Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

The World as a Giant Lego Tower

Over the history of the Lego company, more than 600 billion plastic bricks have been produced, which means about a hundred bricks for every living person on Earth. Impressive, but it amounts to only 1.5 Gt of carbon in total (2.5 grams per brick), that is about 15% of the yearly carbon emissions produced by burning fossil fuels. Of course, being the bricks solid, they won't contribute to global warming, but they will slowly degrade and enter the food chain. Our descendants (if there will be any) will eat the toys we played with!  But, here, Federico Tabellini is not discussing the pollution caused by Lego bricks but uses them as a metaphor for our society. (UB)  Guest Post by Federico TabelliniWe did not choose the bricks inside the box. it was bought at the toy store and they were already there when we opened the box. At the moment, the toy store has no other boxes for sale. The big Lego brick that constitutes the foundation of the tower has a fixed number and distribution of holes. It follows that the smaller bricks that we add on top of this, which give shape to the tower, interlock with the foundation brick only if their ledges are compatible with its holes.The stability of the tower, they say, is a function of the compatibility of the bricks with one another and with the structure as a whole. The most important brick is of course the one at the bottom. Forcing incompatible bricks into the foundation brick over and over, with time we can damage its holes [More]

Force, Drive, Desire: A Philosophy of Psychoanalysis

2020.05.20 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Rudolf Bernet, Force, Drive, Desire: A Philosophy of Psychoanalysis, Sarah Allen (tr.), Northwestern University Press, 2020, 391pp., $39.95 (pbk), ISBN 9780810142237. Reviewed by Daniel J. Smith, The University of Memphis The relationship between philosophy and psychoanalysis has been an object of heated discussion for as long as the latter discipline has existed. Freud was famously suspicious of philosophy. Styling himself a hard-nosed man of science, he classed philosophy alongside superstition, religion, and myth as a prescientific way of thinking whose persistence in the modern world can be explained only by analogy with paranoid fantasy.[1] Among the various branches of philosophy, it was metaphysics that impressed him least. In his published work he wrote of the need to replace fanciful notions of "transcendental reality" with a scientific "psychology of the unconscious" and thereby "transform metaphysics into metapsychology" (ibid.); in private he confessed that I... Read [More]

What Makes Your Papers Worth Reading?

Given how many academic papers are out there, it would be useful to have more filtering and discovery mechanisms for helping us to find the ones we might be most interested in.  One thing that could help is if authors themselves offered a concise 'overview' of what they think makes their various papers worth reading (when they are).  Many of us already list our papers on our websites, but (i) standard academic abstracts rarely do a good job of explaining why a paper is worth reading, and (ii) who reads academic websites anyway?  So I'm going to take a stab at doing this in a blog post, and invite others to follow suit (whether on Facebook or wherever you like: feel free to additionally post your response in the comments here, especially if your research interests overlap with mine at all). What lessons from your work do you wish were more widely appreciated?Ordered by how much I happen to like each paper today:(1) Value Receptacles (Noûs, 2015) argues that (i) the "separateness of persons" is best understood in terms of fungibility, and (ii) by recognizing each person as being of distinct (yet comparable) intrinsic value, utilitarianism can appropriately avoid treating people fungibly, and hence avoid any "separateness of persons" objection that's worth worrying about.  This is important because the SOP objection is a standard reason for rejecting aggregative consequentialism.  This paper shows (I believe decisively) that such moves are a [More]

Intro to Philosophy Class 10

This is the content for class 10.   Video 45: Intro to Hume & Religion Video 49: Hume’s Problem of Evil-Conclusion Video 46: Hume’s Five Problems Video 50: Hume & Immortality-Metaphysical Arguments   Video 47: Hume’s Problem of Evil Part 1 Everything is Awful Video 51: Hume & Immortality-Moral Arguments Video 48: Hume’s Problem of Evil [More]

Scientific Research and Big Data

[New Entry by Sabina Leonelli on May 29, 2020.] Big Data promises to revolutionise the production of knowledge within and beyond science, by enabling novel, highly efficient ways to plan, conduct, disseminate and assess research. The last few decades have witnessed the creation of novel ways to produce, store, and analyse data, culminating in the emergence of the field of data science, which brings together computational, algorithmic, statistical and mathematical techniques towards extrapolating knowledge from big data. At the same time, the Open [More]

Fictionalism in Philosophy

2020.05.19 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Bradley Armour-Garb and Frederick Kroon (eds.), Fictionalism in Philosophy, Oxford University Press, 2020, 237pp., $85.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780190689605. Reviewed by Zoltán Gendler Szabó, Yale University One day Winnie-the-Pooh decided to give Eeyore a birthday present. He picked up a small jar of honey from his pantry and took off towards the stream where Eeyore was. It was a warm day and a long way to go. About halfway Winnie felt that it was time for a little something and was delighted to find that he actually had a little something with him. He sat down, opened the jar, and only after the last lick did the consequences of his snack dawn on him. For a while he did not know what to do, but then he had a brilliant idea: "Well, it's a very nice pot, even if there's no honey in it, and if I washed it... Read [More]