December 29, 2008

Philosophers' Carnival 84

The 84th Philosophers' Carnival is up - in verse! I have my own stanza...
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December 24, 2008

Valicella on Private and Public Morality

Bill Valicella of The Maverick Philosopher has an interesting discussion on the distinction between private and public morality. Valicella supposes that there is an inherent tension between any Socratic, Platonic, or Christian ethics and the requirements of a stable state. A couple years ago, in my post on rights, obligations, and abortion (which continues to be one of the most popular posts on this blog) I argued that there was no inherent contradiction, or even tension, between the idea that I have a libertarian right to retaliate for an offense against me, but an obligation of private morality not to exercise that right...
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December 22, 2008

MovableType Upgrade

I have just upgraded to MovableType version 4. Please report any problems you experience. This should allow me to fix ongoing difficulties with comments and trackbacks. In particular, I should be able to turn off all of my spam filtering stuff and rely on CAPTCHA. I haven't played with the settings yet, so if nothing has broken it will be pretty much the same as before, but a number of improvements will hopefully be coming in the near future. Update (3:05 PM): I am aware that comments are currently not working. All commenters receive a message that says the comment...
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Cartesian Demon Skepticism as 'Adversarial Epistemology'

In one of my computer science classes in undergrad, we discussed a particular way of thinking about the efficiency of an algorithm, which the professor called 'adversarial upper bounds'. The idea was to suppose that someone knows the 'guts' of your algorithm - exactly how it works - and that person is trying to make your algorithm take as many steps to complete as possible. The upshot was that sometimes with this kind of system inserting some randomness will give you a better expectation value. For instance, suppose I am trying to find a route (just any route) from A...
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December 19, 2008

Legislation and Regulation in the Libertarian State

A little while back, I argued that the current crisis was not, by any means, the end of libertarianism, and that anyone who says so misunderstands libertarianism both in terms of its practical consequences and in terms of its theoretical basis. What I mean by this is, in the first case, that libertarianism doesn't condone the policies that led to the current crisis and, in the second case, that libertarianism is a deontological theory of political morality, not a theory of political 'utility'. That last claim perhaps needs a translation for non-philosophers...
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December 13, 2008

Philosophers' Carnival 83

I apologize for being late on this (as usual), but Philosophers' Carnival 83 is now up at The Uncredible Hallq with a link to my post, What Is Composition? Chris, the carnival host, laments the fact that, unlike Michael Drake, I do not have a part 2. I do, however, hope to continue my discussion of composition (or perhaps post my paper) eventually, so stay tuned!...
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December 4, 2008

The Reason for Berkeley's Anti-Abstractionism

In my post, Does Philosophy 'Trickle Down', I noted that "Berkeley thinks he has discovered two philosophical doctrines which are indeed 'the Chief Causes of Error and Difficulty in the Sciences' and also 'the Grounds of Scepticism, Atheism, and Irreligion.' These are the epistemic/linguistic doctrine of abstraction, and the metaphysical doctrine of corporeal substance." In this post I want to examine how the doctrine of abstract ideas is supposed, according to Berkeley, to lead to "Error and Difficulty in the Sciences ... [and] ... Scepticism, Atheism, and Irreligion."...
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