Monday, March 27, 2017

identity, character and moral responsibility

see the diagram below: character is a process which emerges from the different pi becoming Np. character consists of a sum of behavioral traits or "notes," which are evaluated by witnesses in response to a diversity of relevant trait-eliciting conditions.

1. it's clear that character happens in time. thus,

2. one cannot fully grasp a person's character, only character notes.

3. the person grasping these traits is a witness. subject and witness are in a context.

4. since contexts always change, different witnesses obtain different notes. 

even as character has a certain automatic quality, its traits becoming a narrative process:  Np which, supervenes on the series of traits.

on the other hand, character is a function of the environment: ch= f(w) (in this case of witnesses interacting with the self).

a person's character consists of traits (in response to external stimuli). these traits are:
1- public, objective
2- negotiable, based on s-r (stimulus response). one's character is different to different witnesses because of the specific contexts causing the notes.
3- character is slower than identity

read the Robert & Frank story p. 245. we learn that Robert may not be responsible for Frank's crimes (at least they are minimized by Robert's change of character). in fact, character becomes paramount in punishment and rehabilitation. character is fundamental to adjudicate moral responsibility because it's objective.

we have the following conclusions between self-narrative, moral agents, persons, moral responsibility, etc:

identity, narrative and moral agents

see the diagram below. the summation of persons pi emerge into a narrative Np. this narrative is caused by a multiplicity of different persons connected in the series by memories and desires. the narrative hierarchy supervenes as one, but this one changes depending which persons are "given a voice" at a particular time as well as the stimulus that causes the narrative to be given: i.e., it's not the same to talk to your girlfriend that talk about yourself in front of a class.

though one could alter their Np, the different persons have ways of "showing up" simply because it's imposible to keep them disconnected. "you," the conscious self, don't have complete control over these. Np is the "narrative", which can be episodic or diachronic, depending how much "different" these persons are perceived in overlapping series. if the account is smooth (Np =1) a continuous we call it diachronic. if the account is fragmentary and divisive (Ni below) at times, we call it episodic. the self owns this and no one else. if Np ends up differing so much from the actual individual, we call this a dissociation.  

generally Np becomes a necessary condition for a moral person.

the importance of justifications and explanations are obvious at gorsuch at senate hearings?

click here for Gorsuch hearing highlights. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

my lemma 4 u


who's that lovely young black woman sitting behind judge gorsuch? (for you female political science majors!)

here is the answer!
A graduate of Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, she began interning in the Senate in July 2006. She worked for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and was an assistant in the Senate Republican Cloakroom, where politicians often make deals outside official meetings.  

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

personal identity: the human alien

A unique example of a person in search of identity. Vinny Ohh wants to become a gender-less alien.

Keep in mind that "alien" in this case means Vinny's idea of what an alien should be.

& that's enough! In the transition Vinny will find the difference between what he becomes vs. what he was. This irreducible remainder between the two persons will be crucial to understand his identity. Whatever he  purports will be a personal narrative.

Vinny: if you read this post, please, send us a commnet. My students and I will appreciate it. In fact, we'll make you Honorable 2017 Phi 2010 VIAAP! (very important academic alien person!)

(via Federico Colombo)

Sunday, March 19, 2017

drafts samples with marginal comments

(click over the image to amplify it)

or this,

or this,

or this,

or this,

or this,

all of the above are content related problems in need of correction,

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Sending your peer-reviewed drafts to me. Due: all of next week (I'll review in the order I receive!) HONORS

Now you're going to input the observations obtained in our in class peer-review session and send then to me via email.
Please, in the email subject write down your Honors group, i.e., MWF 11am Honors 
Otherwise I'll send it back and ask you to do it. I don't have time to open the doc and find out which class you belong to (remember I'm teaching three Honors classes!)

Remember that your draft's heading must look like this:

Doe, John
First Draft (peer reviewed)
Phi 2010 Honors
MWF 10am

Same Sex Marriage: How Civil Rights Matter

I will not accept drafts that are not peer-reviewed (you've got to get a Student Assistant or a friend to do this for you, otherwise I'll send it back).

are you interested in the neurobiology of memories?

click here.

