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maxpow last won the day on August 20 2010

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  1. I haven't read the article yet, but congrats on the publication.
  2. You should read Alexander Miller's A Contemporary Introduction to Metaethics. It covers most of the basics, and you should have a decent background if you read the articles he recommends as well. Some of it is reasonably technical, and it would help if you had a basic understanding of some symbolic logic (e.g., for understanding the Frege-Geach problem). There has been renewed interest in substantive moral realism lately, for which David Enoch's very recent Taking Morality Seriously offers a good argument. Two other major, recent works that advocate a more procedural version of moral realism are Christine Korsgaard's Sources of Normativity and Stephen Darwall's The Second-person Standpoint. For an error theory approach, the classic source is J.L. Mackie's Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong. There's also a Blackwell anthology titled something like Foundations of Ethical Theory (or something like that) which will provide you with a reasonable overview of the field.
  3. maxpow

    Virtue Ethics

    People interested in virtue ethics and liberatory politics should also read Lisa Tessman's excellent Burdened Virtues: Virtue Ethics for Liberatory Struggles.
  4. It wasn't a particularly insightful comment, then. If you wanted to call someone out for posting something contrary to the point of the thread, then do that. There's no reason to malign an entire field.
  5. It's "Willard Van Orman Quine" or "W.V.O. Quine." Also, all this hating on analytic philosophy is ridiculous and probably speaks more about the ignorance of the poster than the subject itself.
  6. This comment is silly. (1) It's not obvious that all truth claims are stories. That might be one way to look at truth, but it's not exactly uncontroversial to say that. There needs to be some argument for it. Even if it's true, it's much less obvious that truth stories are self-fulfilling in the way the author seems to suggest implicitly. Let's say I make the claim that "5+7=12". I might have a great story for why that's the case, but it's pretty clearly false that such a story is self-fulfilling. If it's true, it's necessarily true and it was never not true. This isn't to say that some theories aren't self-fulfilling, of course, and there is some evidence in economics about the performativity of theory, but that's something that needs to be established empirically. (2) It's also not clear to me that individual behavior is irrelevant to claims about state behavior, even if we accept the black box picture. One reason that a black box theory might be true is that individual behavior creates emergent properties of states that hold regardless of the political workings of a state. I'm not saying that is true, of course, but there are plenty of ways that theses about individual behavior could be compatible with a black box thesis. (3) Game theory has evolved far behind single-iteration games. If the criticism is relying on single-iteration games to make its arguments, fair enough, but it's unlikely that they are, at least if they're any good. Even so, multi-iteration games might still be compatible with realism. It just changed the sort of strategies that states might pursue, i.e., they might give lip service to cooperation in various iterations of the game but renege in later iterations. (4) And, sure, realism (or, rather, psychological egoism) can explain friends, family, love, etc. It's just that having friends, love, etc. makes us happy, and thus we engage in it. Now, some people (e.g., Michael Stocker) will claim that it is incompatible with true friendship, love, etc., but that's a debate to be had.
  7. To be fair, there are serious debates over whether or not important aspects of rational choice theory are correct in the way you've outlined. I'm not claiming that what you've said is false, but it's a bit more controversial than just "straight-up true" would lead people to believe.
  8. This is remarkably unhelpful. (Here's an example: It's inevitable that people will be raped this year, but that tells us nothing about the normative facts about rape.)
  9. Even if realism has descriptive value, it's far from obvious that it is normatively coherent. In fact, you could grant most of the descriptive claims that realism makes and still argue that it's normatively repugnant without contradicting yourself in any serious way.
  10. If she hasn't admitted past actions that contradict her sexual moralism, then it's relevant and fair to criticize her for the hypocrisy. Second, I agree with you that "calling her out for an interracial relationship" will usually turn out to be racist or offensive. But it's not obvious to me that it's necessarily racist or offensive to mention this as a way of showing just how untenable bizarre views about racial purity are. What I mean is this: Palin has clout in a community with a lot of racial hangups, and the fact that she, a person who they admire, may have had an interracial relationship might tone-down some of their freakish views. I don't know that this will be the case, but it's something to think about. I mean, as I mentioned, I pretty much agree with you, aside from those two quibbles.
  11. I agree for the most part, although there are two relevant considerations before entirely dismissing the discussion of this. First, Palin has advocated abstinence-only education, and it seems hypocritical for her to do that while having these sorts of relations. Second, there is a question of whether or not Palin plays up racial issues inside the Tea Party with various forms of dog-whistling, and it might be useful to see just how that does or does not square with her past behavior. My own view is that there are much more important issues to focus on and that most discussions of this will turn out just to scandalize interracial relationships implicitly, so, yeah, I think you're mostly right.
  12. maxpow


