Academic philosophers in Anglophone Ph.D.-granting departments tend to have a narrow conception of what counts as valuable philosophical work. Hiring, tenure, promotion, and prestige turn mainly on one’s ability to write an essay in a particular theoretical, abstract style, normally in reaction to the work of a small group of canonical historical and 20th century fi..
Under ancient Jewish law, if a suspect on trial was unanimously found guilty by all judges, then the suspect was acquitted. This reasoning sounds counterintuitive, but the legislators of the time had noticed that unanimous agreement often indicates the presence of systemic error in the judicial process, even if the exact nature of the error is yet to be discovered. ..
I’m often asked—by non-academics, natch—if anything in my philosophical education has been of value to me in the conduct of my lived life. I have found this question hard to answer in the terms my interlocutors demand, largely because is because posed to me in what I call ‘lock-key’ form: is there a lock you have been able to open with a philosophical key? The l..
Did you know that Wikipedia has a “List of Unsolved Problems in Philosophy” page? It lists only 20 problems (philosophy’s doing better than I thought!) including: “the problem of the criterion,” “the mind-body problem,” “the hard problem of consciousness,” and “the problem of induction.” Ironically, mereology and universals are left off of the list. (Admittedly, it ..
The word “intuition” has been deployed with increasing frequency in philosophy over the past 100 years. This may be owed to an increase in philosophers’ explicit reliance on intuitions, but also to the increasing critical scrutiny that philosophers’ reliance on intuitions has been facing for 3 to 4 decades now. Here’s Richard Brandt in A Theory of the Good and the R..
The summer issue of The Hedgehog Review is out and features a symposium, “On the Business of Philosophy.” The main element of the symposium is Richard Rorty’s Page-Barbour Lectures at the University of Virginia, with responses from Susan Haack (Miami), Robert Pippin (Chicago), and Matthew Crawford (Virginia). (more…)
Some people go to PhilPapers, get the information they need, and then just go. Not Valentin Lageard, a graduate student in philosophy at Université Paris-Sorbonne. The Categories page at the site caught his eye. He says:
Nuance is not a virtue of good sociological theory. Sociologists typically use it as a term of praise, and almost without exception when nuance is mentioned it is because someone is asking for more of it. I shall argue that, ..
Imagine two people arguing about free will. One of them, let’s call her Olga the Optimist, has just heard about compatibilism and happily accepts the view that of course she has free will—after all, if she wants to raise her arm she raises her arm and if she doesn’t she does not. The other one, let’s call him Paul the Pessimist, points out to her that she hasn’t c..
What are the traits of great philosophers? Matthew Hammerton, a PhD student at Australian National University, came across a passage by Cambridge University mathematician Timothy Gowers about how genius is neither necessary nor sufficient for success as a research mathematician, asking whether philosophers thought something similar about those who produce high quali..
Intuitive Bedrock and the Philosophical Enterprise
by Dale Dorsey (more…)
Many of you will remember Nina Strohminger‘s amusing review of Colin McGinn’s book, The Meaning of Disgust. The review, written with the kind of frankness McGinn’s own reviews are known for, appeared in the journal, Emotion Review. Several months after its publication, the journal received a letter from McGinn responding to the review. That letter, along with Strohm..
In an entertaining and interesting interview, Barbara Gail Montero, associate professor of philosophy at CUNY and former professional ballet dancer, discusses, among other things, the role of conscious thought in the activities of experts. On one view (notably advanced by Hubert Dreyfuss and John McDowell ), experts get into the “flow” and act in a “nonminded” way:..
The following is a guest post* by Gregory Lewis, a medical doctor and amateur philosopher, in which he looks through a statistical lens at the formation of the Western philosophical canon. You can read more of his writings, including an earlier version of the piece that follows, at his site.
In an essay at Aeon, Huw Price (Cambridge) writes about “reputation traps.”
His example of this is scientific research on cold fusion, or low-energy nuclear reaction (LENR), “the controversial idea that nuclear reactions similar to those in the Sun could, under certain conditions, also occur close to room temperature.” Cold fusion held out the promise of clean an..
Philosophers seem pretty territorial about their discipline. Whether that’s owed to high standards, insecurity, or something else, I don’t know. But we tend to be on guard when non-philosophers take up philosophical questions, cautious about assigning work in our classes that is by non-philosophers, and seemingly comfortable with deploying the phrase “not technicall..
Philosophy, like any human activity, is influenced by the circumstances in which it takes place. Technological, scientific, economic, political, cultural, social, etc., factors influence how philosophy is conducted and at least some of which questions philosophers take up. Philosophy is also the product of its history, with the philosophical agenda of each era stron..