So, it’s correct but not funny, that’s what you’re saying?

11 oktober 2009 | In Comedy Meta-ethics Neuroscience Self-indulgence | Comments?

The day before  yesterday, I made my first proper venture into the unchartred waters of neuroscience. For reasons too interesting for words, my debut took place at a department for clinical neurophysiology in Gothenburg. I delivered a talk called ”Value-theory meets affective neuroscience – and then what happens?”. (”Not much” is disappointingly often the answer). This talk, a version of which I gave to a mostly empty room at the Towards a Science of Consciousness conference in Copenhagen back in 2005, argues that these disciplines should colloborate of key motivational concepts. The amount of ignorance in each discipline of the work done in the other is nothing short of embarrasing, and in dire need of rectification (enter: not so petit moi).

The talk is also notable (yes, I think like that about my own writings) because it contains my ”no-Cinderella” argument about  reference: If you have a concept but no natural event or property that perfectly fits the concept, you go for the event/property/step-sister on which/whom you have to cut of the least amount of toes. It’s basically the ”imperfect derserver” theory, but more cute, by far.

Anyway: in the talk, I’m intrducing some key arguments in ethical theory and meta-ethics. The fact-value distinction is backed up by an outline of Hume’s Law: You cannot derive an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’. There are cases when we seem to do precisely this, however. Like when I say that your pants seem to be on fire, and you conclude that your really should put it out. But, Hume’s law dictates, there is always a hidden ‘ought’-clause hidden in these cases. That you ought not to wear burning pants after labour-day, for instance.

Hold for laughs 2-3-4. It is not happening, is it? No.

It might not be as funny as I think, but there might be another problem to, to which I cling desperately: I’m talking philosophy to a bunch of non-philosophers, and for a non-philosopher, it is not that easy to distinguish the jokes from the real thing.

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