Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Philosophers Win Several Large Grants in the Netherlands

Several philosophers are among the winners of large grants from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). They are: Reinhard Muskens (UvA) for “A Sentence Uttered Makes a World Appear” (€770,850 / $860,000) Hearing a sentence enables one to make a mental picture of its content. ‘The cat is on the mat’ is a sequence of words first and then an image. But how does that work? Our research uses logic and computation to answer this question. Robert van Rooij (UvA) for “Why We Believe Sharks Are Dangerous” We accept generic sentences like ‘Sharks are dangerous’, although sharks only seldomly attack us. It is important to understand why, because stereotypes are also expressed by such generic sentences. We  want to investigate whether the acceptance of such generalizing sentences can be explained by the way  expectations are learned. Han van Ruler (EUR) for “Decoding Descartes” Decoding Descartes unravels the ideas of the founder of modern philosophy and science René Descartes (1596–1650) in response to contemporary deadlocks in philosophy, psychology and neuroscience. By reevaluating Descartes’ work and correspondence, the project shows Descartes is still decisively relevant for contemporary debates in multiple disciplines from humanities to neuroscience. Maartje Schermer (EUR) for “Health and disease as practical concepts: a pragmatist approach to conceptualization of health and disease” Scientific, [More]

Should We Get Rid of Peer Review?

“Where philosophers of science have claimed the social structure of science works well, their arguments tend to rely on things other than peer review, and that where specific benefits have been claimed for peer review, empirical research has so far failed to bear these out. Comparing this to the downsides of peer review, most prominently the massive amount of time and resources tied up in it, we conclude that we might be better off abolishing peer review” That’s from the introduction of a new paper by Remco Heesen (Western Australia) and Liam Kofi Bright (LSE), “Is Peer Review a Good Idea?“, in the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. According to Heesen and Bright, the empirical evidence for the effectiveness of peer review in assessing the quality of research is “mixed at best.” Peer review’s limited effectiveness would perhaps not be a problem if it required little time and effort from scientists [which the authors use broadly to include researchers working in the sciences, social sciences, and the humanities]. But in fact the opposite is true. Going from a manuscript to a published article involves many hours of reviewing work by the assigned peer reviewers and a significant time investment from the editor handling the submission. The editor and reviewers are all scientists themselves, so the epistemic opportunity cost of their reviewing work is significant: instead of reviewing, they could be doing more science. Their [More]

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

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Dr. Alvin Plantinga
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  • Emeritus Professor of Philosophy (UND)
  • Focuses on Epistemology, Metaphysics, Philosophy of Religion
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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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