Tag Archives: metaphysics

Philosophers’ Carnival 173

Welcome to the Philosophers’ Carnival #173. This edition contains a selection of some of the best philosophy blog posts to recently hit the web. Not all of these articles are easy reading, but they are all worth tackling nonetheless.

Two posts this month had stage magic as their theme. Tharindra Galahena explores why magic shows are interesting in How does a Rabbit Come out of a Top Hat? : Philosophy in a Magic Show. In Philosophy, Science, and Magic,  Nick Byrd takes a different angle and discusses how learning some things in philosophy (or science) can leave us feeling like we just saw a magic trick as our pre-reflective intuitions are undermined.

This is a feeling I’m familiar with, and still got a hint of when reading some of the posts featured below. Where things appear magical, or as Nick puts it, “they do violence to our assumptions about the world”, philosophers  and philosophy students alike would do well to recall Jonathon Creek‘s approach to solving mysteries – “We mustn’t confuse what’s impossible with what’s implausible.”

I shan’t editorialize any further except to say that if you have anything to say about any of these posts, in agreement or otherwise, please comment – the authors of these blogs will appreciate your interest. I hope you enjoy the carnival.

Posting on The Brains Blog, Brie Gertler presents an interesting discussion of privacy and dispositional beliefs. Implications for issues of privacy and the significance of a belief being occurent are also raised by John Danaher in his  discussion concerning Two Interpretations of the Extended Mind Hypothesis.

Richard Chappell from Philosophy, et cetera wonders if  Mark Schroeder’s Implicature is a satisfactory response to Parfit’s Trivality Objection.

Alexander Pruss explores the puzzle of  grounding overdetermination.

Tristan Haze presents the first of a proposed series of posts on de re modality in De Re Modality and Quantifying In.

Wolfgang Schwarz provides a detailed post on Robert Stalnaker’s account of self-location.

Hilary Putnam continues to generate well reasoned answers to interesting questions. This month we feature his post on Rational Reconstruction.

The authors at PEA Soup were certainly hard at work on their meta-ethics over February. argues that normative necessity is not distinct from metaphysical necessity – or at least that Fine (in Gendler and Hawthorne, Conceivability and Possibility, Oxford, 2002) does not show that it is. Following from this, Finally, Doug Portmore argues that appealing to parsimony is not a good reason to defend metaphysical naturalism against metaphysical pluralism. (For what it’s worth, I’m inclined to agree with Doug on this).

In considering a cross-over between the Problem of Evil and the Ontological argument , Michael Almeida of The Prosblogion asks, Which Worlds are Possible? Some that are quite bad, apparently.

At Practical Ethics, Carissa Véliz argues that we shouldn’t necessarily hold ethicists to higher moral standards, though we should commend them for intellectual honesty even if they are sometimes morally inconsistent.

In Moral Blindness, Cruelty, and Three Faces of Responsibility, Paul Boswell  argues that even if an agent is morally blind, they can still be considered to be cruel.

Following from Peter Railton’s Dewy lecture, Eric Schwitzgebel considers Depressive Thinking Styles and Philosophy, wondering if some of the thinking styles associated with depression might actually be an aid to  working as a philosopher.

Finally, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong  asks, Does Philosophy Matter?  (Spoiler Alert: Yes. Again, I’m inclined to agree)

If you have some philosophy, or philosophy-related posts on your blog, and you would like to see included in subsequent carnivals, please go to the Philosophers’ Carnival homepage and make use of the submission form. Thanks for reading.


I’ve just started reading the second book in a week that has a foreword by William Gibson.(This was by coincidence, but since I average at least 2 novels per week, I wouldn’t read too much into it.) The first was Random Acts of Senseless Violence, by Jack Womack. The second is Dhalgren, by Samuel R. Delany and it’s that book that I feel compelled to write about today.

I haven’t gotten very far into it – about 120 pages, so I can’t yet talk about the book as a whole. What I can say is that I was struck very early on by a number of things and that I’m well and truly hooked on this story.

The foreword really impressed me, especially the part about the riots in Washington DC. It’s almost the favorite thing of his that I’ve ever read. I thought it was amazingly evocative. There is something about the way Gibson describes a scene that brings a sense of texture, movement and immediacy.

Delany’s city of Bellona is a setting that is deeply intriguing but at the same time, familiar. It reminds me a little of Steve Aylett’s Beerlight, if that city were a few steps further down the entropy spiral. On reflection, it’s more like the post-invasion London of Michael Moorcock’s A Cure for Cancer. On that note, I think the Kid and Jerry Cornelius have a more than little in common, despite the Kid’s rough exterior.

That blur, that feeling of being unsure of what’s real and what isn’t, feels similar to M. John Harrison’s Light. But where in Light it is ubiquitous, in Dhalgren (so far) it is ostensibly isolated to Bellona and produces such horror in those inculcated with the ideals of empiricism and modernity, that the rest of civilization turns it’s back and pretends nothing is happening. As with the Jerry Cornelius stories, the emotional response isn’t just just inspired by the physical & social chaos. It’s that the metaphysical assumptions that everyone takes for granted (and consequently never thinks about) are no longer reliable predictors of the way the world works. In some readers, and some of the characters, this inspires fear – in others this creates elation.  The comforting foundations of one person’s world-view can be the bars of someone else’s psychological cage. Paradoxically, both attitudes can (and do) occur at the same time, in the same individuals. This drives the internal tension and external behaviour of fictional characters and ‘real’ people alike.

(Well, that paragraph didn’t end up where I thought it would.)

It’s time for me to do some work now, but I’ll be returning to this book tonight to see what unfolds. If it continues in the way it started, I think it will be well worth the time spent.