Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Announcement: Graduate Epistemology Conference

The Philosophy Departments of Northwestern and Notre Dame are proud to announce the program for the second annual Notre Dame-Northwestern Graduate Epistemology Conference, taking place on the campus of Notre Dame on Friday and Saturday April 14-15.  The Keynote speaker is Ernie Sosa, Board of Governors Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University.  There will be a special section of the conference devoted to the epistemology of disagreement, including a roundtable discussion on the topic.

New Plantinga Fellow Announced

Baylor University’s Bob Roberts as named as Notre Dame University’s Plantinga Fellow in the Center for Philosophy of Religion. Roberts received his Ph.D. from Yale and specializes in ethics (especially virtues), Kierkegaard, emotion theory, moral psychology, and epistemology. His books include:

Emotions: An Essay in Aid of Moral Psychology, Cambridge University Press (2003)

Intellectual Virtues: An Essay in Regulative Epistemology (Advances in Cognitive Models & Arch), with Jay Wood (Clarendon Press, 2007)

See here for more information

Lizzy Fricker to Visit Northwestern

The Northwestern Philosophy Department is delighted to announce the events that will take place during the two weeks (April 4-15) that Lizzie Fricker (Oxford) will be visiting Northwestern as Kreeger-Wolf Distinguished Visiting Professor.  In addition to giving several general philosophy talks talks Professor Fricker will be leading several discussions on her book manuscript on the epistemology of testimony.  The events are open to visitors; if you find yourself in the Chicagoland area and would like to attend, you are welcome to do so.  For those who would like more information, contact Sandford Goldberg at

Born Today: G.E.M. Anscombe


“The breadth of her work is impressive. She was systematic in her thinking, seeing and developing connections between metaphysics, moral psychology, and ethics that exhibited not simply a grasp of one particular problem, but a world view. Her legacy is one of the broadest and deepest left by a 20th century philosopher.” – Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

  • Cambridge philosopher who occupied the Chair formerly held by Wittgenstein.
  • Married philosopher Peter Geach.
  • She was known as a fierce debater.
  • In 1956, publicly opposed the decision of Oxford University to award an honorary degree to Harry Truman for his decision to use of atomic weapons against Japan.
  • She opposed contraception.
  • Influenced by Wittgenstein particularly in her views on metaphysics
  • Most influential on her works on causation. She challenged Hume's view and established a trend towards probabilistic views of causality.
  • Her book Intention (on intentionality) is considered a classic of twentieth century philosophy.
  • Famously challenged Oxford don C.S. Lewis' argument in chapter 3 of his book Miracles at a meeting of the Socratic Club. Her challenge was so formidable, that Lewis allegedly became so upset by the argument that he rewrote chapter 3 for the paper version of his book to account for Anscombe's argument.

Today’s quote: “Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops. Uh, depending on the breaks.” – General Turgidson (Dr. Strangelove)

Born Today: Maurice Merleau-Ponty


Mind as that for which any world is a world. (Hunnex)

  • Co-editor of Les temps modernes with Sartre.
  • He asserted in a lecture given at Geneva that the 20th century established the marginalization of dualism by viewing mind as always associated with the body but is expressed through being a subject. In this he both agrees and disagrees with Sartre.
  • He rejected a purely physical reduction of the mind and was concerned to establish the body as both physical and spiritual
  • His work bears a similarity to Ryle's position in The Concept of Mind and wanted to establish the body as the locus of subjectivity.
  • The subject is a physical being who is in "dialogue" with the world and therefore cannot be reduced to a machine.
  • Sartre is in the tradition of modern existentialism whereas MP is in the tradition of modern phenomenology.

Today’s quote: “Human life [is] through and through mental and corporeal, always based upon the body and always (even in its most carnal modes) interested in relationships between persons.”

Born Today: Joseph Priestly


Materialist who held to what Copleston calls an “associationist psychology” which emphasized the connection between physical psychical events. Priestly got into a debate with Richard Price over free will and the immateriality of the soul. He became a Unitarian and is most famous for his work in chemistry and physics as well as political philosophy.

Today’s quote: “Will is nothing more than a particular case of the general doctrine of association of ideas, and therefore a perfectly mechanical thing.”

The Character Project

The Character Project at Wake Forest University is very excited to launch its funding competition entitled “New Frontiers in the Philosophy of Character.” This $300,000 RFP is aimed at work in philosophy on the topic of character, and proposals can request between $40,000 and $100,000 for projects not to exceed one year in duration. We hope to make between 5-6 awards. A residential incentive of $6,000 for one semester or $12,000 for an academic year will be offered to philosophy RFP winners who are willing to move to Wake Forest University during the award period, and this stipend would not count as part of the research funding request. A willingness to move will not be taken into account when evaluating proposals.

Since work here will primarily be theoretical, the funding is aimed at semester or yearlong sabbatical research leave projects involving a book manuscript or series of substantive articles on character.

This competition is supported by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

For more details, please visit

The Sixth Cologne Summer School in Philosophy

“Relying on Others: New Perspectives in Social Epistemology”

The sessional will take place in Cologne, September 7-10, 2011. The special guest this year will be Sanford Goldberg (Northwestern University). The main focus is the intersection of epistemology, philosophy of mind and philosophy of language. We will discuss foundational issues (e.g., the relationship between epistemic and semantic externalism) as well as more specialized “hot” issues in social epistemology: the division of epistemic labour, testimony, group epistemology, disagreement, various ways in which others can be epistemically significant for us, and socially extended methods of belief-formation. The Summer School is mainly aimed at professional philosophers and advanced graduate students.

