Sunday, September 25, 2011

Nirvana 20

For some unknown reason, I had some Nirvana songs stuck in my head on Friday, despite not having listened to my old Nirvana CDs in some time. It was quite a surprise then to walk in to Tesco on my way home and see them on the cover of Kerrang! It turns out that this Saturday was the 20th anniversary of Nevermind; a fact K! commemorated by means of a special tribute CD (which was much better than I expected actually). A more expensive souvenir is this 5-disc box set (£75!), though there's also a 2-disc remastered version of the album at a more reasonable price.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ps and Qs (Bleg)

Something I've just been thinking about and want a second opinion on. (It's not anything I'm working on, just a thought sparked by something I was reading.)

Suppose we have two propositions, P and Q. P is true. Q is a more extreme version of P. Does it follow that Q is false? Or that we have reason to believe P rather than Q?

I think much depends on the content of these propositions and the way in which Q is more extreme than P. For instance:

P: Abortion is usually wrong.
Q: Abortion is always wrong.

Here P allows (though does not logically imply) that some abortions are not wrong, which Q doesn't. If it's the case that some abortions are permissible, then Q is false and we have reason not to believe it.

But one problem is that P, while true, might be under inclusive. For instance:

P: Abortion is always wrong after 30 weeks.
Q: Abortion is always wrong after 28 weeks.

Stipulate that Q is true. Then it follows that P is true also, because P is weaker. That Q is more extreme than P does not make it false, because it is true (by stipulation), even though P is also true. Someone who believes P believes truly, but they also have reason to adopt the more extreme position Q. (Because P is true, but not the whole truth.)

I think this counter example works, but it depends of course on P not being the whole truth. I'm wondering if there are other counter examples. I suspect, perhaps, there may be some in which the way that Q is more extreme than P is practically irrelevant. These would seem, at least, cases where though Q is actually less correct, there is no harm in moving from the correct belief P to the not entirely correct belief Q, given that Q entails P.

Thoughts and comments welcome...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Who Needs Males?

It's almost like something out of Jurassic Park: female guppies don't need males to reproduce.

Actually, it's not quite as exciting as sex changing. Apparently the female guppies are able to store male sperm for months after mating, before producing offspring. So males are needed somewhere along the line; the point is merely that releasing a lone female could ultimately end up resulting in a whole new colony of fish.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

GRAD CONF: Political Realism (York, UK)

2011 York Graduate Conference in Political Philosophy

Theme: "Realism in Political Thought"


On Wednesday 16th November 2011, the postgraduates of the Political Philosophy Group at the University of York and the White Rose Association for Political Philosophy will host a one-day student-led conference on realism in political philosophy and intellectual history.

The aim of the conference is to address both the ‘realist’ turn in recent political philosophy and to offer graduate students an opportunity to present papers, receive helpful feedback in a friendly atmosphere, and exchange ideas with peers and working academics in the discipline of political theory. The conference will be student-led with support from working political theorists.

Graduate students interested in presenting papers should send their contributions (maximum 3000/3500 words in English) accompanied by an abstract (maximum 300 words in English) and a short CV, by no later than 20th October 2011.

Papers may focus on any aspect of political realism broadly understood; including (not exhaustively) realist theories of political legitimacy, non-ideal theory, and political action. Presentations should last no longer than 30 minutes, with another 30 minutes for discussion. Please note 20th October 2011 is also the deadline for registration for any person wishing to attend the conference without presenting a paper.

Conference registration will cost £15. Any who wish to attend the conference without presenting a paper can write to check availability.

To submit a paper and/or register, please send an email to Mr James Hodgson ( with ‘Registration’ in the subject line. In the body of
the text, please ensure you include: the name you wish to go on the list of attendees; your institutional affiliation; and any dietary requirements. Please address all correspondence (including paper submission and additional inquiries) to Mr James Hodgson (

Saturday, September 10, 2011


The start of a new semester means new modules to teach. It's university policy here that all students essays get submitted to TurnItIn. I don't think this amounts to an assumption that they're guilty of plagiarism, but there's a discussion here on the Philosophy Smoker. (My comment here.)