In yet another excellent interview at 3AM: Magazine, Richard Marshall talks with Elliott Sober (Wisconsin). There is a lot of interesting material in this interview, including Sober’s takes on the criticisms of evolutionary theory by Jerry Fodor (Rutgers) and Thomas Nagel (NYU).
On Nagel, he says:
Nagel thinks that “remarkable facts” can’t have low probabiliti..
Do philosophers fail to make use of the tools best-suited to their inquiries? Do they even fail to learn how to use these tools? That’s one of the claims made by Jerry Gaus (University of Arizona) in a rich and wide-ranging interview at 3:AM Magazine. He says: (more…)
The Great Endarkenment: Philosophy for an Age of Hyperspecialization is a new book by Elijah Millgram (Utah). In the book, Professor Millgram looks at the implications of our becoming, more and more, “a society of specialists” in which “communication across the barriers between the professions and disciplines is our own very pressing problem,” a problem that “threat..
Just going to put this on the table:
Question: You work in the field of the philosophy of religion. Are you a religious person and do you think philosophy of religion can be done by people who aren’t?
Answer: Let me take your questions in order. I am a Christian; I was brought up in a Christian family; and I’ve never really wavered from that worldview. I defin..
There’s an interesting post at NewApps by Roberta Millstein (UC Davis) on criticisms of philosophy of science that prompted a useful exchange between her and a critic. Professor Millstein writes:
Why is this philosophy? Most philosophers of science have been on the receiving end of this question at one time or another. A friend of mine recently called it a type o..
In a Facebook discussion about yesterday’s “Traits of the Greats” post, Liam Kofi Bright, a PhD student at Carnegie Mellon University, offers the following take on what is conducive to success in academic philosophy: (more…)
L. A. Paul (UNC) is working with Tomer Ullman and John McCoy (both in the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department at MIT) on issues related to “modality, time, and self.” They are seeking philosophers to answer a few questions. (more…)
Nakul Krishna, a graduate student at Oxford, has written a beautiful essay at The Point called “Add Your Own Egg.” Go read it, and we can talk about it here, if you’d like.
The essay originates from the feeling that something is missing from contemporary philosophical practice. It is not a piece of simple declinism that romanticizes the past. Rather, it wonders whe..
A reader asks:
Was wondering if you could write a post asking for people’s favorite philosophy articles/books of the year.
People, what were your favorite philosophy articles or books published in or around 2015?
Now it’s your turn, people…
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..
How is it that analytic philosophy came to be the dominant philosophical style in the 20th Century in the United States? From inside the practice, the answer seems to be, “because it is a particularly good way of doing philosophy.” But “that it seemed good to them at the time” is not much of an historical explanation. For any other historical development, we’d want ..
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. ..
Adversarialism, eh? Alright then, to start I want to point out that philosophers have been pushing this macho schtick from the beginning. Socrates is indeed their hero; if only they could do what he does, whether it be reducing their debating partners to silence or, even better, extracting succinct concessions to their intellectual superiority: “Yes, Socrates,” “You..
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 ..
This week’s Chronicle of Higher Education has three pieces on protecting philosophy departments from budget cuts. All currently paywalled, they include an interview with Amy E. Ferrer, Executive Director of the American Philosophical Association (APA), an article on “how to help your department avoid the ax,” and some tips on supporting philosophy on campus. (more…)..
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, ..
It is standard operating procedure at the University of St. Thomas (Houston) for faculty to receive and return their renewal contracts for the following academic year by May 15th. May 15th has come and gone, and not one of the 11 members of the university’s Department of Philosophy has received their contract (neither has anyone in the English Department there). (mo..
Below are three features of contemporary moral philosophy that I’ve observed, and that may be worth discussing. I present them largely without judgment, except to say here that each seems like a mixed bag. Feel free to discuss, evaluate, elaborate, etc. These aren’t the only observations I have about moral philosophy today, but they are ones that recent events have..
A persistent challenge to philosophy is whether it is rendered obsolete by science. Consider this exchange on the philosophy of mind:
Cognitive scientists are working to understand many issues raised by Kant—do you think the scientists are going to get conclusive answers to the question about consciousness and the mind—and other minds—and if they are, doesn..
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..