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I've long thought that whether something is terrorism is independent of the motivation. You can be a terrorist for financial gain, such as the villains in 1970s spy movies. You can be a terrorist because of political ideology, striking at those you view as your political opponents. You can be a terrorist for an environmental cause. You can be a terrorist to achieve goals in an otherwise legitimate war. You can be a terrorist seeking to achieve legitimate goals of justice. You can be a terrorist purely to get revenge. It isn't tied to religion or especially to any particular religion. It isn't tied to whether the goals are good. And it isn't tied to whether the ultimate target is bad. Terrorism to achieve an overthrow of an oppressive government is just as much terrorism a  kidnapping the kids of rich people to get a ransom, blowing up supermarkets to continue a long-standing conflict, or threatening to use bio-warfare on innocents if your fallen comrades don't get acknowledged by their government as heroes (as in The Rock).

I also don't see how it matters who the actor is. A legitimate government can engage in terrorism just as much as a group of dissidents can. The United States military can use terrorist tactics as easily as a militant revolutionary group. Individual people acting on their own, political organizations out of power, and criminal organizations are no more deserving of the term than governments who oppress their people through terrorism or governments who wage war on others through terrorism.

What is distinctive about terrorism is the use of violence or at least some kind of threat to produce fear in a third party, typically someone innocent of the conflict but at least someone who isn't the primary target. The ultimate enemy is someone else, and this person or these people who are receiving the threat or who are actually being harmed are innocents or relative innocents in comparison to the real conflict going on. It doesn't matter if you're threatening to poison the water supply if you don't get money from the government or if you're burning down homes in Long Island communities because a few manufacturing facilities there are polluting. It doesn't matter if you're flying planes into buildings because you see the majority of the people who work there as complicit in an evil system or blowing up entire cities with nuclear weapons to end a war. The real target is someone other than the immediate victim. It sends a message to someone else, and that's what makes it terrorism.

A lot of people in my Twitter feed are saying the church shooting last night is an act of terrorism and that hardly anyone is acknowledging it because the victims were black. If there is a message that this shooting was intended to spread, then I would say that it is terrorism. It's mainly people on the left who seem interested in pointing out this kind of case as terrorism. Most people wouldn't think of it that way, but it seems like it might be. I don't have a problem with that, provided that the perpetrator really did this so that a larger audience would come away with a certain message. That would indeed count as terrorism, I think.

At the same time, the very same people who are quick to call this terrorism were very hesitant to say anything negative about the Baltimore protestors engaging in terrorist acts. On the above analysis, it's pretty clear that it's terrorism to burn down a home for poor black retirees built by a black church, just to send a message about an unjust system of justice and law enforcement. This, of course, happened in Baltimore. The right called it rioting, and the left called it protesting, but it's terrorism. Those outraged about calling the church shooting terrorism are inconsistent if they don't think that was terrorism too. And the difference is that we knew the motives in that case, since it was part of the larger protesting/rioting phenomenon, which was a reaction to a particular incident we already knew much about (and certainly knew the protestors' view on), while in this one it's still a breaking story, and we need to be hesitant about making hasty judgments when we don't know all the facts. But I think it's clear that both sides of the political spectrum need to realize that there are certain kinds of terrorist acts that they're more inclined to recognize as terrorism and certain ones they're less inclined to recognize as terrorism, and it would be nice if we could be more consistent.

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There's a nice review of my book up at Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, by Dwayne Turnstall. I was hoping to take some time to write up some thoughts on the review, but my summer teaching has been pretty time-consuming, since I'm doing a senior seminar (called "Health, Society, and the Law") with quite a lot of content that I've never taught before. I hope, when things cool off, to be able to share some thoughts I've had about the review and the material I've been teaching. In the meantime, I wanted to express my appreciation to Duane for the fair-minded review and will continue to reflect on he has to say about my book.

Humean Inconsistency

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I once thought David Hume's reasons for being skeptical about scientific laws were inconsistent with his arguments against miracles. He argues that we can't know about scientific laws or causes, because all we perceive are one thing happening followed by another thing happening. We don't perceive any causing, just the things we take to be cause and effect. Our taking it to be cause and effect is thoroughly irrational, Hume says, and thus we know nothing about whether there are any causes or scientific laws. For all we know, a ball you throw into the air could come back down, as you expect it, or it could turn into a bird and fly away. We expect it to do the former, but there's no reason we have to think it can't do the latter.

Hume goes on to say that we should never believe in miracles, because you should always proportion your belief to the evidence, and there is zero evidence for miracles. He rules out the very possibility of miracles, it seems, and he does this in the very same work where he has spent so much time setting up worries about whether our entire scientific understanding of the world might be wrong, leaving us with the result that, for all we know, basketballs might turn into seagulls and fly away. How can he consistently say both of these things?

But then I read Hume more closely in subsequent readings, and I came to the conclusion that Hume's approach is consistent after all. What he says in his skepticism about science is that we don't know there are scientific laws of the sort that we believe in if we think one thing makes another happen. He also says that, for all we know, unexpected things that would seem to violate the laws of physics that we believe in could be possible. But he does go on to give a pragmatist account of why we might as well believe in scientific laws anyway, since it's served us well so far, and it's not as if we can help it anyway. It's also not as if we have a choice.

But then in the miracles chapter, he gives a careful argument. He first defines probability as how often something happens in our own personal experience. Then he says that, if you haven't experienced miracles, it follows that miracles have zero probability. But why, then, could he say that plants could sprout legs and start walking around, as far as we know? Isn't that like a miracle? But he's careful here. If we believe that a plant did such a thing, we'd be believing in a miracle. We shouldn't do that, because it has zero probability. It's never happened, in my experience, so I should think it has zero probability. At the same time, I can't rule it out. So it's not impossible, as far as I know. If I did witness it, I'd have to proportion my beliefs with the evidence I then had. But as it is, I shouldn't believe in such things. I should just believe in their possibility, but I shouldn't allow for anything more than zero probability.

The key here is in defining probability in terms of how often it's happened in your experience, while defining possibility in terms of whether it's consistent with your experience. Something could then have zero probability but be well within the realm of possibility. So, because of that, I came to think that Hume's view was indeed consistent, even if it's a strange set of views.

But now I've become convinced again that there's a deep inconsistency in Hume's approach to these two issues. It has to do with his willingness to extend pragmatist arguments toward functioning the way we ordinarily do with respect to the scientific skepticism he begins with, while not extending pragmatism toward functioning the way we ordinarily do with the issue of miracles. He accepts our ordinary views on scientific laws, even though he insists that such beliefs are irrational and not grounded in anything more likely to produce true beliefs than crystal-ball gazing, at least as far as we can be sure. He relies on the testimony of other people in order to believe in regularities in nature that he can rely on to live his life. He refuses to accept the testimony of other people when it comes to miracles, however.

He does have a reason why he treats these two areas differently. He says that he has witnessed regularities in nature himself, and he relies on other people's testimony that coheres with his own observations but extends them. He has not witnessed miracles. He has witnessed people being dishonest or gullible, and so he has higher than zero probability of even honest people lying or even intellectually careful people being deceived, yet zero probability of miracles occurring. The higher probability, even if it's very low, is still higher, and so he should believe any possible explanation that's above zero even if low over the zero probability of miracles.

Will this work, though? I'm not convinced. Why does he give miracles a zero probability? Purely because he hasn't witnessed any himself. That's his criterion for belief. But he hasn't witnessed any of the scientific research that he relies on to accept scientific laws. He hasn't witnessed any of the events history tells of that he's willing to believe in. He relies on the testimony of other people about all manner of things, except miracles. He says the difference is between a kind of events he hasn't personally witnessed and a kind of events he has. But many of the events he hasn't witnessed are of a sort he hasn't witnessed and rely on expertise and specialist knowledge that he would have no access to. He's willing to be a pragmatist in accepting those beliefs even though he knows none of it. He rules out even the possibility of pragmatically accepting the testimony of other people whose specialized experience would support miracles. I'm not sure his pragmatism about many other sorts of beliefs would hold up if he refused to extend his pragmatism to those areas the way he does with miracles. I think his whole pragmatist belief system would fall apart. He's willing to relax his tighter, skeptical approach and go pragmatist with a number of other areas, and doing so with miracles would leave him not insisting on believing in them only if he's ever experienced a miracle himself. The same standards he applies to history, science, and many other areas of belief would leave him without his insistence on zero probability if he hasn't experienced something, and that would end his argument for ruling out miracles from the outset. He would then have to consider testimony about miracles as having at least some positive value in his pragmatic belief system.

None of this is to say that he would end up believing in miracles. He might not. But he wouldn't be ruling them out without consideration. He would be giving miracle reports some level of credence, even if he might ultimately not decide they are credible enough for his pragmatist acceptance to kick in. As his argument actually goes, however, he does seem to me to be treating miracle reports and other kind of specialized experiences differently, and that leads me to conclude that perhaps I was initially right that he is inconsistent, even if my original diagnosis of that inconsistency didn't locate it properly.

A Realist Metaphysics of Race

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Official book description:

In A Realist Metaphysics of Race: A Context-Sensitive, Short-Term Retentionist, Long-Term Revisionist Approach, Jeremy Pierce defends a social kind view of racial categories. On this view, the biological features we use to classify people racially do not make races natural kinds. Rather, races exist because of contingent social practices, single out certain groups of people as races, give them social importance, and allow us to name them as races. Pierce also identifies several kinds of context-sensitivity as central to how racial categorization works and argues that we need racial categories to identify problems in how our racial constructions are formed, including the harmful effects of racial constructions. Hence, rather than seeking to eliminate such categories, Pierce argues that we should also make efforts to change the conditions that generate their problematic elements, with an eye toward retaining only the unproblematic aspects.

