Thanks to a little ingenuity and a lot of plagiarism, the Proceedings of the Society of Drinking a lot of Cough Syrup is back with a second issue. The contents are as follows.
Moving Forward by Reading Backwards and Forwards
Ben Bronner and Anonymous
Wittgenstein said that philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of our language. We argue that perhaps the most bewitching aspect of our language is its left-to-right structure, which subtly insinuates that the world which it pictures also possesses a left-to-right structure, a privileged direction. The solution, of course, is that philosophy should be written solely in palindromes. Some claim this stricture would inhibit genuinely philosophical discussion, to which we respond: Do geese see God?
I am pleased to announce the first issue of the Proceedings of the Society of Drinking a Lot of Cough Syrup. Interested readers may find the Proceedings wherever philosophy journals are sold. The contents of the first issue are as follows.
Journey to the Center of the Earth
If ghosts exist, then where is the evidence? I answer this question by arguing as follows. If ghosts exist, they are subject to the force of gravity. Since ghosts can pass through walls, they would likewise (under the force of gravity) pass through floors. Where would the ghosts go? Clearly to the Earth’s center of mass. This argument shows that, in a normal Bayesian model, the fact that we don’t see any ghosts actually makes it more likely that there really are ghosts.
[The quotations attributed below to Justice Thomas are genuine (though not the picture caption, obviously). Thanks to Alex Guerrero for the quip which inspired this post and became its title.]
This week’s ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission confirms what many have suspected since 2010’s Citizens United: Justice Clarence Thomas is engaged in an elaborate reductio of the idea that money is speech.
In Citizens United Justice Thomas argued that if political expenditures by corporations and unions are speech (as claimed by the Court), then existing disclosure requirements are unconstitutional. Such requirements, Thomas wrote, would violate the right to anonymous speech.
But Thomas’s position on the matter was too extreme even for Justices Roberts, Scalia, and Alito, leading some to suggest that Thomas had unknowingly produced a reductio ad absurdum of the idea that corporate political expenditures are speech. Others responded that Thomas was well aware of the reductio he had crafted, and the proper interpretation of his intentions remained controversial.
[The following is a “guest post” by Roger Scruton. Actual passages from Mr. Scruton’s columns in The Wall Street Journal appear in quotes, followed by links to the original articles.]
Each day 19,000 children die from preventable, poverty-related causes. For the vast majority of these children, their early death means that they will never have the chance to take up smoking. And if the World Health Organization has its way, the number of such tragedies will only increase.
The WHO is aggressively pursuing anti-smoking policies in the developing world. Measures range from excise taxes to warning labels to complete bans on advertising. “This despite the fact that tobacco-smoking has not been identified as the sole cause of any of the diseases associated with it.”  “Of course tobacco, used to excess, can damage one’s health.” But “what do we mean by health? The average smoker gains mental relaxation, social confidence and an easy form of hospitality from his habit: are these not parts of health? And are we necessarily right to trade them for a few extra years of life, when most of us live too long in any case?” 
So I haven’t posted a story in a while. Apologies for that. Now that I’m back in school my attention is elsewhere. But I figure I can at least share the more amusing bits of life in grad school. So here goes.
I always dress up for one class in particular. It’s called “Formal Philosophy.” My jokes are too subtle to be perceived by the human mind.
Speaking of formal philosophy, partial meat contraction is not what it sounds like. (Think swimming on a cold day.) Largely that’s because it sounds like “partial meat contraction” but it’s actually “partial meet contraction.”
I named my new cat ‘the king of France’. Originally I was leaning towards ‘Louis XIV’, but Bertrand Russell convinced me that ordinary names are just disguised definite descriptions. I figured I might as well get it out there in the open. Bonus: ‘The king of France is bald’ is unequivocally false. Take that, Strawson.
President Obama authorized the Department of Education on Monday to release 100,000 counterexamples from the Strategic Philosophy Reserve (SPR). The move follows worries that the nation’s friends, family members, and acquaintances are increasingly getting away with overgeneralizations, invalid inferences, and general bullshittery. This is the first release since 2010, when Obama tapped into the SPR in a failed attempt to head off $2,000-per-year subscription rates for Springer journals.
The broader context for the SPR release is provided by the nation’s ongoing philosophy work stoppage. The strike, which has spread to philosophy departments in all 50 states, is now in its fourth month with no end in sight.
A report released by the Moral Philosophy Research Group this week confirms what many have long suspected: Sean Hannity’s commentary is entirely devoid of cognitive content. “Yes, except we mean it literally,” says Anthony Vega, the report’s lead author. “When Hannity utters a sentence, he’s not asserting a proposition that might be true or false – he’s simply expressing an attitude.”
The researchers first became interested in Hannity after noticing a startling contrast between his apparently successful use of language and what seemed to be a never-ending string of blatant falsehoods. “Most of what he says seems to be demonstrably false,” Vega notes, “and yet he engages in these back-and-forth exchanges in which his guests somehow just don’t seem to care. I found myself wondering: What if Sean Hannity isn’t even in the business of describing reality?”