I have the great honour of hosting this month's edition of the Philosophers' Carnival. Last month, Brandon over at Siris counselled us against assuming that all entries could be neatly categorised into areas like "philosophy of mind" or "metaphysics". He's right, no doubt, but I'm too stuck in my ways to do anything but categorise. Before I get underway I want to remind everyone to send in their submissions for the next edition of the carnival. This can be done at the Philosophers' Carnival webpage. Anyway, here we go...
First, given that this is coming out on a Sunday, I thought some stuff broadly related to the philosophy of religion would be in order:
- Helen de Cruz, on the Prosblogion, looks at a recent study claiming that children from religious backgrounds have trouble distinguishing fact from fiction. She suggests the study doesn't quite warrant that conclusion.
- Alexander Pruss has been blogging a lot recently about religion and meaning in life. He's been looking at why religious people might be warranted in believing that there is a plan for their lives; at possible examples of meaning that are not created by human intelligence; and at the importance of grace in the Christian worldview. As a non-religious person, I find his thoughts interesting. They provide some insight into a mindset I lack.
- And for those wondering whether naturalism is a coherent, non-religious worldview, might I suggest exapologist's ongoing series on Scott Smith's Naturalism and Knowledge of Reality? The discussion of chapter one is already up, and we can look forward to more in the near future.
Once you're done sorting out your general worldview, you might like to come back down to earth (relatively speaking) with some moral philosophy. Lots of good stuff out there this month, this is just a small sample:
- Jules Holroyd, on the Political Philosop-her blog, offers her thoughts on race and reparations for historical injustices. She argues that most discussions of this issue have failed to recognise the importance of race and the perpetuation of racial hierarchies in those injustices.
- Richard Yetter Chappell, at Philosophy Etc, lists what he takes to be the leading objections to consequentialism and explains why he finds them unpersuasive.
- Kantians are a dour bunch, thinking that the good person cannot really want to do good. At Pea Soup, Nomy Arpaly takes issue with this. She tries to defend an account of happy good doing from the ridicule of Christine Korsgaard.
- On Popular Metaphysics, James DiGiovanna, asks whether being pro-life entails a strong commitment to organ donation. It is an interesting question, and part of a broader debate about the overall consistency of moral views.
- Finally, proving that philosophy isn't completely irrelevant to the real word, Frances Kamm and Jeff McMahan offer their thoughts on the just war principle of proportionality and how it might apply to the ongoing conflict in Gaza.
Speaking of the relevance of philosophy to the real world, there is a well-known saying in aesthetics saying that "Aesthetics is for the artist as ornithology is for the birds". Over on the appropriately-named, Aesthetics for Birds blog, Donald Brook looks at different ways to parse that saying, not all of which are insightfully true.
By the time your done reading all that, you'll have warmed up your mental faculties quite nicely. So-much-so that you might start pondering the mysteries of consciousness and rational thought. If so, here are some suggesting readings on the philosophy of mind and decision-making:
- On Splintered Mind, Eric Schwitzgebel evaluates Tononi's exclusion postulate, which is part of Tononi's fascinating but "strange" theory of consciousness. The theory claims that consciousness arises from information integrating networks in the brain, and the exclusion postulate basically claims only one such network is 'conscious' at any one time. This is important because the brain contains many information integrating networks.
- Over on the Brains Blog, Jakob Hohwy asks whether the prediction error minimisation (PEM) theory can explain consciousness. PEM is used to explain many other features of the mind, including perception, learning and understanding, so why not?
- Switching to decision theory, on Wo's blog Wolfgang Schwarz examines the ratificationist solution to the problems with causal decision theory.
If you're still eager for more after all that, I suggest that you can finish off with some slightly more random posts ("random" in the sense that my categorisation-skills have run out at this point; not in the sense that their content is random and meaningless, quite the contrary in fact):
- Tristan Haze, on Sprachlogik, examines two different concepts of metaphysical modality, the first being a narrow, "counterfactual" sense, the second being a broader, non-counterfactual sense.
- Joshua Knobe presents the results of his study on what experimental philosophers actually do at Certain Doubts. It seems that X-philosophers do not actually focus on the negative contribution of proving that intuitions are unreliable; rather they try to make some positive contribution to different philosophical sub-fields.
- On his Preposterous Universe blog, Sean Caroll explains why physicists should stop saying silly things about philosophy.
Okay, so that's it for this month. Next month's carnival will be hosted at David Papineau's Sport and Philosophy Blog. Remember to keep sending in submissions to the Philosophers' Carnival.