Sunday, April 17, 2005
aspergillosis n. Infection with or disease caused (as in poltry) by molds.
aspergillum n. A brush or small perforated container with a handle that is used for sprinkling holy water in a liturgical service.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
49 When someone acts grand because he understands and can expound the works of Chrysippus, say to yourself, "If Chrysippus had not written unclearly, this man would have nothing to be proud of."
But what do I want? To learn to understand nature and follow it. So I try to find out who explains it. And I hear that Chrysippus does, and I go to him. But I do not understand the things that he has written, so I try to find the person who explains them. Up to this point there is nothing grand. But when I do find someone who explains them, what remains is to carry out what has been conveyed to me. This alone is grand. But if I am impressed by the explaining itself, what have I done but ended up a grammarian instead of a philosopher--except that I am explaining Chrysippus instead of Homer. Instead, when someone says to me, "Read me some Chrysippus," I turn red when I cannot exhibit actions that are similar to his words and in harmony with them.
5 What upsets people is not things themselves but their judgments about things. For example, death is nothing dreadful (or else it would have appeared dreadful to Socrates), but instead the judgment about death is that it is dreadful -- that is what is dreadful. So when we are thwarted or upset or distressed, let us never blame someone else but ourselves, that is, our own judgments. An uneducated person accuses others when he is doing badly; a partly educated person accuses himself, an educated person accuses neither someone else nor himself.
35 When you do something that you determine is to be done, never try not to be seen doing it, even if most people are likely to think something bad about it. If you are not doing it rightly, avoid the act itself; if you are doing it rightly, why do you fear those who will criticize you wrongly?
43 Everything has two handles, one by wich it may be carried and the other not. If your brother acts unjustly toward you, do not take hold of it by this side, that he has acted unjustly (since this is the handle by which it may not be carried), but instead by this side, that he is your brother and was brought up with you, and you will be taking hold of it in the way that it can be carried.
8 Do not seek to have events happen as you want them to, but instead want them to happen as they do happen, and your life will go well.
10 At each thing that happens to you, remember to turn to yourself and ask what capacity you have for dealing with it. If you see a beautiful boy or woman, you will find the capacity of self-control for that. If hardship comes to you, you will find endurance. If it is abuse, you will find patience. And if you become used to this, you will not be carried away by appearances.
46 Never call yourself a philosopher and do not talk a great deal among non-philosophers about philosophical propositions, but do what follows from them. For example, at a banquet do not say how a person ought to eat, but eat as a person ought to. Remember that Socrates had so completely put aside ostentation that people actually went to him when they wanted to be introduced to philosophers and he took them. He was that tolerant of being overlooked. And if talk about philosophical propositions arises among non-philosophers, for the most part be silent, since there is a great danger of your spewing out what you have not digested. And when someone says to you that you know nothing and you are not hurt by it, then you know that you are making a start at your task. Sheep do not show how much they have eaten by bringing the feed to the shepherds, but they digest the food inside themselves, and outside themselves they bear wool and milk. So in your case likewise do not display propositions to non-philosophers but instead the actions that come from the propositions when they are digested.
19 You can be invincible if you do not enter any contest in which victory is not up to you. See that you are not carried away by the appearance, in thinking that someone is happy when you see him honored ahead of you or very powerful or otherwise having a good reputation. For if the really good things are up to us, neither envy nor jealously has a place, and you yourself will want neither to be a general or a magistrate or a consul, but to be free. And there is one road to this: despising what is not up to us.
20 Remember that what is insulting is not the person who abuses you or hits you, but the judgment about them that they are insulting. So when someone irritates you be aware that what irritates you is your own belief. Most importantly, therefore, try not to be carried away by appearance, since if you once gain time and delay you will control yourself more easily.
21 Let death and exile and everything that is terrible appear before your eyes every day, especially death; and you will never have anything contemptible in your thoughts or crave anything excessively.
12 If you want to make progress, give up all considerations like these: "If I neglect my property I will have nothing to live on," "If I do not punish my slave boy he will be bad." It is better to die of hunger with distress and fear gone than to live upset in the midst of plenty. It is better for the slave boy to be bad than for you to be in a bad state. Begin therefore with little things. A little oil is spilled, a little wine is stolen: say, "This is the price of tranquility; this is the price of not being upset." Nothing comes for free. When you call the slave boy, keep in mind that he is capable of not paying attention, and even if he does pay attention he is capable of not doing any of the things that you want him to. But he is not in such a good position that your being upset or not depends on him.
