Archive for: June, 2013

SPSP 2013 Contributed Papers: Explanation in the Biological Sciences

Jun 28 2013 Published by under Biology, Conferences, Methodology, Philosophy

SPSP 2013 Contributed Papers: Explanation in the Biological Sciences

Tweeted from the 4th biennial conference of the Society for Philosophy of Science in Practice in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on June 27, 2013, during Concurrent Sessions III

  1. Again, I had to make a choice about which of four sessions to attend, and this one drew me in.

    You might ask, "What happened to Concurrent Sessions II?"
  2. I know my multi-tasking limits, yo!
  3. On deck: session of contributed papers on explanation in the biological sciences. #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  4. First up: Ingo Brigandt, "Systems biology & the limits of philosophical accounts of mechanistic explanation" #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto

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SPSP 2013 Symposium S1: De-idealization in the Sciences

SPSP 2013 Symposium S1: De-idealization in the Sciences

Tweeted from the 4th biennial conference of the Society for Philosophy of Science in Practice in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on June 27, 2013, during Concurrent Sessions I

  1. The concurrent sessions required a choice (from five very attractive options).
  2. Just about to start: Symposium on "De-idealization in the Sciences" #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  3. Lots of discussions in literature of idealization, not enough of de-idealization (making models more realistic) #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  4. What are the strategies, processes of de-idealization? The session will look at practices to see ... #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto
  5. First up: Mieke Boon, "Idealization & de-idealization as an epistemic strategy in experimental practices" #SPSP2013 #SPSP2013Toronto

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SPSP 2013 Plenary session #1: Ian Hacking

SPSP 2013 Plenary session #1: Ian Hacking

Tweeted from the 4th biennial conference of the Society for Philosophy of Science in Practice in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on June 27, 2013

  1. Getting ready for 1st plenary session of #SPSP2013 "Some roles of mathematics in some scientific practices" by Ian Hacking
  2. Getting ready for 1st plenary session of #SPSP2013Toronto "Some roles of mathematics in some scientific practices" by Ian Hacking #BetterTag
  3. Actual title of Ian Hacking's talk: "Some roles of some mathematics in some scientific practices" (Maybe some summing?) #SPSP2013Toronto

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Baffling things I have read in blog comments discussing Colin McGinn's exit from University of Miami

Baffling things I have read in blog comments discussing Colin McGinn's exit from University of Miami

Sure, people are always warned not to read the comments. But in the philosophy blogosphere you might expect more thinking-through of positions, more recognition that what is metaphysically possible is not always plausible, and so forth. Plus empathy and stuff. And yet ...

  1. The baffling things presented here are mostly paraphrases (on account of Twitter's 140-character limit).  The commenters whose comments I'm paraphrasing would undoubtedly say I'm being uncharitable in my paraphrasing. I leave it to the reader to peruse the comments at NewAPPS, Crooker Timber, The Philosophy Smoker, and other fine blogs dealing with philosophy and/or academia that have commented on the McGinn resignation to see how many of these sentiments turn up.
  2. Continue Reading »

9 responses so far

Some modest proposals in the wake of Colin McGinn's exit from University of Miami.

More than you could possibly want to read about this case has been posted by the folks you should already be reading to stay up on happenings in the world of academic philosophy: Leiter (here and here), New APPS (here, here, here, and here), Feminist Philosophers (here), The Philosophy Smoker (here).

At issue is whether it is (always) wrong for a professor to send email to his graduate student research associate mentioning that he was thinking about her while masturbating.

I take it as a mark of how deeply messed up the moral compass of professional philosophy is that there are commenters at some of the blogs linked above who seem willing to go to the mat to argue that there may be conditions in which it is acceptable to email your RA you that were thinking about her during your hand-job. Because personal interactions are hard, y'all! And power-gradients in graduate programs that are at once educational environments and workplaces are really very insignificant compared to what the flesh wants! Or something.

Since, apparently, treating graduate students as colleagues in training rather than wank-fodder is very complicated and confusing for people who are purportedly very smart indeed, I'd like to propose ways to make life easier:

1. Let's make it an official rule that professors should NEVER email students, staff, colleagues, supervisors, program officers, et al. ANYTHING mentioning their masturbatory activities or the thoughts that pass through their heads during such activities. I would have thought this is just common sense, but apparently it isn't, so make it a bright line. If you're not able to follow the explicit rule, you probably don't have the chops to handle the more subtly challenging duties of the professoriate.

Anyone who wants to hear about what you're thinking while you're masturbating is either treating you within a therapeutic relationship or someone with whom you're in a position to share a pillow. Just take as given that no one else wants to know.

2. Don't try to date your (department's) students. I don't care if your institution doesn't explicitly forbid it (and honestly, I expect philosophy professors to recognize the difference between "it's not against the rules" and "it's ethical and prudent"). JUST DON'T. It's a risky call, especially for the student. (I have read letters of recommendation for applicants to academic jobs written by the thesis-supervisor-who-dated-the-applicant-until-they-broke-up. In a crowded job market, it's not a good look.)

What about love? If it's real, it will keep until the student is no longer a student. What, you say it's the student pestering you for a relationship? Say no! You can say no to other unreasonable requests from students, can't you? If not, again, maybe the professoriate is not for you.

Really, this should be enough.

And, for the record, having been on the receiving end of unwelcome behavior in philosophy (among other professional communities), I do not for a minute believe that such incidents are a matter of social ineptness or inability to read cues. Rather, a more plausible hypothesis (and one that usually has a great deal of contextual evidence supporting it in particular cases) is that the people dishing out such behavior simply don't care how it makes the targets of the behavior feel -- or worse, that they're intentionally trying to make their targets feel uncomfortable and powerless.

Spending too much time trying to find the possible world in which jerk behavior is OK simply gives the jerks in this world cover to keep operating. We should cut that out.

21 responses so far