Metaphysics

Mild Autism

A mother asked me about her child who has been professionally diagnosed with mild autism.1 She was particularly upset about the little boy’s fear of strangers at the playground. ¶ While I know almost nothing about autism, and I’m sure that his stranger anxiety is troubling, I was hesitant to reply at all. But she specifically asked me to provide any comforting ideas I might have. So I suggested that the little boy might outgrow his fears, as least somewhat, or, to put a positive spin on things, I proposed that fear of strangers isn’t all bad and may be a sign of intelligence—recognizing that people and animals much bigger than he is are threats. Next, I shared the view that this anxiety (or the repetitive behaviors she observes) are just a few of the many psychological traits this little boy possesses. I know his biological parents to both be exceptionally intelligent and the little boy is both physically adept and attractive. So, from a larger perspective, assuming we all have to play life largely with the hand we’re dealt, his disability is mild. In fact, given that he will be blessed with a loving family in good socio-economic standing, he may end up doing well. (Again let me emphasize that I don’t know much about autism as I stressed to the mother.) Moreover, as a philosopher, I would say something like this. Get him all the professional help you can and learn as much about autism as you... -

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Pascal's wager and decision theory

From time to time I find myself musing whether Pascal’s Wager doesn’t simply completely destroy ordinary probabilistic decision theory. Consider an ordinary decision, such as whether to walk or bike to work. There are various perfectly ordinary considerations in favor of one or the other. Biking is faster and more fun, but walking is safer and provides more opportunity for thought. ¶ But in addition to all these, there are considerations having to do with one’s eternal destiny. It is hard to deny that there is a positive probability that we will have an eternal afterlife and that our daily choices will affect whether this afterlife is happy or miserable. But even tiny differences in the probability of eternal happiness infinitely swamp all the... -

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A Confederacy of Dunces: extracts (49)

“Goofin off? Shit. Goofin off ain cleanin up this mother-fuckin cathouse. They somebody in here sweepin and moppin up all the shit your po, stupor customer drippin on the flo. I feel sorry for them po peoples comin in here thinkin they gonna have theirself some fun, probly gettin knockout... -

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Valuing and the World

As a latecomer to philosophy (I waited until retirement, after 30 odd years of working, before re-engaging actively with philosophy, both contemporary and historical) I have had to play catch-up. It meant reading a lot of stuff I'd missed after graduating college (and moving out into the world), and... -

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Valuing and the World As a latecomer to philosophy (I waited until retirement, after 30 odd years of working, before re-engaging actively with philosophy, both contemporary and historical) I have had to play catch-up. It meant reading a lot of stuff I'd missed after graduating college (and moving out into the world), and learning (and re-learning) things I had otherwise forgotten -- or missed entirely. It meant wrestling with philosophers at a depth I hadn't engaged in for decades... Serious Philosophy -


Pascal's wager and decision theory From time to time I find myself musing whether Pascal’s Wager doesn’t simply completely destroy ordinary probabilistic decision theory. Consider an ordinary decision, such as whether to walk or bike to work. There are various perfectly ordinary considerations in favor of one or the other. Biking is faster and more fun, but walking is safer and provides more opportunity for thought. But in addition to all these, there are considerations having to do with one’s... Alexander Pruss -


Decisions in heaven Suppose I will live forever in heaven, and I have two infinite decks of cards. Each card specifies the good things that will happen to me over the next day. Every card in the left deck provides a hundred units of goods. Every card in the right deck provides a thousand units of goods. Each day I get to draw the top card from a deck I choose and then I get the specified goods.... Alexander Pruss -


A Confederacy of Dunces: extracts (49) “Goofin off? Shit. Goofin off ain cleanin up this mother-fuckin cathouse. They somebody in here sweepin and moppin up all the shit your po, stupor customer drippin on the flo. I feel sorry for them po peoples comin in here thinkin they gonna have theirself some fun, probly gettin knockout drop in they drink, catchin… Man Without Qualities -


Mild Autism A mother asked me about her child who has been professionally diagnosed with mild autism.1 She was particularly upset about the little boy’s fear of strangers at the playground. While I know almost nothing about autism, and I’m sure that his stranger anxiety is troubling, I was hesitant to reply at all. But she specifically asked me to provide any comforting ideas I might have. So I suggested that the little boy might outgrow his... Reason and Meaning -


THE LIMITS OF SENSE AND REASON: A Line-By-Line Critical Commentary on Kant’s “Critique of Pure Reason,” #13–What is “the Secure Path of a Science”? [I] was then making plans for a work that might perhaps have the title, “The Limits of Sense and Reason.” I planned to have it consist of two parts, a theoretical and a practical. The first part would have two sections, (1) general phenomenology and (2) metaphysics, but this only with regard to its method. … [continue reading] Against Professional Philosophy -


Talk at Bilkent, April 15: Matti Eklund on Maps and Alien Languages (Online Event) Title: Maps, Predication, and Alien Structure By Matti Eklund (Uppsala, Philosophy)   Date: Thursday April 15, 2021 Time: 1430-1630 (GMT+3) This is an online event. All are welcome. For the Zoom meeting access information, click here. Abstract: In the talk, I will do two things. First, I will introduce the general questions I am trying to address at the moment. Can there be languages structurally different from familiar ones – alien languages? Might the metaphysical structure of reality be better captured... Hesperous is Bosperous -


