The Questions Today’s Philosophers Are Asking (for World Philosophy Day 2022)


Happy World Philosophy Day!

[by J. Weinberg]

Created by the Educational, Scientific, and Cultural organization of the United Nations (UNESCO), World Philosophy Day celebrates “the enduring value of philosophy for the development of human thought, for each culture and for each individual.”

Back in 2017, to recognize the day, we asked philosophers to share a question they were currently working on. The result was a kind of picture of philosophy at the time. How has that picture changed in five years? Let’s find out.

Philosophers, please take a moment to write down, in a comment on this post, one question you are currently working on. (Yes, just one.)

As I said five years ago, I’ll do what I can to promote the post widely (it would help if you shared it and encouraged people to post a question they’re working on). Together, we can try to raise awareness of what philosophers are thinking about today, and perhaps catch the attention of those who otherwise might have not realized they are interested in what philosophers are doing.

Thank you.


guest

138 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Marcin Miłkowski
2 months ago

What should scientific theories do?Report

Will
2 months ago

What are our moral duties (if any) to the dead?Report

Patrick S. O'Donnell
Reply to  Will
2 months ago

Here is something I wrote almost ten years ago that, while perhaps not, strictly speaking, focusing on our possible “moral duties to the dead,” does speak to the question of treating individuals who are dead with some kind of “dignitary” respect. I thought it might be of interest to those who find your question provocative. https://www.religiousleftlaw.com/2013/04/locating-dignity-in-the-dead.html  Report

Patrick Standen
Patrick Standen
2 months ago

Dear Daily Nous:

I am currently looking into the meaning of the concept of disability. In January, I published a book, Disability: The Genealogy of a Concept from Prehistory to Mid-Twentieth Center (Onion River Press), that was a culmination of 7 years of research into the changing conceptualizations of disability and built an upper-level philosophy course (The Philosophy of Disability) offered for the first time at my home institution (Saint Michael’s College) last spring. I am continuing research in this area and offering an honors section of the phi of dis this coming term.Report

Ingeborg Majer-O'Sickey
Ingeborg Majer-O'Sickey
Reply to  Patrick Standen
2 months ago

Great question to ponder! I wonder, is a proxlivity to engage in TMI, or lack of humility a disability?Report

Nathan
2 months ago

How can political theory effectively engage complexity without reducing it to simplistic axioms about what’s right and wrong?Report

Patrick S. O'Donnell
Reply to  Nathan
2 months ago

I would recommend any number of books by Jon Elster, Robert E. Goodin, Nadia Urbinati, and Adam Przeworski (there are others) as exemplifying political theory that is fairly complex, meaning in part historically well-informed and empirically sensitive or rich, while at the same time speaking to questions of contemporary social, political, and economic relevance and urgency.Report

Darrin Snyder Belousek
2 months ago

What are the ethical responsibilities of universities to their students?Report

Szymon Miłkoś
2 months ago

What are the norms of scientific creativity?Report

Brad
2 months ago

How did the discovery of isotopes unfold, and how did it impact our knowledge of the chemical world? What does this discovery tell us about scientific discovery in general?Report

Alex Gregory
2 months ago

Can happiness be (un)justified, and if so, under what sorts of circumstance?Report

Will Douglass
Will Douglass
Reply to  Alex Gregory
3 days ago

I believe happiness can be unjustified due to either misinformation (debatably justified) and situations where one chooses to believe an idea in the face of countering information. I think religion would be an interesting comparison as its common for people to misattribute characteristics defined in their religion to help their mental state. See the prosperity gospel in Christianity. Most Christian theologians would argue against this theology, but it assuredly brings happiness to those who believe being a “better Christian” brings them more prosperity on Earth. One could see this being unjustified happiness. I think a possible conclusion would be that when people are presented a situation where ignorance can be chosen within the mind of the user, this ignorance could lead to happiness.Report

