RIP Dan Dennett

photo source: arstechnica Daniel C. Dennett was a philosopher of enormous influence and stature, held in the highest regard by philosophers and scientists alike. His work played a huge role in shaping my own philosophical ideas on a to number of topics: from free will (where I still agree with the thrust of his arguments) to the philosophy of mind (where I’ve eventually come to reject his approach). Right or wrong, he was a powerful and inspiring communicator, a luminescent voice of insight and curiosity.  Apart from any particular philosophical ideas, his work has also had a huge impact on my approach to how philosophy should be practiced. Unlike the vast number of academic philosophers, he wrote with a devotion to the pleasure of *reading*. He criticized philosophers for writing for the pleasure of *writing*, as if getting their ideas on paper were an end in itself. He wrote with personality and wit, recognizing that philosophical investigation is a fully human experience. I recommen

Philosophy at Specter of Reason

 Here are links to my philosophical writing at Specter of Reason (2007-2014). Philosophy Philosophy of Mind Intentionality Knowing How Consciousness The Conceivability Argument Zombie Mary and The Incompatibility Argument The Knowledge Argument Swampkinds Gilbert Ryle Ethics Free Will Epistemology Gettier Problems Philosophy of Language Meaning Knowing How The Analytic/Synthetic Distinction science Naturalism neuroscience atheism Dennett Jason Stanley Kant Kripke religion Sam Harris Philosophy of Mathematics

Philosophy Elsewhere

 Just a heads up.  I've started a new blog where I'm going to carry on all of my philosophical work. (You can find it here: A Study In Philosophy .) I will continue writing (sporadically) about film and politics here at Specter of Reason. However, for reasons I explain at the other blog, I've decided to create a new, separate space for new philosophical endeavors.

Poland and Palestine after WWII: A Comparison

My wife and I were talking about it this evening, how her paternal ancestry was rooted in a part of Poland that doesn't exist anymore. The land exists, and many of the villages exist, but it stopped being Poland in 1945. Today it is part of Ukraine. We discussed how this might be similar to what happened around the same time with Palestine in the Middle East. After WWII, Britain and the Soviet Union negotiated new Polish borders. On the one hand, northeastern Germany was absorbed by Poland. (That's why the city we live in now is called Szczecin, and not Stettin, and why Danzig is now GdaƄsk.) On the other hand, eastern Poland went to the Soviet Union. Over one million Poles were forced to relocate. Looking at the map below (Poland gained the brightly coloured areas and lost the grey area), it's easy to see that Poland also got smaller in the process. Poland's borders before and after WWII This was only about two years before Britain abandoned its Palestine Mandate, leav

Thoughts on South Africa and Israel's first appearances before the ICJ

South Africa's strongest case seems to be that Israel has not done enough to crack down on hate speech and possible incitements to genocide within the country. While Israel has taken some steps in this direction, the ICJ may decide that they have not done enough. A plausible outcome would be a provision recommending that they do more. As for South Africa's argument that Israel's military activities should be suspended until a verdict is reached: I think the case is extremely weak, and the ICJ is almost certain to reject it. On the one hand, South Africa ignores the many efforts Israel has made to protect innocent Palestinian lives and comply with the Genocide Convention. Second, South Africa fails to take into account the fact that Hamas continues to be an active participant in hostilities, and that hostages and other Israeli civilians are still in danger--hundreds of thousands of whom have already been displaced. South Africa's argument is ideologically driven, which t

Does Hamas = ISIS? Unravelling More Anti-Zionist Propaganda

Does Hamas = ISIS? What does that slogan even mean? Certainly ISIS and Hamas are distinguishable. I don't think anyone is saying that Hamas and ISIS are the same organization, with the same leaders, the same members, or even the exact same ideas. It seems obvious that "Hamas=ISIS" only means that their goals and practices are *similar enough* so that we should treat them the same. On that topic, I encourage you to read this analysis from The Conversation . It provides a good overview of similarities and differences between the two terrorist organisations, if you want to make up your own mind on the topic. It is certainly much more useful than  this opinion piece by Monica Marks , which I believe is representative of the pro-Palestinian movement. My suspicion is that its publication in Time was not based on the merits of its argument, but rather because of the anti-Israel rhetoric it propagates. The inadequacy of Marks' argument is plain as day. While she admits that

Defending Zionism: An Open Letter To Jason Stanley

Professor Jason Stanley. Photo taken from Approximately a month after Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, 2023, instigating the ongoing Israel-Gaza war, the Guardian published an opinion piece by Jason Stanley , the Jacob Urowsky Professor of Philosophy at Yale University, entitled, "My Life Has Been Defined By Genocide of Jewish People. I Look On Gaza With Concern." Though I had not had any interaction with Professor Stanley in a number of years, I felt inclined to share my immediate reaction with him. After all, we had enjoyed some acquaintance in the past, primarily spawned by my criticisms of his philosophical approach to know-how and his take on Gilbert Ryle. Unfortunately, our heated exchanges over the 2016 Democratic primary led us to lose contact. (Incidentally, I decided to break off contact first, though he might have been considering doing the same.) Unsurprisingly, he did not respond to my initial thoughts on his recent Gu