Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

In Our Best Interest: A Defense of Paternalism

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2019.05.12 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Jason Hanna, In Our Best Interest: A Defense of Paternalism, Oxford University Press, 2018, 271pp., $74.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780190877132. Reviewed by Andrew I. Cohen, Georgia State University Liberals typically treat freedom as a fundamental value in political morality. They then often argue that paternalism is an unjustified restriction on liberty. Paternalism is interference with a person's choices against or without her endorsement in order to protect her from harm. Liberal critics sometimes object to paternalism because it gives power over our choices to persons who seldom deserve it, often abuse it, and rarely apply it correctly. Even if paternalism can be effective, liberal critics often complain it disrespects us as persons. It infantilizes by usurping a person's authority over her life and denying her the opportunity to be a full arbiter of her destiny. On Jason Hanna's account, such complaints about paternalism... Read More

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News source: Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews // News

Old Age and Decline: Some Philosophical Reflections

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The Four Ages of Man - Nicolas LancretThere’s an oft-repeated ‘fact’ thrown around in debates about retirement and old age. The details can vary but it’s something to the effect that when the pension entitlement age was set at 65 in the early part of the 20th century, very few people could expect to collect it, and those that did could only expect to collect for a few years (probably no more than 5). This was because life expectancy was so much lower back then. Hence setting pension entitlement at 65 was a relatively low cost gesture for the government. But what was low cost back then has turned into a major expenditure today, now that people are living so much longer and life expectancy has shot up. Whereas most people could only expect to live to their early 60s in the early 1900s, nowadays the majority can expect to live into their late 70s/early 80s. This places considerable strain on public finances and means more people are spending more of their lives in a ‘retired’ and ‘non-productive’ (from an economic/tax-paying perspective) state.Having done some digging, it turns out this fact is not quite true. While it is true that life expectancy was much lower back then, that was mainly due to high infant and early adult mortality (due to infectious disease and war). If you cleared those early-life hurdles, and made it all the way to 65, you could expect to live a good bit longer, upwards of 13 years in fact (more if you were a woman). That post-65 life expectancy has gone up since then, but by much less than how much life expectancy as a whole has gone up as whole. This doesn’t mean that costs are not increasing — the huge drop in early life mortality means a lot more people are making it to their late 60s. It also doesn’t detract from the fact that more and more people are entering this ‘retired’ phase of life.But what does it mean to enter that phase of life? Many of us, myself included, have a negative perception of ageing and retirement. We see ‘old age’ as a. . .

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News source: Philosophical Disquisitions

Socially Extended Epistemology

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2019.05.11 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews J. Adam Carter, Andy Clark, Jesper Kallestrup, S. Orestis Palermos, and Duncan Pritchard (eds.), Socially Extended Epistemology, Oxford University Press, 2018, 318pp., $65.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780198801764. Reviewed by Joseph Shieber, Lafayette College I know the way from my house in the suburbs of Philadelphia to Carnegie Hall in New York City. Okay, yes: practice (very amusing). The more promising route for me, however, is the one encoded in the GPS-enabled maps app included on my cell phone. I also know that the Seleucid Empire once stretched roughly from what is now present-day Turkey to Pakistan and Turkmenistan. I know that because I read it . . . somewhere, although I no longer recall where. If you're like me, you know information like those little tidbits not because of information stored "inside your head" -- or at least not solely because of the information stored there -- but... Read More

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News source: Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews // News

1. What Is Perceptual Learning?

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Last summer I tried to learn how to surf. I learned how to paddle to catch a wave, how to “pop up” to my feet on the surfboard from lying flat on my stomach, and how to turn on the board to surf down the wave once I caught it. One thing that I didn’t know going in, though, was that surfing involves a lot of looking for the right waves. And being able to pick out the right waves is actually kind of hard. You have to learn how to attend to the right things, to differentiate a promising wave from a wave that will peter out, and to distinguish whether a wave is catchable from where you are or not. Without undergoing this perceptual learning, you’re unlikely to ever learn how to surf because you’re unlikely to catch many waves in the first place. The focus of my book is perceptual learning, which I describe as long-term changes in perception that result from practice or experience. There are many canonical cases of this, including cases of wine tasting and bird watching. But as the surfing case attests, there are also many cases that are less well known. For instance, you are likely able to tell just by listening whether hot water or cold water is being poured. There are also a great many empirical studies on perceptual learning that I focus on in the book, from people learning how to recognize different patterns of fish movements to soldiers learning how to better detect roadside bombs. My book defends a thesis about the function of perceptual learning that I call the “Offloading View.” On this view, perceptual learning serves to offload tasks that would normally be done in a controlled and cognitive manner onto the perceptual system. This frees up cognitive resources to perform other tasks. As you can imagine, a pro surfer does not have to think about the same basic things that I do when picking out a wave. Rather, through the perceptual learning process, certain ways of seeing (such as particular patterns of attention) have become automated. This frees up the. . .

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News source: Philosophy of Mind – The Brains Blog

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