L.A. Paul at 3:AM Magazine

by Kieran Healy on August 31, 2013

The philosopher L.A. Paul is interviewed at 3:AM Magazine. Topics include becoming a philosopher, the relationship between science and metaphysics, causation, phenomenology, xphi, and what you can’t expect when you’re expecting. Oh yeah, something, something, full disclosure, something. 3:AM Magazine has a great collection of interviews at this point, with all kinds of interesting people. You should read them.



PJW 08.31.13 at 11:30 pm

Agreed. It’s terrific. I first learned of 3:AM through Leiter Reports as he links to it with some frequency. I’d point out that in addition to the interviews, there is lots of great stuff to be found within the other links at the site, such as the Blog and Criticism sections.


Alan 09.01.13 at 3:00 am

Second that emotion. 3 AM is frequently more instructive than a tier-1 article.


bill benzon 09.01.13 at 6:34 am

Thanks for the link, Kieran. 3 AM looks like a terrific magazine. I’ve just been reading the Taylor Carman interview about Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty, which speaks to contemporary debates about object-oriented ontology and related matters, though it doesn’t actually address any of those folks:



Rakesh Bhandari 09.01.13 at 6:58 pm

I would love to hear more about the limits of mechanical causality in the social sciences. It seems to me that certain causes work independently of consciousness while others work in consciousness (thinking here of Max Adler’s forgotten work on causality and teleology). Yet others work through consciousness. For example we could say that supply and demand imbalances cause or bring forth actions that tend to move the system to equilibrium or establish a new equilibrium. But here the cause is working through consciousness, no? And it is exactly because consciousness is socialized that we can say that said imbalances do in fact bring about certain consequences because certain responses are meaningful and sensible to actors in virtue of their socialization. It is possible to make causal or even law-like statements about society not because consciousness plays little role but because it is socialized; and in virtue of socialized consciousness such causes bring about predictable behavior *through* consciousness. The causality at work here though is not mechanical.
At any rate, I wondering whether there is any contemporary work on the theory of causality in the social sciences that takes up Max Adler.
I also found interesting this point.
Lewontin seems correct that the states
and motions of living organisms are the consequence of many
intersecting causal pathways, thereby making it unusual that normal
variation in any one of these pathways has a strong effect on the
outcome. Given the multiplicity of causal chains, all of weak
individual influence in their normal condition, it is difficult to
ascribe a cause to some effect since putative cause and its effect
will not likely seen to vary together.


Witt 09.01.13 at 9:24 pm

Most of the interview was over my head, but I liked this part quite a lot:

The idea is that there is a modern cultural notion (at least in wealthy western societies) that if you are authentic and responsible and thoughtful, you should take charge of your own destiny and map out your subjective future. The process of this form of self-realization involves deliberation, where you reflect upon who you really are and what you really want, in order to plan your life’s path and determine the kind of person you want to become. But I argue that this notion of how best to realize one’s future is deeply confused.

The reason it is so confused is that it is impossible to predict what it will be like to have many of the central, determinative experiences of our lives (like having a child, or choosing a career, or trying a drug, or getting married), and so we cannot rationally choose to have them or avoid them based on what we think they will be like. But even though we can’t predict what it will be like to have these experiences, we have them anyway—they are just part of what it is to live one’s life.


Rakesh Bhandari 09.02.13 at 12:41 am

I agree that I did not know what it would be like to have a child or how I would be transformed by raising children. But this ignorance seems to me not an inherent limitation to rational decision-making but the result of the breakdown of extended and multi-generational families.


Tabasco 09.02.13 at 2:50 am

Does the Duke-UNC basketball rivalry get an airing in the Paul-Healy household?


PGD 09.02.13 at 3:14 pm

I think the ‘deliberative choice’ model of life construction is all wrong, but not because we don’t have lots of information about the consequences of our choices (childrearing in particular). It’s simply that it’s not the way people make choices. Partially I think that is because we simply cannot experience the results of our choices in advance, and are locked in by the time we do experience them, but that is hardly unique to childbirth.

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