Robert Paul Wolff, at his blog The Philosopher’s Stone, objects to the use of trolley problems and other stylized thought experiments in which various complications are waved aside. “I am quite convinced that these sorts of thought experiments are nonsense,” he says. Wisely, he adds: “but it is not so easy to say why.”
I think that trolley problems and the like a..
Clifford Sosis continues his very interesting series of interviews with philosophers with Mary Louise Gill of Brown University. There’s a lot in this one, which Sosis helpfully sums up:
She talks about reading Gone with The Wind in secret at home (it was forbidden), being required to read J Edgar Hoover’s Masters of Deceit in the 6th grade, her father, John Glanv..
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..
The Marc Sanders Foundation, which sponsors various programs and prizes in philosophy, has awarded its inaugural prize in political philosophy to Keith Hyams (Warwick) for his paper, “On the Contribution of Ex Ante Equality to Ex Post Fairness.” The award includes $10,000 and publication of the essay in Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy, following its presentat..
Last week saw the creation of a new series of “crash course” posts here at Daily Nous. The brainchild of Natalia Cecire (Sussex), the idea is to come up with a “one-week self education program” for “students who suddenly need to get up to speed in a field, and don’t have time to take a course or immerse themselves in it for a year,” or for professors seeking to lear..
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..
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 “What’s the Point of a Professor?“, an opinion piece in The New York Times, Emory University English professor Mark Bauerlein laments the current role of professors. In the past, “students looked to professors for moral and worldly understanding.” Now, “finding meaning and making money have traded places.” In the past, “you couldn’t walk down the row of faculty o..
David Barnett, an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado, Boulder, will be resigning from the school with a $210,000 settlement. Barnett had gone through termination proceedings last year on grounds that he had retaliated against a student who had complained about another student sexually assaulting her (previous stories on this here). The D..
Through the Wormhole is a television show on the Science Network hosted by Morgan Freeman. Its latest episode is about the direction of time and features Craig Callender* of UC San Diego in its first segment. So pretty much Morgan Freeman does his magical cosmic opening thing and then introduces and discusses time with Callender, who also goes paddle-boarding and ha..
Minerva is “a web tool for supporting philosophical historiography research.” It’s the master’s thesis project of Valerio Pellegrini, and was designed by him in conjunction with “a team of philosophical historians from the University of Milan” and the Density Design Research Lab. It was initially designed for examining the work of Immanuel Kant, but the idea is to e..
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..
As reported last month, the University of Alaska at Fairbanks is losing its philosophy major and eliminating philosophy as its own department. Now, the last remaining tenured philosopher at UAF, Eduardo Wilner, has published a column in which he recounts the death of the department:
When I arrived here 17 years ago there were five faculty in our department. But c..
Si-Won Song, a student about to graduate from the University of Puget Sound, has created a series of digital artworks based on well-known philosophical thought experiments. Song, a philosophy major (with minors in studio art and Japanese) first got the idea from reading about Frank Jackson’s thought experiment, Mary’s Room, in Professor Justin Tiehen’s philosophy of..
Natalia Cecire, a lecturer in English and American literature at Sussex, has embarked upon an interesting project called “Crash Courses for the Desperate”:
Lately I’ve been thinking about what to do with students who suddenly need to get up to speed in a field, and don’t have time to take a course or immerse themselves in it for a year. I’m especially thinking of..
If philosophy can sometimes sound weird to other philosophers, it can sound really weird to non-philosophers. Imagine (you can do it) you were in a conversation with some non-philosophers and they asked, “what’s your strangest philosophical belief?”
What would your answer be?
(image: detail of “They Have Slept In The Forest Too Long” by Max Ernst)
The Cartoon Introduction to Philosophy is out! By philosopher Michael Patton (Montevallo) and illustrator Kevin Cannon, the book stars Heraclitus as the reader’s guide and companion through various philosophical topics, including logic, perception, minds, free will, god, and ethics. At over 150 pages, it has the heft and look of a big graphic novel, and it’s all ab..
Annalisa Coliva, currently lecturer at the University of Modena and associate director of the Cogito Research Centre in Philosophy, will be taking up a position as Full Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Irvine, starting in Spring of 2016. Coliva works in philosophy of mind, epistemology, metaphysics, and the history of analytic philosophy.
Jennifer Baker (College of Charleston) asked the students in her introductory philosophy course to report (anonymously) “ideas of theirs that changed after studying some philosophy.” I think this is a great idea for learning what kinds of topics and readings make an impact on the students’ thinking, which can be of use in both planning and pitching philosophy course..
The Open Logic Project, instigated by Richard Zach (Calgary) and including Aldo Antonelli (UC Davis), Andrew Arana (UIUC), Jeremy Avigad (Carnegie Mellon), Gillian Russell (Wash U. St. Louis, soon to be UNC), Nicole Wyatt (Calgary), and Audrey Yap (Victoria), and a student assistant, has created the Open Logic Text, an open-source, collaborative logic text and all a..
In an era in which we are hearing more and more about threats to the humanities, including the consolidation and elimination of departments, it is nice to have some good news. Tiger Roholt of Montclair State University writes in with some:
Since the 1960s, the Philosophy program at Montclair State University has existed within a shared department, alongside Relig..
Last week’s post, “Philosophy’s Exclusion of Literary Writings,” asked whether philosophy could be done in the form of fiction or myth or poetry. Around the same time, I learned of a book whose description from the publisher included this question: “Given that poetry is about alternative forms of knowing, and philosophy the universal address of logos, then can the t..
At his new site, What Is It Like To Be A Philosopher, Clifford Sosis (Coastal Carolina) has posted a long and wide-ranging interview with Michael Ruse (Florida State). The interview covers a lot of his personal life and how he got into philosophy, evolution and creationism and his testimony in the McLean versus Arkansas Board of Education lawsuit, interdisciplinary ..
Christy Wampole (Princeton) lays out a series of complaints and concerns about conferences in the humanities, including:
We have sat patiently and politely through talks read line by line in a monotone voice by a speaker who doesn’t look up once, wondering why we couldn’t have read the paper ourselves in advance with a much greater level of absorption.
No, no one has created one yet, but it would be useful. Something close to it is the philosophy page at TV Tropes, which lists various philosophical themes that, when clicked on, will take you to a page describing the theme in more detail and giving examples of it in a variety of mediums, including television.
Speaking of TV, Alison Gopnik (Berkeley) sent over t..
Sukaina Hirji and Daniel Wodak, two graduate students at Princeton, are currently teaching a class of fourteen prisoners at the Albert C. Wagner Youth Correctional Facility in New Jersey. You may recall that they were two of the philosophers interviewed here previously about their experiences teaching philosophy in prison.
Their course this term is called “Philos..