Nick Byrd’s Blog

Free, online conference on the philosophy and science of mind!

The Minds Online conference starts today, has three week-long, and ends on September 29th. So mark your calendars and set aside some time to read and comment.

You will find that each Minds Online session has a keynote and a few contributed papers — each contributed paper with its own invited commenters. Papers are posted for advanced reading the Saturday before their session. And public commenting for each session runs from Monday (8am, EST) to Friday.

To be notified when papers go up, subscribe by email (in the menu) or to the Minds Online post RSS feed to receive be notified when papers go up. You can also subscribe to the Minds Online comment RSS feed to stay apprised of comments.

Conference hashtag: #MindsOnline2017. The full program is below: Continue reading Free, online conference on the philosophy and science of mind!

Christine Korsgaard on Reflection

Christine Korsgaard’s Sources of Normativity is one of the most impressive pieces of philosophy I’ve ever read. There are many, many reasons to read the book. Right now I am reading it because I want to understand Korsgaard’s view of reflective reasoning. She thinks that reflective reasoning is important for all of morality — #NBD. And her notion of ‘reflective’ is very similar to cognitive scientists’, but not the same. In this post, I explain Korsgaards’ view and how it differs from cognitive scientists’. Continue reading Christine Korsgaard on Reflection

The Meaning Problem & Academic Lexicons

Sometimes I spend days trying to figure out what someone means when they use an otherwise common word. I spend even more time trying to the difference between two authors’ use of the same word. It’s a problem. We can call this the meaning problem. In this post I talk about the meaning problem and some solutions. I think the best solutions would be open-source academic lexicons — i.e., lexicons for every academic field edited by academics from the corresponding field. But that’s a big ask, so I will also mention a couple other (partial) solutions as well. Continue reading The Meaning Problem & Academic Lexicons

Academic Fake News?

I was just on the I Can’t Believe It’s Not News podcast talking about fake news, academic fake news (e.g., fake conferences, scam publishers), open access publishing, and what it’s like to look like Neil Patrick Harris. I had a great time. The hosts, Beth and Elizabeth, are very fun and resourceful. You can preview and listen to the podcast below.

Listen

You can listen to the podcast in the player below. (In case you care, I join the podcast somewhere around 4:10 and leave around 52:30.)

Continue reading Academic Fake News?

What Does Christopher Peacocke mean by ‘Reflective Self-consciousness’?

The cover of the book, The Mirror of the World.Christopher Peacocke’s The Mirror of the World (2014) is largely about self-consciousness. Peacocke distinguishes “reflective” self-consciousness from other kinds of self-consciousness. Since my dissertation is about reflective reasoning, I want to try to understand reflective self-conscious — I am especially interested in what Peacocke means by ‘reflective’.

1. Peacocke’s Reflection

A drawing of a stick figure looking in a mirror.

When someone says ‘reflection’ you might think of mirrors and of light reflecting off of them. Or, if you’re like me, you might think of conscious, deliberate reasoning. Peacocke thinks that these two notions of reflection are similar.†

For example, we explain someone’s appearance in a mirror in terms of their appearance. After all, their appearance in a mirror just is a reflection of their appearance.

A drawing of a stick figure thinking about what they look like in a mirror.

And when we reflect on a thought, Peacocke thinks that something similar is happening: we explain a state of reflection in therms of the thought being reflected. And that is because the reflected state just is a reflection of that thought. So when you just reflected about what someone looks like in a mirror, your reflective state was a reflection of the thought of what someone looks like in a mirror.

2. Peacocke’s Reflective Self-consciousness

I found myself puzzled by Peacocke’s ‘reflection’. But when I remembered that his use of ‘reflection’ is ultimately about self-consciousness, it began to make more sense. So if you’re puzzled by the mirror reference, then this part might help.

 

De se 

Ugh. Latin. Some academics still use latin terms to explain themselves. Bear with me.

De se just means something like “of oneself”.

 


† “The reflecting state of the subject is something whose properties, like that of a reflection, are explained by the nature of what is being reflected, something that exists independently of being reflected” (Peacocke, Chapter 9).

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11 Steps Toward WordPress Optimization (for both of us)

This is a WordPress website. And I have done a lot of WordPress optimization in the last 6 months. That optimization correlates with a more than 500% increase in traffic and an almost 50% reduction in webpage loading time. In case you’re interested in how I optimize the website, I’ll tell you how below. Continue reading 11 Steps Toward WordPress Optimization (for both of us)

My Experience with Christian Apologetics

I took a few courses in biblical studies and Christian apologetics as an undergraduate. The courses definitely influenced my thinking, but not in the way that I expected.

0.  Context

For years, I intended to study engineering. In my senior year of high school, I was admitted to a public school with a decent engineering program. But late in the summer, I changed my mind. I had recently become a Christian and I was dating someone who was going to the Christian college. And apparently that was enough to convince 18-year-old me that I should go to the Christian college to study the Bible. (Aside: Can you believe that 18 year old me was allowed to vote and serve on a jury?) So how did I get into Apologetics? Continue reading My Experience with Christian Apologetics