I have created this website for several reasons — all of which are worthwhile, I hope.
The first is purely pragmatic: I should like to have a place where my analytic abilities — those skills which I will be relying upon to create a livelihood — are on display for potential employers. But I also want a repository, or central location, to store my thoughts on various matters. Finally, I hope that in its own small way, the information provided on the site (particularly the material relating to philosophy) will help students and others develop the skills to think critically and develop their own, comprehensive worldviews — skills which I think are greatly enhanced by analysis, logic, and philosophical reflection.
Here is an anatomy of the website:
With regards to philosophy:
Analytic philosophy (the stuff most philosophy students at American and British universities study) is difficult and, sometimes, obscure. But if you pursues it diligently, you will be equipped with critical thinking skills mere fact-based subjects will not bestow. It will also enhance one’s logical and analytic abilities, skills which are importable to most pursuits in the workplace. Less tangibly (but just as substantial), analytic abilities developed through rigorous philosophical reading, reflection, and writing enable one to ably evaluate claims from pundits, politicians, and all the rest who would subtly influence your mind, rebuking them when necessary and replacing them with logically adequate, internally-developed claims of your own.
To enhance your study of this difficult subject and to satisfy the curiosity of those who want some contact with the literature without having to buy anthologies full of journal articles, this website will store article summaries. An article summary is really the conjunction of a brief summary (>1000 words) plus a logical outline of the argument(s) in the article. The reader can thus get the gist of the article while simultaneously having the tools to assess the author’s argument(s), which is beneficial because assessing arguments is the primary activity of philosophers. The lack of even basic logical validity in the arguments produced by lawyers, businessmen, pundits, and politicians in the realm of policy debate is rather astounding.
The various branches of philosophy have their own lexicons — and sometimes these lexicons openly contradict one another. Thus, words like ‘realism’ mean one thing in metaethics and another in the philosophy of science. Also, common words are often co-opted by philosophers for new and unusual purposes, making adequate comprehension of philosophical texts nigh impossible without knowledge such words’ meanings.
This website includes glossaries of commonly-used words in the various sub-branches of philosophy. These glossaries ought to be useful for persons making contact with a literature for the first time, since it is at this time that confusion over word meaning is likely to set in. Using the glossaries alongside the texts will streamline learning and cut away at an otherwise annoying obstacle to doing philosophy.
Logic is an important tool for philosophers and, I dare say, will help anybody who studies it think more clearly.For some reason, publishers of logic textbooks almost never include complete solution sets. So, I will be working through several popular texts, putting up complete sets of answers. Solution sets can grease the wheels of your logical study — the heuristic which allows you to smoothly progress through texts. Whether you are stuck on a difficult problem or simply want to compare solutions, I am confident that the solution sets on this site will be of use.
Politics affects the whole lot of us — whether we like it or not. There are thus compelling reasons to affect the political process to the best of one’s ability — even if such actions are motivated merely be self-interest. But even if we put self-interest on ice, there are reasons to engage: we human beings are unique among critters in our ability to harness our affective machinery to pursue abstract, non-basic goals (those besides, food, sex, and other such basic fulfillments) such as liberty, equality, and the like. Since politics is unique in providing a set of mechanisms for realizing such abstract goals, it makes sense to get involved. This can lead to immense satisfaction when collective efforts in pursuit of such goals succeed — however incremental the change is. The mechanisms for participation are imperfect — some would even say inadequate — but this is no reason to disengage entirely.
This website will display commentaries — brief essays arguing for a thesis with regard to some political matter or other — of my own making. The primary goal is not to ram some partisan view down the readers’ throats, but rather to clarify the logical relationships between factual matters, political ideals, and policy outputs. I will, of course, have viewpoints of my own, and I will not necessarily be afraid to put them on display. But the larger purpose — whether my personal views are on display or not — is to provide logically rigorous and empirically informed analyses of and arguments for policy outputs.
I will also produce and upload book reviews on books from political scientists, policy experts, and politicians regarding US policy with regard to defense, national security, economics, and domestic affairs. These reviews are not intended to be as rigorous as the commentaries (nor the article summaries in philosophy), but nonetheless will communicate the primary thesis and evidentiary support for the thesis.