Endorsements:

Jeremy Pierce masterfully applies contemporary analytic work on the metaphysics of natural kinds to the question of the existence of races. He argues that races are social constructions rather than biological kinds; while this makes talk of races problematic in some ways, Pierce claims that we should continue to use race-talk while correcting some of its problematic features, as to stop talking about races would be to overlook important historical injustices. This book will be of great significance to anyone interested in philosophical questions about race. (Ben Bradley, Syracuse University)
 

In A Realist Metaphysics of Race, Jeremy Pierce clearly lays out the terrain of the leading theories about what races are (that is, if they 'are' at all) and gives a compelling argument that they are social constructions. Races, in his view, are real; they are not natural kinds, but social kinds--and social kinds with important context sensitivities. While primarily a work in 'applied metaphysics', Pierce's treatment ranges broadly--and competently--across a wide range of philosophical sub-disciplines: philosophy of science, philosophy of language, experimental philosophy, contextualism. The result is a nuanced and informative coverage of important issues that philosophers--and the discipline of philosophy--cannot afford to ignore.
(Kevin Timpe, Northwest Nazarene University)

Philosophy of race is a vibrant, maturing field and Jeremy Pierce's book is a cutting-edge addition to the literature. He offers perhaps the most thorough critique of Joshua Glasgow's anti-realism thus far and his defense of social constructionism is novel in a number of respects. Most notably, he pushes us to take seriously the idea that social practices can be generative of racial difference as an experienced reality without thereby creating the groups we call races. His suggestion that these groups pre-exist the social constructions that make them significant is a fascinating metaphysical proposal. (Chike Jeffers, Dalhousie University)


Table of Contents:

Chapter 1: Natural Kinds and the Analogy of Species
Chapter 2: Natural Kinds and Race
Chapter 3: Classic Anti-Realism
Chapter 4: Glasgow's Anti-Realism
Chapter 5: Social Construction and Biological Constructionism 
Chapter 6: Races and the Metaphysics of Objects and Groups
Chapter 7: Context-Sensitive Features of Racial Classification
Chapter 8: The Ethics of the Metaphysics of Race
Chapter 9: Colorblindness, Implicit Bias, and Essentialized Categories

Last I heard, the release date is Dec 15, 2014, just over a month from now. The publisher's website isn't listing a precise date, but I haven't heard them say otherwise since they gave that to me as their tentative release date.

See also the publisher's website and the Amazon listing.

I recently rewatched the 1975 Doctor Who episode "Genesis of the Daleks" by Terry Nation. Some online discussions I looked at about "Genesis of the Daleks" made some interesting, and to my mind obviously false, claims about how it fits (or doesn't) into the overall canonical fictional world of Doctor Who.

One claim in particular claim that caught my interest was the accusation that Terry Nation contradicted some of his earlier Doctor Who episodes about the Daleks in giving the origin of the Daleks in this serial. One discussion pointed out that Nation had made an effort not to contradict his first serial "The Daleks" from 1963, where he establishes the Daleks as creations of a race called the Dals in their war against the Thals. The supposed contradiction comes with "Genesis of the Daleks" when Nation actually shows us this war between the Thals and the race that created the Daleks, and the creator race is not called the Dals but is called The Kaleds.

Here's my problem. This is not a contradiction. A contradiction takes the form 'P and not-P". There is nothing of that form here. What you do have is:

1. The race who created the Daleks at the time of the Daleks' creation called themselves the Kaleds.
2. The Thals also called them the Kaleds at that time.
3. At a much later time, probably many centuries later, after an apocalyptic destruction of all civilization and a loss of a good deal of accurate information about the details of that earlier time, someone speaks of the race that created the Daleks as the Dals.

I'm sorry, but I'm not seeing how any of that makes for an inconsistency. If we were sure the person telling us they were called the Dals was speaking the truth, that would even be difficult to get a contradiction, because it's possible they came to be called the Dals at some time after "Genesis of the Daleks" or that they were called that at some earlier time, and that name came to be the more common one to use again after the apocalypse. But we can't even be sure the Thal telling us this has the right information. Maybe it's just that the wrong name was preserved. There are quite a number of things that could explain how 1-3 might all be true. Terry Nation simply did not contradict his earlier Dalek stories. What he did is use a different name without explaining why different names were used at those two different times, but it's not a contradiction.

I think there's a certain personality type that just likes to find contradictions in everything. A lot of fan criticism of science fiction and fantasy stories exhibits similar problems to the one I've been discussing here. I could point out lots of other examples. That doesn't mean there aren't legitimate criticisms to level against authors. I've criticized J.K. Rowling in print about her concept of changing the past in the third Harry Potter novel, although I did so after pointing out some rather implausible ways of making the story work to avoid the problem I raised. The implausibility there would involve reliable narrators who would know better telling untruths, however, which is more of a stretch than someone centuries after an apocalyptic event getting a name of an extinct civilization wrong or the possibility that the group was actually called by two different names.

How you evaluate such attempts to make canonical worlds coherent in part does depend on how plausible the explanation might be to avoid the contradiction. It's nice for fictional worlds to be coherent. Sometimes that's impossible. Sometimes it involves an implausibility but is possible. And sometimes it's not all that implausible if you just think a little harder to see how things might fit together, when at first they seem not to.

It's hard not to think of critics who like to find contradictions in the Bible when I look at these stories. There are some genuine difficulties in fitting together some parts of the Bible. I've never seen one that guarantees a contradiction, especially when you take into account that inerrantists don't take the current manuscripts to be inerrant but allow for errors in transcription from manuscript to manuscript. But I have seen places where it's not easy to come up with one highly plausible explanation that shows for sure why the apparent contradiction is not a real one. In most of them, there have been several explanations, where not one stands out as the most plausible, and even most of them involve something somewhat unlikely but possible. There's none I know of where I would judge all the explanations as so implausible as to require rational evaluators to think it has to involve two contradictory statements that can't be resolved. But I'm coming from an epistemological standpoint where I think the prior plausibility is relatively high. I consider myself to be in a position where I think I have good reasons for taking the Bible as it presents itself, as God's word, and it follows from that that it's more likely that there is a solution even if I don't know what it is than that there isn't. So I'm going to take the less-plausible-sounding accounts as less certain, but I'm going to be more likely to think that one of them is probably true.

That's one difference with fictional worlds. I don't believe there even are Daleks or Time Lords, never mind that the entire Doctor Who canon is consistent. (I think it certainly isn't coherent when it comes to fundamental questions of time travel, for example.) But someone who thinks God is real and is basically the way God is presented in the Bible is going to place a higher prior probability on there being some resolution to a proposed contradiction than someone who has no prior trust in those documents. And I would argue that someone doing this is right to do so if the prior probability is based on a good epistemic state to begin with. And that makes accepting truth in texts that are hard to fit together much easier to do (and not in a way that undermines rationality, assuming the prior probability itself has a rational grounding.

That assumption of prior probability, of course, is one of the fundamental disputes to begin with, but you can't just assume at the outset that someone who is more willing to trust a set of scriptures is wrong in doing so, and pointing to potential contradictions isn't necessarily going to turn the tide of the conversation unless you first undermine the prior probability. Supposed but not actual contradictions, even if they are difficult to put together, are therefore very weak evidence against the coherence of a worldview when the person who holds that worldview is more sure of it than they are of the irresolvability of the supposed contradiction. That makes for people coming from very different standpoints evaluating the supposed contradictions very differently, and from within their world view each seems to themselves to be right in how they do that. That's something that I think not enough people on either side of such debates can see.

In Thabiti Anyabwile's response to the George Zimmerman verdict yesterday, he made some comments about his ongoing position on the unreality of race, which I've tried to engage with him on before. I'm not surprised he wasn't interested in continuing that conversation on that post, but he did chime in to appreciate the conversation that arose between me and another commenter there. It's very different to engage with this issue on a popular level, as compared with the more technical philosophical engagement with this issue that I've spent much of the last decade of my life working on. It's also different to engage with particularly Christian arguments, which obviously don't arise very often among critical philosophers of race. I thought some of what I wrote in the conversation might be worth preserving here, so here are some excerpts. If you want to read the entire conversation, you can see my initial comment here and then the beginning of the conversation with another commenter here. Perhaps this can give a taste of my forthcoming book on this topic to those who have been asking about it (which I'm trying to finish revising this summer, with the hope of a publication date by the end of the year if I succeed).

Here are the excerpts I wanted to preserve, first from my initial comment:

I'm not sure you're being fair to those who insist that races are real entities. Most academics who hold that view nowadays do not think races are natural kinds, and thus no scripture that deals with what's fundamentally true about human interconnectedness and the restoration thereof in the new covenant community has anything to do with that kind of claim of racial realities. I agree with all your reasons for rejecting races, but I just don't think that conclusion follows.

The main view that anyone actually holds among philosophers about this that recognizes real races is that races are social kinds, created by human practices and given reality thereby, the same way that money, universities, and the category of political libertarians are entities created by social practices. The difference with races is that they (1) have been generated in part by evil practices, which should require us to reconceive how we think of them and move our society to reconfigure the categories, but it doesn't mean they don't exist and (2) there is a moral significance to those categories on a level that generates obligations, both in interpersonal relations between individuals where such obligations might not exist or not exist as strongly between two people of the same race, and on a larger scale where the sorts of things people refer to as racial justice would come in.

