Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Recently Published Book Spotlight: Overdoing Democracy

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This edition of the Recently Published Book Spotlight is about Robert Talisse’s book Overdoing Democracy. Robert Talisse is W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University. He specializes in political philosophy, with focus on democracy, liberalism, and political disagreement. In addition, he maintains research interests in American pragmatism, argumentation theory, and social epistemology. What is […]

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News source: Blog of the APA

The Political Morality of the Late Scholastics: Civic Life, War and Conscience

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2020.02.08 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Daniel Schwartz, The Political Morality of the Late Scholastics: Civic Life, War and Conscience, Cambridge University Press, 2019, 234pp., $99.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781108492454. Reviewed by Sydney Penner, Asbury University Sometimes texts from a different time can seem foreign. Imagine you are being tortured on the rack. You are suspected of having used bribes to gain advantages for your business, and so now you are being tortured in order to elicit a confession from you. What moral questions might we ask of this situation? Here is one obvious one: is using torture to elicit confessions an acceptable practice? Thomas Cajetan (1469-1534), however, pursues a different question: is it morally permissible to confess in order to prevent or stop torture? Though a standard one for late scholastics, the question itself is likely startling enough to a twenty-first century reader. But Cajetan's answer -- not standard, it should be noted -- is even more astonishing.... Read More

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News source: Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews // News

Flipping the System: One Possible Solution to the Publishing Odyssey (guest post by Felix Bender)

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In the following guest post*, Felix Bender (CEU / Amsterdam) surveys some proposed solutions to our current time-consuming, backed-up, overcrowded system of publishing academic articles, as well as some problems with them, before offering up an interesting solution of his own. [photo by J. Weinberg] Flipping the System: One Possible Solution to the Publishing Odyssey by Felix Bender 1. The Problem We all know the dreadful journey our papers must take until they are not only received positively by an editor, but sent out to review, received (somewhat) positively by the reviewers and the reviews receiving somewhat positive responses from the editor. Often, there is a second iteration of this whole process. Even more often, however, a paper’s journey ends before any of the latter steps: they are simply desk rejected. In Political Philosophy this seems to be a huge problem. The acceptance rates of some journals are very low[1], making them much lower than the acceptance rates in other academic disciplines. For scholars this often means that they have to go through many, many submission processes until they find a journal that is at least as interested in their paper as they are in publishing in it. Researchers often wait weeks, if not months for even the first editorial decision on a manuscript, and then have to iterate the same procedure for many times for each journal, often being rejected on grounds such as fit or simply the mere preferences of the editors. This results in an ever-ballooning amount of papers existing in the cloud.[2] 2. Some Solutions Others Have Offered How can this problem be solved? One solution would be to make the pool of papers floating around in the cloud smaller. Several different scholars have debated how this could be achieved. One could simply restrict access for some parts of academic professionals, thereby eliminating many contributions from the get-go. One could, for example, make it inadmissible for PhD students to submit papers. . .

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News source: Daily Nous

Meaning Diminished: Toward Metaphysically Modest Semantics

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2020.02.07 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Kenneth A. Taylor, Meaning Diminished: Toward Metaphysically Modest Semantics, Oxford University Press, 2019, 206pp., $55.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780198803447. Reviewed by Derek Ball, University of St AndrewsDerek Ball, University of St Andrews Can we learn about metaphysics by analysing the meanings of our words or the contents of our concepts? Kenneth A. Taylor’s book is a well-written, opinionated introduction to this question. Taylor’s answer is broadly negative: semantics cannot tell us much about metaphysics. In the course of developing this answer, Taylor discusses a broad range of issues: the metaphysical commitments of natural language semantics construed as a part of generative grammar, the metaphysics of semantic values, conceptual analysis, and the possibility that there is a radical mismatch between natural language and the world, among others. Taylor died unexpectedly in December 2019. One of the virtues of this, his last book, is that it situates many debates in relation to his previous work,... Read More

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News source: Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews // News

Our fascist times?

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How could it get worse. A president found guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors by the US House of Representatives let off the hook by a Senate more willing to look after their own future than the present and future of the country they are supposed to serve. In my piece last summer for the Los Angeles Review of Books, “The Public Sphere in Dark Times,” I argued that thanks to the robust role of the informal public sphere even Trump could not turn this country into a dictatorship. The events of this past week are put these ideas to the test. In that piece I distinguish three realms of the public sphere: 1) the formal one of elected bodies, 2) the elite one of leading news media and “opinion leaders,” and 3) the informal one of the street, social media, informal conversations that radiate and connect with each other all over the country and around the world. I argue that all three realms intersect and bounce around and test each others’ ideas. At this point in time, the formal realm of the public sphere is deeply divided, but enought of it has gained power to legally, if not in any other respect, exonerate Trump. The elite opinion realm is also divided but for the most part highly critical of trump. The informal public sphere, at least as far as Twitter shows, also really critical. The rest of the public sphere, slumbering away in the hinterlands, a sleeping polar bear of apathy? It’s hard to say. Will the informal realms of the public sphere be able to hold the more formal and conservative ones accountable? My theory is not a crystal ball. Time will tell.

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News source: gonepublic: philosophy, politics, & public life

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