Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

The End of an Age: The Failure of Catastrophism

Colin Campbell, the founder of the association for the study of peak oil and gas (ASPO) explaining the essence of oil depletion. The considerations below originate from a post by Michael Krieger where he describes how he is so dismayed by the reaction of the public to the current epidemic that he is closing his blog to rethink the whole matter over. You can read of similar feelings in a post by Rob Slane of the "Blogmire" and of Chris Smaje on "Resilience." Many others are dismayed at how badly the Covid-19 crisis was managed: a threat that was real but by all measures not so terrible as it was described. Nevertheless, it generated an overreaction, more division than unity, political sectarianism, counterproductive behaviors, and it ultimately led people to accept to be bullied and mistreated by their governments and even to be happy about that.The "peak oil movement" was started by a group of retired geologists around the end of the 1990s. You could call us "catastrophists," but catastrophe was not what we were aiming for. We were not revolutionaries, we never thought to storm the Bastille, to give power to the people, or to create a proletarian paradise. We were scientists, we just wanted society to get rid of fossil fuels as soon as possible, although we did think that the final result would have been a more just and peaceful society.  But how to reach this goal? Of course, we understood that humankind is nothing homogeneous, but we saw no reason why the people in [More]


Thirty-six of the chapters in IFL2 have end-of-chapter exercises. Thirty-one of these  sets of exercises now have on-line answers, often with quite detailed discussion, available here. That includes all the chapters up to and including the chapters on QL proofs. … Continue reading → The post Exercises! appeared first on Logic [More]

What if Authors could Respond to Referee Comments?

I'm sure any academics reading this can relate to the following experience: despite one referee's glowing report, your paper is rejected on the basis of referee 2's confident "devastating objection," which in fact involves a simple misunderstanding that you could easily correct in a sentence or two, if given the chance.  But of course you are not given the chance: the top journals are overloaded with submissions, so tend to outright reject any paper that doesn't receive uniformly positive peer reviews.It's a frustrating (and frustratingly common) experience for the author.  But it also contributes to the systemic overburdening of journals, as the author now needs to (perhaps make minor tweaks and then) send their paper out to a new journal, which must find all new referees.  It would've been more efficient if the original journal could have disregarded the confused report, and just sought the one replacement referee.How could the journal know that the report was confused?  Well, suppose that before rendering their verdict on your paper, the editors invited you to (briefly!) address the referee reports, indicating any major points of disagreement, and (roughly) what changes you'd make to it if given the opportunity for revisions.  The editors would then make their final decision in light of both the referee reports and the author response.This would require substantive philosophical judgment on the part of the editors, to adjudicate the [More]

You’re the Racist!

In response to a video version of the first D&D and racism essay I did, a viewer posted “yet another racist feeling guilt trying to project their racism onto others, but this one attempting to use logic and his “appeal to superiority” with his college knowledge…” I do not know whether this was a sincere [More]

The Duty to Rescue (Sample Class)

[What follows is the text for a sample “introduction to law”/“critical thinking and law” class that I sometimes run. It is about the duty of rescue and some of the competing intuitions people have about whether such a duty should be recognised in law. The class is basic and is intended for new students or students thinking about studying law. I typically run this class by getting students to vote on their answers to each of the hypothetical questions, discussing their votes with their peers, and then facilitating a class discussion about these votes. This often ends up with me posing multiple variations on the hypotheticals presented below. The class can be expanded or contracted by increasing/decreasing the number of hypotheticals or case studies and by increasing/decreasing the number of student activities within the class. The minimalist version would just cover the initial hypotheticals and the mock jury/judge exercise] One of the distinctive features of our legal system — like all legal systems inherited from the United Kingdom — is that it is based on the common law. In a common law system, legal rules are extracted from cases. People come to court with stories. They tell these stories to judges (and sometimes juries). The judges determine what the ruling should be, sometimes creating new rules but more often by basing their judgment on rules derived from older cases. In legal parlance, we call this “following the precedent” (i.e. following the rule set down in older [More]