Philosophy You Liked Published in 2023


The year is coming to a close, and so it’s a good time for year-end lists, and Daily Nous is a good place for a year-end list about good philosophy.

I’m not asking you about “the best” new philosophy you read. The idea that we could make such fine-grained comparisons of philosophical quality is doubtful. Plus, it puts too much pressure on people answering, making the exercise less fun.

So let’s keep it relaxed and low stakes. Of the philosophy you read—articles, chapters, or books—published in 2023, which did you like and would recommend others read?

When answering, please follow these guidelines:

  • just one or two suggestions each, please
  • don’t recommend your own writing
  • the works you suggest should have 2023 publication dates
  • add a line or two saying what you liked about each work you mention
  • include links to the works, if possible
  • use your real name (at least your first name) and a verifiable email address (your email address won’t be published)

I’m looking forward to seeing your suggestions.

Posting will be light over the next week.

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Daniel Muñoz
2 months ago

Joe Heath, “The Challenge of Policing Minorities in a Liberal Society,” in JPP. Cuts through a lot of confusion to make some deep points about what the police actually do and why police-community relations so often deteriorate.

https://philpapers.org/rec/HEATCO-19

Patrick S. O'Donnell
2 months ago

Bhimrao Ramji (‘B.R.’) Ambedkar was an exemplary public philosopher (for would-be democratic polities) who, in the words of Martha Nussbaum, “was one of the greatest legal and political thinkers of the twentieth century.” For the philosophical background and influences on his thought, I recommend Scott R. Stroud’s The Evolution of Pragmatism in India: Ambedkar, Dewey, and the Rhetoric of Reconstruction (University of Chicago Press, 2023).

In addition, and perhaps on a well-worn topic some philosophers may have grown a bit weary of, I will go out on a limb (because I have only just begun reading it … but so far so good) and suggest James R. Shaw, Wittgenstein on Rules: Justification, Grammar, and Agreement (Oxford University Press, 2023). (It just so happens that virtually all of the philosophy books I have read this year were published before 2023. And not being a professional philosopher or academic, I have little familiarity with philosophy journal articles save for those that get posted on Academia(dot)edu. or are ‘open access’)

Last edited 2 months ago by Patrick S. O'Donnell
C E Emmer
C E Emmer
Reply to  Patrick S. O'Donnell
2 months ago

I would add, for those who are curious, that the epic Ambedkar bio-pic (dir. Jabbar Patel, 2000) can be found on YouTube.
https://youtu.be/xxHFHft7Y2A

Jeremy Davis
2 months ago

Josh Brandt and Ben Lange’s great paper, “Partiality, Asymmetries, and Morality’s Harmonious Propensity” in PPR cleverly identifies several important asymmetries between positive and negative forms of partiality, all of which help point us to a broader and relatively under-explored fact about the way morality tends to sustain morally positive relationships. It covers a fascinating topic through succinct and powerful arguments that all point toward a broader and important conclusion. The writing is great, and it offers a lot of rich argumentation.

Last edited 2 months ago by Jeremy Davis
P.D.
2 months ago

I will list two recent papers that I really enjoyed teaching in my Philosophy of Science seminar last semester. Both were a hit with students.

Kino Zhao’s Measuring the Nonexistent
Even when there’s a stable measuring standard, you don’t get to infer that there’s a thing.This was a nice foil for tired debates about scientific realism. (For me it also complimented the discussion of IQ tests which I was having in another course.)

Liam Bright & Remco Heesen’s To be Scientific is to be Communist
Clever use of Mertonian norms for polemical purposes. My students and I were not entirely sure whether it was all sincere, but it’s worth thinking through even if some of it is just provocation.

Sam Duncan
Sam Duncan
2 months ago

Elizabeth Anderson’s “Hijacked” is just incredibly good. Among other things, it shows how Locke and Adam Smith have been distorted by both right wingers and intellectuals on the left interested in scoring cheap points and suggests ways that philosophers interested in equality and the value of labor can draw on their work. (It’s actually made me excited to read Smith in the coming year). It also has a remarkably even handed treatment of Marx. Where far too many philosophers divide into either “Marx is the devil” or “Marx is the way the truth and the light…” Anderson patiently explains both what he got right and how his own views were very much limited by his larger economic environment and the particular intellectual milieu he found himself in. Beyond all that it’s refreshing in that it shows how one can do very good ethics and political philosophy by doing careful historical work. Compared to the bizarre little stories about A and B or Smith and Jones that characterize too much ethics and political philosophy it’s a massive breath of fresh air.
Lorraine Daston’s “Rules: A Short History of What We Live By” is also quite good. It’s a bit harder to summarize but it’s convinced me that we ought to be a bit more dubious than we often are that we know exactly what we mean when we talk about rules. It’s a nice social history of how and why we’ve come to see rules as inflexible algorithms when that conception of rules would have struck most people even well into the modern period as downright bizarre. (Some of the reasons are good and some are downright sinister).

