Mini-Heap


New additions to the Heap of Links…

Discussion welcome.

  1. “I didn’t feel like I belonged on the same side as someone with a job and home… I will never forget that longing to be at the university, to be studying, and to be one of those philosophy students with self-confidence” — Sophia Stone (Lynn U.) shares the personal struggles that inform her work bringing philosophy outside the university setting
  2. The epistemic value of fairness — tools used to examine algorithmic fairness “can effectively map out the different parts of a hard problem and isolate the precise regions of the problem that make it hard to solve”
  3. On caring about what others think — Frederick Neuhouser (Columbia) is interviewed by Johnathan Bi
  4. “The analytic debate… takes one of the most profound questions that human beings can ask and has turned it into a discussion of the private prejudices and contingent beliefs… of a bunch of people who have been similarly socialised” — Pranay Sanklecha explains why he left a tenure-track job to “do philosophy in the world”
  5. Is Kant’s philosophy “fundamentally and profoundly anti-Black”? — Dilek Huseyinzadegan and George Yancy (Emory) discuss Kant, race, and racism
  6. New AI app lets you “text” with authors, including several philosophers — the new frontier in public philosophy?
  7. “A lot of academic writing is formulaic and routine. Rarely does anything break out of the conservative mold of traditional article structures” — John Danaher (Galway) on how academics might benefit from John McPhee’s “elaborate and playful approach” to writing

Mini-Heap posts usually appear when 7 or so new items accumulate in the Heap of Links, a collection of items from around the web that may be of interest to philosophers.

The Heap of Links consists partly of suggestions from readers; if you find something online that you think would be of interest to the philosophical community, please send it in for consideration for the Heap. Thank you.

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Beyond the Ivory Tower. Workshop for academics on writing short pieces for wide audiences on big questions. Taking place October 18th to 19th. Application deadline July 30th. Funding provided.
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Jason Chen
10 days ago

Here’s my interview with David Livingstone Smith about dehumanization. https://youtu.be/9o1My23z68E

Pranay Sanklecha
10 days ago

I wrote #4, and I wrote in part to address academic philosophers. I’d welcome comment and discussion on it (here, as long as Justin doesn’t feel that’s a misuse of the thread, or at my email). I’d also love to hear from fellow travelers, both inside and outside the academy.

Nick
Nick
Reply to  Pranay Sanklecha
9 days ago

I thought it was bloody brilliant, head and shoulders among most of the “academic philosophy sucks” screeds.

My half-joke criticism is that you actually engage in a lot of classic analytic philosophy in the piece, which shows that there must be something to it. I.e. you try out various distinct definitions of analytic philosophy and provide counterexamples, you propose principles, etc.

My more serious criticism is that while your argument has some force, you don’t grapple with the problem of discovering intrinsic value/meaning (i.e. refuting nihilism) without assuming that there is value. It’s a nice idea but starting from scratch here is famously difficult (as you doubtless know) and so your opponents may be dogmatists about meaningfulness for a reason. Perhaps they’re not just using the method of cases ad hoc, they’re doing so because there is no alternative.

Pranay Sanklecha
Reply to  Nick
9 days ago

Thanks, Nick. I’ll take bloody brilliant any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

As for your half-joke criticism – bang on! And I do indeed think there is something to various methods that analytic philosophers use, that there is value in certain procedures of thought they follow, etc. What I violently object to is the institution (or vibe, as I now think it is) of analytic philosophy, as it is instantiated in the academy.

Your serious criticism … “Perhaps they’re not just using the method of cases ad hoc, they’re doing so because there is no alternative.”

A response, but not an argumentative one – You know, when I first came across reflective equilibrium, I was enchanted with it. And then slowly I began wondering, hmm, garbage in, garbage out. So how do we know we’re not starting with garbage? And when I started asking wise old philosophers (and brilliant young hotshots) this, we went through the usual dialectic and at the end of it, people would say exactly that: this is all there is.

And over time, my objection became: no, this is not all there is. Because what there is could also be nothing. What I mean is: if everything is crappy, then just say that, instead of saying, we need something, so let’s go for the crappy thing that seems least crappy. That may work for food, but not (I think) in the search for justification.

But … but, but, but. I don’t want to get combative. And neither do I want to reduce it to a dispute about a single justificatory mechanism or a single claim or something like this.

So instead I’ll ask: Where do you stand with respect to academic philosophy? Where are your disillusionments and where are you still enchanted?