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British Journal for the History of Philosophy Awards Best Article Prize

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The British Journal for the History of Philosophy has announced the recipient of the 2019 Rogers Prize, its annual best article prize. Nicholaos Jones The prize winner is Nicholaos Jones, professor of philosophy at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, for his article, “The Architecture of Fazang’s Six Characteristics,” (volume 27, issue 3). (You can access an ungated version of the paper here). Here’s the abstract of Professor Jones’ article: This paper examines the Huayan teaching of the six characteristics as presented in the Rafter Dialogue from Fazang’s Treatise on the Five Teachings. The goal is to make the teaching accessible to those with minimal training in Buddhist philosophy, and especially for those who aim to engage with the extensive question-and-answer section of the Rafter Dialogue. The method for achieving this goal is threefold: first, contextualizing Fazang’s account of the characteristics with earlier Buddhist attempts to theorize the relationships between wholes and their parts; second, explicating the meaning Fazang likely attributes to each of the six characteristics; third, situating the characteristics as explicated within Fazang’s broader metaphysical framework.  The runner-up for the prize is Jing Huang, a doctoral student at Freie Universität Berlin, for her paper “Did Nietzsche Want His Notes Burned? Some Reflections on the Nachlass Problem” (Vol. 27, no. 6). Here’s the abstract of Ms. Huang’s article: The issue of the use of the Nachlass material has been much debated in Nietzsche scholarship in recent decades. Some insist on the absolute interpretative priority of his published writings over those unpublished and suggest that an extensive engagement with the Nachlass is harmful because it is something Nietzsche rejected. To verify this claim, they appeal to the story of Nietzsche asking his landlord in Sils-Maria to burn some of his notes. Since the notes that were ultimately retrieved are. . .

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News source: Daily Nous

Natural Law and the Nature of Law

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2020.02.16 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Jonathan Crowe, Natural Law and the Nature of Law, Cambridge University Press, 2019, 263pp., $99.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781108498302. Reviewed by Emad H. Atiq, Cornell University Natural law theorists contend that legal and moral normativity are closely linked. Roughly, facts about what we legally ought to do -- what legal duties and permissions persons have -- are partly grounded in facts about what we morally ought to do. Natural law theory confronts a host of challenges. One class of challenges is metaethical. The natural law theorist needs to explain what moral facts are, the grounds in virtue of which they have the content that they have, and how we derive from the moral facts prescriptions for the kind of fine-grained practical dilemmas that arise under law. Critics of natural law theory view the moral domain with considerable suspicion (cf. Austin 1832, Kelsen 1960). The dialectical background invites... Read More

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News source: Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews // News

Am I an Envious Marxist? I: Accusation of Envy

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Image Credit I am, on occasion, critical of certain aspects of capitalism. I am, on occasion, accused of being motivated in these criticisms by two defects of character. The first is being envious. The second is being a Marxist. Or if not red, at least pink. And if not pink, at least a fellow traveler. If these were attacks aimed only at me, they would be of little general interest. However, accusing critics of capitalism of being motivated by envy and/or Marxism is a common tactic and hence worthy of assessment. I will begin with the accusation of envy. One stock attack of those critical of capitalism is to accuse them of being motivated by envy. While this attack is generally not presented as a developed argument, the idea is to refute the criticism by attacking the critic’s motive. That is, their critical claims are false because they are envious of, one assumes, those who are winners under the existing version of capitalism. As should be obvious, this reasoning is fallacious and can be regarded as an ad homimen.  I have addressed this fallacy in the past and decided it was worth naming it. I ended up with Accusation of Envy or Refutation by Envy. This fallacious argument has the following form: Premise 1: Person P makes critical claim C about X. Premise 2: P is accused of envy (typically relating to X). Conclusion: Therefore, claim C is false. This is a fallacy because whether a person is envious or not has no bearing on the truth of the claims they make. Even if a person were entirely motivated by envy, it does not follow that the criticisms they make are thus in error. The following example should nicely illustrate that this “reasoning” is flawed: Sam: “When tyrants oppress their people and commit genocide, they are acting wrongly.” Sally: “Why you are just envious of tyrants. So, you are wrong. They are acting justly and morally.” Another, absurd example, involves math: Cool Joe: “2+2 = 7.” Mathematician Mary: “That is. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

Feminist Perspectives on the Self

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[Revised entry by Ellen Anderson, Cynthia Willett, and Diana Meyers on February 19, 2020. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, bib.html] The topic of the self has long been salient in feminist philosophy, for it is pivotal to questions about personal identity, the body, sociality, and agency that feminism must address. Simone de Beauvoir's provocative declaration, "He is the Subject, he is the Absolute - she is the Other", signals the central importance of the self for feminism. To be the Other is to be a non-subject, a non-agent - in short, a mere thing. Women's selfhood has been systematically subordinated or even outright denied...

