Philosophers’ Carnival #139

(Image credit: “School of Athens” by Raphael via Wikipedia [public domain] adapted by Nick Byrd).

Greetings and welcome! This Philosopher’s Carnival comes from Boulder, CO. Posts are in the order in which they were submitted/found and summaries are beneath each post.

Platinga’s EAAN.  John Wilkins comes an unashamed objection to what Wilkins takes to be Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN).

Wilkins and the EAAN. Alvin Plantinga starts by summarizing Wilkins’s take on the EAAN. Then he proceeds to (a) point out how Wilkins misunderstands the EAAN, (b) explain how the EAAN should be interpreted, and (c) explain why it should be convincing.

Some Objections to Plantinga’s EAAN. Jason Streitfeld also objects to the EAAN. In his approach, he calls ought a hidden premise and calls into question two ostensible premises. And like Wilkins, he touches on Plantinga’s definition of ‘naturalism’ (Streitfeld also has a revised version of this post…see here).

Confirmation Bias or Expertise? The Prevalence of Theism in The Philosophy of Religion.* Helen De La Cruz points out that if one applied Cruz’s survey results—which report that the majority of philosophers of religion (PoR) are thiests—to Goldman’s take on expertise, then it might be the case that the “expert” opinion on the existence of God leans towards theism. After Cruz makes this point, she considers whether or not PoR’s leaning is an issue and whether there ought to be more atheists in the mix. This post is cross-posted at The Prosblogion and the New APPS.

Expertise in PoR Is Not Expertise in the Existence of God.* Not so fast De La Cruz, says Shcliesser from the New APPS. Who says that PoR should be considered the only relevent experts on the existence of God? And who says that only those who self-report as “philosopher of religion” are experts on arguments concerning the existence of God? In other words, Schliesser clearly disagrees with some of De La Cruz’s assumptions.

On Fantl/McGrath’s Knowledge in an Uncertain World (2009). Jon Kvanvig has numerous posts about Fantl/McGrath’s book at Certain Doubts. In an effort to help you navigate between them, I have included a list.

    1. Fallibilisms in Fantl/McGrath,
    2. The Fantl/McGrath Against Fallibilist Purism,
    3. Fantl/McGrath and Optionalism,
    4. What Kinds of Things Can Be Epistemically Justified? On Strengthening an Argument in Fantl/McGrath,
    5. A Technical Issue with “S is rational to prefer asif P” in Fantl/McGrath,
    6. On Preferring As If.

Non-reductive Agent Causation: Part I & …Part II. Jared Smith brings us a two-part post. This first post is an extended dialogue between Timothy O’Connor and Derk Pereboom spanning “physicalism, reductionism, agency theory, and quantum physics”—I know, sounds totally awesome, right? In the second post, Jared adds four important points: (1) emergent agent-causal libertarianism, on account of it’s not being liable to the problem of interaction, is a simpler theory then its counterparts. (2) Agent-causal emergentism fails to avoid the issue of the plausibility of an undetermined, emergent macroproperty. (3) O’Connor’s argument—that his thin account of agent causality awaits inevitable developments in neuropsychology and other sciences—lacks convincing points. And finally, (4) an insurmountable stalemate regarding reductionism seems to manifest throughout O’Connor’s and Pereboom’s conversation.

Identity Expressed With One-Place Predication. Excerpt from Tristan Haze: “My purpose is […] to show how easily we can modify first-order logic with identity (FOL=) so that identity statements are treated as one-place predications and not two-place relational predications. Comparing the result with natural language identity statements such as ‘Hesperus is Phosphorus’ makes the occurrence of ‘is’ look more like a copula (“the ‘is’ of predication”) rather than a relation symbol (some special ”is’ of identity’). Sentences like ‘Hesperus is identical to Phosphorus’ then look, by contrast, more comparable to the familiar ‘=’ form in logic – that is, more like they contain a relation-symbol.”

Philosophy By Another Name & Name Calling: Philosophy as Ontical Science. In the first post, Colin McGinn proposes the following: since ‘philosophy’ is not the public’s rigid designator—my word choice, not his—of what philosophers take themselves to be doing, we should come up with another name. In doing this we might save philosophers from fielding unnecessary questions from strangers about the meaning of life and about whether trees in distant forests are really falling. Instead, they could get right to good ol’ professional philosophy. The second post is a reply to comments from the first post.

Government, Responsibility, and Happiness. Gary Gutting is critiquing Richard Murray’s Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 (2012). Murray argues that a libertarian political philosophy would actualize the greatest happiness for a society. Gutting does well to point out some points of clarification. In the end, he expresses his disagreement with Murray.

Who is Gestating my Baby? Katherine Fulfer’s piece is an insightful and well-articulated charge for research. Excerpt: “What little, current demographic information is available on contract pregnant women is mostly anecdotal. More research is needed to investigate alleged correlations, such as the targeting of poor women and military wives to be contract pregnant women. The implications for not collecting this data can be severe. From a reproductive justice perspective, we want to ensure that industry regulations expand women’s options and do not restrict them. Knowing that certain populations are targeted to be contract pregnant women could uncover ways in which the industry could be challenged to better promote women’s well-being.”

