Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

The Psychology of Normative Cognition

[New Entry by Daniel Kelly and Stephen Setman on August 25, 2020.] From an early age, humans exhibit a tendency to identify, adopt, and enforce the norms of their local communities. Norms are the social rules that mark out what is appropriate, allowed, required, or forbidden in different situations for various community members. These rules are informal in the sense that although they are sometimes represented in formal laws, such as the rule governing which side of the road to drive on, they need not be explicitly codified to effectively influence behavior. There are rules that forbid theft [More]

Causation in Physics

[New Entry by Mathias Frisch on August 24, 2020.] What role, if any, do causal notions play in physics? On the one hand, it might appear intuitively obvious that physics aims to provide us with causal knowledge of the world and that causal claims are an integral part of physics. On the other hand, there is an influential philosophical tradition, dating back to Ernst Mach and to Bertrand Russell's extremely influential article "On the Notion of Cause" (1912), denying the applicability or at least the usefulness of causal notions in physics. While this tradition [More]

Synopsis of Parfit's Ethics

I previously shared my manuscript on Parfit's Ethics.  But I figure I might as well offer a bit more detail about what interesting content can be found in each chapter, in hopes of enticing a few more readers to give it a look.  (I should be able to take into account any comments received within the next few days; after that, I'm not sure whether I'll get a chance for further revisions.)1. Rationality and Objectivity - A simple summary of Parfit's arguments against Rational Egoism and Normative Subjectivism.  Briefly evaluates the arguments against Parfit's non-naturalist normative realism.2. Distributive Justice - Explains Parfit's priority view, and suggests a way to improve upon it (that basic goods or welfare contributors, rather than welfare itself, might have diminishing marginal value).  Explains away the arguments of anti-aggregationists.  Summarizes Parfit's views on "moral mathematics" and collective harm. 3. Character and Consequence - Explains "rational irrationality", and extends it to critique Parfit's understanding of "blameless wrongdoing" (or virtuously-acquired viciousness). Defends self-effacing moral theories.  Assesses Parfit's argument that common-sense morality is directly self-defeating.4. The Triple Theory - Assesses Parfit's Triple Theory, including a critique of the underlying motivation for his convergence-seeking project.5. Personal Identity - Summarizes Parfit's key arguments for reductionism about personal [More]

The Triumph of Catastrophism. How Greta Thumberg Carried the Day

Disclaimer: I am NOT saying here that the Covid-19 does not exist nor that people didn't die because of it. If you react with the term "denialism" you are only showing that you have no rational arguments to produce. Do you remember that weird girl from Sweden? Yes, the one with the braided hair. What was her name? Greta something.... It is strange that people seemed to pay attention to what she was saying. What was she talking about? Matters nobody really should care about, things like climate change, yes. Why should anyone be worried by that when there are much more important matters at hand with the great pandemic sweeping the world? And yet, strangely, nowadays people are doing exactly what Greta had told them to do.  Not long ago, I published on Cassandra's Legacy a post titled "The Great Failure of Catastrophism." In it, I argued that some 50 years of warnings from scientists had been completely ignored by the powers that be. I also argued that a relatively minor perturbation, as the one caused by the Covid-19 epidemic, had been enough to consign all worries about climate to the dustbin of the silly ideas that nobody should care about.  But things keep changing and I am now amazed to see how what catastrophists said should have been done is being done. It is just that it is being done in ways that most of us couldn't possibly have imagined. Several of the most destructive and most polluting human activities are being abandoned or at least [More]