Also this important video about the history of the neurobiology of memories. 

why causes are so complicated

social events are all exteriority. a person does X, but the causes are hidden. where? it's complicated.
don't just jump to conclusions.

again: suppose A does X,
A may do it,

1. automatically (first order desire, contidioned behavior, i.e., shopping habits, marching in the square under totalitarianism, eating disorder, phobias, etc).
2. influenced (positive stimulus: immediate level of family, school, peers, church, gang, cabal, etc)
3. coerced (same as above, the stimulus is negative now)
4. free (reluctantly)
5. free (willingly)

though 1-5 are socially equivalent, there are different causal colors
1. is compulsive, whether brain, DNA, or conditioning (mitigating factors of responsibility)   
3. & 4. are conflictual (mitigating factors of responsibility)
2. is willing but it hides foreign influences (mitigating factors for responsibility) or self-deceptive influences ("bad faith" in sartre's jargon)
only 5. seems transparently willing,

be tough, easy is deceptive.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

i say don't tweak social roles unless you really need to (to Maria Antonieta & Luis)

we had a very animated class on the issue of identity. thanks,

the point of contention came when I gave my opinion on tweaking social roles, when it comes down to social conditioning. clearly, social conditioning is in part conventional -but not solely conventional. social roles also express social memes passed on by social selection. these are not necessarily stereotypes. at least not taking "sterotype" in a negative sense. there are actually positive stereotypes.

remember, society supervenes on individuals and societies of societies supervene on societies. so i ask, what's important and not important in social roles? we don't fully know. perhaps there are important memes that are passed on that we don't want to mess with.

in economics, this is known the law of unintended consequences.

here are some examples from disparate fields:

* spain's discovery of the new world and gold, actually made spanish mercantilism stronger (more money more mismanagement) which makes for more war (england, france, etc) which ends up depleting the very sources of wealth. in less than three centuries, spain became poorer and weaker.
* the chimney solves the exhaust industrial problems of 19th century, only to contribute to acid rain in the twenty-first century.
* antibiotics are one of the great advances in medicine, but their over prescription has resulted in the development of antibiotic-resistant diseases.
* the bolshevik revolution of 1917 in Russia announces a new era of human equality and progress & instead brings the horrors of the gulag labor camps and the purges of the 1930s under Stalin.
* at the end of the 19th century, petroleum becomes a source of cheap energy, which changes the face of industrialization, causing today's global warming.
* as farming becomes automatized to serve the needs of a more populated planet, which is a direct cause of deforestation. 
* the discovery of nuclear fission, so important for nuclear power, simultaneously becomes the main ingredient for the nuclear arms race during the cold war.
* at a supervinient historic level, modernity is responsible for the ills of postmodernity.
* animal farming seeks the laudable goal of maximizing production output and keeping affordable prices, while on the other hand it increases carbon footprint, methane and horrible conditions for these animals.
* same happens at the level of fish farming: 56% of our fish intake comes from fish farms. salmon farming reduces the wild salmon population. add the parasite problems, which despite the use of antibiotics to keep the fish alive, still cause them to die prematurely at rates up to 30%. many of these fishes escape to the surrounding environment. 

as we pretend to cherry-pick social roles, we ignore that they are cogs-in-a-wheel.

how so? a "role" is not just one thing, it a composite, each with different influence:

1-micro/social influences: say, taking children to learn judo, which gives them structure perseverance and resilience.
2- genetic influences: for instance, how athletic ability predisposes athletic roles and mathematical abilities predispose some for scientific roles.
3- cultural influences: for example, soccer players are regarded higher in european countries, not so much here, where soccer is less popular. &
4- situational influences: roles which depend on the situation a person is put in outside their own influence, i.e., say, myself as consumer (but which impacts my family and my community)

societies are supervinient structures. they are necessarily hierarchical. no matter what you do to change a hierarchy, in the end another hierarchy will replace the old one.

don't fight it. you can't eliminate social roles. they exist for a reason.

