Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

No parade in Moscow this year, but the "ring of fire" around Russia remains

This year, we won't see the traditional victory parade in Moscow (Парад Победы в Москва) that normally takes place on May 9 (above, an extract of last year's parade). It is another effect of the COVID epidemics, but the parade will be probably held in September. It has too much political significance for Russia to be skipped: it is a reaction against the perception of being surrounded by hostile powers. And that may not be just a sensation but it may derive some substance by noting the "ring of fire" of NATO bases in Western Europe along the borders with Russia. Of course, on this side of the world, we can't imagine that these bases are there for purposes different than the defense of our freedom. But you, as you may perhaps understand that, on the other side there may be a certain feeling that it could be otherwise.   So, the yearly parade in Moscow is a clear political and military message directed to the West. And for a better understanding of how things are perceived in Russia, I think I could propose to you a recent talk by the Russian filmmaker Karen Shakhnazarov on the meaning of the WWII memory in Russia. Shakhnazarov makes several interesting points, often forgotten in the West. Comparing the forces involved, he notes how at the start of WWII the Soviet Union was outnumbered in terms of population and weaker in terms of industrial production. And not just that: the Soviet Union was surrounded in 1940 by a "ring of fire" of hostile powers. It was not [More]

Roads to Reference: An Essay on Reference Fixing in Natural Language

2020.05. : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Mario Gómez-Torrente, Roads to Reference: An Essay on Reference Fixing in Natural Language, Oxford University Press, 2019, 233pp., $70.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780198846277. Reviewed by Manuel García-Carpintero, University of Barcelona This book is a masterful treatment of its topic. In Kripke's terminology, the topic is reference-fixing, for a representative class of referential expressions: indexicals, proper names, Arabic numerals, kind-terms, and terms for sensible qualities like colors. Elaborating on Kripke's ideas, Kaplan and Stalnaker articulated a distinction between semantics and metasemantics, ascribing complementary roles to each: to the former category belong theories that assign meanings to their bearers, prominent among them linguistic expressions; to the latter, theories that provide "the basis" for ascribing such meanings (Kaplan 1989, 573-4) or state "what the facts are" that confer these meanings on their bearers (Stalnaker 1997, 535). This is a metaphysical undertaking, concerning the grounding of meaning-facts; i.e., what determines, fixes or constitutes them. When... Read [More]

Intensional Transitive Verbs

[Revised entry by Graeme Forbes on May 7, 2020. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] A verb is transitive iff it usually occurs with a direct object, and in such occurrences it is said to occur transitively. Thus 'ate' occurs transitively in 'I ate the meat and left the vegetables', but not in 'I ate then left' (perhaps it is not the same verb 'left' in these two examples, but it seems to be the same 'ate'). A verb is intensional if the verb phrase (VP) it forms with its complement is anomalous in at least one [More]

Why Free Will Is Real

2020.05.04 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Christian List, Why Free Will Is Real, Harvard University Press, 2019, 215pp., $24.95 (hbk), ISBN 9780674979581. Reviewed by Peter A. Graham, University of Massachusetts Amherst In this book Christian List sets his sights high indeed: he aims not only to argue for the compatibility of free will and determinism, but also to argue for the reality of free will in the actual world. He goes about doing this by arguing that the three most substantial challenges to the actual existence of free will can be met. According to List, free will is a three-part capacity, requiring intentional agency, alternative possibilities, and causal control. These three requirements he takes to be necessary and sufficient for a being's having free will in the sense that matters to us when we wonder whether we ourselves have free will. More particularly, List sets out three theses which he contends must... Read [More]