Saturday, April 09, 2005
Thursday, April 07, 2005
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Working on the template...
Close observers may note that I've implemented expanded post summaries. Thanks go out to David at E.G. for pointing me to a blogger blog where this had been done. I spent about an hour trying to steal the code, then used ever lovin' google to figure out that the code came from this wonderful blog which you should visit often and heap praise upon.
update: sort of works. That had the effect of hiding all the haloscan comments on the first page, but they're intact if you go ten posts back or so..
another update: I got everything working and realized that the change amounted to no improvement in any way whatsoever, and actually made things worse since the blogger comments are less customizable than the Haloscan comments.
Monday, April 04, 2005
An inference and some other stuff
By the way, I've been test driving typepad this week. You can see the typepad version of this blog here. There are a couple typepad features that I really like, and that Blogger has inexplicably failed to implement. Most importantly, I want to be able to hide some of the text in my longer posts. I also crave categories. A feature of typepad that I didn't crave, but have grown to like, are TypeLists. Over at the typepad mirror of this site I've set up a TypeList that does the sort of thing I always wanted to do with the now defunct Holding Zone.
I have three reservations about moving to Typepad. First, and most annoying, they don't give you access to the HTML unless you pony up the dough for their professional package. That just pisses me off. Second and relatedly, I'm not so sure that I'm willing to pay a monthly fee for the privilege of blogging. Lastly, when push comes to shove I have a sneaking suspicion that google is going to make Blogger much more attractive in the long run. Hell, if they would just implement a decent solution for concealing the full text of long posts I wouldn't be likely to bother moving.
One other thing. I'm strongly considering registering a domain name. I'm not sure whether Blogger supports anything like domain mapping, so that may be a factor. At any rate, here's something I'm having trouble deciding. If I take the plunge and register, should I go ahead and fix the spelling of 'Zwichenzug'? There's supposed to be an 's' in there...
Sunday, April 03, 2005
Tiffany's argument for Strong Internalism
Tiffany's argument for strong internalism rests on the following two claims:
- If strong internalism is not true, then whether or not some consideration is a reason will depend upon whether the consideration is compatible with externally warranted deliberative norms.
- Any theory which holds that a consideration's being a reason depends upon the consideration's compatibility with externally warranted deliberative norms will violate the central intuition of internalism.
The argument for 1 is straightforward. Weak Internalism articulates a necessary, but not sufficient condition for some consideration's being a reason for an agent. Whatever the fully specified sufficient condition might be, it will have to be such that it provides deliberative norms for moving from the agent's subjective motivational set to the conclusion that the consideration is (or is not) a reason. Since strong internalism requires that every condition relevant to a consideration's being a reason be contained in the agent's subjective motivational set, it requires a fortiori that the warrant of these deliberative norms be wholly internal. From this it follows that if strong internalism is false, then the warrant of these deliberative norms cannot be wholly internal.
On the basis of this argument I'm inclined to accept 1, though I will admit to some reservations deriving from uncertainty about what the notion of a deliberative norm comes to. For now, let me just note that Tiffany takes himself to be following the account given by David Sobel in "Subjective Accounts of Reasons for Action," Ethics 111 (2001): 461-92. I may return to this point after reading Sobel's paper.
In any case, the key premise of Tiffany's argument is given by 2. In order to evaluate this claim we need to know what Tiffany takes the central intuition of internalism to be, whether this really is the central intuition, and whether an appeal to external warrant violates the central intuition of internalism properly understood.
So, what is the central intuition of internalism thought to be? Explaining this will go easiest if we begin with an example, so consider how things are with an unrepentant sinner. A priest can say to the sinner that he has reason not to sin, but this appeal will get no hold on the sinner unless there is something within the sinner's interior psychological world that the priest can appeal to. So, for example, we might suppose that if the sinner believes (a) that there is an afterlife, (b) that sins will be punished in the afterlife, and (c) that being punished is bad, then the priest will be right that the sinner has a reason not to sin. If, however, the sinner rejects any of a, b, and c, then the priest's appeal will find no purchase and the sinner will not believe that he has a reason not to sin.
