Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

A Strange List of “Great Value” Colleges for Undergraduate Philosophy Degrees

A website called “Great Value Colleges” has published a list of “100 Great Value Colleges for Philosophy Degrees (Bachelor’s) for 2020.”  The creators of the ranking only considered U.S. schools where annual tuition is less than $20,000. They then gave those schools points for various factors, with the totals ranging from 5 points for the school ranked 100th to 20 points for the school ranked 1st. How does a school get points? This is what I was able to learn of their process: Schools get a point for being accredited. Schools get more points the cheaper their tuition is (4 points if the tuition is less than $10,000 per year, 3 points if the tuition is $10,000 – $14,999, 2 points if it’s between $15,000 and $19,999, etc.). Schools also get a point for each type of graduate degree (MA, PhD) they offer in philosophy (if they do). Then there’s the “20-year return on investment” criteria, based on data from Payscale, with ROIs above $600,000 getting 5 points, and smaller ROIs getting proportionately fewer points. Lastly, there’s what they call the “wow factor”, with 1 point awarded “for each unique feature or program that ‘wowed’ us.” In other words: they take a selection of some of the various factors that might enter into one’s decision-making about where to go to school, along with some that might not, and combine and weight them in a seemingly random manner. [More]

Being a Good Philosopher-Activist

“Philosophers have an important role to play in bridging theoretical reflection with everyday life.”  Those are the words of Julinna Oxley, professor of philosophy at Coastal Carolina University, in “How to Be a (Good) Philosopher-Activist“, an article in the recent special issue of Essays in Philosophy on activism and philosophy, edited by Ramona Ilea (Pacific University). Professor Oxley is the co-founder of Grand Strand Action Together, a South Carolina non-profit group “devoted to protecting and defending our democracy and the American democratic ideals of liberty, equality, and justice.” In her article, she draws on her experiences as a philosopher and activist to provide some advice for other philosophers interested in activism, which she takes to be collaborative action aimed at social change. With such collaborative efforts, people can do what they’re good at. For philosophers, that might mean “contributing philosophical reflection, writing skills or oral argumentation,” and doing so with “rational integrity.” Philosopher-activists with rational integrity, Oxley writes, are honest, rational, logical, deliberative, and respectful: Honest — (a) use true, reliable, and trustworthy information and sources, (b) know the relevant and important social or historical facts surrounding their views. Rational — use reason to communicate and to facilitate communication; are careful, calm, insightful, [More]

Five philosophers on the joys of walking

René Descartes argued that each of us is, fundamentally, a thinking thing. Thought is our defining activity, setting us aside from animals, trees, rocks. I suspect this has helped market philosophy as the life of the mind, conjuring up philosophers lost in reverie, snuggled in armchairs. But human beings do not, in fact, live purely […] The post Five philosophers on the joys of walking appeared first on OUPblog.         Related StoriesHow to diversify the classics. For real.Henry David Thoreau and the nature of civil disobedience – Philosopher of the MonthHow dating apps reflect our changing [More]

Underappreciated Philosophical Writing of the Past 50 Years, Part 1: 1970s

Not everything notable gets noticed, and that’s true in philosophy, too. A valuable philosophical work may get overlooked because it was published in a lesser-known venue.  Or perhaps it was published in a part of the world or in a language that those in the mainstream tend to ignore. Perhaps sociological aspects of the profession concerning dominant writing style preferences or attitudes about the prestige of the author’s institutional affiliations led to its dismissal. Maybe it was ahead of its time, speaking to issues or presenting ideas or arguments the significance of which was only recognized much later. Maybe it was appreciated in its time, but somehow got lost in the crowd of publications since. Over the next few weeks, I hope gather lists of underappreciated philosophical writing of the past fifty years. These are articles, books, and book chapters that today’s philosophers are not adequately recognizing as valuable. It’s not an exact science, of course, judging both the significance of the work and the extent to which it is currently appreciated. I encourage people to err in ways that are more inclusive, as it’s better to hear about something you’ve already heard about than to miss out on hearing about something new (to you) and good. To keep things manageable we’ll break this project into decade-long chunks. This week, let’s look at the 1970s. Readers, please share your suggestions of underappreciated works from [More]

