essay thoughts/ tpm
I think it is a lapse of taste to spend a grown-up life on problems of which people in the office next door, let alone those outside the building, cannot see the point. I rather fear that the so-called semantic or logical problem of vagueness, Professor Williamson’s own showcase example of his compulsory methods, strikes me as like that.
Red herrings and blind alleys
SIMON BLACKBURN ON PHILOSOPHY’S LEAST PROMISING PROPOSITIONS
Imistrust writing of the “whither philosophy now?” genre. Futurology is, after all, an exercise primarily adapted to display the poverty of imagination of the futurologist. Similarly, laments of a more normative cast, telling us not what will happen but what we ought to be doing, tend to come across as plaintive but equally unimaginative complaints that not everyone is like their author.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with writing about the state of play, now, in one’s own particular patch. Brian Leiter’s admirable
Simon Blackburn is professor of philosophy at the University of Cambridge and author of many books, including The Big Questions: Philosophy (Quercus)
collection showed many writers doing just that, in spite of being optimistically entitled The Future for Philosophy. I admit that even if it is not well-founded, the optimism may be understandable, since there is undoubtedly a temptation to suppose that the current state of one’s particular patch is the future, and for sufficiently forceful and confident minds a temptation to suppose that it certainly ought to be. Such minds are enviable in their way, although of all political slogans “the future lies with us, comrades” must be among the most dangerous, along with the notorious “there is no alternative”, or TINA.
I fear that Tim Williamson’s recent attempt at press-ganging the profession into his own
■ tpm 1ST QUARTER 2011
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