Sep 182009

Discussing Jeremy Bentham’s An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation chapters 1-5, John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism, and modern utilitarian Peter Singer’s “Famine, Affluence, and Morality.”)

Going full tilt on the Greatest Happiness principle, with talk of gladiators, consensual cannibalism, and illegal downloads. How many Pleetons were in your last orgasm? Should animals count in the utilitarian calculus? What is Bentham’s skull up to nowadays? This extra long episode (patched together from two recording sessions, as Seth’s audio track got toasted for most of the first one) is disgustingly thorough and only occasionally internally redundant.

Read the Bentham online. Here’s the Mill online, or you could buy it.Here’s the Singer essay (Also, for some more information on Singer’s view of animal liberation, look here.)

End song: “So Whaddaya Think?” by Mark Lint and the Fake (2000). Listen to the whole album online.

Sep 042009

Continuing last ep’s discussion of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus with some Rudolph Carnap (a logical positivist from the Vienna Circle: “The Rejection of Metaphysics” from his 1935 book Philosophy and Logical Syntax) about what kind of crazy talk is outside of legitimate discourse.

Carnap interprets W as simply ruling out as unscientific most of the talk we’d consider philosophical, i.e. metaphysics, ethics, the self… Or is W really a mystic who just wants to distinguish these from science? Why doesn’t he just write more and explain himself? This tricky text inspires Seth to start a cult.

To follow along, read the Tractatus from the beginning through around 4.12, then skip to 6.3 and read to the end, skimming the more technical material in the middle. Buy the book

Also, if you’re confused by the description of truth tables (which are hard to picture without seeing some), look here.

End song: “The Last Time,” by Mark Lint and the Fake from the 2000 album So Whaddaya Think?