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Eddy Nahmias
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How about this as a way to test the causal claims: Get a large sample of students and examine the relationship between their pre-college test scores (e.g., using the percentile scores on SAT and/or ACT) and their scores (using percentile) on tests like GRE and LSAT, and see whether the differences correlate with major (or even particular courses like symbolic logic). If philosophy majors go up an average of, say, 2%, while most other majors do not go up, I think that would be good evidence that studying philosophy causes improvement on such tests relative to most other majors (perhaps by improving reasoning skills or reading skills). Of course, this method would also allow us to examine whether the improvements, should they exist, show up across different types of colleges, SES, race, gender, etc. From the armchair, I'd predict that this method would show that studying philosophy does tend to cause a very small improvement in standardized test scores (pre- to post-college), while most majors do not, except for math and science majors may improve on quantitative tests (SAT vs GRE quant sections). I think the relevant data should be out there to be mined, no?
In case people don't know about this site and may want to let students know about it, it allows people to ask philosophical questions that are answered by various philosophers on the panel. I thought to share with this crowd since I just answered a question about free will. Continue reading
Posted Sep 22, 2016 at Flickers of Freedom
Thanks Aaron! The student posting, Peter Nennig, had asked me this question, and I turned around and asked him to do some research on it. I have a vague recollection of some programs that are not PGR-ranked being good at training students to teach and placing them in solid tenure-track jobs in a range of places, including regional colleges and community colleges. Is this the case?
Kadri and Terrance, this is really helpful. I need to think about it more, but it reminded me of a question that I can't find a good answer to, so maybe y'all can help. You seem to agree with the claim implicit but usually explicit in the definitions of determinism you cite--namely, that it is temporally asymmetric and that two possible worlds with the same laws are such that "they are not exactly alike through any stretch of time" (Lewis). So, what do such definitions say about this simple law as applied to two possible worlds. L of 'gravity': objects in this world move towards each other at a constant speed until they are touching, at which point they remain at rest (touching). In W1 there are (only) two objects 1 meter apart at t1. By t2, they are touching and they remain that way for the rest of time. In W2 there are (only) two objects (the exact same as the objects described in W1) 2 meters apart at t1. By t3, they are touching and they remain that way for the rest of time. It seems to me that W1 and W2 have the same deterministic laws and that from t3 to eternity they are in the exact same state, but that from t1-t3 they are not identical. Similar examples could be constructed with more complex universes and laws. Conway Game of Life examples can work this way too--different starting setups leading to exact same patterns, using same laws. Am I missing something here?
Toggle Commented Aug 8, 2016 on Determinism at Tomkow.com
1 reply
Holy shit! I can't believe it. Wait, that doesn't sound right. I can totally believe it, since it's a well-deserved (in the deep MR sense) honor for a great book. Anyway, it's the first FW or MR (or action theory) book that's won the award, as far as I can... Continue reading
Posted Oct 28, 2015 at Flickers of Freedom
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Should you be interested (and you should!), check out this discussion at the Minds Online Conference, which features a paper by Marcelo Fischborn arguing that neuroscience could in principle establish a form of determinism that would undermine libertarian theories of free will (though existing evidence does not yet suggest it),... Continue reading
Posted Sep 21, 2015 at Flickers of Freedom
While we're waiting for our next featured author (thanks Sarah for engaging posts that I would have liked to engage with more, but for lack of time), I thought I'd ask the community if they think there are any papers (or books) from the 20th century that have been neglected... Continue reading
Posted Aug 27, 2015 at Flickers of Freedom
Inspired by the need to start thinking and learning more about punishment for a conference organized by Gregg Caruso, by Gregg’s interesting paper posted earlier this month, and by this post by Jerry Coyne on the Norwegian prison system, I thought I’d offer a few musings here to try to... Continue reading
Posted Jun 23, 2015 at Flickers of Freedom
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Movies are long, well-developed thought experiments. Why don't we use them to probe people's judgments about philosophical issues? Do most people think computer/robot consciousness is possible? Ask people walking out of Ex Machina or Her whether they think the artificial systems portrayed in the movie was conscious. We could ask... Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2015 at Experimental Philosophy
Jerry Coyne says yes. Sorry to interrupt Gregg’s great posts, but I thought people here would be interested in this claim at the widely-read blog Why Evolution is True. And I thought it might provide a way to re-ask some questions that have come up in Gregg’s posts. Coyne thinks... Continue reading
Posted Mar 25, 2015 at Flickers of Freedom
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...of a non-philosophical sort. Consider voting for me in the New Yorker cartoon caption contest: http://contest.newyorker.com/CaptionContest.aspx?tab=vote Thanks, Eddy Continue reading
Posted Feb 17, 2015 at Flickers of Freedom
Jason Shepard, Shane Reuter, and I have a paper that is coming out in Cognition about people's judgments about free will in scenarios describing brain imaging technology that allows perfect prediction based on prior neural activity (short answer: most of our participants are OK with that and think such technology... Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2014 at Experimental Philosophy
Jason Shepard, Shane Reuter, and I have a paper that is coming out in Cognition about people's judgments about free will in scenarios describing perfect prediction based on prior neural activity (short answer: most of our participants are OK with that and think such technology is possible). I don't want... Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2014 at Flickers of Freedom
