Friday, July 20, 2012

Taking the tablets

I have resisted up until now but I have splurged some of my supervision money on a Nexus 7 tablet. I'm trying out its blogging app at the moment. So far, I'm impressed. I'm not a Mac person so this suits me fine. It syncs with my Google account, as does my phone. So that's easy. And for now it seems big enough without being too big. More updates if I can be bothered.

Monday, July 16, 2012

People to cheer for in the Olympics, part 1

Fran Halsall, GB swimmer.

She likes Aristotle.  This is a good thing, even if her chronology is a bit out.  This is from an article in Sunday's Observer.
She also told me "Aristotle is my main man. Oh my God, it's definitely got to be old Aristotle. He had all these ideas before anyone really knew anything – a whole new way of thinking was based around his thoughts. And this was like millions of years ago! It's crazy!"  

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Something more beautiful

Hooray.  Beth Orton has a new album, Sugaring Season, coming in the autumn.  There's some news about it here.  And here is the first single from it.

If you haven't listed to Beth before, for shame!  Here are some of my favourites: this one, this one, and this one.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Occupational direction of fit

'Direction of fit' is a useful metaphor to distinguish, for example, ways of thinking about beliefs and ways of thinking about desires (or 'cognitive' vs. 'conative' attitudes generally).  So, roughly, beliefs should fit the way the world is because beliefs aim at truth while desires involve wanting the world to fit the picture of the world the agent has in mind.

Here is a related distinction between different kinds of people that may be familiar to those who work in institutions a bit like the ones I belong to.

Call this 'occupational direction of fit'.

In some cases the direction of fit is: job  ---> behaviour (JtoB).  That is: the job one has places certain constraints and obligations on how one acts and the job-holder's behaviour alters to fit.

But in come other cases the direction of fit is: behaviour ---> job (BtoJ).  That is: the way a person behaves places certain constraints and requirements on the way that person's job is understood.

(Cartoon from here.)

Most organisations in which people have paid employment will, I think, assume a JtoB model.  Someone employed as a X in the organisation, because of what is involved in being an X, will do what that role requires and not do what that role precludes.  The payment is what compensates for the employee making the alterations to behaviour that are required to fit the role.

But there are occasions when it goes the other way.  Imagine a person who simply cannot do A or cannot refrain from doing B.  Sometimes what happens is that the job alters to fit the behaviour.  (Sometimes it's by far the easier option than trying to get the person's behaviour to change.)  'Well, we can't ask Y to do this because, you know...  so we'll have to do it for him/get someone else to do it' etc. 

It seems to me that in messy practical contexts we often work with an amalgam of JtoB and BtoJ.  And this mostly negotiates the demands that various jobs get done and respects the fact that people are different, sometimes malleable and sometimes not.  Sometimes this is OK.  But at other times it is annoying, particularly in cases in which it seems that two similarly placed people within an organisation are not respecting the same direction of fit...

(Cartoon from here.)