Sunday, July 12, 2015

Decemberists / Laura Viers, "Yankee Bayonet" + Peter Menzies Symposium

This week's song is "Yankee Bayonet" by the Decemberists and Laura Viers -- a duet about a much-beloved dead person. Unusually for these things, the dead person is singing.

Last week I was in Sydney at the Australasian Association of Philosophy conference. Helen Beebee and Rachael Briggs presented the best plenary address I'd ever heard at a conference, on Peter Menzies' approach to interventionist causal modeling and its connection to the free will debate. I came to the conference not knowing anything about interventionism (Phil Dowe gave a helpful talk that got me started, but it went in another direction). Helen and Rachel took me from nearly zero to getting a handle on the debate over whether interventionist approaches would help solve problems related to free will. I'd been wanting to learn more about Helen Steward's views to see if they opposed to my Humean project, and it was exciting to see a talk begin with views about causation and take me there.

Peter Menzies passed away this year. I never got to meet him, but now I've met some of his work. As I left their talk, I thought to myself -- if I should meet an untimely end, I hope people like Helen and Rachael will do something like that for me.