My colleague Nicole Vincent has led the organization for this conference: NEURO-INTERVENTIONS AND THE LAW: Regulating Human Mental Capacity 12-14 September 2014 at Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, USA. Georgia State University and the Atlanta Neuroethics Consortium (ANEC) is hosting an international conference about neuroscience and legal responsibility. More information... Continue reading
Posted Aug 21, 2014 at Flickers of Freedom
Here, hosted by the Center for Cognition and Neuroethics in Flint, MI. Looks like a really interesting lineup, including (to mention just a few of the many speakers): Oisin Deery, Zac Cogley, Jennifer Mundale, Tony Jack, Marcela Herdova, Justin Capes, Kadri Vihvelin, Gregg Caruso, Janet Levin, and Gunnar Bjornsson (and... Continue reading
Posted Jul 31, 2014 at Flickers of Freedom
Wonderful interview with John Fischer here. Continue reading
Posted Jun 6, 2014 at Flickers of Freedom
Tamler has cheated on his own podcast (Very Bad Wizards) to be the guest star on Partially Examined Life, discussing free will and moral responsibility, with a focus on the Strawsons, father vs. son. The episode is here. Enjoy! Continue reading
Posted May 6, 2014 at Flickers of Freedom
P.F. Strawson, in his famous 1962 article, pointed out that we excuse people who harm us when their harm does not represent ill will towards us. And one reason an otherwise normal agent may harm us without expressing ill will is because he acted “for reasons which acceptably override his... Continue reading
Posted Mar 18, 2014 at Flickers of Freedom
Abstracts Due: March 30 (500-750 words) Conference: Sept 12-14, 2014 at Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA More info here: http://atlneuroethics.org/ Summary: Modern neuro-interventions hold out the promise of non-invasively but directly, effectively, efficiently, and maybe even permanently altering people’s mental capacities. This conference will examine a range of pertinent... Continue reading
Posted Mar 7, 2014 at Flickers of Freedom
Abstracts Due: March 30 (500-750 words) Conference: Sept 12-14, 2014 at Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA More info here: http://atlneuroethics.org/ Summary: Modern neuro-interventions hold out the promise of non-invasively but directly, effectively, efficiently, and maybe even permanently altering people’s mental capacities. This conference will examine a range of pertinent... Continue reading
Posted Mar 7, 2014 at Experimental Philosophy
I sympathize with the commentator's concerns regarding the difficulties of making fine-grained distinctions among increasingly impressive applicants, though for reasons amply pointed out above, there is no reason to think MA students efforts' or work should be discounted. On the contrary, I'd suggest that PhD programs allow the MA programs to serve the valuable functions of helping to professionalize students and helping to distinguish among those students who really want to continue in the profession and have both the "natural talents" to do so and the work ethic, receptiveness to feedback, teaching aptitude and other things that MA programs both hone and assess. If a student excels in a good MA program, I would think that would provide a lot of evidence that s/he will excel in good PhD programs. Second, I can't help but wonder if some people at top PhD programs (not necessarily the commentator, despite the way the comments can be read) are biased against students from MA programs because they think that students with the requisite "natural talent" would shine through as undergrads (at top schools, of course), while those with MAs must have less of that talent and shine (only!) because of determination (and perhaps help from profs). I hope that bias can be expunged. Of course, the best way to expunge any such bias is for the MA students (on average) to kick ass in PhD programs relative to those who come straight from BA programs (and perhaps to drop out less often). At some point, perhaps Brian can start a conversation asking for impressions (or even data) about whether profs in PhD programs have better experiences (on average) with students who have MAs. [full disclosure: I work at Georgia State, a terminal MA program, so I'm sure I have some biases]
... Read these 30 interviews in Methode Well, it just came out, so I've actually only read the one I wrote, but it's a pretty remarkable line up of most of the major figures in the contempoarary debates (plus some hangers on like me), each offering a summary of their... Continue reading
Posted Feb 4, 2014 at Flickers of Freedom
This paper with primary authors Toni Adleberg and Morgan Thompson will come out in Philosophical Psychology and a prepublication draft is here (abstract below). In addition to presenting our failure to replicate Buckwalter & Stich's results, we also present an extensive literature search we did on gender differences in x-phi... Continue reading
Posted Jan 30, 2014 at Experimental Philosophy
First, the GRE (and other test) data is problematic (it's only measuring people who are applying to grad school in philosophy, a small proportion of phil majors). And from the armchair (but Patrick offers a good way to test), I have no doubt there is some selection effect, though probably also some improvement in these test scores because of the critical thinking, logic, and writing skills philosophy majors get. But I'm with Dan Haybron: WTF are we doing if we don't think that we are improving our majors' abilities to think well, read well, argue effectively, and write clearly?? And if we can't sell those skills to students (and to a wide range of potential employers), then we aren't doing our jobs. (I say this as a DUS who is trying, but not hard enough, to do this job.) It would be much better if we had some better data to make this case, but until we get it, I have no problem suggesting to potential majors (and administrators and employers and ideally high school curriculum creators) that philosophy does at least as well, and typically better, than other disciplines at improving reading, writing, editing, critical thinking, and communication skills (plus pretty good with creativity and problem solving), skills that are essential for a wide variety of careers (not to mention, life in general).
Yes, I know, my time as Featured Author is done (in an hour). But before I flicker out, I wanted to raise a sociological question for us to consider. I just watched the episode of Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, "Do We Have Free Will?" It's a pretty good... Continue reading
Posted Jul 31, 2013 at Flickers of Freedom