Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Questions about the coronavirus: the epidemic seen in a historical perspective

The figure above shows the effect of the two major outbursts of plague in Europe (you can find a detailed discussion of this subject in my book "Before the Collapse"). Here, Rorberto Mussi developes a historical perspective of past epidemics and of how that can help us understand the current one. (image from Langer et al., 1964)   Guest Post by Roberto Mussi The COVID-19 epidemic is generating a lot of questions from scientific, medical, political, and societal points of view. It not yet the time for complete answers, they will come slowly in the future together, hopefully, with antiviral treatments. But we can at least ask correct questions: this article tries to do that by looking at past history.The first question that comes to my mind is about the conditions that generate a pandemic outbreak. Are pandemics completely random events or do they spread only when some specific conditions occur in society? Historians can provide information about similar events of the past. They tell us that the "Black Death" arrived in Europe after the economic downturn of the late 13th century (some talk about a true economic revolution occurring between the 11th and 13th centuries [1]). It’s also a pretty intuitive statement: a virus can attack more easily an undernourished population [2]. In modern terms, the reproduction number (R0) depends on the context. In a historical dimension, pandemics are a consequence of a crisis, not a cause. So, the consequent question is: why now? [More]

Donald Trump’s insult politics

Political commentators and satirists love to mock Donald Trump’s verbal gaffs, his simplified vocabulary and vague, boastful speech. But if you judge his oratory by its effect on the audience, Donald Trump’s rhetoric, particularly with large crowds of enthusiastic supporters, is undeniably effective. People have studied the art of rhetoric for millennia – so how […] The post Donald Trump’s insult politics appeared first on [More]

Underappreciated Philosophical Writing of the Past 50 Years, Part 1: 1970s

Not everything notable gets noticed, and that’s true in philosophy, too. A valuable philosophical work may get overlooked because it was published in a lesser-known venue.  Or perhaps it was published in a part of the world or in a language that those in the mainstream tend to ignore. Perhaps sociological aspects of the profession concerning dominant writing style preferences or attitudes about the prestige of the author’s institutional affiliations led to its dismissal. Maybe it was ahead of its time, speaking to issues or presenting ideas or arguments the significance of which was only recognized much later. Maybe it was appreciated in its time, but somehow got lost in the crowd of publications since. Over the next few weeks, I hope gather lists of underappreciated philosophical writing of the past fifty years. These are articles, books, and book chapters that today’s philosophers are not adequately recognizing as valuable. It’s not an exact science, of course, judging both the significance of the work and the extent to which it is currently appreciated. I encourage people to err in ways that are more inclusive, as it’s better to hear about something you’ve already heard about than to miss out on hearing about something new (to you) and good. To keep things manageable we’ll break this project into decade-long chunks. This week, let’s look at the 1970s. Readers, please share your suggestions of underappreciated works from [More]

Underappreciated Philosophical Writing of the Past 50 Years, Part I: 1970s

Not everything notable gets noticed, and that’s true in philosophy, too. A valuable philosophical work may get overlooked because it was published in a lesser-known venue.  Or perhaps it was published in a part of the world or in a language that those in the mainstream tend to ignore. Perhaps sociological aspects of the profession concerning dominant writing style preferences or attitudes about the prestige of the author’s institutional affiliations led to its dismissal. Maybe it was ahead of its time, speaking to issues or presenting ideas or arguments the significance of which was only recognized much later. Maybe it was appreciated in its time, but somehow got lost in the crowd of publications since. Over the next few weeks, I hope gather lists of underappreciated philosophical writing of the past fifty years. These are articles, books, and book chapters that today’s philosophers are not adequately recognizing as valuable. It’s not an exact science, of course, judging both the significance of the work and the extent to which it is currently appreciated. I encourage people to err in ways that are more inclusive, as it’s better to hear about something you’ve already heard about than to miss out on hearing about something new (to you) and good. To keep things manageable we’ll break this project into decade-long chunks. This week, let’s look at the 1970s. Readers, please share your suggestions of underappreciated works from [More]

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  • Professor of Religion and Professor of Philosophy
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Dr. Alvin Plantinga
  • on Where the Conflict Really Lies
  • Emeritus Professor of Philosophy (UND)
  • Focuses on Epistemology, Metaphysics, Philosophy of Religion
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  • on faith as a cognitive sickness
  • Teaches Philosophy at Portland State University (Oregon)
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