March 16, 2007
This is the first, hopefully, in a series where I air out some thoughts after the aesthetics discussion group. Last Friday, our comrade Ian Flora presented ‘Canon, Fanon, and Fiction’, a paper that aims to explores the relationship between canonical fiction worlds and worlds of fan-fictions. I will only try to bring out the issues and raise some questions I find interesting. To know Ian’s view, you’ll have to ask him. I also have some view, but you’d have to buy me a beer to hear them. (And for them to make sense, you should buy yourself a keg.)
Roughly, we are interested in the relationship between canon and fanon, and what fits under those terms. To borrow Ian’s example of Harry Potter, canon is what officially happens in the Harry Potter books by Rowling and Movies, and fanon is what the fans accept as true as a result of fan-fiction. Note that neither canon nor fanon needs to only contain the propositions that are specifically mentioned in the story, but just what is reasonably implied. We may use the fictional world terminology loosely to talk about the what is true or implied true by the fiction. For example, the true propositions given by the Harry Potter stories compose the Harry Potter world; the true propositions given by the Harry Potter stories and a series of fan-fictions F compose the Harry Potter sub-F world. Notice I am also being rather sloppy in not distinguishing the world given by a fiction and the world that we imagine when we access a fiction. This is of course an important distinction that needs to be drawn out in the full account. For the sake of simplicity and interest, let’s continue with the sloppy intuitive notions and start asking some questions:
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March 11, 2007
What may not be evident from the title of this post is that I’m fairly sure that there is an equivocation in Feinberg’s “infinite regress” argument against psychological egoism. This appears in Section C of his article “Psychological Egoism” in the popular anthology Reason and Responsibility (12th ed., ed. Feinberg & Shafer-Landau).
Feinberg makes a point to distinguish the following:
(Mere) Desire Fulfillment (DF): DF is simply the “coming into existence of that which is desired” (479). For instance, a desire for the obtainment of some object x is fulfilled when and only when x is obtained. (With DF, there need not be the requirement that the bearer of a given desire experience its fulfillment. Death-bed wishes can be fulfilled.)
Pleasure2 (P2), or Satisfaction: This is the type of positive feeling/s that one tends to experience upon getting what s/he desired (and, of course, being aware that the desire was fulfilled). That is, P2 is the pleasure that often results from and in virtue of DF.
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March 10, 2007
In his recent best seller “The God Delusion”, Richard Dawkins seems to understand his “ultimate Boeing 747 argument” (henceforth, the “UBA”) as an argument against God’s existence. I think, however, that it is best understood as a refutation of an argument for God’s existence—namely, the design argument. If so, and if the design argument is the only argument for God’s existence which has prima facie plausibility, then the UBA is an argument against God’s existence only in so far as showing that we don’t have reason to believe that x exists is showing that we have reason to believe that x doesn’t exist (which is probably pretty far).
Here is how Plantinga (in his review) seems to think the UBA goes:
P1) Any being capable of designing and creating the world as we know it is as at least as complex and organized as the world as we know it.
P2) If God exists, then God designed and created the world.
From (P1) and (P2) it follows that
C1) If God exists, then God is at least as complex and organized at the world as we know it.
Now we add two more premises
P3) The world is extremely complex and organized.
P4) The probability of a things existence is inversely proportional to its level of complexity and organization.
From (C1), (P3), and (P4) it follows that
C2) The probability of God’s existence is extremely low.
I believe Plantinga is wrong in his interpretation of the UBA. Instead I propose the following. Read the rest of this entry »
March 6, 2007
[Disclaimer: This turned out to be longer than I originally anticipated, so if it turns out to be too much, my apologies.]
What role should should the deliverances of political science play in theorizing about justice? (Of course, this is just a particular instance of a much more general question, viz., what role should the deliverances of any science play in theorizing about anything? I think the answer to this probably depends upon the domain in which the question is asked; that is, the answer probably differs depending on whether one is talking about, e.g., the role of physics in metaphysical theorizing vs. the role of psychology in ethical theorizing. But I’m not sure about this. In any case, I’ll restrict this post to asking about the role of political science in political theorizing.) It seems to me that the answer to this question depends upon how one intends to use the science.
It seems clear to me that political science shouldn’t play the role of telling us what counts as just, i.e., how things ought to be. Such a use would be clearly encounter Hume’s is-ought problem. So, e.g., if political science shows that democracy reduces income inequality, it doesn’t thereby show that democratic constitutions are just; if it shows that communist regimes never last longer than x number of years, it doesn’t thereby show that communism is unjust. Clearly, for the science to tells us what counts as justice, such statements would have to assume the justice of inequality reduction or that just regimes are enduring; but these conclusions don’t follow from any empirical study.
Another role that political science could play is that of indicating what is possible, thereby enabling us to bring our political theorizing in line with the ‘ought implies can’ principle. I.e., the science constrains what individuals and institutions can be obliged to do by telling us what in fact individuals and insitutions are able to do given their limitations. Read the rest of this entry »