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News source: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Peter Singer Talk in New Zealand Cancelled by Venue

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SkyCity, a hotel, casino, and entertainment complex in Auckland, New Zealand, that was scheduled to host a talk this June by Peter Singer, the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics in the University Center for Human Values at Princeton, has cancelled the event owing to controversy over the philosopher’s writings. Sunaura Taylor, “Arctic Wheelchair” Though his talks have occasioned protests in the past, according to Singer (as reported by the New Zealand Herald)  this is the first time a venue has actually cancelled a speaking engagement of his. Singer is embarking on a speaking tour to raise money for charity, but it is his earlier writings on the permissibility of parents choosing to euthanize severely disabled babies that prompted opposition to his talk in New Zealand (and which have led people to protest at appearances of his for years). According to The Guardian, the venue released a statement saying, “Whilst SkyCity supports the right of free speech, some of the themes promoted by this speaker do not reflect our values of diversity and inclusivity.” Singer is quoted as saying, “it’s extraordinary that Skycity should cancel my speaking engagement on the basis of a newspaper article without contacting either me or the organiser of my speaking tour to check the facts on which it appears to be basing the cancellation.”   The post Peter Singer Talk in New Zealand Cancelled by Venue appeared first on Daily Nous.

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News source: Daily Nous

Embodied Grammars

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Our book seeks to describe the evolution of the mind from the ground up, and this requires us to explain complex problem solving without appeal to the semantic, syntactic, propositional, and representational capacities that emerge with language. Language is much too recent to serve as an accurate model of mind in the Pleistocene. A large part of our book is thus dedicated to articulating an affect-based bio-semantics, but we also take a run at pre-linguistic syntax or grammar. The computational model of mind considers representations as information packets that insert into algorithms, like words into grammar, or zeros and ones into Boolean algebra functor sequences. Our contemporary minds can certainly do such information processing (and AI has been successful modeling along these lines), but we forget the fundamental “action” of the mind. As anthropologist Robert Barton suggests, we need to think of mind first and foremost as “internalized movement” not as a spectator or recorder of data bits.[1] Task Grammar             Our ability to coordinate our bodies into sophisticated action sequences, like rhythmic entrainment or tool use, stems in large part from the cerebellum. A dancer on the ancient savanna and a good jazz drummer today are sequencing motor patterns in a sophisticated manner, but the roots of motor sequencing evolution can be seen in our primate cousins. The cerebellum grew even more rapidly in size and complexity than the neocortex. Primate cerebella, especially ours, are not just relatively larger than other mammals, but they are extremely dense in neural connections. In humans, the cerebellum has around 70 billion neurons, but we have only a vague understanding of their functions. Using a comparative study of monkeys and apes, Barton discovered that cerebellum evolution happened 6 times faster in apes than in other primates. Gorillas, chimpanzees, and humans had a rapid. . .

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News source: Philosophy of Mind – The Brains Blog

Kant on Laws

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2020.02.15 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Eric Watkins, Kant on Laws, Cambridge University Press, 2019, 297pp., $99.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781107163911. Reviewed by Uygar Abaci, Pennsylvania State University There is no question that the concept of law plays a central role in Kant's philosophy overall. In fact, one could argue that one of the paramount aims of the critical project is to establish the autonomy of the human subject in terms of her capacity to self-legislate both in theoretical and practical domains of jurisdiction. Though Kant's theories of laws of nature and the moral law have been extensively studied as distinct subjects, whether there is a univocal concept of law underlying these different kinds of laws has remained rather unexplored in the vast Kant literature. To my knowledge, Eric Watkins's book is the first book length study dedicated entirely to Kant's theory of law in general (Konstantin Pollok's Kant's Theory of... Read More

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News source: Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews // News

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