Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Mental Representation

[Revised entry by David Pitt on January 21, 2020. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] The notion of a "mental representation" is, arguably, in the first instance a theoretical construct of cognitive science. As such, it is a basic concept of the Computational Theory of Mind, according to which cognitive states and processes are constituted by the occurrence, transformation and storage (in the mind/brain) of information-bearing structures (representations) of one kind or [More]

Why you don’t know your own mind

This article was inspired by a recent piece on IAI News entitled The Mysterious Disappearance of Consciousness, in which philosopher Bernardo Kastrup analysed the work of leading illusionists and eliminativists, including Michael Graziano. What follows is Graziano's response to Kastrup's argument.The scientific work that I do on the brain basis of consciousness is sometimes misunderstood - a misunderstanding which I think comes mainly from the political divide between mystics and materialists. I am a materialist, and reactions to my work tend to follow along the lines of: ‘keep your scientific hands off my consciousness mystery’. This kind of argument often devolves into distortions and phrases examined out of context – in short, the wooly thinking of philosophy that’s lost its integrity. Among the most common and puzzling reaction I get goes something like this: ‘Graziano says that consciousness does not exist; that we lack an inner dialogue; that getting stuck by a pin, or walking [More]

The Philosophy Museum (guest post by Anna Ichino)

The following is a guest post by Anna Ichino, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Milan. A version of it first appeared at the blog, Imperfect Cognitions. The Philosophy Museum by Anna Ichino Have you ever visited a Philosophy Museum? I bet not. Apparently, though there have been some philosophy-related museum exhibits and temporary installations, there aren’t any permanent philosophy museums in the world. So my colleagues and I in the Philosophy Department of the University of Milan have decided that it is time to build the first one. In this post, I’ll tell you about this exciting project. What we had in mind was not an historically-minded museum collecting relics about the lives and works of important philosophers, but something more dynamic and interactive—built on the model of the best science museums—where philosophical problems and theories become intuitively accessible through a variety of games, activities, experiments, aesthetic experiences, and other such things. Easier to say than to do, no doubt. It’s an ambitious project, and to put it into action we had to proceed gradually. We started with a temporary exhibition, which took place in our University from November 5th to 21st. There, we created the first two actual halls of what we hope will soon become a permanent museum, together with a third ‘programmatic’ hall where we presented the plan for what still needs to be done. Thanks to a generous funding awarded to our Department as a [More]

Academic Freedom and Expertise at Federal Institutions of Higher Education (and Elsewhere)

The Hatch Act is a law that forbids employees of the executive branch of the United States federal government from taking part in certain forms of political activity, usually in regards to supporting particular candidates or political parties in elections, while acting in their official capacity. What does this mean for academic experts on political matters who are employed by federal institutions of higher education? In a recent essay at The Conversation, Marcus Hedahl, Associate Professor of Philosophy at the U.S. Naval Academy, discusses the “Fat Leonard” scandal—“the largest bribery and corruption case in U.S. Navy history.” The case is quite interesting in itself, but also, perhaps, for lessons it has “for other cases in which the alleged exchange of official acts for something of personal value is a key element of the crime.” Which other cases? Professor Hedahl can’t say. He explains: I am a federal employee, and the U.S. Office of Special Counsel [OSC] has issued unusually broad guidance about the Hatch Act’s limits on federal workers’ partisan political activities. The law generally bars federal employees from advocating in favor of or against the election of a particular candidate, as well from participating in other partisan political activities in an election. Yet the current guidance—which itself has been criticized for taking sides on a political divide—has been taken by some to apply to any analysis [More]