And I think this is different from ethnicity or culture. Ethnicity is partly a sub-category of race. It involves smaller sub-groups of the racial groups. There are white people, and then there are varieties of white people -- English, Swedish, etc. And someone's race can often be apparent when ethnicity is not, and something socially holds together all the white ethnic groups as white in how our society treats people who get assigned that category. Also, ethnicity and race are assigned differently. Race is more often assigned by society based on appearance, although ancestry plays a role. But ethnicity is much less about appearance and much more about ancestry and cultural heritage. And culture is entirely different. There are plenty of people who almost anyone would consider racially black but ethnically white or (more controversially) the reverse.

I would say that there's something Barack Obama has in common with Chris Rock, and it isn't culture or ethnicity. They likely don't have any recent common ancestry (and if they did it would be on Obama's mother's side), and Obama's cultural background is largely from his white mother and his Indonesian step-father (until he deliberately adopted black culture in Chicago, but that's not his culture of origin). But the mere fact of how they are perceived by most Americans as being in the same race puts them in the same socially-assigned category as each other, even if there's nothing more fundamental than social facts that could ground such judgments. But there's nothing more fundamental in our nature to ground our assignment to categories like college students, Baptists, Democrats, or government employees. Yet we have no problem recognizing those groups, even though we don't recognize those-with-attached-earlobes or those-who-can-curl-their-tongues, even though those are categories related to biology, precisely because those categories are not socially important for any reason. If government policy, patterns of discrimination, or stereotyped attitudes corresponded to such arbitrary categories, then there would be a similar social reality to such categories as there is with race.

You can hold all that while rejecting the idea that racial categories get at some fundamental lines in nature and while insisting that all human beings in Christ are one in Christ without there being divisions along racial lines. You can hold all that while insisting that Christians should not form our fundamental identities in racial categories but in Christ. But we have to keep in mind that Paul's insistence that there is no Jew or Greek doesn't stop him from treating Jew and Greek differently in how he evangelizes them. We can recognize the reality of a social phenomenon and accept the categories made salient by that social phenomenon without denying any of what lies behind your resistance to races.

And here is some of the conversation that followed with another commenter, who had put forward the view that there are no races but there is racism:

I was glancing through the new issue of Themelios to see which articles to save to read later, and I noticed a review of a new book on time and timelessness that included a nice summary of a common confusion in many online conversations I've had about the B-theory of time, which is often (and in this review) called the tenseless theory of time:

What is often misunderstood is that the tenseless theory of time is, in fact, a theory on time and change. Holland, like most others, treats the tenseless theory of time as if it were about timelessness. The idea seems to be that a tenseless theory of time gives us a world where all moments are equally, wholly, simultaneously, and timelessly present to God. But the tenseless theory of time does not give us this. All it gives us is a theory about what is true at certain times without any reference to tense. An example of a tenseless truth is <Wipf & Stock publish Richard Holland's book on February 20, 2012 at 8:00am>Granted, this proposition does not change its truth-value like <Wipf & Stock will publish Holland's book tomorrow> does. But the tenseless proposition still gives us a proposition about what is true at a particular time. Even if the tenseless theory did entail a particular ontology of time whereby the past, present, and future all exist, it would not give us a state of affairs where all moments of time are simultaneously present to God. This is because all moments of time are not simultaneous together, even on a tenseless theory of time.

The reviewer goes on to explain how this problem occurred in the book being reviewed.

There are two other problems I've encountered with people arguing against the tenseless theory of time, involving confusions of a different sort. I think the most common is the pretense that the tenseless theory of time amounts to the view that nothing changes, that all objects at each time are always at those times, that there is no succession of moments, and so on. The B-theory, static view of time, or tenseless view of time says nothing of sort. All it says is that time consists of moments in a succession of before, after, and simultaneity and that none of those relationships are reducible to tensed propositions. Rather, tensed propositions are grounded in the relations before, after, and simultaneous. There is no objective present, past, or future. Those terms are relative to what moment in time you're speaking of (or speaking at). But there's never any denial of change, of ordering in time, or of anything like that. And adding a timeless God to the picture doesn't change any of that. It's still true for God that the moments in time happen in an order and that the things in time change. It's just that God's own experience of those moments in time isn't temporally ordered (but that doesn't mean God is unaware of the order of the events in time, as a number of my students have wrongly taken the idea of atemporality to imply).

The other problem I see regularly is confusing this theory of time with a completely different theory about persistence of objects through time, namely the four-dimensionalist or temporal parts view. The latter view is a theory about how an object persists through time, whether it is by enduring through time, being wholly present at each moment it exists at or being spread out across time as a four-dimensional object with parts at times. In fact, most people who hold to the tenseless theory (or B-theory) of time are not four-dimensionalists. But many people who try to argue for an alternative theory of time, in my experience, want to start with arguments against four-dimensionalism, which is a view about an entirely separate issue.

Update: I should say that there's a fourth, which is where the review starts, which is to distinguish between ontologies of time (i.e. whether only the present exists, the present and the past, or the past, present, and future) and theories about how tensed and tenseless propositions relate. Philosophers have been tying these issues together, and it's only very recently that metaphysicians have begun to tease them apart. Several top philosophers of time still don't understand that these are separate issues. The above issues involve distinctions that most philosophers get right but that undergraduates in my classes or people discussing philosophy or theology online, outside the academic context of formal training in philosophy, often get wrong. I blame people less for the fourth error, since top metaphysicians still don't see that distinction.

Tokenism

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I've been thinking about the concept of tokenism and why we find it problematic, given that virtually everyone who complains about tokenism thinks there is some good in having representation by those who are underrepresented in a particular sphere. What makes the difference between the cases where we find it unproblematic to try to get people more represented and those where we consider it tokenism? A few considerations come to mind:

The most obvious cases of tokenism are when someone just wants to appear forward-thinking and progressive by selecting people of an underrepresented group without really being concerned at all about the underlying ethical issues. If a college's admissions literature and website are littered with pictures of non-white students when such students are only 1% of the college's population, we might cry foul and wonder why they think they can pretend the school is more diverse than it is just to make themselves look good.

We should be careful here, of course. An institution might not be doing this just to look good. They might be thinking that portraying the student body in such an inaccurate manner will help attract students in those very groups, and they might have good motivations for wanting such a change. But it still seems wrong in such a case, even though it's not merely to generate a false view of the school to garner a better reputation. The dishonesty in the portrayal seems like a kind of tokenism. We might select people out of underrepresented groups to make it look like our institution is better than it is, or we might do so for purer motives, namely to try to make it better than it is, but either way the dishonesty of portraying it that way seems to fall under our concept of tokenism.

So is it basically a kind of dishonesty that makes something a case of tokenism? I don't think it's as simply as that. Consider a TV show that has their one token black in a mainly white cast. That black character might display all the stereotypes of black characters, in which case it might be criticized for stereotyping. On the other hand, it might display no such stereotypes, in which case it might be accused of sanitizing the character to make them more white-friendly. You might then think the critics are unfair. You can't win, no matter what you do? Actually, I don't think that's the problem. I think the no-win situation is set up because you don't have enough black characters both (a) on TV in general and (b) on the show in question. Even having two black characters, one of each type, is better than having one token black who fits either mold. The solution seems to me to be to have a diversity of black characters, some of whom display some stereotypical characteristics but who nonetheless are real characters, some of whom display fewer stereotypical characteristics but who nonetheless are real characters. What saves the day for a show that might be accused of tokenism is to have a variety of real characters showing a diversity of real-life traits from real people. Portray them so that the audience cares about them. Portray real inner conflict, hard choices, and so on. Make your characters of color as interesting and developed as all the other characters, and have enough of them across the variety of TV shows that we create, and you're a lot less susceptible to be accused of tokenism.

What does that suggest about what tokenism is? It's not just plain honesty, because there's plenty of room in there for trying to have as many characters as you can that don't fit well with the actual percentages of which black people have which traits. You don't need to have your black characters have children out of wedlock at exactly the rate that happens among black people in real life. You don't need to have them like hip-hop at the same percentages. You don't need to have them attending college or being incarcerated at the same rates. You need some level of honesty there to the point where you're not ignoring realities in society too much, but you can steer stereotypes by having lots of counter-stereotypical characters, and of course a lot of what you can do will be affected by what kind of show it is. Game of Thrones won't have anyone listening to hip-hop or being incarcerated in American prisons. The core problem seems to be, rather, that tokenism doesn't care about the people or characters enough to do much more than trot them out for the appearance. A character on a superhero show who is a token black might be stereotypical or might not be, but we won't care about the character very much, because the person isn't fleshed out very much. Tokens in college promotional literature are there for the appearance, and in a sense so are the undeveloped characters who are there just to have representation.

Now how does this relate to the use of tokenism-language in the context of affirmative action? Some conservative critics of affirmative action see it as harmful to those it's intended to help, partly because it isn't concerned with their success in college but just wants to have diversity as an element of its student body. It isn't concerned with finding students who will be as prepared to succeed, because it's more interested in showing off its diverse composition. In that sense, it would be like the case of admissions literature. But this isn't the only way to conceive of affirmative action. Even with the diversity rationale, one can be engaged with affirmative action policies in order to promote diversity, where there's a further goal for that diversity, and that can be to promote further racial justice for the sake of those who would be benefited by their being such racial policies. That motivation strikes me as not tokenist, even though the actions would seem to have roughly the same outcome with either motivation. So tokenism is not just about consequences. It's about why you engage in the actions you engage in to begin with.

