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Charles Darwood

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Original essays on analytic philosophy, science, religion, and culture.

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Latest Blog Posts

  • The Problems of The Placebo Effect
    on Oct 21, 2010
    This post extends an argument begun earlier: Doxastic Voluntarism and Placebos. Recall that the placebo effect describes: an objectively measurable biological change (E) to a person that occurs if and only if that person falsely believes (M) that a c...
  • Does everything happen for a reason?The dictum that 'everything happens for a reason' is the sort of hackneyed cliché that makes philosophers want to cry. Why is that? Well, the reason for this reaction, we might say, is that the idea that everything happens for a reason doesn't make...
  • Doxastic Voluntarism, Delusion, and Placebos"How do I know what I think until I see what I say?" -E.M. ForrsterI. The claim that a person could cause a door to open merely by willing or expecting its opening, without any evidence behind it, should surely invite dubiety. Doors open and close be...
  • Causal Diagrams in Unicode
    on Aug 16, 2010
    CAUSAL EMERGENTISM DIAGRAMSA ───➔ B          ↗      ╱   C ───➔ DA ───➔ B     ╲   &nbs...
  • Michael Loux
    on Aug 13, 2010
    Michael Loux - Metaphysics...
  • Jaegwon Kim
    on Aug 13, 2010
    Jaegwon Kim and Ernest Sosa - Metaphysics, An Anthology...
  • The Illusory Appeal of IndeterminismIt seems to be a popular notion that indeterminism in general and quantum physics in particular represent a welcome repudiation of determinism and its remorseless promise of coercion. Free Will and Determinism are among the rare philosophical subject...
  • Slavoj Žižek
    on Aug 10, 2010
    Slavoj Žižek - First as Tragedy, Then as Farce...
  • Charles Taylor
    on Aug 9, 2010
    Charles Taylor - A Secular Age...
  • Counterfactual CausationThe debate about causation in the twenty-first century will no doubt center on the notion of counterfactual reasoning. This is not, however, a modern idea. David Hume explicitly articulated such an argument in the very form that persists today. “We...
  • The Epistemology of Atheism
    on Jul 31, 2010
    The historical interpretation is that atheism is the denial of the existence of God, as the following quotes exemplify:"Atheism is in fact extremely simple to define: it is the belief that there is no God or gods." (Julian Baggini)"Atheism is the bel...
  • Supervenient Downward Causation"Whatever the supervenience relation might be, the way it is used in nonreductive physicalism is surely not as a causal relation, because that would immediately convert nonreductive physicalism into old-fashioned epiphenomenalism." -Paul Humphreys I.
  • Downward Causation
    on Jul 16, 2010 in reduction causation emergence
    Downward causation is the theory that certain natural processes and entities have causal properties that do not inhere in the material substrate, previous form, or underlying makeup thereof and that these powers are exerted downward toward lower-leve...
  • Downward Causation in Complex Systems
    on Jul 16, 2010 in reduction causation emergence
    Philosophers, more so than scientists, have been largely sympathetic to theories of emergentism and downward causation. Many, like C.D. Broad--who insisted that "the characteristic behavior of the whole could not even in theory be deduced from the mo...
  • I am a Strange Loop
    on Jul 8, 2010
    I realize this book review is severely uncouth. Douglas Hofstadter, for whatever reason, is one of those people it's not cool not to like. In the preface of I Am A Strange Loop, Douglas Hofstadter alerts his readers to his proclivity for indirect, r...
  • Determinism and Fatalism
    on Jul 7, 2010
    That determinism is not fatalism has become something of a mantra in recent years. As a result, any suggestion to the contrary is considered to be a philosophical blunder of the first order; one might as well argue that correlation is causation. In f...
  • Carroll, Lewis, and Lewis Carroll
    on Jul 7, 2010
    In On the Plurality of Worlds, David Lewis considers--and rejects--the possibility of an empty world: "A world is not like a bottle that might hold no beer. The world is the totality of things it obtains, so even if there's no beer, there's still the...
  • Preaching to the Converted
    on Jul 6, 2010
    "The better part of valor is discretion, in the which better part I have saved my life." -ShakespeareThe following is my reply to Why Atheism Is Just as Bad as Religion.This screed--from web-design/enlightenment outfit "DAE"--contains a familiar alle...
  • David Benatar's Philosophy of Rainbows
    on Jul 2, 2010
    David Benatar's philosophy-bomb of contrarian pessimism was relit last week by unlikely acolyte Peter Singer in the New York Times. Singer, who endorsed Benatar's philosophy with suspicious understatement, legimated philosophical talk of "unfulfilled...
  • Permissible Grammatical Transgressions
    on Jun 26, 2010
    When It's Right to Be Wrong: 10 Permissible Grammatical and Lexical Transgressions10. Accepting fused participlesIn expressions in which a pronoun directly precedes a gerund, it (the pronoun) should be declined in the genitive case. There are, howeve...

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