September 27, 2005

The Right Way to Introduce Intelligent Design to Public Schools ...

is by teaching philosophy of science. Metaphysics and philosophy of science, no matter what anyone says, are "ontically prior" to experimental science. What that means is that you must have at least a working philosophy of science (with some difficult conceptual work it is possible to abstract away the metaphysics in most cases) in order to interpret the results of observations and experiments. Remember that "scientific method" thing you learned in high school (or, hopefully, middle school)? Scientists hold to a philosophical - not scientific - theory states that that method works. The details of this philosophical position will determine...
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September 21, 2005

The Establishment Clause, The Vatican, and Diplomatic Immunity

I apologize for not having posted recently. I have been very busy reading Plato's Politicus in Greek at an absurd rate, and various other less time consuming classwork. Here I make time for a brief note regarding this article from today's New York Times discussing a lawsuit which names Pope Benedict XVI as a defendant in a conspiracy to cover up a sex abuse case. ... This, however, is old news. What is interesting about this case is the controversy regarding the "Holy See" (i.e. the Vatican) as a sovereign state, while at the same time a church. This makes for very complicated questions as to what constitutes exercises in foreign policy versus what violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment ...
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September 12, 2005

Whitman County Special Election

Whitman County, Washington is holding a special election, coinciding with the September 20 primary election (which doesn't seem to have any measures or candidates on it this year) to approve a "budgetary emergency" measure to levy an additional .1% sales tax for the funding of jails and juvenile detention facilitties. I had some trouble finding information on the proposition, so let me point you to item 064927 (it reads 063927 at one point - apparently a typographical error) of the Whitman Country Commissioners' meeting minutes of last August 1, available online here. The county's total budget is available as item...
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Topic(s): Politics
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September 10, 2005

Tierney: Corruption and Pork-Barrelling Worsened Katrina Disaster

In today's New York Times, columnist John Tierney argues that Democrats' attempts to blame Republicans for better preparations for flooding not being made in New Orleans are dishonest, and, in fact, all of Congress is to blame as corruption, pork-barrelling, waste, and partisan politics obstructed the goals of FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers. For years, Tierney says, money has been being diverted to senators' pet projects in order to bring revenue to their constituencies, instead of being used where it is most needed. Furthermore, Democrats like Clinton and Lieberman who are now pushing for a more independent FEMA...
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Topic(s): Politics
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September 9, 2005

Washington Initiative 872 Unconstitutional?!

So I got a ballot today for a county special election, and was looking on the web for more information about the proposition when I made a shocking discovery: On July 15, 2005, Washington initiative 872 was declared unconstitutional in federal court! What does this mean? Let me tell you...
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September 6, 2005

Using Classical Greek Resources to Study the New Testament

A post on the Logos Bible Software Blog (HT: Better Bibles Blog) recently argues for the use of classical Greek resources, specifically the LSJ lexicon, in the study of the New Testament. As I have said before, I am personally of the opinion that this is critically important if we are to properly understand the NT, and especially if we seek to emancipate ourselves (as far as it is possible) from theological bias in NT studies....
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Topic(s): Bible
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"I'm human. Really, I am!"

It seems that Jason Striegel (HT: slashdot) has fallen into an existential quandary after repeatedly failing the Turing Test in AIM conversations. The Turing test, named for mathematician and proto-computer scientist Dr. Alan Turing, refers to the experiment of interacting with an individual and attempting to determine whether that individual is a human or a computer. Many years of research have gone into the attempt to create artificial intelligences that pass the Turing test, but never before have I heard of a human who failed it. Poor guy. Even Eliza, a psycho-analyst program which was probably the first artificial intelligence...
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Topic(s): Technology
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September 3, 2005

Experimental Philosophy?

The Chronicle of Higher Education is reporting on one Dr. Joshua Knobe, professor of philosophy at UNC Chapel Hill, who has published 18 papers, primarily in the field of ethics (and moral psychology) using a method of "experimental philosophy" which he has apparently devised or helped devise. Basically, Mr. Knobe observed that philosophers, especially ethicists, constantly talk about "our intuitions" and their arguments often rely on this. Furthermore, much of analytic philosophy, methodologically, begins with questions of the form "what do we mean when we say..." Based on this, Mr. Knobe decided to attempt to devise survey questions to determine...
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Topic(s): Philosophy
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