Thursday, April 24, 2008


My qualifying exams are on Monday and Tuesday, from 10 in the morning to 2 in the afternoon each day.

[A prominent philosopher of language, when visiting Miami, at whose University--one of the top couple on the Leiter list--the grad student just turn in a portfolio of their best papers, responded to my description of the qual process with a tone of genuine shock. 'You have a *sit-down, closed book* qualifying exam? That's a bit passe, isn't it?' So it is. I plan, if I pass, on being insufferably smug about it in any and all future conversations with any graduate students not subjected to this little rite of passage. "In my day..."]

In any case, I expect the next few days to be taken up with an orgy of studying, reviewing and re-reviewing over notes and so on, so this will almost certainly be my last pre-qual post. Assuming I survive, as I start to organize all of this material to the form it will ultimately take in my dissertation proposal, I'll probably start posting here more.

Meanwhile, I end with a quote that I've been trying to take to heart in these last days before the quals (thanks to N. for reminding me of it):

"I must not fear. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."

--Bene Geserit Litany, from "Dune" by Frank Herbert

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Dialetheism in the Leiter Reports least tangentially, in that Matt Burnstein is quoted as asking if there was a true contradiction involving Graham Priest's Melbourne to CUNY.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


This morning I found out that my paper on "Paraconsistent Tense Logic, the Metaphysics of Change and the Epistemic Consequences of Dialetheism" was accepted for presentation at the Fourth World Congress of Paraconsistency this summer at the University of Melbourne. Should anyone be interested, here's the abstract:

"Graham Priest has argued that there are some true contradictions, but that the statistical frequency of true contradictions is very low, and that as such the epistemic probability of any particular contradiction being true is very low. This claim is essential to his justification for the ‘classical re-capture.’ At the same time Priest has identified some concrete extra-semantic candidates for the status of true contradictions in analysis of the metaphysics of change. Expressed in terms of a paraconsistent logic (his own LP) outfitted with tense operators like P, which can be read as ‘it was the case that,’ Priest argues for 'Zeno’s Law,' the principle that (α & P¬α) entails the disjunction of (α & ¬α) or P(α & ¬α). Despite his repeated claims to the contrary, it will become clear that Priest is so deeply committed to the tensed theory of time that his analysis falls apart once the tenseless theory is substituted. More importantly, Priest’s argument for 'Zeno’s Law' exhibits a methodology which undermines his claim that the statistical frequency of true contradictions is very low. A closer examination of this point should demonstrate that there is no good reason why arguments at least as good in more mundane contexts couldn’t turn up enough true contradictions to overturn the claim that the statistical frequency of true contradictions is very low. As such, if dialetheism is correct, we are not justified in generally assigning low epistemic probabilities to contradictory outcomes in our arguments, and the ‘classical re-capture’ fails."