Insults and Obnoxiousness
On the second day of this blog’s existence, I wrote a post answering some questions I had received from readers, including this:
Is this blog an attack on Brian Leiter? Nope. Like many in philosophy, I have a sincere appreciation for Professor Leiter’s efforts over the years to disseminate information about the profession that had typically been known to and control..
Philosophize… Like a Boss
Bruce Springsteen was photographed reading a book about philosophers lately, and one result has been a jump in sales for the book, Examined Lives by James Miller (New School). Now if I could only get Beyoncé to read my manuscript… in public…
APA Creates Code of Conduct Task Force
In response to a petition received earlier in the year asking it to develop a professional code of conduct for philosophers, the American Philosophical Association has created a task force the aim of which is to “explore whether such a code of conduct is warranted and, if so, to develop one for board approval.” The task force was appointed by Chesire Calhoun (Arizon..
Philosophy with the Public
The widespread perception is that most faculty members do not engage with the public—either because they don’t want to or because they know they won’t be rewarded for it.
In The Chronicle of Higher Education, historian David M. Perry (Dominican University) discusses obstacles to public engagement by academics. This is something that should be of concern to philosoph..
New Site for Philosophical Interviews
The Center for Cognition and Neuroethics, a joint venture between the Philosophy Department at the University of Michigan-Flint and the Insight Institute of Neurosurgery and Neuroscience (IINN), has launched a new site called Philosophical Profiles, which features interviews of philosophers (video and written transcript). So far they’ve interviewed Elizabeth Anderso..
Immortality Project Grant Winners Announced
The Immortality Project at UC Riverside, headed up by John Martin Fischer, has announced the winners of grants totaling $1.5 million. The winners include a number of philosophers working on a variety of projects.
Philosophers among the winners include Yuval Avnur (Scripps), Christopher Belshaw (Open University), Stephan Blatti (Memphis), Ben Bradley (Syracuse), Mik..
Jeff McMahan (Rutgers) to Oxford
Jeff McMahan, currently Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University, has accepted Oxford University’s offer of the White’s Chair in Moral Philosophy. He will take up the professorship, which was first endowed in 1621, around mid-October, 2015, in time for the start of Oxford’s Michaelmas term. McMahan is known for his work in theoretical and applied ethics, includ..
Heap of Links
1. Tonight, some PBS television stations will be airing a documentary on Grace Lee Boggs, a 98-year-old social activist who holds a PhD in philosophy from Bryn Mawr.
2. Some of Jeremy Bentham’s writings on sex, which fit with the characteristically progressive program of early utilitarianism, have been published under the title Of Sexual Irregularities, and Other Wr..
World Cup Philosophy
Existential Comics covers the Germany v. France game.
The goal by Sokratis in the soccer game between Greece and Costa Rica is sort of like what happens in this scene in Monty Python’s Philosopher’s World Cup (via Kay Mathiesen).
Guillaume Attia is running a philosophy version of the World Cup, in which you can vote for your favorite team.
UPDATE: Philosophy Refe..
Philosophy in Figures
Ryan Reece, a post-doc in experimental particle physics at UC Santa Cruz, likes “carving out philosophical positions with diagrams.” It’s an interesting project, which you can view here. He welcomes comments. (Via David Grober-Morrow.)
Pasnau on Critiques of Philosophy
In dismissing philosophy as an antiquated relic of our prescientific past, the scientist is making a very large and dubious assumption: that the abstract methods of philosophy, despite the discipline’s string of successes over recent centuries, have nothing more to contribute to our developing understanding of the world. Perhaps scientists think they already have th..
Last week, Sara Bernstein (Duke) made Roberta Ballarin (University of British Columbia) it. Who’s Ballarin going to tag? Let’s find out…
Atomicity is the thesis that everything is ultimately composed of atoms, entities that lack proper parts. Atomicity is standardly defined as “for every x there is a y such that y is an atom and y is a part of x”, i.e. ever..
Heap of Links
1. Charts and graphs may have their place in philosophy, but this is taking things too far.
2. An angel comes to the APA and offers to answer one question…
3. An audio illusion, via Lewis Powell, who reminds us of these words from Locke: “We are further to consider concerning perception, that the ideas we receive by sensation are often, in grown people, altered by..
Eulogy for Sidney Morgenbesser
Wittgenstein once remarked that you could write a book of philosophy consisting entirely of jokes. We all know who could have authored that book. Jonathan Lieberson, who made that connection to Wittgenstein, described Sidney as a combination of Spinoza and Groucho Marx. But Sidney worried about this very gift. He worried that all that people would know of him would ..
“What’s a well-intentioned single guy to do?”
