Paper on Horwich's UTM

I've handed in my final paper for Michael Devitt's class on meaning (which was quite enjoyable, and helpful to me personally to boot). No grade yet, but I think it's really quite good. It's on the account of the meaning of proper names in Paul Horwich's use theory of meaning (UTM). I had a bit of trouble choosing a title, but settled on "The Methodological Gap in UTM" since the paper is less a direct criticism of the fundamental commitments of Horwich's theory and more a demonstration that he doesn't say enough about the methodology for specifying meanings for individual names, particularly proper names, to show that UTM suceeds in giving meanings which are both justified according to semantic deflationism and not subject to Kripke-type objections. (Perhaps I'll post a proper abstract, if I get around to it.) There is a stronger version of the paper in the offing in which I will argue that his theory, within the bounds of strict semantic deflationism, does not have the resources to meet that double burden.


Good news for philosophy at Brandeis

Philosophy department expands with two new faculty hires

Good news for students. Brandeis was a good place to study philosophy as an undergrad (small classes, about as much faculty–student interaction as you could ask for, and some excellent professors like Berger, Greenberg, Hirsch, & Samet — and Wong, but he's now on to bigger things at Duke); my experience there seems to have prepared me well enough for grad school. Beneath the surface though, there have been problems ongoing for some time within the faculty that I've become aware of. Thankfully these didn't affect my experience as a student, but they surely have an impact on the department's image in the eyes of the administration, and the happiness and productivity of department members. For a few years after Wong's departure (2000), it really looked as if the department was going downhill. (Fine books by Berger and by Greenberg were published during this period, however.) Hopefully these hires indicate that the administration hasn't been turned off from philosophy, and hopefully these new faculty members will elevate the level of faculty–faculty relations within the department on their arrival.

Another Bernhard Vogel gallery available

Austrian watercolorist Bernhard Vogel, has made another gallery of his work available online. This time it's mixed media.


There goes keeping this thing quiet until I had something of substance to post —and, no, I won't be starting now: I've got papers to write!

At least I've been caught at a representative moment: not particularly insightful and with typos (now corrected... I think). Par for the course around here...

Addendum: Scanning stories in my RSS reader (NewsFire, recommended), I read Leiter's except of my post and though "my, that sounds like something I wrote" but I didn't recognize it until I followed the link back here: I saw the words but didn't believe they were mine. (Probably, I didn't recognize it since he was kind enough to correct the typos when he excerpted.) Something similar happens when I listen to call in radio shows: I'll hear the host announce "and now we go to Jeremy in New York", and I wonder if maybe it's me calling, and listen in closely to check. It's quite amazing how the obvious can slip right past you!


Press Coverage of the PGR

Brian Leiter responds to recent press coverage of the Philosophical Grourmet Report:
Leiter Reports: Chronicle of Higher Ed Story on PGR
Leiter Reports: Sleazy Journalism, English-Style

I don't know who to be more disappointed in, the CHE or the Economist: both show a tremendous ignorance of the realities of working in a farily clubby academic field where prestige is terribly important. The PGR is a welcome breath of fresh air, and is an invaluable resource for prospective and current students as well as professional philosophers for providing an overview of the field (as objectively as is probably possible). Whenever I mention it to people in other fields, they invariably remark that they wish their field had a similar ranking. Being at CUNY, particularly —we were mentioned in the CHE article— the PGR is of central importance to how I will be perceived when I go on the market for jobs in 3+ years.