Attendance is free, but limited to 50 participants – on the basis of motivation and qualification. Online application is possible through April 30. Please add a short letter of application where you briefly explain your academic background and your main motivation for participating in the Summer School. Soon after the deadline we will inform you about the success of your application.

Please send your online application to the following email address:

For more information you may visit their website:

Interview with C. Stephen Evans: Kierkegaard, Natural Signs and Knowledge of God

I’ve been studying existentialist philosophy to try to better understand contemporary religion in the West. Works by philosopher C. Stephen Evans have been an immense help in developing my series on faith and reason. Dr. Evans work on Kierkegaard is among the best currently in print and his analysis of Kierkegaard’s thought in light of modern Christianity sheds a great deal of light on the subject. In my series, I’ve been exploring what seems to me to be a tension between a faith that is established on an existentialist leap of faith and the subsequent desire to ground that same faith on reason and evidence. Dr. Evans deals with these topics head on.

He was kind enough to take time with Philosophy News to talk about his work and how Kierkegaard can inform a contemporary understanding of faith. In his most recent book, Natural Signs and Knowledge of God, Dr. Evans explores the use of signs as pointers to God in contemporary philosophical treatments of religious knowledge and as the basis of a response to the “new atheism.” He believes that the classical philosophical arguments for God do in fact function as positive evidence for his existence even in light of atheistic and evolutionary critiques of religious belief. In the interview that follows, I asked Dr. Evans why he believes this and what he thinks Kierkegaard has to say to believers today.

Professor Evans (Ph.D. Yale) is University Professor of Philosophy and Humanities at Baylor University. He has authored or edited over 20 books, many on Kierkegaard and existentialism. He was the editor for many years of Søren Kierkegaard Newsletter, is on the Board of Editorial Consultants for the journal Faith and Philosophy, and is contributing editor of Journal of Psychology and Theology. A link to his full CV is below.

I’m grateful to Dr. Evans for spending time corresponding with me on this subject and for his thoughtful dialogue.

Philosophy News Service: For people not familiar with your work, can you summarize any central themes in your writing particularly as they concern existentialist thought? What do you like to spend your time thinking about?

C. Stephen Evans: My work is wide-ranging, and I have written on issues in the philosophy of the person, in philosophical theology and philosophy of religion generally, as well as Kierkegaard. Though Kierkegaard is usually regarded as the father of existentialism, in my work I try to show how misleading that can be, particularly if we read Kierkegaard through the eyes of later writers such as Sartre and Camus.

All that being said, I think you can say that the following are issues that have been central to much of my work: How does a human being become a genuine or authentic self? and How is moral and religious truth known? I see these two questions as connected in the following way: Many writers think the problem of knowing religious truth is primarily an evidential problem. For them the question is whether we have enough good evidence. For Kierkegaard (and I agree with him here) the main problem lies not in the evidence but in the knower. How do we become the kinds of people who are capable of understanding and grasping the truth?


Conference: Future of Creation Order

Christian Philosophy International Conference, 16 - 19 August 2011, VU University Amsterdam

People of all times have experienced the world of nature as expressing an overwhelming beauty, coherence and order. In the great monotheistic traditions this beauty, coherence and order have been related to the will or nature of a Creator. This idea has come under considerable pressure from different directions: evolutionary theory with its emphasis on the deep contingency of the living world, social science and in particular historicist and postmodernist strands in it, and philosophical critiques inspired by Marxism, Nietzschean perspectivism, existentialism, critical theory, social constructivism, and postmodernism have all served to subvert traditional conceptions of order.

The challenge for this ecumenical, interdisciplinary, and international conference is to explore whether there is room, still, for a distinction between something like an ontological affirmation of pre-given norms and ordering principles in various domains, while also acknowledging the particularity and 'locatedness' of our access to those norms and principles. Key ideas in this dialogue will be order, law, structure, principle, system, necessity, chance, change and emergence. The goal of the conference is to delve deeper into the current condition of the philosophical concept of (creation) order, and to assess its future trajectories and prospects.

Keynote speakers include:

  • Nicholas Wolterstorff (Yale)
  • Eleonore Stump (St. Louis)
  • C. Stephen Evans (Baylor)
  • Gordon Graham (Princeton Theological Seminary)
  • Denis Alexander (Cambridge)
  • William Desmond (Leuven)
  • Roy Clouser (College of New Jersey)
  • Lambert Zuidervaart (ICS Toronto)
  • Jonathan Chaplin (Cambridge)
  • René van Woudenberg (VU)
  • Gerrit Glas (VU)
  • Henk Geertsema (VU)

Call for papers

In addition to the plenary sessions, there will be further parallel workshop sessions for contributed papers. We cordially invite thinkers from all different philosophical and scientific traditions to submit a 500 word abstract on any topic relevant to the conference theme. Please prepare your abstract for anonymous review. Abstracts may be submitted by e-mail (as plain text, MS Word, Pages, or pdf files) to or by regular mail (consult for the address).

Abstracts should be submitted to the conference organizers by March 31st, 2011. Notification of acceptance / rejection: April 15th, 2011.

Practical details

Session length for contributed papers will be 30 minutes including question time. We encourage authors to prepare papers that take no longer than 20 minutes to present so as to leave suitable time for questions and discussion afterwards.

Further information and registration

For all further details, online registration, and payment, please visit Feel free to contact us with questions about the conference at

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