I have been thinking about an analogy to the Bechdel test for philosophy papers - this in the light of recent observations that women get fewer citations even if they publish in the "top" general philosophy journals (see also here). To briefly recall: a movie passes the Bechdel test if (1) there are at least 2 women in it, (2) they talk to each other, (3) about something other than a man.
A paper passes the philosophy Bechdel test if
It cites at least two female authors
At least one of these citations engages seriously with a female author's work (not just "but see" [followed by a long list of citations])
At least one of the female authors is not cited because she discusses a man (thanks to David Chalmers for suggesting #3).
The usual cautionary notes about the Bechdel test apply here too. A paper that doesn't meet these standards is not necessarily deliberately overlooking women's work (it could be ultra-short, it might be on a highly specialized topic that has no female authors in the field - is this common?), but on the whole, it seems like a good rule of thumb to make sure women authors in one's field are not implicitly overlooked when citing.
The news has just been released that Rev. Fred Phelps, founder and lifelong shepherd of the Westboro Baptist Church (in Topeka, Kansas) has died at the age of 84. I find it difficult, I confess, to summon the normal human compassion that usually accompanies news of another's death in this case, largely because Phelps dedicated his life to broadcasting his rejection of-- not to mention enlisting others, including children, to stage carnival-like circuses around his rejection of-- what most people would consider even the most minimally-decent exhibitions of human compassion. Fred Phelps was one of the most infamous, outrageous, dishonorable and genuinely despicable hatemongers of my generation. And, what is more, Fred Phelps' hate was as ferocious and vicious as it was blind. Through the prism of his delusional and evangelical abhorrence, the Westboro congregants en masse considered themselves justified in casting an unjustifiably wide net of Judgment. Caught in that net were many: ranging from bona fide innocents against whom no reasonable person could or ought cast aspersions, like Matthew Shepard, to a whole host of other "collateral-damage" victims of Phelps' quasi-political positions who found themselves the inadvertent and inauspicious targets of his his flock's detestation.
I say again: I find it very, very difficult to summon the normal human compassion that ought to accompany the news of Fred Phelps' passing.
Nevertheless, these are the moments when our inclination toward Schadenfreude, however deeply affirming and deeply satisfactory indulging that sentiment may feel, ought to be on principle squelched.
I am currently supervising a student writing a paper on Wittgenstein’s notion of therapy as a metaphilosophical concept. The paper relies centrally on a very useful distinction discussed in N. Rescher’s 1985 book The Strife of Systems (though I do not know whether it was introduced there for the first time), namely the distinction between prescriptive vs. descriptive metaphilosophy (the topic of chap. 14 of the book).
The descriptive issue of how philosophy has been done is one of factual inquiry largely to be handled in terms of the history of the field. But the normative issue of how philosophy should be done – or significant questions, adequate solutions, and good arguments – is something very different. (Rescher 1985, 261)
Rescher goes on to argue that descriptive metaphilosophy is not part of philosophy at all; it is a branch of factual inquiry, namely the history of philosophy and perhaps its sociology. Prescriptive metaphilosophy, by contrast, is real philosophy: methodological claims on how philosophy should be done are themselves philosophical claims. (Full disclosure: I haven’t read the whole chapter, only what google books allows me to see…) Rescher’s position as described here seems to be quite widespread, encapsulating the ‘disdain’ with which not only descriptive metaphilosophy, but also the history of philosophy in general, is often viewed by ‘real philosophers’. And yet, this position seems to me to be fundamentally wrong (and this is also the claim that my student is defending in his paper).
(Notice that to discuss the status of descriptive metaphilosophy as philosophy, we need to go meta-metaphilosophical! It’s turtles all the way up, or down, depending on how you look at it.)
A recent interview in the Stone by Gary Gutting of Alvin Plantinga gave rise to expected criticisms, for instance by Massimo Pigliucci. The wide media exposure of Plantinga puts him forward as somehow representative of what Christian philosophers believe, and if his reasoning is not sound then, as Pigliucci puts it “theology is in big trouble”.
