The Royal Society, the United Kingdom’s learned society for the sciences, annually recognizes a scholar for “excellence in a subject relating to the history of science, philosophy of science or the social function of science” with its Wilkins-Bernal-Medawar Medal and Lecture. (more…)
Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture, a new journal, has published the results of a survey of academics, sorted by discipline, regarding their views about genetic and environmental determinism and the explanatory power of science. (more…)
The journal formerly known as Philosophy & Theory in Biology has relaunched with a new name, Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology (PTPBio), and has just published its first articles under the new title. (more…)
Anyone who studies the contemporary phenomenon of global warming, or who fears the insidious impact that the smartphone is having on our lives, or who remembers that there are enough nuclear warheads on enough intercontinental ballistic missiles to destroy human civilization with some ease, understands that modern technology threatens, indeed is likely, to overwhelm..
“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 ..
The Board of Officers of the American Philosophical Association (APA) has issued a statement in support of the March for Science, a demonstration taking place next month which “champions robustly funded and publicly communicated science as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity” and which calls for “science that upholds the common good and for political leaders an..
Can science help us answer philosophical questions? Hanoch Ben-Yami, professor of philosophy at Central European University (CEU), in an interview at 3:AM Magazine, suggests that the question is too broad. The answers are different for different scientific inquiries. (more…)
I was attracted to philosophy because it is the most minimalistic art I can think of. To express ideas, you use only the most minimal, the most reduced resources: no body (as in theatre), no figures (as in pictorial art), no voice or sound (as in music), no story (as in literature)—just thoughts. They are ordered, ideally crystal-clear and sharp, but they are just..
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..
The following is a guest post* by Adam Briggle and Robert Frodeman, both professors of Philosophy at the University of North Texas and co-authors of Socrates Tenured: The Institutions of 21st Century Philosophy. This essay originally appeared in The Guardian and is reposted here with permission of the authors.
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..
What if I told you there was an easy, scientifically-proven, five-minute method for improving your teaching? Just five-minutes, and your teaching ratings go up. No, I’m not talking about giving your students candy when you have them fill out the course evaluation forms. I’m talking about an actual improvement in learning outcomes, based on real science. How much wou..
egardless of whom you want to assign the task of reaching across the line , presently little crosses it. Few practicing physicists today care what philosophers do or think.
And as someone who has tried to write about topics on the intersection of both fields, I can report that this disciplinary segregation is meanwhile institutionalized: The physics journals won’..
A few reporters at Vox conducted an unscientific survey of scientists to unpack the sense they’ve been getting that “science is in big trouble.” The result is a list of the seven biggest problems facing science, based on responses from 270 scientists. (more…)
“Far from being years of ‘enduring failure,’ the last 150 years have been philosophy’s best.”
So argues Scott Soames (University of Southern California) in an essay on the influence of academic philosophy in The New York Times column, The Stone. Framed as a response to “When Philosophy Lost Its Way,” by Robert Frodeman and Adam Briggle (University of North Texas), ..
Daniel Dennett (Tufts) has withdrawn from the popular World Science Festival upon learning of its funding from the John Templeton Foundation. Dennett, whose opposition to Templeton has been discussed here before, is reported by The Washington Post as saying:
“I would be very happy to have the Templeton Foundation sponsor research on religion and science,” he said..
What are the boundaries of philosophy? Why are they there and what is their nature? How do such boundaries structure the way philosophers approach understanding people, events, relationships, institutions, and so on? A few recent pieces around the Internet explore versions of these questions.
Justin E.H. Smith (Université Paris Diderot) argues at Berfrois that th..
institutionalization of philosophy made it into a discipline that could be seriously pursued only in an academic setting. This fact represents one of the enduring failures of contemporary philosophy.
So argue Robert Frodeman and Adam Briggle (both of University of North Texas). Philosophy’s institutionalization in the modern research university was a kind of “pu..
What is the name of the phenomenon by which someone who is an acknowledged expert in one area is led to be overconfident about his or her knowledge in other areas? It’s a specific version of illusory superiority, and it may be related to the Dunning-Kruger effect (a product of the correlation of overconfidence and lack of skill), but I’m wondering if it has its own ..
Last week, Susanna Siegel and Steven Pinker (both of Harvard) participated in a debate about the role of the humanities and the sciences in the study of the mind. The debate was videotaped and can be watched here (update: link fixed). Below is Professor Siegel’s summary of the event, the topic of which raises questions about the value of the humanities more general..
In 2012, physicists Lawrence Krauss claimed that “…science progresses and philosophy doesn’t”, and Neil deGrasse Tyson infamously echoes such opinions… Lots of high profile physicists make dead wrong claims about a subject in which they are not experts, repeating misperceptions even after philosophers keep correcting them. This is like listening to creationists re..
Cosmology’s hot streak has stalled. Cosmologists have looked deep into time, almost all the way back to the Big Bang itself, but they don’t know what came before it. They don’t know whether the Big Bang was the beginning, or merely one of many beginnings. Something entirely unimaginable might have preceded it. Cosmologists don’t know if the world we see around us is..
In his contribution to A Teacher’s Life: Essays for Steven M. Cahn, David Rosenthal (CUNY) raises questions about philosophy’s fit with the humanities and the sciences, framed around the study of history.
A striking difference between those fields we classify as humanities and those we regard as sciences is the attitude within each field toward its history. Learning..
In the world of Star Trek, a rule called the “prime directive” prohibits our heroes from interfering in the development of alien cultures. I don’t think they had in mind the kind of “cultures” that could be grown in a Petri dish, but, as it turns out, NASA has predicted that we will find extraterrestrial life within the next 20 years, and that the life in question w..
The American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS) has announced its elected fellows for 2014. Among the 401 new fellows are two philosophers: Joseph Pitt (Virginia Tech) and C.Kenneth Waters (Calgary).
You and a number of your colleagues keep asking what philosophy (of science, in particular) has done for science, lately. There are two answers here: first, much philosophy of science is simply not concerned with advancing science, which means that it is a category mistake (a useful philosophical concept) to ask why it didn’t.
BOOM! By now you have probably read abo..
That’s Neil deGrasse Tyson on majoring in philosophy. Chris Hardwick, over at Nerdist, interviews the famed astrophysicist and host of Cosmos, and one of the topics is philosophy (starting at 20:19). deGrasse Tyson thinks there is too much questioning in philosophy. Still, he has one question for philosophers: “Why are you wasting your time?” Sigh. There’s no one li..