Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

International Distributive Justice

[Revised entry by Michael Blake and Patrick Taylor Smith on May 4, 2020. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] International distributive justice has, in the past several decades, become a prominent topic within political philosophy. Philosophers have, of course, long been concerned with wealth and poverty, and with how economic inequalities between persons might be justified. They have, however, tended to focus only upon inequalities between inhabitants of the same state. In recent years, though, a sustained philosophical dialogue has emerged on how these ideas might be applied to the relationships and institutions holding at the global [More]

Second Thoughts and the Epistemological Enterprise

2020.05.01 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Hilary Kornblith, Second Thoughts and the Epistemological Enterprise, Cambridge University Press, 2019, 266pp., $99.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781108498517. Reviewed by Jennifer Nagel, University of Toronto "Don't overthink this." That common bit of advice is often sound, but not so often championed by philosophers, fond of rumination as we are. Among philosophers -- and here I hope I am not generalizing too swiftly from my own experience -- epistemologists are surely the worst in getting trapped by the spell of reflection, even when it takes us to awkwardly self-referential and paralyzing extremes. If, like me, you've ever had a moment of wanting a well-trained professional to throw some cold water on that attraction, you will find much to enjoy in Hilary Kornblith's new collection of essays. The book brings together ten chapters and articles spanning the years 1989-2017, with two newly written pieces. Many issues are engaged -- peer... Read [More]

Topology: A Conceptual History

‘In the history of mathematics the twentieth century will remain as the century of topology.’ (Jean Dieudonné). That remark may be something of an exaggeration; but perhaps not by very much. And, by any reckoning, philosophers of mathematics ought to … Continue reading → The post Topology: A Conceptual History appeared first on Logic [More]

Giving Game 2020 results

This semester, I got my 'Effective Altruism' class to decide how to allocate $5000 in donations between the four EA funds. (Half the funds were provided by UM Ethics Programs, as the result of an internal grant request I submitted for this purpose. The other half were matching funds from my personal charitable budget.)  Our resulting breakdown was as follows:* Global Health & Development: $2500* Animal Welfare: $700* Long-Term Future: $1450* Effective Altruism Meta: $350Judging from the class discussion, several students were influenced towards the long-term future fund as a result of the pandemic (I'm actually surprised there wasn't more of an effect here, though I think many were put off by the fund's apparent degree of focus on AI risk; an option more focused on biological and environmental risks might have won broader support).  Other long-termist advocates drew upon more general theoretical considerations (especially regarding scale and neglectedness) to support their choice.I invited students to write a brief reflection piece on their experience (to be shared with UM Ethics Programs and their funders, with the student's express consent), as an extra credit option.  Probably my favourite answer was from a student who admitted that the experience hadn't changed his ethical beliefs at all, but it had helped him to better understand the reasoning behind them.  That was certainly nice to hear!Perhaps the most surprising result was that roughly [More]

Florence: Two Months Later. The Day of the Zombies

May 1st, 2020. Florentines sit in the sun the "Piazza Pitti" square in Florence to pump up their vitamin D levels after nearly two months of segregation in their homes.The Florentines are back. After two months of forced segregation after the start of the COVID-19 epidemics, the regional government finally issued an "ordinanza" allowing people to walk free in the streets of their own town. They are still ordered to wear face masks and groups are forbidden, but it seems that it is past the time when you were insulted from the windows if you were seen walking in the street, or reported to the police by your neighbors if they saw you leaving home more than once per day.Now, Florentines can walk in the sun again. And this is what they did on this sunny weekend in May.The result was eerie and disconcerting. There was a definite sense of "zombie movie" in the masked people cautiously exploring the streets, tending to avoid each other. It reminded a little the photos of Tokyo or Hiroshima after the bombings of WW2: with the survivors walking aimlessly among ruins. Florence has not been bombed, of course, all the buildings are still standing. But, in a sense, it has been razed down like Hiroshima, it is in ruins in an economic sense. All the shops are closed. With the current rules of "social distancing," it is unthinkable that restaurants or coffee shops will ever be able to reopen -- the same is true for museums and other attractions. And when will tourists come back to a ghost [More]