For Plantinga, as is well known and again iterated in this interview, the properly functioning sensus divinitatis is sufficient for belief in God, and one need not have any explicit arguments at all for God’s existence. Nevertheless, Plantinga does say that the “whole bunch taken together” of such arguments are “as strong as philosophical arguments ordinarily get”. In a brief digression to the problem of evil, Plantinga does not even fully acknowledge it as a problem (calling it the “so-called problem of evil”), although he acknowledges there is some strength to it. The problem is then quickly solved with a Fall theodicy, where God mends the abuse of freedom of his creatures through the horrible and humiliating death of his Son, which Plantinga thinks is a “magnificent possible world”.
Overall, I found the tone of this interview somewhat placid. Eleonore Stump has termed this sort of approach toward evil "the Hobbit attitude to evil" (note and update: to clarify, she does not refer to Plantinga's work in the essay, the interpretation is mine). She writes: “Some people glance into the mirror of evil and quickly look away. They take note, shake their heads sadly, and go about their business. ... Tolkien's hobbits are people like this. There is health and strength in their ability to forget the evil they have seen. Their good cheer makes them robust.” — In fairness, Plantinga did write defenses to account for the problem of evil, but in my view, he does not take it seriously enough. Eleonore Stump does not share Plantinga’s reasons for being a religious believer, nor do other philosophers of religion who have spoken out in Morris' and Kelly Clark’s collections of spiritual autobiographies of philosophers who believe. So why do Christian philosophers of religion believe that something like Christian theism is true?
I have a PhD student working on justification in epistemology. He just got started a few months ago, so for now we are sort of ‘sniffing around’ before we define a more precise focus. (He wrote his Master’s thesis on John Norton and the justification of induction.) Now, by a nice twist of fate, last week I received a Google Scholar citation alert which put us on a very promising track: Rawls’ notion of justification. (My book Formal Languages in Logic was cited in this Pitt dissertation, in the same section where there is a discussion of Rawls on justification. The dissertation, by Thomas V. Cunningham, looks very interesting by the way.)
Here is the crucial passage as quoted in the dissertation:
Justification is argument addressed to those who disagree with us, or to ourselves when we are of two minds. It presumes a clash of views between persons or within one person, and seeks to convince others, or ourselves, of the reasonableness of the principles upon which our claims and judgments are founded … justification proceeds from what all parties to the discussion hold in common … thus, mere proof is not justification … proofs become justification once the starting points are mutually recognized, or the conclusions so comprehensive and compelling as to persuade us of the soundness of the conception expressed by their premises…[C]onsensus…is the nature of justification. (Rawls, A Theory of Justice (1999 ed.), 508-509).
In my regular visits to Munich as an external member of the MCMP, a frequent item on my program is meeting with Peter Adamson, of ‘History of Philosophy without any Gaps’ fame, to talk about, well, the history of philosophy (there are still gaps to be filled!). So last week, after another lovely 2-hour session that felt like 10 minutes, Peter told me about a chapter of Julian Barnes’ AHistory of the World in 10 ½ Chapters, where everyone goes to heaven and gets to do whatever they want for however long they want. After some years of pleasurable life, almost everyone then gives up and wants to die ‘for real’, but a particular group of people is remarkably resilient: the philosophers, who are happy to go on discussing with each other for decades and decades. They are the ones who last the longest in heaven. (I haven’t read the book yet, but coincidentally I was reading another one of Barnes’ books.)
