Monday, February 20, 2012

Philosophers' Carnival #138

Welcome again to Philosophers’ Carnival,which aims to showcase the best philosophical posts from a wide range of weblogs. We invite submissions from bloggers and readers, and collate the submitted posts into one big round-up (or ‘carnival’) every three weeks, offering a brief summary of each entry, and a link to the complete post.”  This is carnival #138.

We begin with…


Social Morality’s random walk through time posted at Morality’s Random Walk by Mark Sloan.  Game theory is intrinsic to reality, therefore morality based on game theory is intrinsic to reality, using a very broad definition of altruism that Ayn Rand could get along with.  Very cool picture of galaxies.  In walks Joshua Harwood:

Philosophical Amputations: 2: Loaded Language and Reification posted at A Yangist’s Musings by Joshua Harwood.  In the tradition of David Hume, who cautioned against the reification of deriving oughts from ises (a favorite topic of your hostess), Harwood takes apart what at first blush might appear to be a well-formed question but turns out to be full of assumptions which cannot simply be considered ‘given’ in authentic philosophical discourse.  They're drawing elaborate maps of assumed territories that they don't prove exist.  Reminds one of Sam Harris’ “The Moral Landscape” (the topic of Philosophers’ Carnival CXV).

The Origins of Property: A Parable with Morals
posted at and by Tomkow.  We’re talking about ownership.  In the tradition of John Rawls, who suggested the distributive-justice thought experiment that we imagine how a society would form if it were just starting out (I touch upon distributive justice in my work-in-progress), Tomkow employs parable (or fable) to tease out his (somewhat disjointed) conclusion (moral) that justice is all about permission, property is all about permission (though, somehow people are excluded from giving permission to be owned), but property does not have to be just (moral).  Yep, it’s all in there, and I found it an enjoyable read.  Relevant to this is:

The Separateness of Persons: Commensurability without Fungibility posted at Philosophy, et cetera by our founder Richard Yetter Chappell.  Richard corrects the error in assuming consequentialists feel that because the value of persons is commensurable (“ones that can be compared and traded off against each other”) they are fungible (the loss of one is cancelled out by the gain of another).  Rather, “a fitting consequentialist agent would desire each good (separately), …will have distinct intrinsic desires for each person's welfare, … They will be pulled in both directions, torn by the distinct importance of the two lives (only one of which can be saved), and whichever one they do save, they will still see something regrettable about the loss of the other.”  Moving away from consequentialism:

You Kant Be Serious posted at and by Vroomfondil.  If you can wade through the politically-charged vitriol, this is a nice addition to the carnival.  V points out that ‘intended’ consequences matter over actual consequences, then s/he juggles the implications of favoring duty over inclination and makes them comically collide in an inclination to duty.  It is something I actually wonder about Kant’s valuing a virtuous disposition despite his emphasis on duty.  But ask yourself, V—who is physically stronger—the scrawny person who lifts 100 pounds because they tried really hard, or the ‘built’ person who lifts it effortlessly because they trained really hard?  Same consequences.  Same intentions.  The obvious answer is the muscularly virtuous one—the scrawny one would readily admit s/he is not as strong as the built one, which is evidenced in how much effort went in to the endeavor.  The same is true regarding moral strength.  That isn’t to say that morally weak people are not doing something morally excellent and worthy of praise when they go against all inclination and do the right thing.  It is only to say that having an inclination to do the right thing does not necessarily cancel out the rightness of the thing one is doing.  Guess I’ll count that as my submission to this carnival.  Somewhat related to this is:

The Concept-Deployment Asymmetry Objection posted at The Space of Reasons by Avery Archer.  Believing that ϕ is good requires that one deploy the concept of the good because it entails apprehending that ϕ is good. By contrast, desiring that ϕ does not require that one deploy the concept of the good because it entails apprehending ϕ as good, but does not entail apprehending that ϕ is good. This, I claim, represents a fundamental asymmetry between desiring to ϕ and believing that ϕ is good. Consequently, the Desire-as-Belief Thesis, which holds that the two are equivalent, must be false.”

