Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Harold Bloom, “a singular breed of scholar-teacher-critic-prose-poet-pamphleteer,” has died. He was 89... Graeme Wood... Michael Dirda... Justin A. Sider... Dwight Garner... James Romm... Guardian... AP

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Harold Bloom, “a singular breed of scholar-teacher-critic-prose-poet-pamphleteer,” has died. He was 89... Graeme Wood... Michael Dirda... Justin A. Sider... Dwight Garner... James Romm... Guardian... AP

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News source: Arts & Letters Daily

Harold Bloom, “a singular breed of scholar-teacher-critic-prose-poet-pamphleteer,” has died. He was 89... Graeme Wood... Michael Dirda... Justin A. Sider... Dwight Garner... Guardian... AP

Philosophy News image
Harold Bloom, “a singular breed of scholar-teacher-critic-prose-poet-pamphleteer,” has died. He was 89... Graeme Wood... Michael Dirda... Justin A. Sider... Dwight Garner... Guardian... AP

Continue reading . . .

News source: Arts & Letters Daily

Is Trump a Tyrant? Part III: False Equivalency

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Fallacies and rhetoric are common tools in political debates for the same reason hammers and saws are common tools in carpentry: because they work. In the case of politics, “working” means that they enable one to “win.” And “winning” in this context means persuading someone to believe, whether the claim is true or not. Philosophy, in the true sense, has a rather different victory condition: you “win” by having plausible premises and good logic—which tends to lose when it comes to persuasion. Unfortunately, people tend to believe what they are persuaded to believe rather than what has been proven, so it is no surprise that the standard counters to criticisms of Trump (or any politician) tend to be fallacies and rhetoric. I will go through a few of these fallacies to show how they do not refute the claim that Trump is a tyrant. One common way to reply to this sort of criticism is to make use of a false equivalency. The usual method of this fallacy is to treat a shared quality between two things as showing they are equivalent. This fallacy is very commonly used to argue that because of this shared quality, two things are equal in terms of their degree or magnitude (and this is usually in terms of badness). This fallacy is somewhat like a false/weak analogy in that an inference is made based on an alleged similarity that fails to hold. One way to formalize this fallacy is as follows: Premise 1: A is X (to degree D) because it has qualities A, B, and C. Premise 2: B has quality C. Conclusion: A and B are equivalent, so B is X (to degree D). This reasoning is defective because it does not follow that because two things have something in common that they are equivalent. To use an extreme example, while it is true that both Hitler and Trump were elected officials, this obviously does not entail that they are equivalent. It also does not follow that they are not equivalent.  What is wanting is a proper comparison of A and B to determine if they are. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

Three Reasons Why We Should Not Request Letters of Recommendation for Job Applications

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by Helen De Cruz A standard element for a job application for a philosophy tenure-track position is three (or more) letters of recommendation, requested up front. Just glancing through this year’s PhilJobs, I see tenure-track positions that require “three recommendation letters,” “three letters of reference signed and dated within the last six months. At least […]

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News source: Blog of the APA

Assessing the Moral Status of Robots: A Shorter Defence of Ethical Behaviourism

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[This is the text of a lecture that I delivered at Tilburg University on the 24th of September 2019. It was delivered as part of the 25th Anniversary celebrations for TILT (Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology and Society). My friend and colleague Sven Nyholm was the discussant for the evening. The lecture is based on my longer academic article ‘Welcoming Robots into the Moral Circle: A Defence of Ethical Behaviourism’ but was written from scratch and presents some key arguments in a snappier and clearer form. I also include a follow up section responding to criticisms from the audience on the evening of the lecture My thanks to all those involved in organizing the event (Aviva de Groot, Merel Noorman and Silvia de Conca in particular)]1. IntroductionMy lecture this evening will be about the conditions under which we should welcome robots into our moral communities. Whenever I talk about this, I am struck by how much my academic career has come to depend upon my misspent youth for its inspiration. Like many others, I was obsessed with science fiction as a child, and in particular with the representation of robots in science fiction. I had two favourite, fictional, robots. The first was R2D2 from the original Star Wars trilogy. The second was Commander Data from Star Trek: the Next Generation. I liked R2D2 because of his* personality - courageous, playful, disdainful of authority - and I liked Data because the writers of Star Trek used him as a vehicle for exploring some important philosophical questions about emotion, humour, and what it means to be human.In fact, I have to confess that Data has had an outsized influence on my philosophical imagination and has featured in several of my academic papers. Part of the reason for this was practical. When I grew up in Ireland we didn’t have many options to choose from when it came to TV. We had to make do with what was available and, as luck would have it, Star Trek: TNG was on every day when I came home from school. As. . .

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News source: Philosophical Disquisitions

Henchpersons and the Problem of Induction

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by Patrick Miller The Venture Brothers, a long-running Cartoon Network series, often plays on tropes and themes common in action shows and comics. In the clip, from the episode titled “The Lepidopterists,” Henchman #21 and Henchman #24 are discussing their experience working for a villain. Three seasons into the series and countless fellow minions have […]

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News source: Blog of the APA

University to “Align” Philosophy Major with Catholic Studies

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The trustees of Newman University, a Catholic university in Kansas, have approved a plan proposed by the administration that will revise its philosophy and theology programs so that they “align strategically” with its new School of Catholic Studies.  The administration also plans to eliminate four major programs, but it is unclear at this point whether philosophy would be among them. Also unclear is what it means for the philosophy program to “align strategically” with the School of Catholic Studies. It could primarily be an administrative and staff consolidation with only indirect effects on how philosophy is taught at the school. Or it could be an attempt to explicitly influence the content and teaching of philosophy courses in a way that furthers the aim of the School of Catholic Studies, which is to reinforce “core values” such as “Catholic Identity” and provide “students authentic and transformational opportunities to grow in their faith during their collegiate journey.” (Inquiries about this to Newman University administration have yet to be answered.) Newman philosophy professor Christopher Fox was interviewed for a story on these changes by the school paper, The Vantage, about which he expressed concerns regarding “Newman’s ability to stay a place where knowledge is produced, and the diversity of views is supported.” The Vantage reports: “Fox said with the realignment of his department with the school of Catholic Studies, and the university’s broader aim of reducing faculty positions, he expects that he will lose his job—in part, he said, because he has been prohibited from teaching philosophy to the seminarians. ‘They said it’s because I used bad words in class,’ he said.” Perhaps relatedly, Newman University has faced a number of wrongful termination lawsuits over the past couple of years. The post University to “Align” Philosophy Major with. . .

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News source: Daily Nous

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