About Me

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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE (2012), HUMANITY ENHANCED (2014), and THE MYSTERY OF MORAL AUTHORITY (2016).

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Humean limerick

Though an "is" alone won't give support
To a value, a norm, or an "ought",
If you mix on the fire
Both belief and desire,
You get thought of an "ought" of a sort.

I hope that any students who have been taught meta-ethics by me enjoy the above. It was actually inspired by a conference on norms and analysis (and specifically the relationship between naturalism and normativity) that I had to miss a couple of weeks ago.


Anonymous said...

A totally non-sequitur comment; I just chanced on your blog.

You may remember the name vaguely. I worked with Jenny at IBM. Can you pass on my felicitations?

By co-incidence I mentioned your name amongst others to my daughter a few days ago. She's studying creative and professional writing at Deakin and was bemoaning the lack of active input from successfully published authors. I think she's feeling a bit confused about the available career paths....

Russell Blackford said...

Hi, John! Yes, I remember you, and I'm sure Jenny does even more so.

The trouble with creative writing is that it's so hard to make a living out of it, and it's even more difficult to do so while writing the stuff that you passionately want to write. In my case, I could probaably scrape some kind of a living by writing media tie-in, and similar, novels, if I pushed hard for gigs of that sort. For a year or so, I did make enough to support one person with modest needs, and I've demonstrated that I can do the job to a pretty good level of quality.

Furthermore, I have every respect for people who actually manage to make a good living out of tie-in work. Having done it, I can say that doing it well is very demanding and requires a lot of skill.

But actually pursuing that kind of work as a career is probably not for me, much as I was delighted to write the three Terminator books that I did, and to have the opportunity to write a sequel to the original King Kong movie. Not many people get to play with those sorts of toys, and I approached it with a great deal of respect for the icons I was dealing with. I'd happily take on some more work like that, but I can't see myself ever being a devoted professional at it. In my case, the demands involved would entail giving up too much else that's important to me.

I guess your daughter knows that there are soooo many compromises involved in trying to make a living as a professional writer of any kind, and that some other income source is needed for most people. It's still immensely rewarding, so I hope she isn't feeling too demoralised.

Anonymous said...

Nah, too busy to feel demoralised...

btw: you've inspired a short post on co-incidental degrees of separation on my blog... here:


Anonymous said...

Hi, John!

I do remember you, of course, and also your offspring, who has obviously grown up since I last saw her.

These days, I'm a writer, too, in a small way; I've had five short stories for kids published in places like the NSW School Magazine, and I've got another four stories forthcoming: one YA, one kid's and two for grown-ups. (Adult has the wrong connotations.) It's wonderful when it works, but it's not an easy way to make a living!

I can't work out how to get your email address from your blog, but you can always send me an email via the address on Russell's web page.