(& let's not ignore that there's proof of darwinian sex roles in the animal kingdom).

it's Π day!

it's Π day!!

your highness Π is at once irrational & transcendental! (another in this league is e)

Π figures in these eleven wonderful mathematico-physical formulas:

1- Euler's formula, 
2- Cauchy's integral formula, 
3- the gamma function,
4- Riemann's zeta function,
5- Gaussian integral, 
6- Plank's constant,
7- Einstein field equation, 
8- Stokes' law, 
9- Fourier's transform, 

What would math be without Π?

note: how about mixing these e and π? you get the gelfond constant.

 e^\pi = (e^{i\pi})^{-i} = (-1)^{-i}, which is a transcendental number!

Are you into kinetic art? Come this Saturday at check out Julio Le Parc's exhibit at PAMM

Dear classes: Don't miss Julio Le Parc show at PAMM.

When Le Parc arrived in Paris from his native Argentina in the late 1950s, he was just a young artist about your age, trying to make his name in the world’s art capital. Over the next fifty years, he would develop his signature optical style, going on to win the Grand Prize in Painting at the Venice Biennale.

But since the 1960s, the artist has only exhibited a few times in the United States. Now, American audiences will be able to rediscover the frantic energy of the 88-year-old’s work with a survey of over 100 pieces in his oeuvre at Miami's PAMM —this is the artist's first solo museum show in North America.

Learn the interactive beauty of cinetic art. The best part. This saturday is FREE.

Are you coming? I'll be there around 10am. Please, send me emails to coordinate.

Friday, March 10, 2017

cherry-picking the past

Jimmi lived an intense short life and yet, left a legacy wondrous artistry   

Dear class:

I should clarify some of the points discussed in our last class, since a lot was said. I implied that we should learn to see the past with the proper lenses of the past. You have to start at the bottom and build up to the next level and so on. Without proper context, one's analysis of history is disconnected. History supervenes on events. History is always a collection of events and events are big lumps of contexts. One doesn't go all the way up without proper understanding of what happens at the bottom. 

To that effect, I brought up the Flower Generation of the 1960s and their use of drugs, which is quite different, in terms of social consequence, from, say, our present opioid epidemic. Past & present belong in different social & political contexts. It's a mistake to hastily link the two without sorting the contextual differences. To that effect I made the point that Jimmi Hendrix's formidable artistry cannot be separated from his drug addiction.*

What I meant to say is that wishing for a different outcome in the case of Hendrix's life, i.e., that his life would have been better off without his drug addiction, simply points to a fruitless projection of the present into the perfect sufficiency of the past.

One cannot cherry-pick the past into an idyllic version of one's choosing.

But my point was broader. I wasn't talking about drugs per se, but about comprehending the past in its proper context. Judging the past demands subtle analysis.  

The past comes together with all its GLUNK.

I had Spinoza's Property #33 of his Ethics in mind:
Things could not have been brought into being by God in any manner or in any order different from that which has in fact obtained.
Which brings us to the actual world. Ours. With all its seemingly unsolvable problems. Our world is perfect in all its foul-smelling nastiness, boundless greed  and gaping horror. But there's also youth, faith, honesty and much beauty. Embrace the world: all of it.


 This world cannot not have you in it!  

* This in no way glamorizes drug addiction. There is no "glamorization" of a life, because a life is irreducible to any possible description of it. Heroin was the drug of choice of bebop virtuosos that revolutionized jazz in the 1940s: Charlie Parker, Thelonius Monk, Bud Powell, Charles Mingus, Dexter Gordon, Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, et all. Why do we find this problem? Bebop's context! Perhaps bebop was a sort of "contagious disease." There was the hardship of racial segregation, musical discovery, the hardship of a music form understood only by a few, etc.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

PHI 2010 HONOR CLASSES advice for your first drafts!

1. the paragraph form of your paper here. 

2.  how to properly transition from paragraph to paragraph (the art of transitioning phrases).

3. every factoid you mention in your draft must be cited in-text and in the bibliography. 

4. follow this advice, please.

5. refrain from injecting your thesis views in the counter's paragraphs, or using innuendo or disparaging the counters' views. this is prohibited!!

6. do not just drop-a-quote like a brick.


