Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
Capable psychonauts who think about thinking, about states of mind, about set and setting, can get things done not because they have more will power, more drive, but because they know productivity is a game of cat and mouse versus a childish primal human predilection for pleasure and novelty which can never be excised from the soul. Your effort is better spent outsmarting yourself than making empty promises through plugging dates into a calendar or setting deadlines for push ups.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
Monday, October 18, 2010
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Thursday, September 02, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
The philosophy of science has an illustrious history of attraction and antipathy towards metaphysics. The latter was famously exemplified in the Logical Positivist contention that metaphysical questions are meaningless, but in the wake of the demise of Positivism, metaphysics has found its way back into the philosophy of science. Increasingly, questions about the nature of natural laws, kinds, dispositions, and so on have taken a metaphysical cast. The metaphysics of science commands significant attention in contemporary philosophy.
The closest the committee comes to a policy recommendation is to point out the magnitude of the challenge. "Emissions reductions larger than about 80%, relative to whatever peak global emissions rate may be reached, are required to approximately stabilize carbon dioxide concentrations," it observes.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
The safe surgery checklist that Gawande helped develop instructs the entire [surgery] team to introduce themselves by name and role and to discuss the unusual aspects of the case and potential problems. The checklist distributes power, so that a nurse reading a checklist acquires the authority, as a member of of the team, to stop the surgeon from omitting a critical step or making a stupid mistake.
Monday, August 09, 2010
Friday, August 06, 2010
Wednesday, August 04, 2010
"[O]utright sexism is no longer the main barrier to gender equality. The main barrier is the harsh price most workers pay for pursuing anything other than the old-fashioned career path."
"Last year, 40.2 percent of married women with children under 3 years old were outside the labor force, up from a low of 38.6 percent in 1998. The increase, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics analysis, “occurred across all educational levels and, for most groups, by about the same magnitude.” By contrast, women without children at home have continued to join the work force in growing numbers."
"The best hope for making progress against today’s gender inequality probably involves some combination of legal and cultural changes, which happens to be the same combination that beat back the old sexism. We’ll have to get beyond the Mommy Wars and instead create rewarding career paths even for parents — fathers, too — who take months or years off. We’ll have to get more creative about part-time and flexible work, too."
The radio program Philosophy Talks has podcasts (to stream for free and to purchase for downloads) to help pass the time and keep sharp during the summer. I've taken them on long runs...but that's just me--I don't run fast enough to need a strong beat to keep me going!
Monday, August 02, 2010
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
The biggest divergences in moral opinion concerned our question about "regularly eating the meat of mammals such as beef and pork". 60% of ethics professor respondents rated mammal-meat consumption as morally bad, compared to 45% of non-ethicist philosophers and just 19% of non-philosophers. Opinion also divided by gender and age. Women were about 1.5 times as likely to condemn mammal-meat consumption (55% of women rated it bad vs. 37% of men). There was a similar shift of opinion with age: 55% of respondents born in 1960 or later condemned mammal-meat consumption, compared to 35% born before 1960. One might expect a compound effect for young female philosophers, and indeed it was so: Fully 81% of female philosophers born in 1960 or later said it was morally bad to regularly eat the meat of mammals. To put this degree of consensus in perspective: In last year's PhilPapers survey of philosophical opinion, only 82% of philosophers endorsed non-skeptical realism about the existence of an external world. (No word, so far, on how philosophers who deny the existence of an external world feel about seeming to consume meat.)
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
BP has been accused of “buying” the silence of some of the world’s leading scientists and academics to help build its legal defence against litigation after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Friday, July 23, 2010
What you want for it you’d want
for a child: that she take hold;
that her roots find home in stony
winter soil; that she take seasons
in stride, seasons that shape and
reshape her; that like a dancer’s,
her limbs grow pliant, graceful
and surprising; that she know,
in her branchings, to seek balance;
that she know when to flower, when
to wait for the returns; that she turn
to a giving sun; that she know
fruit as it ripens; that what’s lost
to her will be replaced; that early
summer afternoons, a full blossoming
tree, she cast lacy shadows; that change
not frighten her.
