Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Schechter from WUSTL to Indiana

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Elizabeth Schecter, previously in the Department of Philosophy and the Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology Program at Washington University in St. Louis, is now associate professor in the Department of Philosophy and the Cognitive Science Program at Indiana University, Bloomington. Professor Schechter works on psychological unity and its connection to questions about personal identity, self-knowledge, the unity of consciousness, the nature of belief, and related matters. Her book, Self-Consciousness and ‘Split’ Brains: The Mind’s I, came out last year. You can learn more about her work here. The post Schechter from WUSTL to Indiana appeared first on Daily Nous.

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News source: Daily Nous

Mental Illness & Gun Violence

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It seems a matter of common sense to think that a mass shooter must have “something wrong” with them. Well-adjusted, moral people do not engage in mass murder. But are mass shooters mentally ill? Mental illness is a medical matter, not a matter for common sense pop psychology to resolve. Image Credit Looked at in strict medical terms, mentally ill people do not make up the majority of mass shooters and about 3% of violent criminals are mentally ill. The mentally ill are more likely to be victims of violence rather than perpetrators. Violence on the part of the mentally ill tends to be self-directed rather than directed at others. Self-injury is certainly a matter of concern, but mass shootings and gun violence are not, if one looks at the data, primarily a mental health issue. While the mentally ill commit some gun violence, focusing on mental illness as a primary means to reduce gun violence would be an error—except to address cases of self-harm. It could be objected that the definition of mental illness used above is too narrow—engaging in a mass shooting is clear evidence of mental illness since a sane person would not do this. While this does have some appeal, expanding the scope of mental illness to automatically include those who engage in mass shootings as mentally ill would be problematic. One obvious concern is that soldiers and police who have engaged in shootings with multiple casualties would thus be classified as mentally ill. In war, soldiers regularly kill large numbers of people, including the innocent and unarmed. Yet they are not classified as mentally ill simply because they use violence as a tool to achieve their ends (or the ends of others). It could be countered that soldiers and the police (usually) use violence legally and rationally while mass shooters and people engaging in other gun violence do not. While it is true that mass shootings and gun violence are illegal, mass shooters do often act from grievances. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

What Do We Know? A Quantum Perspective

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Nowhere does science meet philosophy more profoundly than in quantum physics. Intellectual excitement, and sometimes also frustration, is tangible in the thriving debates about what our best physics is telling us about the world. Much publicised conceptions of the 'many worlds' and 'pilot waves' of quantum physics represent radically different ways of making sense of the theoretical framework that revolutionised 20th century science, and there is no shortage of alternative ideas. It is undeniable that central notions of quantum theory — superposition, entanglement, spin, and the like — capture strange features of the physical world. But which features exactly? Many old controversies surrounding this question are still fiercely debated, fuelled by often unacknowledged presuppositions that are as much philosophical as they are scientific. The unabating uncertainty about what exactly quantum physics is telling us about the world also raises an important issue about the very nature of phys...

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News source: iai News RSS feed

Barry Stroud (1935-2019) (updated)

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Barry Stroud, professor emeritus of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, died last week. Professor Stroud was known for his work in epistemology and metaphysics, particularly on philosophical skepticism, as well as on Hume and other figures in the history of philosophy. Stroud received his Ph.D. from Harvard University and his undergraduate degree from the University of Toronto. He took up an assistant professorship at UC Berkeley at 1961, retiring in 2016 as the Willis S. and Marion Slusser Professor of Philosophy. UPDATE: “His body of work, his influence on generations of students, his imprint on the character of our department, the example that he set of the purest philosophical inquiry—all of it is beyond reckoning” — from a brief memorial notice posted at the UC Berkeley Department of Philosophy site. UPDATE (8/19/19): “Rather than taking it for granted that we understand what philosophical problems are and so can set ourselves to the task of solving them, Stroud repeatedly called attention to the possibility that philosophers lack a proper understanding of what we ourselves are doing” — from a philosophical obituary for Barry Stroud by John Schwenkler (Florida State) at 3 Quarks Daily. The post Barry Stroud (1935-2019) (updated) appeared first on Daily Nous.

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News source: Daily Nous

A Moral Duty to Share Data? AI and the Data Free Rider Problem

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Image taken from Roche et al 2014A lot of the contemporary debate around digital surveillance and data-mining focuses on privacy. This is for good reason. Mass digital surveillance impinges on the right to privacy. There are significant asymmetries of power between the companies and governments that utilise mass surveillance and the individuals affected by it. Hence, it is important to introduce legal safeguards that allow ordinary individuals to ensure that their rights are not eroded by the digital superpowers. This is, in effect, the ethos underlying the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).But is this always a good thing? I have encountered a number of AI enthusiasts who lament this fixation on privacy and data protection. Their worry seems to be this: Modern AI systems depend on massive amounts of data in order to be effective. If they don’t get the data, they cannot learn and develop the pattern-matching abilities that they need in order to work. This means that we need mass data collection in order to unlock the potential benefits of AI. If the pendulum swings too far in favour of privacy and data protection, the worry is that we will never realise these benefits.Now, I am pretty sure that this is not a serious practical worry just yet. There is still plenty of data being collected even with the protections of the GDPR and there are also plenty of jurisdictions around the world where individuals are not so well protected against the depredations of digital surveillance. So it’s not clear that AI is being held back right now by the lack of data. Still, the objection is an interesting one because it suggests that (a) if there is a sufficiently beneficial use case for AI and (b) if the development of that form of AI relies on mass data collection then (c) there might be some reason to think that individuals ought to share their data with AI developers. This doesn’t mean they should be legally obliged to do so, but perhaps we might think there is a. . .

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News source: Philosophical Disquisitions

The Limits of Blame: Rethinking Punishment and Responsibility

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2019.08.19 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Erin I. Kelly, The Limits of Blame: Rethinking Punishment and Responsibility, Harvard University Press, 2018, 229pp., $35.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780674980778. Reviewed by Christopher Heath Wellman, Washington University in St. Louis This book offers a comprehensive challenge to the retributivist conviction that our criminal legal institutions are justified because they mete out the suffering deserved by morally blameworthy wrongdoers. Erin I. Kelly does not merely contend that retributivists cannot justify anything like our existing penal practices, she offers subtle and sophisticated arguments of moral and political philosophy in defense of her striking conclusion that our inclination to blame should play no part in criminal law. To begin, it is worth noting why retributivism is so attractive. Punishment is typically reserved for those who are duly convicted of committing a bad act (actus reus) with a guilty mind (mens rea). If one did nothing wrong, or if one's wrongdoing was entirely excused, then... Read More

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News source: Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews // News

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