I can imagine a student group at a college, maybe a religious or political group, that wants to seek more diversity. They might undertake efforts to promote their group among groups that are not well represented in their group at present. They might change their methods or approach to be more culturally acceptable to such groups. They might change their focus to include things people in those groups would care about. Is this tokenism? It seems to me that the answer depends on why they're doing it. If they want the people they're targeting merely because they want it to be true that their group is more diverse, I think it is tokenism. If they want them to be present because they think they themselves will be enriched by the experience, and the newcomers will benefit as well, then it seems to me not to be tokenism.

The same goes for inclusion in an academic conference or in high governmental positions. If a president seriously would like cabinet or judicial nominees to come from underrepresented groups, as both the last two presidents have (at least at times) shown concern for, then the crucial question is why. Is it to make the party or the administration look good, or is it out of a genuine concern for having diversity in that sphere of government? If I tried to put a conference together, and someone pointed out that none of the invited speakers were women, I might try to remedy that. Am I remedying it because I committed a faux pas and am embarrassed, or am I doing it because I think we all benefit by having more women presenting at philosophy conferences and because I think we have a systematic implicit bias against thinking first of women when thinking of the movers and shakers in a discipline like philosophy? The former might be tokenism. The latter seems not to be. But the actions are exactly the same.

This is a first attempt to think through this carefully. A number of questions remain in my mind. Are there any examples of what seems like tokenism that doesn't fit the kind of thing I'm saying here? Are there any examples that don't seem like tokenism that do have some of the characteristics I've been trying to identify tokenism with? It may well be that there's more complexity to what we typically call tokenism, and it might be that I'll need to figure out what to do when there are disagreements over what counts as tokenism. There's also the possible complication of whether tokenism is always wrong. Are there cases that we would call tokenism where we wouldn't find it morally problematic, or is it a term like 'racism' or 'murder' where we'd only use the term if we thought there was something problematic going on?

Narrowly-Defined Religion

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Here's an interesting analysis by D.A. Carson of three recent cases of what he calls the intolerence of tolerance that happened after his book on the subject came out: the Chick fil-A ban issue, a case of a liberal seminary trying to discipline a very respected faculty member for including a theologically-traditional book on homosexuality in the curriculum, and the HHS contraception mandate.

I'm not sure I have anything interesting to say about the first two cases he discusses that hasn't already been said ad nauseam. But he says something very interesting about the third case he discusses, the HHS mandate.
If Carson is right in his analysis of the HSS mandate, the government is willing to allow a lot of exceptions to the HHS mandate that have nothing to do with religious opposition to contraception or drugs with unintended abortifacient effects. But they won't allow a religious exception to this mandate on either of those two grounds. And they're arguing not that there should be no freedom of religion as an exception to government mandates nor that the drugs in question do not have an abortifacient effect (as some do argue). Instead, they argue that we should take taking 'religion' narrowly to include things like public gatherings for worship but not to include things like views on ethics.

What strikes me as extremely interesting about that is that would raise some serious questions about a lot of fairly common practices of excluding religion or seeking to exclude religion from the public sphere. If religion has to do with corporate gatherings of worship but not individual beliefs, then a lone science teacher who wants to include some discussion of philosophical arguments about design in a science classroom is not engaging in religion. I would have thought that patently obvious, but courts seem not to agree. The interesting question here is whether the Obama Administration's view of religion with respect to the HHS mandate can be made consistent with that practice of excluding long-standing philosophical discussions from science classrooms on the ground that such philosophical discussions are religion. They are not, on any sane analysis. They are philosophy. But that should be so much clearer if other philosophical views such as ethical views are not religion. Metaphysics surely is not either. If it is, I'd like to see the argument why one and not the other should count as religion or why we should have different standards for what counts as religion in the two cases.

Another place religion is often excluded is in the contention among many on the left that it's immoral for voters to decide who they should vote for or which policies to prefer if their reasons are based on their religious views (or politicians to decide which policies to support based on their own or their constituents' views). The same inconsistency would apply if the government's position on HHS is correct. If someone opposes abortion for purely religious reasons (which I think is true of some but certainly not all and probably not most pro-lifers), then it's not religion according to this approach, and those who resist anyone's attempt to vote pro-life on such grounds as thoroughly immoral cannot do so consistently with claiming that Wheaton College's resistance to the HHS mandate is not religion. This isn't even two different branches of philosophy, as the above example of metaphysics and ethics is. Here we have two examples of not just ethical views but of the very same ethical view, so there's no arguing that one case is religion and the other not. We'd have to argue that different standards for what counts as religion should apply in the two different cases, and I have no idea how that argument would go.

So assuming Carson is right on how the government is pursuing these cases (and I admit to not looking into them as carefully as he has), those who want to do either of the things I've pointed to have a real problem on their hands if they also want to defend the enforcement of the HHS mandate in these cases in the way the government seems to be doing it. I'm not sure how a consistent approach to all these questions can end up agreeing with the Obama Administration on this case that these ethical beliefs are not religion while still opposing the two things I've identified as religion.

Hell and Possible Worlds

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Henry Imler retweeted a post today giving a defense of hell from the Arminian point of view. Randal Rauser argues that Calvinism means God isn't all-good, because in Calvinism there's no possibility of the reprobate (i.e. those predestined to hell) avoiding hell.

This strikes me as extremely odd reasoning. The idea is that Arminianism is better than Calvinism because of what happens in non-existent possible worlds, rather than having anything to say about the justice of hell in the actual world. Arminians believe that all the people going to hell have non-existent counterparts in non-existent possible worlds who didn't go to hell. Calvinists believe there are no possible worlds where those people avoid hell. So on one view you have non-existent people in non-existent worlds going to hell, and in the other view you have the same non-existent people in some (but not all) non-existent worlds not going to hell. I guess somehow the non-existent people in some of the worlds that don't exist not going to hell makes the view better than if the non-existent people were in hell in those non-existent worlds. I'm not getting it. Wouldn't be better just to argue for the justice of hell in the actual world?

That's even ignoring my huge quibble with how compatibilism is often framed as not allowing alternative possibilities. I'm perfectly fine with talking about contra-causal possibilities. If my free actions are fully explainable in terms of things in this world, I can still speak of possible worlds where things go differently because of different causes, and it's not as if it wouldn't have been me if the explanations for what I do had been different and I did different things. So why couldn't a Calvinist believe someone actually reprobate could have been elect and someone actually elect could have been reprobate? I would expect most Calvinists to say exactly that, in fact.

I also have problems with the use of James Rachels. Rachels thinks the following two cases are morally equivalent:

1. Planning out a murder, arriving on the scene, and killing the person.
2. Planning out a murder, arriving on the scene, finding them dying a preventable death, and standing their grinning watching them die.

I'm not sure how that distinction is relevant, because this is being compared to:

3.The hyper-Calvinist view where God actually delights in the person's eternal suffering itself and wants no good for them
4. The Calvinist view where God doesn't delight in the death of the wicked but has reasons for allowing the natural consequences of their wickedness to take their course in not regenerating them and letting them be wicked for eternity around other wicked people and not around God and his moderating influence. (This is not the only conception of hell, but I think it's the best one, and it has a pretty prominent proponent in Augustine.) Their own choices lead to their destruction, even if it's also true that those choices were part of God's plan. And God has motives for allowing it (just as God does on the Arminian model; you need open theism to avoid this, but open theism hardly solves the problem of evil).


Notice that 3 and 4 have contrary motivations, where 1 and 2 do not.

Conventionalism

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This is the 60th post in my Theories of Knowledge and Reality series.  The most recent posts covered the main views of personal identity and then turned to some more unorthodox accounts to handle some of the problems of personal identity, beginning in the last post with four-dimensionalism and its doctrine of temporal parts.

Another unorthodox view is conventionalism (sometimes called conceptualism, although some would want to reserve that term for something else). The basic idea behind conventionalism starts with something uncontroversial. Our language consists of a bunch of conventions. We use certain words to refer to certain things, and we adopt various conventions about when to apply certain terms, use certain tenses or grammatical constructions, and so on. Different governments and societies have different conventions about various matters, such as whether you drive on the left or right side of the road, whether it's appropriate to wear shoes in the house, or whether your leaders come to office by popular vote or some other method. In the case of language, however, these conventions don't determine what you should do but what your words mean. For example, the word 'quite' in British English can mean something opposite what it means in American English. In British English, you can apparently say something is "quite good" and mean that it's only a little good but not very good. I can't for the life of me hear that expression that way. In American English it means pretty much that it's very good. So the different linguistic conventions in the UK and in the US mean that the same expression in the mouths of different people can mean different things. That's uncontroversial, even if it's not something a lot of people think about every day. 

he conventionalist's controversial use of that phenomenon in the personal identity debate is to claim that our concept of person is like that, and it's like that even without one linguistic community, not when comparing two as my example did. The idea is that the meanings of our terms are determined by how we use them, and different societies could refer to different things by their terms. We haven't yet settled how the relevant terms are used in our society, and so our language hasn't settled what it is to say that a person has survived some massive change or which person remains when it's unclear, in these various science fiction cases that we don't normally think about. The reason is because we don't normally consider these cases. Our concept of a person is settled enough in ordinary cases, but we just haven't decided if we're going to consider the brain-recipient the same person as the one who had the original brain or the one whose body it went into. We haven't settled whether someone survives a Star Trek transporter. We haven't settled whether I'm still alive if my brain gets destroyed and my body kept alive artificially.

