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Monthly Archives:

September 2014

Academic Ice Bucket Lesson Plan

Arthur Ward (Lyman Briggs College, Michigan State) teaches a unit on charitable giving in his ethics course and has come up with a way of doing so that gets the students really interested and involved:

I had heard of others doing some group work in class with this topic, asking students to research effective charities. It occurred to me that this was a great idea, b..


1. “I’m not sure, for example, what the philosophy REF panel would make of Berkeley’s research on tar-water, or even Bentham’s on prisons, for that matter.” That’s Jonathan Wolff on exciting scholarship and whether disciplinarity is just a blip in the history of academia.
2. The History and Philosophy of Science Department at the University of Pittsburgh has launched “Instant HPS“, a series of brief videos on various topics, including “Is Your Brain a Computer?”, “Is Race Real?”, and “Einstein’s Astonishing Idea.” (via Edouard Machery)
3. Jeremy Waldron (NYU/Oxford) has an essay on Cass Sunstein’s (Harvard) work in which he says that Sunstein’s arguments for nudging (based on the heuristics and biases work in social psychology) are “remarkably tone-deaf to concerns about autonomy.” Nudges get a skeptical look at Aeon this week, too. And, by the way, the issue of the NYRB the Waldron essay appears in is chock full of articles by and about philosophers. Unfortunately, most of them are currently behind paywalls.
4. Kristen Andrews (York) is the new “featured scholar” at Brains. She works on human cognition in humans and non-human animals.
5. “The fossil fuel divestment campaign makes demands that no corporate executive could ever meet,” says Scott Wisor (Birmingham), at Ethics & International Affairs.
6. Eddy Nahmias (Georgia State) tests “willusionism.”
7. “In a perfect world, unlikely findings would be both published and scrutinized — and maybe that world’s not so far from the world we have. Still, the evidence appears to be badly mixed; can any conclusion – save that we’ve got a mess on our hands – be safely drawn?” — an excerpt from a new book by John Doris (Washington University in St. Louis) (via Leiter). Shen-yi Liao (Leeds) comments on it here.
8. A review of recent defenses of the humanities, in the Los Angeles Review of Books.
9. The truth and nothing but the truth (with a comment at the end from God, in bold, related to this recent thread).


Nominal Versus Real Change

As I noted here, and as he announced on his own site here, Brian Leiter has asked Berit Brogaard (Miami) to serve as a co-editor with him of the Philosophical Gourmet Report, along with another as of yet unnamed philosopher who is currently considering the offer. Of course At this point this is nothing but a nominal change in the management of the PGR. One or two pe..


Agnes Heller to receive Wallenberg Medal

Agnes Heller, a Hungarian philosopher who was, for a while, the Hannah Arendt Visiting Professor of Philosophy in the Graduate Studies Program of The New School in New York (now emeritus there), and prior to that taught at La Trobe University in Melbourne, will receive the 2014 Wallenberg Medal, an award bestowed annually at the University of Michigan “to a humanita..


1. A sculpture of Edgar Allen Poe, crafted by philosopher Stefanie Rocknak (Hartwick), will soon be unveiled at the corner of Boylston Street and Charles Street South in Boston. This story’s a triple win: philosopher, art, and, of course, aptonym. Here’s other sculptural work by Rocknak. And here’s a post about how Poe anticipated the idea of the Big Bang.
2. A search for resources for teaching students how to read philosophy.
3. A new blog, Second Shift, features several philosophers and other academics and “is aimed at bringing academic feminist analysis (broadly construed) into conversation with politics and pop culture.”
4. “In a new study, researchers used a smartphone app to track moral and immoral acts committed or witnessed by more than 1,200 people as they went about their days,” reports Wired and the New York Times.
5. “I’ve always been puzzled by the way that some moral philosophers create extraordinarily far fetched examples and then ask us to see what sorts of intuitions we have about these cases. I am skeptical that any intuitions we might dig up contain important ethical insights. But I’m also puzzled by those who argue from abstract general principles, for example, about the unethical treatment of causing other animals to suffer or fail to flourish, without knowing many details about particular animals and what might constitute their well-being.”– from an interesting and wide-ranging interview with Lori Gruen (Wesleyan).
6. Say goodbye to the “American Philological Association.”
7. The New Yorker’s Alex Ross on the Frankfurt School and its influence.
8. Several philosophers are name-checked in these reflections on how environmental considerations may alter our understanding of human progress.
9. “Is Artificial Intelligence a Threat?” asks the Chronicle of Higher Education, in an article featuring Nick Bostrom (Oxford) and others.
10. Sometimes it ain’t a bad move.


Philosophy Tag

In the previous game, Charlie Kurth (Washington University in St. Louis) tagged Valerie Tiberius (University of Minnesota). Now, Tiberius makes a move that is especially suited for today, if you have the day off (as many in the U.S. do, owing to Labor Day). Check it out.

Many of us have had the experience of going out into nature (a weekend at a lakeside cabi..