The negativity bias and Covid-19 More than ten years ago I wrote a blog about how people judge the side-effects of what someone has done. The essence was that the blame put on someone for causing negative side-effects is by far bigger than the credit s/he receives for positive side-effects, even if they balance. (see for the details my blog Praising the one who deserves it) Although it is not exactly the same, I had to think of it when... Philosophy by the Way -


Paris Commune at 150 These days we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Paris Commune which lasted exactly 2 months and 10 days (from March 18 till May 28 1871). After the infamous defeat of France in the war with Germany, with Germany army at the doors of Paris, the people of Paris took over and quickly organized outside the coordinates of existing state power. Once the French government forces crashed the Paris Commune (and killed many Communards in... The Philosophical Salon -


Rejecting Śāntideva’s ethical revaluation The key goal of my dissertation was to understand Śāntideva’s thought as it was and how it could be applied in a contemporary context. Now, for my book, I want to actually apply Śāntideva’s thought, which requires asking where he is right and where he is wrong. And that, it turns out, changes my understanding of some of the dissertation’s key concepts – especially the one in its title. The dissertation is entitled “Ethical revaluation... The Indian Philosophy Blog -


Rejecting Śāntideva’s ethical revaluation The key goal of my dissertation was to understand Śāntideva’s thought as it was and how it could be applied in a contemporary context. Now, for my book, I want to actually apply Śāntideva’s thought, which requires asking where he is right and where he is wrong. And that, it turns out, changes my understanding of some of the dissertation’s key concepts – especially the one in its title. The dissertation is entitled “Ethical revaluation... Love of All Wisdom -


Intensive Meditation Danger  A teacher I encountered in India had large limestone slabs scattered around the ashram set into the ground like tombstones with short messages painted on to them.  On one of them was the short injunction: START EARLY, DRIVE SLOWLY, REACH SAFELY.  The self torture of Goenka style intensivegoenka risks harpers 10 hours daily for 10 days meditation would not be recommended for the ordinary seeker.  Meditation there was for 10 minutes after evening hymn singing (Bajans)The... Ombhurbhuva -


Tell us a Story! What Kind of Story? Ambrose wasn’t sure if he liked telling stories to the kids because he would get TOO into them, and if the stories were supposed to be scary HE would get scared and if they were supposed to be sad HE would get sad. And he wasn’t even sure if the kids liked the stories. And the parents — from what he had been told they DEFINITELY did not like the stories. They didn’t think he... Eric Linus Kaplan -


LaCapra on the history, memory, and the Holocaust Dominick LaCapra's History and Memory after Auschwitz is an important contribution to the topic of "history's responsibility in front of the Holocaust". His aim in this book, and elsewhere in many of his other writings, is to express his "conception of the relations among history, memory, ethics, and politics" (6). Here is an especially arresting sentence from the introduction:I discuss Heinrich Himmler's famous Posen speech of October 1943, addressed to upper-level SS officers, for it may... Understanding Society -


Burke Shelly Happy birthday to Burke: Now yer squawkin’: The story of Burke Shelley and Budgie bassbudgieBurke Shelleyheavy metalwales Man Without Qualities -


Hadrian the Seventh: extracts (16) baron corvoCatholicismFrederick Rolfehadrian the seventh Man Without Qualities -


What is mathematics about? I commend to you James Franklin’s latest article “Mathematics as a Science of Non‑abstract Reality: Aristotelian Realist Philosophies of Mathematics.”  It’s a helpful brief survey of different ways that an Aristotelian alternative to Platonist and nominalist approaches to mathematics might be developed.  (Franklin explores these issues in greater depth in his book An Aristotelian Realist Philosophy of Mathematics.)  Franklin approaches the dispute between these three views, and between alternative ways of spelling out the Aristotelian... Edward Feser -


Upcoming Ethics Review Forum: Quong’s “The Morality of Defensive Force”, Reviewed by Bowen We’re pleased to announce our next Ethics Review Forum on Jonathan Quong’s The Morality of Defensive Force (OUP 2020), reviewed by Joseph Bowen. The forum will start on Tuesday, April 13th at noon. Save your comments until then—we’ll be posting a new thread once it gets started. Click here to read more about the book, and click here to read Bowen’s review. Of course, you’re welcome to participate in the forum even if you haven’t read... PEA Soup -


Punishment, criticism and authority It is always unjust to punish without the right kind of authority over those that one punishes. Sometimes that authority may be given to us by them (as in the case of a University’s authority over adult students, or maybe even in the case of mutual authority in friendship) and sometimes it may come from some other relationship (as in the case of the state’s authority over us). But in any case, such authority is... Alexander Pruss -


Theory Change As we have seen in the previous article, Chapter 6 of Modal Empiricism presents various criticisms of the realist arguments. However, one of the most influential reason to doubt scientific realism is the so-called pessimistic induction (Laudan 1981). It rests on the observation that many theories of the past, even successful ones, are now replaced by better ones that posit a completely different ontology, and so, we have good reasons to think that the same... Modal Empiricism -