A study show that a "retrieval from long term memory is a vital cognitive skill that can be practiced by children from the age of three." (Popovich, 2014)

instead, properly identify the quote for the reader:


A study published by Tom Popovich, professor of epidemiology at the University of Texas, concludes that "retrieval from long term memory is a vital cognitive skill that can be practiced by children from the age of three." (Popovich, 2014)

7. Rashila Fernando, president of the 2015 Voltaire Society, offers a good triffian advice here. 

8. do not Copy & Paste paragraphs. I'll detect it.  masticate & digest the ideas, internalize what you read!!! 

9. read your draft out loud once! read your draft out loud twice! your draft's words are your mind's distillation.  

HONORS CLASSES these are the guidelines for our in-class draft peer-review session (next Wednesday)

our in-class peer-review session is next Wednesday

click here for details.

triff's tomato sauce

dear class: stop buying tomato sauce from a can or jar. that's a culinary disgrace. make your own sauce. it's simple and rewarding and entertaining and liberating. this is what you need:

a decent 8-10 inch chef's knife (and sharpened) * later, you will need this too,
and a cutting board


x-tra virgin 1/4 cup olive oil,
1 onion, finely diced,
2 bay leafs,
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried,
4 garlic cloves, mashed & roughly chopped. method: place your chef knife on top of each clove and using the heel of your hand, give it a decisive thump where the clove sits underneath and crush away, then you can chop it (don't chop too much). italian old masters advice that the garlic oil is released much better than if chopped without it.
salt to taste,
2 tablespoons tomato paste,
a splash of white wine, (any pinot grigio works, not vino seco! please)
two 26-ounce boxes Pomi Chopped Tomatoes (or two 28-ounce cans whole plum tomatoes, CENTO San Marzano with its liquid). San Marzano is a better option.


Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions, bay leaf, oregano, garlic, and salt and cook, stirring until the onions are soft and translucent, about 10 minutes (don't be compulsive, don't stir too much your food). Now add the tomato paste and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the wine and stir constantly until the sauce begins to boil (if you use San Marzano plum tomatoes squeeze them with your hands as you add them, add the liquid).

Lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so to prevent the sauce on the bottom of the pot from burning. Secret now: if needed a pinch of sugar, or if you want a barky overtone, grate a cinnamon stick two or three strokes, just for a color. Taste and season with additional salt, if desired. Remove the bay leafs before serving.


*you are not a cook until you own a decent chef knife. no negotiations here. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Nazira's hummus

Nazira's* hummus 

1 cup dried chickpeas,
2 teaspoons baking soda,
4 garlic cloves peeled
⅓ cup (or more) fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more
⅔ cup tahini
¼ teaspoon (or more) ground cumin
x-tra virgin olive oil (for serving)

The secret is baking soda for your chickpeas. Never do this from a GOYA can. Go through the steps of tradition. This is how you learn the history and the secrets. Secrets are in the details.

1. Place chickpeas and 1 tsp. baking soda in a bowl and add cold water to cover by 2". Cover and let sit at room temperature overnight. Drain and rinse.
2. Bring to a boil, skimming surface as needed. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer until chickpeas are tender and completely falling apart, 45–60 minutes. Drain; set aside.
3. Meanwhile, mash the garlic and salt with a pestle, add the lemon juice; let the paste sit 10 minutes to allow garlic to mellow.
4. Return liquid to food processor. Add tahini and pulse to combine. With motor running, add ¼ cup ice water by the tablespoonful and process (it may seize up at first) until mixture is very smooth, pale, and thick.
5. Add chickpeas and cumin and process, occasionally scraping down sides, until mixture is extremely smooth, about 4 minutes. Thin with more water if you prefer a looser consistency; taste and season with salt, more lemon juice, and more cumin if needed.
6. Spoon hummus into a shallow bowl, making a well in the center, and drizzle with oil. Top with spanish smoked paprika.

mmm, earthy, creamy, nutty and pungent.

Serve this with pita bread (the pita should be hot, either in the oven or few seconds in a microwave)

Nazira is my gradma. A great cook, a polyglot (she spoke 4 languages: arabic, french, english and finally a heavy accented spanish). 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Interamerican class (HONORS)

Dear class: Sorry I missed today’s class. I had an urgent personal problem to attend to.