Perhaps the deepest value of poetry for scientists is its articulation of the feelings that scientists themselves harbor for what they study—passion, deep curiosity, and a sense of stewardship."
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Lisa Gannett, “The biological reiﬁcation of race,” British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55 (2004): 323 – 345.
Inma de Melo Martin, “Genetic research and reduction of health disparities,” New Genetics and Society 27 (March 2008): 57 – 68.
In a course called "Physics and Metaphysics":
Helen Beebee, “The Non-Governing Conception of Laws of Nature, " Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 61 (2000): 571-594.
Susan Schneider, "What Is the Significance of the Intuition that Laws Govern?" Australasian Journal of Philosophy 85 (2007): 307-324. (This is a response to Beebee.)
In a course on philosophy of science, with an emphasis on the issue of pluralism:
Nancy Cartwright, “Fundamentalism vs. the Patchwork of Laws,” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 94 (1994): 279-292.
Lorraine Daston, “Objectivity and the Escape from Perspective,” Social Studies of Science22 (1992): 597-618.
Susan Haack, “Trial and error: The Supreme Court’s Philosophy of Science,” American Journal of Public Health 95 (2005): S66-S73.
Elisabeth A. Lloyd, “Feyerabend, Mill, and Pluralism,” Philosophy of Science 64 (1997): S396-S407.
Wendy S. Parker, "Understanding Pluralism in Climate Modeling," Foundations of Science 11 (2006): 349-368.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
- Commercialism. This more than anything else. To take an example.
- Violence. I take the "no weapons" rule at the daycare for granted--so why is it that other same-age friends can't seem to do imaginative play without guns and swords?
- Gender. There was a proposal that one of the weekly themes at my child's preschool be "Kings and Queens." I asked a teacher what, exactly, the educational content of that would be, other than how boys dress and how girls dress. But aside from such obvious gendering, I have constant questions about raising a gender-happy and feminist boy that I don't know the answers to. Here's a promise to post some when they come up.
- Discipline. When is it OK to let a child run wild, to allow a scene to happen, to just indulge, etc? My feminist response is that this should depend on the needs of the moment, but in reality how I discipline has a lot to do with who I think will observe it and what their expectations are.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Friday, July 09, 2010
Thursday, July 08, 2010
Goethe was interested in colors as an immediate human experience, and Newton was interested in color as an abstract physical phenomenon. On an experimental, material basis one must side with Newton's conclusions. But Goethe's view speaks to the immediacy of human experience. ...Goethe was part of the romantic reaction to classical mechanics and modern science--a reaction that continues to this day. This confrontation between Goethe and Newton revealed a modern humanist critique of science that the abstract explanations of science deny the vital core of human experience. The quantum theory and the sciences that emerged from it are prime examples of such abstract explanations.Science does not deny the reality of our immediate experience of the world; it begins there. But it does not remain there, because the basis for comprehending our experience is not given with sensual experience. Science shows us that supporting the world of sensual experience there is a conceptual order, a cosmic code which can be discovered by experiment and known by the human mind. The unity of our experience, like the unity of science, is conceptual, not sensual. That is the difference between Newton and Goethe--Newton sought universal concepts in the form of physical laws, while Goethe looked for the unity of nature in immediate experience.Science is a response to the demand that our experience places upon us, and what we are given in return by science is a new human experience--seeing with our mind the internal logic of the cosmos.
Wednesday, July 07, 2010
Space, and events associated with places and spaces, are represented in the brain by a circuitry made of place cells, head directions cells, grid cells, and border cells. These cell types form a collective dynamic representation of our position as we move through the environment. How this representation is formed has remained a mystery. Is it acquired, or are we born with the ability to represent external space? [Articles by Langston et al. and Wills et al.] investigated the early development of spatial activity in the hippocampal formation and the entorhinal cortex of rat pups... A neural representation of external space at this early time points to strong innate components for perception of space. These findings provide experimental support for Kant's 200-year-old concept of space as an a priori faculty of the mind.