Coincidence or not, a day later I came across an article by Nigel Warburton, of ‘Philosophy Bites’ fame, on how philosophy is above all about conversation. (Those podcasters like their talking alright.) The article points out that, while the image of the philosopher as the lone thinker, associated with Descartes, Boethius, and Wittgenstein, is still influential, it is simply a very partial, if not entirely wrong, picture of philosophical practice. Warburton relies on John Stuart Mill to emphasize the importance of conversation and dissent for philosophical inquiry:
Yet another interesting piece in the Guardian on academia: Nobel-prize winner (in medicine) Randy Schekman declares he will no longer submit papers to ‘luxury’ journals such as Nature, Science and Cell. His main argument:
These journals aggressively curate their brands, in ways more conducive to selling subscriptions than to stimulating the most important research. Like fashion designers who create limited-edition handbags or suits, they know scarcity stokes demand, so they artificially restrict the number of papers they accept. The exclusive brands are then marketed with a gimmick called "impact factor" – a score for each journal, measuring the number of times its papers are cited by subsequent research. Better papers, the theory goes, are cited more often, so better journals boast higher scores. Yet it is a deeply flawed measure, pursuing which has become an end in itself – and is as damaging to science as the bonus culture is to banking.
This is my first foray into newAPPS waters-- and I thank the newAPPS coterie for the invitation!-- so I thought I’d start by tossing out a fairly straightforward philosophical claim: Tolerance is not a virtue.
When I say that tolerance is not a virtue, to be clear, I don’t mean to imply that tolerance is a vice. No reasonable moral agent, certainly no moral philosopher worth his or her salt, would concede that. Rather, I only want to point out that “being tolerant” requires at most little if not nothing more than refraining from being vicious. Not only is it the case that we don’t define any other virtue in this explicitly negative way, but we also don't generally ascribe any particular kind of moral credit to persons who are merely refraining from being vicious.
This week, we’ve had a new round of discussions on the ‘combative’ nature of philosophy as currently practiced and its implications, prompted by a remark in a column by Jonathan Wolff on the scarcity of women in the profession. (Recall the last wave of such discussions, then prompted by Rebecca Kukla’s 3AM interview.) Brian Leiter retorted that there’s nothing wrong with combativeness in philosophy (“Insofar as truth is at stake, combat seems the right posture!”). Chris Bertram in turn remarked that this is the case only if “there’s some good reason to believe that combat leads to truth more reliably than some alternative, more co-operative approach”, which he (apparently) does not think there is. Our own John Protevi pointed out the possible effects of individualized grading for the establishment of a competitive culture.
As I argued in a previous post on the topic some months ago, I am of the opinion that adversariality can have a productive, positive effect for philosophical inquiry, but not just any adversariality/combativeness. (In that post, I placed the discussion against the background of gender considerations; I will not do so here, even though there are obvious gender-related implications to be explored.) In fact, what I defend is a form of adversariality which combines adversariality/opposition with a form of cooperation.
Whatever Schubert intended with this request, I cannot imagine a greater compliment from one composer to another.
Let's leave aside, those professional philosophers for whom philosophy is primarily a job or an interesting diversion from which one can 'retire.' Let's imagine, rather, those ('the infected philosophers') for whom philosophy is a necessity. Such an infected philosopher would keep at philosophy to the very end. Yet, on her deathbed, would she turn to a work by somebody else (e.g., as Hume did with Lucian), would she keep teaching (Socrates), would she, in fact, try to complete her last work(s), would she seek consolation, or would she ask to re-read or hear one of her own results/works?
In a recent post I introduced a distinction between two types of pragmatic functions corresponding to two
directions of fit with social norms. An invocative function was one whereby a
properly performed speech act contributed to the institution of a social norm -
say, giving a warranted order - and a reflective function - that asserts the
(prior) existence of norm. Here, I first mention two other independent
dimensions of variation and develop a single example that has been on my mind
It is familiar to categorize speech acts according to "direction of fit". Normal empirical assertions have word to (fit) world direction of fit, in that what you say is correct or incorrect insofar as the world is as you say. If the world isn't, then you are wrong. On the other hand, a claim like "it ought to be the case that P" has world to (fit) word direction of fit. If the world isn't as described - P is false - then the purport of the sentence is that the world is wrong.