Let me address our test Monday. The topics are up. There couple of things I want to come back to:

1- Traditional Compatibilism. Remember that they maintain that determinism and free will are compatible. How? Our DNA, brain, social conditioning, etc, cause our mental states. They become Nagel properties (subjective 1st person reports) that the subject acts upon. It’s in this sense that one is free. Free will is expressed as a tree of possibilities. Suppose you have a node with (a) and (b) options. You are free at (b) provided you could’ve taken (a) and didn’t. It’s in this sense that they say you’re free if you could’ve done otherwise. The Traditional Compatibilist

2- Sartre’s Existentialism & the issue of facticity. Facticity is the external impediments one is not responsible for. They are very few: Your parents, DNA, name, culture embeddedness (at least the formative years). Everything else you are responsible for, including being responsible for the forthcoming hurricane coming through Florida. Why? Because you choose to live here. A student in my 10 am honors class asked me if the laws of nature are facticity. The answer is yes. Anything that constrains your free will is facticity.

guidelines for our in-class first-draft peer-revision session

let's peer-review our drafts! 

* Non-content related, followed by Content-related, issues.

1- proper heading, top, left hand side, Times New Roman pt. 12 font

2- double spaced, indented paragraphs,

3- proper outline of first two paragraphs: two-point thesis composed of first argument-sentence followed by explanation. Second argument-sentence followed by explanation. Then a two-point counter the same as the thesis. Be clear and succinct. Less is more! These thesis and counter paragraphs don't need to be long. Call it, if you think the sentences hang aimlessly. 

4- proper prefacing of each paragraph. the reader must understand "who owns the paragraph," (either "advocate" or "critic"). you should preface each paragraph with: either same-sex marriage advocates vs same-sex marriage critics or fast-food advocates vs fast-food critics, or government surveillance advocates vs government surveillance critics, etc. It doesn't matter if it sounds cacophonous.

4.5- internal coherence: check paragraphs 3, 5 for arguments 1& 2 of your thesis and paragraphs 4, 6 for arguments 1 and 2 of the counter. there must be a correspondence between these paragraphs. example, if you find anything in paragraph 5 that doesn't correspond your second argument in your thesis, the draft suffers from internal coherence. pay attention to thiis point.

5- look for argument vs. quote ratio (70% for argument, 30% for quote). here if the paragraph looks too good then it's not good. Write down C/P (copy and paste), "I need your voice." Very likely these paragraphs are copied-and-pasted. Just call it! or I'll call it!

6- Proper quote presentation. Each quote must be properly prefaced, what I call "dropping quotes" issues!
a) you must prepare the reader for each quote by providing context for each quotation. b) attribute each quotation to its source: tell the reader who is writing the quote and job description, c) avoid "he/she said" USE THESE SYNONYMS INSTEAD: she/he adds, remarks, replies, states, comments, points out, argues, suggests, proposes, declares, opines, etc. d) lead the quote with a colon, example:
Penn State University Professor Oakenshot denies Marx's claim that capitalism causes poverty when he declares: "Poverty predates capitalism by two thousand and odd years of civilization." or,  John Beherman, professor of Biology at Berkeley University argues that____________" instead of just dropping the quote without introduction. (Oakenshot, 46).

7- proper bibliography MLA source presentation 
a) Include in the text the first item that appears in the Work Cited entry that corresponds to the citation (e.g. author name, article name, website name, film name).
b) No URLs in-text. Only provide partial URLs titles, i.e., domain name, like or as opposed to or
8- Check for "too-wordy." long sentences are a nono. sentences should be short and clear. if the sentences are long cut them in two.

9- Check mark for improper interjection of thesis into counter. Each side has a paragraph to expose its point. You are not to express your view inside the counter's paragraph.

10- Check mark for colloquialism:
"you" (one), "kinda" (kind of), "it is like," (similar to, such as), "okay" or "OK," "real" & "really" (very), "sorta" or "sort of" (rather, somewhat), "pretty" (very), "anyways"(anyway), "a lot," (several, many), "kids"(children),  "cops" (policeman), "guys" (men)... etc.
11- Check mark for "fillers":  "basically," "absolutely", "definitely" "certainly," "for all intents and purposes," "due to the fact that" (use "because"),   etc.

