Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

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

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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 at Oxford and Paris, and died in Cologne. He was also the first theologian to defend the theory of Immaculate Conception. The doctrine of Immaculate Conception holds that God preserved the Virgin Mary from the taint of original sin from the moment she was conceived. Although Aristotle’s ideas were prevalent during the turn of the 13th century, he belonged to Franciscan tradition which, as opposed to Aristotle, emphasised the power of faith and will. He was also much influenced by Arabic philosophers, especially Avicenna, with their emphasis on Being as the metaphysical object.Scotus’s approach to philosophy was characterised by rigorous philosophical analysis, meticulous exposition of arguments and its use of technical concepts. Because of his nuanced and technical reasoning, he was referred to as the “subtle doctor.” Notably, Scotus made a distinctive contribution to natural theology in his proofs of God’s existence and the attributes of God. His arguments are both original and highly complex, establishing God as an efficient cause, an ultimate final cause, and a most eminent being, and finally as an “infinite being.” He took up some aspects of Aquinas’s arguments that all our knowledge about God starts from creatures but also presented his own arguments as modifications. Scotus’s univocal concept of being – the idea that words describing the nature of God mean the same thing as they apply to creatures and people – is also arguably his most famous position in this respect. He argued that we can apply certain predicates univocally to God and creatures with exactly the same meaning. This is in opposition. . .

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News source: OUPblog » Philosophy

Einstein’s Philosophy of Science

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[Revised entry by Don A. Howard and Marco Giovanelli on September 13, 2019. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955) is well known as the most prominent physicist of the twentieth century. His contributions to twentieth-century philosophy of science, though of comparable importance, are less well known. Einstein's own philosophy of science is an original synthesis of elements drawn from sources as diverse as neo-Kantianism, conventionalism, and logical empiricism, its distinctive feature being its novel blending of realism with a holist, underdeterminationist form of conventionalism. Of special note is the...

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News source: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Natural Properties

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[New Entry by Cian Dorr on September 13, 2019.] Consider the following pairs of properties. (As is common in the literature on this topic, this entry will use the words 'property' and 'relation' interchangeably. Properties in the usual sense are distinguished as "monadic", and relations in the usual sense as "polyadic".)...

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News source: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Mike’s Free Encounter #11: Shadow Fang Gnolls

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This is the eleventh in an ongoing series aimed to provide the overworked DM with ready-to run encounters. The PCs face off against a pack of Shadow Fang gnolls. The encounter includes: History/Background for the Shadow Fang TribeEncounter guide.New Monsters: Shadow Fang Gnoll, Shadow Guard Gnoll, and Shadow Fang LordColor Maps The companion ZIP file contains: JPEG and Campaign Cartographer versions of the maps (with and without grid).Hero Lab file for the encounter.Word file of the encounter.PDF of the character sheets for all the monsters. Free on DriveThruRPG!

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

André Gallois (1945-2019)

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André Norman Gallois, emeritus professor of philosophy at Syracuse University, died earlier this month. Professor Gallois was known for his work in metaphysics (especially the metaphysics of identity), philosophy of mind, and epistemology. In addition to many articles on these topics, he authored the books The World Without, The Mind Within (Cambridge, 1996), Occasions of Identity: A Study in the Metaphysics of Identity (Oxford, 1998), and The Metaphysics of Identity (Routledge, 2016). Professor Gallois studied philosophy at the University of Sussex and the University of Oxford, before taking up his first teaching position in 1971 at the University of Florida. He then moved to Australia, teaching initially at Monash University and then for many years at the University of Queensland. In 1997 he moved to Keele University, and then to Syracuse in 2002. In a post about him, Eric Schliesser (Amsterdam) writes: “André had firm views about what counts as philosophy that I sometimes thought too traditional. But once an issue was being analyzed, one could not imagine a gentler and more encouraging companion in shared, all-absorbing philosophical inquiry.” You can learn more about Professor Gallois’ work here. The post André Gallois (1945-2019) appeared first on Daily Nous.

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News source: Daily Nous

Are robots like animals? In Defence of the Animal-Robot Analogy

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Via Rochelle Don on FlickrPeople dispute the ontological status of robots. Some insist that they are tools: objects created by humans to perform certain tasks — little more than sophisticated hammers. Some insist that they are more than that: that they are agents with increasing levels autonomy — now occupying some liminal space between object and subject. How can we resolve this dispute?One way to do this is by making analogies. What is it that robots seem to be more like? One popular analogy is the animal-robot analogy: robots, it is claimed, are quite like animals and so we should model our relationships with robots along the lines of the relationships we have with animals.In its abstract form, this analogy is not particularly helpful. ‘Animal’ denotes a broad class. When we say that a robots is like an animal do we mean it is like a sea slug or like a chimpanzee, or something else? Also, even if we agree that a robot is like a particular animal (or sub-group of animals) what significance does this actually have? People disagree about how we ought to treat animals. For example, we think it is acceptable to slaughter and experiment with some, but not others.The most common animal-robot analogies in the literature tend to focus on the similarities between robots and household pets and domesticated animals. This makes sense. These are the kinds of animals with whom we have some kind of social relationships and upon whom we rely for certain tasks to be performed. Consider the sheep dog who is both a family pet and a farmyard helper. Are there not some similarities between it and a companion robot?As seductive as this analogy might be, Deborah Johnson and Mario Verdicchio argue that we should resist it. In their paper “Why robots should not be treated like animals” they accept that there are some similarities between robots and animals (e.g. their ‘otherness’, their assistive capacity, the fact that we anthropomorphise and get attached to them etc.) but also argue. . .

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News source: Philosophical Disquisitions

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