Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Philosopher-Photographers on Instagram (and Elsewhere)

Sometimes a little beauty is in order.  I know about and follow a few philosophers who take gorgeous photographs and post them on Instagram or their own sites. I’ll share some of them with you, with a few samples from each. I hope you’ll be able to clue us in to some more philosopher-photographers to follow, be it on Instagram or elsewhere. Justin Sytsma (Victoria University of Wellington)     You can follow Justin Sytsma on Instagram here (@jmsytsma) Daniel Star (Boston University)   You can follow Daniel Star on Instagram here (@daniel_star_net). He also posts his photos at his own site. Maureen Eckert (University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth)     You can follow Maureen Eckert on Instagram here (@maureenaeckert). David Estlund (Brown University)     David Estlund doesn’t have much recent work on his Instagram feed (@destlund1), but he does have his own photography site with many more photos. Simon C. May (Florida State University)     You can follow Simon C. May on Instagram here (@nomisyam). Richard Pettigrew (University of Bristol)       If only we could all be as happy as that lemur looks, right? You can follow Richard Pettigrew on Instagram here (@richardpettigrew1981). I also park my occasional amateur photography on Instagram, here (@justin.weinberg). Do you know of other philosopher-photographers with pictures on Instagram or somewhere else publicly accessible online? Are you one? If so, [More]

What Is Life?

Seventy-five years ago the distinguished physicist Erwin Schrödinger published a celebrated book entitled What is Life? Despite dazzling advances in biology since, scientists still don’t know what life is or how it began. There is no doubt that living organisms are in a class apart, almost magical in their amazing properties. Yet they are made of normal matter. Just in the last few years, the secret of life is finally being revealed, and the missing link between matter and life comes from a totally unexpected direction. The discovery looks set to open up the next great frontier of science, with sweeping implications for technology and medicine. It also holds the tantalising promise of uncovering fundamentally new laws of nature.Remarkably, What is Life? appeared at the height of the Second World War. Schrödinger had fled his native Austria to escape the Nazis and, after a brief sojourn in Oxford, settled in Dublin at the invitation of the Prime Minister, Eamonn de Valera, accompanied [More]

An inventor creates a life-saving drug for disease X, which has no other cure.

Read another response about Ethics, Medicine Ethics Medicine Share An inventor creates a life-saving drug for disease X, which has no other cure. Worldwide, death by disease X among white people has been eliminated because of his drug; however, the death rate remains at pre-drug levels among non-whites because he has contractually restricted its sale and use to white people. For non-whites who die from disease X, is this inventor a causal factor in their death? My friend and I have debated this. I argue YES. The actions the inventor has taken to restrict the sale of his drug demonstrate intent with full knowledge of the consequences of the actions he has taken. I think his actions are not only causal, but in a world where this medicine is readily available everywhere, he becomes the primary cause of death. My friend argues NO. The inventor has done nothing with respect to non-whites. There is no causal relationship. Pulling a man from a burning building saves a life, but not doing so doesn't cause a death. Where I see actions that cause harm, my friend sees something passive, akin to passing a beggar on the street while talking with a friend on the way to lunch. He agrees that if the inventor ended this sales policy that lives would be saved, but insists he isn't causing [More]

Nihilism and Technology

2019.07.26 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Nolen Gertz, Nihilism and Technology, Rowman and Littlefield, 2018, 226pp., $34.95 (pbk), ISBN 9781786607034. Reviewed by John P. Sullins, Sonoma State University It is very likely that you have been brought to this review through your use of information technologies. In other words, your interaction with the device before you. The process of typing and clicking that led you here, however, is not merely an innocent search for information according to Nolen Gertz. Instead, he argues that the very process that brought you to read this review is itself an expression of nihilism. Gertz challenges his readers to confront and overcome the nihilism inherent in information technologies. Gertz's book relies heavily on the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche to argue its thesis: technologies, particularly information technologies, have become our main method of distraction from the loss of meaning in our lives... Read [More]

Physics and Metaphysics in Descartes and in His Reception

2019.07.25 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Delphine Antoine-Mahut and Sophie Roux (eds.), Physics and Metaphysics in Descartes and in His Reception, Routledge, 2019, 219pp., $140.00 (hbk), ISBN 9781138351448. Reviewed by Andrew Platt, Stony Brook University This collection of papers, edited by Delphine Antoine-Mahut and Sophie Roux, is from two international conferences held in 2013 at the École Normale Supérieure of Paris and at the École Normale Supérieure of Lyon. Although the majority of the contributions are by French or Italian scholars, the papers are all in English. So this book may serve as a resource for Anglophone readers who could benefit from the work of these European scholars. The collection's organizing themes are Descartes's conception of metaphysics, his understanding of the relationship between physics and metaphysics, and the historical reception of Descartes's views about these matters. The topics of the chapters are thus fairly narrow in scope. However, the best essays make contributions to the secondary... Read [More]

There is no Universal Objective Morality – An Interview With Homi Bhabha

Can we speak of universals in a multicultural world? Is it all relative? Who is right, and how do we determine that? How do we collaborate when cultures differ on what they consider to be the moral thing to do? We asked Homi Bhabha, world-renowned thinker on post-colonialism, Professor of English and American Literature and Language, and the Director of the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard University, about how he sees morality in a global world. What is your view regarding the idea that there might be a subjective or objective morality?I think it’s very difficult to make the case for an objective morality if you’re using the word ‘objective’ in a strong sense, either to mean a universal morality or a foundational morality that all people everywhere understand and accept in a globalising world.Ironically, I think the issue arises because individuals and institutions are aware of the existence of conflicting, even incommensurable, moral values and normative orders – subjective and [More]