Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

IAPS @ Pacific APA: Sport and Admiration

The IAPS meeting at the Pacific APA will focus on Sport and Admiration.  The Pacific APA is being held in Vancouver, BC, Canada, April 17-20, 2019.IAPS Session: Thursday, April 18, 6 - 8 pmChair: Shawn E. Klein (Arizona State University)Speakers: Jack Bowen (Menlo School)Kyle Fruh (Stanford University)Tara Smith (University of Texas at Austin)Abstracts for the talks:Appreciation of Sport: How the Seemingly Trivial Becomes Essential Jack Bowen, Menlo SchoolSport is considered by some as trivial: athletes spending countless hours honing a skill which only has value in the institution of that particular sport (throwing a ball through a circle, in the case of basketball for example). Though, it is actually becauseof this that sport and the athletes who play it are worthy of our appreciation. Throughout human history and until recently, we have needed to hunt for our own food, fight in various wars and battles and, yet, at a time of great peace and abundance, sport now fills that niche for many of us. Sport provides a venue in which we can show appreciation on various levels: regarding physical accomplishments, moral achievement, and, from there, an appreciation of our own good fortune to even be able to appreciate—which has its own benefits. In doing this, it turns out we may actually need certain mantras in place often dismissed by those who love sport such as, “winning is everything,” and that sport is a matter of “life and death,” and other such hyperbole. In [More]

Does Consciousness Come in Degrees?

Every living thing responds selectively to its immediate environment.  Rocks don’t.  One-celled organisms do. Viruses are a borderline case.To speak of perception is a little more demanding. Do amoebas actually perceive things in their environment? Do stylops? Do ants, for that matter? When we say perceive, we’re thinking of sense organs, inputs and information-processing, however rudimentary. Those criteria are vague and admit many borderline cases; they might even be said to come in degrees.  But when we agree that an animal does perceive, we are attributing to it a kind of consciousness, namely, perceptual consciousness of the world around it. Perception itself certainly admits degrees.  Some animals perceive more information per second than others; or they make a greater number of distinctions than others.  Likewise, if an animal has a greater variety of senses, it will enjoy a higher degree of perceptual consciousness.A creature that does perceive the external world to any [More]

Social Institutions

[Revised entry by Seumas Miller on April 9, 2019. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] The term, "social institution" is somewhat unclear both in ordinary language and in the philosophical literature (see below). However, contemporary sociology is somewhat more consistent in its use of the term. Typically, contemporary sociologists use the term to refer to complex social forms that reproduce themselves such as governments, the family, human languages, universities, hospitals, business corporations, and legal systems. A typical definition is that proffered by Jonathan Turner (1997: 6): "a complex [More]

Monads, Composition, and Force: Ariadnean Threads through Leibniz's Labyrinth

2019.04.12 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Richard T. W. Arthur, Monads, Composition, and Force: Ariadnean Threads through Leibniz's Labyrinth, Oxford University Press, 2018, 329pp., $80.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780198812869. Reviewed by Ursula Goldenbaum, Emory University With this book, Richard Arthur provides a thoroughgoing investigation of Leibniz's metaphysics, aiming to rule out the prevailing phenomenalistic reading of Leibniz and thereby Leibniz's idealism. He is confident that he can provide convincing new arguments by starting from the continuum problem and tracing Leibniz's solutions to that problem at different periods. While he admits that there are clear statements of Leibniz about the phenomenal character of bodies, motion, and derivative forces, he finds it "hard to see why their composition would be a problem", if the idealist reading were correct -- a reading which for him is a view of bodies as "merely intentional objects of the perceptual states of monads". (5) We would "lose the connection that Leibniz... Read [More]

Spinoza and the Cunning of Imagination

2019.04.11 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Eugene Garver, Spinoza and the Cunning of Imagination, University of Chicago Press, 2018, 307pp., $55.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780226575568. Reviewed by Charlie Huenemann, Utah State University Spinoza's Ethics stands as something like a geometrical monolith promising philosophical truth that is cold, hard, and unchanging. It is written with such unflinching confidence that when readers note that 2p13 doesn't quite fit with 5p23, or that 5p35 runs up against 3p13s, they suspect the problem is with themselves and not with Spinoza's timeless vision. The austere style of the work, with its invocation of Euclid's unchanging realm, leads us to think that any adequate interpretation must meet the challenge of making everything in it come out as true all at once. The central aim of Eugene Garver's book is to challenge this view of the Ethics as an unchanging monolith. "I read the... Read [More]