About Me

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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019) and AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021).

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.