make for some interesting discussion in the comments section.

Kenny Pearce, in Leibniz on "Efficient" vs. "Final" Causes in Physics, lucidly explains how this Aristotelian distinction can be used to differentiate between the "mundane" and the "miraculous" without asserting that there are exceptions to the laws of nature.

Meanwhile, Warren Platts speculates about Finalism in a Darwinian World. He argues that if advanced civilizations could trigger their own 'big bang' to create a whole new universe, then this could enable the evolution of, well, evolution itself:
[I]f entire universes are units of selection, and if universes that generate intelligent life produce more offspring universes than lifeless universes, then a progressive and purposeful (in the same sense that eyes are purposeful) evolutionary process that’s almost guaranteed to produce intelligent life and culture is just what a Darwinian would expect.

Tiberius and Gaius Speaking offers An Inductive argument from faith that God does not exist. He argues that the prevalence of "faith-based arguments" inductively supports the claim that it is reasonable to believe God does not exist. I'm not sure how compelling the argument is, but you've got to admire the sheer cheek of it!

Matt at Daily Phil argues in favour of Antecedent Naturalism, according to which we take as our starting point the following three principles:
1. Unity - There is only one world in which everything resides...
2. Realism - Nature goes beyond (our) conceptualization / cognitive activity.
3. Continuity - Experience is an engagement with the real elements of nature.

Truth and Fiction

Clark Goble discusses Heidegger and Truth, explaining that "Heidegger accepts our commonsense notion of correspondence. He just rejects as empty or at best unhelpful the theory of truth that is called correspondence."

Over in Fake Barn Country, Jonathan Ichikawa writes about Embedded Fictions and Iterative Imaginings:
We sometimes, but not always, have blunted affective engagement with iterated fictions -- fictional fictions. What explains the difference? I suggest that it has to do with an interest in imagining what's true in the fiction.


Uriah of Desert Landscapes writes about Dainton on the Phenomenal Self, defending the conception of the phenomenal self as a “bare locus of apprehension” against Dainton's objection that without any content to apprehend, being such a 'bare locus' would be subjectively indistinguishable from not-existence. A commentator suggests the slogan: "Phenomenal contents and a subject of experience — you can’t have one without the other."

Consciousness and Culture suggests that the adaptive function of conscious awareness is
[to introduce] a gap or distance between stimulus and response, which makes the stimulus available but not determinate. And this in turn allows for an exceptionally flexible form of behavioral control... [This view implies that] the mechanism of consciousness must have two main components -- two sides of the gap, so to speak -- one of which "presents" the environmental stimuli in some structured manner, while the other "apprehends" such presentations in some "loosely coupled" manner.

Ethics and Society

Will Wilkinson at The Fly Bottle has a fascinating post suggesting that:
Maybe the way to maintain a sense of freedom when in chains is also a way to manage agoraphobic hyperventilation in the unbounded consumer paradise.

Don't miss Jason Kuznicki On Nurturing as the True Purpose of Marriage:
Here I argue that the reason for marriage is neither solely to produce children, nor to seek romantic fulfillment, nor merely to contract with the government for rights or benefits. I propose another model, arguing that it explains the institution of marriage much better than the common reasons given for it in the same-sex marriage debate.

Jim Sias at common sense philosophy defends our moral intuitions against Singer's charge of inconsistency. Sias shows how the coherence of two apparently conflicting intuitions can be restored by taking care to generalize them under the appropriate principle.

In Blackburn, Anscombe, and Natural Law, Edward Feser critiques Simon Blackburn's recent review of the new collection of G.E.M. Anscombe essays. There's also some fun discussion in the comments questioning the plausibility of natural law theory.

The Sharpener raises the question: Why don't we use torture?
Not because of the low effectiveness rate of torture — but because torture fundamentally breaches human rights, including but not exclusively the presumption of innocence.

On my other blog, a short post quoting Nick Bostrom on the "urgent, screaming moral imperative" of anti-aging research provoked some interesting comments, from a range of perspectives, on such issues as how to assess the value of a life, and whether death is bad for you. Feel free to join the discussion!


In the delightfully titled Characterizing a Fogbank: What Is Postmodernism, and Why Do I Take Such a Dim View of it? Keith DeRose follows through on the title's promise with a post as interesting as it is long. The thriving comments thread is well worth a skim too.

Brian Weatherson quotes and discusses Soames on History, contrasting philosophically relevant history of philosophy vs. history-for-history's-sake history of philosophy. (The critical discussion in the comments section is also very interesting.)

Fluid Imagination, in Value Added Philosophy, first offers an abstract of Richard Rorty's Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature and then a critical response -- suggesting that Rorty's concept of edifying philosophy is ill-served by his hermeneutical program and that a better method might focus on "creation" instead of "translation".

Another critique of the book is found over at Strictly Speaking, specifically targeting Rorty's use of Wittgenstein's views of philosophical discourse.

New Blogs

To quickly introduce a couple of blogs you might not have come across before: The Atheist Ethicist celebrates his 50th post by offering "a sampling of some of the issues that I have written about in my first fifty days."

In the introductory post of "Mapping Out the Moral High Ground", Reuben invites topic suggestions and general discussion of his novel approach to life's problems:
Each week or so I will ask a question concerning some aspect of my lifestyle. After it has been discussed and a conclusion reached I shall alter my life style accordingly.
(I understand Reuben is currently flat out finishing his Honours research project. But be sure to check back in a couple of weeks.)

That's it for this edition of the carnival, I do hope you've enjoyed it. Many thanks to all those who made the effort of submitting a post. If others would like to find out how they can contribute in future, check out the Philosophers' Carnival homepage.

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  • Just noticed that I got picked for this one. Thanks! It was a good lot of posts that got picked, too.

    12/10/2005 07:59:00 PM  

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