    If you don't want to start by taking in a whole book, check out Derrida's "Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences" (http://hydra.humanities.uci.edu/derrida/sign-play.html).
  13. I think there might be plenty of reasons not to accept Baudrillard's more radical philosophical views, but that's distinct from being able to refute them (as a whole). Perhaps the best we can do is just show that some of Baudrillard's views are really implausible and that we have to modify all sorts of other important beliefs just to be coherent. It was an overreaction, but it wasn't shameless trolling on my part. I fail to see why asking whether or not we have any good reason to accept some of Baudrillard's more radical ideas in a Baudrillard thread is so awful. It's not like I just said "FUCK THIS GUY" and left without making any contribution whatsoever. In fact, you're free to answer my question (since you're apparently so knowledgable about Baudrillard), and maybe that answer will illuminate certain aspects of Baudrillard for the curious readers.
  14. I don't know that you're right about Baudrillard not dismissing whole chunks of arguments when he disagrees with them. Mark Poster, in his introduction to a Baudillard anthology, rather famously writes the following: And Baudrillard's non-falsifiability might look like a strength to a lot of critique debaters. After all, if every response that the affirmative can possibly provide turns out to prove your theory true, then that makes it a lot harder for you to lose on the critique (unless this sort of meta-issue is debated). This isn't to say that we shouldn't use some of the terms that Baudrillard uses or even some of the ideas that he presents. After all, "simulacra" is a really important term for anyone doing work in aesthetics or representation, and we would be foolish to junk it altogether.
  15. This is wrong. First, Newton's theory of gravity is falsifiable. In fact, it has been falsified at atomic and subatomic levels, and that falsification is why we need quantum mechanics. Second, Einstein's theory of relativity is also falsifiable, and it's even the main example that Karl Popper uses when he talks about falsifiability (see http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/popper_falsification.html). One of the problems I have with Baudrillard is that I don't see how anyone could ever really refute his radical views as a whole. For example, let's look at the SEP's description of Baudrillard as a "strong simulacrist" (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/baudrillard/): I don't see how anyone could ever really refute this. Let's say I argue that there is an external reality, and maybe I point to instances of things I take to be that external reality. A Baudrilliardian might respond that this really turns out to confirm their theory. They will say that what I am really pointing to is simulacra and that this itself proves the mesmerization thesis. It's unclear how I could respond to that in any serious way. This is not to claim that there aren't some insights in Baudrillard's work. If one removes the radical philosophical suggestions from the above passage (e.g., no reality at all, no meaning at all, etc.), then some of the claims appear to be pretty uncontroversial and even common place—like that claim that people are caught up with images and spectacles in media and consumer society. It seems like very few people would disagree with that. Or, for example, let's take the inversion of Borges' territory-map story. It's pretty radical to claim that it is "the territory [the real] whose shreds slowly rot across the extent of the map [the hyperreal]." The strong ontological thesis here seems fairly dubious to me, and we can capture some of the intuitive appeal of it without all the baggage. For example, in the sociology of economics, there is what's called the "performativity thesis." This thesis claims that economics (as a discipline) not only describes economic behavior, but it actually turns out to shape economic behavior in a way that conforms to its predictions. So, then, we would have a model (or set of models) that turn out to actually precede real economic behavior, somewhat like the map preceding the territory. The distinction with Baudrillard's thesis is that the performativity thesis does not commit us to really radical ontological views at all, and if I can explain phenomena without doing that, then that makes more sense to me.
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