The Questions Today’s Philosophers Are Asking (for World Philosophy Day 2022)
Happy World Philosophy Day!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.
What should scientific theories do?Report
What are our moral duties (if any) to the dead?Report
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
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
Great question to ponder! I wonder, is a proxlivity to engage in TMI, or lack of humility a disability?Report
How can political theory effectively engage complexity without reducing it to simplistic axioms about what’s right and wrong?Report
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
What are the ethical responsibilities of universities to their students?Report
What are the norms of scientific creativity?Report
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
Can happiness be (un)justified, and if so, under what sorts of circumstance?Report
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
To what extent do animals understand death?Report
* 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
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
Is agency without sentience possible and, if so, is it sufficient for moral status?Report
How does a democracy sustain itself over generations, democratically?Report
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
What is justice and what distinguishes it from other other moral concepts?Report
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
I’m working on nonviolence theory. –Duane L. CadyReport
In which case, these two compilations might be of interest if not help to you: https://www.academia.edu/4843963/Conflict_Resolution_and_Nonviolence_bibliography and
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
At the moment this is “the most voted” question. I wondering: Do you all think, this is a philosophical question?Report
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
Philosophy of moneyReport
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
[wrong place, please delete]Report
I would rephrase that to be: How can I live a life of value?Report
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
What exactly prevents us from understanding consciousness?Report
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
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
so, I guess one question is: what is the ontology of computation?Report
How should bullshit receptivity be measured?Report
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
What is the best way to understand punishment as communication?Report
What does it mean to interpret a theory of physics?Report
Is AI art theft?Report
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
What roles should—and shouldn’t—the police play in a liberal democracy?Report
What’s the relation between moral theory (accounts of what fundamentally matters) and practice (how one should make decisions in real life)?Report
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
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
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
Can laws of nature be so strong as rule out every world except the actual one?Report
What can depression teach us about the right way to appreciate value?Report
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
This paper might interest you: https://brill.com/view/journals/jmp/14/5/article-p515_515.xmlReport
What assumptions about consciousness make the problem of consciousness seem intractable, and are those assumptions unavoidable?Report
I think dualism and physicalism as implicit world views are central to the hardness of this problemReport
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
How is information about affect stored across the mental lexicon? How is it used in interpretation?Report
Can personal stories be evidence? If so, what are they evidence for?Report
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
How much can we know about the minds of nonhuman animals?Report
I am working on other minds and non-human animal minds as well. Please keep me updated about your research, if possible!Report
What can the epistemology of moral philosophy tell us about the morality of moral philosophy?Report
(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
Does Aquinas have anything interesting and/or plausible to say about counterpossibles?Report
He answered that.
Everything he wrote was straw.Report
I should have thought of that. I guess there goes my article?Report
Are people as irrational as we tend to think?Report
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
How can we change the domination of the Cartesian cogito on modern philosophy allowing space for a sentio ergo sum of equal value?Report
What, if anything, actually justifies the existence and current nature of academic philosophy? What, if anything, should academic philosophy be like?Report
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
What is the value of short-term, more superficial (i.e., non-friendship) relations between people?Report
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
Why do we condemn people who are not honest but follow politicians, big pharma etcReport
Why do we celebrate freedom, but condemn those who want to be free to live their own livesReport
Is a life of virtue better than a life of pleasure?Report
I am trying to work out new-ish approach to ethical theory – I am calling it “decision-theoretic virtue ethics“.Report
What is spontaneous moral responsibility?Report
What – if any – are the reasons of artificial intelligent systems?Report
How, when, can we trust/rely on computational artifacts/methods (AI/Computer Simulations/Data science, etc.) in knowledge-creation and ethically sensitive contexts?Report
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
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
What is the structure of face-to-face interaction?Report
What is forgiveness and in what circumstances would we consider forgiveness unjust?Report
What, if anything, ought to be done to statues, monuments, memorials, and commemorations of racists, colonialists, and oppressors?Report
What is an ethically defensible policy framework for earthquake risk management?Report
Could creatures join their mind energy to affect physically other objects or creaturesReport
Are business corporations compatible with democracy and if not, what should and what can we do about it?Report
Under what conditions can it be inappropriate to praise someone, despite their being genuinely praiseworthy?Report
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
What is the collective project of our civilization?Report
When are practices like idea appropriation and bullshitting instances of epistemic injustice?Report
How do mathematical facts arise from features of ordinary things?Report
Should we select our political representatives by lotteries, rather than elections? (Still working on this…)Report
What is mediocrity?Report
Is there a great filter? If so, can we overcome it someday?Report
Can a single idea of Unity be developed out of its various conceptions across cultures and continents?Report
Has life any significance at all?Report
What is forgiveness, what does it do, and when should you do it (or not do it)?Report
How do we live a happy life?Report
What is intellectual humility and its relation to moral claim?Report
Can it ever make sense to like or dislike someone in virtue of their aesthetic qualities?Report
What are the stages of the process of philosophizing?
What are the cognitive characteristics of philosophical discovery?Report
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
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
How should we construct and interpret theories of (linguistic) meaning?Report
Who can tell which jokes to whom, when, and where? Or, what are the ethics of joke telling?Report
What role does theory play when we reason, and especially do causal inference, using network models?Report
How can we come to represent (non-subjective) value, and what implications does this have for evaluative epistemology?Report
What do we see when we watch movies?Report
How, if at all, can philosophy help us to understand and turn back the tide of right-wing authoritarianism?Report
Should morality influence our beliefs in institutions?Report
Who are we to be?Report
To what extent is Plato’s metaphysics defensible nowadays?Report
Was bedeutet es zu sein?Report
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
What is writing? Where does writing come from?
Is the mind multiple rather than unified?Report
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
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
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
What is computation?Report
What is philosophy?Report
Are there rational grounds to believe miracle testimony?Report
Could there be a unified biological mechanism for storing memories?
What does spatial memory represent?Report
In science there are no mysteries therefore How can there be any truth in science that is philosophical truth?Report
Here’s an obvious one, what is the optimal way to describe truth (hint, it’s not correspondence).Report
What does it means philosophically, if Russia wins the war in Ukraine?Report
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
Which are the limits of human being in the cosmos?Report
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
What is time?Report
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
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
I have many questions, but I think the one that sums them all up is: how can we systematically improve society?Report
Would answering this mean excluding from consideration those elements of human experience that are decidedly not systems based? E.g., mysticism. Or revelation?Report
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
Researching on upskillingReport
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