Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Space Force

The Trump administration created the Space Force, to the delight of some and to the mockery of others. While I generally disagree with Trump on most matters, I do think that the creation of the Space Force was probably a good idea. This specific creation does raise general questions about when to unify and when [More]

Clean Hands? Philosophical Lessons from Scrupulosity

2020.03.04 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Jesse S. Summers and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Clean Hands? Philosophical Lessons from Scrupulosity, Oxford University Press, 2019, 204pp., $74.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780190058692. Reviewed by Noell Birondo, Wichita State University Philosophical lessons come in many different shapes and sizes. Some lessons are big, some are small. Some lessons go deep and have a big impact, some are shallow and have almost none. Some lessons are not really philosophical at all or would not really be lessons for an audience of academic philosophers. I mention these truisms not to disparage this informative book on 'moral OCD' (moral obsessive-compulsive disorder, or 'Scrupulosity') but rather to emphasize how difficult it can be to discern the book's intended audience, given its interdisciplinary aims and structure. That question is never explicitly addressed (it is admittedly a slim book, slimmer than it appears), but the question has consequences for how to think about the book's ultimate value, and for... Read [More]

Every generation scorns the picture of ‘reality’ which came before

Throughout history, our predecessors in science and philosophy have been convinced that their particular understanding of reality was, at least largely, correct. Yet time and again, subsequent generations have proven—or at least were convinced of having proven—them wrong. Each generation has looked upon the ideas of their predecessors as naïve, simplistic, even superstitious.During the Renaissance, scientists attempted to explain electrostatic attraction by postulating the existence of an invisible elastic substance—called ‘effluvium’—that supposedly stretched out across bodies. Strange as it may sound now, at the time effluvium was as plausible an explanation for empirical observations as subatomic particles today, which are equally invisible beyond the effects they putatively produce.As the Renaissance gave way to the Enlightenment, scientists began trying to frame every phenomenon in terms of the action of small corpuscles—atoms—interacting with each other through direct contact. [More]

Free Will Skepticism in Law and Society: Challenging Retributive Justice

2020.03.03 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Elizabeth Shaw, Derk Pereboom, and Gregg D. Caruso (eds.), Free Will Skepticism in Law and Society: Challenging Retributive Justice, Cambridge University Press, 2019, 238pp., $99.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781108493475. Reviewed by Kelly McCormick, Texas Christian University Elizabeth Shaw, Derk Pereboom, and Gregg D. Caruso have compiled a volume that centralizes a question of great philosophical and practical importance -- what is the relationship between skeptical views about free will and criminal punishment? It provides an excellent new resource for anyone who finds some variety of free will skepticism appealing (or troubling), and thus feels a looming threat to retributive justification for our modern criminal justice system. The volume is divided into three main sections. In Part I, Saul Smilansky, Caruso, and Bruce N. Waller focus on identifying and assessing the pragmatic implications of endorsing some variety of free will skepticism. Here some initial clarification about the nature of free will skepticism itself is in order. While there... Read [More]

The Meaning of Travel

In mid December, the Uffizi can be almost empty of visitors. One year, we were sitting very quietly for some time in what was then the room with the great Botticelli paintings. A few other visitors came and went. But … Continue reading → The post The Meaning of Travel appeared first on Logic [More]

Opting for the Best: Oughts and Options

2020.03.02 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Douglas W. Portmore, Opting for the Best: Oughts and Options, Oxford University Press, 2019, 324pp., $74.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780190945350. Reviewed by Leonard Kahn, Loyola University New Orleans Philosophers are sometimes caricatured for offering unhelpful answers to difficult questions. For example, if asked, "What ought I to do?", we philosophers might say, "Do what matters most!" This answer seems problematic because it exchanges the original question for another -- what matters most? -- that is at least as challenging. Another thing that philosophers get caricatured for is teasing out the consequences of highly unlikely circumstances. Readers of this review will be all-too-familiar with imaginary brains-in-vats and runaway trolleys to need much of a reminder. But what would happen if we embraced both of these caricatures? Suppose for one happy moment that we discovered what matters most and that we should do whatever most matters. Would that be enough to tell us... Read [More]

A Defence of Sexual Inclusion (Preprint)

Random and unrelated imageI'm almost reluctant to share this. I have a new paper coming out in the journal Social Theory and Practice later this year. The paper looks at whether we, as a society, should care about the problem of sexual inclusion and whether, if we do, this means that we should recognise the existence of rights to sexual inclusion. I argue, tentatively, that we should care about it and that it is not absurd to suppose that this supports such rights.Although I think the position I defend in the paper is fairly modest, and, I hope, sensible, I'm conscious of the fact that some people are going to think it is ridiculous or controversial or dangerous because it engages with some tricky aspects of social justice (feminism, misogyny, disability rights theory etc). Given this, I hope that people read the full paper and engage with the arguments offered therein; I hope that people don't comment on or dismiss it on the basis of what they think it says based on the abstract or some third party summary.I would also add, for what it is worth, that this paper was blind reviewed by two people. The first reviewer commented very favourably on the paper (probably the most positive comments I have received from a peer reviewer) but did note that the subject matter may prove controversial. The second reviewer was less favourable (though still recommended publication) but observed that the paper was much less controversial than I seemed to think. In fact, they suggested that [More]

Kantian Subjects: Critical Philosophy and Late Modernity

2020.03.01 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Karl Ameriks, Kantian Subjects: Critical Philosophy and Late Modernity, Oxford University Press, 2019, 272pp., $70.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780198841852. Reviewed by Robert Pippin, University of Chicago This volume is Karl Ameriks's latest collection of essays, the fifth in a series of valuable, focused collections: Kant and the Fate of Autonomy: Problems in the Appropriation of Critical Philosophy (2000); Interpreting Kant's Critiques (2003), Kant and the Historical Turn: Philosophy as Critical Interpretation (2006), and Kant's Elliptical Path (2012). The current collection of fifteen essays is split into two parts, called simply "Kant" as Part I and "Successors" in Part II. Part I mostly but not exclusively deals with issues in Kant's practical philosophy, especially the issues of self-determination and autonomy. Part II ranges more widely, with discussions of Hegel interpreters, Schelling, Hölderlin and other romantics, and Ameriks's own views on the current "historical task" of philosophy. All the... Read [More]