In this note, I suggest an emendation of this schematic framework that I think is fruitful for understanding the complex function of a wide range of speech act types.
But then this "as if" proposition raises the question, psychoanalytically speaking, of latent content...He ends up rather where some began, resting the notion of analyticity on the notion of possible worlds. His contentment with this disposition of the analyticity problem makes one wonder, after all, how it could have been much of a motive for his study of convention.--Quine, "Foreword" to David Lewis Convention.
A few weeks ago I posted about boy-wonders. (Recall I tried to give it a fairly precise characterization.) While various institutional features of the phenomenon were discussed in my post and subequent discussion, the psycho-dynamic dimension was largely ignored. (Part of me suspects that's because these days it is thought very bad form to explain behavior with even a mere allusion to Freud among Anglophone philosophers.) But as it happens I was mulling Quine's curious foreword (partially quoted above) on the same day as I read the following unrelated book-review:
The relation between a literary father and a literary heir is always one of mutual idealization. Similar cross-idealizations of éminence terrible and enfant gris
occur in other fields and in both sexes. The most common variety seems
to be prompted by a young person’s wish to find a mentor, a word that
points directly to the fantasy behind the wish. In the Odyssey,
the Ithacan elder Mentor is not a mentor at all; the protective guide
who takes Telemakhos in hand is Athena disguised as Mentor, a divinity
filling a role that no ordinary mortal could manage.
Not all celebrated writers attract idealizing literary children.
Those who do seem to have an unusually sharp divide between their public
image and their private self...
What the literary father seems to find in an
ideal son is an image of his younger self as it might have been without
its weakness and doubt....What the literary son seems to
find in an ideal father is an image of what he might become if he could
overturn the barriers left inside him by his real father. Each hopes to
find in the other a relief from anxiety that no idealizing fantasy can
give.---Edward Mendelson, The New York Review of Books (reviewing Greg Bellow's Saul Bellow's Heart: A Son's Memoir. [Sadly no mention of Fenelon (neither does English Wikipedia entry on mentor, although the Dutch version does--ES.)]
reviewing Kieran Healy's citation data, and it reminds me again how weird
journal acceptance is. My book *Knowledge and Practical Interests* is the fifth
most cited work of philosophy since 2000 in Phil
Review, Mind, Nous, and the Journal of Philosophy (book or article).
Yet the book itself is the result of three revise and resubmits, and finally a
rejection from Phil Review. One of
those drafts was also rejected from Mind,
and also from Nous. All of those
journals have accepted papers discussing, in many cases very centrally, a work
those very journals have deemed unpublishable.
It is a familiar issue: the extent to
which peer reviewing really does track quality. As has been noted before in discussions
prompted by Healy’s data, in terms of publication venues, we are a highly
conservative discipline, one where publishing in the ‘Healy Four’ – Phil Review, Mind, Nous, the Journal of Philosophy – is often viewed
as the ultimate goal to be pursued. The assumption seems to be that publishing
in these journals is a necessary and perhaps even sufficient condition for
philosophical excellence. However, at least two of them have notoriously
problematic refereeing practices (though it seems that efforts were made on
that front); those that do have a reputation of fair refereeing practices end
up overburdened and often need to call for a moratorium on submissions. All of
them end up with minuscule rates of acceptance, much lower than in some of the
top journals in other disciplines (such as Science
Now, reflection on this very small sample (add your favorite example in comments!) inclines me to delimit a certain genre of philosophically effective ridicule (as opposed to mere character assassination); this genre, relies on the magnification of a core philosophical commitment of the opponent and thereby render the whole project preposterous or laughable. I label this a 'Swiftian-Rabelaisian strategy.' Nietzsche's writings are littered with attempts at Swiftian-Rabelaisian strategy, although he often suggests that the contrasting strategy -- ridicule by way of minimization (e.g., Berkeley on minute philosophers) -- comes more naturally to him.
