Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Two Sides Problem: Presidential Responsibility

Baghdadi, the ISIS leader who proclaimed a short-lived caliphate, was recently killed by American forces. While the ISIS brand will continue to be a threat, this killing was a significant accomplishment. As would be expected, comparisons were immediately drawn between Obama’s announcement of the killing of bin Laden. Both leaders made the announcement in their [More]

The Value of Academic Research

Michael Huemer argues that "the benefits of the vast majority of academic research are tiny at best, possibly negative, and much less than the costs."  While I don't dispute his claims (in section 3) that universities are prestige-chasing institutions, I think his framing of the issue leads him to overlook the main sources of value that can nonetheless emerge from these highly imperfect institutions.(1) Extreme cases boost expected value. As I wrote in my defense of impractical philosophy a decade ago, even if the "vast majority" of research is entirely lacking in value, "the few exceptions -- the Turings of the world, whose theoretical passions lead to invaluable insights -- are arguably so momentous as to justify the whole system that enables them."  So I think it's a mistake for Huemer to focus on median rather than mean (or expected) value.Granted, to evaluate whether more or fewer resources should be expended on academic research, we must attend more specifically to the question of marginal expected value.  And one might imagine a more efficient system where just the best academic researchers are funded.  But such efficiency requires being able to identify the best researchers in advance, and it's far from clear that this is feasible. (Some academics are "late bloomers".  Some are one-hit wonders.  Much would be lost in a system that was too selective.)  So, depending on the details, it may well be worth tolerating [More]

Gender Bias in Philosophy Social Media

By Carolyn Dicey Jennings A top medical journal published a research letter this week concerning the behavior of health researchers on Twitter, and how that behavior is informed by gender. The authors report that women researchers have far fewer followers, likes, and retweets than men, despite similar levels of activity on the site: Women had [More]

Postcard from Monte Carlo

A few days in the sun. Such fortuitous good weather. Shirtsleeves at breakfast, sitting outside on the hotel terrace. Our first time here (visiting family, as it happens), and a considerable surprise in many ways. The urban environment in particular … Continue reading → The post Postcard from Monte Carlo appeared first on Logic [More]

The Other Pascals: The Philosophy of Jacqueline Pascal, Gilberte Pascal Périer, and Marguerite Périer

2019.10.15 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews John J. Conley, The Other Pascals: The Philosophy of Jacqueline Pascal, Gilberte Pascal Périer, and Marguerite Périer, University of Notre Dame Press, 2019, 263pp., $55.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780268105136. Reviewed by Daniel Collette, Marquette University While literary scholars and historians have long paid attention to the Port-Royal nuns, Anglophone philosophers have largely seen their role as a supporting cast for Antoine Arnauld and Blaise Pascal -- if not overlooking their contributions altogether. In the past decade, only two book-length studies touch on the convent's philosophies: John J. Conley's study of three Arnauld sisters, Adoration and Annihilation: The Convent Philosophy of Port-Royal (University of Notre Dame Press, 2009), and Daniella Kostroun's Feminism, Absolutism, and Jansenism (Cambridge, 2011). Beyond this, other than Conley's reader of Jacqueline Pascal's work (A Rule for Children and Other Writings, University of Chicago Press, 2003) and a recent article, little philosophical literature on these women exists in English. So Conley's monograph on the Pascal women... Read [More]

Return of the Living Dead

Let us begin with Antigone who, according to Lacan, irradiates a sublime beauty from the very moment  she enters the domain between two deaths, between her symbolic and her actual death. What  characterizes her innermost posture is precisely her insistence on a certain unconditional demand on which she is not prepared to give way: a proper burial for her brother. It is the same with the ghost of Hamlet's father, who returns from his grave with the demand that Hamlet revenge his infamous death. This connection between drive as an unconditional demand and the domain between the two deaths is also visible in popular culture. In the film The Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a cyborg who returns to contemporary Los Angeles from the future, with the intention of killing the mother of a future leader. The horror of this figure consists precisely in the fact that it functions as a programmed automaton who, even when all that remains of him is a metallic, legless skeleton, persists in [More]

Award Report: Berry Fund for Public Philosophy Grant to the WMU Lyceum

by Charlie Kurth Overview In May 2019, the Philosophy Department at Western Michigan University was awarded a $1,000 grant from the APA’s Berry Fund for Public Philosophy. The grant’s purpose was to support the growth initiatives of the WMU Lyceum, a free, weeklong philosophy-themed summer camp for high school students in Kalamazoo, MI. Not only [More]