Welcome, readers, to the 76th fortnightly Philosophers’ Carnival!
Enigman asks what philosophical reasons mathematicians have for assuming the axiom of infinity in his post Philosophy of Mathematics. It’s not clear what sorts of reasons he’s looking for; fundamental questions about mathematical truth and the role of axioms seem to be lurking just below the surface here. The comments thread hasn’t grown prohibitively long yet, so hop on over and pitch in your $.02.
Alexander Pruss criticizes several ways of construing the supernaturalness of magic in Magic, science, and the supernatural. I’m not convinced by a lot of what he says, but the discussion is very clear and open-minded. Peruse the other entries while you’re there, if you haven’t visited before – it’s a nice blog.
Avery Archer works on a theory of rational agency in Why Questions and Rational Agents (more about the latter than the former). I like this post, even though I don’t like a lot (of the little) I have read elsewhere on rationality. It’s not clear to me that the appearances of the good (allegedly) involved in desire are reflections of a perspective held by some subsystem of an agent which is involved in producing the agent’s desires, just because I’m not sure that subsystems of agents are the sorts of things that can have perspectives. This might be a quibble. When a person’s reasoned course of action conflicts with her desires, there obviously does seem to be some sub-agential system bearing some interesting relationship to the course of action desired but not taken, or a mental representation of that course of action. It might be useful to spell out what is not quite “perspectival” about that relationship, though. I have more to say about this, but you don’t need to read it.
Over at Possibly Philosophy, Andrew Bacon weighs in on Counterexamples to Modus Ponens. I’m not sure I understand why he thinks that a syntactic characterization of modus ponens won’t work, and I don’t understand accessibility (between possible worlds) well enough to follow the rest of the argument. The McGee counterexample is super-interesting, though, and deserves attention from those of you out there with more logical competence than your humble host.
Thom Brooks of The Brooks Blog lets us in on his Five Secrets to Publishing Success, published on InsideHigherEd.com. Helpful to those looking for, well, publishing success.
Richard Chappell offers a brief but convincing discussion of Fair Shares and Others’ Responsibilities. He argues that, in the interest of fairness, we should pick up the slack for others’ moral failings. I think I agree, although I do not live up to the conclusion in my own life. Also, it’s not clear to me how well this sits with Richard’s views on the “demandingness objection” and the permissibility of living a basically decent life expressed here.
Bryan Norwood presents some objections to epistemological internalism, with an alternative, in Internalist Justification vs. Virtuoso Expertise. There is a lot I don’t understand here – the distinction between subjective and objective blame, the relationships between foundationalism and this distinction, and the relation between internalism and K = JTB. Still, I think there are some good ideas about epistemic blameworthiness brewing here.
Chris Hallq discusses Gettier and the purpose of analyzing “knowledge” in The case against Gettier. Some of the literature on what knowledge is for – the relation between knowledge and assertion, or knowledge and the attribution of other factive mental states – could help here. Still, the basic point, that philosophers interested in a concept need to keep the distinctive intended uses of the concept, is worth reiterating.
Lastly, Gualtiero Piccinini disambiguates “connectionism” for us, and spells out some of the morals of the disambiguation in The Ambiguity of "Connectionism". I was taught that connectionism is the view that the brain does most everything using Parallel Distributed Processing, but these other senses of “connectionism” are useful to distinguish as well.
That wraps up this edition of the Philosophers’ Carnival. If you’re still jonesing for more philosophy after all that, I invite you to check out some of the posts here on Think It Over. And, as always, keep your eye out for the next edition upcoming at Kenny Pearce’s blog.