susanamonso
susanamonso
2 months ago

To what extent do animals understand death?Report

hoderr
hoderr
Reply to  susanamonso
2 months ago

* In my opinion, death, especially my own (i. e. from a introspective perspective) , is – philosophically – of the utmost importance. I do not think we understand death in general.
* the minds of animals are a total mystery.
* I think, we can not understand (non-human) animals other than in some sort of anthropomorphic way, i. e. as ‘lesser humans’. An indication is, that you think, animals have some sort of a concept of death. Maybe ‘death’ is just a human concept (like all the others; or death is just not important for animals)
* Do you think, you can achieve an answer via philosophical means? To me, your (nontheless great) question looks (more) of an empirical, biological question (like can crows count, which anmials can use tools, do apes have some sort of consciousness).Report

David Gross
2 months ago

Aristotle noted that ethics differs from other branches of philosophy, “in not being a subject of merely intellectual interest — I mean we are not concerned to know what goodness essentially is, but how we are to become good people, for this alone gives the study its practical value.” This did not turn out to be a good prediction of how this branch of philosophy would develop in the philosophical tradition that followed Aristotle in the West. But now, with advances in psychology and with greater availability of cross-cultural perspectives, can we pick up where Aristotle left off and develop a practical science of character development?Report

Nicolas Delon
Nicolas Delon
2 months ago

Is agency without sentience possible and, if so, is it sufficient for moral status?Report

Anne O'Byrne
2 months ago

How does a democracy sustain itself over generations, democratically?Report

Erick Ramirez
Erick Ramirez
2 months ago

How similar should the ethics and metaphysics of extended realities be to the ethics and metaphysics of vanilla reality (and why is the answer: it will be pretty different)?Report

Ian Cruise
2 months ago

What is justice and what distinguishes it from other other moral concepts?Report

Will Douglass
Will Douglass
Reply to  Ian Cruise
3 days ago

Justice is the baseline for relationships. It is the founding principle of trust. It is at its core seen as “fair”, which is the building block of trust. I think what distinguishes it from other moral principles is that it might be quite easy to manufacture and witness its occurrence.Report

Duane L. Cady
Duane L. Cady
2 months ago

I’m working on nonviolence theory. –Duane L. CadyReport

Andy
Andy
2 months ago

How do I get a job?

Might seem like a silly question, but it’s the main question on the minds of a good many philosophers these days, and the fact that so many people are primarily concerned with such questions has a real impact on the current philosophical landscape.Report

hoderr
hoderr
Reply to  Andy
2 months ago

At the moment this is “the most voted” question. I wondering: Do you all think, this is a philosophical question?Report

Last edited 2 months ago by hoderr
Noel Ryan
Noel Ryan
Reply to  hoderr
2 months ago

Yes. It raises the question if ‘the love of knowledge’ or ‘the pursuit of wisdom’ is its own reward ‘Virtus Sola Nobilitas’. Traditionally, Philosophy was the domain of monks or ascetics.Report

Mike Archbold
Mike Archbold
Reply to  Andy
2 months ago

Philosophy of moneyReport

hoderr
hoderr
Reply to  Mike Archbold
2 months ago

Of course, there are all sorts of philosophical questions regarding work money, happinnes, human nature etc. But how is said question in itself philosophical? So: “What is a philosophical question?”
Regarding “How do I get a job?”:
1) The answer for ‘how to do this or that?’ does not require philosophical skills; you have to write resumees (about your philosophical skills etc. ) etc.
2) If you are a mathematican, is “How do I get a job?” a mathematical question? If you are a philosopher, is it a philosophical question?
3) Further, I would say, it’s the same structure like this: “What time is it?” is not a philosophical question (but of course, as always, can lead to philosophical questions), but “What is time?” is. Same here: “How do I get a job?” is not, but “What is work?” is.Report

Last edited 2 months ago by hoderr
hoderr
hoderr
Reply to  Andy
2 months ago

[wrong place, please delete]Report

Last edited 2 months ago by hoderr
Sage
Sage
Reply to  Andy
2 months ago

I would rephrase that to be: How can I live a life of value?Report

Edouard Machery
2 months ago

Should we trust science?

