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Ingrid Jakobsen ([personal profile] ingrid) wrote2010-07-25 12:37 pm

Serious philosophy?

I'm not a philosopher, and I've just read an apparently serious article by a philosopher which puts me off ever becoming one.

Seriously, this is an argument? Contemporary philosophers are allowed to spew out that quantity of word salad and still be taken seriously without apparently having given any thought to the subject matter of the word salad? Philosophers are not expected to think sufficiently about their subject matter to determine whether or not it's a binary, yes/no quantity, or just perhaps something with degrees?

And "free will", that philosophical subject of centuries, hasn't been thought about in sufficient depth that it's obvious to philosophers that it in particular isn't a binary, yes/no quantity? So that anyone who assumed that about free will in particular doesn't get laughed out of the academy immediately?

So, instead of any kind of interesting discussion about how one might develop more and more free will as one grows from a newborn into adulthood, and how particular decisions at particular points in time might make it easier or more difficult to develop one's abilities in terms of making moral decisions or taking responsibility for actions, and perhaps an excursion into the extent various animals might have some degree of free will, we get a beating-over-the-head with a paradox that doesn't remotely look like one to me?

I am quite happy to stay an evolutionary biologist, thanks.

Far more interesting stuff that grabbed my attention this week: solar-powered flying craft stays up for over a fortnight, so it's clearly collecting enough energy during the day for not just daytime flight, but to charge the batteries for nighttime flight.

Prion protein mutation that causes a structural difference that gets us closer to understanding what's going on with prion diseases.

Again off in my particular area of interest: another example of plentiful recombination and gene conversion in this case between strains of Streptococcus and including housekeeping genes.

On the other hand, divergent sheep DRA allele that's not undergoing much recombination.

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