link to writing sample:

When I presented my writing sample I received a lot of criticism. One main objection was that I didn’t return to philosophy of mind. That is, I never explain the mind body problem. Another criticism is that there wasn’t much of “me” in that paper, and if I am to write papers there needs to be more of “me”. A few simply refused to agree that red is instantiated only in shades of red, that if it can’t be instantiated in and of itself it is not a property (this one surprised me). These objections have sparked thoughts about the discipline as a whole.

The paper focuses on a particular problem in philosophy of mind, namely the causal exclusion principle. I address the problem and solve it using Shoemaker’s philosophy. I use it to show how two properties can be in intermingled and not be the same. They both retain causal powers in a causal story. I claim this is enough to save mental causation. I do not explicitly return to mental causation in the paper after the beginning. I was told that my paper is problematic in that it doesn’t return to philosophy of mind, it doesn’t explain anything in mental causation. My reply is this: I have shown a problem that is presented in mental causation, and I nullify the problem, why must there be more? My colleagues wanted an explanation of the relationship between physical properties and mental properties, and that is not what Shoemaker does. Nothing done here is explanatory, it is descriptive. It gets around the problem logically without explaining anything. This is frustrating to some. I have to ask: what is it they think philosophy is supposed to do?

Another objection: the “me” was lacking. I feel this is how the objection goes (the hidden presuppositions): you are supposed to show me why a particular philosophy is right or wrong, sometimes referencing the one you object. Philosophy, under this model, is a race for “new, novel ideas”, that if you can’t say anything original, you shouldn’t write. I feel this is wrong. What have I done in this paper? I’ve taken a problem in philosophy of mind, and show how another philosopher solves it. I’ve taken what others have written and put them together. Why is this wrong? Novel ideas are over rated.

The last one is a more philosophical objection. I claim in the paper that red can only be instantiated in shades of red. I was told there is no reason prima facie to claim that red itself could not be instantiated bare. That is, we have all these shades of red, they all have something in common, and why couldn’t that something in common be instantiated in something like “true red”. My response is this: that is just another shade of red. I don’t know what it means for bare red to be instantiated, for if you try to make it the case that it is instantiated then you’re just talking about a shade of red. This “bare red” is mysterious to me. It seems they want the universal, like “chair” to be instantiated apart from a chair.

More on this later.

~ by Barky on October 3, 2011.

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