Underappreciated Philosophical Writing of the Past 50 Years, Part I: 1970s

Not everything notable gets noticed, and that’s true in philosophy, too. A valuable philosophical work may get overlooked because it was published in a lesser-known venue.  Or perhaps it was published in a part of the world or in a language that those in the mainstream tend to ignore. Perhaps sociological aspects of the profession concerning dominant writing style preferences or attitudes about the prestige of the author’s institutional affiliations led to its dismissal. Maybe it was ahead of its time, speaking to issues or presenting ideas or arguments the significance of which was only recognized much later. Maybe it was appreciated in its time, but somehow got lost in the crowd of publications since. Over the next few weeks, I hope gather lists of underappreciated philosophical writing of the past fifty years. These are articles, books, and book chapters that today’s philosophers are not adequately recognizing as valuable. It’s not an exact science, of course, judging both the significance of the work and the extent to which it is currently appreciated. I encourage people to err in ways that are more inclusive, as it’s better to hear about something you’ve already heard about than to miss out on hearing about something new (to you) and good. To keep things manageable we’ll break this project into decade-long chunks. This week, let’s look at the 1970s. Readers, please share your suggestions of underappreciated works from [More]

Understanding the Brain

“Maybe human brains aren’t equipped to understand themselves.” That thought is offered up by Grigori Guitchounts, a Ph.D. student in neuroscience at Harvard University, in an article surveying some current brain research at Nautilus. One branch of such research is connectomics, which “strives to chart the entirety of the connections among neurons in a brain.” Guitchounts writes: In principle, a complete connectome would contain all the information necessary to provide a solid base on which to build a holistic understanding of the brain. We could see what each brain part is, how it supports the whole, and how it ought to interact with the other parts and the environment.  Jeff Lichtman, a professor of molecular and cellular biology at Harvard, works in this area, attempting to provide a map of the brain. Here’s how he does it: The 68-year-old neuroscientist’s weapon of choice is a 61-beam electron microscope, which Lichtman’s team uses to visualize the tiniest of details in brain tissue… [and] a machine that can only be described as a fancy deli slicer. The machine cuts pieces of brain tissue into 30-nanometer-thick sections, which it then pastes onto a tape conveyor belt. The tape goes on silicon wafers, and into Lichtman’s electron microscope, where billions of electrons blast the brain slices, generating images that reveal nanometer-scale features of neurons, their axons, dendrites, and the synapses through which they exchange [More]

Using math to understand inequity

What can math tell us about unfairness? Bias, discrimination, and inequity are phenomena that are deeply complex, context sensitive, personal, and intersectional. The mathematical modeling of social scenarios, on the other hand, is a practice that necessitates simplification. Using models to understand what happens in our social realm means representing the complex with something much […] The post Using math to understand inequity appeared first on OUPblog.         Related StoriesHenry David Thoreau and the nature of civil disobedience – Philosopher of the MonthHow the UK is facilitating war crimes in YemenTaking a knee: sports and activism [More]

Griftocrats

Griftocracy is, obviously enough, rule by griftocrats. This does not require that all power is in the hands of the griftocrats, just that they dominate.  In rough terms, a griftocrat is a grifter who has managed to secure public office and approaches this job primarily as a means to grift. What follows is a discussion [More]

Philosopher Appointed to Federal Advisory Committee on Biosecurity

The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) is a federal advisory committee that “addresses issues related to biosecurity and dual use research at the request of the United States Government.” According its website, the NSABB “has up to 25 voting members with a broad range of expertise including molecular biology, microbiology, infectious diseases, biosafety, public health, veterinary medicine, plant health, national security, biodefense, law enforcement, scientific publishing, and other related fields.” It can now add “moral philosophy” to that list. Alex John London, the Clara L. West Professor of Ethics and Philosophy at Carnegie Mellon University, will be joining the NSABB. He announced on Twitter, “Today I signed a letter accepting the invitation from the Secretary of Health and Human Services to serve on the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB). I will do my best to serve with integrity.” Professor London’s research has focused on “ethical and policy issues surrounding the development and deployment of novel technologies in medicine, biotechnology and artificial intelligence, on methodological issues in theoretical and practical ethics, and on cross-national issues of justice and fairness.” You can learn more about his work here, and more about the work of the NSABB here. The post Philosopher Appointed to Federal Advisory Committee on Biosecurity appeared first on [More]

New: The Journal of Philosophy of Disability

The Journal of Philosophy of Disability is a new, peer-reviewed, open-access journal dedicated to questions regarding disability, broadly construed. Edited by Joel Michael Reynolds (University of Massachusetts, Lowell) and Teresa Blankmeyer Burke (Gallaudet University), the journal will publish peer-reviewed articles, review essays, critical responses, commentaries, and symposia and welcomes work in “all philosophical perspectives, including analytic and continental traditions, the history of philosophy, empirically informed philosophy, and other traditions that substantively engage research in philosophy of disability.” The Journal of Philosophy of Disability will be published by Philosophy Documentation Center. It’s first issue is planned for Fall, 2021. The post New: The Journal of Philosophy of Disability appeared first on Daily [More]

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