Eric
Reply to  Sam Duncan
2 months ago

I’ll second the recommendation of Daston’s book, and for pretty much the same reasons. I’ll add that I found her authorial and writerly choices to be quite graceful. She knows how to be rigorous without being fastidious, sweeping without being superficial, and — truly rare in philosophy nowadays — clear without being pedantic.

(I wish I could second Anderson’s book, but I have yet to read it! I’m very much looking forward to it, though. I just finished her excellent book, Private Government.)

Patrick S. O'Donnell
Reply to  Sam Duncan
2 months ago

For the record, the Daston volume was first published in 2022, although the pbk. version did not appear until this year. I only know this because after reading the book she edited, Things That Talk: Object Lessons from Art and Science (Zone Books, 2004), I have tried to read everything she publishes in book form. I introduced the book on rules back in July here: https://psodmusings.wordpress.com/2023/07/23/rules-laws-and-norms-as-both-the-bedrock-and-soil-of-society/

Sam Duncan
Sam Duncan
Reply to  Patrick S. O'Donnell
2 months ago

You know right after I hit submit on that I remembered that what had gotten me to read the Daston book was that it popped up on a best of 2022 list, though I didn’t get around to it until well into 2023. So in posting on a book about rules I broke the rules (albeit unintentionally). So that’s some nice irony I suppose. Anyway it’s still an excellent book!

Patrick S. O'Donnell
Reply to  Sam Duncan
2 months ago

I wholeheartedly agree as to your assessment of its quality.

Simon
Simon
2 months ago

I learned a lot from this paper about trying, from Ben Holguin and Harvey Lederman https://www.benholguin.com/uploads/1/1/3/6/113613527/trying_without_fail.pdf

Harvey Lederman
Reply to  Simon
2 months ago

thanks Simon!

Kris McDaniel
Reply to  Harvey Lederman
2 months ago

This is an excellent paper!

Spencer Paulson
2 months ago

I really liked Jake Quilty-Dunn, Nicolas Porot & Eric Mandelbaum’s “The Best Game in Town: The Re-Emergence of the Language of Thought Hypothesis Across Cognitive Science”. https://philpapers.org/rec/QUITBG

I find that in some crowds it is more or less taken for granted that LOT died when the PDP group came on the scene. The authors of this paper make a compelling argument to the contrary, while also making clear precisely what is at stake in the debate.

Harvey Lederman
2 months ago

I learned a ton from Teru Thomas’s paper on the asymmetry in PPR https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/phpr.12927 . Little discussion of what happens in it: https://twitter.com/LedermanHarvey/status/1668252848046350339

Ian McLaughlin
2 months ago

I really liked Flat aesthetics : twenty-first-century American fiction and the making of the contemporary by Christian Moraru. It applies Object Oriented Ontology a-la Harman and Bogost to post-1990 American literature as a way to define the contemporary. A really interesting aspect of it is that it takes aesthetics as a first philosophy, or at least gives it primacy over ontology and ethics.

B. Tebbitt
B. Tebbitt
2 months ago

Pragmatism by John R. Shook (The MIT Press Essential Knowledge series). Most contemporary formulations of Pragmatism are either from neo-Peirceans (“new pragmatists” like Misak, Haack, or Talisse) or Neo-Pragmatists (Rorty, Brandom). And those who discuss classical Pragmatism outside of Peirce’s conception tend to focus on Dewey (e.g. Johnson and Schulkin). As a result, Jamesian Pragmatism is either mostly ignored or (re)interpreted as a linguistic or social doctrine to either be celebrated or repudiated.Shook enters into this gap and masterfully presents the scaffolding of a classical Jamesian Pragmatism that does justice to both James and Peirce on their own terms (as well as Dewey and Mead). The only drawback is that this text doesn’t mention the important work of James’ younger contemporary, F.C.S. Schiller. Despite this, I think it’s fantastic.

