Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

The Structure of Moral Revolutions: Studies of Changes in the Morality of Abortion, Death, and the Bioethics Revolution

2020.05.14 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Robert Baker, The Structure of Moral Revolutions: Studies of Changes in the Morality of Abortion, Death, and the Bioethics Revolution, MIT Press, 2019, 317pp., $45.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780262043083. Reviewed by Laurence B. McCullough, Zucker School of Medicine/Baylor College of Medicine (Emeritus) Robert Baker brings to this remarkable book his training in the history and philosophy of science in synergy with decades of experience as a philosopher in the clinical setting and a pioneering scholar in the history of medical ethics. Baker's book makes an outstanding addition to the Basic Bioethics series edited by Arthur Caplan for the MIT Press. This synergy is on full display in this intellectual tour de force that makes a compelling case for philosophers to rethink moral philosophy and for bioethicists to rethink bioethics. Neither concerns a "static conception of moral concepts and paradigms," (p. 213) including "a common or universal morality" (pp. 209-210). "My first concern is simply that a common morality does not exist, never has,... Read [More]

Luca Incurvati’s Conceptions of Set, 12

We turn then to Chapter 6 of Luca’s book, ‘The Stratified Conception’. This chapter starts with a brief discussion of Russell’s aborted ‘zigzag’ theory, which tries to modify naive comprehension by requiring that it applies only to sufficiently “simple” properties … Continue reading → The post Luca Incurvati’s Conceptions of Set, 12 appeared first on Logic [More]

The Powers Metaphysic

2020.05.12 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Neil E. Williams, The Powers Metaphysic, Oxford University Press, 2019, 256pp., $70.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780198833574. Reviewed by Anna Marmodoro, Durham University What does Neil E. Williams' new book add to the on-going (and fast-going!) development of metaphysics of powers, on which so much has been written already? Among the most novel and attractive features of Williams' work is its earnest engagement in the project of understanding what the opponents -- the neo-Humeans -- hold. Rarely do those who are in one camp invest effort in giving a fair presentation of opposing camps; whilst Williams devotes two of his ten chapters to clarify what is at stake in the debate between 'friends' and 'enemies' of powers in terms of their respective worldviews. Further, and in the same vein, Williams devotes a chapter to discussing the most well-known objections to powers, the virtus dormitiva objection. Even... Read [More]

Guest post: Thomas Forster on Conceptions of Set and motivating NF

The next chapter of Conceptions of Set discusses set theories like NF that modify naive comprehension by imposing a stratification condition. My friend Thomas Forster, NF-iste extraordinaire, has been looking at some of Luca’s book too, and dropped me this … Continue reading → The post Guest post: Thomas Forster on Conceptions of Set and motivating NF appeared first on Logic [More]

Victor Gorshkov (1935-2019): a life for the biosphere.

The basic concept of the biotic regulation of Earth's temperature according to Gorshkov et al, 2002. The figure shows the potential function U(T) for the global mean surface temperature. Stable states correspond to pits, unstable states to hills. The modern value of +15°C (288 K) corresponds to an unstable state (2, thin line). Physically stable states correspond to a frozen Earth (state 1) and a red-hot Earth (state 3). We are precariously living in a shallow minimum of potential energy that defines the habitable zone for the biosphere. This state can be created and maintained only by a healthy biosphere. On May 10th, 2019, Victor Georgievic Gorshkov died at 83 in St. Petersburg, after a life dedicated to scientific research that he continued to perform up to nearly the last moment. One year later, I thought I could publish this small homage to his figure and his work. His longtime coworker and companion, Anastassia Makarieva, was also kind enough to write a summary of Gorshkov's life and work for this blog. In many ways, science follows the 20/80 rule, sometimes called the "Pareto's rule," which tells that 80% of the work is performed by just 20% of the performers. But it may well be that Pareto was an optimist if his rule is applied to science. It seems more likely that science works because, as Newton said long ago, a small number of creative "giants" emerge out of the general mediocrity. One of these creative people, a true giant of science, was Victor Gorshkov [More]