an in-between move

Cool kids read The Bellman.


Don't read this blog!

I mean, thanks for dropping by my little corner of the blogospheric backwaters, but the blog you should be reading is The Bellman. The stuff I post there is much, much less likely to be imbued with dormitive powers.


[German, from zwischen, intermediate + zug, move

Literally an "in-between move". A move in a tactical sequence is called a zwischenzug* when it does not relate directly to the tactical motif in operation. |source|

image copyright TWIC

From this position, black played a zwischenzug: 19…d5
(Linares 2002, 1-0)


about your blogger

David Rowland studies philosophy at the University of Illinois - Urbana / Champaign, where he's an active member of the Graduate Employees Organization. He used to play a lot of chess, but wasn't all that good. He has a blog. And email.



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Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Smith post the first

I'm currently reading The Moral Problem by Michael Smith (1993), and am going to try to get a couple of posts up about it today and over the next several weeks. I wanted to say first and briefly, though, how the book seems to fit in the contemporary literature. Let me note that these are extremely tentative judgments.

The Moral Problem seems to be the locus classicus for a particular way of understanding the nature of the philosophical problem about moral reasons. In particular, Smith conceives of the moral problem as a philosophical difficulty about the metaphysical properties of reasons in general, and moral reasons in particular. The difficulty arises because our pretheoretical commitments about moral reasons are in tension and it is hard to see what sort of things such reasons could be if they are to satisfy those commitments.[1] Since Smith rejects the prospect of abandoning our pretheoretical commitments, he takes the view that finding a solution to the problem requires that one provide an account of the metaphysical properties of moral reasons which explains how such reasons could fulfill the various offices required of them.

This project is quite different from that pursued by authors like Scanlon, Korsgaard, and Nagel. For those philosophers, the fundamental problem in metaethics has to do with showing how it is that an (in some sense) objective morality can be motivating. Their focus, then, is not on the metaphysical status of particular entities, reasons, which figure in such an account, but rather on the operation of human moral psychology.[2]

1 Our pretheoretical commitments include, in particular, the thoughts that morality is objective and that it is motivating. So Smith's worry is that it is difficult to see what sorts of entities reasons could be such that they are both objective and motivating.

2 Oddly, both of these approaches lay claim to Darwall (1984). My inclination is to say that his thought is more congenial to the second group, but there's no denying that the journal fodder produced by those working from Smith's paradigm relies heavily on Darwall's specification of the internalist view.

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