Hot takes on new things

Like pretty much everybody else, I’ve been thinking about chatbots and generative AI. Unlike other things I write about, like scurvy, this is a hot topic. It’s hard to keep up using my usual strategy of rambling here on the blog, ruminating, and letting ideas simmer. Nevertheless, there are these two papers:

CFP: environmental philosophy grad conference

For many years now— with a brief hiccup during the pandemic— the graduate students in my department have hosted an annual graduate conference. It’s a great event. I have been around since the first one, and I’ve always enjoyed attending.

This year’s conference will be Saturday April 20, 2024. The topic is environmental philosophy.

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Some days I have no idea how to do this job

Reviewer #1 calls it “well-written, well-researched, clear and compelling.” They say it’s “good to go.” Reviewer #2 says that the “ideas are evasive and not well developed.” The verdict is Revise&Resubmit— that is, rejection with encouragement to resubmit with “major revisions.”

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If you hadn’t nailed its tweets to the perch

I stopped using Twitter a while back, before it was an X website. The ongoing meltdown at that steaming crater in the connectivity graph where Twitter used to be illustrates why putting power in the hands of the super-rich is not a recipe for harmony. Contra economists’ assumptions, it’s not even a recipe for profit and economic progress.

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It took me years to write it

Fifteen years ago, I conducted a small study testing the error-correction tendency of Wikipedia. Not only is Wikipedia different now than it was then, the community that maintains it is different. Despite the crudity of that study’s methods, it is natural to wonder what the result would be now. So I repeated the earlier study and found surprisingly similar results.

That’s the abstract for a short paper of mine that was published today at First Monday. It is a follow-up to my earlier work on the epistemology of Wikipedia.

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A grue by any other name is just as likely to eat you in the dark

Over at the APA blog, Noël Carroll whinges about the fact that the blog categorizes his post as Philosophy of Film. He acknowledges that the label is used for a particular philosophical subdiscipline, but he doesn’t like it. On the one hand, the subdiscipline addresses not just movies but also television and video games. On the other hand, “film” in an original sense is strictly photographic. Today even most movies aren’t on film.

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Further adventures in art pluralism

A short paper by Christy Mag Uidhir and me has been accepted by Estetika. It further develops and refines the view we’ve articulated in earlier work.

TITLE: Does art pluralism lead to eliminativism?

ABSTRACT: Art pluralism is the view that there is no single, correct account of what art is. Instead, art is understood through a plurality of art concepts and with considerations that are different for particular arts. Although avowed pluralists have retained the word “art” in their discussions, it is natural to ask whether the considerations that motivate pluralism should lead us to abandon art talk altogether; that is, should pluralism lead to eliminativism? This paper addresses arguments both for and against this move. We ultimately argue that pluralism allows one to retain the word “art”, if one wants it, but only in a loose, conversational sense. The upshot of pluralism is that talk of art in general cannot be asked to do theoretical and philosophical work.

LLMs have the wrong ontology for scholarship

I have read suggestions that LLMs might help with the routine and tedious parts of writing, like a literature review. This is undermined by their failure to distinguish the literature (which is to be reviewed) from discourse in general.

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