Friday, September 14, 2007


Philosophy Paper Titles and Puns - Together at Last.......

Randy Barnett is giving a talk at UT next month, and its title is so awesome that it reminded me of something I've been meaning to do for a while now. Barnett's talk is called 'The New Originalism'.

A good pun title is one that makes you laugh, yet at the same time groan and feel a little bit inside of you has died forever. The bad simply encourage a sense of deep sorrow at the state of the world. And, of course, there's a very fine line here between the good and the bad.

So what are people's favorite and least favourite pun title for recent philosophy papers? Here are some of mine (in no particular order) to get things rolling.

(I hope I hardly need add that this is just meant to be for fun - no offense is meant to anyone, nor should these be regarded as comments on the content of any of the papers mentioned).

The cream of the crop:

1. Ted Sider - 'All the World's a Stage' (Sider's stage view version of 4D)
2. Graham Priest - 'A Site for Sorites' (Vagueness)
3. Christopher Hitchcock - 'Beauty and the Bets' (Sleeping Beauty problem)
(HT: Duncan Watson)
4. Kent Bach - 'The Emperor's New Knows' (Contextualism)
5. Roy Cook - 'Iteration One More Time' (The Iterative Conception of Set and Neo-Logicism - to be sung to the tune of Britney)

Oh, the humanity:

1. Crispin Wright - 'Warrant for Nothing (And Foundations for Free)?' (Epistemic Entitlement - this is one of my favourite recent papers in epistemology.....but really......)
2. Heinrich Wansing - 'Diamonds are a Philosopher's Best Friends' (The knowability paradox)
3. Fred Adams and Laura A. Dietrich - 'What's in a(n Empty) Name?' (Direct Reference theory)
4. Thomas Zimmerman - 'What's in Two Names?' (Substitution failure)
5. Timothy Smiley - 'A Tale of Two Tortoises' (Carroll's puzzle)
6. Crispin Wright and Stewart Shapiro - 'All Things Indefinitely Extensible' (Indefinite extensibility and unrestricted quantification)

I'll add more as they come to me. The comments thread is all yours.


Well, it's a dissertation, but it's still grand:

Joshua Greene's "The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Truth About Morality and What to Do About It."

Available here:
Stephen Yablo "The Myth of the Seven", which took me a while to recognize the source of.
I guess I'd never really thought about that Yablo title. Is it a SH reference?
The classic, surely, is Kaplan's "Transworld heir lines". But maybe that's not recent enough...

Ross Cameron has a paper about the possibility of nothing existing, called: "Much ado about nothing", which I thought was kinda good.
The Yablo title comes from Sellars' infamous "Myth of the Given," still much discussed where I came from.

And speaking of where I'm from, how about many of John Earman's titles:

"World Enough and Spacetime"

"Weyling the Time Away"

"Thoroughly Modern McTaggart"

There’s Potter and Sullivan: 'Hale on Caesar' (where the 'on' is in very small type).
There's also Jonathan Tallant's "How to 'B' a relation", a paper on what it takes to be a B-theoretic temporal relation, which I quite like. (The title I mean, but the paper is good too!)
There's B. Schnieder's "The Importance of 'Being Earnest'", a paper on property designators and, well, their importance.
Also, is it Dummett who stole the title 'Original Sinn'? Worth stealing!
Hmm, wasn't that Graham Forbes?
Nope, I just checked: it was Dummett - Ch.17 of Frege: Phil of Lang. He credits the pun to Benacerraf.
John Austin's "Sense and Sensibilia"
I kind of like Perry and Korta's recent "Three Demonstrations and a Funeral".
I think jb's right; but I say so only in order to slyly mention my own contribution, "A Pair of 'Skeptical's."
I'm overweeningly proud of having titled my dissertation "A Treatise of Humean Nature" (I'm defending the Humean theory of motivation).
Dummett's "The Logical Basis of Metaphysics" is arrived at by inverting Heidegger's "The Metaphysical Basis of Logic."

My dissertation was titled "Slouching Towards Vienna" which makes sense if you realize that the poem in question (part of which I used as a frontispiece) is called "The Second Coming," in this case of Logical Positivism. Me and Jason Megill's Ratio piece is called, "Easy's Getting Harder All the Time" (in reference to the Chalmers' problems and a great song by Iris Dement). Me and Roy Cook's Analysis piece is called "What Negation is Not."

My favorite is a paper that Robert Kraut has yet to author titled "Going for Broca's Area." He says that when he figures out what it's about he'll write it, but until then the title is taken.
You forgot 'Paradox Lost'!
Actually, the Britney reference was unintentional. I merely intended the title "Iteration One More Time" to refer to Boolos' papers "The Iterative Conception of Set" and "Iteration Again". Oh well, now I am gonna be singing it in my head for hours!
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