Saturday, June 28, 2014


I apologize for not posting anything for so long. I think this is the longest I've gone without blogging since I started in 2003. As you can guess, I have not had much spare time of late. I'm starting to get some now. Starting to. To tide you over, here are a few more links:

1. Hilary Putnam is blogging! And you can leave comments! I'm adding his blog, "Sardonic Comment", to the sidebar. Via Maverick Philosopher.

2. An objection and response between Patricia Churchland and Colin McGinn. Also via Maverick, who concludes (correctly in my view) that McGinn has the better of it.

3. An inferior exchange (actually an interview) between Tim Maudlin and Gary Gutting on science and religion. Maudlin is a philosopher of science, but it's hard to believe that, given how misinformed he is. It's just embarrassing. Via Keith Burgess-Jackson who calls it "about as stupid an exchange as I have encountered".

4.  Burgess-Jackson quotes David Brink on moral realism. Brink writes, "Moral realism is roughly the view that there are moral facts and true moral claims whose existence and nature are independent of our beliefs about what is right and wrong". Burgess-Jackson says he does not share Brink's intuition on this, but I certainly do. If moral facts did not hold independent of whether anyone believed them, then I don't see how you can make room for moral progress, since that would involve advocating moral claims that no one had hitherto recognized. You can easily construct thought experiments where everyone holds false moral beliefs -- say that all 10-year old children should be forced to kill each other in gladiatorial contests until only a few are left, this is done every year in order to keep the population down, and has been done for the entire history of the human race. This is morally atrocious, yet in that scenario, no one thinks it is immoral, including ex hypothesi, the 10-year-olds. I maintain that in those circumstances it would still be immoral. I don't see how you can maintain that without accepting moral realism. However, this is not really my field, and I am very open to correction. Burgess-Jackson has been thinking about it for longer than I have.

5. Ed Feser criticizes an introduction to philosophy that misstates the cosmological argument in the usual way (as I've commented on here). I have some criticisms of my own of another intro to philosophy that I plan to blog about it in the near future.

6. The Venus Express is getting ready to descend into Venus's atmosphere. Very exciting.

7. In light of the push for space tourism -- that is, constructing spacecraft to take paying passengers up into space -- one company is jumping the gun by doing it cheaper with balloons. They should be up (ha!) and running in 2016.

8. Saturn's moon Titan may be older than Saturn itself.

9. Ten things Kvothe absolutely needs to do in day 3 of Patrick Rothfuss' Kingkiller Chronicles. The first two volumes are entitled The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear. I'm not really a fan of fantasy, but I make an exception for Tolkien and Rothfuss. They think it's too obvious that there be a connection between Cinder and Denna's patron, but I suspect there will be. I'd also add an eleventh point: we are told a few times that Kvothe's father seduced his mother away from court life, and then we learn that the Maer's new wife hates the Edema Ruh (Kvothe's family's performing troupe) because one of her relatives was seduced away by one. So yeah, Kvothe is almost certainly going to be revealed as having royal blood. Plus, Rothfuss has to bring in those freaky-deaky giant spider-things that he started the series off with.