Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Formal Methods in Philosophy: Initial Thoughts and an Interactive Event (guest post by Liam Kofi Bright)

Plausible answers as to the nature of our mission as philosophy educators gives us no unique reason to focus on logic as the mathematical tool of interest to philosophers. The following is a guest post* by Liam Kofi Bright (London School of Economics) about the justifications philosophers offer for requiring their students to have instruction in logic, over other formal methods, and about his role facilitating worldwide participation in an upcoming event on this topic. Formal Methods in Philosophy by Liam Kofi Bright Every year a great many philosophy departments force both graduate and undergraduate students to learn at least some mathematical logic. For these departments, some basic ability to deploy mathematical reasoning is part of the normatively expected skill set of the philosopher. What is more, we do not tend to insist on knowledge of other formal theories in the same way—logic is picked out as an especially relevant branch of mathematics. Why is that? There are two things I want to suggest about this. First, the justifications I have heard of for this would mandate making instruction in other formal tools or theories besides just logic obligatory. Second, the available justifications for this reflect deep and abiding disagreements concerning what constitutes good philosophy. The first and most frequent justification one hears for our logic teaching is that we are bound to carry on the philosophical tradition wherein logic has played a big role. What’s more, [More]

Zack Selected as 2019 Romanell – Phi Beta Kappa Professor

Naomi Zack, professor of philosophy at Lehman College, City University of New York (CUNY), has been awarded the 2019 Romanell – Phi Beta Kappa Professorship. The award includes delivering three lectures open to the public, the opportunity to publish the lectures in the Romanell Lectures Series from Oxford University Press, and a prize of $7,500. It is given annually to scholars working in philosophy to recognize “not only distinguished achievement but also the recipient’s contribution or potential contribution to public understanding of philosophy.” The award was established in 1983 and is named in honor of Patrick Romanell, H.Y. Benedict Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas, El Paso, and his wife Edna Romanell. It is sponsored by the academic honor society Phi Beta Kappa. Professor Zack will be delivering her lectures at Lehman College. A press release about the award states: Dr. Zack has researched and written on a variety of topics, notably in the areas of race, political philosophy, feminism and disaster ethics. Her most recent book is titled Reviving the Social Compact: Inclusive Citizenship in an Age of Extreme Politics (2018). She has published nine books and edited five anthologies, including the Oxford Handbook on Philosophy and Race (2017). Dr. Zack recently joined the faculty at Lehman College, moving from the University of Oregon, to focus on the opportunity to teach undergraduate members of under-represented groups and support [More]

Retrenchment at St. Cloud State Targets Philosophy Faculty (Updated)

Three members of the Department of Philosophy at St. Cloud State University (SCSU) in Minnesota may lose their jobs if the school’s administration decides to proceed with plans for “retrenchment.” The SCSU administration has led the school into a position of projected budget shortfalls and declining enrollment over the next couple of years, according to the University Chronicle. In a scramble to avoid these problems, it has recommended dismissing eight faculty, including three philosophy professors. These professors will find out today whether they are being dismissed. Readers are encouraged to contact SCSU Provost Gregory (ddgregory@stcloudstate.edu) or President Wacker (robbyn.wacker@stcloudstate.edu) with messages of support for the philosophy faculty. In its decision to target the Department of Philosophy, the administration notes lower enrollments in philosophy courses, and identifies as causes of this curricular changes at the university that have led to fewer students being subject to requirements that philosophy courses fulfill, the development of more courses at the university outside of philosophy that students can take to fulfill these requirements, and an increase in the number of students coming to the school already having satisfied these requirements. In a response to the administration, the Department of Philosophy states that the administration’s plan “fails to consider the impact that retrenchment would have on St. Cloud State [More]

Expanding Philosophy By “Re-Appropriating the Slur that it Is to Be Called ‘Analytic'”

Anthony Booth, reader in philosophy at the University of Sussex, called his 2017 book Analytic Islamic Philosophy, yet he doesn’t think there is much to the division between analytic and Continental philosophy. In an interview with Richard Marshall at 3:16am, he says: Given the various historical ‘turns’ that ‘analytic’ philosophy has been through (such that it is now completely kosher and apparently not contradictory to talk about ‘analytic metaphysics’)I don’t think there’s anything left to the term ‘analytic’ than denoting adherence to the following very board norm: make your work understandable to others, via the use of accepted conventions for writing, such that its results can be assessed. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who is seriously working on a topic or a figure that is paradigmatically considered to be ‘continental’ (e.g. Sartre or Heidegger) who would reject that norm. They may abide by slightly different conventions for writing—they may put greater emphasis on historical scholarship, or to close reading—but they follow the conventions in order to be understood by peers and such that their work may fairly be assessed as scholarship.  He notes that this minimalist understanding of analytic philosophy “may leave some fearing that analytic philosophy is colonising other traditions in a domineering way. Hence why being an ‘analytic Nietzschean’ is often used as a slur.” (For one version of this view, see this post.) Why, then, give [More]

Slavoj Žižek on what really makes him mad

What really makes me mad when I read critical (and even some favorable) reactions to my work is the recurring characterization of me as a postmodern cultural critic – the one thing I don’t want to be. I consider myself a philosopher dealing with fundamental ontological questions, and, furthermore, a philosopher in the traditional vein […] The post Slavoj Žižek on what really makes him mad appeared first on OUPblog.         Related StoriesJohn Duns Scotus – The ‘Subtle Doctor’ – Philosopher of the MonthContinuing Jane Austen’s unfinished novel SanditonOriginality in Arabic [More]

