A distinct paper on identical rivals 
One of my first publications was a PSA paper about what I then called the problem of identical rivals. The 'problem' is that an apparent case of underdetermination might not involve any rival theories after all, if the would-be rivals were merely different formulations of the same theory. In a new paper co-authored with Greg Frost-Arnold, I've begun to think more proactively about dissolving would-be underdetermination in this way. I now think of it as the identical rivals response.

With Greg's permission, I've posted a draft of the paper. Comments are welcome.

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Big monkey, logic book 
Rob Helpy-Chalk runs down the options for open access logic books, including forall x. He concludes, "Heck, the Magnus book looks like just the item. That was quick."

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Meme: Passion Quilt (and merch) 
Janet tagged me in another meme.*
Post a picture or make/take/create your own that captures what YOU are most passionate for students to learn about.

Give your picture a short title.

Title your blog post "Meme: Passion Quilt."

Link back to this blog entry.

Include links to 5 (or more) educators.
I ruminated on this for a while, but all the cleverness has been squeezed out of me by interminable grading. So I drew this:

(and not a cleverly disguised mule?)

This, of course, is one of the suggested t-shirts from my epistemology class. The rationale for including it in the passion quilt is this:

Philosophy cannot be an entirely abstract discipline. Its principles must apply to some instances, if it is to teach us anything at all. At the same time, philosophical examples can get out of hand. Carried too far, the obsession with examples is a round about way of being inapplicably abstract. As JL Austin once wrote, "over-simplification, schematization, and constant obsessive repetition of the same small range of jejune 'examples' are... far too common to be dismissed as an occasional weakness of philosophers."

I don't think that this is really what I am most passionate about students learning, but it is one lesson that I hope they do learn.

All well and good, but the clever reader will suspect that the drawing is just an excuse to make t-shirts with the clever motto on them. Indeed, I've made a Mule Barn Country t-shirt at Cafe Press; also a polo and a long-sleeved version.

Similarly, I've made the 'Evil Demons' shirt available in white and colour.

* Janet was flexible with the rules and so I will be, too. I won't tag anybody. As chain letters always say, this will probably have dire consequences.

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Reid rides again 
My Reid paper has now appeared at Philosopher's Imprint.

It's a publication, which is always a good thing, but I'm especially happy with this one. I pointed to an on-line draft of this paper in my first ever blog post. As I've mentioned before, I have a high regard for the journal.

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Brief debriefing 
Yesterday was the last day of class, and so it was time for the usual debriefing. I asked slightly different questions in 17th&18th c. Philosophy than last year, so I can't compare numbers directly. Considering favorite and lease favorite material with respect to philosophical content, the results were these:

yay boo
Descartes 4 5
Locke 5 2
Berkeley 3 10
Hume 7 3
Kant 4 1

Even moreso than last year, even students who find Berkeley engaging and interesting tend to be boo about his philosophy. I am surprised by the dearth of Kant haters, but they appear in a moment.

We also ended up discussing philosophical style, and so I had them indicate which text they found the most enjoyable (least unpleasant) to read and which they found most unpleasant (least enjoyable). Most enjoyable is a tossup between the texts not written by Kant, least enjoyable is a transcendental landslide:

yay boo
Descartes' Meditations 7 -
Locke's Essay (selections) 4 -
Berkeley's Principles 5 1
Hume's Enquiry 6 1
Kant's Critique (abridged) - 23

In my Theory of Knowledge class, I ended with a lightweight question: If you had to summarize the course on a t-shirt, what would it say? Answers tended toward what would make a funny shirt, rather than toward what would convey wisdom. For example:

"I've always had a soft spot in my heart for evil demons."

"ARE YOU SURE IT'S A BARN? (and not a cleverly disguised mule?)"

"You won't know what knowledge is, but you'll know what it's not."

"Knowledge: It's not just for brains-in-vats anymore."

In a similar vein, some students volunteered mottoes for bumper stickers:

"In fake barn country, beliefs in the vehicle are not justified."

"My other car is Nogot's Ford."

Now the only thing between me and a summerful of research is reams of grading.

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