Brian Weatherson was born in Melbourne, Australia. He grew up in the Melbourne suburbs, and studied at Monash University for nearly 8 years. After his PhD he was a post-doc at Syracuse University for two years and currently has a tenure-track post at Brown University in Providence, RI. He writes on many different areas of philosophy, with his primary focus being on topics concerning language and/or probability. He contributes to three blogs - Crooked Timber, Thoughts Arguments and Rants (his personal/philosophical blog) and Online Papers in Philosophy, a daily summary of new philosophical material on the web.
Why do you blog? > I do much better work when I'm constantly writing. Before blogging I could go months without having a new philosophical idea. Now there's constant pressure to produce new ideas, and I work better that way.
What has been your best blogging experience? > The threads that have led to writing actual papers. Hopefully the recent discussions on cloning will eventually fall into that category - I've learned a lot from them.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > When a senior philosopher (Achille Varzi) found some less than polite things I'd said on the blog about one of his papers.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Don't drink and blog. Everything will look less amusing, and more embarrassing, in the morning.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > Jack Smart, David Lewis and Frank Jackson.
What are you reading at the moment? > The Prince of Providence, by Mike Stanton - a biography of Buddy Cianci the much loved, and very corrupt, ex-mayor of Providence.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > Ulysses.
What is your favourite movie? > Pulp Fiction.
What is your favourite song? > 'Purple Sneakers', by You am I.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > I used to be a protectionist; I'm now a somewhat extreme free-trader. More locally, I used to oppose the HECS (graduate tax) policy Labor brought in in the mid-80s, but I now think it was one of our better policy moves.
Who are your political heroes? > Whitlam, Keating, Mandela - not necessarily in that order.
What is your favourite piece of political wisdom? > 'Given a choice between a conspiracy and a stuff-up, choose the stuff-up.'
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > In America, bringing in a national health insurance scheme. In Australia, introducing a humane treatment of refugees.
What would you do with the UN? > Expand its powers. I'd like to see a way to reform the UN to give more weight to the voices of democratic states, but I'm not sure what the best way to do that is. (Maybe we need an association of democratic nations.)
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Unwillingness to consider new ideas.
Do you have any prejudices you're willing to acknowledge? > I tend to give Australians and/or Catholics a larger benefit of the doubt than I give others.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > By the beach in Melbourne.
What would your ideal holiday be? > I've never been to most of Europe, so right now city-hopping and sight-seeing around the big cities would be perfect.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > Blogging!
What talent would you most like to have? > Being able to bowl decent leg-breaks.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > Political advisor - preferably to the Prime Minister.
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > Roy & HG, if I'm allowed to count two!
Who are your sporting heroes? > George Gregan, Barry Bonds, Pedro Martinez, Steve Waugh.
Which English Premiership football team do you support, and which baseball team? > Liverpool in the Premiership, Boston Red Sox in baseball, Geelong in the AFL and the ACT Brumbies in Super 12. And Australia at anything at all.
If you could have one (more or less realistic) wish come true, what would you wish for? > A Red Sox World Series win. Oh wait, you said realistic. Well, we all can dream.
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