Thursday, April 27, 2006


Hi, welcome to Philosophy, et cetera. Here you'll find discussion of analytic philosophy, logic, ethics, politics, religion, and other items of intellectual interest.

If this is your first visit, have a browse through my favourite posts. My 'Web of Beliefs' gives a broad outline of my various philosophical views, and links to more specific posts on central topics. You can find my latest posts on the main page, but since I mostly tackle timeless questions (and sometimes even time itself), you might do just as well to browse through my archives -- simply select a topical "label" or category of interest from the list at the bottom of the page. See also my old categories for posts from my first year of blogging.

If you think it sounds interesting but would like a second opinion, you can click here to read some nice things that other people have said about me.

Comments Policy:

Some of the best features of this blog are the civil tone and respectful disagreements commonly hashed out in the comment threads below each post. Feel free to join in!

Note that I reserve the right to moderate or delete comments which I judge to detract from this civil atmosphere. (Fortunately I've rarely had need to exercise this right.) Free speech means that you may create your own blog and post to it whatever you like. (Note that I may also elect to delete contentless or lengthy tangential comments, and invite the commenter to instead repost the comment on their own blog. You can email me for a copy of your deleted comment.)

Finally, please bear in mind that the purpose of the comment threads is to continue the specific conversation started in the main post. If you want your own soapbox, get your own blog.

About me:

This blog is more about the thoughts themselves than the person behind them. But I'll tell you this much: my name is Richard Chappell, and I was born in New Zealand in 1985. The years passed, and in 2005 I completed my BA in philosophy at the University of Canterbury. In 2006, I moved to Canberra to do my honours year at the ANU, where I thoroughly enjoyed my study of modality and possible worlds under the supervision of Dave Chalmers. As of 2007, I'm working towards a Ph.D. in philosophy at Princeton University. My dream is to become an academic philosopher, make some progress in understanding the world, and help others to do likewise. Other wishy-washy values are mentioned here.

Aside from this blog, I also organize the world-famous Philosophers' Carnival. They say it's a small world. But you should definitely check it out.

About you:

Regular commenters are invited to introduce themselves in the comments to this post, and link to their own blog if they have one. (I figure it might be nice for newcomers to get at least a vague idea of who they're arguing with!)


  1. Hi, my name is Jeff and I am a blogoholic. "Hi, Jeff!" J/K

    Seriously, I check in on Richard's blog pretty much everyday and at least give a skim to what he has put up. I am an undergrad at UC Davis and have recently switched my major to philosophy. I have one more year 'til graduation, afterwhich I hope to specialize in the philosophy of social science and language.

    My site can be found here:

    or in Richard's sidebar links.

  2. My name's Brandon Watson; I do work primarily in early modern philosophy (especially, but not exclusively, Hume and Malebranche), although my interests are much broader.

    My weblog is Siris; the name is from a rarely read philosophical work by Berkeley. He derived the name from the Greek word 'seira', meaning a chain: Berkeley's Siris is a chain of reflections. Even more particularly, the name alludes to a passage in the Iliad in which Zeus holds up the world by a golden chain. Berkeley tends to have layers like that. You can read a summary of Berkeley's Siris written by Berkeley himself: his poem On Tar is available at Hilbert's Images of Berkeley site. The whole idea of a chain of reflections reaching from tar to the divine throne seemed very suggestive of blogging, so the name seemed a good one. I post on philosophy, theology, literature, and whatever else catches my fancy.

  3. I may not classify as a regular "poster," but I am a regular reader of Richard's blog. I guess it depends on how you classify "regular."

    Anway I am Ben Miller and my own philosophy blog--not nearly as ambitious as Richard's--is Prima Facie. I am an MA student at the University of Auckland in New Zealand (oddly enough I'm from Boston, Massachusetts in the United States). Since I can see your curiosity is already getting the better of you, I came to NZ to study with Rosalind Hursthouse. Clearly from that fact one of my main interests is Virtue Ethics. The others are Ancient philosophy (mostly Aristotle), metaethics, and most importantly, environmental ethics, a field without which I would be doing non-profit work instead of studying (or so I like to think).

  4. I've just recently found this site and quite enjoy the issues raised for exploration.

    I teach philosophy at the high school level in Canada. They're elective courses but fill up nicely every year. It's never too early to learn how to have a good argument.

    My educational background focused on aesthetics, actually, but I've gotten bored of those debates over the years. I've been dwelling more on gender issues these days.

    You can read more from me at Persephone's Box. I use a pseudonym (Sage) so I can freely write about sex and drugs on-line with the aid of profane language without parents flipping out and trying to get me fired!

