Nine years ago I defended My dissertation and then I promptly forgot about it. Part of the reason was that I was distracted with the Shombie Wars (believe me, I *never* expected to write a paper on zombies!) and starting Consciousness Online but the biggest part of the story was that I was sick of working on it. I had spent two years writing it officially but I had had the core idea for the dissertation in 2002 (developing ideas I had from my days as an undergraduate) and had written several versions of it for various seminars I had taken. By the time I had decided to pursue this as my dissertation project I had already been working on it (off and on) for 4 years. So after six years of reading, re-reading, writing, and re-writing I had a hard time even thinking about this material!
Looking back on it now I think the main “result” still stands up. Just after I defended hybrid expressionist views became popular and I thought that maybe I had been scooped (more than I already had been by Blackstone!) but no one has developed, or even seemed to notice, the kind of hybrid view I formulate and defined (i.e. one where the speech act in moral discourse involves expressing an emotion and, at the same time, the belief that the emotion is the correct one to have towards the relevant state of affairs moral character, etc)…though to be honest I have grown more out of touch with the literature on metaethics…so maybe there is some devastating objection I am not aware of?
At some point I may try to look into it but in the meantime below are links to the blog posts I wrote while working on the dissertation.
- Introducing Frigidity
- What Kripke Really Thinks
- The Meaning and Use of ‘is True’
- Truth, Justification, and the Quasi-Realist Way
- Meaning and Justification
- A Simple Argument for Moral Realism
- Emotive Realism
- Truth and Necessity
- Varieties of Rigidity
- Devitt on the A Priori
- Meta-Metaethics and the NJRPA
- Emotive Realism Ch. 1
- Emotive Realism Ch. 2
- Some Moral Truths are Analytic
- (Finally) Responding to Roman
- Moral Truthmakers
- Empiricism as the Default Position
- Introducing Dr. Richard Brown
In celebration of my ten years in the blogosphere I have been compiling some of my past posts into thematic meta-posts. The first of these listed my posts on the higher-order thought theory of consciousness. Continuing in this theme below are links to posts I have done over the past ten years reporting on talks/conferences/classes I have attended. I wrote these mostly so that I would not forget about these sessions but they may be interesting to others as well. Sadly, there are several things I have been to in the last year or so that I have not had the tim to sit down and write about…ah well maybe some day!
- 09/05/07 Kripke
- Notes on Kripke’s discussion of existence as a predicate and fiction
- 09/05/2007 Devitt
- 09/05 Devitt II
- 09/19/07 -Devitt on Meaning
- Notes on Devitt’s class on semantics
- Flamming LIPS!
- Back to the Grind & Meta-Metaethics
- Day Two of the Yale/UConn Conference
- Peter Singer on Climate Change and Ethics
- Notes on Singer’s talk at LaGuardia
- Where Am I?
- Reflections on my talk at the American Philosophical Association talk in 2008
- Fodor on Natural Selection
- Reflections on the Society of Philosophy and Psychology meeting June 2008
- Kripke’s Argument Against 4-Dimensionalism
- Based on a class given at the Graduate Center
- Reflections on Zoombies and Shombies Or: After the Showdown at the APA
- Reflections on my session at the American Philosophical Association in 2009
- Kripke on the Structure of Possible Worlds
- Notes on a talk given at the Graduate Center in September 2009
- Unconscious Trait Inferences
- Notes on social psychologist James Uleman‘s talk at the CUNY Cogsci Speaker Series September 2009
- Attributing Mental States
- Notes on James Dow‘s talk at the CUNY Cogsci Speaker Series September 2009
- Busy Bees Busily Buzzing ‘Bout
- Shombies & Illuminati
- A Couple More Thoughts on Shombies and Illuminati
- Some reflections after Kati Balog’s presentation at the NYU philosophy of mind discussion group in November 2009
- Attention and Mental Paint
- Notes on Ned Block’s session at the Mind and Language Seminar in January 2010
- HOT Damn it’s a HO Down-Showdown
- Notes on David Rosenthal’s session at the NYU Mind and Language Seminar in March 2010
- The Identity Theory in 2-D
- Some thoughts in response to theOnline Consciousness Conference in February 2010
- Part-Time Zombies
- Reflections on Michael Pauen‘s Cogsci talk at CUNY in March of 2010
- The Singularity, Again
- Reflections on David Chalmers’ at the NYU Mind and Language seminar in April of 2010
- The New New Dualism
- Dream a Little Dream
- Reflections on Miguel Angel Sebastian’s cogsci talk in July of 2010
- Explaining Consciousness & Its Consequences
- Reflections on my talk at the CUNY Cog Sci Speaker Series August 2010
- Levine on the Phenomenology of Thought
- Reflections on Levine’s talk at the Graduate Center in September 2010
- Swamp Thing About Mary
- Reflections on Pete Mandik’s Cogsci talk at CUNY in October 2010
- Burge on the Origins of Perception
- Reflections on a workshop on the predicative structure of experience sponsored by the New York Consciousness Project in October of 2010
- Phenomenally HOT
- Reflections on the first session of Ned Block and David Carmel’s seminar on Conceptual and Empirical Issues about Perception, Attention and Consciousness at NYU January 2011
- Some Thoughts About Color
- Stazicker on Attention and Mental Paint
- Sid Kouider on Partial Awareness
- a few notes about Sid Kouider’s recent presentation at the CUNY CogSci Colloquium in October 2011
- The 2D Argument Against Non-Materialism
- Reflections on my Tucson Talk in April 2012
- Peter Godfrey-Smith on Evolution And Memory
- Notes from the CUNY Cog Sci Speaker Series in September 2012
- The Nature of Phenomenal Consciousness
- Reflections on my talk at the Graduate Center in September 2012