Of course, such a Swiftian-Rabelaisian strategy is compatible with the existence of effective arguments against the ridiculed opposition (as well as the existence of argumentative rejoinders). It is also compatible with holding a rather austere (what we may call, adopting a phrase from Derrida) 'ethics of writing'. Given the sample, I hasten to add that even if the meta-ethical-writing-principles were shared, the enacted norms of writing may differ widely. We should distinguish the Swiftian-Rabelaisian strategy from other forms of ridicule (which, say, rely on misrepresentation, incredulous stares, silencing techniques, etc.).
I conclude my preliminary analysis by way of a suggestion; in some possible world it ought to be possible to execute the Swiftian-Rabelaisian strategy under, as it were, the radar without, say, being funny. To give a hint of an example: when Locke takes on the stance of an 'under-labourer' he magnifies some privileged others (Boyle, Sydenham, Huygens Newton). Nobody would ever accuse Locke of being a funny writer, but it would be amusing if he were capable of an inside joke.
"Strauss' interpretation of Plato is wrong from beginning to end." M.F. Burnyeat.
Although we philosophers are thought of as a cerebral bunch, our loathings can be pretty intense. I need not mention the hundred-year, fraternal civil war, which around here we label a 'divide,' between analytic and continental philosophy; we are not known for our fondness for what passes as 'theory' among literature and cultural studies departments (and I have experienced plenty of uncivil behavior from folk in, say, science studies in return). But when professional philosophers are not just puzzled by the Straussians they encounter, we reserve a special kind of bile and invective against them, especially as Strauss's students found their ways into advising Goldwater and Reagan (and beyond); once I was halted in my invective against Wolfowitz by (The University of Chicago's) Ralph Lerner's, 'Paul once sat in that chair, and was no less passionate than you.' Undoubtedly a few of us were at least mildly irritated by reading Steven Smith's very respectful review of books on the legacy of Strauss in a recent New York Times Book Review--"doesn't he know that 'Strauss is not a Philosopher!'"?
In his famous essay, Burnyeat (a former teacher) overreached. Invoking "ordinary scholarship," Burnyeat treats Plato (surprisingly Popperian) as a "radical utopian," primarily relevant for opening up "a reasoned debate on the nature and practicality of a just society" (emphasis in Burnyeat). Given that Burnyeat was in no sense an ordinary scholar, who also searchingly pioneered the historiographical construction of the classics, these lines are painful read; Burnyeat reduces the significance of Plato's political philosophy to being a forerunner of Rawls. Those of us living in the shadow of the surveillance state may find Strauss' "anti-Utopian teaching" ("invented" or not) about Plato a useful touch-stone, sometimes. For in Republic and Laws surveillance are ever-present and its limits thematized. The cause of Burnyeat's overreach is that Plato's Laws has always been a blind-spot to him (and until recently ordinary analytic scholarship).
At some level, Burnyeat must have known he overreached, because he allowed the original and reprinted version of the piece to have a clear reference to a famous short story by Oscar Wilde, -- which may be read as an allegory on philosophical madness [Murchison is introduced as a truth-teller] ! -- that ends with that enigmatic "I wonder."
Different institutions are participating in this project, they already are part of the project: Various professors and students from the Humboldt University in Berlin, Eindhoven University of Technology, Radboud University Nijmegen, Utrecht University, University of Bern, Georg Simmel Centre for Metropolitan Studies, University of Luxembourg... and many more. [Emphasis in original--ES.]
Almost no names are mentioned except a certain "Sandra A.V. Vos", who seems hard to track down to a particular philosophy program; it seems a bit...opportunistic.
The following three sub-fields are highly specialized: Ancient philosophy, seventeenth/eighteenth century philosophy, and philosophy of physics. The following sub-fields have a low level of specialization: metaphilosophy, philosophy of religion, philosophy of probability, philosophy of the social sciences, decision theory, and philosophy of race and gender. Highly specialized sub-fields tend to require extensive knowledge in some area beyond the typical training of a philosopher, and outside of philosophy proper.--Brad Wray.
