March 29, 2009

Moving to USC

Today I accepted an offer of admission (with funding) from the University of Southern California School of Philosophy. As those who have been following this blog for a while know, USC was one of my top choices last year. I was encouraged to reapply by one of the professors there after very nearly making the cut last year. In addition to being very strong in my areas of interest and having an excellent placement record, USC will massively decrease my commute, offered me better funding, and will mean no longer depending on the unpredictable California state budget. All of these are good...
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I Exist!

Berkeley famously said that "to be is to be perceived." Quine's maxim was "to be is to be the value of a variable." We, however, know the truth: to be is to be a search result in Philosophers' Index...
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March 23, 2009

Philosophers' Carnival 88

Welcome to the 88th Philosophers' Carnival! The Philosophers' Carnival is a regular round-up of some of the best philosophy blog posts on the web. Each carnival receives a great many submissions, and it is therefore necessary for hosts to be selective. The posts that have been selected represent, in my very subjective opinion, the best of the submissions (in no particular order)...
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March 22, 2009

Kant's Argument for Monogamy

In my previous post on The Problem of Sex in Kant's Ethics, I ended with Kant's argument for monogamy, on which I declined to offer any commentary. I am going to offer a brief reconstruction here (go back to the previous post for the original text).

The argument can be understood as follows:
  1. Sex involves the use of the other's 'sexual attribute' as a means
  2. It is impermissible (contrary to right) to use what one has no right to
  3. One cannot have a right to the sexual attribute of another without having a right to the whole person...

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March 19, 2009

(Self-)Quote of the Day: A Controversial Claim for Your Consideration

Hobbes's normative theory implicitly commits him to the belief that a constitutionally limited government of the sort that would later be described by John Locke would be a paradise if only it could be achieved and maintained.
    - Kenneth L. Pearce, "Deposing Leviathan: Hobbes and Locke on Grievances Against the State" (working draft)
This is the last sentence of a paper that I just finished my first draft of. (I'm running a little late - it's due tomorrow evening!) As I'm editing, I'll be taking a closer look to try to see whether I've really established a claim this strong...
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March 18, 2009

Hobbes, Locke, and Grievances Against the State

It is a fact of life that people frequently come into conflict in various ways: conflicts both about whether a certain action took place, and about whether that sort of action is acceptable. Thomas Hobbes calls the first of these "a question Of Fact" and the second "a question Of Right" (Leviathan ch. 15). Both Hobbes, the notorious proponent of absolute sovereignty, and John Locke, the great proponent of limited government (can you tell whose side I'm on?), agree that one of the chief reasons for forming governments is to prevent these disputes from leading to violence...
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March 6, 2009

Moral Wrongs and Civil Rights

The California Supreme Court heard oral arguments on challenges to Proposition 8 yesterday, and The New York Times seems to expect that, surprisingly, the court may rule more or less the way I want them to: that is, they are expected to rule that the state must extend all the same substantive rights to gay couples as to straight couples, but if the voters don't want to call them both by the same name they don't have to. The NYT article happened to note that there were some protesters outside the courtroom, and one of them was holding a sign that read...
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March 4, 2009

Quote of the Day: Kant Against the Objectification of Women

Kant has something of a reputation as a misogynist. This reputation is not entirely undeserved. However, in his 1775-1780 Lectures on Ethics, Kant gives voice to a line of reasoning which, at least in its general outline, will be familiar to most readers from certain strains of 20th century feminism: There is no way in which a human being can be made an Object of indulgence for another except through sexual impulse ... it is an appetite for another human being ... Because sexuality is not an inclination which one human being has for another as such, but is an...
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March 3, 2009

Philosophers' Carnival 87

Philosophers' Carnival 87 is now up at There Is Some Truth in That with a link to my "The Problem of Sex in Kant's Ethics". The 88th carnival will be held here at on Monday, March 23. The submission deadline will be Saturday, March 21.
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Dude, Where's My Teleology?

In introducing duties to the self considered as an animal being in the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant writes: There are impulses of nature having to do with man's animality. Through them, nature aims at (a) his self-preservation, (b) the preservation of the species, and (c) the preservation of his capacity to enjoy life, though still at the animal level only. - The vices that are here opposed to his duty to himself are murdering himself, the unnatural use of his sexual inclination, and such excessive consumption of food and drink as weakens his capacity for making purposive use of his...
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