Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Another Mind-Body Problem: A History of Racial Non-Being

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2019.03.25 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews John Harfouch, Another Mind-Body Problem: A History of Racial Non-Being, SUNY Press, 2018, 232pp., $85.00 (hbk), IBSN 9781438469959. Reviewed by Julie Walsh, Wellesley College At the outset of this book, John Harfouch tells his reader that he intends for his study to "engage and overturn the philosophy of mind" (xxxii). He aims to do this by excavating the "historical roots of a mind-body problem," which reveals another mind-body problem, a problem of, as Harfouch puts it, racial non-being (xxxiii). This excavation, in his view, displaces the traditional mind-body problem typically associated with René Descartes, which, as a result, displaces the traditional solutions to and the traditional experts of the Cartesian problem, as well as the resources that those experts command. In my view, he succeeds in this aim. The book's most obvious audience includes Descartes scholars, historians of philosophy... Read More

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News source: Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews // News

Hobbes vs Rousseau: Are We Inherently Evil or Good?

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In 1651, Thomas Hobbes famously wrote that life in the state of nature – that is, our natural condition outside the authority of a political state – is ‘solitary, poore, nasty brutish, and short.’ Just over a century later, Jean-Jacques Rousseau countered that human nature is essentially good, and that we could have lived peaceful and happy lives well before the development of anything like the modern state. At first glance, then, Hobbes and Rousseau represent opposing poles in answer to one of the age-old questions of human nature: are we naturally good or evil? In fact, their actual positions are both more complicated and interesting than this stark dichotomy suggests. But why, if at all, should we even think about human nature in these terms, and what can returning to this philosophical debate tell us about how to evaluate the political world we inhabit today?The question of whether humans are inherently good or evil might seem like a throwback to theological controversies about Ori...

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Kant and the Science of Logic: A Historical and Philosophical Reconstruction

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2019.03.24 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Huaping Lu-Adler, Kant and the Science of Logic: A Historical and Philosophical Reconstruction, Oxford University Press, 2018, 244pp., $74.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780190907136. Reviewed by Jill Vance Buroker, California State University, San Bernardino In this book, Huaping Lu-Adler provides a detailed analysis of Kant's view that logic is a science, that is, a formal system of a priori rules of thought. This characterization is not surprising, but the complexity underlying it is. To spell this out, she identifies four key questions to be answered. First, is logic a) a science, b) an instrument or organon for acquiring knowledge, c) a canon or standard for assessing reasoning, or d) some combination of these? Second, if logic is a science, what is its subject matter distinguishing it from other sciences? Third, if logic is necessary to all philosophy, on what principles is it based and how are they justified? And fourth, if logic is both... Read More

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News source: Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews // News

A Companion to Ricoeur's Freedom and Nature

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2019.03.23 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Scott Davidson (ed.), A Companion to Ricoeur's Freedom and Nature, Lexington, 2018, 233pp., $100.00 (hbk), ISBN 9781498578882. Reviewed by Pol G. Vandevelde, Marquette University This collection of twelve essays is a welcome and successful attempt to bring back to light one of Paul Ricoeur’s first books, Freedom and Nature, a long (464 pages) and difficult one. It was not Ricoeur’s first monograph. He had published Karl Jaspers et la philosophie de l’existence (co-authored with Mikel Dufrenne) in 1947 and Gabriel Marcel et Karl Jaspers: Philosophie du mystère et philosophie du paradoxe in 1948. Yet, Freedom and Nature, published in 1950, is the first important, consistent effort by Ricoeur to present his own views in a systematic way. The book was intended as the first volume of a larger project on a “Philosophy of the Will.” The French title of this first volume is Philosophie... Read More

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News source: Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews // News

Informing committees of job offers

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In our most recent "how can we help you?" thread, a reader writes in: I've just been offered a VAP at Institution X, where a decision is expected of me within about two weeks. However, I recently interviewed for a VAP at Institution Y, where I was told that they'd make a decision in about a month. I strongly prefer the position at Institution Y. How do I diplomatically reach out to Y in a way that might speed up their timetable, but not in a way that seems pushy or likely to tell me to PFO? Maybe I'm wrong, but this seems to me pretty straightforward. Just write a polite email informing the search chair you have a job offer (without mentioning who the offer is from), maybe mention that you are still very interested in their job, and ask them what the time-frame of their search looks like. At that point the ball is in their court. If they are seriously considering you as a candidate but don't want to lose you, then they will make something happen. If not, then not: they'll give you a polite PFO and that's that. I don't see any other real options here. Finally, for what it's worth, I suspect a search committee is less likely to speed up its timetable for a VAP position--simply because VAPs are temporary positions (whereas there is probably much greater incentive to hire the committee's top choice in a TT job). But these are just my thoughts. What are yours, particularly those of you who have served on search committees or engaged in this kind of negotiating as a candidate?

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News source: The Philosophers' Cocoon

Meritocracy Is Good But We Don't Have It

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The most surprising thing about the news that wealthy parents are bribing their children’s way into elite colleges was the outrage that it produced. After all, revelations of public corruption and depravity are now regular occurrences, and college admissions have rarely been considered a model of fairness.  Why so much upset over so little (relative) wrongdoing?The answer, I think, is that these events implicate the meritocratic ideal upon which the United States was founded, and which people still endorse.  Already we are being told, variously, that it all goes to show that meritocracy is an “illusion” or a “myth”; or maybe that meritocracy is functioning well; or that it is an “historically awful idea”; and more.  Alas, none of these authors take the time to say what they mean by “meritocracy”, making the claims hard to evaluate.  So I’d like to take a moment to explain precisely what a meritocracy is before drawing what I regard as the important moral lessons from the scandal.A meri...

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