Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Bird from KCL to Cambridge’s Russell Professorship

Alexander Bird, currently the Peter Sowerby Professor of Philosophy and Medicine at King’s College, London (KCL), has been named as the next Bertrand Russell Professor of Philosophy at Cambridge University.  Professor Bird, who moved to KCL in 2018, works in philosophy of science, the philosophy and history of medicine, metaphysics, and epistemology. He new book, Knowing Science, is forthcoming with Oxford University Press.  You can learn more about Professor Bird’s research here. The Russell Professorship was created in 1896. It is currently held by Huw Price, who is reportedly retiring in September. The previous Russell Professors were: Simon Blackburn (2001-2011), D. H. Mellor (1986-99), Elizabeth Anscombe (1970-86), John Wisdom (1952-68), G. H. von Wright (1948-51), Ludwig Wittgenstein (1939-47), G. E. Moore (1925-39), and James Ward (1896-1925). Professor Bird is also a composer, and some of his musical works are listed here. Here is his 2018 Movement for Wind Quintet:   The post Bird from KCL to Cambridge’s Russell Professorship appeared first on Daily [More]

Intuitions, Common Sense, and “Earning the Right” to Judgments about Philosophy

“Intuitions and common sense are not, I claim, a good basis on which to reach philosophical conclusions.” Those are the words of Michael Della Rocca (Yale) in a recent interview at 3:16AM. Professor Della Rocca has done a lot of work on the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR), “the principle according to which there are no brute facts that obtain or no things that exist without an explanation. That is, each thing or each fact has an explanation,” and much of the interview concerns what he takes to be its implications, particularly a kind of Parmenidean monism. He says: This PSR-driven rejection of distinctions and of relations threatens some of what I call the struts of analytical philosophy: the method of intuition, realism, and discreteness. “The method of intuition” is my catch-all term for the method whereby analytical philosophers (especially) consult a magical faculty of intuition or invoke common sense, however that much abused term is understood. (It’s important to note that the appeal to common sense and the appeal to intuition are not the same). Realism is a view according to which the world is in general not dependent on our ways of thinking about it. This is roughly what Ted Sider calls “knee-jerk realism.” Discreteness is the view that reality consists of loose and separate items. And the PSR-driven monism or Parmenideanism with regard to meaning also brings down the distinction between philosophy and the study of its history. The [More]

Philosophy Twitter, YouTube, & Podcasts Over The Past Decade (guest post by Kelly Truelove)

The following is a guest post by Kelly Truelove, who keeps an eye on social media trends for a few academic disciplines at his site, TrueSciPhi. Philosophy Twitter, YouTube, & Podcasts Over The Past Decade by Kelly Truelove Social media grew enormously in the 2010s. This post presents a small assortment of statistics regarding philosophy in the contexts of Twitter, YouTube, and podcasting over the decade. Twitter For several years, I’ve maintained a list of philosophers who have over 1,000 followers (see earlier post for background). The number of accounts on the list has grown steadily, with the rate of additions noticeably increasing in 2019. Interestingly, the number of accounts with over 10,000 followers today is near the number with over 1,000 followers seven years ago. In short, 10K is the new 1K. How long does it take to reach 1,000 followers, and how has this changed? Because follower growth generally depends on tweeting activity, and because activity varies among individuals, it is useful to answer in terms of tweet count as opposed to time. The median number of tweets by philosophers at the point of passing 1,000 followers has varied between 2,000 and 4,000 since 2013, holding steady at the lower end of that range the last few years. The median tweet count upon reaching 10,000 followers shows more variation, bouncing between 5,000 and 15,000, but this is based on data from far fewer accounts (under a dozen per year). In any event, 10K usually arrives at [More]

How Familiarity with Philosophy Impacts Moral Decision Making

Stephanie Brown, an undergraduate at Williams College majoring in philosophy and psychology, is completing a senior thesis on moral psychology, including “how familiarity with philosophy impacts moral decision making,” and she is seeking responses to a brief survey from people with Ph.D.s in philosophy. Ms. Brown writes: This survey takes 3-5 minutes, and completing the survey provides you with a 5% chance of winning a 100 dollar Amazon gift card. We would greatly appreciate your help by participating in this survey, as I am sure you can understand how difficult it is to find individuals with philosophical expertise.  She is hoping to get 100 respondents. We can do that, no? Here is the link to the survey. The post How Familiarity with Philosophy Impacts Moral Decision Making appeared first on Daily [More]

The Philosophy Museum (guest post by Anna Ichino)

