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Nature and Necessity in Spinoza's Philosophy, Oxford University Press

2020.01.12 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Don Garrett, Nature and Necessity in Spinoza's Philosophy, Oxford University Press, 2018, 533pp., $74.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780195307771. Reviewed by  Michael Della Rocca, Yale University On November 13, 2000, the surviving members of the Beatles released the album 1, a collection of all the chart-topping hits the Beatles created in their exceptional career. Prima facie, there was really no need for this album, for one might ask: Weren't these songs still so familiar and so popular, even the songs from early in the Beatles' career such as "She Loves You"? But, perhaps defying expectations, the album 1 was itself a best-selling success around the world and deepened and extended the admiration of Beatles' fans -- old and new -- for an amazing body of work. In much the same way, I want to suggest, there may initially seem to be no need for a collection of... Read [More]

$2.6 Million Funding for Epistemology of the Large Hadron Collider

An interdisciplinary research group has received funding totalling approximately US$2.6 million to pursue its study of  “the world’s largest research instrument”: the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva. The Epistemology of the Large Hadron Collider “builds on the expectations today’s high energy physicists of a fundamental change in their theories and epistemic practices and links them to the complex conditions of large-scale research,” according to a press release. “It regards the complexity of these conditions as a challenge for the quest towards ever more encompassing and simpler descriptions of nature that has traditionally been associated with particle physics.” This new round of funding for the project, which was established in 2016, comes from the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). Based in cities around Germany and Austria, the project is composed of several subprojects on various topics, including: the history and use of virtual particles in physics research; the development and status of the related problems of naturalness, hierarchy, and fine-tuning; the relation between standard model research at the LHC and gravitational phenomena, including dark matter and modifications to Newtonian gravity; the way computer simulations and machine learning are used in particle physics research, including the epistemic status of the data resulting [More]

Does fear drive economic progress?

When stockbroker Peter Hargreaves donated £3.2 million to the Leave.eu campaign, he explained his enthusiasm for Brexit as follows: “It would be the biggest stimulus to get our butts in gear that we have ever had… We will get out there and we will become incredibly successful because we will be insecure again. And insecurity is fantastic.” Intel co-founder Andrew Grove similarly argued in his book, Only the Paranoid Survive, that fear is essential for our political economy to function, spurring the pace of productivity and progress.Claims of this kind are often heard and used to argue against the introduction of a Universal Basic Income—the welfare reform initiative that would replace our current means-tested benefit systems (and their unwieldy administration) with an unconditional, automatic payment to each member of the political community. There is a diverse range of models of a UBI, some more plausible than others, but the general idea is still pretty straightforward, something [More]

There is an argument against the logical problem of evil that says God lets evil

Read another response about Religion Religion Share There is an argument against the logical problem of evil that says God lets evil exist in the world as a world where humans have free will and evil exists is preferable to a world where evil does not exist, but humans do not have free will. And so God is indeed omnipotent, omniscient and benevolent, even though evil exists. But what about a world where we simply believe we have free will? Would it not be preferable to have a world with no suffering and just illusory free will? The arguments that free will results in better human character or an appreciation for goodness are unneeded if there's no free will for us in the first place. It makes no difference to us if our actions are actually morally significant or not so why not just have us believe they are and create a world with no suffering? (Unless God is either not omnipotent, omniscient and [More]

Philosophers Raising Funds for Firefighters in Australia

A collective auction is underway to raise money for firefighters battling fires that have been burning over 15 million acres of Australia. Called “Authors For Fireys,” the the fundraiser involves individual writers and illustrators putting goods and services up for auction on Twitter. The fundraiser began yesterday and ends on Saturday, January 11th. Instructions on how the auction works, and how you can participate in it, are here. Several philosophers are taking part. Check what Erin Nash (a former firefighter-turned-philosopher) put up for auction here, as well as the offerings from Skye Cleary, Kate Manne, and Patrick Stokes. Further information here. The post Philosophers Raising Funds for Firefighters in Australia appeared first on Daily [More]

Is Tolerance Self-Undermining?

In light of all of the hullaballoo surrounding Brendan Eich’s resignation from Mozilla for his political views regarding same sex marriage, I have been musing over the meaning and practice of “tolerance”. In the name of “tolerance”, Eich was pressured to resign because he is supposedly intolerant of same sex marriage. However, supporters of Eich contend that this is just being intolerant in a different way, by refusing to tolerate Eich’s political beliefs. Who is right? In some ways, I think neither is, because the notion of “tolerance” seems to be self-contradictory, or at least, self-undermining. [More]

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