Beverley Hills Links

John Haugeland died in May, and the University of Chicago has an excellent obituary by Susie Allen. A memorial prize named after Hanneke Jannsen, who also died a while back, is available for masters theses in philosophy.

After Medical Hypotheses published a paper by a HIV-AIDS denier, the editor was sacked. The new editor promises to be a good boy.

You’re Not Helping continues to not help. However, this time I think they have stepped a snark too far. First of all, while it is true that there are a lot of religion branded charities doing good work, it’s rather hard for a view that is a lack of belief to brand itself. Many secular charities do good work too, but they aren’t branded “atheist” because that would be like branding a bookshop “not-sports-playing”, to use a random example. Moreover, I have done some work in charities in the far distant past when I had morals, and I can attest that not everyone who works at a religion-branded charity is religious, and few are actually of the religion itself that holds the brand. Many Salvation Army charities are in fact run by Anglicans, and worse…

just another desdaimon has a nice piece about scientific presuppositions and the supernatural[1,2] and the “nonsense” view that “naturalism” is a faith.

Filosofía, especie y sistemática is a Spanish language site with many English posts about species and systematics. I don’t know if they are a para-site, but the essays are interesting.[2] And they cite the right authors…

Frank Fenner, an immunologist of renown (and someone I have had contact with some years ago) has predicted the end of the human species in a century. That’s way too pessimistic. We will persist so long as the rats and cockroaches, because we are pretty much the same sort of ecological niche occupiers (omnivores who live everywhere). But civilisation? Not so much.

On crustaceans and molting: PZ has a great explanation on how crustaceans molt, while Chris Nedin has a great discussion of trilobites doing the same thing. It’s enough to make you shed your skin.

Finally, people have just noticed that creationism is being taught in religious instruction classes in Australian schools. Well duh. If you let the religious teach your children they are going to teach their beliefs, and that category includes the nutbars who reject science. Maybe we should stop religious instruction in state schools and replace all of it with ethics?


1. I wish I had a clever blog title like that.

2. I don’t necessarily agree with everything anyone I link to says, even if I like them.

6 thoughts on “Beverley Hills Links

  1. Those who fail to agree with every dogma stated in my blog will feel the full blast of my naturalist wrath. In other words – I’d be really interested to hear what you think I got wrong.

    As for creationism in schools, here in Poland we’re still trying to get to the point where the ethics classes that are supposed to be available as an alternative to religion are actually, well, available. Thankfully, we’ve just had a win at the court in Strasburg which makes it likelier to happen.

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    1. Your white-on-black scheme is terrible. It repudiates everything you write. And there are typos…

      I was covering my arse. I agree with everything you say there. Apart from the scheme and typos.

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  2. I keep hearing that logical positivism* is dead. But then I keep seeing links to articles like Konrad’s, and then statements of assent like John’s.

    I’m not trying to be snarky here, but it’s like wrestling Morpheus when someone makes (again) the argument that naturalism is not predicated on metaphysical priors (but all other philosophical pictures are), while not apparently allowing that even the “concepts” of metaphysical (!) naturalism are available for study and contemplation. (To be fair, JW will sometimes call out others, like Larry Moran, for this, but only, it seems, when they lead to divisiveness and rancor.)

    Having said that, I do think it is meaningful that you (Konrad) call naturalism an almost meaningless term, when its only purpose is to stand against supernaturalism. The problem there is that these alleged supernaturalists either believe that Gods are real agents the way that people are, which makes them natural phenomena, though of a less predictable order–or, that gods are symbolic for experience and concepts that naturalism is not skilled at accounting for. Things like “oneness” or “rebirth” or other concepts that explode our normal ontological categories, but remain meaningful. So that we must reduce them in image, if not in content, based on the limits of our rational faculties.

    This second type of “supernaturalism” also is a form of naturalism, though a non-reductionist one. In the same way that it’s meaningful to talk about money without having to reduce it to scraps of paper and metal, or love or justice without having to reduce them (via the genetic fallacy) to evolutionary origins. Elizabeth Baeten makes the case for a more robust definition of naturalism that excludes nothing from study. In this sense it has no antonym; nothing is denied our (serious) examination on the grounds it is “unreal.” (Supernatural, artificial, illusory, impermanent, subjective, etc etc.) Such a definition would allow to to just get on it with, and engage with what we want to on its own merits, not simply as a way to try to claim turf against our enemies (who I tend to think are only strengthened by all the attention anyway.)

    (* I know that JW likes to position himself as a kind of non-positivistic verificationalist [with pragmatic tendencies,] but I don’t see how this gets him out of the pickle jar, as he’s heard me argue many times. It is logically impossible to verify your own standards of verification.)

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