Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Fairness & Transgender Athletes I: Marking the Course

Upon taking office, Joe Biden signed an executive order requiring that schools receiving federal funding allow people who self-identify as females onto female sport’s teams. Pushback against it has ranged from thoughtful considerations of fairness to misogyny masquerading as morality. In addition to being complicated in its own right, the fairness of self-identified females being [More]

John Rawls: an ideal theorist for nonideal times?

John Rawls's "A Theory of Justice" was published fifty years ago. What is the connection between Rawls’s abstract theorizing about justice and work aiming to address real-world injustices? The post John Rawls: an ideal theorist for nonideal times? appeared first on OUPblog.        Related StoriesTips for adapting the elementary music curriculum to online teachingFive themes in Asian Shakespeare adaptationsWhich literary heroine are you? [More]

Meanings as Species

2021.02.05 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Mark Richard, Meanings as Species, Oxford University Press, 2019, 212pp., $72.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780198842811. Reviewed by Indrek Reiland, University of Vienna This book explores the idea that the meanings of words are like biological species. On Mark Richard's view, the meaning of a word in a group's language is what he calls its interpretive common ground or ICG. The ICG of 'cousin' in the English of the residents of Boston is the set of presuppositions about the term they normally make and are expected to make: "that cousins are relatives, that cousins are the children of your folks' sisters and brothers, that people have cousins but dogs and bumblebees do not, etc." (49) Meanings qua ICGs are like species in being historical, process-like entities that can gradually change over time. The book is divided into six chapters. In chapter 1, Richard frames... Read [More]

Guest Post: The Problem of Large Distances in Value Holism

My thanks to long-time reader Evan Dawson-Baglien for contributing the following guest post on 'The Problem of Large Distances in Value Holism':* * *Value holism in population ethics appeals to a number of strong moral intuitions that human beings possess. By allowing one to reject the principle of Mere Addition, it in turn allows one to reject the Repugnant Conclusion. It also allows rejection of smaller-scale versions of the Repugnant Conclusion which are perhaps even more repugnant, such as the idea that it is morally neutral to kill someone and replace them with a new person whose life will contain the same amount of utility as the first person’s remaining years.  However, value holism also conflicts with strong intuitions about the relevance of distant events to the creation of new people.  It seems strange to say that we need to have fewer children if we somehow discovered that there was a utopia beyond the light cone of our universe, or that the correctness of the Many Worlds Theory of quantum mechanics might have some bearing on the question in either direction. One solution that immediately springs to mind is to limit the contributory value of distant people and events in some way.  If the vast universe is divided into “blocks,” and only people and events in a single block have contributory value towards each other, impossibly distant events are no longer relevant to the value of local world as a whole.  It is important to find a non-arbitrary [More]

Sports & XY

One basic ethical concern in sports is creating fair categories of competition. Age is a non-controversial example of this: elementary school teams do not compete against high school teams because that would be unfair to the elementary school team. Size is also a relatively non-controversial example in boxing—a heavyweight fighter will generally have a significant [More]

Feminist Perspectives on Argumentation

[New Entry by Catherine E. Hundleby on February 18, 2021.] The noun "argument" and verb "to argue" can describe various things in ordinary language and in different academic disciplines (O'Keefe 1982; Wenzel 1980 [1992]). "Argument" may identify a logical premise-conclusion complex, a speech act, or a dialogical exchange. Arguments may play off other arguments or support each other; smaller arguments can serve as sub-arguments inside larger arguments to which they contribute. Following the practice of Anglophone philosophers, this entry uses [More]