  5. Hello. My name is Mike B., which is also my comments-name. I do not have a blog-name, because I do not have a blog. I am studying History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Canterbury, at Honours level, because it is the only programme in which I can study Plato, Galileo, Dickens, Thomas Kuhn, Greek myth and Medieval alchemy, the oddities of historians, and Number Theory, all at the same time. I have done very little philosophy, but I prefer to be right than wron;, and I wish that everything could be accounted for in terms of three or four basic ideas, and that I was the one to find those basic ideas, which I suppose is a philosophical sort of desire; and I quite like the prose style of analytic philosophers, which has a kind of naked eloquence about it, and is a relief after the excesses of Micawber. I read Richard's posts more often than I understand them at the moment, and much more often than I comment on them. If I had to have a philosophical viewpoint, I would be a Platonist.

  6. Hello all. My name's John B. and I'm not a philosopher. I am, however, interested in philosophy, especially insofar as I can 'use' it selfishly to sharpen and refine my own obsessions, prejudices, and maybe even ideas or discourse. I just posted to an old thread called "the god hypothesis," but I suspect my post might be more germane to a different discussion somewhere. Anyway, glad to meet y'all. Oh, and how do you create a profile? And should I sign posts with my real name ("John B.") or my blog handle ("randomatom"?)

  7. Thanks for all the comments so far!

    John - sign whatever name you want to be called by. You can create a profile by signing up at

  8. Hi, I am probably the person who posts most often on Richard's blog. I have been posting on blogs for a long time now generally finding posts that I don't think have robust logic and trying to point that out. (There-by annoying people on both sides of any number of debates!)

    I like to write about anything and debate issues with worthy adversaries. When blogging, I tend to type my posts as fast as I can write and at the same time as I read (so excuse the bad grammar, but I'm not into wasting of time).

    I believe in never attributing to malice what can be attributed to ignorance and tend to get stuck into people who accuse the other side of being evil. I'm incredibly patient (I have almost never been the first to quit a frustrating debate), and if I get annoyed I usually forget about it in a few minutes.

    I also support utilitarianism.

    Cheers Bros!

  9. Hello, and welcome to the comments of Philosophy Et Cetera. I go by the name of Blar and I've been reading this blog and posting in these comments since it was just a few months old, right around when my own blog was born. I'm not an official expert on philosophy or on et cetera, but I'm interested in both and I've studied a little bit of each at the undergraduate level. And I don't know what "pixnaps" means either.

    I don't post much personal information online, so I'll leave it at that.

  10. Ha, nicely done. Note that if you try typing "Richard" in that Greek-symbol font, then "pixnaps" will suddenly make a lot more sense. It amused my 12-year old self.

  11. My name is Andrew; I'm an undergraduate student of philosophy. I read Philosophy Et Cetera on a regular basis though I don't know if I have ever commented. I enjoy the wide-ranging interests of the author and in particuarl Richard's posts on modality. =)

  12. Hi. I'm nedric. And I am a graduate student at a public university in the U.S.

    My field is no longer philosophy, but I use it everyday to study relgions.

    I think your blog is cool.

  13. Hi, I’m an economist with no formal education in philosophy, so my only knowledge is from books, conversations, and introspective thought. (I did tend to hang out with philosophy majors when I was in college – long, long ago.) Nonetheless, I find philosophical thought is unavoidable for a thinking person, and I really like this blog. (Thanks to Battlepanda for pointing me here.) After reading Richard’s post on Sacrifice and Separate Persons (too late to comment?), I’m curious to know if anyone has any comment on this post in which I (following Eastern philosophy, but with my own rationalization) essentially deny the fact of separateness. (The argument is related to what Richard says about aprudentialism in the last paragraph of the cited post.)

    (The pronunciation of my nom de blog, knzn, is deliberately ambiguous. If you’ve studied economics, you can just spell it out loud; if you’ve studied linguistics [or speak certain languages], you can pronounce the vocalic N; otherwise, you may have give up pronouncing it.)

  14. Hello, Richard
    This is a great blog; I'm always impressed by your knowledge. I often wonder where you get the time to write all this in addition to your academic work. Before finding your site, I never thought philosophy blogs could be popular.
    I'd be thrilled (no joke) if you visited my blog and took a couple punches at my postings. I'm currently working my way through undergrad at the Univesity of Chicago and need some more peer review.
    Keep up the awsome work!
    jared d

  15. Hi, Richard.

    I really like this site and the topics you write about. My formal education is in economics, although I've had the benefit of a handful of philosophy courses and most of my personal reading is in philosophy. My philosophical interests drift back and forth from epistemology and logic to social and moral philosophy. Lately, I've been more preoccupied with the latter.

    I blog at Degrees of Freedom on a variety of subjects, including philosophy from time to time.

