January 20, 2009

Topics of Thought for This Quarter

Although I only very rarely post life updates to this blog, it is my custom here to list the subjects I am studying each term because it generally has some bearing on what interesting philosophy I will be blogging about.

This quarter I am taking courses on the following topics:

  • Early Modern Social Contract Theory. Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau. I am already considering a paper topic: grievances against the state. (A timely subject.) Hobbes seems to say that you can't sue a sovereign (whether sovereignty is held by an individual or a group) unless he/she/they intentionally set up a process for you to sue them, and even then he/she/they can revoke that privilege at any time for any reason, or allow it to be completed and then disregard the court decision. Locke, on the other hand, says that you are still in the state of nature with respect to someone if there is no impartial arbiter to hear your grievance, so if you can't sue the state then you are in a state of nature with respect to the state, which means that the state's violation of your rights is an act of war and justifies armed resistance. I don't know what Rousseau says

  • Kant's Ethics. Philosophical readers of this blog will no doubt have noted that I have some pretty strong sympathies for Kantian ethics. I don't know how strong they are, because I don't know that much about Kantian ethics. Hopefully that will change by the end of the quarter.

  • Defending the Axioms. This is a course studying the question of what sorts of considerations are relevant in deciding which mathematical axioms to adopt, and how this question relates to issues in the metaphysics of mathematical objects.

I also hope to continue working on my Berkeley research, time permitting. Specifically, I am hoping to put together a paper expanding on my treatment of the metaphysics of material objects in "Can Berkeley's God Raise the Same Body, Transformed?" and combining it with an explanation of how this essentially phenomenalist reading of Berkeley can account for the Platonist language ('archetype' and 'ectype', etc.) Berkeley often uses.

Posted by Kenny at January 20, 2009 5:41 PM
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