Retrenchment at St. Cloud State Targets Philosophy Faculty

Three members of the Department of Philosophy at St. Cloud State University (SCSU) in Minnesota may lose their jobs if the school’s administration decides to proceed with plans for “retrenchment.” The SCSU administration has led the school into a position of projected budget shortfalls and declining enrollment over the next couple of years, according to the University Chronicle. In a scramble to avoid these problems, it has recommended dismissing eight faculty, including three philosophy professors. These professors will find out today whether they are being dismissed. Readers are encouraged to contact SCSU Provost Gregory (ddgregory@stcloudstate.edu) or President Wacker (robbyn.wacker@stcloudstate.edu) with messages of support for the philosophy faculty. In its decision to target the Department of Philosophy, the administration notes lower enrollments in philosophy courses, and identifies as causes of this curricular changes at the university that have led to fewer students being subject to requirements that philosophy courses fulfill, the development of more courses at the university outside of philosophy that students can take to fulfill these requirements, and an increase in the number of students coming to the school already having satisfied these requirements. In a response to the administration, the Department of Philosophy states that the administration’s plan “fails to consider the impact that retrenchment would have on St. Cloud State [More]

John Duns Scotus – The ‘Subtle Doctor’ – Philosopher of the Month

John Duns Scotus (b. c. 1265/1266–d. 1308) was one of the most significant Christian philosophers and theologians of the medieval period. Scotus made important and influential contributions in metaphysics, ethics, and natural theology. Little was known of his life but he was born in Scotland, became a Franciscan monk, spent his learning and professional life […] The post John Duns Scotus – The ‘Subtle Doctor’ – Philosopher of the Month appeared first on OUPblog.         Related StoriesHow Rabindranath Tagore reshaped Indian philosophy and literatureG.E. Moore – his life and work – Philosopher of the MonthContinuing Jane Austen’s unfinished novel [More]

Philosopher’s Annual Selections

Philosopher’s Annual is “an attempt to pick the ten best articles of the year” in academic philosophy. Volume 38, covering articles from 2018, is about to be released. The ten articles in that volume are: Mark Alfano, J. Adam Carter & Marc Cheong, “Technological Seduction and Self-Radicalization,” from the Journal of the American Philosophical Association Jc Beall, “The Simple Argument for Subclassical Logic,” from Philosophical Issues Selim Berker, “The Unity of Grounding,” from Mind Guillermo Del Pinal, “Meaning, Modulation, and Context: A Multidimensional Semantics for Truth-Conditional Pragmatics,” from Linguistics and Philosophy Louise Hanson, “Moral Realism, Aesthetic Realism, and the Asymmetry Claim,” from Ethics Remco Heesen, “When Journal Editors Play Favorites,” from Philosophical Studies Matthias Jenny, “Counterpossibles in Science: The Case of Relative Computability,” from Noûs Dilip Ninan, “Quantification and Epistemic Modality,” from the Philosophical Review Amia Srinivasan, “The Aptness of Anger,” from the Journal of Political Philosophy  Kenneth Walden, “Practical Reason Not As Such,” from the Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy An attempt to compile a list of the best articles in philosophy is, the editors admit, “as simple to state as it is admittedly impossible to fulfill,” given the massive volume of publications in philosophy each year and the diversity of criteria that may be employed. The results are the work of [More]

Two Philosophers Make British Academy Book Award Shortlist

The British Academy, the UK’s national organization for the humanities and social sciences has released the shortlist of candidates for its 2019 Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for Global Cultural Understanding. The £25,000 ($30,900) annual prize, established seven years ago, “rewards and celebrates the best works of non-fiction that have contributed to global cultural understanding and illuminate the interconnections and divisions that shape cultural identity worldwide,” according to an announcement from the British Academy. Six books made the shortlist, including two by philosophers: The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity (Profile Books) by Kwame Anthony Appiah  How the World Thinks: A Global History of Philosophy (Granta Books) by Julian Baggini The other books on the list are: A Fistful of Shells: West Africa from the Rise of the Slave Trade to the Age of Revolution (Allen Lane) by Toby Green Maoism: A Global History (Bodley Head) by Julia Lovell Remnants of Partition: 21 Objects from a Continent Divided (Hurst) by Aanchal Malhotra Latinx: The New Force in American Politics and Culture (Verso) by Ed Morales There were originally 80 books under consideration for the prize. The president of the British Academy, Sir David Cannadine, says of the shortlisted books: Such rigorous, timely and original non-fiction writing provides the rich context the global community needs to discuss and debate present-day challenges. Each of the writers nominated for this year’s [More]

Study on Philosophy Job Market Underway

A team of researchers is conducting a study of the job market in academic philosophy and is currently seeking participants. Charles Lassiter (philosophy, Gonzaga University), Shane Wilkins (philosophy, USDA), and Sarah Arpin (psychology, Gonzaga University) write in with the following description and request: If you are planning to apply for academic jobs this year, we hope you’ll consider participating in our study “The Philosophy Job Market: Applicant Profiles and CV Review.”  Our aim in this first phase is to get a picture of job market applicants: what journals are they publishing in (if at all)? for how many classes are they the instructor of record (if at all)? There has been, as far as we know, no systematic attempt to collect information about people going into the job market. In the second phase of this study, we will the collected information to randomly generate CVs and investigate the behavior of potential search committee members in reviewing them. In consultation with the Gonzaga University IRB, it was determined that IRB approval was not needed for this phase project. IRB approval will be obtained for the second phase. Nonetheless, all responses will be kept private and information secured on the hard drives of the investigators. The survey should take about 10 minutes to complete. Participants will be entered into a drawing for two $25 Amazon gift cards. If you are willing to participate, you can find the survey here. Please email Charles [More]

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