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Monday, February 01, 2010

Good News from Gent

While in Gent I got a chance to meet up with some members of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Gent. Jan Verbeeren (right) is a regular reader of Sandwalk. Stefaan Blanke (below left) and Maarten Boudry (below right) are graduate students who I met at the Darwin conference in Toronto in November.

It was easy to convince Maarten to join Jan and I for a beer because Jan was buying. Unfortunately, Stefaan couldn't make it so I'll have to go back for another visit.

There are at least 500 different beers made in Belgium—or so I'm told [Belgium beers]. I doubt that I'll be able to sample all of them before I leave. The ones I had in Gent were "Delirium Tremens" and "Tripel Karmeliet." They were excellent.

We talked about adaptationism vs. pluralism. It seems to be a difficult controversy to grasp if you haven't been trained as a scientist. I think the problem is that the concept of random genetic drift as a mechanism of evolution is not widely accepted among philosophers.

We also spent an hour or so talking about methodological naturalism and philosophical naturalism. This was the subject of Maarten's talk in Toronto last November and I think he's on to something (with Stefaan). I'll write a separate post on this topic.

The title of this post is from How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix by Robert Browning.

I SPRANG to the stirrup, and Joris, and he;
I gallop’d, Dirck gallop’d, we gallop’d all three;
“Good speed !” cried the watch, as the gate-bolts undrew;
“Speed!” echoed the wall to us galloping through;
Behind shut the postern, the lights sank to rest,
And into the midnight we gallop’d abreast.


1 comment :

Anonymous said...

You missed meeting Dr. Etienne Vermeersch author of Belgium's euthanasia law and a pioneer among Belgian sceptics. Among the most renowned students of Dr. Etienne Vermeersch's is Dr. SN Balagangadhara who currently directs the Vergelijkende Cultuurwetenschap or Center for the Comparative Science of Cultures, Ghent University.