Does the reward structure of science explain unreliable science?

Do the concepts of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding vary across cultures?

are “to know that..” and its standard translations factive?

Are there neural representations and how would we know?Report

Dean Booth
2 months ago

What exactly prevents us from understanding consciousness?Report

Mark Schroeder
2 months ago

I am obsessed right now with trying to think about how whos emerge from a world of whats. What are the boundaries of persons in time, space, and quality space, and what can we learn by thinking about these questions in a unified way?Report

L. A. Paul
2 months ago

I am working on modeling the computational structure of centering, especially the structure of de se action and planning, and fitting that to the ontology and epistemology of the self. Report

L. A. Paul
Reply to  L. A. Paul
2 months ago

so, I guess one question is: what is the ontology of computation?Report

Guy
Guy
2 months ago

How should bullshit receptivity be measured?Report

Dave Estlund
Dave Estlund
2 months ago

If “structural injustice” is meant to be irrespective of individual wrongdoing, what could warrant grievance attitudes characteristic of perceived injustice, such as resentment, righteous, anger, or being morally ashamed of one’s country?Report

Eddy Nahmias
Eddy Nahmias
2 months ago

What is the best way to understand punishment as communication?Report

Neil Dewar
2 months ago

What does it mean to interpret a theory of physics?Report

Trystan Goetze
2 months ago

Is AI art theft?Report

Luca Evans
Luca Evans
Reply to  Trystan Goetze
2 months ago

I was doing a bit of research into AI art recently for an assignment at university.

I’d be really interested in reading your perspective on the matter, if you do write about it / publish any research on this question anywhere.Report

Daniel Muñoz
Daniel Muñoz
2 months ago

What roles should—and shouldn’t—the police play in a liberal democracy?Report

Richard Y Chappell
2 months ago

What’s the relation between moral theory (accounts of what fundamentally matters) and practice (how one should make decisions in real life)?Report

Dean Booth
Reply to  Richard Y Chappell
2 months ago

I’ve thought about this recently while reading the book Reckoning with Matter by Matthew Jones, about the creation of the first adding machine. A theme that runs through the book is the gap between design and implementation. Leibniz recognized this gap and gave the machinists their due.

This struck me as a good metaphor for moral theory vs. moral action. Moral action, as an implementation of moral theory, is a kind of making.Report

Michael Cholbi
Michael Cholbi
2 months ago

Can we make better sense of the fear of death if we view it as embedded within (anticipatory) grief that we feel toward the prospect of our own deaths?Report

John M. Fischer
2 months ago

I’m intrigued by the rise of “moral responsibility skepticism” in recent years. Intrigued and surprised. I’ve been wondering: Can we legitimately deem those who are guilty of committing crimes (or, in general, violating certain norms) deserving (in a fundamental way, not simply because of the societal acceptance of a law or norm) of retributive punishment?Report

Eddy Keming Chen
2 months ago

Can laws of nature be so strong as rule out every world except the actual one?Report

Brendan de Kenessey
2 months ago

What can depression teach us about the right way to appreciate value?Report

Saba Bazargan-Forward
2 months ago

Do those who innocently benefit from injustices in the world (without thereby contributing to those injustices) owe compensation to the victims of those injustices?Report

Ron McClamrock
Ron McClamrock
2 months ago

What assumptions about consciousness make the problem of consciousness seem intractable, and are those assumptions unavoidable?Report

Anthony Clarke
Anthony Clarke
Reply to  Ron McClamrock
2 months ago

I think dualism and physicalism as implicit world views are central to the hardness of this problemReport

michael helsem
Reply to  Ron McClamrock
2 months ago

that it is a thing. that it is the same at all times. that it is the same for everyone. there’s a start.Report