Brad Wray, a Kuhnian-naturalistic philosopher of science, has mined the PhilPapers data with an eye toward "the degree of specialization in each area of specialization" in the discipline. (Wray is a bit too confident that this is a "representative sample of the profession;" I worry about selection and, especially, geographical effects; even so the numbers are pretty large (3,226 people in total and 1,803 'philosophy faculty or PhD') so that the results can be illuminating if used with caution.)
Wray: "The degree of specialization of an area is a relative measure of how specialized a particular area is" and is calculated as follows: "The number of people who claim the area as their primary area of specialization/The number of people who claim the area as an area of specialization." I have posted a chunk of the abstract, which contains the core results, in the epigraph above. One of Wray's finding would not have surprised Adam Smith: "an analysis of the data suggests that the size of a specialization is correlated with the degree of specialization."
Wray's crucial result (which seems to have been explored at the prompting of a referee) is this one: "a high degree of specialization is the exception, not the norm in philosophical specialties. Many specialties seem to depend, to a significant degree, on the involvement of many who work in the area but who do not identify the area as their primary area of specialization." Of course, this says nothing about the way in which specialists set the agenda with a specialization.
Either way, this data suggests that there are still quite a few generalists in philosophy (it is amusing to me that I work in a 'specialist' area because us 'early modernists' cover two hundred years of systematic philosophy with ongoing discussions pertaining to M&E, value, science, and increasingly philosophy of religion). The question as to what degree Wray's pattern is born out by publication and citation-data is worth exploring in the future.
This blog about Lost Causes in Statistics [HTGreg Gandenberger] made wonder if Lost Causes are really possible in Philosophy. A half a century ago The Principle of Sufficient Reason or Metaphysics generally might have seem such a cause; and that makes me hesitant to nominate one.
Can anybody suggest decisively (that is, forever) rejected, once-promising philosophical projects/positions?
I am inclined to suggest the naturalistic fallacy just to get conversation going.
Signed comments only (unless one writes me with an explanation for anonymity.)
"My one complaint with the volume is that several of the contributors seem to have recycled earlier work, rather than coming up with anything new. This issue is hardly particular to the present volume, of course, and in general editors and referees acting on behalf of presses should be doing more to ensure that contributors are offering genuinely new material to volumes that aren't anthologies of previously published work."--Aidan McGlynn.
I would add reviewers to McGlynn's list of folk that need to do more to ensure that "contributors are offering genuinely new material to volumes."
Anyway, the lines above are the conclusion of McGlynn's excellent review. It's never easy to review edited volumes, especially Festvolumes. But McGlynn manages to offer a nice balance of useful summary and critical commentary. Moreover, at various places the review manages to convey a personal appreciation of Crispin Wright and an insider's look behind the scences at the way Wright does philosophy:
"As for Wright's replies, their format allows them to capture something of his present modus operandi, which
involves collaborative engagement with a number of seemingly disparate
topics, looking for unexpected points of overlap between them. The
distinctiveness of this approach is often largely lost by the time its
outputs make it into print, but interestingly that hasn't happened here."
In comments, David Chalmers generously acknowledged that his famous (co-authored) paper ""The
Extended Mind" was rejected by J Phil, Phil Review, and Mind before it
was finally accepted by Analysis (three years later)." TEM was published in 1998. So, I decided to compare the editorial performance of the Chalmers top-3 with Analysis between 1995-8 as measured by citation impact fifteen years later. (I used Harzing's Publish and Perish--this includes google.scholar citations, so it captures a lot of citations.)
