Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Publishing Philosophy One Doesn’t Believe

“Is there anything wrong with publishing philosophical work which one does not believe?” That is the central question of “Publishing Without Belief,” a recent article in Analysis by Alexandra Plakias, assistant professor of philosophy at Hamilton College. Professor Plakias argues that publishing without belief is not wrong: “the practice isn’t intrinsically wrong, nor is there a compelling consequentialist argument against it.” Here are some of the reasons she offers for her answer: “requiring philosophers to publish only what is true, or what they know, advantages philosophers with more permissive standards for knowledge or truth, while disadvantaging those with higher standards.” “biographical information about the author—including his or her personal convictions—should be… irrelevant to assessments of the merits of their argument… we don’t necessarily base our acceptance of an argument on the speaker’s (or author’s) attitude towards it.” Publishing without belief doesn’t necessarily involve hypocrisy, lack of thoroughness, or insouciance (bullshitting). “The speaker (or writer) who doesn’t believe her argument isn’t telling her audience that she believes what she’s saying—she’s asking the audience to believe it.” We don’t have sufficient reasons to think that “a philosopher won’t whole-heartedly defend a view she’s put into print, even if she isn’t [More]

The Ties That Bind . . . are Tribal

When we're confronted with new ideas, we have a strong tendency to retreat to the beliefs we're comfortable with. This cognitive bias keeps us safe but also prevents us from seeing the errors in our own thinking and makes our world smaller than it should be. It's time to leave the cave of tribalism and embrace the unknown. It's risky and potentially painful but absolutely necessary. [More]

IAI Video: Thinking the Unthinkable

A new video by the Institute of Art and Ideas discussing the limits of knowledge. The power of our thought has transformed the world, and some claim a theory of everything is just around the corner. Others see limits to understanding, things we cannot think. Is there a richer world that lies beyond thought, or is this an empty mysticism that leads nowhere? [More]

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