The underlying idea here is that we engage in talk about reasons as a way of explaining and influencing the actions of agents. This talk, though, will be empty unless the reasons we appeal to are such that they are actually capable of motivating the agent in question. Put another way, saying that some consideration is a reason for some agent when that consideration is incapable of motivating the agent is saying something false. Korsaard, in a passage I quoted in a recent entry, puts this point in a useful way:
If I judge that some action is right, it is implied that I have, and acknowledge, some motive or reason for performing that action. It is part of the sense of the judgment that a motive is present: if someone agrees that an action is right, but cannot see any motive or reason for doing it, we must suppose, according to these views, that she does not quite know what she means when she agrees that the action is right. On an externalist theory, by contrast, such a conjunction of moral comprehension and total unmotivatedness is perfectly possible: knowledge is one thing and motivation is another.
So far, then, there is the thought that being a reason is strongly tied to motivational efficacy. Tiffany, however, follows a number of theorists in thinking that there is something more to the central intuition of internalism. This something more comes out when we consider that not every consideration which is motivating for an agent is something which the agent would consider to be a reason. Some motivating considerations, the thought goes, are alien to the agent in important ways. In the following passage Tiffany articulates this intuition:
Not just any subjective attitude or desire can place a plausible constraint on reasons for action, for even the internalist would deny that all subjective mental states are reason-generating. Some are best considered as themselves alien and to be resisted, such as Watson's example of the mother who desires to drown her own child or the defeated squash player who desires to smash his racket into the face of his opponent. These desires are experienced as something more like impulses; they are felt as alien, as not coming from one's "true" self.
So, as Tiffany understands it, the central intuition of internalism has two parts. There is, first of all, the motivational component. This is supplemented by the requirement that the considerations in question be connected, in some sense, to deep facts about who the agent is. Put another way, this second requirement holds that in order for a consideration to count as a reason for the agent, it must be such that the agent takes it to be compatible with her most strongly held convictions about herself.
Clearly there is much more that needs to be said to make the second requirement clear and, indeed, one of the main tasks of Tiffany's paper is to clarify this intuition through the exploration of what he calls the alienation constraint. Enough, though, has been put on the table to get a useful understanding of Tiffany's argument for strong internalism.
Tiffany's worry is that any theory which licenses an appeal to externally warranted evaluative standards will necessarily impose constraints on the agent which alienate the agent from her own reasons. If this were so, if the agent had reasons which she was alienated from, then the second requirement would be vitiated.
I am inclined to reject this part of Tiffany's argument, but I'll save my objections for another post. For now, let me note several points that seem correct. First of all, it is right to say that when we are engaging in reason talk our point is to arrive at a particular sort of explanation of the behavior of agents. I also agree that this talk would be empty if it did not connect to the actual motivations of real agents. And, lastly, I am in agreement that considerations which are wholly alienated from an agent's most strongly held convictions cannot ground reasons for him. The upshot of all this is that I agree with Tiffany that the intuitions he appeals to ought to be incorporated in our theory of reasons.
v. [In sense 1, may be diminutive of ding, other senses are mixed up with dindle and tingle] 1. To ring as a bell, or glass; to tinkle, jingle. 2. To ring or tingle, as the ears with sound. 3. To tingle (with cold, a blow, etc.). 4. To vibrate with sound.
Saturday, April 02, 2005
Internalism v. Externalism
An internalist theory is a theory according to which the knowledge (or the truth or the acceptance) of a moral judgment implies the existence of a motive (not necessarily overriding) for acting on that judgment. If I judge that some action is right, it is implied that I have, and acknowledge, some motive or reason for performing that action. It is part of the sense of the judgment that a motive is present: if someone agrees that an action is right, but cannot see any motive or reason for doing it, we must suppose, according to these views, that she does not quite know what she means when she agrees that the action is right. On an externalist theory, by contrast, such a conjunction of moral comprehension and total unmotivatedness is perfectly possible: knowledge is one thing and motivation is another. [Journal of Philosophy 83: 8-9]
Friday, April 01, 2005
adj. 1. Having made no legal will. 2. Not disposed of by a legal will.
n. One who dies without a legal will.