Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

The Mysterious Disappearance of Consciousness

Phenomenal consciousness is seen as one of the top unsolved problems in science. Nothing we can—or, arguably, even could—observe about the arrangement of atoms constituting the brain allows us to deduce what it feels like to smell an orange, fall in love, or have a belly ache. Remarkably, the intractability of the problem has led some to even claim that consciousness doesn’t exist at all: Daniel Dennett and his followers famously argue that it is an illusion, whereas neuroscientist Michael Graziano proclaims that “consciousness doesn’t happen. It is a mistaken construct.” Really?The denial of phenomenal consciousness is called—depending on its particular formulation—‘eliminativism’ or ‘illusionism.’ Its sheer absurdity has recently been chronicled by Galen Strawson, David Bentley Hart and yours truly, so I won’t repeat that argumentation here. My interest now is different: I want to understand what makes the consciousness of an intelligent human being deny its own existence with a [More]

What fallacy is being committed here:

Read another response about Logic Logic Share What fallacy is being committed here: I owned two Chevy cars – a Cruze and a Malibu – and they gave me nothing but trouble. The choke and the batteries froze up and the clutches went out on both cars. They were always in the shop. Chevy’s are poorly constructed and should be avoided. What fallacy does this person commit? fallacy of hasty generalization or fallacy of composition? It is difficult to tell if the argument assumes that parts of the Chevy car are troublesome (batteries, clutch etc.) therefore the whole Chevy car is poorly constructed making this a composition fallacy or if the person has observed a small amount of Chevy cars and made a generalization about the whole of Chevy cars which in this case it would be a hasty generalization fallacy. These fallacies are hard to tell apart and a little [More]

Fashion and Feminism

by Amie Leigh Zimmer Philosophers and feminists have always agreed on one thing: fashion is not a topic that merits serious philosophical consideration. Karen Hanson argues that this unexpected alliance between feminism and philosophy results from fashion’s association with ephemerality, instability, and change: all of which run counter to a philosophical quest for eternal and [More]

Epistemology

[Revised entry by Matthias Steup and Ram Neta on January 15, 2020. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] The term "epistemology" comes from the Greek words "episteme" and "logos". "Episteme" can be translated as "knowledge" or "understanding" or "acquaintance", while "logos" can be translated as "account" or "argument" or "reason". Just as each of these different translations captures some facet of the meaning of these Greek terms, so too does each translation capture a different facet [More]

Philosophers and the AAUP

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) recently published a statement, “In Defense of Knowledge and Higher Education,” prompted by remarks from US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos that disparaged professors for indoctrinating and intimidating students. The statement stands up for academic teaching and research: Is it intimidation to teach eighteen-year-olds to solve differential equations? Is it intimidation to teach them the principles of quantum mechanics? Is it intimidation to teach them the somatic effects of nicotine? Is it intimidation to teach them about the history of slavery and Jim Crow, or the history of the Holocaust? Is it intimidation to teach them how to read closely the texts of Toni Morrison or Gabriel García-Márquez? Is it elitism to predict the path of a hurricane? Is it elitism to track the epidemic of opioid addiction? Or to study the impact of tariffs on the economy? We do not think so. This is research and education, not intimidation or elitism… Some would urge us to inhabit a universe of “alternative facts.” But, as John Adams long ago observed, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” If we ignore facts, we will forever be running aground on their unseen shoals. It is especially worrisome, then, to witness what has become an organized attack on knowledge. I think we can all appreciate the spirit of this [More]