To be clear about what's required here, this isn't just saying that the word 'person' is unsettled. This is much more radical. On this view, it isn't even clear what prounouns like 'I' or 'she' refer to to or whether it's true to say that I will survive a certain procedure even given that we're entirely in agreement about the facts of what takes place. According to conventionalism, there is no right answer to such questions. I've seen the view described in such a way that would allow for the U.S. Supreme Court to make some decision deciding who is married to whom, who is responsible for whose crimes and whose children, who owns whose property and so on for some of these disputed matters, and that would settle the question, but it's not necessarily that simple. The Supreme Court's opinions would certainly be a factor in what determines the meaning of the relevant terms. But ordinary people's opinions would have a large part in it, since it's their usage of terms that settles what language does mean in cases where it is settled. If a Supreme Court decision led people to stop using language in certain ways and start using it in other ways, but that sort of thing doesn't always happen. Consider what happened when our best scientific experts on planetary classification declared Pluto not a planet. Virtually no one would go along with it. In that case, the word 'planet' simply became ambiguous, as is the case with 'fruit' (tomatoes are fruit according to biologists' classifications but not according to nutritionists' or horticulturists', and most people's usage fits with the latter two more than the first.

A psychological view says I continue if my personality continues. If my mind gets wiped and my brain is reprogrammed with new memories and a new personality, then I stop existing and someone else continues in my body. On the bodily view, I'm still there but think I'm someone else. A conventionalist can say that there's no fact of the matter. If I anticipate having this happen to me, I can wonder whether it would be self-interested or altruistic take some pain medication to cut down on the post-operative headache, given that I don't know if I'll be the one occupying this body after the procedure. Can matters of how we use our language settle whether it's self-interested or altruistic? They can settle what words mean, but are words like 'self' so undefined that there is simply no fact about whose self it is afterward? That's exactly what the conventionalist is saying, and it's a pretty hard bite to swallow for some people. Conventionalism dismisses the problems of personal identity by simply saying that there's no right answer. It's not that there's no such thing as a continuing person. I'll turn to that view in the next post. It's that there's simply no truth about which person is the same one as the earlier one. And if we change how we think and speak, there could come to be such an answer, but right now there's no fact of the matter.

I think the best alternative to conventionalism comes from recognizing that we often have false beliefs or differing opinions from others around us about difficult matters, and it doesn't stop our words from having a definitive meaning. And some concepts re particularly good candidates for reference because they are especially natural sorts of things to refer to. In science, we often get things wrong and later discover it and then continue using the same term we always did. Atoms were supposed to be indivisible, but we didn't stop calling them atoms when we found out that the things we were calling atoms were divisible. We could still refer to those things by calling them atoms. Something similar happened with heat when we realized there isn't some substance (being called caloric) that explains why things are warmer. We stopped talking about caloric, but we didn't stop talking about heat. That's because, in both cases, there was a natural-enough entity that our terms were able to latch on to, even if some of what we believed about those entities was wrong. Is there a natural-enough entity for terms like 'me' and 'same person' to latch on to, even if people have competing intuitions on the science fiction personal identity cases? There certainly is if dualism is true. It's less so with the other candidates, such as continued psychological continuity (an inherently vague notion) and continued biological continuity or brain continuity (a less-vague notion than psychological continuity but certainly not less vague than dualist minds). I suspect a lot of intuitions about whether our concepts are settled enough will depend on whether you think there's a natural-enough candidate for personal identity that closely-enough matches our concept or competing concepts of personhood and selfhood.

The next post will look at another unconventional approach, nihilism, which is really more like a cluster of related views that deny the existence or persistence of something-or-other (but the different views do it differently).

This is the 59th post in my Theories of Knowledge and Reality series. The last post looked at the final view of what I consider the standard accounts of personal identity (the dualist, psychological, bodily, and brain views). As I said at the end of the last post, it's pretty common for people to look at all the difficulties raised against those views and then opt for something more unconventional. The next few posts will look at three such unconventional views: temporal parts (or four-dimensionalism), conventionalism, and nihilism.

The temporal parts view is sometimes called four-dimensionalism, because it takes persisting objects to be spread out across time rather than being wholly present at a time. The three-dimensionalist view takes me to be fully present at every moment of my existence. It's not as if there are parts of me at past and future times, with just some small part of me here right now. I'm fully present at this moment. I was fully present at each past moment of my existence, and I will be fully present at each future moment of my existence. Three-dimensionalists call this kind of persistence through time endurance.

Four-dimensionalism, on the other hand, takes us to be spread out across time, and at each moment it's only the part of me at that time that's present. My current temporal part is here now, and I have past and future temporal parts. All my spatial parts are here right now (at least all the ones that parts of me at this time). But I have temporal parts in the past and future. The whole object across time that is me is called a space-time worm (taking the analogy from a worm composed of segments as its spatial parts). The shorter segments are called stages of that worm, with the smallest stages perhaps being instantaneous stages, which would be infinite in number if time is infinitely divisible. Four-dimensionalists call this kind of persistence through time perdurance.

Although it might not be the most intuitive view to think of me as spread out across time, we do think four-dimensionally about some things, in particular events. Take an event like a baseball game. It is composed of temporal parts. We call them innings. Each inning has two temporal parts (except sometimes the last inning of the game), the top and bottom. A presidential race is an event that is composed of several phases, the primary stage, the general election campaign, and the election day itself. Each of those sub-events is a stage of the entire four-dimensional event that we call an election season. We could say the same thing of any event, such as the War of 1812, the Reformation, an episode of your favorite TV show, or my composing of this post for my blog. Each event has parts that occur for part of the period of time that the event is going on. The four-dimensionalist is just saying that we are also composed of temporal parts in a similar way. There is a part of me that corresponds to the event of my pre-natal existence. Another part of me corresponds to the event of my time in middle school. Another, longer, part of me corresponds to my entire childhood. Another part of me is the instantaneous stage of me at the very instant this post will be online. Another part of me corresponds to my entire adulthood (much of which, I expect, has not occurred yet).

One of the strongest arguments for four-dimensionalism is that it can so easily handle a lot of the problem cases for persistence across time. Take the splitting cases from previous posts. Lieutenant William Riker undergoes a transporter accident and ends up rematerializing both on the planet (as the man who later comes to be called Lieutenant Tom Riker) and on the ship (as the man who later gets promoted to become Commander Will Riker). With three-dimensionalism, you can say that the original becomes one of the two future guys, but the other one is not the original (but it seems arbitrary to pick one over the other), or you can say that the original dies in this case (which is odd if you think either one would be the original without the existence of the other). What you can't say is that both are the original, unless you insist that they are the same guy, who now has two sets of experiences and hates himself, but he's fully present hating himself and fully present being hated by himself, and the instance of himself who is fully present doing the hating is not the instance of himself who is fully present being hated. You might be able to tell a story to make all that work (I think it takes adopting something unconventional, but I don't think it's necessarily incoherent), but it seems strange to say such odd things just to maintain a picture of enduring people.

The four-dimensionalist can say something much more straightforward. There are two space-time worms. One worm starts with Lt. Riker before the transporter accident and runs through Commander Will Riker. The other starts with Lt. Riker before the accident and runs through Tom Riker. These two worms share all the initial stages, the same way two roads the merge share a stage while they run together while remaining two roads. The shared-stage gut at the outset can truly say that he will become Tom Riker and Commander Will Riker, because at that stage it is true that the stage is related in the right way to both future guys. He is a stage of both worms.

Similar things can be said about split-brain fission cases. To use Ted Sider's example, Ted's two brain hemispheres get split and transplanted into two different bodies. Call one Ed and the other Fred. Just as in the Riker case, the 4Der can say that Fred has the right relation to both Ed and Fred so that he can say that he will be Ed and will be Fred, without Ed being Fred. That's only because Ted is a part of a worm that Ed is a part of while also being part of a worm that Fred is part of, while Ed and Fred are never parts of the same worm.

There are a number of other problem cases that four-dimensionalism can handle very well. A lump of clay becomes a statue and then gets melted down again into clay. Is the lump of clay just the same thing as the statue? Well, the lump has a longer existence, so they can't be the same thing. One 3D approach is to take the lump to compose the statue, but that means two things are coinciding in the same place at the same time, made out of the same stuff. If you don't like coincident but distinct objects, four-dimensionalism can handle the problem. The lump is just a longer object in time, and the statue is a temporal part of it. There is only one instantaneous object there at any stage of its existence. It is always part of the lump-worm, and for part of its existence it's also part of the statue-worm. But never are there two 3D objects in the same place at the same time.

Another case is the cat who loses a tail. Call the cat Tibbles. Presumably an object exists before the tail is amputated that is all of the cat except the tail. Call that Tib. Tib is part of Tibbles. Tibbles has a tail, and that tail is not part of Tib. If the tail comes off, then do Tibbles and Tib merge? But they weren't the same object before. How can they be the same object now? Presumably Tib doesn't go out of existence merely because this extra thing, a tail, is no longer attached to it. But  Tibbles doesn't cease to exist. Tibbles just now doesn't have a tail. So are Tib and Tibbles two objects in the same place at the same time? Or should we deny that Tibbles has a part that is all of it but a tail? None of these options seems entirely satisfactory. But with temporal parts, the problem goes away easily. There's a Tibbles-worm and a Tib-worm. The Tibbles-worm is the whole cat across time, which has a tail and then doesn't. The Tib-worm is the cat-minus-the-tail before the amputation and the cat afterward. The worms merge. Tibbles and Tib do not share stages before the tail's loss, and they share stages afterward. The solution is the same as with splitting cases, except that the common stages are earlier rather than later.

