Here’s something to try at home. Take a fi stful of coins and throw them up into the air. (Not at the top of a tall building of course.) Now have a look at how they’ve landed on the fl oor. What you’ll almost certainly fi nd is that they are not spread out evenly, but that some are in clusters, while the odd one or two might have fallen far from the rest. Amazing, eh? Not at all. This is just what you’d expect. However, in real life it seems these kinds of patterns often do surprise us. We tend to think of random events as occurring relatively evenly spaced out, and when they cluster together, people often see that as evidence of some controlling force at work. So, for instance, people think it is very unlikely that in a random group of 23 people, two will share a birthday. In fact, the chances are 50/50. The clusters of articles in this issue are not entirely the result of random forces, but they’re certainly not all the result of deliberate action either. The issue of censorship and free speech,
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Contributors Neera Badhwar, Wendy Donner, Luciano Floridi, Peter S Fosl, Wendy Grossman, Dan Haybron, Vincent Hendricks, Andy Higgins, Mathew Iredale, Mark Kingwell,
for example, is clearly very high in the public consciousness, so it is no surprise that pieces by Catriona MacKinnon (p29), Michael LaBossiere (p33) and Peter Fosl (p70) all tackle it in different ways. More serendipitous is the connection between this issue’s lead essay by Robert Solomon (p20) and the forum on happiness 200 years after Mill (p39). Whether this is pure chance or indicative of a renewed philosophical interest in the good life is hard to tell. The link between the recent Dennett-RuseDembski feud (p12) and the books of David Edmonds and John Eidinow (p67) is easier to explain. Edmonds and Eidinow essentially show that philosophers are always capable of behaving badly, and so it is no surprise that at any given time there is some kind of row going on. But who, if any, of Dennett, Ruse or Dembski is the miscreant? That’s a philosophical question for you to answer.
Michael LaBossiere, Megan Laverty, Johanna Lee, Scott McLemee, Catriona McKinnon, David Marriott, Duncan Pritchard, Richard Schoch, Robert Solomon, John Symons, Mark Vernon.
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© 2006, The Philosophers’ Magazine and contributors ISSN 1354-814X
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The Philosophers' Magazine /3rd quarter 2006