PUBLISHING PHILOSOPHY ON THE WEB
Some years ago I got tired of submitting papers to professional journals. I no longer needed the refereed publications to satisfy promotion requirements. I was doing internet writing on other subjects, pursuing other interests, and I was pleased with the freedom internet writers have to write longer pieces than print journals allow. Moreover, good material is not rejected or altered in online publishing as it is by printed journals due to very rigid space and outlook considerations.
In consequence I decided to start publishing my current philosophical writing at a web site.
This plan involves three losses, as well as the gains mentioned above. Editors do make some contributions to the improvement of submitted and published papers. The publication in a journal also offers an imprimatur of some sort to the content. Finally, the printed journal offers a greater assurance that an audience will see the material.
The first problem is partially solved by making sure that my papers are read and commented on, as concerns both the quality of the writing and the views expressed, by others before being posted.
However, there is no solving the second problem. Readers must figure out for themselves how far they can learn from the papers I am publishing here (and papers which others are 'publishing' on the internet.)
I have not figured out a way to solve the third problem: at least I have not hit upon an effective means to get the papers I put up here noticed by search engines and announced to searchers toward the head of the results; and other means of calling attention of a paper to an appropriate audience have serious problems. So be it - until I find some more effective means. If a reader should want to comment and criticize a paper they have stumbled upon here, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I shall be more than happy to respond.
I shall date each Internet paper when it is put up. Papers newly published shall have a colorful indication of that fact; perhaps I shall take six months to remove the color coding. If there are any remarks about the origin and history of the paper, they will follow the title and precede the link to the paper.
Ring's Internet Philosophy Papers
(1) Title: Morality and the Products of Hollywood
Posted: March 15, 2005
The Philosophy Department at CSU Fullerton requires each of its members to produce a paper for presentation at least every other year. In 1996, my turn rolled around again. I (presumptuously) decided to display virtuosity: instead of one paper, I wrote and presented five short ones and those on a wide variety of topics. The first five essays below are those that I produced for that event. The following essay was an attempt to show philosophy (and myself) operating outside the standard academic arena, responding to the news of the day. I suppose that, in a small way, this is what those who call for philosophers in the U.S. to be more engaged in public affairs have in mind.
(2) Title: Deconstruction, Nietzsche and Causation
Posted: March 15, 2005.
(3) Title: Rorty's Theory of Truth
Posted: March 15, 2005
(4) Title: Dworkin on Abortion
Posted: March 15, 2005
(5) Title: Understanding the Dilemma in the Euthyphro
Posted: March 15, 2005
The fifth in the above set. Jim Rachels read it before his death and, reluctantly, agreed that I was probably right. (Or so I say.)
(6) Title: Mapping Philosophical Views About Belief
Posted: March 30, 2005
This is a paper originally written for, and presented at, the World Congress of Philosophy in Istanbul in 2003. It is only modestly revised here. I was led to the issue by my interest in the concept of belief, my writings on Wittgenstein on Moore's Paradox and by some curiosity about what kinds of positions can be taken on philosophical issues. On that last matter I have found Simon Blackburn's work the most illuminating, so I make use of it here.
(7) Title: Analytic Philosophy
Posted: May 11, 2005
Once upon a time I thought I should write a book on Analytic Philosophy, historically conceived. What is posted here is the introductory material to that book - which shall never appear, as proliferation of projects got in its way. The essay on G.E. Moore, which would immediately follow the essay here, is also finished and is posted below (paper #9). The one that was to follow that, on Russell, was the final one I worked on but was never completed - which hasn't prevented me from posting what there is of it below (paper #14). But the other parts exist only in bits, pieces and snatches and in all likelihood shall not make an appearance either here or elsewhere (except maybe as bits of other pieces.) I have used the posted material, successfully, in classes on Analytic Philosophy. As far as I can determine no one who has written a book on analytic philosophy (see, especially, Scott Soames and Avrum Stroll) has started the task in quite the same manner as I have in the following essay.
(8) Title: Retaliation in the Crito
Posted: November 6, 2005
In the Crito, one of Socrates two major arguments that it would be wrong for him to escape is that he would be retaliating against Athens for having reached the wrong verdict at his trial. The second of the two arguments against escape - that he would be breaking an agreement between himself and the state - has received extensive critical investigation. That has occurred because the issues it raises are clearly issues for us, specifically the issues of the source and extent of political obligation. The retaliation argument, on the other hand, has not received any where near the same amount of critical examination. My aim here is to remedy that deficiency, to provide a detailed account of how Socrates goes about arguing concerning retaliation. The upshot of my investigation is that Socrates' argument on this score is deeply flawed on virtually every count. I later used this paper in a Festshrift volume for David Keyt: it is included in Reason and Analysis in Ancient Greek Philosophy: Essays in Honor of David Keyt, ed. Georgius Anagnostopoulis and Fred D. MIller, Jr., Springer 2013. I decided to keep the paper here, even though published, as that the Springer book costs $179 and so the odds of the Crito essay being broadly available are not much greater than leaving it posted here. There are only some small editorial changes between this version and the book version.
