I'm applying for an intramural grant to work on a perfectly ordinary, non X-phi, piece of philosophy. (I want to think about the claim that someone like a florist might make that being required to provide services to a same-sex wedding violates her freedom of association in light of On Liberty.) I'm required to spell out my "Study Design/Methodology." More specifically: "Provide a detailed account of precisely what will be done to answer the question(s) or test the hypothesi(/e)s. Include plans for the protection of human or animal subjects and the environment." I think that I can provide convicing assurances that my project poses little risk to the environment. But how have other philosophers finessed these questions about methodology that are obviously formulated with empirical work in mind?
Many of you will know that John Stuart Mill advocates a scheme whereby college graduates, and the more educated more generally, would get more votes. Like some universities, he even accepts work experience in leiu of formal education:
If every ordinary unskilled labourer had one vote, a skilled labourer, whose occupation requires an exercised mind and a knowledge of some of the laws of external nature, ought to have two. A foreman, or superintendent of labour, whose occupation requires something more of general culture, and some moral as well as intellectual qualities, should perhaps have three. A farmer, manufacturer, or trader, who requires a still larger range of ideas and knowledge, and the power of guiding and attending to a great number of various operations at once, should have three or four. A member of any profession requiring a long, accurate, and systematic mental cultivation—a lawyer, a physician or surgeon, a clergyman of any denomination, a literary man, an artist, a public functionary (or, at all events, a member of every intellectual profession at the threshold of which there is a satisfactory examination test) ought to have five or six. A graduate of any university, or a person freely elected a member of any learned society, is entitled to at least as many ("Thoughts on Parliamentary Reform").
Virtually everyone today agrees that this is a terrible idea. But why?
Always the non-conformist, I let my "special month" slip by without a post. I'd had been planning to contribute something about what Strawson's account of the reactive attitudes can do for consequentialists (a lot, I think, despite his being read by Darwall et. al. as an anti-consequentialist), but wasn't quite sure how to say it on here and still am not. But I thought that a fun idea for a thread might be made out of unexpected quotes from philosophers, i.e., ones where they are or seem to be saying something quite contrary to their well-known views. A few of you will have seen this quote from Mill (1831) in my Facebook feed last night:
". . . liberalism, which is for making every man his own guide & sovereign master,& letting him think for himself & do exactly as he judges best for himself, giving other men leave to persuade him if they can by evidence, but forbidding him to give way to authority; and still less allowing them to constrain him more than the existence & tolerable security of every man's person and property renders indispensably necessary. It is difficult to conceive a more thorough ignorance of man's nature, & of what is necessary for his happiness or what degree of happiness & virtue he is capable of attaining than this system implies."
Ben Eggleston and I are putting the final touches on the manuscript for The Cambridge Companion to Utilitarianism, forthcoming from… well, you know. Now that most of the writing and editing is done, we're facing the real hurdle to getting a book published… the marketing questionnaire. One question on this questionnaire asks about courses/modules in which the volume might be used. I'm writing to ask if any SOUPers can volunteer names and numbers of undergraduate or graduate courses/modules at their universities in which this volume might be assigned in full or in part, as either a required or a recommended reading.
Saturday, September 8, 2012
Washington and Jefferson College
Keynote Speaker: Carl Craver (Washington University in St. Louis)
PITTSBURGH AREA PHILOSOPHY COLLOQUIUM
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Washington and Jefferson College
Keynote Speaker: Karl Schafer (University of Pittsburgh)
At the "start of the year" college meeting last week our dean showed some Powerpoint slides listing the number of majors in each department over the last few years. The point was to illustrate how the college is growing across the board. Philosophy wasn't exactly a good illustration of his point, however. In F08, the latest year for which he had data, we had only 39 majors. That was more than in F03, but not only is it a small number in absolute terms, it is less than in the prior two years. Next year's number should be slightly higher, and I think that we may not be getting credit for a few double majors. Still, we don't have the number of majors that we should have, and among other problems this means that important and worthwhile courses are being canceled for lack of enrollment—theory of knowledge and philosophy of natural science being two recent examples. As department chair, I need to do something to help the department recruit more majors. But what?