Eric Wiland
Eric Wiland
2 months ago
Kate Hazel Stanton
2 months ago

How is information about affect stored across the mental lexicon? How is it used in interpretation?Report

Lisa Bortolotti
2 months ago

Can personal stories be evidence? If so, what are they evidence for?Report

W Hasyiem
W Hasyiem
Reply to  Lisa Bortolotti
2 months ago

Testimony?Report

Rob Hughes
2 months ago

In a society with widespread unmet need, when do businesses have a moral obligation (apart from relevant legal obligations) to pay above-market wages or to offer below-market prices?Report

Ali Boyle
2 months ago

How much can we know about the minds of nonhuman animals?Report

elisa freschi
Reply to  Ali Boyle
1 month ago

I am working on other minds and non-human animal minds as well. Please keep me updated about your research, if possible!Report

Tangwa Elvis
2 months ago

(1) Which is the mother and why: philosophy or psychology? (2) What is shame and what is its value in an individual’s life?Report

Philip-Neri Reese, OP
2 months ago

Does Aquinas have anything interesting and/or plausible to say about counterpossibles?Report

Richard Russell Wood
Reply to  Philip-Neri Reese, OP
2 months ago

He answered that.

Everything he wrote was straw.Report

Philip-Neri Reese, OP
Reply to  Richard Russell Wood
2 months ago

I should have thought of that. I guess there goes my article?Report

Last edited 2 months ago by Philip-Neri Reese, OP
Kevin Dorst
2 months ago

Are people as irrational as we tend to think?Report

Trevor Hedberg
2 months ago

Would significantly extending human life expectancy through bioenhancement be compatible with long-term environmental sustainability? If so, how what would have to change to make that possible?Report

Lampros Papagiannis
2 months ago

How can we change the domination of the Cartesian cogito on modern philosophy allowing space for a sentio ergo sum of equal value?Report

Animal Symbolicum
Animal Symbolicum
2 months ago

What, if anything, actually justifies the existence and current nature of academic philosophy? What, if anything, should academic philosophy be like?Report

Lampros Papagiannis
2 months ago

Has the Cartesian cogito influenced modern philosophy so much that we can speak of domination and, if this is the case, should we leave some space for a “sentio ergo sum” of equal value?Report

Dale
2 months ago

What is the value of short-term, more superficial (i.e., non-friendship) relations between people?Report

Travis Timmerman
2 months ago

Are all lives with equal quantities of infinite goodness and different amounts of finite badness of equal prudential value?

What are the maximally precise necessary and sufficient conditions for an event to be overall harmful?

Do all animals have an equal capacity for welfare?Report

Chris
2 months ago

Why do we condemn people who are not honest but follow politicians, big pharma etcReport

Chris
2 months ago

Why do we celebrate freedom, but condemn those who want to be free to live their own livesReport

Tim
Tim
2 months ago

Is a life of virtue better than a life of pleasure?Report

Ralph Wedgwood
2 months ago

I am trying to work out new-ish approach to ethical theory – I am calling it “decision-theoretic virtue ethics“.Report

Emmanuel
2 months ago

What is spontaneous moral responsibility?Report

Eva
Eva
2 months ago

What – if any – are the reasons of artificial intelligent systems?Report

Ramón Alvarado
2 months ago

How, when, can we trust/rely on computational artifacts/methods (AI/Computer Simulations/Data science, etc.) in knowledge-creation and ethically sensitive contexts?Report

Jason Divis
2 months ago

As we learn more about graph theory and how billions of parameters being fed into a neutral net can create some extraordinary patterns, I have to reflect on what that means for we human beings—billions of “parameters” fed into the neural nets of our social organizations. lf we have agency, and if that agency comes about because of the interplay between neural firings, and if we find signs of agency in the neural nets we’re creating, can we describe social phenomenon as a sort of meta-agency brought on by the interconnectedness of the human being parameters feeding data into that social organism, and what individual responsibility does that impart on us for the “actions” the meta-agency carries out?Report

Richard Russell Wood
2 months ago

To what extent should the populace be involved in dialogue and
policy decisions regarding complicated technical matters, e.g, the role of technology in our lives, AI, etc.

