There's a reason they call that guy "Hacker" 
Following a link from Brian Leiter's blog, I happened upon an article in which Peter Hacker defends an old-school conception of philosophy.

As Hacker sees it, there are two things that philosophers might be doing:

The first is metaphysics, enquiry into "the essential, necessary features of all possible worlds."

The second is a priori conceptual investigation, "investigations into what makes sense and what does not."

On the former conception, metaphysics is supposed to be like the sciences in producing facts and findings. The difference is just in whether the findings are necessary (metaphysics) or contingent (empirical science). Yet, Hacker asks, where are the established results of metaphysics? All philosophers have to show for millennia of work is controversy and paradox.

So Hacker advocates the latter conception, on which there are no substantive facts to be gleaned from philosophy at all. Rather, what one learns is that some would-be facts turn out to be nonsense. Yet, I ask, where are the pseudoproblems condemned forever to the dustbin? All philosophers of Hackers' stripe have to show for centuries of work is disagreement and dismissive hand waving.

Hacker's disjunction is plausibly associated with analytic philosophy so called. Claiming that would-be problems are dissolved by criteria of meaning was the method shared by logical positivists and Wittgensteinians, and conceptual analysis is perhaps what gives us the term 'analytic'. And the conception of metaphysics as fundamental ontology and the science of necessity is typically billed as 'analytic metaphysics'.

My rejection of the disjunction is one reason I do not self-identify as an analytic philosopher.

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Collaboration in the key of d-cog 
In the early days of this blog, I wrote a paper about distributed cognition in which I made use of earlier work by my colleague Ron McClamrock. Today I posted a draft, this time coauthored with Ron, which extends the earlier work.

The new paper: Friends with benefi ts! Hooking up the cognitive with the social

Abstract: One approach to science treats it as a cognitive accomplishment of individuals and so defines a scientific community as an aggregate of individual enquirers. Another treats science as a fundamentally collective endeavor and so defines a scientist as a member of a scientific community. Distributed cognition has been offered as a framework to reconcile these two approaches. Adam Toon has recently posed objections to this would-be rapprochement. We clarify both the animosity and the tonic proposed to resolve it, ultimately arguing that that worries raised by Toon and others are uncompelling.

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A short item on natural kinds 
One of the papers I was working on when I looked for places to send short papers has been accepted at Phil. Quarterly. I argue that the homeostatic property cluster account shouldn't be taken to define natural kinds, despite common misreadings which take it to do so.

Even the title is short: NK≠HPC

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2013 as the blog flies 
The hour is late, and it's time to review the year. The traditional method takes the first sentence from the first post of every month in order to generate a summary of the year's blogging; cf. 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.

I: In a recent item at 3 Quarks Daily under the title The Problems of Philosophy, philosophers Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse lament that (according to them) contemporary professional philosophers are too worried about what's wrong with professional philosophy and pay too little attention to genuine philosophical problems.

II: My paper on cover songs, coauthored with Cristyn Magnus and Christy Mag Uidhir, was recently accepted at The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism.

III: I posted an updated version of my paper on Mill on natural kinds, in advance of giving a talk at Middlebury College tomorrow.

IV: I was an invited speaker last week at DIY Publishing and the University, an event held by the NorthEast Regional Computing Program.

V: My paper with Heather Douglas, "Why novel prediction matters", has now made it into the limbo of things published online, waiting in the queue to appear in print.

VI: Via Leiter, I was led to Gerald Dworkin's recent Kindle e-book Philosophy: A Commonplace Book.

VII: I wrote in a recent post that I like the kind of book review which "offers a critical view of the issue and situates the book in recent discussions" and which also "treats the book as a bit of philosophy worthy of criticism."

VIII: I just read Bradford Skow's "Are There Non-Causal Explanations (of Particular Events)?", which is due to be published in BJPS.

IX: I am puttering around today and thinking about scientific realism.

X: Today marks the end of this blog's year eight.

XI: I have written several papers recently which have turned out to be a bit under 3,000 words each.

XII: The hour is late, and it's time to review the year.

There was blog activity for every month this year, although this month was thin.

Extrapolating from this sample, this year has been about what I've been reading, what I've written, what I'm talking about.


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Turkeys form a natural kind, stuffing is an HPC 
To those of you in the USA, happy Thanksgiving.

To those of you outside the USA, my apologies for this day in which you have to put up with people in the USA taking the day off to mark a holiday that has its roots in empire and genocide.

We're marking the day by having some of my colleagues over for a big dinner. Two of them are Canadian and so are just indulging us.

My paper with Heather Douglas has finally been published. In a time of advance access DOIs and on-line first, finally appearing in print doesn't seem like a big deal. But it means the reference is finalized, so I updated the references on my website.

I also posted a draft about natural kinds and homeostatic property clusters which I had meant to post a couple of weeks ago.

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