The four-dimensionalist can say the same thing about the ancient case of the Ship of Theseus. Theseus hires a master shipbuilder to keep his ship in good shape. The shipbuilder repairs the ship as needed, saving all the parts he removes. When he has enough pieces, he begins putting them back together into ship form. Once all the original pieces are removed, he has a fully-constructed ship that he thinks is the original Ship of Theseus. But Theseus has had a ship all along that hasn't stopped existing just because parts have been removed. Which ship is the original? The temporal parts theorist insists that there are two ships across time, and each shares an initial stage with the other. The original-parts ship is a divided object that is disassembled for much of its existence, eventually coming back together. The continuous-ship ship is a ship the whole way through but changes its parts as it goes. Both ships exist, and both are ships (at least part of the time). Both can claim, in different senses, to be the Ship of Theseus. But there are really two worms here, and they both have the original ship-stage as their earliest stage. So it's another case of fission, like the above cases of the transporter accident and brain-hemisphere transplants.

The downside of four-dimensionalism is that it does seem to go against how we ordinarily see ourselves. I see myself as a wholly-present being who endures through time, and there aren't parts of me at other times that aren't here now. If four-dimensionalism is true, then that conception of myself is inaccurate. It's certainly possible for philosophy to clarify better ways of thinking about ourselves than we might have otherwise had, but how willing you are to accept such revisions to our thinking might depend on how well you think more intuitive approaches can handle the objections and whether you think other revisionist views can handle the problems better. Next up will be the conventionalist approach, which revises our conception of ourselves in a different way (although there are people who think both approaches are independently correct).

This is the 58th post in my Theories of Knowledge and Reality series. The last post looked at bodily accounts of personal identity. As a quick refresher, here is that post's summary of the personal identity views up to this point:

According to the dualist account of personal identity, being the same person is having the same immaterial mind or soul. According to the psychological account of personal identity, being the same person is having a continuation of the same set of psychological properties such as memories, desires, beliefs, personality traits, moral character, and so on. The main contender to those two approaches would be biological accounts, which base personal identity in some biological facts. The most common versions of biological accounts are the bodily account and the brain account. The bodily account takes someone to be the same person just in case they have same continuing body.
The brain view, like the bodily view, looks to biological continuity but not of the entire body, just the brain. One major advantage of this view is that it fits better with the intuition a lot of people have that a brain transplant is not really a brain transplant but a body transplant. If my brain got put into your body, a lot of people would take the resulting person to be me in your body, not you with my brain. A psychological view would give the same result, but psychological views face duplication problems too easily. You can have two candidates for who it is to be me if you continue my memory and personality in two different places, and in certain cases it's too hard to find a decent answer as to why one or the other is a better candidate for being me (such as a Star Trek transporter accident using new matter to reconstruct me, but it creates two of me, and each duplicate is intrinsically just like the other).

It seems at first glance as if the duplication problem doesn't occur quite so easily with the biological views. After all, only one body could plausibly be mine, and only one brain could plausibly be mine. If you put my brain in a new body, the bodily view would say the resulting person is not me, because it's not my original body. If you put my memories and personality in a new brain, the brain view would say it's not me, because it's not my continuing brain.

But John Perry presents a case that makes brain views seem odd too. Suppose I'm dying of brain cancer, and medical technology progresses to the point where you could produce an exact duplicate of my brain except for the brain cancer and then transplant it into my head. They call it brain rejuvenation. I get a new brain, but I seem to continue. A bodily view would be fine with that description of the case, as would a psychological view. But the brain view would say that I die, and someone new but just like me continues on in my body. Many people find such a conclusion at odds with how we would intuitively think about such a case.

A further difficulty for the brain view is that the first-glance sense of no duplication problems turns out to be wrong. You can present duplication problems for the brain. If brain cancer required removing one of my brain hemispheres, but the other one remained healthy, it would seem that I continue to exist in the same body with one-half of my brain. This would be true whether it's the left hemisphere or the right. But what would happen if you transplanted half my brain into a new body while leaving the other in my body? Many would be inclined to say I'm still with the original body, but that would mean the brain view is false, since my continuing body plays a role in determining where I am. But remove that possibility altogether. Just remove both hemispheres and put them both in new bodies. If either brain hemisphere would be me in the absence of the other, and neither body has more right to counting as me than the other, then the duplication problem arises again. Perhaps you could favor the dominant hemisphere, but person with the other hemisphere would certainly wonder why he is less a candidate for being me. He'd wonder why the other guy got to remain married to my wife and remain the father of my children. He'd wonder why all my worldly goods would belong to the other guy. It does seem arbitrary to deny the second hemisphere the rights to something you clearly give to the other, just on the ground that it was the dominant hemisphere when both hemispheres were fully half of me. Each hemisphere would take itself to be me, and it does seem that on the brain view they both have the right to such a claim.

So those are the main views on personal identity. A number of philosophers have been frustrated enough with the difficulties of these views that they have turned to more unconventional approaches to solve the problem. The next post will look at the temporal parts or (four-dimensionalist) solution.

There's a relatively new movement in the communities of people who deal regularly with autism and related conditions that's assigned themselves the term "neurodiversity" as a shorthand reference to their commitment to affirming atypical neurological conditions as equally legitimate. This movement shuns the terms 'normal' and 'abnormal' and instead prefers to speak of those who are neurotypical and those who are not. The neurodiversity movement seeks to identify various traits common with autism as neither better nor worse but simply different.

This movement should be praised for its recognition that respecting people with autism requires taking into account how differently they take in information, process it, use it, and produce various responses. They rightly emphasize that an atypical neurological state need not be thought of as a disease that needs a medical cure or treatment or a disability that requires taking the person to be deficient. They recommend supporting a person for who they are rather than trying to "fix" them to conform to the standards everyone else has. Some autism advocates on the autistic spectrum insist that they wouldn't want to be made "normal" if a "cure" were ever found. They like being the way they are.

There's something obviously right about most of that. The more I read stuff from this movement, however, the more disturbed I get that there's something they're just not seeing, and the good in what I just wrote is blinding a lot of well-meaning people to a serious philosophical error lying behind much of what the neurodiversity movement produces. Consider this story by Karen Kaplan of the Los Angeles Times. She is right to point out that, just because autistic people do badly on certain standardized tests, it doesn't mean they're cognitively deficient. It may well be that the reason a certain person scores low on a certain test is because the test is relying on typical patterns of language use, and someone with autism may be using a different pattern of language use. The underlying cognitive ability being tested for may be stronger than the test shows. That's all correct. But in her rush to make this point, Kaplan completely ignores the fact that the reason someone is scoring low on the test is because of a genuine deficiency in the kind of language use that most people are much better able to engage in. That means there is a lack of ability that comes with autism, even if its manifestation will be different from person to person.

Again, Kaplan speaks of those who emphasize "training kids with autism to behave like typical kids instead of allowing them to make the most of their differently wired brains." That's especially helpful, because allowing autistic people to make the most of their differently-operating brain is certainly the right goal. But that's perfectly compatible with taking their differently-wired brain to be operating at a deficient level with respect to certain cognitive skills, even if it's also operating at a higher level with regard to other cognitive skills. Some in the neurodiversity movement are willing to recognize that differences between neurotypicals and autistic people involve autism conveying certain strengths and weaknesses. But the language of "not better or worse but just different" disallows any such recognition and smacks of crude relativism, whereby we cannot recognize any difference as being better or worse. When taken to its logical implication, we'd have to say that someone who is not intelligent enough to read is not less smart in any respect than the norm, just different. I submit that such a statement is nonsense. There's a particular cognitive ability that allows for reading that most people have, and someone who doesn't have that ability (assuming they genuinely don't) is lacking a cognitive skill. Why can't we just accept that?

Similarly, there is a seeming refusal to recognize any medical condition that can be spoken of in terms of being made worse off. In some respects this strikes me as a general problem among disability communities that stems from crudely relativistic thinking. The deaf community is largely unsupportive of cochlear implants, because it gives children the ability to hear, and they take their lack of hearing not to be a genuine disability. There's nothing wrong with not hearing, so why should they support giving deaf children the ability to hear the way most people can?

If we really took this line of reasoning seriously, we'd have to apply it to other conditions that virtually no one wants to see as perfectly normal. For example, one could argue that pedophilia is just a different way of being, and we should respect it. After all, it's caused by a brain condition, and all brain conditions are equally good. In terms of the arguments I see from the neurodiversity movement, I see no way to say the things they say while avoiding such a conclusion. There are plenty of ways to distinguish between the two cases, but I don't see how those are available given the extreme sorts of statements that I regularly see among neurodiversity advocates.

People who have serious cognitive deficiencies often have serious problems seeing their own intrinsic worth. It's important to affirm that. It's important to help them see that their very existence is not wrong in the sense that we should blame them for being the way they are. It's important to help them see that their preferences may seem weird to others but that in many cases perfectly all right for them to have them. But some voices advocating for neurodiversity want us to say that someone with autism is not messed up in any sense. The fact is that we're all messed up. We're all distorted. We're all flawed. No one is the way we ought to be. Autism is one way to have various deficiencies, one that also happens in many cases to have plenty of strengths above the level typical of most people. To say that we can never evaluate being less good at something or more good at something with such value-laden language would be to overreact to a genuine problem in how many people look at people with disabilities.

But on one level, I can't blame the neurodiversity movement (and the more general relativistic outlook among other disability communities). After all, their view follows fairly easily from a particular version of secularized naturalistic thinking. Different neurological conditions stem from natural variation, and there's no other level of explanation but natural variation. There's no God who designed human beings to have certain capabilities. There are no natural purposes according to which organisms have a nature, and certain capacities are part of what a well-functioning member of their species will be able to do. There's no notion of well-functioning if your worldview doesn't allow for higher-level explanations about purposes and design, other than perhaps simply asking whether a particular organism fits into the way most members of its species are or whether it fits the patterns members of its species typically desire for themselves. There's nothing objective about what a healthy member of that species or a well-functioning member of that species would be like. There is no way we can have a notion of the way we ought to be if there's no ground for what it would be to be the way we ought to be. But such a conclusion seems to me to be so obviously false that perhaps we should just question the metaphysical underpinning of the neurodiversity movement, rather than giving in to that metaphysical picture's logical implications.