  16. G'day Richard,

    I'm Steve McKinlay, I tripped over your blog via Genuis. I have my own blog - ontic. I mostly publish on topics related to capitalism (and it's flaws) consumerism, energy, and modern punk rockers.

    I completed a BA(hons) at Victoria Uni in Wellington in Philosophy, then did a Masters, supervised by Edwin Mares, currently I'm doing a PhD, co-supervised by Prof John Weckert and Steve Clarke through Charles Sturt (although they are based at ANU), I'm funded through the CAPPE. Oh, I also have a degree in Computing (that's my day job) I lecture in IT at Weltec, Wellington, NZ.

    The PhD - Philosophy of Information, looking mostly at Floridi's conceptions of information as semantic content... most of my study in philosophy has been heavily analytic in nature but recently I've been distracted by contemporary continental discussions regarding belief, information and epistemology.

    I'm sure I'll find something to comment on.

  17. My name is Chloe. I'm a high school (luckily with only 4 months left before college). My sheltered life has fueled a thirst for knowledge. I crave depth. Considering the reality of high school, I feed my passion from blogs like this. I am content in who I am and I love my friends, but I am ready to move on. I cannot wait to immerse myself in the depths of creativity and authenticity. I love this blog. Surrounded by a constant flow of superficiality, blogs like this keep me grounded. So thanks Richard! I hope you know you're very much appreciated!
    -Curious Chloe

  18. Hi,

    I'm Seth Baum. Richard, we exchanged a few emails last September. I don't read this blog much, but I still wanted to introduce myself and to make a shameless plug.

    I'm a utilitarian. I'm also not a philosopher. My background's in engineering, and I'm applying to PhD programs to probably study climate change from a utilitarian perspective. I'm ultimately interested in "Given the world we live in, what, from a utilitarian perspective, should we do?" and in turn trying to make that happen.

    The shameless plug is for Felicifia, an online utilitarianism community I'm helping develop. I'm hoping it grows into an ecclectic community of utilitarians and those interested in utilitarianism. Philosophers are certainly welcome.

  19. Hi Richard. I leave often comments on your blog, especially about well-being. You tend to erase them very often, although they never contain any offensive tone or content. I imagine therefore that you find them so utterly stupid that they do not deserve to appear in your blog. Thank you. I hope to improve the level of my posts so that you will finally allow them to appear here.
    By the way, I admire you.

  20. Hi Michele. Let me assure you, I welcome your comments, and have never deleted any of them. (Sometimes Blogger stuffs up, but that's nothing to do with me.) If a comment still doesn't appear after you refresh the screen, try re-posting it a bit later. Apologies for any inconvenience.

  21. Trained by Berkeley's best Ango-American philosophers (Feyerabend, Grice, Searle, Davidson, Williams, etc.), I find analytic philosophy precise, but irrelevant.

    My principal philosophical influences are Aristotle, Epicurus, Hume, Smith, Popper, Hayek, Searle, and Solomon. Solomon is U. of Texas analytic application of existential thought rigrously applied. Cool! I resist all "Continental" ideologies, if I don't skewer them. The French "intellectuals" are an oxymoron.

    I also address politics, economics, science, and issues of interest to gay men. I'm an unabashed Enlightenment Liberal, Darwinian, Pluralist, and Integralist. I often target the metaphysics of the behavioral poets for their nonsense. If readers have any interest in any of these issues, stop by.

  22. Hey,

    My name is 'Jack'.

    I am from the States, and I am betting on going to graduate school somewhere within an hour's train ride of Penn Station in NYC.

    I'm interested in all sorts of philosophical questions. I told a professor just the other day that I feel like a sucker for philosophy. I hear someone say anything remotely philosophical with even a tinge of excitement in their voice, and I'm hooked, thinking "I really should read up on that literature."

    I'm new to this blogging ordeal and a bit skeptical. I worry that my name will be on thoughts I want to revoke later. I change my mind a lot, but, as people from the States so frequently (though confusingly) say, "here goes nothing."

    Hello Philosophy, et cetera.

  23. Weird I thought I had already introduced myself here, but as far as I can tell, no I hadn't... Well there you go then.

    As you can tell I try to epitomise the absentminded philosopher, having poured myself a drink into a plate, and on another occasion made sandwiches on top of a bowl. I blame deep thought, but it is probably a poor excuse.

    I'm doing my PhD at the University of Auckland in New Zealand with Rosalind Hursthouse, whilst simultaneously lecturing on bioethics in the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. The commute is unbelievable. My main interests are in political philosophy, applied ethics and philosophy of religion with a little bit of everything else thrown in. You can read more about me here: David Hunter CV
    if you particularly want. I started and contribute to two group blogs
    Ethical Issues in Resource Allocation & Philosophy and Bioethics. I also contribute to two more group blogs: Problogsion & In Socrates’ Wake
    So you could say I get around the blogosphere. I've very much enjoyed Richard's blog which I've been reading since I can't remember when.