The Strongest Self-Effacing Objection & Consequentialist Decision Procedures. Richard Chappell has two posts features in this carnival. The first post examines a set of premises which alleges that utilitarianism is a self-effacing objection. In the second post Chapell considers whether making “expected value” calculations is the most “consequentialism-exemplifying” way to make decisions.

The Instability of Professional Philosophers’ Endorsement of the Famous “Doctrine of Double Effect”. Eric Schwitzgebel and Fiery Cushman found that changing the order in which trolley problems are presented produces differential responses for both philosophers and non-philosophers. The interpretation Schwitzgebel gives is this: “skill in philosophy doesn’t manifest as skill in consistently applying explicitly endorsed abstract principles to reach stable judgments about hypothetical scenarios; rather, it manifests more as skill in choosing principles to rationalize, post-hoc, scenario judgments that are driven by the same types of factors that drive non-philosophers’ judgments.” Blam! Philosophers swayed by non-philosophical reasons!

Sophie’s Choice and Virtue Ethics* & Virtue Ethics and the Principle of Double Effect. Paul Symington demonstrates that when faced with scenarios like Sophie’s Choice and The Trolley Problem, people often experience an inner conflict between consequentialist calculations and deep-seated intuition(s). Symington discusses what the virtue theorist might have to say about these scenarios and how the virtue theorist ought to navigate such scenarios. The second post responds to a series of comments from the first post.

Morality and Mathematics: The Evolutionary Challenge. Justin Clarke-Doane argues that Evolution poses just as much a threat to mathematical realism as it does to moral realism. He also makes the claim that if one is a moral antirealist, then one cannot (consistently) be a mathematical realist. As I write this, the article is free to view.

Is It More Useful To Define Altruism To Be Contingent Upon “No Consideration of Expectations” Rather than “Expectations” As in Common? The subject of this post is defining altruism such that it is logically possible to instrumentally justify the burdens of altruism. Mark Sloan alleges that this a logically impossibility with some common definitions of altruism. So how should altruism be defined? Find out Sloan’s take. In a future post, Sloan might consider the aesthetical consequences of lengthy blog post titles. For that post, and for more about ‘altruism’, you might subscribe to Morality’s Random Walk.

Trembling Hands. From Noah Greenstein. There is always a small possibility that rational persons, knowing the”right” thing to do, will act irrationally. This is better known as “trembling hands.” This post from Greenstein’s blog considers numerous scenarios that result in choosing irrationally, of which trembling hands is one, and estimates the significance of each in the domain of behavioral economics.

Consciousness, Lost and Found. Slowpoke investigates various sets of opposed claims about consciousness: physicalism and non-physicalism, reductionism and non-reductionism, mechanism and non-mechanism, etc. During his investigation, he makes some qualitative claims about each camp and even organizes them (e.g. “anti-reductionist theories are, in fact, mechanist theories in disguise”). Slowpoke concludes with an optimistic vision for the seemingly diametrically opposed claims about consciousness that reign today. After you read this post, you might also check out another blog where Slowpoke writes: Type Unsafe.

Korsgaard’s Kantian Moral Theory.* Benjamin Mitchell-Yellin offers a succinct summary of Korsgaard’s Kantianism on Avery Archer’s blog.

Jurisprudence Blogging 1: Austin.* Murali submits a post covering John Austin’s view of jurisprudence. In the first half, Murali gives a simple overview of Austin’s views. In the latter half of the post he discusses what is good about them and what is bad.

Scepticism About Scepticism About Moral Responsisbility. Clayton Littlejohn’s latest post considers how a person’s responsibility for doing something wrong might be contingent upon their knowing whether such an act is wrong. Littlejohn starts with a very specific set of premises from Zimmerman and then fleshes out the implications for the reader.

Defending Science. Featuring Michael Lynch & Alan Sokal. The NYT introduces the post well: “Last fall, after Michael Lynch’s essay “Reasons for Reason” appeared in The Stone, he began correspondence with the physicist, mathematician and writer Alan Sokal about the nature and limits of scientific rationality. [This post] is adapted from that original dialogue.”



Rutgers school of Arts & Sciences has established a philosophy of cosmology blog called What There Is and Why There is Anything.

To those needing comic relief from the profession comes this satirical blog for philosophers: fauxphilnews. New posts every Friday!

Leiter Reports posted some regrettable news from the University of Northern Iowa. Apparently the university has cut many tenured faculty and announced the closure of multiple departments, including Physics and Philosophy. (Update here).

On another sad note, Ruth Barcan Marcus passed away February 19th. Yale’s memorium can be found here. NYT article here.

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Nick Byrd

Nick is a cognitive scientist studying reasoning, wellbeing, and willpower. When he is not teaching, in the lab, writing, exercising, or relaxing, he is blogging at