Feminist Philosophers has posted an anonymous “open letter” about sexual harassment in philosophy. Part 1 of the letter lists “34 things NOT to say in response to complaints about sexual harassment in philosophy.” Part 2 provides some elaboration and explanation of the list, including what seems to be a central point: “Countering complaints about sexual harassment b..
Varieties of Understanding – Grant Winners
“Varieties of Understanding: Perspectives from Psychology, Philosophy, and Theology” is a project funded with $4.2 million from the Templeton Foundation, and which is lead by philosophers Stephen Grimm (Fordham), Michael Strevens (NYU), Gordon Graham (Princeton Theological Seminary), and others. They recently announced the winners of their grant competition, which i..
Science News of Interest
1. Cosmological study concludes that there should be nothing, rather than something.
2. Those with episodic amnesia are not “stuck in time“, says Carl Craver (Washington U. in St.Louis).
3. Does a simulation of time-traveling photons help resolve the grandfather paradox?
4. Biology and politics: people are more likely to vote if they have low levels of cortisol, a s..
New (?) Corollary of Frankfurt’s Conception of Bullshit
“The amount of energy necessary to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it.” (Seen here but apparently owed to Alberto Brandolini.)
Despite including the bullshit phrase, “order of magnitude,” this is useful to keep in mind, especially as one travels the internet, for both the folks who see bullshit and are tempted to respond to it, and f..
Mentoring Project for Pre-Tenure Women
Louise Antony (UMass) and Ann Cudd (Kansas) are co-directing the 3rd Biennial Workshop for “The Mentoring Project for Pre-trenure Women Faculty in Philosophy”, to take place next year in June, 2015. “The Mentoring Project aims to build long-term mentoring relationships between eminent senior women and junior women in the field of philosophy.” Applications are not ye..
Heap of Links
1. Heather Douglas (Waterloo) and others on how to fix Canadian science policy (audio here).
2. “Good luck idiots. I hope you enjoy your new kangaroo overlords,” said Machiavelli.
3. A continental philosopher complains about the “imperialistic approach of analytic philosophy.”
4. How confronting moral dilemmas in a foreign language makes you more utilitarian, in The..
Best Philosophy Book Covers
I saw this very clever cover for a book on set theory and it got me wondering about good book design in philosophy. Let’s take a few moments to judge books by their covers. Share ones you think are particularly good here (and provide links to images if possible).
Robert Parris Moses Interview (Famous Philosophy Majors)
Robert Parris Moses “became one of the most influential leaders of the black civil rights movement in the 1960s and afterwards. Martin Luther King called his grassroot organizing an inspiration.” He went to Stuyvesant High School, majored in philosophy at Hamilton College, and earned a master’s degree in philosophy from Harvard. Recently, Paul Jay at The Real News c..
Philosophers Outside Academia
Helen De Cruz has begun a series of posts at NewAPPS collating responses to her interviews of several philosophers who left the academy to pursue careers elsewhere. The careers include software engineers, consultant, television writer, counselor, and others. She writes:
In the course of this week, NewApps will provide an overview of their responses in a series of thr..
A Physicist on Physicists’ Criticisms of Philosophy
“Philosophers care too much about deep-sounding meta-questions, instead of sticking to what can be observed and calculated.”
Finally, the deeply depressing critique. Here we see the unfortunate consequence of a lifetime spent in an academic/educational system that is focused on taking ambitious dreams and crushing them into easily-quantified units of productive work..
Why Philosophy is Worthwhile / Rule-Following
“On occasion, someone will ask you why you’re a philosopher and not a scientist or some other, more obviously respectable, intellectual.”
I don’t know when Bryan Frances wrote “Why I Think Research in Non-Applied, Non-Interdisciplinary, Non-Historical Philosophy is Worthwhile” but now is a pretty good time to read it. It’s not even four pages long.
Ludlow’s Future at Rutgers
Peter Ludlow, who is currently engaged in legal disputes with Northwestern University and its officials regarding alleged sexual misconduct, had been offered a position at Rutgers University in their Department of Philosophy and as director of the Rutgers Center for Cognitive Science. According to news reports, officials at Rutgers said they were not aware of the al..
John Searle Assesses and Advises
Tim Crane interviewed John Searle, and all he got was a lousy t-shirt another dimissal of the state of contemporary philosophy: “It’s in terrible shape!” Searle also talks about his influences, discusses his new book on perception, makes what we can charitably call an “opening move” on the topic of human rights, and offers some advice to young philosophers:
Heap of Links
1. Is it exploitative or otherwise wrong to travel to Brazil to see the World Cup? Daniel Campos asks what an ethical fan should do.
2. For those continental philosophers who felt immune from Unger’s critique of analytic philosophy,there’s this: “Geuss describes teaching philosophy as ‘a mildly discreditable day job’ largely directed towards churning out the next ge..