Shifting into Metaphysics, Etc.

“Modal Ontological Arguments” and meta-modality posted at Critical Rationalism by Tony Lloyd.  Lloyd replied to my relevant blogpost (the content of which is owed to William Lane Craig), I reckon that standard Modal Logic can't express ‘it is possible that a maximally great being exists’ and, so, I extend it” (in his submission).  This statement from his submission shows that his submission is not in reply to my blogpost, as it indicates he never read my blogpost, which answers him:  “That there is a fault can be shown by running the argument for other entities we are quite sure do not exist but will accept that they could possibly exist; such as The Golden Mountain, the Flying Spaghetti Monster or the Decent Pint of Mass Produced Lager.”  However, that is not the ‘meat’ of his argument, which reminds me of an argument by Richard M. Gale (I’ll let you digest that!).  He ends his submission with reference to an Evil God Modal Ontological Argument—my thoughts on the Evil God here.  Jason Streitfeld also replied to the aforementioned relevant blogpost, replacing premise one with “It is possible that a maximally great being does not exist,” and this is the second time I've edited this section of the carnival:  much discussion in the comments section!  :0)  Jason brings us our next submission:

Stanley on Ryle:  A Criticism posted at Specter of Reason by Jason Streitfeld.  This is the third in a series of posts in which Jason responds to Jason Stanley's chapter on Ryle in his recent book, "Know How" (Oxford University Press, 2011).  The other posts in the series, since they all fall within the appropriate time frame: 1. Jason Stanley's "Know How" 2. An Objection to Stanley's Accusation That Ryle Appeals to Verificationism 4. Ryle and Behaviorism 5. Stanley's Great Error

Factive Verbs and Protagonist Projection posted at Experimental Philosophy by Wesley Buckwalter.  This post delivers the results of a philosophy experiment conducted “to see if the linguistic evidence collected so far is better explained by (i) the folk tendency to adopt the perspective of the putative ‘knower’ when attributing or (ii) an underlying folk concept which really does allow for knowledge of false things. …it looks like people may be engaging in projective readings, rather than actually attributing knowledge to subjects with false beliefs.”  Interesting experiment.

Group Consciousness: Is the US a Candidate? posted at critique my thinking by Nick.  This one reminds me of this submission on the extended mind hypothesis (written by Chris Norris and hosted on my blog) from the last carnival I hosted.  In fact I believe Nick is just calling Eric to clarify whether his understanding of group consciousness includes extended mind (it sounds to me like Eric is extending ‘extended mind’ from inanimate objects to other people, then labeling it group consciousness) and if so “point to salient evidence of inanimate objects hosting consciousness. // Because if the network of stuff between conscious persons does host consciousness, then the panpsychists might be on to something. Also, it would imply the possibility of mereological composition of consciousness-hosting parts—that is, the ability to consider any set of objects and conscious persons a conscious entity. For example, [Your next-door neighbors] + [television] + [The People's republic of China] = [a single conscious entity]. This too seems bizarre. // And if the intermediaries fail to be feasible hosts of consciousness, then all we have are sophisticated and patterned interactions between conscious members of a group. That might instantiate something like 'culture', but it is a far cry from group consciousness.”  Read Eric’s recent blog posts on that here and here. 

*News Flash*
By the way, did you know there is an on-line consciousness conference going on until March 2nd?  Check it out!  It is the fourth year for this conference hosted at Consciousness Online.

That’s it for this carnival.  I was hoping to receive a submission from
Professor Alvin Plantinga answering John Wilkins at Evolving Thoughts, who was replying to a submission to the last carnival.  Professor Plantinga is a busy man though, and I will host his reply on my blog when he gets the time for it (update:  here) and will submit it to the next carnival.  Thanks to those who contributed and to those who are just stopping by to check things out! :) 

Be sure and submit to the next carnival using the form
here (not the blogcarnival widget or email), and do consider hosting (guidelines found here).  The next carnival will be at critique my thinking.  See you then!

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