The FOE digest for 2011 
I continue the tradition of taking 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, and 2010.

I: One thing that commentators on Descartes fret about is who the "I" is who narrates the meditations.

II: In elementary school, there was a unit on letter writing.

III: When writing problem sets for Intro Logic, I try to use interesting topics.

IV: Brian Leiter is calling for a boycott of Synthese.

V: Last week we had the final class meeting for my 17th+18th Century Philosophy course.

VI: Last month, I discussed the unprofessional and craven reply by the editors of Synthese to the petition protesting their unprofessional and craven behaviour.

VII: When there were first calls to boycott Synthese, I was in a bit of a bind.

VIII: Two computer scientists at Stanford are going to be teaching a free on-line course in AI.

IX: I have played around with Google's Ngram Viewer before.

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

XI: A few weeks ago, I did an exercise in my intro course in which students read descriptions of two scenarios, answered some multiple choice questions individually.

XII: I have just sent off the final manuscript for my book, Carving up the world: Scientific enquiry and natural kinds.

Teaching (in general) and the Synthese debacle (in particular) dominate the round-up, with the usual smattering of stuff about life on-line.

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Happy sixth blogiversary! 
Today marks the end of this blog's year six.

The total content of the blog (just prior to this entry) stood at 116,034 words in 244 entries. Of those, 14,936 words in 41 entries were added in the last year. An decrease from the prior year in number of words for the year, but an increase in number of entries. So... brevity is on the rise.

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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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