Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Philosopher Spotlight: Hrishikesh Joshi

I'm delighted to introduce another great "philosopher spotlight" entry, this time from Hrishikesh Joshi!* * *My work focuses on neglected topics and perspectives within moral and political philosophy. I often employ a philosophy, politics, and economics (PPE) approach, by using tools from the social sciences in trying to analyze philosophical problems. In my view, there are these large vistas of underexplored terrain, and what motivates me to do philosophy is the desire to explore that terrain by using the methods and distinctions our discipline has developed. It’s a Wild West out there and I’d rather settle that territory than remain in the crowded coastal cities. My recent book, Why It’s OK to Speak Your Mind (Routledge, 2021) elaborates on this point in terms of marginal value. As researchers, we have a defeasible duty to seek out projects and defend approaches that add the most marginal value in terms of improving our collective picture of the world. Of course, it is not easy to tell where that value will lie, though we can be reasonably confident about extreme cases. The problem is that in general the incentives need not always align – what’s best for one’s career and social standing need not be the same as what’s best for improving our collective epistemic condition.   Here’s a toy example from the book to illustrate the broader problem. 3 engineers are in charge of the upkeep of a dam. There are (2) good reasons to think the dam will stand, and (3) good reasons [More]

Aristotle’s Biology

[Revised entry by James Lennox on July 16, 2021. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] Aristotle is properly recognized as the originator of the scientific study of life. This is true despite the fact that many earlier Greek natural philosophers occasionally speculated on the origins of living things and much of the Hippocratic medical corpus, which was written before or during Aristotle's lifetime, displays a serious interest in human anatomy, physiology and pathology. And Plato has Timaeus, in the eponymous dialogue, devote a considerable part of his speech to the human body and its functions (and [More]

Argument and Argumentation

[New Entry by Catarina Dutilh Novaes on July 16, 2021.] Argument is a central concept for philosophy. Philosophers rely heavily on arguments to justify claims, and these practices have been motivating reflections on what arguments and argumentation are for millennia. Moreover, argumentative practices are also pervasive elsewhere; they permeate scientific inquiry, legal procedures, education, and political institutions. The study of argumentation is an inter-disciplinary field of inquiry, involving philosophers, language theorists, legal scholars, cognitive scientists, [More]

Bias & Medical Devices

It might seem like woke madness to claim that medical devices can be biased. Are there white supremacist stethoscopes? Misogynistic MRI machines? Extremely racist X-Ray machines? Obviously not, medical devices do not have beliefs or ideologies (yet). But they can still be biased in their accuracy and effectiveness. One example of a biased device is [More]

Have humans always lived in a “pluriverse” of worlds?

In the modern West, we take it for granted that reality is an objectively knowable material world. From a young age, we are taught to visualize it as a vast abstract space full of free-standing objects that all obey timeless universal laws of science and nature. But a very different picture of reality is now emerging from new currents of thought in fields like history, anthropology, and sociology.        Related StoriesA Roman road trip: tips for travelling the Roman Empire this summerThe VSI podcast season two: Homer, film music, consciousness, samurai, and moreShakespeare and the sciences of [More]