Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Giving Talks: Thirteen Tips from a Conference Nihilist

There is a famous Seinfeld joke about public speaking. It's based on an old opinion poll result that reported that people fear public speaking more than death. Seinfeld used this to make the wry observation that the next time you are at a funeral you should reflect on the fact that the person giving the eulogy would rather be in the coffin.Suffice to say, I don't feel that way about public speaking. I have many social anxieties but speaking in front of a large (or small) audience is not one of them.1 That's not to say I'm any good at it, of course. But I have at least done a lot of it and grown accustomed to its rhythms and its demands. Furthermore, I have learned from the mistakes that I have made over the years so that even if I amn't particularly good at it, I am at least better than I used to be.This is all by way of justifying what you are about to read. I get asked quite often for advice on giving talks (by students) and I am frustrated that I have still not got around to formalising my thoughts on the matter. What follows is my first attempt to do so. If you are in a hurry and are just interested in reading my 'tips' on how to give a talk, then you can find them summarised in the poster that accompanies the text. If you have more time, and are willing to tolerate the occasional diversion, then I hope you will read the full thing because I'm not just going to explain the methods I follow when giving talks, I'm also going to reflect on things I love and hate about the [More]

Biological Individuals

[Revised entry by Robert A. Wilson and Matthew Barker on June 21, 2019. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, figdesc.html] The impressive variation amongst biological individuals generates many complexities in addressing the simple-sounding question what is a biological individual? A distinction between evolutionary and physiological individuals is useful in thinking about biological individuals, as is attention to the kinds of groups, such as superorganisms and species, that have sometimes been thought of as biological individuals. More fully understanding the conceptual space that biological individuals occupy also involves considering a [More]

War with Iran?

During the Obama administration, it looked like the United States and Iran were making progress towards more normal relations. The culmination of this was the historic nuclear deal. When Trump was elected president, he quickly backed out of the deal—although he presumably neither understood the deal nor cared what was in it. While it would [More]

Sartre's Anarchist Philosophy

Every philosopher must run the gauntlet of time. Philosophical ideas fall in and out of favor, but the acid test is whether we continue to debate a philosopher’s ideas long after they have left the scene. The anniversary of Jean-Paul Sartre’s birthday, almost forty years since his death, is an appropriate moment to look back on the legacy of a philosopher whose work helped to define an era, and whose ideas continue to resonate with the political climate today. Professor Richard Falk places Sartre alongside Noam Chomsky and Edward Said as one of the few individuals worthy of the title ‘public intellectual’. Yet towards the end of his life, even as Sartre moved further in the direction of political engagement, he lamented that his politics were not radical enough; perhaps that is why Sartre’s political philosophy is so highly disputed.Since the publication of Critique of Dialectical Reason in 1960, scholars have largely interpreted Sartre’s political philosophy as ‘existential Marxism’: [More]

Nietzsche on Consciousness and the Embodied Mind,

2019.06.19 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Manuel Dries (ed.), Nietzsche on Consciousness and the Embodied Mind, De Gruyter, 2018, 350pp., $114.99 (hbk), ISBN 9783110246520. Reviewed by Jonathan Mitchell, University of Manchester In recent years, the gold-standard for edited collections on Nietzsche's work has been the Oxford University Press volumes.[1] One feature of those is thematic unity -- the essays make sense and reward being read together. Further, there is a broad philosophical style and background the authors share. The present volume, unfortunately, falls short of that standard. The title -- Nietzsche on Consciousness and the Embodied Mind -- is slightly misleading since a number of the sixteen papers do not primarily engage with Nietzsche's views on consciousness, the embodied mind, or contemporary debates on these matters. Moreover, the volume includes contributors whose style and philosophical background markedly differ. This would not be a problem if... Read [More]

#61 - Yampolskiy on Machine Consciousness and AI Welfare

In this episode I talk Roman Yampolskiy. Roman is a Tenured Associate Professor in the department of Computer Engineering and Computer Science at the Speed School of Engineering, University of Louisville. He is the founding and current director of the Cyber Security Lab and an author of many books and papers on AI security and ethics, including Artificial Superintelligence: a Futuristic Approach. We talk about how you might test for machine consciousness and the first steps towards a science of AI welfare.You can listen below or download here. You can also subscribe to the podcast on Apple, Stitcher and a variety of other podcasting services (the RSS feed is here). Show Notes0:00 - Introduction2:30 - Artificial minds versus Artificial Intelligence6:35 - Why talk about machine consciousness now when it seems far-fetched?8:55 - What is phenomenal consciousness?11:04 - Illusions as an insight into phenomenal consciousness18:22 - How to create an illusion-based test for machine consciousness23:58 - Challenges with operationalising the test31:42 - Does AI already have a minimal form of consciousness?34:08 - Objections to the proposed test and next steps37:12 - Towards a science of AI welfare40:30 - How do we currently test for animal and human welfare44:10 - Dealing with the problem of deception47:00 - How could we test for welfare in AI?52:39 - If an AI can suffer, do we have a duty not to create it?56:48 - Do people take these ideas seriously in computer science?58:08 - What [More]