Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Wednesday was the one day of the week without a 10am start, so was to be a lie in; but in fact began unusually early for me with the college fire drill at 7:30. As I'm used to these happening in the middle of winter, I fumbled not only for my keys but also dressing gown and coat, only to be almost embarrassed when we emerged into what was already a bright sunny day. Perhaps I should start getting up earlier more often...

Anyway, the result was three donuts for breakfast and plenty of time to get ready for the morning, though I still didn't have time to review James' paper for what was nominally John Broome's seminar on reasons (he wasn't there). I was surprised to be joined by Ronen and Martijn, given the topic was hardly very political. The same - with 'not legal either' - could be thrown in for Raz's class in the afternoon, which was probably the most hardcore of the three seminars on reasons I'd attended in 24 hours.

A more relaxed ending to the day came with Mark Philp talking on home soil in the Political Theory Research Seminar, and later with our reading group convening in the garden out back of the Old Tom. We were supposed to discuss Scanlon's 'Preference and Urgency' - a classic recommended here - but no doubt its insights seem truisms to us now 30 years later, for it wasn't particularly interesting. We spent more time trying to distinguish the analytic-synthetic and a priori-a posterior distinctions, and just generally catching up - which was also well worthwhile.


  1. I remembered the best of Kant's examples of the synthetic a priori: causation. It's a priori because things are experienced involving causation - I caused the object to move by pushing it, for example - but it's synthetic because it clearly could be otherwise.

  2. How is that a priori if we need experience?

  3. Because you can't have experience before understanding causation, at least in some rudimentary sense. Time might be another example.