Is this something that should be “democratized”, or left to the boffins, technocrats, and politicians?Report

Sam Berstler
2 months ago

What is the structure of face-to-face interaction?Report

Claire Katz
Claire Katz
2 months ago

What is forgiveness and in what circumstances would we consider forgiveness unjust?Report

Ten-Herng Lai
2 months ago

What, if anything, ought to be done to statues, monuments, memorials, and commemorations of racists, colonialists, and oppressors?Report

Gah-Kai Leung
2 months ago

What is an ethically defensible policy framework for earthquake risk management?Report

Michael Striem
2 months ago

Could creatures join their mind energy to affect physically other objects or creaturesReport

Philipp Stehr
2 months ago

Are business corporations compatible with democracy and if not, what should and what can we do about it?Report

Zoe
Zoe
2 months ago

Under what conditions can it be inappropriate to praise someone, despite their being genuinely praiseworthy?Report

Alida Liberman
2 months ago

How does living in a context in which many (if not most) of our decisions inevitably impose harm on others impact our moral agency?Report

Leïla Mérabet
2 months ago

What is the collective project of our civilization?Report

Jimmy Alfonso Licon
2 months ago

When are practices like idea appropriation and bullshitting instances of epistemic injustice?Report

Louis deRosset
2 months ago

How do mathematical facts arise from features of ordinary things?Report

Alexander Guerrero
2 months ago

Should we select our political representatives by lotteries, rather than elections? (Still working on this…)Report

Robert A Gressis
Robert A Gressis
2 months ago

What is mediocrity?Report

Leonel Alvarez Ceja
2 months ago

Is there a great filter? If so, can we overcome it someday?Report

Kamal Dabee
2 months ago

Can a single idea of Unity be developed out of its various conceptions across cultures and continents?Report

M. Sohaib
2 months ago

Has life any significance at all?Report

Per-Erik Milam
2 months ago

What is forgiveness, what does it do, and when should you do it (or not do it)?Report

Shakira
2 months ago

How do we live a happy life?Report

Martin
2 months ago

What is intellectual humility and its relation to moral claim?Report

James H. P. Lewis
2 months ago

Can it ever make sense to like or dislike someone in virtue of their aesthetic qualities?Report

Kyle Seakgwa
2 months ago

What are the stages of the process of philosophizing?

What are the cognitive characteristics of philosophical discovery?Report

Yuhan Fu
2 months ago

PhD thesis (wip): whether there is a unified psychological mechanism for moral judgements?

Some other questions that I am thinking about but not writing about (yet):
Can AI make moral judgements?
Whether there is moral knowledge? Do we only have moral belief but not moral knowledge?
does moral motivation vary across cultures?
how social contexts shape one’s personality?

A question about personalities of philosophers: How could some philosophers are so confident about their work and themselves while some lack self-confidence? How does the subject shape one’s personality?Report

Jonathan Parry
2 months ago

What does it mean to act ‘for the sake’ of a person or ‘in their name’? Why is invoking a person in these ways morally significant?Report

Kenneth Black
2 months ago

How should we construct and interpret theories of (linguistic) meaning?Report

Tom Wilk
2 months ago

Who can tell which jokes to whom, when, and where? Or, what are the ethics of joke telling?Report

Kirun Sankaran
2 months ago

What role does theory play when we reason, and especially do causal inference, using network models?Report

Preston Werner
Preston Werner
2 months ago

How can we come to represent (non-subjective) value, and what implications does this have for evaluative epistemology?Report

Justin Khoo
2 months ago

What do we see when we watch movies?Report

Marcus Arvan
2 months ago

How, if at all, can philosophy help us to understand and turn back the tide of right-wing authoritarianism?Report

J polk
J polk
Reply to  Marcus Arvan
2 months ago

Left-wing authoritarianism?Report

Maciej Juzaszek
2 months ago

Should morality influence our beliefs in institutions?Report

Terry L Rankin
2 months ago

Who are we to be?Report

Holger Leuz
2 months ago

To what extent is Plato’s metaphysics defensible nowadays?Report

hoderr
hoderr
2 months ago

Was bedeutet es zu sein?Report

Alexandra Oravetz
2 months ago

To what extent might creative self-expression, in the form of design and art, align with or come into conflict with our ability to be consistent with different philosophic practices?Report

Brianna Bryson
2 months ago

What is writing? Where does writing come from?

