Who I am these days

Recent updates to the department website have added a direct link to my CV and a list of representative publications, so it made sense to rewrite my bio as well. Here’s what it says now:

His areas of research include philosophy of science, the philosophy of art and music, the epistemology of technology (Wikipedia and AI), and pragmatism. His work in the philosophy of science, motivated by a falliblist but non-sceptical conception of scientific knowledge, has addressed topics like the underdetermination of theory by data, natural kinds, and values in science. He regularly teaches courses in philosophy of science, logic, epistemology, pragmatism, and philosophy of art.

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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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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Parallel thinking about rap and injustice

On Cardiff’s academic blog, Tareeq Jalloh blogs about his work on drill music and epistemic injustice. The post summarizes a recent paper of his about the way that, in the UK, lyrics from drill music are interpreted as confessions of criminal activity. In the US context, this has been called the rap on trial mentality. Evan and I take it as our speciment example in our recent paper.

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All-some and a rhetorical misstep

John Norton breezes through an example of a deductive inference so as to characterize induction by contrast. His example of a valid deductive inference form is: “All As are B. Therefore, some As are B.” He even dubs this the all-some schema.1

It is a perplexing example. In old-school Aristotelean logic, the all-some schema is valid. In modern first-order logic, however, A may be an empty predicate. There being no As makes ∀x(Ax→Bx) true and ∃x(Ax&Bx) false, showing that the schema is invalid.

This got me thinking about whether the modern reading of the schema is really better than the classical one. I think it is.

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