'Round the Web

I had papers to grade yesterday, so naturally I did a lot of web surfing.

Jerry Coyne has been taking apart Jerry Fodor--convincingly, and with wit.  (Though I have to say--Jerry Fodor is someone I esteem so highly I once named a cat after him.)

I'm the last on my block to see it, but this is a great interview with Peter Singer covering "humane meat," incrementalism, what he eats, how he sees other animal advocates, etc.  A must read. 

Recently I was pondering radical life extension, cryogenics, and the like, so this story caught my eye. Family fights over grandma's head.  Seems she'd signed on for a brain freeze, and the kids didn't like the idea.

Here we have Alexander Pruss explaining how atheists parents can't (logically) love their children properly, because they can't love them as gifts from God. Plus, atheist kids must (logically) have a distorted relationship with their parents, since they must feel grateful to them, rather than God, for their existence.  So we have:  insufficiently loved kid bowing down (is that it?) to unloving parent.  It's not an empirical claim, but that's what you'd get (he seems to think) if atheist parents and children had attitudes consistent with their beliefs. 

I think in my household our attitudes are consistent with our beliefs.  So his theory yields a prediction about us. Amazingly enough, it's....false.


Wayne said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who turns to the web when they're grading. Actually, the more I talk with my colleagues, the more I realize that people who don't surf the web when they're grading are in the minority.

Faust said...

I've been enjoying the hub-ub around Fodor's book. Based on my preliminary review, my sense is that Fodor is definitely over reaching, but I don't get the intensity of some of the responses. It seems to me, where Fodor is wrong he's wrong. Isn't this just a good opportunity to discuss the theory at a deep level? I've enjoyed reading the rebuttals to Fodor's work and his responses. I just don't see Fodor's attack doing all these horrible things people seem to think it's going to do. The guy is a naturalist for one thing. There is no way to get mileage out of Fodor as a supernaturalist unless you distort his position.

Jean Kazez said...

Faust, Me too--I've been reading the reviews and finding the hubbub amusing. I think the reason they're not "just wrong" is exactly because of their overreaching. If Block and Kitcher are right, Fodor & Co are making a rather sophistical hyper-clever point about how you slice properties, and yet thinking they've thus found a devastating objection to Darwinism. What I wonder, though, is whether the clever points are the whole substance of the book. Isn't there anything else in there? The hubbub might just make me curious enough to have a look.

Faust said...

Yeah I've been thinking of taking a look as well. One thing I AM sypathetic to is anything that attacks the over athropomorphization of Mother Nature. This is not a move materialists are entitled to in my opinon, but there is plenty of it out there, sometimes explicitly, sometimes implicitly. This seems at least in part what Fodor is attacking. But by itself I don't see how such an attack could seriously undermine basic unassuming adaptationism. But I'm curious to look a bit deeper.