Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Three months later, Florence restarts. But not quite

The owners of a shoe repair shop in Florence (*). In this picture, taken just after the end of the coronavirus lockdown, they are preparing to reopen their shop. They look happy, even euphoric. Time will tell if that optimism was justified.The epidemic is almost over in Italy. After almost three painful months of lockdown and the loss of about 30.000 lives, the daily number of victims of the coronavirus is slowly dwindling to zero. In a couple of weeks at most, the epidemic will be completely gone. It is time to restart, but the damage has been terrible.The lockdown is over and the Florentines are back, walking in the streets, wearing face masks, but free to go wherever they want, provided that they don't form groups ("assembramenti"). A few tourists can be seen, slowly walking around, a little bewildered. Many shops have reopened, but not all of them -- maybe 30% are still closed. For what I could see this morning downtown, all the open shops are empty of customers. The restaurants also look empty. The buses are nearly empty, too. Here is a picture taken this morning, with me and my wife the only passengers of a bus that used to be packed full before the epidemic. Note the signs saying "You cannot sit here!" They don't seem to be necessary, given the situation.To pass to you some idea of the somber atmosphere in Florence these days, here are two fragments of conversations I had or witnessed in the street. Maybe these people are too pessimistic, but I have a feeling that [More]

Mental Causation: A Counterfactual Theory

2020.05.18 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Thomas Kroedel, Mental Causation: A Counterfactual Theory, Cambridge University Press, 2020, 224pp., $99.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781108487146. Reviewed by Umut Baysan, University of Oxford In this relatively short book, Thomas Kroedel has two central goals: (i) to propose and defend a theory of causation; (ii) to show how mental causation is possible. Regarding (i), as the title suggests, we are given a counterfactual theory of causation, supported with auxiliary theories concerning metaphysics of events and semantics of counterfactual conditionals. As to (ii), by "mental causation", Kroedel really means "causation of physical effects by mental causes" (p. 1), so he is not interested in cases where mental events cause other mental events. Focusing on the mental-to-physical cases, Kroedel explores what various views in contemporary metaphysics of mind imply about the possibility of mental causation. Mental causation -- in particular causation of physical effects by mental causes... Read [More]

Kantian Conceptualism/Nonconceptualism

[New Entry by Colin McLear on May 27, 2020.] One of the central areas of dispute in the reception of Kant's critical philosophy concerns his distinction between the cognitive faculties of sensibility (Sinnlichkeit) and intellect (Verstand), and their characteristic representational outputs - viz. intuition (Anschauung) and concept (Begriff). Though the dispute is multi-faceted, it centers on disagreement concerning the interpretation of Kant's conception of the contribution made by the higher cognitive faculties (or [More]

Spinoza’s Psychological Theory

[Revised entry by Michael LeBuffe on May 26, 2020. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] In Part III of his Ethics, "On the Origin and Nature of the Affects," which is the subject of this article, Spinoza addresses two of the most serious challenges facing his thoroughgoing naturalism. First, he attempts to show that human beings follow the order of nature. Human beings, on Spinoza's view, have causal natures similar in kind to other ordinary objects, other "finite modes" in the technical language of the Ethics, so [More]

Beyond the Troubled Water of Shifei: From Disputation to Walking-Two-Roads in the Zhuangzi

2020.05.15 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Lin Ma and Jaap van Brakel, Beyond the Troubled Water of Shifei: From Disputation to Walking-Two-Roads in the Zhuangzi, SUNY Press, 2019, 283pp., $32.95 (pbk), ISBN 9781438474823. Reviewed by Ricki Bliss, Lehigh University Interpretation is always underdetermined and indeterminate. It is underdetermined by the data and it is indeterminate because meaning doesn't allow it to be any other way. Interpretation is by no means a hopeless enterprise, however. Necessary conditions on the activity of interpretation are: (i) the assumption, on the part of the interpreter, of the family resemblance of forms of life; (ii) the assumption that all general concepts and conceptual schemes in all languages are family resemblance concepts; and (iii) a principle of mutual attunement. A commitment to all general concepts and conceptual schemes as family resemblance concepts (and schemes) suggests a denial of the ideal language assumption -- that there is an ideal language of thought into which all human languages... Read [More]

Intro to Philosophy Class 8

This is the content  for class 8. Videos Video 32: Background for St. Thomas Aquinas Video 36: Way Four (Gradation) Video 33: 5 Ways Intro & Way of Motion Video 37: Way Five (Governance of the World) Video 34: Way Two  (Efficient Cause) Video 38: Five Ways-Mistakes & Criticisms Video 35: Way Three (Possibility & [More]