Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Aristotle's Grand End
Right now there is a question in Aristotle that I am wondering about. There are some people who argue (Broadie) that on Aristotle's conception of practical wisdom, the person who has practical wisdom does not deliberate about the grand end of happiness. Instead, she contemplates about her immediate, concrete ends and about the most efficient means to achieve those. On the other side of the debate, Kraut argues that the person of practical wisdom does include contemplation of the grand end in the context of her deliberations, though not explicitly so. Here the thought is that it is not as if when we contemplate our ends we explicitly affirm a commitment to the greater end of our actions--happiness. I am sympathetic to Kraut's view because my experience seems to provide evidence in support of his view. Even though I do not overtly contemplate my greater end in the context of deliberation, implicit confirmation of the greater end does seem to contribute to how I order my projects. For example, I prioritize teaching this summer over vacationing with family because of the end that I think will contribute to my overall happiness (i.e., becoming competent in teaching philosophy on the way to earning a PhD.) Also, even though there is no explicit commitment to this greater end in the context of our deliberations, it certainly does seems as though when we assess our various projects and long-term commitments, questioning why we are engaged in such projects, we justify them in terms of our greater end of happiness.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Road Trip: Adventure or Disaster?
So I am going to the Pacific APA in Pasadena, and I am driving from Salt Lake. Well, I'm not actually doing the driving, another grad student is. The trip should take about 14 hours. On the way we plan to stop and play some slots in Vegas. Now, opting to drive was done for the sake of saving money. I guess by the end of today I will see whether that savings was truly worth it. Maybe (though hopefully not) I will find out that my sanity is worth the price of an airline ticket!

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

The Woes of Falling in Love
Tell me if this is weird or not. I have this friend, who is not by any means high maintenance. In fact, she is pretty low maintenance and cool that way. She started "hanging out" with this guy. Personally, I think they are dating, but she insists on saying "hanging out." Anyway, get this--one day she is super happy and giddy from having spent time with him and the next day she is questioning whether she ought to hang out with him at all, not being too thrilled at the prospect of spending even more time with him. I am confident that her behavior could be plotted as some mathematical function--maybe the sine curve? So what is the deal? Why do women act like this? I think that this is the first time (as a woman myself) that I have felt sympathetic for the guy. So what do you think? :)

Monday, March 22, 2004

Ok, here is where I have difficulty with reliabilism, setting aside for a moment my main beef with reliabilism (i.e., the reliabilist blantantly disregards the skeptic or disses her). If a process is reliable (generating mostly true beliefs), its reliability might be explained either by a track-record account or a propensity account. Appealing to a track-record account is problematic because there can be processes that have wonderful track records, but ones which we would not at the same time call reliable. Similarly, there are some processes that have awful track records (perhaps because of limited use) but that we would nevertheless be inclined to call reliable. Ok, so if a track-record notion of reliability is problematic, we might want to appeal to a propensity notion of reliability. As I understand it, a propensity notion of reliability is just one in which a process is reliable just in case it is one in which if it were used, it would generate mostly true beliefs. And today in my grad class a grad brought up the concern with the propensity notion of reliability, one that I wished I would have brought up myself, though I think that I was thinking along the same lines as he... The problem with the propensity notion is that unlike a track-record notion of reliability, because the notion propensity is ambiguous and vague, we get to determine what processes qualify as being reliable in the propensity sense. If this is the case, then how can reliability be an objective concept? On the track-record account of reliability, reliability is objective--it depends on the performance record of the process, not on any judgments that we might make on whether a process is reliable or not, as is bound to occur on a propensity notion of reliability.
Procrastination...who is to blame?
So I have to say that this blogging is very addictive! Even more so than surfing the web. And who should I blame for this? Well, among other people, my friend Marissa.
Aristotle on Virtue
I was talking the other day with this grad student at Utah who argues that in order to be virtuous we can just study the continent person since her actions are ones that are (from a third person point of view) indistinguishable from those actions the virtuous person performs. Here the difference between the continent person and the virtuous person is that the continent person does the right thing because she has to, while the virtuous person does the right thing because she wants to--she does the virtuous act for the sake of being virtuous. I disagree with this grad student, though. I am not convinced that one could become virtuous by observing what the continent person does--I think that virtue requires more than this. At least virtue as understood on Aristotle's view. And wouldn't it be unsatisfying if virtue just turned out to be nothing over and above continence?
Hi! This is my new blog page. I hope to have some posts up soon on some hot topics!

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