22 November 2006

Why Make Comparisons?

I can't really resist. But excuse me since I've already posted on ancient philosophy (or at least metaphysics) today:


Which well-known epistemologist, when asked to rank the five best books in epistemology of the 20th century, declined to take up the task and said, simply and quite sensibly:

"Few have enough knowledge about the whole century to make the needed comparisons. (There should be some Carnap, shouldn’t there?) Easier, nicer, and more useful to just list some good ones that folks might do well to read — which one can do without committing to them being better than other books that one perhaps isn’t so familiar with."

Hint: He's an epistemologist who is as well-placed to give such a list as anyone.


Keith DeRose

See comment #10 at:

I won't spell out the a fortiori argument.

By the way, I have no objection, and never have, to DeRose or anyone else posting on their website lists of "Ten Good Places to Go to Grad School in Philosophy". Or make it 20, and annotate it too.

Also, just to be perfectly clear, two pieces of advice I always give to students contemplating graduate study in philosophy:

(i) Do not undertake graduate study if you have to pay or borrow large sums to do so; you should be well-enough regarded going in that you get a generous stipend or grant.
(ii) Be idealistic, but within practical limits, that is: attend a graduate program only if, on the assumption that you do well, you will have a reasonable chance of getting the sort of job that you would find acceptable. (But I warn also of the dangers of grad-school acculturation: viz. that what one regards as an 'acceptable' job when one gets the Ph.D. may very well be different from what one thought, perhaps on better grounds, when one began.)