There are many kinds of truth. There are truths based on facts, truths
based on faith, and truths based on something that sounds as if it
should be true (truthiness). Then there's the kind of truth we find in
Sarah's book: stories and concepts that become truths simply because
she states them. She's a lot like our Lord and Savior, Glen Beck, in
The LAMTA has decided to address the problem of free-riders on the metro. So they've taken to installing turnstiles at select locations, including my home station at Hollywood & Highland. No way anyone's going to beat this system:
A key difference in the U.K. [rules of criminal procedure]
is that the suspect is advised that his silence can be used at trial if
he raises [at trial] something he would reasonably have been expected to say upon
arrest. For example, an arrestee with a real alibi would be expected to
say so immediately. A criminal who wants to concoct a false alibi needs
to line up people willing to lie for him first. There is a logically
valid inference from silence in that situation, and the trier of fact
should be allowed to consider it.
I wonder if the U.K. distinguishes alibis that the defendant would have known about (e.g., he was on a date) from those that he could discover only later through diligence (e.g., a witness he doesn't know about saw him at the time of the crime at a different location).
Anyway, I'm inclined to think this is a bad rule, because there is an equally valid inference, one not nearly as salient to juries, that the silence was based on prudential reasons - namely, on the knowledge that even an innocent person intentionally cooperating with police to prove his innocence may well inadvertently provide information that is damaging to his case (propinquity to the crime, motive, opportunity, errors of fact that can be cast at trial as intentionally misleading, etc.). And defense counsel is going to have a very heavy burden dislodging juror intuitions that an accused who refuses to talk to the police must be hiding something.
Brian Leiter's post on "party line continentalists" is very good. The first third (which is given over to rebutting some uninteresting comments) can be safely skipped over; the post gets going at the first long block quotation.
Greg Mankiw quotes David Stockman quoting Ronald Reagan's parable about high taxes: "You could only make four pictures, and then you were in the top
[tax] bracket. . . . So we all quit working after four
pictures and went off to the country."
Animal rights activist "C," per Jonathan Safran Foer, per Elizabeth Kolbert's review of the Foer's "Eating Animals" in the New Yorker:
How would you judge an artist who mutilated animals in a gallery because it was visually arresting? How riveting would the sound of a tortured animal need to be to make you want to hear it that badly? Try to imagine any end other than taste for which it would be justifiable to do what we do to farmed animals.
In this book ["The Romantic Manifesto: A Philosophy of Literature"] and in a later one, "The Art of Fiction: A Guide for Writers and Readers," Rand generally relies on the same little shelf of Western literature (Hugo, Duma) that she managed to read when very young, between movies.
Per Brian Leiter, Robert Hockett amusingly speculates that Ayn Rand's success is due to "the way in which she afforded a sort of vicarious self-flattery to narcissistic imbeciles."
True enough, but it also cuts against Brian's point that Ayn Rand has nothing significant in common with Nietzsche! How many self-consciously serious types are walking around with copies of Zarathustra in their hands believing that they just might be the Übermensch? Alas, if only they knew that the highest, Promethean greatness consists in inventing a new type of motor.
Kieran Setiya has some skeptical thoughts on the X-phi movement here. It's a very interesting post, based on some cogent considerations regarding the seeming ineliminability of a priori knowledge in the X-phi method itself.
I have two inchoate thoughts. First, I'm not sure it's fair to view X-phi as a philosophical position that denies the possibility of a priori knowledge per se. Rather, one could view X-phi merely as a complement to the more speculative philosophizing that the "armchair method" represents.
This objection to Kieren's post is inchoate because I'm not really sure I've got the sociological facts straight. (E.g., maybe Josh Knobe really thinks that there is no such thing as a priori knowledge of contingent facts. I'm not familiar enough with his work to say.)
Second, continuing to view X-phi as a philosophical position that deprecates a priori knowledge, the argument might be not that a priori knowledge of the contingent doesn't exist so much as it is that such knowledge is subject to defeat by empirical discovery. I think it would be fair, for instance, to say that Einstein had knowledge that mass and energy was equivalent. Arguably, this counts as "a priori" knowledge; while Einstein relied on empirical findings about the speed of light in developing the idea, he also relied on several paradigmatically "a priori" principles (e.g., the principle of relativity itself). And, also arguably, this insight counted as knowledge before it was ever tested. But - Einstein's knowledge, such as it was, would have been defeated had later tests gone the other way. If that's right, then the empirical has epistemic priority over the a priori.
This second objection to Kieren's post is inchoate because in the standard case, a single empirical experiment won't soundly falsify a theory. Armchair speculation may provide ad hoc, a priori insights that preserve the theory. In which case, the armchair beats (or at least ties) the laboratory. So it's a bit quick to say that the empirical has priority over the a priori. I'll have to leave it at that. Go read Kieran's post.
"The poet presents his thoughts festively, on the carriage of rhythm: usually because they could not walk." -Nietzsche, Human, All-Too-Human, sec. 189
I used to think this passage was derogatory of poets, with the idea being that their thoughts were too feeble to withstand presentation in straightforward prose.
But as I read the passage again just now, it occurred to me that Nietzsche's idea might be the opposite: the poet's ideas are so profound that prose is too feeble a mode of presentation to express them.
I was just awoken from a dream in which I was doing an impersonation of Elvis (old, pathetic Elvis) singing Roy Orbison's "Oh, Pretty Woman" (I was right in the middle of the desperate, imperative crescendo, "Be mine toniiii-hiiiiii-HIIIIIiiiight!"). Hence showing that it's not necessarily a bad thing that dreams don't often come true.
When I consider myself in the whole-human-being way I fully endorse the conventional view that there is in my case – that I am – a single subject of experience – a person – with long-term diachronic continuity. But when I experience myself as an inner mental subject and consider the detailed character of conscious experience, my feeling is that I am – that the thing that I most essentially am is – continually completely new.