12- Check mark for redundant adjectives: "totally unique," "completely finished," "thoroughly complete," "productively useful," etc.

Good luck!

presentism & PC are inseparable friends

1. presentism is the belief that the present is normatively infallible. in this sense they are time absolutists. 

this a Pyrrhic victory, because the present is merely the past of the coming future, and as "past" it will be judged accordingly by the next generation. we always find ourselves in a space/time box (what historians call weltanschauung).

2. what happens is that our world/view supervenes on our particular subject/view.

one is simply not aware of one's social embeddedness until later -maybe never. as time flows, difference sets in the world/view as a shift. we call this entre-temps. in a sense, we're always entre-temps, though we don't realize it -incidentally, presentists don't belabor these details.

here's a nuanced statement a presentist would disagree with:

Thomas Jefferson had slaves and yet, he was still enlightened for his times. 

but for the optic of 1800s America, Jefferson was by no means your average smarty. he was -politically speaking- ahead of his time. make no mistake: slavery is wrong, but this was not entirely clear in early 1800s America (for the reasons explained in 2.)

3. presentists's black-and-white optic ignores these necessary color gradations. they are not ready to wear 1800s glasses to understand Jefferson's times because their motto is "my time rules."

their thinking is unidimensional.   

PC only adds a layer of partisan avouchment. PC's problem is not its content, but its delivery.*      

* take these silly recommendations. transgender people ought to be protected, but you don't have to create a new sub-grammar to achieve social justice. if "she" and "he" don't fit this particular case, we still have "it." why should a non-binary transgender be offended that i use "it" or "this person" to refer to their non-binary status? this constant preempting a "possible" offense ends up causing the very problem it tries to solve.

Monday, March 6, 2017

PC and diversity

diversity is the condition of being diverse.

for the idea of diversity to make sense, it needs to be defended across the spectrum. diversity means that no argument should be rejected solely on the grounds that it's offensive.

here are some examples:

Hitler's Mein Kempf, (in the 1920s, still offensive to Jews in the 2000s)
Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses, (1990s, offensive to Muslims, particularly during Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini's tenure)
Ginsberg's Howl (offensive to 1960s sexual mores)
Nabokov's Lolita (1950s, still offensive for its pedophilic content)
Burroughs' Naked Lunch (offensive to 1960s sexual mores)
Serranos' Piss Christ (offensive to Christians in the late 1980s)
Hebdo's caricatures of Mohamed (2010s, offensive to Muslims)
Mapplethorpe's Black Book (erotic depictions of black men became offensive to some in the black community during the late 1980s)
Prodigy's Smack My Bi*** Up (offensive to some Feminists during the 2000s)
Passolini's SALÒ (banned for a long time, due to its pornographic content)
Spasojevic's A Serbian Film,  (banned in many countries because of its pedophilic content)
... etc,
that's a pretty diverse list (if you are ready to defend it).

clearly, diversity, as such, cannot check itself. we need a system of checks and balances to give diversity a proper space among the different factions pulling it apart. this is called tolerance.

tolerance doesn't require you to accept -or reject- something; only that you allow it to exist.

for the sake of diversity, that something has a right to be there.

are you? better ask yourself this question,  am I ready to defend such-and-such even if it insults me, disgusts me?

depending your answer, you're ready -or not- to defend the tolerance of diversity.

(as it turns out, these efforts contradict the idea of diversity -and the purported idea of PC as arbiter of such protection).

what true diversity requires is tolerance.

PC going amuck

this idea is crazy. language is not a top/down proposition. it needs to emerge from the bottom/up

proof 1: MLK's words are now (offensive?)

proof 2: "boy" and "girl" are offensive

proof 3: "freshman" is sexist

proof 4: "mothers" can be sexually offensive

proof 5: (math is offensive)

proof 6: a new sub-grammar (to avoid being offensive)

proof 7:  Schiele's art is offensive (& should be covered) 

proof 8: Balthus @ the MET is offensive

proof 9: skii slopes are masculinized (how about gravity?)

proof 10: deserves a quote (benches' handrails are hostile)
Handrails also divide the benches at Trinity Church and Jamaica Pond, and solar panels segment flashy new seats in Central Square. This is hostile architecture. These narrowly spaced partitions—like concrete spikes on highway medians and iron studs on sidewalks—exist to keep people from lying down when they have no place else to sleep. Hostile architecture is designed to repel the homeless and others who “loiter” in public spaces.
proof 11: the statement, "effort was 10 percent of the grade" in a syllabus is "sexual harassment"

the list goes on and on...

