Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

The Ambitious Academic: A Moral Evaluation

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"Ambition makes you look pretty ugly”(Radiohead, Paranoid Android)In Act 1, Scene VII of Macbeth, Shakespeare acknowledges the dark side of ambition. Having earlier received a prophecy from a trio of witches promising that he would ‘be king hereafter’, Macbeth, with some prompting from his wife, has resolved to kill the current king (Duncan) and take the throne for himself. But then he gets cold feet. In a poignant soliloquy he notes that he has no real reason to kill Duncan. Duncan has been a wise and generally good king. The only thing spurring Macbeth to do the deed is his own insatiable ambition:I have no spurTo prick the sides of my intent but onlyVaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself And falls on the other.(Macbeth, Act 1, Scene VII, lines 27-29)Despite this, Macbeth ultimately succumbs to his ambition, kills Duncan, and reigns Scotland with increasing despotism and cruelty. His downfall is a warning to us all. It suggests that ambition is often the root of moral collapse.I have a confession to make. I am deeply suspicious of ambition. When I think of ambitious people, my mind is instantly drawn to Shakespearean examples like Macbeth and Richard II: to people who let their own drive for success cloud their moral judgment. But I appreciate that there is an irony to this. I am often accused (though ‘accusation’ might be too strong) of being ambitious. People perceive my frequent writing and publication, and other scholarly activities, as evidence of some deep-seated ambition. I often tell these people that I don’t think of myself as especially ambitious. In support of this, I point out that I have frequently turned down opportunities for raising my profile, including higher status jobs, and more money. Surely that’s the opposite of ambition?Whatever about my own case, I find that ambition is viewed with ambivalence among my academic colleagues. When they speak of ambition they speak with forked tongues. They comment about the ambition of their peers. . .

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News source: Philosophical Disquisitions

The Character Gap: How Good Are We?

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2019.03.02 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Christian B. Miller, The Character Gap: How Good Are We?, Oxford University Press, 2018, 276pp., $21.95 (hbk), ISBN 9780190264222. Reviewed by Alexandra Plakias, Hamilton College Christian Miller has written an accessible, engaging introduction to the moral psychology of virtue and vice. The book is part of OUP's 'Philosophy in Action' series, which the publisher describes as "small books about big ideas." It's not aimed at scholars, but would be useful for beginning students or for a general audience wishing to learn more about why we act the way we do, and how we can become better. The book is divided into three sections: "What is Character and Why is it Important?", "What Does Our Character Actually Look Like Today?", and "What Can We Do to Improve Our Characters?". Miller begins the first chapter with a discussion of character, virtue, and... Read More

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News source: Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews // News

Ernst Mach

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[Revised entry by Paul Pojman on March 3, 2019. Changes to: Bibliography] Ernst Mach (February 18, 1838 - February 19, 1916) made major contributions to physics, philosophy, and physiological psychology. In physics, the speed of sound bears his name, as he was the first to systematically study super-sonic motion. He also made important contributions to understanding the Doppler effect. His critique of Newtonian ideas of absolute space and time were an inspiration to the young Einstein, who credited Mach as being the...

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News source: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Where did the phrase “yeah no” come from?

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I’ve noticed myself saying “yeah no.” The expression came up in a class one day, when I had asked students to bring in examples of language variation. One student suggested “yeah no” as an example of not-quite standard California English. California, it seems, gets the credit or blame for everything. But “yeah no” is not California English and it’s not just something young people say. It’s been around for a while and is used by males and females, young and old. I began to notice “yeah no” in the speech of others and soon in my own speech as well. Perhaps I had been using it all along and was just now becoming more aware of it. When I mentioned her use of “yeah no” to a Victorianist colleague, she suggested the usage might have come from a BBC character on the show “Little Britain”, which ran on television from 2003 to 2005. The character Vicky Pollard is a teen slacker stereotype, prone to saying “Yeah but no but yeah but…”. The catchphrase is meant to convey inarticulateness. And the Urban Dictionary gives no less than six “definitions” of “Yeah no” including this one: “An annoying and obnoxious phrase uttered by the simple minded, who don’t think before they speak.” Yeah no. It is wrong to think of “yeah no” as an oxymoron and a sign of inarticulate confusion. “Yeah no” is what linguists call a discourse marker. Discourse markers are usually short and sometime vague-seeming parts of a sentence which serve semantic, expressive, and practical functions in speech. They can indicate assent or dissent (or sometimes both). They can indicate attention, sarcasm, hedging, self-effacement, or face-saving. It is wrong to think of “yeah no” as an oxymoron and a sign of inarticulate confusion. Examples of “yeah no” abound and there is quite a bit of linguistic commentary, including posts by Stephen Dodson on his Language Hat blog, by Mark Liberman on the Language Log, and by Ben Yagoda in The Chronicle of Higher Education Lingua Franca. . .

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News source: Linguistics – OUPblog

IFL2: Chapters on propositional natural deduction

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Thanks to the kindness of strangers — not to mention some friends and relations (special thanks to The Daughter) — I have an improved version of the four chapters on propositional natural deduction for IFL2. Here they are. (Exercises to be added, which will fill some gaps, like noting the equivalence of DN and Classical Reductio, given the other rules, or dealing with biconditionals.) One advantage about basing an intro logic book on trees (as in IFL1) is that people don’t get very exercised about how a tree system should be developed. By contrast, people get decidedly heated about the best form of natural deduction to adopt. So I’m probably not going to satisfy even half of those who urged me to go for natural deduction in the second edition. But there’s no pleasing everyone! What I propose is a standard enough Fitch-style system, with one deviation — the v-Elim rule is a Fitchian version of the liberalized rule recommended for Gentzen systems by Neil Tennant. That way we get disjunctive syllogism without relying on explosion. Which has always seemed more “natural” to me. All comments (other than variants on “you have written the wrong book!”) and all corrections will of course be very gratefully received, as always.   The post IFL2: Chapters on propositional natural deduction appeared first on Logic Matters.

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News source: Logic Matters

Justus Lipsius

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[Revised entry by Jan Papy on March 1, 2019. Changes to: Bibliography] The humanist and classical scholar Justus Lipsius (Joost Lips) (1547 - 1606), described by his admiring correspondent Michel de Montaigne as one of the most learned men of his day (Essays II.12), was the founding father of Neostoicism, a key component of European thought in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. His famous and widely read Stoic dialogue De constantia was...

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News source: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

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