Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Precis on Darwin’s Dangerous Idea chapter 5

Chapter 5 of Dennett’s book lays out the case for a naturalized understanding of evolutionary design. How could an unguided process produce the enormous complexity of biological life we find on earth?

Dennett first expands a straightforward notion of possibility into 4 separate ways possibility could be understood. Leveraging this richer notion of possibility, he then attempts to show how the extensive diversity on this planet is possible on naturalism. Overall, his treatment is helpful and he offers some very rich ideas to support his response. He is attempting to continue to break down what he sees as an entrenched adherence to essentialism of one sort or another and provide a non-essentialist case for diversity through possibility.

See the full article here.

6/3/2010: New Reviews at Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

The Moral Foundations of Social Institutions by Seumas Miller; Reviewed by Alexa Forrester, Franklin & Marshall College

The Philosophical Significance of Language by Scott Soames; Reviewed by Cara Spencer, Howard University

An Image of the Soul in Speech: Plato and the Problem of Socrates by David N. McNeill; Reviewed by George Rudebusch, Northern Arizona University

Badiou and Theology by Frederiek Depoortere; Reviewed by Clayton Crockett, University of Central Arkansas

The Cambridge Companion to Leo Strauss by Steven B. Smith; Reviewed by Samuel A. Chambers, Johns Hopkins University

Anthony O’Hear Reviews Three Books on Religion

Wolterstorff-book-imageIn a brief article for The Fortnightly Review, O’Hear reviews Practices of Belief: Volume 2, Selected Essays by Nicholas Wolterstorff, Absence of Mind: The Dispelling of Inwardness from the Modern Myth of the Self by Marilynne Robinson and An Awareness of What is Missing: Faith and Reason in a Post-secular Age by Jurgen Habermas. According to O’Hear, these three books cross paths in their focus on denying someRobinson-book-image of the axioms of the new secularism that largely dominates intellectual life. While the writers all have different goals for their books, they converge on creating room in modern thought for ideas—like the existence of God, the existence of a non-physical center of consciousness, and a role for faith—that have long been dismissed as arcane and passé.

See the review here.

Philosophy: Not Just for Adults Anymore

French children appear to be abandoning video games and party favors for tea and Rene Descartes. According to Adam Sage of the Time Online UK, les goûters philos or philosophical teas are more than a flash in the pan for French children. These parties are sweeping the nation as an alternative for children seeking a good time with friends and family.

The parties are held in cafés, public libraries and at home and involve food, drink ... and debate.

Some are led by intellectuals who are steeped in the study of philosophy and others by parents who are struggling to tell Nietzsche and Sartre apart. Many are organised by the children themselves.

See the full article here.

Antanas Mockus: Philosopher King (maybe)

mockus-super-citizen-philosopher-image Philosophy and mathematics professor is gaining significant steam in his bid for president of Colombia. The Green Party candidate is known for his antics once dressed up in tights and a cape and coming on stage as ‘Super Citizen.’ He is a serious candidate however and his strong message is resonating with voters. According to news reports, he is uncompromising in his refusal to play party politics and is bullish in his fight against corruption. His campaign symbol is a pencil representing his strong belief in education reform.

Rising from a distant 3 percent in opinion polls in March, Mockus has surged over 30 percent, placing him in a dead heat with former Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos, considered the heir to the legacy of the famously popular president, Álvaro Uribe.

"Philosopher Antanas Mockus rattles Colombia election” in the Christian Science Monitor.

Article in Americas magazine.

Series on Dennett’s Darwin’s Dangerous Idea

One of the more substantial challenges facing natural selection as a comprehensive explanatory model in biology is in understanding the mechanism behind the model. Daniel Dennett attempts to do just that in Darwin’s Dangerous Idea. Providing a comprehensive philosophical foundation for the mechanics of natural selection, Dennett’s book is both an apologetic and a polemic against competing alternatives.

This series will consist of a set of précis of each chapter of the book. I will not critically analyze each chapter but provide a thorough summary with the goal of helping the reader better understand Dennett’s core arguments.

See the title page here which lists all the individual posts.

Bad Literature is the New Philosophy

Merging_Theater_Masks This delightful New York Times piece by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author of the book, 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction portrays the dismantling of philosophy by postmodernist literature departments. Modern literature has abandoned its true calling of unwrapping the life’s intricacies through well-written narrative and replacing it with a pseudo-philosophy of cultural analysis and construction. It makes universal pronouncements of the death of universality and lofty arguments which conclude that logic is irrelevant.

Philosopher Spotlight


Conversations with philosophers, professional and non-professional alike.
Visit our podcast section for more interviews and conversations.

Interview with

Dr. Robert McKim
  • on Religious Diversity
  • Professor of Religion and Professor of Philosophy
  • Focuses on Philosophy of Religion
  • Ph.D. Yale

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Dr. Alvin Plantinga
  • on Where the Conflict Really Lies
  • Emeritus Professor of Philosophy (UND)
  • Focuses on Epistemology, Metaphysics, Philosophy of Religion
  • Ph.D. Yale

Interview with

Dr. Peter Boghossian
  • on faith as a cognitive sickness
  • Teaches Philosophy at Portland State University (Oregon)
  • Focuses on atheism and critical thinking
  • Has a passion for teaching in prisons
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