Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Schoenfield from MIT to UT Austin

Miriam Schoenfield, currently associate professor of philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has accepted a position as associate professor of philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin. Professor Schoenfield had previously been an assistant professor of philosophy at UT Austin from 2012 to 2015. She specializes in epistemology, metaethics, philosophy of race and gender, applied ethics, and logic. You can see some of her work here. Professor Schoenfield returns to UT Austin for her new position there in January, 2020. (via David Sosa) The post Schoenfield from MIT to UT Austin appeared first on Daily [More]

Semantic Singularities: Paradoxes of Reference, Predication, and Truth

2019.10.01 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Keith Simmons, Semantic Singularities: Paradoxes of Reference, Predication, and Truth, Oxford University Press, 2018, 249pp., $65.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780198791546. Reviewed by Roy T. Cook, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Keith Simmons' book continues his development and defense of a contextualist solution to the semantic paradoxes, one begun inhis earlier monograph Universality and the Liar (1993). According to (this more recent version of) Simmons' account, we avoid the Liar paradox (and a wealth of other semantic puzzles involving truth, denotation, and predicate extension) by noting that the extension of the truth predicate is context-dependent, and hence, as we reason about the Liar, this context shifts in various ways, resulting in the extension of the truth predicate shifting likewise. For the sake of simplicity, I am going to restrict my summary and comments mostly to Simmons' treatment of the Liar and related constructions involving truth and falsity. Applications of the singularity... Read [More]

Philosophers’ Pick-Up Lines

“I didn’t know that angels could fly so low. Or that angels even existed anymore now that God is dead… amiright???” That’s Nietzsche’s pick-up line, as imagined by Dan Caprera in a recent post at McSweeney’s. His other “famous philosopher’s pick-up lines” include: René Descartes: “I would rearrange the stars for you, babe… And, technically-speaking, it is NOT IMPOSSIBLE for me to rearrange the stars, because everything that is external to me is subject to skepticism and, as such, the only thing I can truly be certain of is my own, rational existence.” Jeremy Bentham: “Wanna maximize each other’s overall happiness, babe?” And of course: Immanuel Kant: “If loving you is wrong, babe… then I have a moral duty not to love you because loving you is an ethical decision that cannot be universalized.” …among others. One gets the sense that lines like these may have been what Manet had in mind when he painted this poor bartender: Nonetheless, I suspect some readers might be particularly good at coming up with additions to this list. Of course we needn’t be limited to the great historical philosophers everyone has heard of, so we have more to work with (just don’t be mean to the living, please). Here are a few from me: T.M. Scanlon: “No one could reasonably reject you.” G.E.M. Anscombe: “Them? They’re all idiots. I’m the only one who knows how you think. Let’s get out of here.” Edmund [More]

Fictive Narrative Philosophy: How Fiction Can Act as Philosophy

2019.09.24 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Michael Boylan, Fictive Narrative Philosophy: How Fiction Can Act as Philosophy, Routledge, 2019, 264pp., $140.00 (hbk), ISBN 9781138367333. Reviewed by Karen Simecek, University of Warwick In the latest addition to the Routledge Research in Aesthetics series, Michael Boylan presents a thesis on the use of narrative in philosophy; a pedagogy of fictive narrative or a 'narrative-based philosophy.' He argues that philosophical method and argumentation have been thought of in too limited a way as a priori deductive reasoning. His offering of 'fictive narrative philosophy' -- which is characterised as non-deductive and 'empirically suggestive indirect discourse' (p. 85) -- aims less at establishing universal, objective truths and more at philosophy as a personal project that shapes the way individuals think and act, which are essential for living well. In making his case, Boylan seeks to demonstrate that philosophy has tended to overlook the role of literary... Read [More]

Problems of Religious Luck: Assessing the Limits of Reasonable Religious Disagreement

2019.09.23 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Guy Axtell, Problems of Religious Luck: Assessing the Limits of Reasonable Religious Disagreement, Lexington, 2019, 280pp., $95.00 (hbk), ISBN 9781498550178. Reviewed by Liz Jackson, Australian National University/Ryerson University Many of us wouldn't have the beliefs we do now if we were born in a different family or culture. But since our family and culture could have easily been different, it looks like these beliefs are the result of luck. We nonetheless continue to hold these socially-conditioned beliefs, in many cases in full awareness of the luck involved. Are most of us irrational? Is widespread skepticism appropriate? In this book, Guy Axtell joins this important conversation about lucky belief, with an eye toward the religious case. He focuses on the epistemic justification of religious belief: the "de jure question" (p. 6). Axtell's main target is religious exclusivism -- a doctrinal or soteriological uniqueness that sets a particular religion apart from... Read [More]

“Frustration, Mediocrity, and Drama”

A year in the academic life of the typical Nigerian philosopher is a long one defined by frustration, mediocrity (either self-imposed or externally imposed) and drama. The drama aspect revolves around violent student activism leading to university closures, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) industrial actions, blood-letting on university campuses by students who are members of violent cults, the intrigue surrounding the selection of new vice chancellors, the latest corruption scandals, political interference in university administration, or accusations of sexual harassment directed at prominent professors… Those are the words of Ada Agaba (University of Calabar, Nigeria) in a post at The Philosophers’ Cocoon that highlights the challenges faced by philosophers in Nigeria. Poor research funding, outdated libraries, and corrupt administrators and colleagues are common problems, and give rise to frequent strikes by the university teacher’s union, which in turn means that the public universities have, in practice, “no fixed academic calendars.” Political and ethnic favoritism “is the norm” in hiring. The “collapsing academic system” in Nigeria hinders education and research there and the opportunities for interaction between Nigerian philosophers and those elsewhere, and so provides yet another example of the ways in which “what philosophy is” is affected by the contingencies of economics, politics, [More]

Philosopher Awarded £977K Grant for “Mindreading”

Philosopher Richard Moore, who will be moving to Warwick University from The Berlin School of Mind and Brain at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin next year, has been awarded a £977,000 (roughly $1,200,000) grant from the UK government to fund a project on “mindreading.” “Mindreading” here refers to our cognitive capacities related to predicting the behavior of others and attributing various mental states to them. According to Dr. Moore, the project “will conduct empirical and philosophical research on the developmental relationship between mindreading in communication in ontogeny, phylogeny, and in human history” The funding was in the form of a UK Research and Industry Future Leaders Fellowship from UK Research and Innovation, Those interested in the project and positions it may fund can follow Dr. Moore on Twitter at @CommunicatMind. The post Philosopher Awarded £977K Grant for “Mindreading” appeared first on Daily [More]