I can never post at the same blog twice 
In the comments at Brian Leiter's blog, several of us have been discussing what it means for the profession that so many philosophy papers are available for download. David Velleman writes:
The recent trend toward conducting philosophy in ephemeral venues such as blogs and online postings, without entering it into the permanent published record, will have the result that future ages will view us the way we view some of the Presocratics. To the twenty-second century, twenty-first century philosophers will appear the way Heraclitus does to us -- as only barely accessible, through fragments gleaned from secondary sources.

This seems overblown to me.

We still publish. There are some exchanges that occur just in online fora, but anything of substance eventually surfaces in a published paper or a book eventually. Conversely, it is not as if philosophers before the internet published everything they ever said or thought. A great deal of philosophy got done face-to-face. In "Three Indeterminacies", for example, Quine discusses and responds to arguments raised by various critics at an invitation-only, closed-door conference on his philosophy.

Also, a great deal of philosophy has occurred as correspondence. Some important letters are eventually published, but others exist only in archives. Arguably, blog postings will survive about as well as letters have. Some important posts will be lost, but there will be a great deal of documentation available for future historians to reckon with.

I guess this might make some posts analogous to the ancient sources that we only know about because they are mentioned in some text that survives. Imagine that in 2108 there are no longer any surviving copies of comment threads at the Leiter Reports, but that copies of Footnotes on Epicycles survive on a server at the Vatican. I quoted a single paragraph of Velleman's comments, and so 22nd-century philosophers know something of his argument. They are unable to recover the context, however, and can only guess as to whether I have situated his remarks fairly or not.

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Reaching out toward Exceeding Our Grasp 
In a previous paper about Kyle Stanford's New Induction, I interpreted it as a wholesale argument and argued that it fails. I had occasion to rethink this while teaching his book, Exceeding Our Grasp, in a seminar last Fall. I now think that it can succeed as a retail argument. I have posted a draft of a new paper in which I defend this retail version of the New Induction.


Kyle Stanford has recently claimed to offer a new challenge to scientific realism. Taking his inspiration from the familiar Pessimistic Induction (PI), Stanford proposes a New Induction (NI). Contra the suggestion that the NI is a "red herring", I argue that it reveals something deep and important about science. The Problem of Unconceived Alternatives, which lies at the heart of the NI, yields a richer anti-realism than the PI. It explains why science falls short when it falls short, and so it might figure in the most coherent account of scientific practice. However, this best account will be antirealist in some respects and about some theories, but it will not be a sweeping antirealism about all or most of science.

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forall x rides again 
In my logic class, I offer students extra credit for finding errors in forall x. As errors are discovered and corrected, opportunities for these bonuses are diminishing. I have now fixed the minor errors that students found last Fall, yielding the new version 1.24 [080109]

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Blog meetup 
I was in Las Vegas for a couple of days visiting my brother (who blogs at Age Against the Machine), his wife (who blogs at Short Woman, Central Sanity, and the eponymous Bridget Magnus), and their son (who does not blog yet).

I also took the opportunity to meet up with Greg (who blogs at Obscure and Confused Ideas). Here we are at the Springs Preserve after lunch, Obscure on the left and Footnotes on the right:

Greg and I got to talk about a paper we're coauthoring, tentatively titled something like Einstein and identical rivals. One lunch face-to-face accomplished more than we could have done with months of e-mail.

C and I both had a fun time in Vegas. Thanks to all our blogger-hosts.

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A trivial trio for the new year 
Three items related to papers and publication:

Preprint, postprint

Christy Mag Uidhir and I had talked about coauthoring a paper on the ontology of musical performance and recording. I even listed the planned collaboration on my faculty activity report a couple of years ago, but we never got it together. The would-be coauthored paper was always too diffuse.

Last year, he published something like what his contribution would have been in the British Journal of Aesthetics. I wrote a response, which is now forthcoming. I had discussed the paper with Chris, but I had not put a draft on my website.

When I blogged about putting draft papers on-line last year, I had overlooked this complication: Almost all journals explicitly allow authors to have preprints of papers on-line during the submission process. Virtuous journals also allow authors to place postprints on their websites, but there is usually a waiting period. BJA requires "that public availability be delayed until 24 months after first online publication in the journal."

If I had put a draft on-line a month ago, it would have been a preprint and I could leave it up. I did not, and the paper was accepted; so a copy now would be a postprint and must wait until two years after publication. I could post it and pretend that I had done so a month ago, but I think the lesson is clear: Post drafts on-line simultaneous with submission.

Regardless, it will be published. And that is good.

Journal impact

Gregory Wheeler has posted data at Certain Doubts suggesting that the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science and Philosophy of Science are among the top five journals in the profession. These rankings are based on journal impact, the number of citations that point to articles in those journals, and so should be taken cum grano salis. They reveal as much about citation patterns by specialty as they do about prestige: Linguistics and Philosophy is rated number one, and the Journal of Philosophy is only ranked ninth.

Regardless, they have the scent of objectivity to them. I will gladly cite data like this when I am up for tenure, given my string of publications in BJPS. (Alas, BJA ranks in the 40s.)

Webpage overhaul

My philosophy papers page had long ago grown too long. I was using java script to hide and reveal parts of it; although it looked nice, it was hard to use and harder to update. So today I stirred some HTML together with some PHP to bake up a more straight forward site. Each paper is one line on the main page with details on its own sub-page. This makes it easier for me to link to multiple versions and allows visitors to read abstracts before downloading PDFs.

UPDATE one day later: I just discovered that some lingering, malformed java script made the sub-pages invisible in any browser besides Firefox. It should be fixed now.

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