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March 29, 2007

Back from Gettysburg

Yesterday, I gave the Richardson Lecture at Gettysburg College. My talk was about the merits and limitations of the norms and attitudes that journalists call "objectivity." Journalistic objectivity turns out to have almost nothing in common with any philosophical concept of objectivity.

Gotta go take my computer to the shop--the power supply is broken and I've got about 15 minutes of battery life left!

I'm going to write up the talk as a paper/essay and post it on the blog. Sorry, no audiovisuals. There was a videographer there for Gettysburg closed circuit TV, so I might be able to get some clips from them.

Thanks again to the staff and students of Gettysburg for inviting me. It was a great pleasure to meet SteveG , Aspazia, and their colleagues and students. I was a little nervous, but they made me feel right at home.


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You are good on the blog, but even better live. It was a wonderful talk. I'll do my best to get you a copy of the video. I was hoping for Quine in the encore, maybe next tour...

A reverse bleg: a high school student I happen to know is writing a paper on the nature of truth, specifically as it relates to Wikipedia and to what extent information therein can be trusted. This is outside my league as far as sources are concerned. Can anyone point us to some introductory works on the philosophy of knowledge that might help with this project? I estimate her reading level at college freshman.



Cranky Observer:

This article on Citizendium may be useful for the student's paper:

"Like Wikipedia, Citizendium will be nonprofit, devoid of ads and free to read and edit. Unlike Wikipedia, Citizendium's volunteer contributors will be expected to provide their real names. Experts in given fields will be asked to check articles for accuracy."

Nervous? You? That does not come through in the pix you post. You are not out of your element in a phil. department even if you are no longer in your comfort zone.

Objectivity seems to me to relate to stability of the concept, and to the network properties of assembling information. Philosophical concepts of objectivity revolve around Cartesian mind body arguments. If one takes the dualism out of objectivity the quesstion of objectness shifts to relationships.

philosophical concepts relating to objectivity/subjectivity are strained enough, well before you introduce the predictable intellectual confusions of national media.
one could plausibly argue that frege exploded our entire understanding of the subject/object distinction in 1884.
it seems silly to have turned a metaphysical pseudo-concept into some sort of journalistic standard.
though, it's also silly that anyone would say, "you're doing objectivity wrong", without giving some thought to the fundamental confusion staring them in the face.

oh good lord, what is this, sling-around-some-obscure-vague-references-to-philosophy-and-hope-someone-thinks-you're-smart day? As for Professor Beyerstein, if she was a real journalist I think she could make some useful observations about journalism and philosophy and stuff. But having an MA from Tufts is a long way from being a professional philosopher, and having a silly weblog is a long way from knowing anything about the world. Oh sure, Fox is not "objective." Well, stop watching TV, read some serious history, and subscribe to the NYT to know more or less what's going on in the US, and read the Economist to know what's going on in the world, including some insightful perspectives on the US that you won't find in the NYT. But neither Fox nor weblogs with edgy names like Bitch PhD and Feministe and Majikthise are good only for cheap laughs and the reminder that many people are sanctimonious and pretentious fools. Ugh.

I seem to remember reading a book in college about objectivity in journalism. I think it was titled Wallflower at the Orgy. Anyone know if it's still around or if anyone has read it in the last decade?

Shorter Mark Nuckols:
Let me give you an example of ad hominem argumentation.

> But neither Fox nor weblogs with edgy names like Bitch PhD
> and Feministe and Majikthise are good only for cheap laughs
> and the reminder that many people are sanctimonious and
> pretentious fools. Ugh.

Would you care to revise your statement sir?


Just to be clear: you sentence as written says just the opposite of what I suspect your intention was based on the context of the rest of your post. An odd mistake to make when criticizing others over their depth of understanding of the philosophy of knowledge.

if its a mac and you bring it in to tekserve, i can help you out. can't promise any deals, but you'll get the best we've got.

Y'know, Mark Nuckols, Lindsay may not be a professional philosopher, but guess what--neither are you! And since your sole accomplishment in life is getting mocked to your face by Samantha Bee, you're really not one to go around pontificating.

You're not stiffening any nipples around here.

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