Patrick S. O'Donnell
Reply to  B. Tebbitt
2 months ago

It perhaps should be noted that both Hilary Putnam and Ruth Anna Putnam did not ignore Jamesian pragmatism, indeed, they frequently wrote about and/or referred to it (I happen to think the former was a pragmatist of the most sophisticated sort, should there be such a thing!).

Last edited 2 months ago by Patrick S. O'Donnell
Matt L
2 months ago

Two papers that I liked quite a lot were published this last year are:

Eliidh Beaton, “The Right to Family Unification for Refugees”, Social Theory and Practice 49-1, 2023 https://www.pdcnet.org/soctheorpract/content/soctheorpract_2023_0049_0001_0001_0028

and Annamari Vitkainen, “Refugee-Based Reasons in Refugee Resettlement: The Case of LGBTQI+”, in Moral Philosophy and Politics 10 (2):367-385 (2023) https://philpapers.org/rec/VITRRI

Both papers do a really good job of showing how philosophy can been important at a more concrete level in thinking about refugees than most work done by philosophers on refugees, making them of significant practical importance, and both also have an excellent grasp on real issues facing refugees. I consider them models of good work in this area.

Preston Werner
2 months ago

I’d like to recommend Paulina Sliwa’s “Making Sense of Things: Moral Inquiry as Hermeneutical Inquiry” https://philpapers.org/rec/SLIMSO

She draws on Elisabeth Camp’s notion of perspectives and perspective-taking to explain a certain kind of moral inquiry which doesn’t fit neatly within the way moral epistemologists have traditionally thought of it.

It’s one of those papers where after you read it you’re thinking ‘how can anyone not have noticed this before?’, which is really one of my favorite feelings when reading a philosophy paper. It’s also really helped me think about all of the fights over framing and language surrounding the Israel/Gaza conflict.

Patrick S. O'Donnell
Reply to  Preston Werner
2 months ago

I was delighted to be able to read this paper, thanks! And I think Professor Camp is one of an increasing number of philosophers (Western and non-Western) who have come to appreciate “perspectives and perspective-taking,” and I find it in some respects to be Aristotelian in nature (or neo-Aristotelian), and such sensibilities are intrinsic to the work of Iris Murdoch who is rightly referenced in the paper. It is a small quibble but I prefer to speak of this more in terms of ethical inquiry insofar as it is a bit wider in scope than the tradition of moral philosophizing, at least in the West. The work of such philosophers as David Wong, Peter Goldie, David Wiggins, Linda Zagzebski, Peter Goldie, and even Nicholas Rescher is relevant to this discussion, as is the “ethics of care and empathy” (title of a book by Michael Slote), and notions of “narrative ethics” or “narrative goodness” are likewise germane. Of course concerns about simple-minded “relativism” and lack of “objectivity” invariably arise but I don’t think these pose deep or difficult problems here (no more than they do, comparatively or analogically speaking, with Michela Massimi’s notion of ‘perspectival realism’ in the philosophy of science).

Preston Stovall
2 months ago

Joseph Rouse’s Social Practices as Biological Niche Construction is a masterful contribution to the burgeoning interdisciplinary research programs drawing together normative explanatory resources, dialogical or social-practice accounts of human cognition, and empirical work in cognitive science and comparative and develophmental psychology.

https://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/S/bo202330194.html

Patrick S. O'Donnell
Reply to  Preston Stovall
2 months ago

Thanks for the link … although I am dispositionally inclined to see “biological niche construction” as  a social practice!

William D'Alessandro
William D'Alessandro
2 months ago

I got lots of pleasure and inspiration from Josh Habgood-Coote and Fenner Tanswell’s “Group Knowledge and and Mathematical Collaboration: A Philosophical Examination of the Classification of Finite Simple Groups”. It’s an excellent case study of one of the most famous proofs in contemporary math (which I thought I more or less knew about, but the actual details are even crazier). And the case study is adeptly leveraged to make some important, original and true points about mistakes in proofs and the social epistemology of math.

Dan Korman
2 months ago

Can Math Move Matter?” by Benjamin Callard. A resourceful defense of the view that mathematical entities can cause beliefs, despite being immaterial and nonspatiotemporal — very interesting paper.

Agnes Callard
2 months ago

Berislav Marusic and Stephen J. White, “Disagreement and Alienation”

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/phpe.12197

Explains what’s wrong with modeling disagreement as “what happens after a conversation is over” instead of “what happens during a conversation”

Benjamin Eidelson, “The Etiquette of Equality”

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/papa.12230

A sophisticated take on cancel culture (and how we all sustain it).