The following is a guest post by Anna Ichino, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Milan. A version of it first appeared at the blog, Imperfect Cognitions. The Philosophy Museum by Anna Ichino Have you ever visited a Philosophy Museum? I bet not. Apparently, though there have been some philosophy-related museum exhibits and temporary installations, there aren’t any permanent philosophy museums in the world. So my colleagues and I in the Philosophy Department of the University of Milan have decided that it is time to build the first one. In this post, I’ll tell you about this exciting project. What we had in mind was not an historically-minded museum collecting relics about the lives and works of important philosophers, but something more dynamic and interactive—built on the model of the best science museums—where philosophical problems and theories become intuitively accessible through a variety of games, activities, experiments, aesthetic experiences, and other such things. Easier to say than to do, no doubt. It’s an ambitious project, and to put it into action we had to proceed gradually. We started with a temporary exhibition, which took place in our University from November 5th to 21st. There, we created the first two actual halls of what we hope will soon become a permanent museum, together with a third ‘programmatic’ hall where we presented the plan for what still needs to be done. Thanks to a generous funding awarded to our Department as a [More]

Scholars Object to Publication of Paper Defending Race Science

Scholars are objecting to the decision of the editors of the journal, Philosophical Psychology, to publish an article that calls for “free inquiry” into the heredited genetic bases of group differences on IQ tests. The article, “Research on group differences in intelligence: A defense of free inquiry,” is by Nathan Cofnas, a graduate student in philosophy at the University of Oxford. Here’s its abstract: In a very short time, it is likely that we will identify many of the genetic variants underlying individual differences in intelligence. We should be prepared for the possibility that these variants are not distributed identically among all geographic populations, and that this explains some of the phenotypic differences in measured intelligence among groups. However, some philosophers and scientists believe that we should refrain from conducting research that might demonstrate the (partly) genetic origin of group differences in IQ. Many scholars view academic interest in this topic as inherently morally suspect or even racist. The majority of philosophers and social scientists take it for granted that all population differences in intelligence are due to environmental factors. The present paper argues that the widespread practice of ignoring or rejecting research on intelligence differences can have unintended negative consequences. Social policies predicated on environmentalist theories of group differences may fail to achieve their aims. [More]

Jacobson from Michigan to Colorado

Daniel Jacobson, currently professor of philosophy at the University of Michigan, will be moving to the University of Colorado, Boulder. At Colorado, Dr. Jacobson will be a tenured professor in the Department of Philosophy and the holder of the Benson Chair, a position endowed through the Bruce Benson Center for the Study of Western Civilization. He will also serve as the director of the Benson Center. Dr. Jacobson is known for his work in ethics, moral psychology, aesthetics, and the moral and political philosophy of John Stuart Mill. He starts at Colorado in Fall, 2020. The post Jacobson from Michigan to Colorado appeared first on Daily [More]

A Philosopher Takes on Evolutionary Psychology

“Evolutionary psychological inferences commonly fail to satisfy reasonable epistemic criteria.” The failures are so significant that good evolutionary psychology may not be possible.  So argues Subrena Smith, a philosopher at the University of New Hampshire. Her paper, “Is Evolutionary Psychology Possible?“, was recently published in Biological Theory. In it, she argues that the popular research program of evolutionary psychology is methodologically unsound. Dr. Smith also wrote a shorter version of the argument that was published at The Evolution Institute. In it, she first presents a description of the aims of evolutionary psychology: The mandate of evolutionary psychology is to give true evolutionary explanations for contemporary human behavior. Evolutionary psychologists believe that many of our behaviors in the present are caused by psychological mechanisms that operate today as they did in the past. Each mechanism was selected for its specific fitness-enhancing effects, and each of them is responsive only to the kinds of inputs for which it is an adaptation. To achieve the aims of evolutionary psychology, researchers “need to show that particular kinds of behavior are underwritten by particular mechanisms.” More specifically, evolutionary psychology confronts what Dr. Smith calls “the matching problem”: For a present-day psychological trait to be related to an ancestral psychological trait in the way that evolutionary [More]

The problem of consciousness

Many people find consciousness deeply puzzling. It is often described as one of the few remaining problems for science to address that is genuinely deep—perhaps even unsolvable. Indeed, consciousness is thought to present a challenge to the prevailing scientific image of the universe as physical through-and-through. In part this puzzlement arises because people are (at […] The post The problem of consciousness appeared first on OUPblog.         Related StoriesHow to address the enigmas of everyday lifeHilary Putnam on mind and meanings – Philosopher of the MonthWomen on the front lines: Military service, combat and [More]

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