Nick Byrd’s Blog

Why Critical Reasoning Might Not Require Self-knowledge

I recently reread Tyler Burge’s “Our Entitlement to Self-knowledge” (1996). Burge argues that our capacity for critical reasoning entails a capacity for self-knowledge.

Like a lot of philosophy, this paper is barely connected to the relevant science. So when I find myself disagreeing with the authors’ assumptions, I’m not sure whether the disagreement matters. After all, we might disagree because we have different, unfalsifiable intuitions. But if we disagree about facts, then it matters: one of us is demonstrably wrong. In this post I will articulate my disagreement. I will also try to figure out whether it matters. Continue reading Why Critical Reasoning Might Not Require Self-knowledge

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 and Reflective Endorsement

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 and Reflective Endorsement

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.


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’?

Christopher Peacocke’s The Mirror of the World (2014) is largely about self-consciousness. In the book, Peacocke distinguishes “reflective” self-consciousness from other kinds of self-consciousness. Since my dissertation is about reflective reasoning, I want to try to understand what Peacocke means by ‘reflective’. In this post, I’ll unpack that.

For anyone who wants to read the relevant portions of Peacocke’s book, everything I discuss comes from chapters 9 and 10.

1. ‘Reflective’ and Mirrors

When someone says ‘reflective’ you might think of mirrors. Or, if you’re like me, you might think of a certain kind of reasoning. But if you’re Peacocke, then you might think of both.†

A drawing of a stick figure looking in a mirror.Start with mirrors. When we look into a mirror, we explain what we see in terms of our appearance. After all, our appearance in a mirror just is a reflection of our appearance. So mirrors allow us to become aware of our appearance from a third-personal point of view.

Similarly, we can become selfconscious third-personally. For example, when someone sees their facial reaction(s) on the Kiss cam, they might become aware that they are no longer excited at the prospect of kissing their partner in public.

But Peacocke wants to argue that we can also become self-conscious without this third-person point of view — without mirrors, so the speak. After all, Continue reading What Does Christopher Peacocke mean by ‘Reflective Self-consciousness’?

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)