“What subjects are now being confronted at the frontiers of philosophical inquiry, breaking from the familiar philosophical concerns of canonical figures like Plato, Locke, and Descartes?” That was a question raised recently by the editors of “The Masthead,” a new member-based media program at The Atlantic.
As philosophy comes to occupy more and more of the public’s attention—which is good news—it is not surprising that a lot of that attention is directed at ideas and examples that are dramatic and easy to describe. Chief among these, it seems, is the trolley problem (it it has even shown up on a network sitcom). The trolley problem is so popular, though, that disc..
Over at Marginal Revolution, Tyler Cowen (GMU) asks, “has there been progress in philosophy?” His answer: “there is significant and ongoing progress in philosophy, we just don’t always name it as such.” (more…)
“How do you respond to those who wonder whether philosophy questions can ever be really answered once and for all and who therefore conclude it’s a waste of time?” (more…)
In the wake of suspected recent chemical weapons attack on Syrian civilians by their own government, The Atlantic reached out to a few philosophers to learn what the “moral course of action” is for the United States. The collection of answers suggests a problem with public philosophy. (more…)
“To put something forward is an act of courage, and especially when you know people are going to tear it down. But I think tearing it down is the right response.” (more…)
“What is the meaning of life?” That’s probably the question that springs to mind when a non-philosopher is asked what philosophers study. And while some philosophers do in fact work on that question, like any single question it does not capture the extraordinary range and diversity of subjects philosophers are thinking and writing about. (more…)
Does philosophy make progress? Daniel Stoljar, professor of philosophy at Australia National University, thinks it does, and he defends that idea in his new book, Philosophical Progress: In Defence of a Reasonable Optimism. In the following guest post,* he presents one kind of argument for his view. (more…)
“It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it” (Maurice Switzer). Thoughts like that have inhibited many a young academic from asking questions in seminars or at talks. (more…)
A commonly recognized form of intellectual achievement is the correct answering of questions. This kind of achievement is not a matter of mere quantity—one doesn’t get much credit for answering easy questions or trivial ones—but also quality. What counts is providing answers that add to the store of human understanding, understood broadly. (more…)
“Since science took its modern form in the seventeenth century, it has been one long success story.” By contrast, we philosophers “don’t seem to have progressed much in the two and a half millennia since Plato wrote his dialogues.” That’s the conventional wisdom, as described by David Papineau (King’s College London) in The Times Literary Supplement. But if there’s ..
Some philosophy talks are exciting, others are dull. It’s pretty easy to tune out of the dull ones. But once you tune out of a talk, it is difficult to follow the argument when you tune back in,and so you just end up sitting there wasting your time. As Ravi Vakil, a professor of math at Stanford puts it, “Talks are like horses: once you are thrown off, it is hard to..
Continuing with the recent theme of methodology, Robin Hanson, who holds an appointment in the Economics Department at George Mason University, writes often about rationality and decision theory, and is chief author at the Overcoming Bias site, has advice for contrarians. Observing that knowingly disagreeing is irrational or dishonest, he says contrarians should not..
Oxford University Press philosophy editors Peter Momtchiloff, Peter Ohlin, and Lucy Randall have offered to answer Daily Nous readers’ questions about academic publishing. Here’s how it’ll work. You send in the questions to me at [email protected], or post them in the comment section below, and in a subsequent post during the last week of May, they will post..
Ole Koksvik (Bergen), along with the help of friends, has put together a very useful set of tips for giving a philosophy talk. I appreciated the “rationale” section, in which he notes, among other things, that “giving a bad presentation is impolite.” There is some good advice throughout, much of which is consistent with the general rule that guides how I put toget..