Thursday, March 2, 2017

mind experiments. why? (for gabrielle)

gedankenexperimente (G) for short, are used in every discipline.

here are some famous Gs.

Zeno's arrow 
Putnam's Twin Earth,
Thomson's violinist, 
Einstein's elevator, 
Seartle's Chinese room, 
Schrödinger's cat,
Maxwell's demon, 
Foot's Trolley Problem,
Einstein's light beam,
Ship of Theseus, 

and many more......................................

what are the conditions under which G operates? It should not violate either logical or causal possibilities. 

what do Gs achieve?

1. they challenge the prevailing status quo (which includes activities such as correcting misinformation, or misapprehension;
2. they identify flaws in the arguments presented, to preserve objectively established facts, and to refute specific assertions that some particular thing is permissible, forbidden, known, believed, possible, or necessary;
3. they extrapolate beyond the boundaries of already established fact; predict and forecast the (otherwise) indefinite and unknowable future;
4. they explain the past; the retrodiction, postdiction and hindcasting of the (otherwise) indefinite and unknowable past;
5. they facilitate decision making, choice and strategy selection;
6. they solve problems, and generate ideas;
7. they move current (often insoluble) problems into another, more helpful and more productive problem space;
8. they attribute causation, preventability, blame and responsibility for specific outcomes;
assess culpability and compensatory damages in social and legal contexts;
9. they ensure the repeat of past success;

mind experiments are great to investigate essential properties in things.
an essential property is one that the thing cannot lose without ceasing to exist. example: consciousness in persons.

I presented in class the possibility that I, Triff, am Haitian, born of Haitian parents. Is it possible? Yes. If so, that shows that my race, or ethnicity, is not an intrinsic property of myself.
If so, we keep finding consequences, and so on.

Hope this helps.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Philosophy Club First Debate: next Monday, March 6

elephants are being hunted with poisoned arrows

We finally will have a Philosophy Club debate (and I'm honored to be invited as observer).

The club has come up with the following topic:

How the human treatment of animals can improve the treatment of humans themselves. 

Few would agree that the practice above is Ok. The club wants to probe a more the issue of our treatment of those animals we use for food, entertainment, etc.

Carnivorous, vegetarians, pet owners, hunters, get ready!

Rules of engagement

*Be prepared with a basic argument to defend your position.
*Each contender has 3 minutes to expose and from then on, a minute to counter. 

The moderator

After each group exposes their initial argument, the discussion begins. Both individuals are supposed to be aware of their time (1 min) to counter. If one goes over the time, Marcos will politely add: "Your time is up" and yield 30 more seconds. This will allow the person to finish their point without being cut off. The moderator's job is to keep the discussion going, and keep the point from meandering too much. The moderator avoids circularity and takes back the discussion to the main argument. He will exhibit grace and politeness.     

Debate behavior

*Avoid addressing the opponent. Stick to the argument.
*When discussing, allow the opposer to talk and finish her point. If you get interrupted, you could politely say: "If I may, I wish to add something" or "Can I finish my point?" 
*While discussing the point, be prepared to acknowledge that the opposer has made a point worth pondering. This brings down the temperature and tends a bridge of consensus between you and your opponent.  
*Bring your behavior to show engagement and curiosity. Avoid facial expressions that show either disdain, contempt, or aloofness. After the debate it's better to have a friend than an enemy. 
*The debate moderator will reserve the right to indicate when one side needs to yield.   

Good luck!

PHI 2010 HONORS some good advice for how to plan your PHI 2010 draft

some good advice for how to plan your PHI 2010 draft (will you read the whole thing? methinks not)

PHI 2010 student assistants: please pass attendance sheets prior to your midterm reviews!

PHI 2010 HONORS getting your draft in shape

in this link, a brief analysis of a final draft (HONORS).