(9) Title: G.E. Moore
Posted: July 18, 2006
This essay is the above mentioned piece on Moore which is part of the material on Analytic Philosophy (See (7) above.)
(10) Title: Naturalism and Normativity
Posted: December 29, 2006
I wrote this essay to be read at the conference on Naturalism in Ethics held at Durham University in August 2006. It first slightly revised in light of discussions there and further thought on my part. It was to be published in the conference proceedings but that venture fell through. I then read the paper at a colloquium at CSUF in 2013. The version included here is the one I read at Fullerton, again slightly revised from the preceding version.
(11) Title: Scientifically Induced Conceptual Change? The Case of Light
Posted: December 29, 2006
This paper grew out of a discussion on the nature of philosophy at the CSU Fullerton Symposium in 2004. The discussants were Meredith Williams, Paul Churchland and myself. I lamented the loss of philosophical acumen on the part of young philosophers who have grown up in a philosophical environment dominated by the centrality of science. Churchland vigorously disputed that, claiming that philosophical analytic techniques were worthless as science could, and no doubt would, over-ride their outcome. To illustrate that he mentioned Galileo's Dialogues. Believing him mistaken in his account of Galileo, I was going to write on those issues (and still may given time) when my colleague Brian Garrett suggested that Churchland's comments on how the concept of light has been altered thanks to electromagnetic theory offers an illustration of Churchland's view. So I decided to write on light and challenge Churchland's views, specific and general, in connection with that issue. The paper here is the result - regrettably much later than anticipated.
(12) Title: The "Dim View of Meaning" in 'Two Dogmas'
Posted: December 29, 2006
I have worked on this paper a long time and now believe that I have got it largely correct. It is an attempt to understand Quine's argument rejecting meaning in 'Two Dogmas'. Commentators skip over this material as though it did not exist. There is an excuse: even the argument's very existence is obscure. Nonetheless, there is an argument and discovering it and setting it out reveals some very Quinean assumptions which stand in need of criticism. In the end, the paper got to be so long that criticism of Quine's maneuvers had to be abandoned in order to make it manageable; that, however, has the disadvantage that it remains entirely an exegetical paper. There are few print outlets for such papers, especially such long ones, that it will probably never find a printed home.
(13) Title: Making the Weaker Argument Defeat the Stronger
Posted: November 15, 2007
I wrote this paper some years ago and then, in the midst of life's confusions, forgot about it. I very recently rediscovered it. Its origin was in the publication of two excellent accounts of the Apology: those by Brickhouse and Smith and by Reeve. It appeared to me, however, that both did not do a satisfactory job of commenting on and evaluating Socrates' responses to what he called the long-standing "slanders" about him rife in Athens. I especially wanted to defend against those commentators a thesis originally put forward by Alex Sesonske concerning the 'charge' that Socrates was guilty of making the weaker argument the stronger. Upon rediscovery, it seemed to me preferable to not attempt to bring the paper up to date by, say, including discussions of later work on the material from the Apology. Rather, I lightly polished what I had written those years ago in order to post it here.
(14) Title: Bertrand Russell
Posted: February 17, 2009
This essay is clearly incomplete. I put it up anyway because students in a course entitled Analytic Philosophy: 1900-1950 read it as an introduction to Russell and found it, even as unfinished as it is, useful. If I didn't have so many other projects that take precedence, I would certainly continue it.
(15) Title: Science as the Conceptual Foundation of Human Thought: Two Cases of Scientism
Posted: November 4, 2013
This essay was presented at the World Congress of Philosophy held in Athens, Greece in August of 2013. It is therefore quite short. The aim is to show that that ordinary terms, specifically here 'horse' and 'water', are not terms the referents of which are necessarily settled by scientific theories as has been assumed by, respectively, David Hull and Hilary Putnam.
(16) Title: Philosophical Responses to Venus
Posted: March 5, 2014
Suppose that against the background of assuming that the meaning of a word is the object for which it stands, philosophers are confronted with Frege's case of the Morning Star and the Evening Star. How would (or did) some important philosophers respond to the problem. I consider and evaluate four such solutions: Frege, Russell, Quine and Wittgenstein. Wittgenstein's move is far and away the best.
(17) Title: Meaning and Deeds: Resurrecting Ascriptivism
Posted: October 14, 2014
This long paper is the eventual result of the meeting at the University of Durham on Naturalism and Normativity in 2006 (see paper (10) above) at which I encountered a bunch of moral naturalists, the most important of whom was Alex Miller. Since I don't normally dabble in moral philosophy, I was quite astonished to learn of the then (and probably present) consensus against Moore's rejection of naturalism in ethics and against the development of it that grew out of thought at Oxford at least through the 1960s. (That is not a very good sentence.) Trying to understand how that had come about led me to criticisms of ascriptivism (or non-descriptivism) about important philosophical terms) and then on to the foundation of the current semantics-pragmatics distinction. Since pursuing those topics was not part of my standard philosophical activity, it has taken some time for this paper to have emerged. The resulting paper is a criticism of some central moves in the the rebirth of naturalism about 'good' and the justification for drawing a sharp line between the semantics and the pragmatics of 'good' (and other terms by implication.)