Petition repetition [or] Synthesiana ad infinitum 
It seems that April has become Blog About the Synthese Debacle month here. The debacle, a recap: There was a recent guest-edited issue of Synthese. The usual editors added a disclaimer to the printed version of the issue, distancing themselves from it and saying that some of the papers in it were insulting rubbish.

There are now three different on-line petitions, all directed at the editors of Synthese: Eric Schliesser has started two petitions.

Schliesser's first petition calls for the editors to allow Barbara Forrest the write a response to Francis Beckwith's response to her original paper. Her paper, recall, is the one that led the editors to apologize for the guest-edited issue of their own journal in the first place. In Beckwith's reply, he uses the editors' disclaimer as evidence that the original paper was incompetent!

Schliesser's second petition calls for the editors to explain how and why they allowed Beckwith to publish such a brazen reply.

The third petition, organized by Brian Leiter, demands that the editors retract the the disclaimer and apologize. Ingo Brigandt and Mohan Matthen provide strong arguments for signing it.

I have signed all three, although I worry that the grand buffet of petitions will dilute the appropriate outrage. One might object to Schliesser's first petition for procedural reasons, on the grounds that allowing Forrest a reponse would be the wrong form of redress, even if one thought that the editors well and truly cocked this up. Yet a weak showing for that petition might be taken as somehow vindicating the editors and Beckwith's response. Bleah.

I am still prepared to give mitigated support to a boycott of the journal, so petitions now are weak sauce. I'll sign them, though, and so should you.*


* Obviously, you shouldn't just sign them because I said you should. Follow some links. Read up on it. Then sign.

Update, 3May


Leiter's petition, which I think was the most important, has now closed. It will be delivered to the editors with roughly 470 signatures. Leiter provides a summary of signatories and comments.

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Offered without comment 
There was a glitch in the configuration of my blog which made it impossible to post comments. Said glitch should be fixed now.

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The undergirding code 
The blog software I use is a small open source project. It was abandoned and rudderless for a while, but now a new programmer has taken the helm. The result is the first update in a while. It necessitates a change in the appearance of FoE, but otherwise installed smoothly.

If anything has broken, please let me know.

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2010 in review, with over three weeks to spare 
It is now a tradition to write a capsule review of the calender year's blogging by taking the first sentence from the first post of every month; cf. 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009. Here it is for 2010.

I: Although there is not consensus about what would make a natural kind natural, most traditional views agree that naturalness is a monadic feature...

II: We often assess claims based on plausibility of style and content.

III: Several undergraduates have come to me recently asking about philosophy grad school.

IV: In my little study of Wikipedia, I initially stumbled on the difference between featured and regular articles.

V: Last week I released a new version of forall x: 1.28.

VI: My paper about the new induction has now appeared on the BJPS website.

VII: Stephen Hawking has been a great science popularizer.

VIII: Janet's blog Adventures in Ethics and Science has moved away from the professional blog collective Scienceblogs to the amateur collective Scientopia.

IX: In this post, I consider the game Puerto Rico as a counterexample to Bernard Suits' definition of game.

X: Being in Pittsburgh has been productive in many ways - although the initial surge of blogging, consisting mostly of meandering thoughts about Bernard Suits, has subsided.

XI: I leave tomorrow for the PSA in Montreal.

XII: A productive synergy of being a visiting fellow at the Center is that most of my social life consists of interacting with other fellows, and so philosophy gets done even in leisure time.

No patterns jump out at me. There is still some rumination on Wikipedia, but not as much as in some previous years. There is some amount of hemming and hawing about logistics, but some actual philosophy going on as well.

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Incubating ideas 
Part of life at the Center is the weekly reading group, where a fellow offers a work-in-progress paper for discussion. I have found this to be rewarding, both when my paper was discussed and when we have discussed others. This week, nobody who was yet to present had anything to offer. So John Norton suggested that we discuss our creative methods - how we get ideas for papers.

His motivation, it turns out, was two-fold. First, he wanted to think about how organized life at the Center might better support the creative life of visiting fellows. It can be tempting to think that the best thing to do is hide in the office and work, but there are diminishing returns on such a method. Second, he wanted to think about how one might help graduate students in the early days of dissertation writing.

In preparing for the meeting, I wrote up some of my thoughts. Here they are, slightly revised in light of discussion.
Read More...

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