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Mark Alfano
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Very charitable. My guess is that he has some magical notion of willpower in mind after watching "Life is Beautiful."
Just a quick note to let you all know that the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on experimental moral philosophy is now up: here. Continue reading
Posted Mar 23, 2014 at Experimental Philosophy
Just a quick note to let y'all know that, together with Andrew Higgins and Jacob Levernier, I've started to map human values by data-mining obituaries. The basic idea is to display networks of the traits and other good-making features attributed to people in their obituaries. Here's an example, based on... Continue reading
Posted Jan 29, 2014 at Experimental Philosophy
(Cross-posted at philosophy etc.) When I was on the market last year, one of the many lovely people I met was an assistant professor who had a policy about beer. His policy was to never let grad students pay for beer, if he could help it. At first, this struck... Continue reading
Posted Apr 8, 2013 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
I used to hate conferences. Couldn't see the point of them. Why go to this event where you only get a few dozen minutes to convey an idea that took you days, weeks, or months to think through and formulate clearly? Why expect that people who only get a few... Continue reading
Posted Mar 27, 2013 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
Rebecca: My point was just that it should be unsurprising that there's a disproportionate distribution of responses given that there's a disproportionate distribution of comments to begin with. You seemed to think that this was surprising, since you put it in boldface.
Thanks for raising these interesting and troubling questions, Rebecca. I'm in the middle of my second year of post-doc-hood. I also took a couple of grad seminars through a continuing education program before applying to graduate school, so I guess you're basically writing about me. On question 1: it's hard to say whether the new state of affairs makes for better philosophy getting done. I'm fairly confident that my research has improved from year to year (certainly my publications-per-year has gone up), but presumably that would have happened whether I was doing a post-doc or starting an assistant professorship. The main difference is that, if one has a research post-doc, one has more time to devote to reading, thinking, and writing, so there's a prima facie case that post-docs have more of a chance to improve their research chops. On question 2: as you mention, there's no mystery to people's taking post-docs when they're offered. My first year on the market (2010-11), I applied to 200 positions (!), had a number of interviews, a few fly-outs, and exactly one offer: a post-doc at Notre Dame. If I hadn't received that offer, I would be in a different career right now. The second year on the market was better: I accepted a TT position at the University of Oregon, which I deferred for a year (with their generous permission) to do a post-doc at Princeton. It should be no surprise that these were a stressful couple of years. Something that's sometimes remarked on, but probably not given enough emphasis, is how much of one's time and energy go into getting a job. If one has to do this several years in a row, it really cuts into one's ability to research (and, presumably, the quality of one's teaching). Many (most?) grad students are also under-funded and many have children, this is even more of a problem for them. I know of two couples who put off having kids because the philosopher was in a precarious job situation. If I were to make recommendations (who's listening?...), I would argue that the main things that can be done to blunt the precariousness of many would-be philosophers' situations are: a) don't allow un-funded or under-funded terminal MA programs to get started at your university b) fully-fund your PhD programs, if at all possible c) try to offer multi-year post-docs, if at all possible (if the post-doc is only one year, then the person will spend half of her time frantically going back on the market rather than doing the research she's been hired to do)
Alan Hájek has a nice "how to" exploration of what he calls philosophical heuristics here. I found 5, 7, and 8.1.1 especially interesting (perhaps because I use them myself fairly often). What philosophical heuristics aren't on Hájek's list? Which should be removed? Are philosophical heuristics all that valuable once you... Continue reading
Posted Mar 9, 2013 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
For anyone interested in experimental philosophy and/or moral philosophy: Don Loeb and I are writing the entry for "Experimental Moral Philosophy" for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. This is a daunting task, given the huge amount of interesting and diverse work that's relevant. On my blog, I'm going to be... Continue reading
Posted Feb 26, 2013 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
CFP: The Monist Topic: Virtues Description: Some virtues, like courage and temperance, have been part of the philosophical tradition since its inception. Others, like filial piety and female chastity, have gone out of style. Still others, like curiosity and aesthetic good taste, are upstarts. What, if anything, can be said... Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2013 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
I recently composed a paper on stereotype threat and intellectual virtue, which I've posted over on my personal blog. It seemed apropos of recent discussion (or whatever you want to call what happened) on this blog, but is a more thorough engagement with the issues than can be had in... Continue reading
Posted Nov 4, 2012 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
Kahneman's advice is of course quite sensible, and should be followed not only by those working on priming but by all right-thinking experimentalists. The silliness of null hypothesis significance testing has been decried for decades. Without replication and meta-analysis, it's hardly better than scribbling some hypotheses on a wall and throwing darts in their general direction while blind-folded. I'm not sure why Eddy singles out the social psychological on character traits, since many situational influences are well-documented by careful meta-analysis (e.g., mood effects, the Milgram paradigm, the Asch paradigm, the unresponsive bystander effect), but it seems to me that a lot of the work in xphi would also benefit from the daisy-chains that Kahneman recommends.
The question of whether it's a good use of one's time to write a book review has come up once before on this blog (here). I thought the discussion was helpful, but one question was not addressed which I'd now like to put to you. Before getting to the question,... Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2012 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
Someday (soon, I hope), claptrap like McGinn's won't even be taken seriously. There are only three ways of relating to the empirical: you can be empirically informed, empirically uninformed, or empirically misinformed. There is no fourth option.
Here's a link to a paper that Jacob Berger (CUNY Graduate Center) and I have been working on for the last few months. It explores the potential implications for aesthetics -- especially the value of art -- from social psychology. Any comments, criticisms, and questions would of course be most... Continue reading
Posted Jun 5, 2012 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
This evening, I sent my book manuscript, Character as Moral Fiction, to Cambridge University Press to begin production. Here's a draft of the cover: And here's a link to the manuscript, which I'll leave up while the book is in production. It should be possible to make a few revisions... Continue reading
Posted May 25, 2012 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
This is copied over from what I wrote on my own blog here. It seemed relevant. This isn't what I did, and it's not what any particular person told me to do. Rather, it's what, on reflection, I wish someone had told me to do. If you're at a really... Continue reading
Posted May 9, 2012 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
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Feb 4, 2010