The Journal of Practical Ethics is a new open access (hurray!) journal hosted by the "Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics;" the Centre "was established in 2003
with the generous support of the Uehiro Foundation on Ethics and
Education of Japan." So generous, in fact, that "Authors and reviewers are offered an honorarium." (Wow!) Of course, our moral experts like to keep it clubby: it is "an invitation only, blind-peer-reviewed journal." That puts a different spin on its desire to "promote informed, rational debate, and is not tied to any one particular viewpoint." Subtext: we will reward our friends and approved opinions handsomely; prudent folk are encouraged to keep quiet. [HT Matt Lister, who raised the issue in comments at Crookedtimber.]
Friend-of-the-blog Rebecca Kukla is the latest 3:AM Magazine
interviewee. Alongside lots of interesting observations about her philosophical
work, she was asked to comment on the poor gender balance in professional
philosophy. Here is one of her (somewhat controversial) comments:
[L]et me go on record
as saying that I think that the whole idea that women are put off by or
unsuited to the aggressive, argumentative style of philosophy is crap.
Discursive intensity and tenacity, a high premium on verbal sparring and
cleverness, and a fundamentally critical dialogical method have been central to
philosophy since its birth, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The fact is,
most people, regardless of gender, find that kind of discourse difficult,
overwhelming, and somewhat threatening; the Athenians didn’t crack out the
hemlock for no reason. This is why most people should not be philosophers, and
that’s just fine. A tiny number of women and men thrive on that kind of
engagement. I think the idea that women are disproportionately bad at it or put
off by it is based on anecdotes – anecdotes that are hopelessly distorted by
stereotypes and biases – and not on serious evidence.
"LIKE MOST English philosophers (Bradley being the great exception--corrupted no doubt by Hegel), Whitehead is a pluralist, as were Occam, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Bertrand Russell."--Charles Hartshorne, "Whitehead's Revolutionary Concept of Prehension."
I advocate that the first sentence of a journal article should have a straightforward thesis statement. Even so, I grant that this rule can be trumped by aesthetic considerations. Hartshorne's line is memorable, in part, because of the unlikely nature of this set of "English philosophers" and the uncommonly, polemical nature of a parenthesis; Hartshorne also implies that pluralism is a virtue. We are immediately made to feel something is at stake in this English tradition.
Readers' nominations for even more memorable first lines of journal are welcomed.
Continuing on NewAPPS’ recentobsession with number theory, today I came across an interesting Slate article
on the new proof of the ‘bounded gaps’ conjecture. The whole article is worth
reading, but there is one particularly priceless quote (hyperlink in the
If you start thinking
really hard about what “random” really means,
first you get a little nauseated, and a little after that you find you’re
doing analytic philosophy. So let’s not go down
Sometimes an idea just is in the air. Last week in the context of our blogging (originally by Dennis, then more recently yours truly, and Catarina) about the ABC conjecture our very own Dennis des Chene reminded me that the source of the most recent discussion, written by Caroline Chen, requests that "If you enjoy this story, we ask that you consider paying for it. Please see the payment section below." How many philosophers did? (I finally did in context of writing this story!) Now, Daan Oostveen, a journalist writing for a Dutch weekly, contacted me about my views on crowd-funding in philosophy. According to Wikipedia, crowd funding is a "collective effort of individuals who network and pool their money, usually via the Internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations." I often write these blog posts in an espresso-bar/fashion-store that was funded in this fashion (the owners were even on Dutch TV about it).
Now, I certainly expect that (like blogging!) crowd-funding could be a viable financing model for some philosophers. At NewAPPS we self-consciously decided not to accept advertisements, but if we had I expect we might have had some nice extra cash to fund our annual APA lunch. Crowd-funding is an especially viable funding source for non-academic (or marginal-academic) philosophers, who (a) use performance-like or primarily digital methods. It might even help develop these fields--something I wish we could do at NewAPPS (but I have come to the conclusion we lack interest and talent in these areas). Also, for charismatic people (b) whose philosophical views and methods lean closely toward self-help/therapeutic/religious spheres/pratices crowd-funding may even be lucrative. (In Holland the glossy Filosofie Magazine has made philosophy a life-style for educated folk near retirement looking for alternatives to religion.)