I do have a number of substantive posts in preparation, but I also have a couple of chapters to write and be impressive enough to convince the publishers, as well as marking, reviewing and revising. So I’m sorry for the current lack of ET goodness. Hence, more links!
There is a developing battle in epistemology between contextualism and contrastivism, which I became aware of when I met Walter Sinnot-Armstrong in Oxford and made uninformed comments that sounded right to him.* The former attempts to deal with skepticism and Gettier-like problems of knowledge by appending a condition of “in the right context” to any knowledge claim. In short, knowledge is about following the right rues for knowledge in a given context. The contrastivists, by contrast, take the view that a knowledge claim is always a choice of one alternative out of a pool of alternatives (you make a contrastive choice). Add to this the recent thrill of “experimental philosophy” (X-Phi), and you have a paper by Keith de Rose arguing that addresses some of the crucial issues in modern philosophy. For my money, one must be a contrastivist – knowledge is a claim to reduce a field of alternatives to one or a few possibilities – but these are set by the context. And I have real doubts that much X-Phi, especially in ethics, is more than badly done social research without the reflexive awareness that questions can bias results. There are honorable exceptions, which I will not name to avoid getting entangled…
Peter Godfrey-Smith has just accepted a position at CUNY, where several other Australian refugees huddle. Looks to be a fun place.
The Unpublishable Philosopher has some measured things to say about Mary Midgley’s argument that science doesn’t say anything about religion.
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has a new article on the Ethics of Belief by Andrew Chignell.
César Sánchez describes pneumacoccal fratricide at Small Things Considered, your one-stop shop for things microbial.
Scott Hatfield, who I have known online for a decade or more, has a project to find evolution in California’s Central Valley rather than exotic locations like the Galápagos Islands. He calls it Finding our Galapagos. For me, California is exotic, but then I live in a country where large animals hop. Go there and give whatever you can to help him educate Californian kids about evolutionary biology.
Nearby, Brian Switek reports, the problem of mesopredators in Yellowstone, is being addressed.
Science is reporting work that suggests that more than one migration into the Americas may have occurred. In the light of recent work on the early populations of the Phillipines and Australia, I find this very likely.
* I made out a contrastivist case without the terminology back in my first paper in 1998, relying on the wonderful book by Alan Garfinkel, Forms of explanation. It was a little ham fisted, but I still think it was on the right track.