Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

The Argument for Medical Nihilism

Suppose you have just been diagnosed with a rare illness. You go to your doctor and they put you through a series of tests. In the end, they recommend that you take a new drug — wonderzene — that has recently been approved by the FDA following several successful trials. How confident should you be that this drug will improve your condition?You might think that this question cannot be answered in the abstract. It has to be assessed on a case by case basis. What is the survival rate for your particular illness? What is its underlying pathophysiology? What does the drug do? How successful were these trials? And in many ways you would be right. Your confidence in the success of the treatment does depend on the empirical facts. But that’s not all it depends on. It also depends on assumptions that medical scientists make about the nature of your illness and on the institutional framework in which the scientific evidence concerning the illness and its treatment is produced, interpreted and communicated to patients like you. When you think about these other aspects of the medical scientific process, it might be the case that you should very sceptical about the prospects of your treatment being a success. This could be true irrespective of the exact nature of the drug in question and the evidence concerning its effectiveness.That is the gist of the argument put forward by Jacob Stegenga in his provocative book Medical Nihilism. The book argues for an extreme form of scepticism about [More]

Reality and Its Structure: Essays in Fundamentality

2019.04.18 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Ricki Bliss and Graham Priest (eds.), Reality and its Structure: Essays in Fundamentality, Oxford University Press, 2018, 324pp., $70.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780198755630. Reviewed by David Mark Kovacs, Tel Aviv University Over the last ten years we have witnessed an explosion of research done in "stratified metaphysics", the area of metaphysics whose main focus is on concepts such as grounding, ontological dependence and fundamentality, and various first-order issues cast in terms of such notions. The present volume contains fifteen essays that fall within this broad research program, with one interesting twist to them: one way or other, they all question what has widely come to be recognized as the "orthodoxy" concerning the structure of reality. What is the orthodoxy? In their helpful introduction, Ricki Bliss and Graham Priest formulate it as the conjunction of four theses: 1. The hierarchy thesis: Reality... Read [More]

So What's New About Scholasticism? How Neo-Thomism Helped Shape the Twentieth Century

2019.04.17 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Rajesh Heynickx and Stéphane Symons (eds.), So What's New About Scholasticism? How Neo-Thomism Helped Shape the Twentieth Century, De Gruyter, 2018, 309pp., $119.99 (hbk), ISBN 9783110586282. Reviewed by Edward Feser, Pasadena City College Neo-Scholasticism and Neo-Thomism went into eclipse in Catholic academia in the decades following Vatican II. They were, during the same period, paid even less attention in secular circles. What many people today remember of them is little more than a set of negative clichés, not all of them consistent. For example, it is often alleged that Neo-Scholastic writers merely parroted Aquinas's views rather than engaging in original thought, though it is also often claimed that they distorted Aquinas rather than conveying his views faithfully. Today, there is renewed interest in Thomism and Scholastic thought in general -- among neo-Aristotelian analytic metaphysicians, analytical Thomists, historians of medieval and early modern philosophy, and Catholic and Protestant theologians.... Read [More]