Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Philosophical Wonder and “Math Anxiety”

The true humility, the sort of wonder which we wish to induce as philosophers, can only be achieved when one has achieved a certain degree of well-founded confidence in one’s ability to understand and assess claims. Many claims of interest are about or couched in logical or mathematical terms, and our tools are especially well suited to helping people recognise paradox and perplexity; formal philosophy hence has an important role to play in a philosophical education. That is commentary from Liam Kofi Bright (London School of Economics) in the wake of a conference on formal methods in philosophy (previously). One subject of concern among the conference attendees was “math anxiety”: the habit of our humanities students to think that symbolic reasoning is somehow intrinsically difficult and beyond their powers, and to feel especial fear and shame at the prospect of being seen not to be good at it, and thus displaying some hesitancy or avoidance about engaging with formal courses.  While there are philosophical pedagogical benefits of “making students experience difficulty, limitation, the inevitability of failure”, there is a difference between limited by “personal failings,” on the one hand, and being limited by “real difficulty in the world,” on the other. On Bright’s take, if we help students overcome the former they are in a better position to properly appreciate the latter: Philosophy begins in wonder, and teaches [More]

A Thoughtful and Thorough Academic Job Ad

What if I told you it was possible for an advertisement for an academic position to explain why the hiring department is hiring in a particular area, provide a profile of the kind of colleague the existing faculty are looking for, describe the work environments the successful candidate will find themself in, convey the values the department aims to promote, and detail how the hiring process will work? You’d probably say, “sure, that is well within the bounds of the possible.” Yet we don’t often see such ads. Perhaps that will change, now that the Department of Philosophy at the University of Oklahoma (OU) has provided such a terrific model for them. In an attempt to, in the words of OU philosopher Amy Olberding, “make the job seeking process more humane and open,” her department has created a detaied job ad with 10 hyperlinked parts, including: “Why are we hiring in virtue theory?”, “Who are we looking for?” “Teaching in the Philosophy Department”, “Our hiring process,” “Do you have questions for us?” and more. The ad material is written with a combination of warmth and frankness. For a sample of its flavor, here’s the content from the “More about the Philosophy Department” section: We recognize that investigating a department and even interviewing in person might not yield answers to the sorts of things you’d really like to know. Here are some of the things [More]

How to Be a Pyrrhonist: The Practice and Significance of Pyrrhonian Skepticism

2019.11.05 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Richard Bett, How to Be a Pyrrhonist: The Practice and Significance of Pyrrhonian Skepticism, Cambridge University Press, 2019, 263pp., $99.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781108471077. Reviewed by Máté Veres, ELTE, Budapest/CEU, Budapest Perhaps the most popular strategy in recent decades to reinvigorate the study of ancient philosophy has been to present ancient philosophical tenets, notably those of Stoics and Epicureans, as motivating and grounding particular ways of life. Richard Bett has long argued that ancient Skeptics are worth considering from this point of view, since they also aimed, though arguably failed, to offer an attractive way of leading one's life. As he concluded in his first published article on ancient Skepticism, it is difficult 'to fathom the frame of mind in which this [i.e., the Skeptical] way of life could seem both possible and desirable', which is no doubt the reason 'why Pyrrhonism never achieved anything like the popular appeal of Stoicism or Epicureanism'.[More]

Embrace the Void Podcast Interview

Listen here. Download here.I did a longform interview with Aaron on the Embrace the Void podcast this week about Automation and Utopia. We discuss a number of the key philosophical questions and assumptions underlying the book's main arguments. Topics covered include:(i) the definition of work; (ii) the case for techno-pessimism; (iii) how to understand utopianism; (iv) the lightness of being a cyborg; (v) what it would mean to live in a virtual utopia.This is a good primer for anyone interested in the book though, as per usual, we only scratch the surface of the issues.I also played the 'realism-antirealism' lightning round game and I contradicted myself several times.I highly recommend checking out other episodes in the podcast too. There are some excellent, substantive philosophical discussions up there. #mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; } /* Add your own MailChimp form style overrides in your site stylesheet or in this style block. We recommend moving this block and the preceding CSS link to the HEAD of your HTML file. */ Subscribe to the [More]

2 Postdoctoral Positions in Ethics of Science and/or Philosophy of Science

Job List:  Europe Name of institution:  Leibniz University Hannover / Bielefeld University Town:  Hannover / Bielefeld Country:  Germany Job Description:  Leibniz University Hannover and Bielefeld University jointly seek to fill 2 Postdoctoral Positions (100% TV-L 13) in Ethics of Science and/or Philosophy of Science starting April 1, 2020, within the Graduiertenkolleg (research training group) GRK 2073 “Integrating Ethics and Epistemology of Scientific [More]

APA Member Interview: David Atenasio

David Atenasio will serve as a lecturer this Fall at Frostburg State University. He received his PhD from Loyola University Chicago in 2019. He primarily writes on topics related to complicity, collective action and collective responsibility, but is also working on projects on the nature of consent and the social contract. What are you working on [More]