[cross-posted at Evangel and the Neurodiversity Consulting blog]

I was thinking last night about the new show Once Upon a Time, and it occurred to me that it might provide a really good illustration of the difference between externalism and internalism in epistemology. (I haven't seen last night's episode yet, so please no one spoil it for me.)

Internalism holds that what justifies our beliefs or makes them rational or what grounds our knowledge must be something internal to our thinking, in other words something where the reasons why it is justified, rational, or grounded are accessible to our conscious thought. We have to be able to see why our beliefs are grounded for those beliefs to be grounded. We have to be aware of what makes it a good belief for it to be a good belief. It wouldn't be enough to have reliable belief-forming mechanisms (such as senses that reliably give me the right information).

Externalism holds that there might be things make our beliefs justified or rational or grounding our knowledge that are not accessible to our conscious thought. We don't have to be aware of what justifies us in thinking something for it to be a justified belief. For it to be well-grounded knowledge, we don't have to know that our knowledge is grounded in reliable practices and thus why it is well-grounded knowledge. It just has to be grounded in the right sort of ways.

Perhaps the biggest place of disagreement comes over how to respond to skepticism. If internalism is true, I would have to prove that my senses are reliable for them to ground my knowledge, which of course I can't do, because I might be in a virtual reality for all I can know by internalist standards. There are internalists would would disagree, but a lot of philosophers have concluded that internalism leads hopelessly to skepticism, because I can't prove that my senses are reliable, and just having reliable senses isn't enough. I'd have to be able to prove it, which I can't do. But externalism can handle skeptical arguments by pointing out that I can know all sorts of stuff even without being able to prove it. It doesn't mean I can prove I know things. It just means that skeptical arguments fail, because the skeptic has to show that my senses are unreliable to show that I don't know things. With internalism, all the skeptic has to show is that I don't know if my senses are unreliable. With externalism, the skeptic has to show that they are in fact unreliable. So the burden of proof on the skeptic is higher with externalism.

Once Upon a Time provides a nice illustration of externalist epistemology. The basic premise of the show is that the Evil Queen has cursed all the characters in the Enchanted Forest by bringing them to a terrible place where there are no happy endings except for her. That terrible place is Storybrooke, Maine, in a world otherwise very much like our current day. The Evil Queen is the mayor. The story shifts back and forth between events in the characters' lives back in the Enchanted Forest and events in their lives now in Storybrooke, where no one is supposed to remember their previous lives except the Evil Queen.

Snow White and Prince Charming are the Evil Queen's primary targets. She wants revenge against Snow White for something we haven't seen yet (as least as of last week's episode). She wants to ensure that they are not together. They have no memory of each other, certainly not of having been married to each other. He was in a coma when the show began, and apparently he had been since the curse began. She has no memory of him. When he awakes from his coma, he has no memory, until the Evil Queen at some point seems to have interfered to give him memories of being married to someone else, someone who turns out to have been engaged to him in the Enchanted Forest before he broke it off to marry Snow White. But when they meet up, they feel such a longing for each other, as if they have always been meant to be together.

Prince Charming tries to rebuild his marriage, but he can't ignore his feelings for Snow White. This woman whom he (falsely) thinks is his wife brings out no current feelings, but he seems to have memories of feelings for her, and he tries to make it work. Technically, he's living in an adulterous relationship with her while thinking his feelings for Snow White are the adulterous ones. But Snow White is really his wife, and some process within him is leading him to think he should be with her. But he has no access to what would be leading him to that. An externalist would say that he has some process within him that he can't understand that's leading him to know that Snow White is the one for him, and his false beliefs about his past do not interfere with that knowledge. An internalist has to say that his most justified beliefs are the false ones.

So suppose there's some reliable process whereby his body's memories of his love for Snow White are leading him to know that she's really the one he's supposed to be with. His resistance to this woman who isn't his wife, whom he believes is his wife, is then grounded in processes that he has no access to. An externalist could say that his belief that he should be with Snow White (whom he knows now by another name, of course) is justified by these processes he's unaware of, and it's bogus to rely on his memories for the belief that he's married to the other woman. An internalist would say that his belief that he is married to the other woman is in fact false but is justified. Which belief is justified, then, depends on which epistemology is correct.

Which view you adopt would seem to have significant moral implications. He's doing something clearly wrong, according to internalism, by having clandestine romantic interactions with Snow White. But what if he has knowledge on some level that can somehow cancel his seeming knowledge (that isn't knowledge at all) that this is adultery? Those are false beliefs, based on false memories. If he doesn't know those things but falsely believes them, and he also knows on some level that Snow White is his true love, is it enough to remove the wrongness of the adultery? Perhaps that's too much, but it does seem to be ethically different in some ways.

I want to announce that I've signed a book contract with Lexington Books, an imprint of Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, to publish a revised and expanded version of my dissertation. My current plan is to send them the manuscript by the end of April, followed by a review process and then revisions to be due by the end of June or early July, which they say will allow them to have it in print by December. The title (for now, although it might change) is A Realist Metaphysics of Race: A Context-Sensitive, Short-Term Retentionist, Long-Term Revisionist Account.

General Overview: There are three main metaphysical positions on race. Anti-realists deny that there are races. Natural-kind positions find sub-groups of homo sapiens with scientific importance and call them races. Social-kind views consider races to exist because of contingent social practices. I argue for a view closest to the third camp, with a few wrinkles. Three distinctives of my approach are:

(a) I self-consciously argue as an analytic metaphysician, taking this to be a work of applied metaphysics in the same sense that looking at questions regarding abortion, just war theory, or the ethics of lying count as applied ethics, and its relation to theoretical metaphysics (what is most commonly called metaphysics among analytic philosophers) is analogous to how applied ethics relates to ethical theory (e.g. utilitarian, deontological, virtue, natural law, or other theoretical approaches, which was what ethics was largely restricted to until the applied ethics revolution of the late 20th century). Part of my aim is to remove the bias against seeing this sort of subject as part of what metaphysicians should be doing.

(b) I argue that race is highly context-sensitive, in more ways than most race theorists mean when they speak of themselves as holding views they call contextualist.

(c) My overall conclusion by the end is that we should not abandon race-talk, race-theorizing, or race-classification, at least not in the short-term. We need to be able to speak of such social realities to address real racial problems. However, we ought to find ways to challenge some of the social forces that work to make racial groups racialized and to form the social realities that surround race, some of which are not the way we should want them to be.

Here is the chapter breakdown:

1. Natural Kinds and the Analogy of Species:

There's a debate in the philosophy of biology about whether species are natural kinds. This chapter looks closely at that debate to argue that it is meaningful to speak of natural kinds, although species are not natural kinds in the strong sense that Aristotle might have taken them to be.

2. Natural Kinds and Race

I look at three conceptions of race as what I call minimalist natural kinds, two from philosophers and one from biologists. Al three views have potential to pick out groups useful for categorizing people according to scientific purposes but all three have problems if we want to identify the groups they point to as the same groups that we ordinarily call races.

3. Classic Anti-Realism

I argue in this chapter against certain of the traditional anti-realist arguments (especially Naomi Zack and Kwame Anthony Appiah), especially emphasizing ordinary use (as opposed to the language of experts) and changes is race-language.

4. Glasgow's Revisionism

Joshua Glasgow develops an anti-realism that takes the groups we call races to exist as social constructions, but he doesn't think those groups should be called races. I resist his arguments and argue that some of his evidence actually support a social kind view like the one I end up adopting.

5. Social-Construction and Biological Constructionism

The contingency of the racial categories, the fact that arbitrary socially-determined facts determine the structure of racial classification, and the instability of racial categories are all good evidence that races are social constructions. I conclude that races are social kinds that take their basis in biologically-identified traits, but the selection of which biological traits we use to identify races are biologically-arbitrary.

6. Races and the Metaphysics of Objects and Groups

My view is that races exist as socially-constructed entities but that they might just as well have existed without being races. Social facts don't bring races into existence but rather make existing groups into races. This chapter looks to contemporary metaphysics to see arguments that nihilists and coincident-entity theorists might make against my view. I argue against those conceptions, but even if those views were correct, much of what I say would still follow.

7. Context-Sensitive Features of Racial Assignment

This chapter argues for context-sensitivity in racial constructions, with fluidity from one context to another even for the same person. Different factors might be relevant in different settings to change which racial labels might apply.This context-sensitivity is much more diverse in terms of ways of being context-sensitive than I find in most of the philosophy of race literature. The particular ways this works will support my eventual revisionism in the next chapter.

8. The Ethics of the Metaphysics of Race

Here I argue that we should use existing racial categories to identify problems within the social constructions of race, rather than seeking to eliminate the categories in any direct way, but we should also make efforts to change the conditions that generate those problematic elements, so we can retain only the unproblematic aspects, and some elements of racial identity-formation can be good.

9. Implicit Bias and the Argument for Elimination

Recent work in psychology and cognitive science shows that our patterns of forming race-judgments rely on a more general pattern in child development that leads to implicit racial bias of an invisible but harmful sort, even among people who are explicitly anti-racist in their reflective views. I argue that there is evidence in the psychology and cognitive science literature that shows that we need to retain our racial categories to address existing implicit bias, but there is also evidence that we should rethink how we speak of racial issues with small children, to reduce the perpetuation of implicit bias in further generations, and this result fits well with (and gives further details to flesh out) the conclusion of the previous chapter.

