Saturday, April 29, 2006

Archive: Philosophers' Carnival #22

[Hmm, Ian Olasov seems to have deleted his blog "For those of you at home". I wish people wouldn't do that. Anyhow, I managed to rescue his Nov 2005 presentation of the 22nd Philosophers' Carnival via Google's cache, and so will reproduce it below, for archival purposes...]


Welcome one and all to the 22nd every-few-weekly Philosopher's Carnival, a collection of the cream of the crop from your favorite blogs! Here you will find a variety of high-quality, durable posts on a variety of high-quality, durable topics. A number of the offerings come from blogs heretofore unbeknownst to yours truly. Without further ado...

In a smart, down-to-earth, and original post over at Bricks Without Clay (which I'd never heard of) on The Future of Intelligent Design, Dan Kurtz mulls over the possible consequences of taking Intelligent Design seriously as a scientific research program. One interesting conclusion:
If ID were to succeed, it would change biology from a physical science to a social science. In ID, all us terrestrial lifeforms are just totems designed by God, the agent. The question “how was the eye formed?” becomes easy. God did it. We’ve answered that. But science must go on. Knowing the “how” of the formation of the eye tells us nothing about why God made it. God’s intentions, his thought processes, his psychological makeup—those become the interesting research questions. So that’s the new field of inquiry, isn’t it? That’s the next logical place to look, the subject of innumerable theses in the Departments of Intelligent Design across the country. Cognitive theology. Ecclesiastical anthropology.

To my imagination, the ID crew can fall back on only one of two responses:

(1) Right now we don't have enough data to know God's "psychological makeup", but maybe one Day the Creator will reveal himself to us. ID is a legitimate research program, but the experimentum crucis is revelation.

(2) There are ways of doing "cognitive theology" scientifically - we just have to take a closer look at what "scientifically" means.Still, there might be a great third response that I haven't thought of yet. Hopefully some ID sympathizers are reading this and will take this opportunity to move the conversation forward.

Congratulations are in order for Jonathan Ichikawa at Fake Barn Country, who has won a prize for his favorite picture of a logical impossibility. The comments address the complexities of the task rigorously and creatively. I should say that there is still a lot of important surveying work to do on the logical geography of the key concepts of the discussion - creation, conceptual impossibility, depiction, entailment (of a depiction). Hop to it fellas!

I read "The Impossibly Conceivable Counteractual", by Richard of Philosophy, Etc.. He argues that he has discovered a counterexample to the claim that conceivability entails possibility. Some of the comments are extraordinarily lucid and productive. If you're interested in the concept of actuality, this is the post for you. (Ba-dum bum!)*

* - Think: "Reading Rainbow".

At another blog new on my radar screen, Chris Hallquist of The Uncredible Hallq eloquently argues from memory skepticism that "demands for justification lead to incoherence". Despite a weakness to my favorite Rylean objections to memory skepticism, the Hallq's post calls attention to the interesting and oft-overlooked intersection of memory and justification. Check out the other stuff on his blog while you're there - it's quite good.

Here's a piece of philosophically charged fiction from a site (also new to me) called "The Science Creative Quarterly". It reads oddly like a really intense mystery. I don't think I've figured it out yet. Those of you who know more about information theory than me (which is to say, all of you) ought to take a look. The Carnival should get more submissions like this.

Mathetes has a post out on the concept of logos in St. John and Origen. This is pretty far afield from my own thinking, but it contains the clearest and most open-minded reasoning that I've ever seen about a confusing, deep mystical idea. Keep an eye open for the startling serendipity between this post and Mr. Ichikawa's.

At yet another blog new to me, Kenny Pearce argues for an interpretation of "judicial activist". His interpretation is quite clear and sensible; it preserves the negative associations of the word while keeping the definition purely descriptive, and makes able use of a number of interesting ideas about the law. For me, Mr. Pearce's raises the interesting question what a "comprehensive theory of legal interpretation" would be. (How can a hermeneutics comprehend the whole law, including laws which have not yet been made?) Now all we need to do is force our elected officials to speak the way Mr. Pearce does...

And as if in response to Mr. Pearce, Max Goss at Right Reason has put up a post defending textualism against intentionalism in hermeneutics. This is the single best post I've read yet at Right Reason. Mr. Goss's criticism is clear, concise, and devastating above all. Blue, red, green, and the rest would all do well to take a look.

Clark Goble has put up a discussion of the relationship between phenomenology and theory. As usual, he brings Analysis and Continental philosophy together seamlessly. I'll keep his remarks from the comments section in mind next time I decide to open the copy of Being and Time staring at me from my bookshelf. You should also take a look at the comments if, like me, you need some advice about how to begin reading (Continental) phenomenology.

One last blog I didn't know about: The Skwib. Mark Rayner has unearthed the lost Camus powerpoints. My favorite:

- Human life is precious
- but still meaningless

(By the by, if you like Mr. Rayner's "discoveries", you ought to check this out. (There's some respect in which hyperlinks are analogous to indexicals, isn't there...?) Hat tip: The MP.)

Lastly, from the Socratic Gadfly, we have an eminently readable, thought-provoking argument against Dr. Dennett's stance on... the intentional stance (among other things). An interesting conclusion:
If there’s no “I” at the core, in the sense of a master controller, there’s no “intentional stance.”

Actually, that’s not quite right.

There’s no single intentional stance. Instead, there are several sub-intentional stances, some stronger, some weaker, some more permanent, some fleeting.

It's a good conversation-starter. The whole issue seems highly dependent on what kind of "stance" we want to talk about. Some of the meat here - the depth and character of the analogy between intentionality and "free will", the implicit premises - could use a little cooking. Enter commenters...


  1. Sorry about that. I just didn't want to keep the blog up anymore - not enough posts, and even fewer good ones.

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