- Giulio Tononi on Consciousness as Integrated Information
- Notes from the inaugural lecture of the new NYU Center for Mind and Brain by Giulio Tononi
- Mental Qualities 02/07/13: Cognitive Phenomenology
- Mental Qualities 02/21/13: Phenomenal Concepts
- Notes/Reflections from David Rosenthal’s class in 2013
- The Geometrical Structure of Space and Time
- Reflections on a session of Tim Maudlin’s course I sat in on in February 2014
- Towards some Reflections on the Tucson Conferences
- Reflections on my presentations at the Tucson conferences
- Existentialism is a Transhumanism
- Reflections on the NEH Seminar in Transhumanism and Technohumanism at LaGuardia I co-directed in 2015-2016
Richard Marshall, a writer for 3am Magazine, has been interviewing philosophers. After interviewing a long list of distinguished philosophers, including Peter Carruthers, Josh Knobe, Brian Leiter, Alex Rosenberg, Eric Schwitzgebel, Jason Stanley, Alfred Mele, Graham Priest, Kit Fine, Patricia Churchland, Eric Olson, Michael Lynch, Pete Mandik, Eddy Nahmais, J.C. Beal, Sarah Sawyer, Gila Sher, Cecile Fabre, Christine Korsgaard, among others, they seem to be scraping the bottom of the barrel, since they just published my interview. I had a great time engaging in some Existential Psychoanalysis of myself!
I found this very interesting lecture by Sellars where he talks about dot quotes and its relation to ontology and the mind-body problem…all good stuff and worth a listen. But what really caught my interest was his comments at the beginning of part F where he seems to admit that some kind of causal theory has to be right for the way thoughts work but not for the linguistic meaning…is there any other way to interpret these remarks? Also, does anyone else feel like they are listening to Jimmy Stewart talk about philosophy??
On my way home from class today I realized that what Sellars says in these lectures vindicates something I thought of after someone objected that on my view names would fail the Church translation test. t thought you could just dot quite your way out of it so it is nice to hear Sellars talking about dot quoting ‘Socrates’.
Though I have never studied the philosophy of music I know that one of the central problems therein is how music is related to emotions. Many people have the feeling that, say, the minor key is sad and the major key is happy. How do we explain this? I have long thought that people use music to express emotion in something like the way people use language to express emotions. In the philosophy of language we distinguish between the illocutionary force of an utterance and the semantic content of the utterance. So, I can say “I would watch the new CW show Fly Girls if I were you” as a threat, as advice, a joke, an insult, or simply as a report about my own mental states. Here we have a case of the same semantic content with different illocutionary forces. A large part of successfully performing an illocutionary act (and so achieving perlocutionary success) relies on the tone of voice that one uses in uttering the semantic content. So, I always thought that music worked like the tone of voice without the semantic content. This interesting study provides some empirical data which might support this interpretation. I wonder if this kind of broadly Gricean view about music has been advocated by anyone who does philosophy of music?
When I tell people that I am a revisionist about English they often think I am joking (I had a very interesting discussion with a grade school teacher who came to look at my old apartment as I was moving to my new apartment). I often say that in English we form the past tense by adding an ‘-ed’ marker to the relevant verb; these other conjugations are the remnants of other languages. If we respect English on its own terms we will form the past tense in the way that the rules of English tell us to do so (and, by the way, the way a lot of our students already do). Well, here is a very interesting (but old) report on the regularity with which irregular verbs are regularized in English. In just 36,000 years I’ll be saying “I amed right!”
I am saddened to have to announce that I have had to pull my contribution to Blackwell’s Final Fantasy and Philosophy book, Moogles, and Chocobos, and…Kripke? Oh My!, due to unacceptable editorial cuts made by the series editor Bill Irwin. Originally the paper was 25 pages, the book editors wanted it cut to 13 pages, which I did (that is the version I link to above). Then the series editor wanted it cut to 7 pages! This I could not do. I am going to leave the paper up at my website just in case someone wants to read it. I spent six months writing and re-writing it, so I am a bit peeved…but what’re ya gonna do?
All in all this has been a very enlightening experience for me. I was excited about the Pop Culture and Philosophy series because I thought it was a way to bring philosophy from the Ivory Tower to Main St. In particular I was excited about the prospects of turning people on to analytic philosphy. But after this, and the fighting I have had to do in order to get serious philosophy into the Terminator volume, I now have a very different feeling about this series…
I have been working on my paper for my Terminator and Philosophy: I’ll Be Back, Therefore I am volume that I am co-editing with Kevin S. Decker. It is coming along nicely and is nearly ready to be sent to the press. Below is a link to the penultimate version of my paper which is an introduction to the ambiguity issue that we have been discussing around here lately. Any comments are appreciated!
Terminating Ambiguity: The Perplexing case of “The”
As some of you may know I am no fan of the ambiguity thesis, which is the claim that definite descriptions like ‘the author of this blog’ are ambiguous as betwee a refferential and attributive use (see here and here). But what hangs on this question? Say it turns out that definite descriptions are ambiguous, what’s the big deal? What do we gain (or loose)? Any thoughts?