Friday, August 19, 2016


374 days until the first day of classes.

Time! I need more time!

Not “time” in terms of days, but “time” in terms of hours within a day.

I need time to comment on a blog post a few posts on universal moral truths that discusses the relevance of moral intuitions that I want to respond to. It lends itself to no quick answer. Given the history of people "just knowing" that some things (e.g., interracial marriage) are wrong and others (e.g., slavery, the subjugation of women) are permissible causes me to cast a skeptical eye on any type of moral intuitionism.

Plus, I will need to explain a distinction that I use between linguistic intuitions and moral intuitions. It is one thing to rely on intuitions governing the meaning and use of a term such as "excuse" or "obligation", and intuitions governing the reference for these terms. I am comfortable with intuitions about meaning - under the caveat that I can stipulate a new and more precise meaning if intuitions yield a standard use that is too imprecise, confusing, or contradictory. But this is not the same as intuiting what counts as a valid excuse or an actual obligation.

Writing all of that up will take some thought, and some time.

Oh, and regarding my distrust of moral intuitions, there are some new studies out that shows that even people who claim to find interracial marriage morally acceptable have an unconscious aversion to these types of relationships. Some people can easily take this aversion as a moral intuition that these relationships "are just wrong."

I also need time to get back to the anthology on well-being - something I want to finish before graduate school starts so that I can talk more intelligently on the issue with Dr. Heathwood.

I am working through my Philosophy Bites podcasts to give me a stronger general background knowledge, mostly on those branches of philosophy that I tend not to go in too deeply such as epistemology, philosophy of language, and metaphysics.

This is an exercise day. This means a bit more than an hour spent on an elliptical at the gym listening to Philosophy Bites podcast episodes. Topics for this session are: animal beliefs, "Homer and Philosophy", Moral Relativism, Systems of Belief, "The Enigma of Reason", and Consequntialism. These episodes will inevitably generate thoughts that I will want to - but lack the time to - develop and post on.

The podcast on animal beliefs turns out to be relevant in that, when it comes to the treatment of animals, I note that animals have no desire that future desires be fulfilled or even desires for future states of affairs, nor do they have an aversion to death (because they do not understand death). However, they do have current aversions to pain and can experience current comfort and discomfort.

The podcast on moral relativism concerns the incoherence in the belief, "All morality as relative; therefore, as an absolute moral fact it is wrong to impose one's moral beliefs on others."

In "Systems of Beliefs", Jonnathon Glover argued that epistemology should teach people to be more tolerant of the belief systems of others given that no belief system has an absolutely firm foundation.

In the "Enigma of Reason" podcast, Dan Sperber argues that our capacity to reason did not evolve to discover truth but to persuade others - a hypothesis that needs to answer the question of why would we want to persuade others? Or, "persuade others of what, exactly?"

And Phillip Pettit's take on consequentialism is that the consequences that determine whether an act is right or wrong are not limited to pleasure and avoidance of pain, or happiness and the avoidance of suffering. Rather, the consequences that matter include integrity, respect, honesty, and compassion. This is a view of consequentialism that gets near to my own view where "what matters" (or, more precisely, "what ought to matter") are those things that people generally have reasons to make matter (promote a desire for or an aversion to).

As I illustrate above, several items come up in these broadcasts that I would like to write a post on, but time is limited, and most things go unsaid.

I tend to fit my writing in while riding on the bus to and from work - and thinking about (often reconsidering) what I wrote (or will write) while walking to and and from the bus stop. This explains why I do less writing on the weekends. I am not travelling on the bus.

On all of these things, I need time to write up ideas since it is in the writing up of my posts that I do the most learning. I cannot count the number of times I started a post on something that I thought I understood in an article or podcast episode, and ended with an entirely new understanding of what I was writing about. The writing is essential to my understanding, but it takes a great deal of time.

Speaking about writing, I need to add a few more sections to the Desirism posts.

Holding down a full-time job takes a huge chunk of time out of the day - not only the time spent at work but the time spent going to and from work. There's the time I spend with my wife, time socializing with others, and some time devoted to recreation.

And there's sleep. I consider the need for sleep to be an illness - a physical defect that robs people of about a third of their life. Given the huge costs associated with the need to sleep, I would think that researchers should be putting a lot more effort into finding a cure or, at least, an effective treatment - granting people more hours each day in which they can be living their lives.

374 days to go until the first day of classes.

I need those days to be longer. I figure about sixteen more hours in a day ought to do it.

No comments: