Problems in logic and the application of terms 
Brian Leiter has a recent post which I'll quote in full:
Open-access textbooks
Here's one in logic, that will be familiar to many readers.

The link is to a page for Arguments: Deductive Logic Exercises by Howard Pospesel and David Marans. The book was originally published in 1978 and has been long out of print. Rights have reverted to the authors, who have made scanned PDFs available for free.

The frontmatter includes the statement, "Permission is hereby granted for reprinting this work in whole or in part if, and only if, the material includes [this disclaimer]." The right to reprint is something, but it is not actually open-access. The book is free to share, but only inside a password locked PDF. Nobody can use the problem sets in another context or adapt them for somewhat different purposes. They can't even typset it properly to make it anything besides the image files of scanned pages.

Regardless, the book is kind of nifty. One thing that people who teach logic inevitably need is more exercises, either to assign as homework or to use as exam questions. And that's all Arguments is, page after page of sentences and arguments. They are divided into chapters, but numbered continuously. I was amused to find this in the middle of the book:
299 "He whose TESTICLES are crushed or whose male MEMBER is cut off shall not ENTER the assembly of the Lord."
Deuteronomy 23:1
(Universe: people)

I used to be able to identify translations of the Bible just from how they translated this one verse. Pospesel and Marans have used the Revised Standard Version.

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Words about words 
Miles MacLeod has a nice review of my book over at Metascience. You can see the first two pages for free, which are the ones before he starts raising objections.

I updated the on-line drafts of my work-in-progress papers about what Nelson Goodman would say and what John Stuart Mill would say.

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What venues are there for short papers? 
I have written several papers recently which have turned out to be a bit under 3,000 words each. I could make them longer, of course, but I think they address everything they need to address in order to make the point that I want them to make.

To extend one of these papers, I'd have to widen its scope. Instead of being a short paper that gives a concise argument for P, it would probably become a longer paper that gives arguments for P and Q with implications for R. Worse still, it could become a paper primarily about Q with a section addressing P. But I really think that P is important enough to have a paper written about it, even if I can make the point in 3,000 words!

But where can one submit a paper of this length, without having referees either reject it or insist that it should be resubmitted in a longer form?

Obviously Analysis, but hopefully there are other options. I searched the web for advice and turned up blog discussions from 2007 at Leiter Reports and at Thoughts, Arguments, and Rants. A few comments:

1. The discussion is a bit confused because the original question is posed about "discussion notes", which might mean either short articles or articles that are a direct response to just one other article. I have something in the works that's a discussion piece in the second sense, but it's comfortably long. The two short items are more general.

2. Brian Weatherson suggests that lots of short items should just appear as blog posts, especially if they are just one-off responses to an article or book. I totally agree. Just blog it and move on is good general advice for short items of the 'Some Philosopher Is Wrong' variety.

3. In addition to Analysis, people recommend Phil Quarterly and Dialectica. So there are some options, at least.

4. The commenters on both posts are enthusiastic about the idea that there should be a new journal aimed at short pieces, an on-line or even open-access affair after the fashion of Analysis. One commenter even says that there is something like that in the works but he's not at liberty to share. I suspect, since that was 2007, that it never came to be.

Do any of ya'll have better or more current advice? The three venues I listed above give me someplace to start, but perhaps the landscape has changed in the six years since those blog posts.

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Douglas on progress 
A follow-up to yesterdays' post about Heather Douglas' discussion of Kuhn's inability to make sense of progress:

Her central claim is that Kuhn's trouble with progress results from a commitment to the distinction between pure and applied science. She traces the history of the distinction and shows that it was an unquestioned, implicit part of Kuhn's milieu.

She writes:
I think that this problem of characterizing the progress of science arises for Kuhn, and indeed for philosophers of science generally, primarily because Kuhn (and the current philosophical community) is focused on pure science, quite divorced from applied science. It is an interest in theory, in the theoretical development of science, and theory alone, that generates the puzzle of progress. As such, it is somewhat an artificial problem. If we relinquish the idea that science is only or primarily about theory, the problem of progress disappears.

If we include applications, then there is an obvious sense in which science progresses. Its instrumental power increases over time, as it allows for greater prediction and control. She writes, "With the pure vs. applied distinction removed, scientific progress can be defined in terms of the increased capacity to predict, manipulate, and intervene in various contexts."

Yet she recognizes a dilemma for this account of progress. Either (a) any gain in instrumental power counts as progress or (b) only increase in valuable and important power matters.

(a) The first horn of the dilemma means that even monstrous and terrible power (e.g., efficient methods for genocide) would count as progress. This would not be a "sense of scientific progress that sounds genuinely like progress, with all its positive connotations."

(b) The second horn of the dilemma, Douglas' preferred option, requires (to put it crudely) that real progress is power to predict things that matter and to do good in the world. This aligns scientific progress closely to social progress.

Given my pragmatist sympathies, I am happy to accept that prediction and control are the bounty of science. Yet I don't see how this overcomes Kuhn's problem with progress. A Kuhnian paradigm change can disrupt theoretical progress because standards and meanings change, making some old puzzles either irrelevant or incoherent. In a similar way, social change can disrupt instrumental progress because values change, making old accomplishments irrelevant or worthless.

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Kuhn on progress 
We've finished Structure in my Scientific Revolutions course, and today we're discussing Heather Douglas' forthcoming article "Pure science and the problem of progress". She argues that Kuhn is both committed to there being scientific progress and also forced to deny the possibility of progress. She maintains, furthermore, that this tension results from Kuhn considering science just as basic research. And she offers an alternative way of thinking about progress.

Kuhn even says that something counts as science only insofar as it is capable of progress. Douglas describes this point as "echoing historian George Sarton", which is an interesting connection. (We read Sarton earlier in the semester, too.)

For Kuhn, scientific change occurs at two time scales. Over the short term, normal science exhibits progress by posing and solving puzzles. Yet normal science only occurs within a paradigm. Over the long term, paradigms fall into crisis and are replaced by others. Douglas writes, "Precisely because of the radical nature of change across paradigms, because scientists have to give up on some aspects of the old paradigm in order to embrace the new, any clear rubric for measuring change across paradigms is elusive for Kuhn."

Sarton also views scientific change at two time scales, but his are the reverse of Kuhn's: Over the short term, the development of science is subject to the historical vagaries of particular scientists. They might fail to make progress and might even, for a while, write falsehoods into the annals of science. Over the long term, science is the accumulation of truth. Any once-held falsehoods are ultimately rectified.

So the Kuhn is a like a mirror-universe Sarton.

(More about Douglas' positive account tomorrow.)

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