- Would a developmental pathway that is triggered early in a child's experience of the external world, and which is followed in a similar or identical way in all normal people fail to confirm the concept of space as a necessary faculty of the mind?
- Does this mean that the 1st Critique was referring, all along, to rat minds?
- Does an a priori concept become stronger with experimental support?
Friday, July 02, 2010
Stanley Fish: Deep in the Heart of Texas
By STANLEY FISH
Assessing teaching performance through student evaluations is still a terrible idea, and Texas is leading the way.
Stanley Fish: Student Evaluations, Part Two
By STANLEY FISH
Further discussion, with readers taking part, on the pros and (mostly) cons of students' evaluations of teachers.
[One] proposal is to shift funding to the student-customers by giving them vouchers. “Instead of direct appropriations, every Texas high school graduate would get a set amount of state funds usable at any state university” (William Lutz, Lone Star Report, May 23, 2008). Once this gets going (and Texas A&M is already pushing it), you can expect professors to advertise: “Come to my college, sign up for my class, and I can guarantee you a fun-filled time and you won’t have to break a sweat.” If there ever was a recipe for non-risk-taking, entirely formulaic, dumbed-down teaching, this is it. One respondent to the June 13 story in The Eagle got it exactly right: “In the recent past, A&M announced that it wanted to be a top ten public university. Now it appears to be announcing it wants to be an investment firm, a pharmaceutical manufacturer, and a car dealership.”
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
To my mind, this is a more complicated situation than students picking up inadequate study skills or teachers just teaching to the tests. Students are often surprised that learning a subject requires learning a sequence of increasingly more sophisticated models, or increasingly more sophisticated analytical techniques or methods of approximation, or what have you. Learning the next chunk of knowledge in the line is not just a matter of adding more on, but also of recognizing the problems with the chunk of knowledge you learned before. This is a surprise to many students...
One conclusion of this study, that student evaluations of faculty performance don't indicate that the students have learned all that we want them to, is no surprise at all. This is part of why institutions that care about teaching hardly ever rely on student evaluations of teaching as the only source of data to evaluate faculty teaching. (At my university, for example, there is regular peer reviewing of teaching, and these peer reviews are important in retention, tenure, and promotion decisions.)
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Most of the time, the life of a female philosopher at a philosophy conference is the same as a male philosopher’s. Schmoozing, rehashing the last talk over coffee, last-minute work on your paper.
So, how can you tell that you’re a female philosopher at a conference?
1. At the Eastern APA, do you get on the elevator and realize the other philosophers are silently staring at your chest?
2. When discussing your talk with the commentator before your presentation, does a friend of the commentator walk up ask you “Who are you here with?”, meaning “Which male participant are you an appendage of?”
Sunday, May 30, 2010
It's an article of faith among science policymakers that interdisciplinary research is essential to address society's most pressing technological challenges, from energy independence to improved health care. But don't ask them to measure it. The National Academies' upcoming assessment of doctoral research programs, for example, asked departments what percentage of their faculty members were associated with other programs. But the data "aren't very satisfactory," says Charlotte Kuh, study director. Part of the problem is the fuzzy definition of an interdisciplinary program, she adds.
NSF officials say the survey doesn't address the larger question of how difficult or easy it is for students to pursue interdisciplinary degrees, nor the extent to which senior faculty engage in interdisciplinary research themselves. An ongoing NSF survey of academic research piloted a question about how much is being spent on such activities, and where on campus the research takes place. But that proved to be a tough question for research administrators to answer, says one program manager, and the results may not be usable.
Monday, May 24, 2010
More than 120 rangers have been killed in recent years for trying to stop the trade in exotic animals, gold, and charcoal from the park.