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JonathanLivengood comments on Philosophy: A Diseased Discipline - Less Wrong

88 Post author: lukeprog 28 March 2011 07:31PM

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Comment author: JonathanLivengood 30 August 2011 07:17:30PM 6 points [-]

I agree with a lot of the content -- or at least the spirit -- of the post, but I worry that there is some selectivity that makes philosophy come off worse than it actually is. Just to take one example that I know something about: Pearl is praised (rightly) for excellent work on causation, but very similar work developed at the same time by philosophers at Carnegie Mellon University, especially Peter Spirtes, Clark Glymour, and Richard Scheines, isn't even mentioned.

Lots of other philosophers could be added to the list of people making interesting, useful contributions to causation research: Christopher Hitchcock at Caltech, James Woodward at Pitt HPS, John Norton at Pitt HPS, Frederick Eberhardt at WashU, Luke Glynn at Konstanz, David Danks at CMU, Ned Hall at Harvard, Jonathan Schaffer at Rutgers, Nancy Cartwright at the LSE, and many others (maybe even including my own humble self).

I am not trying to defend philosophy on the whole. I agree that we have some disease in philosophy that ought to be cut away. But I don't think that philosophy is in as bad a shape as the post suggests. More importantly, there is a lot of good, interesting, useful work being done in philosophy, if you know where to look for it.

Comment author: [deleted] 30 August 2011 07:43:47PM 1 point [-]

Thanks for your comment; I'm working on learning causation theory at the moment, and I didn't know anyone in the field other than Pearl.

Comment author: JonathanLivengood 30 August 2011 10:24:51PM 2 points [-]

You're welcome, of course. Pearl's book on causality is a great place to start. I also recommend Spirtes, Glymour, and Scheines Causation, Prediction, and Search. Depending on your technical level and your interests, you might find Woodward's book Making Things Happen a better place to start. After that, there are many excellent papers, depending on your interests.

Comment author: [deleted] 30 August 2011 10:59:11PM 3 points [-]

I'm a graduate student in mathematics; the more technical, the better. I'm currently three chapters into Pearl. After that in my queue comes Tversky and Kahneman, and now I'll add Spirtes et al. to the end of that.