  24. hey all,
    I'm Ben. Using gyroid as a tag. Born in England, grew up in NZ, grad school in states, currently living in Germany. Came across your blog a couple of years ago googling and occasionally look in on it.

    No philosophy training (which I'm sure you've guessed from my comments!). Am trained in Chemical Engineering but have since moved more into biophysics. Currently doing a post-doc doing computer simulations of cell membranes. All rather irrelevant to stuff going on here. My philosophical leanings are generated from studying physics and reading too much science fiction. Some of my favourite metaphysical ponderings are those of Mark Tegmark (physicist) and J├╝rgen Schmidhuber (computer scientist).

  25. Hi Everybody,

    My name is Tanya Ohanian and I just discovered this blog and LOVE it! I am an international relations major...I don't know what I plan to do with it..utterly confused...too many if anybody knows the perfect career for me pleasee let me know.

    Anyway, im digressing....I'm always in the pursuit of more and more my eyes theres nothing better.... not even sex or money!!! My favorite philosopher is Descartes...he's the one that got me into this BIG intellectual mess!!

  26. Hi Everybody,

    My name is Tanya Ohanian and I just discovered this blog and LOVE it! I'm 19 years old and live in Los Angeles. I am currently an international relations major...I don't know what I plan to do with it..utterly confused...too many if anybody knows the perfect career for me pleasee let me know.

    Anyway, im digressing....I'm always in the pursuit of more and more my eyes theres nothing better.... not even sex or money!!! My favorite philosopher is Descartes...he's the one that got me into this BIG intellectual mess!! Idealist to the bone...socialist....hmmmm...thats all for now

  27. My name's Jason, and while I don't comment often on Richard's blog I read it regularly. Much of the time his posts are a bit above my head, but they're always interesting.

    Philosophy was one of my majors as an undergrad, but I went on to an MFA in Creative Writing first. I still consider grad work in philosophy from time to time.

    I teach at a couple of community colleges, and last semester I was allowed to teach an Introduction to Logic course. I loved it.

    My interest mainly lies in epistemology and ethics, and especially where the two meet.

    Enough about me. Back to the reading of the Richard.

  28. I just stumbled on this blog's post, "In Defence of Impractical Philosophy." I like it. I hope to read more. Anyway, the blog seems nice.

    I have philosophy forums. I would be pleased if you checked them out and gave me some feedback.

  29. Hi there have just been looking at your blog, love it! Have just started up my own philosophy blog check it out!

  30. Hello, I'm Larry, a.k.a. The Barefoot Bum (of the eponymous blog). I'm an amateur philosopher, militant atheist and revolutionary communist.

  31. Hi Richard, all,

    Happy Holidays and God bless, my name is Roscoe, as you can see form the name. I am an undergrad and Princeton University studying Economics (I'd love to meet up by the way, I head back to campus on the 28th, this Sunday, so I'll be around, you can probably find me on facebook if you have one). While I am an econ major, I have taken many philosophy classes (currently taking a course with Corinne Gartner as a preceptor if you know her) and one of my best friends on campus is a philosophy major, Emad Atiq if you know him (forgive the name dropping, I was just excited to learn you were at Pton after reading your posts), so I've convinced myself that I can hold my own in philosophical debate.

    I consider myself to be the epitome of open mindedness (hey it's not arrogant if it's true right?). I am so incredibly enthused that there are other people that are on the same page as I am, in terms of discourse, arguments and reasons; though I wouldn't expect any less from a philosophy Ph.D. hopeful at Princeton.

    I consider myself devoutly Catholic with a huge interest in showing those who don't already know, how philosophically sound almost are all of the positions of the church. Save for the "begging the question" issue about invoking the name of God, and in particular the idea that one cannot form good arguments from premises that they cannot define well (stealing this from my friend Emad), I really do think that there is much to be gleaned from the Bible.

    I am a pacifist above all else, though I consider passionate about life, sternly reasonable, hopelessly romantic, believes life to be a huge joke to laugh at and note take seriously, and huge gamer nerd to be great descriptors as well. I have only recently entered the blogosphere (I write and comment at, a feminist blog that I find very receptive to all types of feminism, rather than the often-encountered ultra-liberal type), after much hesitation, and now, with a heavy dose of self-loathing, I am considering posting my two cents on reasonable people's blogs, yours being the first.

    I look forward to joining a solid community of like-minded individuals who strive to use the currency of reasons and arguments to get stuff done.




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