I initially considered using Borges's famous taxonomy of animals to classify the posts in this Carnival. I decided against this for three reasons: (1) Some people might be offended by having their posts classified as "belonging to the emperor"; (2) nearly all of these posts "look from a long way off like flies"; and (3) there doesn't seem to be any fair way of deciding whose post should get to fall into the "fabulous" category. So I've decided to present these posts in no particular order at all.
(1) In this post from Dissoi Blogoi, Michael raises some questions:
Given developments in science since the time of Plato and Aristotle, are the accounts offered by these philosophers even close to being ones that we can regard as true?
and suggests that students of ancient philosophy are faced with a dilemma:
Either admit that you are simply doing history of ideas, or justify--in a way that contemporary philosophers and scientists would regard as reasonable, if not compelling--this talk of 'nature', 'form', 'matter', and 'ends'.
I think these questions should provoke an interesting discussion, so I hope that readers of this Carnival who are qualified to address Michael's points will do so in comments over at Dissoi Blogoi.
(2) A post on Peirce and common sense from Mormon Metaphysics touches on a bunch of interesting aspects of Peirce's thought, including his views of vagueness, the scientific method, signs, and more.
(3) There's an interesting post by Siris on Darwin's logic. I think it's the first in a series of posts which will discuss Darwin's argument for evolution.
(4) At Philosoraptor, there's a post by Winston Smith on the "obnoxiousness" of discourse in analytic philosophy. Winston thinks that many philosophers engage in "sophistry." He provides an anecdote to support this claim. He says that many philosophers follow the "Crossfire model" of discourse:
start the discussion with the goal of ending the discussion with the same position you started with. Any change of position signals that you have lost what is, in effect, a fight. When problems are raised for your position, the goal is not to consider them honestly, but to say something—anything—to muddy the waters or change the subject.
Winston's claim seems to be mainly about how spoken philosophy gets done, as when, e.g., papers are presented in public. I'd be interested to know whether Winston has a similar view about written philosophy. Would the same dirty tricks work in writing? If not, does this mean that writing about philosophy is less likely to lead one into error than talking about it?
(5) In a post on thought experiments by Jonah at Bishop Berkeley, Jonah discusses the role of thought experiments in scientific theory-testing. Jonah argues that thought experiments teach us "something new" about the world. Among other interesting things, this post contains a list of historically-useful thought experiments, and some brief descriptions of competing views about the role of thought experiments in science.
(6) The inimitable Enwe has an interesting post at her meta-blog on a recent paper by Janet Levin on the proper role of philosophical intuition. Apparently, Levin thinks that since the objects of philosophical inquiry aren't natural kinds, philosophers are better equipped to study them than non-philosophers (e.g. scientists) are. Enwe gives reasons to think that Levin has failed to demonstrate this conclusion. For instance, according to Enwe, Levin argues from intuitions for the view that intutions are useful in determining the essences of "philosophical kinds" (e.g. knowledge). Enwe thinks that taking this line of argument is already to presuppose the intended conclusion. I take Enwe's view to be that Levin's argument is thus methodologically circular -- i.e., it attempts to show the validity of a method by using the same method.
(7) In a post on personal identity, Richard of Philosophy, et cetera shows that what he calls the "common sense" conception of self is problematic. He says:
The common-sense view seems to involve a separately existing 'self', or 'Cartesian ego', to which our bodies and minds belong. This ego is the subject of conscious experiences. We can imagine magically finding ourselves in someone else's body. We may even be able to imagine having total amnesia and a sudden change in personality. So neither physical nor psychological continuity seems necessary for the folk conception of personal identity. All that matters is that it's me that has the conscious experiences.
Richard goes on to raise a lot of interesting questions about personal identity. Parfit comes up. A follow-up post is located here.
(8) Here's a good post from Mumblings of a Platonist which is difficult to summarize. A distinction between two different approaches to rationality is offered here. I'm afraid to say anything more, for fear of misrepresenting a very interesting but inconclusive post.
