Bye March!

Goodness – I cannot believe that it is almost April. I have been inundated with work these last few months, working hard on my honors thesis, organizing a philosophy conference, figuring out where to go to grad school, finishing up the requirements for my psychology major, taking a philosophy seminar on rules (for fun!), and taking an advanced psychology stats class (also for fun!). Unfortunately, I have also been increasing my intake of cheap instant coffee while decreasing the amount of time I spend sleeping each night. But it’s been worth it!

Here’s a rough summary of how my research has been going. Earlier this semester, I came upon an entire section of psychological literature on person perception and impression formation that I believe strongly supports a lot of the key empirical claims I make in the most recent version of my error theory for non-consequentialist intuitions about moral responsibility. This has been an exciting and unexpected development that has caused me to refocus my efforts on revising and elaborating my error theory even more than I had originally thought I could. Indeed, developing this error theory and exploring the various other philosophical issues that have come along with it has preoccupied most of my time this semester and has become the subject of the largest part of my thesis.

This week, I need to revise the part of my thesis in which I argue for the most controversial implication of consequentialism about moral responsibility: that it can be permissible and even obligatory under some circumstances to punish the innocent. After that, I just need to finish up a short section on the practical implications of accepting a consequentialist theory of moral responsibility, and then I’ll be done. Well, I’ll still need to go back and do some editing. But I’ll be mostly done.

The hardest part right now is keeping myself from going back and writing about all of the merely background stuff I read in connection with the thesis. There’s just this temptation I have to try to cite everything I’ve ever read, but I’m trying to get over it. I’ve decided that I should not waste my readers’ time and energy by going over philosophical work that’s not directly related to my main arguments. I’ve learned that it’s just a fact about philosophy (and surely other disciplines as well) that you cannot always understand how much work someone has put into a project by looking at the length of the bibliography at the end of her paper. And I guess that’s because doing philosophy often involves finding a problem that needs to be solved, and that the conclusion that you reach at the end of lots of articles is that those articles have either (a) adequately addressed a problem, or (b) inadequately addressed a problem, but in such a way that is irrelevant to the way that you try to address the problem.

In any case, here’s hoping that when I update again I’m that much closer to being done with my honors thesis!