Ever since the Cocoon's inception, its mission has been to provide a safe and supportive forum not only for discussing early-career professional issues, but also a place to discuss our work--a place to engage in philosophical discussion! In recent months, just about all of the blog's content has focused on professional issues. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and I very much plan to continue blogging about those kinds of subjects. Still, as someone who works in a very small department--and who rarely gets the chance to talk philosophy other than with undergraduate students--I thought it might be fun to talk philosophy for a change. But, what to discuss?
Because I don't like to compromise anonymized review, talking about stuff I'm currently working on is out as far as I am concerned. I also don't want to focus on stuff I'm not working on, as the best conversations typically result from discussing things one knows pretty well. Finally, I don't want to bore readers by simply presenting stuff I've published, because...well, that would be boring and self-indulgent! :) So, then, here's what I came up with instead. I thought it might be fun to begin a new series where Cocoon contributors discuss some broad philosophical issues they've been thinking about lately, whether in their published or unpublished work, sharing their thoughts on the issue at hand and inviting readers to share theirs.
My plan is to begin this new series by focusing on some things I've been thinking about lately--including some of the metaphilosophical issues I discussed in my previous post, as well as some stuff in moral psychology, moral epistemology, contemporary politics, etc.--sharing, on the one hand, some of my thoughts on the issues (including some thoughts I develop in my new book), while at the same time encouraging you all to share your thoughts. My hope is that this will lead to some lively and constructive philosophical discussions, and that other Cocoon contributors will in turn create posts of their own in the series, focusing on issues they have been thinking about for a while.
Anyway, that's my hope with this new series, and I hope readers find it a fun experiment! My next post, the first substantive post in this series, will sketch some general metaphilosophical concerns I've long had, and continue to have, about a number of prevailing views and methodologies, particularly (though not only) in moral and political philosophy: specifically, (i) appeals to intuition, (ii) testing theories against "commonsense", (iii) the use of reflective equilibrium, (iv) eliciting moral judgments about cases (viz. the method of cases), (v) attempting to derive ethics from the structure or nature of action (viz. constitutivism), and (vi) the recent trend toward approaching moral philosophy and action theory more generally in terms of reasons (viz. reasons fundamentalism). Finally, I will sketch an alternative methodology I've defended, explaining what I think its epistemic virtues are.
From there, provided things go well, in subsequent posts I hope to move onto some moral psychology (including some cool and not, it seems, very widely known empirical findings and neurobiology), and then later on, to some issues in moral and political practice (including the ethics of political divisiveness--a perennial issue in democratic politics). Anyway, I hope we have some good discussions, that readers enjoy the series, and that other Cocooners will contribute posts of their own to the series! I don't know about you all, but what's a philosophy blog without some philosophy? ;)