Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Eternal Recurrence and Nietzschean Nihilism: Adding Weight to Our Decisions?

[E]ternal recurrence means that every time you choose an action you must be willing to choose it for all eternity. And it is the same for every action not made, every stillborn thought, every choice avoided. And all unlived life will remain bulging inside you, unlived through all eternity. And the unheeded choice of your conscience will cry out to you forever. (“Nietzsche” in Irvin Yalom’s When Nietzsche Wept)Nietzsche was a nihilist. He rejected the truth of normative and evaluative statements. That said, the exact kind of nihilism he favoured is a matter of some dispute (a dispute I touched upon in a previous article). Furthermore, despite his commitment to nihilism, a lot of Nietzsche’s philosophy was dedicated to moving beyond it. He wanted to show how life is still possible in the shadow of nihilism. Indeed, on one reading, it is possible to argue that Nietzsche saw nihilism as a great opportunity for humankind. Instead of passively accepting the values that are foisted upon us by cultural tradition, we can now actively create our own value systems. This could bring new hope to our lives.Key to this was the doctrine of eternal recurrence. This doctrine showed how to add weight to our decisions in a nihilistic world. According to this doctrine, whenever you make a decision, you should imagine that you will have to make that decision over and over again (i.e. that there will be infinite replays of the decision). You should then choose whichever option you would be [More]

Heidegger Becoming Phenomenological: Interpreting Husserl Through Dilthey, 1916-1925

2019.07.24 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Robert C. Scharff, Heidegger Becoming Phenomenological: Interpreting Husserl Through Dilthey, 1916-1925, Rowman and Littlefield, 2019, 186pp., $39.95 (pbk) ISBN 9781786607737 Reviewed by Leslie MacAvoy, East Tennessee State University In this book Robert C. Scharff argues that Heidegger's path to phenomenology owes more to his reading of Dilthey than it does to Husserl. The book is detailed, well-researched, and argued in a refreshingly direct style. It is important reading for anyone interested in Heidegger's early work, and should motivate many to give more consideration to Dilthey's influence on Heidegger. The argument is complicated, so in what follows I will make some general observations about how the position is situated relative to other broad positions in the discourse and then articulate the main line of argument through the book while also offering a few critical observations. Like many other readers of Heidegger, Scharff emphasizes his critique of Husserl. However, unlike those... Read [More]

The St. Petersburg Paradox

[New Entry by Martin Peterson on July 30, 2019.] The St. Petersburg paradox was introduced by Nicolaus Bernoulli in 1713. It continues to be a reliable source for new puzzles and insights in decision theory. The standard version of the St. Petersburg paradox is derived from the St. Petersburg game, which is played as follows: A fair coin is flipped until it comes up heads the first time. At that point [More]

Do Academics Overestimate the Importance of Journal Prestige?

A recent study of academics in the United States and Canada found that when it comes to choosing where to submit their work for publication, they “most value journal readership, while they believe their peers most value prestige and related metrics such as impact factor.” The study, “Why we publish where we do: Faculty publishing values and their relationship to review, promotion and tenure expectations,” by Meredith T. Niles (Vermont), Lesley A. Schimanski (Simon Fraser), Erin C. McKiernan (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México), Juan P. Alperin (Simon Fraser), was posted at BioRxiv and discussed in an article recently at Times Higher Ed. It had over 300 respondents from 55 different institutions of higher education. Among other things, the study asked which factors respondents consider when choosing publication venues, and which they think their peers considered when doing so. Here are the results: The authors write: Compared to their own perceptions of important priorities when publishing, respondents perceived differences in how their peers rate important factors for publishing… Considering the mean responses, the top factors respondents thought their peers felt were important included: (1) the overall prestige of the journal/publisher/venue, (2) the JIF [journal impact factor], and (3) both the readership they want to reach and the journal/publisher/venue being regularly read by their peers. Overall, we find that there are many [More]

Fallibilism: Evidence and Knowledge

2019.07.23 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Jessica Brown, Fallibilism: Evidence and Knowledge, Oxford University Press, 2018, 197pp., $54.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780198801771. Reviewed by Aidan McGlynn, The University of Edinburgh In 1988, Stewart Cohen could write that 'The acceptance of fallibilism in epistemology is virtually universal' (1988: 91). Thirty years on, and things look decidedly different. Part of the reason for the shift is David Lewis's 'Elusive Knowledge' (1996), which suggested that epistemologists can avoid a choice between fallibilism and scepticism, though at the cost of accepting contextualism about knowledge attributions. More recently still, some epistemologists have suggested that by adopting a more generous conception of the evidence we have bearing on the external world than Lewis allowed, infallibilism can avoid both scepticism and contextualism. Perhaps, for example, my evidence right now includes the proposition that there's a laptop in front of me, or that I see that there's a laptop in front... Read [More]

Logic from Kant to Russell: Laying the Foundations for Analytic Philosophy

2019.07.22 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Sandra Lapointe (ed.), Logic from Kant to Russell: Laying the Foundations for Analytic Philosophy, Routledge, 2019, 255pp., $140.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780815396321. Reviewed by James Pearson, Bridgewater State University If students in a first logic course ask about the subject's history -- whether driven by curiosity or perhaps hoping for a breather -- they are often rewarded with a history of heroes. In the distant past strides mighty Aristotle, whose syllogistic forms provided scholars a structure for clear argumentation. Then a jump to tragic Frege, whose innovations went largely ignored and whose calculus was proven contradictory. But then, a twist! Plucky young Russell who discovered this flaw also carried forward Frege's dream of trying to construct a logical foundation for mathematics. All this makes for a good story. But it is, to say the least, incomplete. One might encourage advanced students to explore other figures, depending upon their interests: medieval... Read [More]

IFL2 — at long last!

Some headline news. On Wednesday, at last — ok, at ridiculously long last — I’m sending off a full version of IFL2 to CUP. This is for proof-reading and then early production, I hope. Heaven knows I’d like to seriously … Continue reading → The post IFL2 — at long last! appeared first on Logic [More]

Srinivasan Appointed to Chichele Professorship in Social and Political Theory

Amia Srinivasan, associate professor of philosophy at the University of Oxford and a tutorial fellow at St John’s College, will be the next holder of the Chichele Professorship in Social and Political Theory at Oxford. Professor Srinivasan works in political philosophy, epistemology, history and philosophy of feminism, and metaphilosophy, and is known for both her scholarly and public-facing work. The Chichele Professorship in Social and Political Theory had been unoccupied since Jeremy Waldron left the position for New York University in 2014. Professor Srinivasan will be the first woman, and the first non-white person, to hold this position. Previous Chichele Professors in Social Political Theory, besides Professor Waldron, were: G.A. Cohen, Charles Taylor, John Plamenatz, Isaiah Berlin, and G.D.H. Cole. The post Srinivasan Appointed to Chichele Professorship in Social and Political Theory appeared first on Daily [More]