Several of you might have heard of this excellent philosophical time waster before, but it’s new to me (apparently it was first devised by Wilfrid Sellars):
Identify three foods A, B, and C such that any two of these are complementary (taste good in combination) but the trio does not. So A and B must be complementary, B and C must be complementary, and A and C must be complementary, but A, B, and C must be foul when combined together.  (It’s harder than I thought!)

16 Replies to “A fine waste of time

  1. Tomatoes & cream: tomato soup.
    Lemons & cream: custard.
    Tomatoes & lemons: salad.
    Tomatoes, lemons, and cream: yuck.

  2. Jamie-
    According to the protocol I’ve seen, your solution cheats a little: Lemons and cream give you curdled cream. Custard requires more ingredients and some chemistry.

  3. Hm, that’s true. I didn’t know that rule.
    Any other rules, before I return to the drawing board?

  4. Jamie-
    No, I don’t think there are any other rules. Here’s my own ‘solution’, as it were:
    Chocolate + mint = Andes mints
    Chocolate + apples = A treat you see at the county fair
    Apples + mint = a common baked apple combo
    Chocolate + mint + apples = foul (think chocolate mint ice cream inserted into a cored apple)

  5. Mike,
    Is this supposed to be a philosophical (time waster) or a (philosophical time) waster? If it’s the former, I’m not quite clear on what’s philosophical about it.

  6. For particularists like Jonathan Dancy, this so-called time waster can have important implications, so it’s at least arguably philosophical.

  7. sharp cheddar cheese + quince jelly = common cheese plate
    quince jelly + peanut butter = not your mother’s PBJ but yummy
    peanut butter and sharp cheddar cheese = delicious grilled sandwich
    sharp cheddar cheese + quince jelly + peanut butter = I wouldn’t eat it. (Whereas I could do wonders with chocolate, apples and mint.) QED.
    Now what’s my prize?

  8. I think the prize goes to Michelle. An old non-philosopher friend of mine used to insist, contra Dancy, that if A is delicious and B is delicious, then A and B are delicious together. He may have had a limited palate, come to think of it.

  9. I think I’d enjoy a grilled cheddar cheese PBJ… What conception of foul are we working from here…? (Doug, this is where the philosophy comes into play…)
    Coke + Merlot = Kalimotxo, a common-ish drink in Mexico
    Chicken + Merlot = a tasty marinated chicken dish (I’m not sure if a merlot reduction counts, but that would also work.. better)
    Coke + Chicken = Coke marinated Chicken (Served in Dubai, parts of China, etc.)
    Coke + Merlot + Chicken = something foul, I can only imagine… Chicken marinated in both would probably taste like a sweet shoe.
    (On a horrible side note, the resulting dish would be at the very least, fowl…)

  10. David,
    What are the important implications that this has for particularists like Dancy? I thought that particularists just used these sorts of examples as a metaphor for how reasons might relate to each other? But I don’t see what the important implications are beyond providing a useful metaphor. Are these examples supposed to support particularism, and, if so, how? Admittedly, I don’t know as much about particularlism as I should, so I would like to know how these examples are supposed to have philosophical implications for particularists.

  11. I hate to reject my colleague Michelle’s suggestion, but I am fairly certain that I would be just as likely to enjoy a grilled sharp cheddar cheese and PB sandwich as I would be to enjoy the same with quince jelly.
    You know, if we could figure out what was philosophical about this time-waster, we’d have an excellent case for doing a philosophical experiment!

  12. Hi Doug,
    In Ethics Without Principles, the fact that someone might like meat and sugar seperately but not together is supposed to show that two good things can make something worse when paired, among other things.

  13. White wine + bay leaves = ?
    Whereas I guess it doesn’t taste bad to have shallots cooked with both white wine and bay leaves (ground, not whole).

  14. Prosciutto, Melon & Red Wine.
    Prosciutto & Melon: typical appetizer
    Prosciutto & glass of red wine: mmmm…tasty
    Melon & Wine: Sangria! (well, almost)
    Prosciutto & Melon & Wine: Bad excuse for a nouveau-trendy cocktail.

  15. I’ve enjoyed reading these things which I only came across today 22 June.
    How about
    Tea & sugar OK
    sugar and mustard OK in vinaigrette
    tea and mustard dubious
    Jonathan Dancy

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