Is the mind multiple rather than unified?Report

DJ Donnellon
2 months ago

If it is posited that there is a foundational geometric structure beyond any one particular spacetime instantiation (universe) i.e. “sacred geometry”, what relationship does this have to consciousness?Report

Cariston
2 months ago

How can mixed race ethnicities live ethically and create a unique identity in a post-colonial world that’s dominated by a black v white dichotomy?Report

Ramakrishnan Murali
2 months ago

Theory of Everything. It’s known as Advaita Vedanta. This is not an ‘arm-chair’ philosophy. It’s practical, livable and a must; It’s a philosophy as well as a religion, shattering our pet beliefs. It needs and is a shift in our understanding about ourselves and the universe; a Total Paradigm shift. It’s not my brain-child, but comes down to us from the Vedic times…!Report

Corey Maley
2 months ago

What is computation?Report

Laurence Houlgate
2 months ago

What is philosophy?Report

Alex
2 months ago

Are there rational grounds to believe miracle testimony?Report

Jonathan Najenson
2 months ago

Could there be a unified biological mechanism for storing memories?
What does spatial memory represent?Report

Regina Kassery
2 months ago

In science there are no mysteries therefore How can there be any truth in science that is philosophical truth?Report

Mate Penava
2 months ago

Here’s an obvious one, what is the optimal way to describe truth (hint, it’s not correspondence).Report

Malkhaz
2 months ago

What does it means philosophically, if Russia wins the war in Ukraine?Report

Bellarmine Nneji
2 months ago

Should science dismiss that (phenomenon) which it can’t explain as non existent and impossible? Isn’t science just a sphere and perspective of knowledge and limited in its claims and spheres of knowledge? Does it mean that what science cannot explain is a ruse?Report

Rosanna Festa
2 months ago

Which are the limits of human being in the cosmos?Report

Kenny Easwaran
2 months ago

What can our aesthetic appreciation of puzzles (like jigsaw puzzles or crossword puzzles) tell us about knowledge and its limits, and our relationship to it?Report

Glen Canessa
2 months ago

What is time?Report

Jon B
2 months ago

If the fundamental nature of reality is qualitative and nondual, what is the relationship of dualistic causality to qualia? Essentially, the inverse perspective on the hard problem of consciousness.Report

Jon B
2 months ago

If minimum phenomenal self-consciousness (and hence reflective self-consciousness) arises from stable representational sensory processing loops, which nonhuman information processing systems could be self-conscious?Report

Giovanni Tantucci
2 months ago

I have many questions, but I think the one that sums them all up is: how can we systematically improve society?Report

Jeffrey Krinock
Reply to  Giovanni Tantucci
2 months ago

Would answering this mean excluding from consideration those elements of human experience that are decidedly not systems based? E.g., mysticism. Or revelation?Report

Jeffrey Krinock
2 months ago

Should philosophers expose the danger inherent in accepting the social validity of the Turing Test, given that the test focused on the appearance of personhood? (I.e., the Turing Test risks granting to the prosopon — the mask itself — the very status millenia’s worth of theology and philosophy labored to transfer to the essence of the person.Report

Susmita Sarkar
1 month ago

Researching on upskillingReport

elisa freschi
1 month ago

How do commands motivate us? Because they communicate us a sense of duty or because they tell us that the actions enjoined are means to realise a goal we desire to achieve?Report