Mate Penava
2 months ago

This is a great edited volume, bringing together two didtinguished philosophers in new and interesting ways.

https://www.routledge.com/Engaging-Kripke-with-Wittgenstein-The-Standard-Meter-Contingent-Apriori/Gustafsson-Kuusela-Macha/p/book/9781032139975

Daniel Nagase
Daniel Nagase
Reply to  Mate Penava
1 month ago

In the same vein (interesting comparison between two great philosophers), I’d recommend this volume edited by Sean Morris:

https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/philosophical-project-of-carnap-and-quine/680602E811C891AE7D853C3152D20308

Henry Lara-Steidel
Henry Lara-Steidel
1 month ago

I am currently reading “Teaching Classroom Controversies” by Glenn Bezalel. The first half is philosophy of education, the second one is more practical. Very timely work. https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/mono/10.4324/9781003298281/teaching-classroom-controversies-glenn-bezalel

Daniel Nagase
Daniel Nagase
1 month ago

I haven’t read it yet, but the publication of an early manuscript of Descartes’s *Regulae*, which was discovered by Richard Serjeantson in 2011, complete with critical commentary and English translation, is surely an important event!

https://global.oup.com/academic/product/ren-descartes-regulae-ad-directionem-ingenii-9780199682942?cc=us&lang=en&

I’d also add, in the same vein, Tarek Dika’s *Descartes’s Method* as an important corrective to the prevailing view that Descartes’s method was some kind of Procrustean bed, or, worse, just some useless precepts that Descartes came up with to publicize his works. Instead, Dika insists that the method is an habitus, a cognitive disposition that must be sensitive to the problem at hand and thus can be applied to a variety of problems (I think the tendency to think of Descartes’s method as some kind of algorithm is related to what Lorraine Daston’s diagnosed as the prominence of the algorithm conception of rules in the last century, so that there is here some interesting work in the intersection of these problems).

michaela
michaela
1 month ago

I have liked the parts of Karl Schafer’s new Kant book that I have managed to read so far! https://global.oup.com/academic/product/kants-reason-9780192868534?cc=us&lang=en&#

Curtis Franks
1 month ago

Amelia Spivak’s O’Kheiluf! identifies, documents wide-spread use of, and analyzes a sui generis inference pattern so lost in antiquity that it appears no longer to have been propogated already by the time of Rav and Shmuel (second century).

Mariona
Mariona
1 month ago

Two exciting publications in the aesthetics of science:
Ivanova and Murphy’s edited volume “The Aesthetics of Scientific Experiments“, which contains many excellent essays and expands the way aesthetics usually is taken to be relevant to science by focusing on scientific products other than theories, and Currie’s “Epistemic Engagement, Aesthetic
Value, and Scientific Practice” which argues for a feedback loop between aesthetic and epistemic judgements through what Currie calls ‘epistemic engagement’ and ‘aesthetic attunement’.

John Bardis
1 month ago

Christopher Winn’s “Three Sequels to the Dialogues of Plato” and his “An Aristotelian Dialogue Concerning the Geocentric and Heliocentric Cosmologies, Contra Galileo”.
For re-introducing dialectic both as a literary style and a philosophical method.

https://archive.org/details/pdf-three-sequels-to-the-dialogues-of-plato

https://archive.org/details/an-aristotelian-dialogue-concerning-the-two-chief-cosmologies-contra-galileo

Last edited 1 month ago by John Bardis
Patrick S. O'Donnell
1 month ago

Although I am bending or breaking a couple of the rules for this thread, I am hoping to provoke more contributions by way of mentioning three titles I have not yet read but hope to this year. I first learned of them from Larry Solum’s Legal Theory Blog. These titles fall under “philosophy of law and/or legal theory.” I am hoping a reader or two out there might have read at least one of these (and thus might comment):
·Hershovitz, Scott. Law Is a Moral Practice (Harvard University Press, 2023).
·Lackey, Jennifer. Criminal Testimonial Injustice (Oxford University Press).
·Waldron, Jeremy. Thoughtfulness and the Rule of Law (Harvard University Press, 2023).
Incidentally, I am also hoping we see more works in the philosophy of international law (generally, or in specific domains, such as, for example, international humanitarian law or international criminal law, two areas the philosopher Larry May has made uncommonly pellucid, profound, and timely conceptual and normative contributions.