Philosophers’ Carnival #151

At the blog Error Statistics Philosophy Deborah G. Mayo shows how philosophers of science can be, and once were, much more relevant to the sciences than they are at present.

At Flickers of Freedom Bruce N. Waller, a compatibilist and the author of Against Moral Responsibility, distinguishes two approaches to conceptualizing compatibilist free will: reason-responsive theories, which “account for free will in terms of an agent’s responsiveness to an adequate spectrum of reasons”, and mesh theories, which “account for free will in terms of a harmoniously functioning mesh of psychic subsystems collectively generating action”. He then gives arguments in favor of his reason-responsive theory.

Daniel Mullin’s Unemployed Philosophers Blog is an excellent resource for philosophers pursuing careers outside of academia. He recently interviewed me for his podcast. In the interview I talked about how I built a relatively well-read and paying blog, my ideas for how philosophical counselors can meet the needs of people recovering from religion, and my small group interactive online video classes for non-matriculated students which anyone can join. For my first semester running these entirely independent classes I had 11 students commit to the full semester. I am now signing up summer students, using this survey to determine what courses students want and what time slots fit their schedules.

Clayton Littlejohn at Think Tonk discusses Donald Davidson’s view that between the sentences “The short circuit caused the fire” and “Because there was a short circuit, there was a fire” there is a difference in logical form. Littlejohn takes away from this the idea that “we should think of causal relations as holding between events and causal explanatory relations as holding between something else entirely” and queries this proposition.

At the language and logic philosophy blog SprachlogickTristan Haze explores the prospects for a non-indexical, externalist, formulation of presentism. Alexander Pruss also deals with the question of eternalism or presentism this month.

At the blog Ethical Realism, James Gray defends the oft maligned idea that there can be such things as philosophical experts.

At M-Phia blog dedicated to mathematical philosophy, in a post called “Fermat, set theory, and arithmetic”, guest blogger Colin McLarty, explains his current work on the foundations of mathematics in just 1000 words. McLarty is Truman P. Handy Professor of Intellectual Philosophy and professor of Mathematics at Case Western Reserve University.

At The Splintered Mind, Eric Schwitzgebel wonders whether he has been harmed by philosophy after he spends a day lost in radical skeptical worries that he has a Boltzmann brain or, perhaps, is living in a simulation.

John Danaher of Philosophical Disquisitions has a two part discussion of Thomas Nagel’s famous article “The Absurd”, about whether life is absurd.

The next Philosophers’ Carnival will be on June 10 at SirisSubmit a philosophical post you write in the next month by using this form.

Your Thoughts?

  • Robert Lee

    My apologies for comment being completely off topic of this post but it happens to be the way I found your blog and the posts that I would like to comment on are apparently closed….
    Dan, I am struck by how similar our views are on many issues and yet, at the end of it all, we draw opposite conclusions on the “god” question. I find this quite intriguing. Picking through all of your stated positions, I find that you consider yourself a “gnostic atheist” Based on your definitions suppose I would be an agnostic theist” with “agnostic” equating to the existence or non-existence of god being unprovable.
    So my question is: Upon what do you base your gnosticism? The most I found digging through your old posts roughly equates to “..can’t see how…” Care to elaborate?

    • Dan Fincke Camels With Hammers

      Thank you, Robert. I’m not sure why comments haven’t been showing up lately. And what post had comments closed? None should. I need to fix that.

      To answer your question, I distinguish between what we might call philosophers’ gods, i.e., god conceived of as a metaphysical principle of being or source of being, etc. and religious interventionist personal gods. The former position I consider deism. I am agnostic about deism, at present. The latter position I consider theism. I am gnostic that the the stories of supernatural intervention are knowably false. Why? Well, don’t you know that Zeus is a made up character? I don’t see any formal difference between him and Yahweh, not a single bit more evidence of a real Yahweh than Zeus. So, we can start there, why do you think there is more evidence for Yahweh than Zeus?

    • Robert Lee

      Ah! Let’s see the post was your #20 Key Posts “The A word”. Although, looking now it appears that I could have commented. It there was a problem it was fixed…
      OK, so you are splitting deism and theism as abstract vs some level of specifics, and saying that you “know” that the specific version(s) do not exist. OK I can see that. However, aren’t you throwing out ALL specific versions with “gnostic atheist,” even, say, ones you’ve never heard of? This leaves “Deism” as only the most abstract and so essentially empty of any meaning. Thus, my next question is, does your “agnostic Deism” leave any room for said deity to have any specific properties?