(9) There's a post on truth in fiction by Jonathan from Fake Barn Country. Jonathan aims to show that David Lewis's account of fictional truth is flawed. According to Jonathan,
Roughly, Lewis’s view amounts to this: a proposition is true in the fiction if and only if it is true in all of the possible worlds that are maximally close in which the fiction is told as known fact. With this theory we can hold, as we wanted to, that it is fictionally false that Harry put his left shoe on first, and false that he put his right shoe on first, but true that he put one shoe on first.
Jonathan thinks that this account has problematic consequences, which arise from its involving the phrase "told as known fact."
(10) A post on the theory-ladenness of observations, from Hugo at Studi Galileiani, argues that observations are theory-laden "all the way down." Hugo argues that this is not as bad a thing as it has sometimes been taken to be.
(11) Chris from Mixing Memory has a post, "Concepts I," on the "classical view" of concepts. It's the first in a series; the others are located in archives. This post contains a useful overview of some historical views of concepts.
(12) Adam Potthast of Metatome has a post on teaching logic. This post includes instructions and files to be used for creating a game of Fallacy Jeopardy for your students.
(13) Apparently, some people think that abortion is sometimes genocidal. A Parableman post argues that
a good case can be made for the thesis that abortion is not just the decision of the individual person but is at least partially coerced in enough cases, particularly those of young girls and especially in lower-income environements, which is likely to include many of the cases that those using genocide-language have in mind.
(14) Jason Kuznicki, of Positive Liberty, has this post on "evolutionary psychology and the blank slate." Here's a representative paragraph from the post:
Another take on tabula rasa may be that it is not a statement precisely about human minds--but rather about our capacity to know or to control the minds of our neighbors: We ought to think of people as if the proposition were true, for thinking of them otherwise tends strongly to bring out our worst authoritarian impulses. In this formulation, tabula rasa is not so much true as it is useful and good. It is no longer a scientific claim, but a moral one.
(15) Chris of Mumblings and Grumblings asks whether we perceive negative facts. For instance: Chris wants to know whether we perceive that a box is empty, or merely perceive that the lining of a box is visible.
(16) At Obsidian Wings, Hilzoy examines a "confused" National Geographic News article and ends up asking some interesting questions from bioethics:
The one part of the body that really does seem to make us who we are is the brain. Now: no one is now proposing injecting animal neurons or neural stem cells into human brains, and if they did, I can't see how it would pass normal ethics review. But scientists are transplanting human neural stem cells (which go on to form human neurons) into animals. Is this wrong?
(17) A post at Universal Acid
tries to refute John Searle's "Chinese room" argument by using a combination of the Systems Reply and the Virtual Mind Reply. It also points out that the use of "Chinese room" as an intuition pump is somewhat racist and offensive.
(18) A post from Pragmatik suggests that dissatisfaction with Bush will drive people to read Sartre.
(19) Max Goss has a post on conservatism and rootedness. "Rootedness" is a condition attaching to an individual who is situated
firmly and, if possible, permanently - within a particular social network of family and neighbors where everyone knows you or, if not, can find someone who does.
Max argues that
conservatives, for the most part, share with the ancient Greeks a recognition that rootedness is an absolute prerequisite to both a civilized society and a cultivated individual, and that, consequently, the anonymous man can only be a bad man.
In the post, Max sketches the beginnings of a distinctively conservative view of the value attaching to being a "rooted man." Max acknowledges that many liberals claim to value "community" -- a concept closely related to Max's "rootedness." But Max gives reasons to think that conservatives approach rootedness differently than liberals would or do.
(20) At Left2Right, David Velleman has a post which draws on Nagel's views of privacy and sexual identity. The title of the post was changed from "A Closet Heterosexual" to "A
Closet Private Heterosexual" in response to commenters' objections to the original title. This is an example of Velleman's generally admirable way of dealing with readers' criticisms. Left2Right's commenters are notoriously passionate; a few of them are rude. So Velleman's almost invariable willingness to take seriously all comers is commendable.
(21) Philosophical discussion occasionally transpires in comments over at 1 or 2.
(22) Finally, this post seems to have something to do with forgiveness.
The Philosophers' Carnival homepage is here.