Philosophers' Carnival XCIV

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Welcome to the 94th Philosophers' Carnival. Sorry for its lateness. It's been harder to devote time to this over the last few days than I expected.

We've got a number of submissions on a variety of philosophical topics. If you submitted a post, and it isn't here, don't assume that I rejected it deliberately. Please let me know, and I'll check to see if I may have missed a submission or if it never got to me. But please be aware that hosts are given some discretion to accept and reject posts, and I had to make a call as to whether each submission was sufficiently philosophical (and at least one was outside the time period for this carnival). I did reject some submissions that didn't seem to me to be good fits for this carnival.

I'm going to organize the posts according to sub-topics within philosophy, and I'm going to provide a description of each post in Academic Philosopherese along with an English translation (or, more accurately, paraphrase).


Ben Mitchell-Yellin argues that higher-order agential attitudes can influence lower-order agentical attitudes and vice-versa in Might Intentions be Reasons? (Ben Mitchell-Yellin) at The Space of ReasonsTranslation: You can have reasons to do a certain thing given a prior commitment to a larger plan, but you can also have reason to carry out a sub-plan of the larger plan because you've made a choice to carry out step 1 in that plan in one way as opposed to another, perhaps equally good, way.


Rich Bordner's submission, Skeptics Answered: Metaethics 101 part III at The Pugnacious Irishman, is the third part in a series on meta-ethics, particularly defending objectivism and cognitivism about ethics against several objections. Translation: Rich takes morality to involve genuine facts separate from us about what we ought to do, and he's responding to those who think moral statements either are just about our own inner states or aren't about facts at all. He argues that the objections he's responding to all fail because they don't recognize proper distinctions.

Jon Chambers presents Sanity: Interpersonal vs. Intrapersonal (Article) at The Mind Of Jon, which is somewhere along the continuum between a conceptual analysis of sanity and an argument for eliminativism about sanity. Translation: Sanity is when you keep your innermost insanity to yourself and don't let it affect the rest of you, but that just undermines the distinction between sanity and insanity, since our inner lives are all insane.

In a post that looks more like New Age religion than philosophy, Ella Moss presents what turns out to be a repackaging of some elements of ancient Stoicism in New Age language, in ABOUT HAPPINESS at Zodiac TimesTranslation: Ella argues that we shouldn't worry about what we can't change and that certain kinds of emotions just interfere with the best kind of life we could live, a view found and argued for persuasively by the ancient Stoics.

Thom Brooks raises his eyebrow at Virginia Held's contrast between the fostering of care that underlies difference feminism's care-focused virtue ethics and divisive religious views, in Are religious views as divisive as common experience? at The Brooks BlogTranslation: A lot of contemporary feminists see the traditional approaches to moral thinking as too reliant on men's approaches to ethics and propose a care-based theory of the good life that relies on common experiences of being cared for, which seems to contrast with the divisive elements in religion. Thom's worry is that religious experience is as common as being cared for, and it isn't always divisive.

Russ Wood's submission is Less Choice Makes us Happier at Wood's World, which makes the counterintuitive claim that greater liberty in a larger decision matrix detracts from happiness. Translation: The more options you have, the less happy you will be.

Political Philosophy

In Why Libertarians Should Support a Carbon Tax posted at, Kenny argues that the typical libertarian approach to pollution via civil liabilities and class-action lawsuits won't work very well with something like global warming. Translation: Strange as it may sound, libertarians ought to support a tax on anything that increases carbon footprints.

My post, Obama DOJ and Marriage, looks at several standards for how to determine whether discrimination is occurring with respect to same-sex marriage (or, rather, lack thereof). This is less a conceptual analysis of discrimination and more an argument that several standards for what counts as discrimination are available. Translation: The unusually-conservative standard offered by the Obama Administration in its argument against judicial declaration of same-sex marriage isn't the only one available, but both sides on this issue have ignored options for how to think about this.

Philosophy of Language

In Williamson's Argument against an Epistemological Conception of Analyticity, Preston of "the Truth at any cost" rejects Timothy Williamson's arguments against conceiving of analyticity in terms of epistemic facts about the hearer of a sentence. Translation: Timothy Williamson thinks you can understand a sentence perfectly well while rejecting it, even if the sentence is true because of the very meaning of its terms. Preston doesn't think Williamson's argument for this claim succeeds.

Using the language of Derrida's critique of Modernity and objectivity, Aaron Rathburn's Lies, Damned Lies, and Hermeneutics: A Postmodern Take on Biblical Historiography at .: dust and light :. looks to biblical historiography from the standpoint of a hermeneutic of radical meaning-indeterminacy. Translation: Aaron argues that all interpretation is biased, including anyone interpreting the Bible. (He nevertheless doesn't think this is a problem for Christians, but I'll hold my tongue from elaborating further or offering my own thoughts.)

Philosophy of Physics

Bryan of Soul Physics argues in Hyper-intelligent fish and black hole thermodynamics considers the analogy between black holes and soundless "dumb-holes" in water, pointing out that an argument from analogy can fail if the subjects of comparison aren't analogous in the relevant manner required by the argument. Translation: These "dumb-holes" in water (whatever they are) might be soundless, but it doesn't necessarily follow that the same is true of black holes. So maybe we can't learn much about black boles by comparing the two. [I have to say that I like seeing a Discworld reference, but I think I need more information about what these "dumb-holes" are supposed to be.]

Philosophical Methodology

Jonathan Ichikawa responds to Kolbe and Nichols' Experimental Philosophy Manifesto in On objecting to "Experimental Philosophy" posted at Arché Methodology Project Weblog. He argues that their representation of opponents of experimental philosophy turn out to be straw men. Translation: A debate has recently ignited over how much of philosophical argumentation should depend on armchair theorizing and how much needs to derive from exploring the intuitions of a much larger group than just philosophers. Those who resist complete trust in such experimental methods often have a much more moderate resistance than some of the advocates of experimental philosophy accept.

Eddy Nahmias discusses An Error Theory for Incompatibilist Intuitions: More X-Phi on Free Will posted at >-- The Garden of Forking Paths --<. One experimental philosophy study concludes that libertarianism best captures ordinary thinking on free will, but Eddy presents an alternative explanation of the same data that allows for compatibilist understandings of freedom. Translation: You might confuse the idea of being predetermined with the idea of your choices playing no role in what you do. Once those are distinguished, people are much more inclined to accept their own choices as genuine even if they're predetermined.


Thank you very much for hosting such an interesting carnival and for publishing my article here.
However, I'd like to make something clear: when I argue against worrying, it is not because of fatalistic thinking. I believe, that ALL CAN BE CHANGED. But I also believe that any problem we face is but a puzzle to be solved. If we can solve, let say, sudoku puzzles without worries, we can solve other problems in the same way. Say, there are lay offs at your company, and you may get a pink slip. Instead of getting upset at the prospect of unemployment, you may calmly think through all possibilities, figure out your plans A, B, C, etc. and act on the best possible solution, knowing that whatever you are facing is not the end of the world, but a beginning of greater possibilities.
I don't know much about Stoicism, but I believe that there is much to be learned from the Ancients, so I take your comparison as a great compliment.

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