Peer pressure and a steady mind

Sociologist Dr Nicholas Christakis has a new book in which he argues that we are subject to a process of ‘social contagion.’ What we do is to a great extent determined by the company we keep. In some cases this is obvious: the clothes they wear, the music they like, and so on. But not just that. Christakis claims that things such as whether you know someone (who knows someone who knows someone) who is obese, influences whether you are likely to become obese. Ditto kinds of sexual activity, smoking, whether or not you vote, happiness, and other things.

The study that is supposed to support this claim is Continue reading “Peer pressure and a steady mind”

Why is a raven like a writing desk?

Philosophers do like a bit of Lewis Carroll. When Humpty Dumpty exclaimed to Alice, “There’s glory for you!” and meant “there’s a nice knock down argument for you!”, Donald Davidson took it as an illustration of how intention can override convention in determining what one said. When the Tortoise said to Achilles to use logic to force him to accept Z, given that If A and B then Z, Barry Stroud and Robert Brandom (among many others) took this to indicate something important about meaning and inference. And there have been various occasions when the Jabberwocky has been wheeled out to illustrate some point about sense or nonsense.

Last month, DPhil student Melanie Bayley Continue reading “Why is a raven like a writing desk?”