Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

“Frustration, Mediocrity, and Drama”

A year in the academic life of the typical Nigerian philosopher is a long one defined by frustration, mediocrity (either self-imposed or externally imposed) and drama. The drama aspect revolves around violent student activism leading to university closures, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) industrial actions, blood-letting on university campuses by students who are members of violent cults, the intrigue surrounding the selection of new vice chancellors, the latest corruption scandals, political interference in university administration, or accusations of sexual harassment directed at prominent professors… Those are the words of Ada Agaba (University of Calabar, Nigeria) in a post at The Philosophers’ Cocoon that highlights the challenges faced by philosophers in Nigeria. Poor research funding, outdated libraries, and corrupt administrators and colleagues are common problems, and give rise to frequent strikes by the university teacher’s union, which in turn means that the public universities have, in practice, “no fixed academic calendars.” Political and ethnic favoritism “is the norm” in hiring. The “collapsing academic system” in Nigeria hinders education and research there and the opportunities for interaction between Nigerian philosophers and those elsewhere, and so provides yet another example of the ways in which “what philosophy is” is affected by the contingencies of economics, politics, [More]

Philosophers Win ERC Starting Grants

The European Research Council (ERC) has announced the winners of its latest round of “starting grants,” and among them are several philosophers. They are: Rafał Banka, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, for Mereological Reconstruction of the Metaphysical System in the Daodejing (€229,500 / $252,600) Jonathan Birch, London School of Economics and Political Science, for Foundations of Animal Sentience (€1,500,000 / $1,652,000) Jason Konek, University of Bristol, for Epistemic Utility for Imprecise Probability (€1,490,433 / $1,641,000) David Ludwig, Wageningen University, for Local Ecologies of Knowledge: Towards a Philosophy of Ethnobiology (€1,500,000 / $1,652,000) Rik Peels, Free University of Amsterdam and Medical Centre, for The Epistemology and Ethics of Fundamentalism (details forthcoming) Hanno Sauer, Utrecht University, for The Enemy of the Good: Towards a Theory of Moral Progress (€1,500,000 / $1,652,000) The starting grants program aims to “help individual scientists and scholars to build their own teams and conduct pioneering research across all disciplines.” There’s more information, including links to lists of all of the grant winners, here. The post Philosophers Win ERC Starting Grants appeared first on Daily [More]

Philosophers Win Several Large Grants in the Netherlands

Several philosophers are among the winners of large grants from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). They are: Reinhard Muskens (UvA) for “A Sentence Uttered Makes a World Appear” (€770,850 / $860,000) Hearing a sentence enables one to make a mental picture of its content. ‘The cat is on the mat’ is a sequence of words first and then an image. But how does that work? Our research uses logic and computation to answer this question. Robert van Rooij (UvA) for “Why We Believe Sharks Are Dangerous” We accept generic sentences like ‘Sharks are dangerous’, although sharks only seldomly attack us. It is important to understand why, because stereotypes are also expressed by such generic sentences. We  want to investigate whether the acceptance of such generalizing sentences can be explained by the way  expectations are learned. Han van Ruler (EUR) for “Decoding Descartes” Decoding Descartes unravels the ideas of the founder of modern philosophy and science René Descartes (1596–1650) in response to contemporary deadlocks in philosophy, psychology and neuroscience. By reevaluating Descartes’ work and correspondence, the project shows Descartes is still decisively relevant for contemporary debates in multiple disciplines from humanities to neuroscience. Maartje Schermer (EUR) for “Health and disease as practical concepts: a pragmatist approach to conceptualization of health and disease” Scientific, [More]

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