Philosophers' Carnival CXI

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The 131st Philosophers' Carnival is up at Minds and Brains: Musings from a Neurophilosophical Perspective.

The Philosophical Gourmet Report, which ranks philosophy programs and gives specific listings of which departments are strongest in which areas of philosophy, will be adding the category of philosophy of race in its upcoming revision, which will take place this fall. Brian Leiter, who organizes the Gourmet Report, posted a quote from philosopher Tommy Curry about this long-overdue change:

Black philosophy continues to be lured toward the approval of whites as if their standards and acceptance can/do accurately describe the merit of our work. We have seen this in the work of whites like Sullivan and Bernansconi [sic], and now have it yet again regarding Leiter. They take Black conversations, market them as "legitimate" and benefit from them by controlling the academic "rigor" of the discourse.

Shannon Sullivan writes about race as it has affected her as a white woman and reflects on the nature of whiteness as she's come to understand it through dialoguing with non-whites and through applying philosophical skills she's learned by practicing philosophy. The idea that this must be seen as an attempt to control blacks is ludicrous. Bernasconi's work, from what I've seen, also seems motivated by wanting to understand a legitimate philosophical topic of inquiry rather than any sense of whipping those black philosophers into conformity.

Philosophers working in the area of race have complained to Brian Leiter that he's ignored an important area of philosophy where much good work has been done, and so he's finally (years later than I would have liked) added it to his surveys of which departments are seen by those in the loop of philosophy of race to be good programs for that area of study. Surely many of the people who will be commenting on this will be non-white, even if there are some people working in the area who are white.

I'm not exactly Brian Leiter's biggest fan. We've each criticized the other both publicly and privately. But I can't fathom the claim that he's motivated by wanting to exert power over black philosophers in particular. Even if you thought he was using the Philosophy Gourmet Report to control the discipline or to promote himself (rather than the more charitable interpretation that he does it to help students find the programs best suited to them, which I think is his actual motivation), his goals wouldn't be to have white people controlling black people. They would be to have an in-group of philosophers controlling which departments get seen as the best. It is true that his advisory board, whose rankings determine the report's rankings, is a pretty white group, but philosophers as a whole are a pretty white group. At worst, you might accuse him of not being concerned enough to include non-white philosophers in his advisory board.

Now there's a claim in the general vicinity of what Curry is saying that I think is not so removed from reality, although I think it's also wrong if applied to undermine the work of whites on race issues or to claim that it's illegitimate for white philosophers to evaluate the work of black philosophers. That claim is that black philosophers can have conversations about issues affecting them that white people won't understand as well. This is true. There's a kind of epistemic privilege that comes from having experienced certain things, and being black in America does bring with it some experiences that white people don't understand as well. So some conversations among black philosophers will be harder for white philosophers to step into and participate in the same way or to evaluate as good or bad philosophy. Sure.

However, there are also experiences white people have in America that involved race that also bring something to the table that black philosophers have less ccess to. I'm not claiming this is symmetrical in terms of an equal number of experiences or similar kinds of experiences, but I am pointing out that any social location can involve experiences that only people in that social location can understand. Some of the experiences whites have blind them to certain racial issues, but some of the experiences blacks have can make them less sensitive to certain race issues as well. There are experiences that someone who is white who is heavily interwoven with black Americans will have that most blacks and whites will not have. (See here for much more argumentation in this direction.)

Despite all this, it simply isn't impossible for white philosophers to do good work contributing to discussions of race, and just about all non-white philosophers have recognized this. It simply isn't impossible for white philosophers to look at these discussions and form reasoned opinions about whose arguments are better than whose. It simply isn't impossible for white philosophers to get a sense from these discussions whose work is having the most influence and therefore whose work is seen by the participants in these discussions as the best work.

So the idea that a white or nearly-white advisory board can't evaluate the work of non-white philosophers or the work of philosophers on issues that have come out of black discussions is not, because of the facts about epistemic privilege, a complete non-starter. There may be additional difficulties in it than what you already have in evaluating the work of philosophy of religion when most of the reviewers pay no attention to that subject (as is certainly the case with the Gourmet Report advisory board in general). But they have ways of dealing with this. A good advisory board member who doesn't know philosophy of religion will presumably ask people they know who do it which philosophers or which departments are strongest in that area. So in the end I don't think even the more reasonable claim in the area of Curry's criticism can justify his resistance to this or to the work of white philosophers on issues related to race.

In every translation I've read of Aquinas' discussion of love, I find a completely worthless translation of the two categories of love he discusses. If you translate them with a formal-equivalence model, you get "the love of desire" and "the love of friendship". What he means by those is that the love of desire is when you love someone or something for the benefit you get from it or them, and the love of friendship is when you love someone in a way that takes what they desire as becoming among your own desires, and you desire it for its own sake and not just to get something out of them.

To an English speaker, the expressions "the love of desire" and "the love of friendship" suggest no such thing. They sound more like the thing you love is desire for the first, and the thing you love is friendship for the second. A much better translation would be "desire-love" and "friendship-love". Those preserve the connection with desire and friendship rather than paraphrasing them, but they change the form of the grammatical construction in order to remove the different sense that the form carries in English.

A formal-equivalence translation has this danger. It preserves the form as a higher priority than the basic meaning of the expression in its context, and you get this kind of misleading nonsense that someone teaching the material then has to explain. Isn't it better just to translate the expression in a way that conveys its meaning? If this can be done without altering the basic linguistic units, as my translation above does, then that's ideal. The problem with most dynamic-equivalence or thought-for-thought translations is that they don't do that. They might translate this as something like "self-seeking love" and "unconditional love". Such a translation would make no sense of Aquinas' attempt to explain why love having to do with desire is self-seeking and why love having to do with friendship is unconditional. It doesn't translate what's said but adds to it based on the background knowledge about how Aquinas is using the terms. It's probably rare that you can find the happy medium that I've come to with this case, where you avoid both extremes, but that seems to me to be the goal.

The 127th Philosophers' Carnival is up at Ichthus77.

Apparently some people who are hard of reading have been misinterpreting my post, and Maryann has closed comments. I'll have to respond at my own post.

A Puzzle

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Assume

1. A psychological or brain view of personal identity. In other words, either what makes me me is the psychological features of my inner self or my brain. Both views say the same thing about survival in brain transplant cases, so either view would do.

Do a brain transplant. Switch the brains of a man and a woman. If you did that to me, would I then be female?

Keep in mind -- I have the same brain, and that brain has my original male DNA. I also have a new body, one with the sex organs of a woman.

Instrumentalism and B.S.

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In the last chapter of my dissertation, I make mention of instrumentalism about race, defining it as follows. "Instrumentalism is not concerned with whether there are races but focuses simply on how it is best to use the race-language. A pragmatist view that retains race-talk and racial classification without regard for whether races are real could, for pragmatist reasons, adopt a fictionalist semantics and look much on the surface like the pragmatist adoption of fictionalism that I explained above. Or the semantic theory about how race-language operates might be more purely instrumentalist, taking race-statements to be true or false according to whether they are useful statements to make."

[For those who care about what fictionalism is but who aren't familiar with the term, fictionalism about race is "a semantic thesis about how race-language works, taking there to be a fictional account of races that our race-language assumes, with some kind of operator explaining how our language about race is really about what 'race in the fiction' would be like. Such language would not be strictly speaking true, but unlike error theory it would allow us to maintain that language without having to go around correcting everyone all the time about their false and non-referring statements."]

As I was thinking about instrumentalism, it occurred to me that Harry Frankfurt's best-selling work on b.s. doesn't, as far as I know, connect up with instrumentalism, but he defines b.s. in a very similar way, as the practice of making assertions without care for whether they're true, for the purpose of impressing people rather than communicating or deceiving (i.e. disrupting communication). The motivation distinguishes b.s. from what instrumentalism is up to (about whatever domain they're instrumentalists about: in my dissertation, it would be race, but the view was developed initially about science, and some of the ancient sophists were instrumentalists about morality). It's not as if instrumentalists think we're all just engaging in b.s. all the time. But both involve a similar disregard for the truth, and I'm pretty sure I've never seen anyone point this out before.

As I was revising this section earlier this week, it occurred to me that it might be funny to put in a footnote citing Frankfurt's work as a contemporary development of instrumentalism and then sending that version to the members of my committee who might get a kick out of it, but I think that would be a bit too much. My long footnote on Tolkien and mixed race is already skirting the edge.

This is on an NPR show I've never heard of. Our local station doesn't carry it. But I'm listening to the episode right now, and the authors do are doing a good job presenting the barebones issue they're dealing with. I'm not hearing much in the way of arguments, though, just quick summaries of positions. But it's done in an imaginative way, just because of the Doctor Who context. The particular issue is the genocide of the Daleks issue from the Fourth Doctor serial "The Genesis of the Daleks" (along with the general issue of pacifism and the Doctor's resistance to violence). There's more about the show itself than the philosophy, but I won't complain about any intelligent publicity for the show and for what I hope to be an excellent book.

I really wanted to submit something on the ethics of time travel for this book, but the editors wanted full submissions, and I can't afford to devote the time to write an entire chapter that might not get published. Most editors in this series and the similar Wiley-Blackwell series sort through a larger number of proposals, select their chosen entries, and then commission the people they choose to write the chapters. These editors wanted entire chapters that would likely not get published anywhere if they weren't accepted.

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