Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

What Makes Your Papers Worth Reading?

Given how many academic papers are out there, it would be useful to have more filtering and discovery mechanisms for helping us to find the ones we might be most interested in.  One thing that could help is if authors themselves offered a concise 'overview' of what they think makes their various papers worth reading (when they are).  Many of us already list our papers on our websites, but (i) standard academic abstracts rarely do a good job of explaining why a paper is worth reading, and (ii) who reads academic websites anyway?  So I'm going to take a stab at doing this in a blog post, and invite others to follow suit (whether on Facebook or wherever you like: feel free to additionally post your response in the comments here, especially if your research interests overlap with mine at all). What lessons from your work do you wish were more widely appreciated?Ordered by how much I happen to like each paper today:(1) Value Receptacles (Noûs, 2015) argues that (i) the "separateness of persons" is best understood in terms of fungibility, and (ii) by recognizing each person as being of distinct (yet comparable) intrinsic value, utilitarianism can appropriately avoid treating people fungibly, and hence avoid any "separateness of persons" objection that's worth worrying about.  This is important because the SOP objection is a standard reason for rejecting aggregative consequentialism.  This paper shows (I believe decisively) that such moves are a [More]

Intro to Philosophy Class 10

This is the content for class 10.   Video 45: Intro to Hume & Religion Video 49: Hume’s Problem of Evil-Conclusion Video 46: Hume’s Five Problems Video 50: Hume & Immortality-Metaphysical Arguments   Video 47: Hume’s Problem of Evil Part 1 Everything is Awful Video 51: Hume & Immortality-Moral Arguments Video 48: Hume’s Problem of Evil [More]

Scientific Research and Big Data

[New Entry by Sabina Leonelli on May 29, 2020.] Big Data promises to revolutionise the production of knowledge within and beyond science, by enabling novel, highly efficient ways to plan, conduct, disseminate and assess research. The last few decades have witnessed the creation of novel ways to produce, store, and analyse data, culminating in the emergence of the field of data science, which brings together computational, algorithmic, statistical and mathematical techniques towards extrapolating knowledge from big data. At the same time, the Open [More]

Fictionalism in Philosophy

2020.05.19 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Bradley Armour-Garb and Frederick Kroon (eds.), Fictionalism in Philosophy, Oxford University Press, 2020, 237pp., $85.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780190689605. Reviewed by Zoltán Gendler Szabó, Yale University One day Winnie-the-Pooh decided to give Eeyore a birthday present. He picked up a small jar of honey from his pantry and took off towards the stream where Eeyore was. It was a warm day and a long way to go. About halfway Winnie felt that it was time for a little something and was delighted to find that he actually had a little something with him. He sat down, opened the jar, and only after the last lick did the consequences of his snack dawn on him. For a while he did not know what to do, but then he had a brilliant idea: "Well, it's a very nice pot, even if there's no honey in it, and if I washed it... Read [More]

Three months later, Florence restarts. But not quite

The owners of a shoe repair shop in Florence (*). In this picture, taken just after the end of the coronavirus lockdown, they are preparing to reopen their shop. They look happy, even euphoric. Time will tell if that optimism was justified.The epidemic is almost over in Italy. After almost three painful months of lockdown and the loss of about 30.000 lives, the daily number of victims of the coronavirus is slowly dwindling to zero. In a couple of weeks at most, the epidemic will be completely gone. It is time to restart, but the damage has been terrible.The lockdown is over and the Florentines are back, walking in the streets, wearing face masks, but free to go wherever they want, provided that they don't form groups ("assembramenti"). A few tourists can be seen, slowly walking around, a little bewildered. Many shops have reopened, but not all of them -- maybe 30% are still closed. For what I could see this morning downtown, all the open shops are empty of customers. The restaurants also look empty. The buses are nearly empty, too. Here is a picture taken this morning, with me and my wife the only passengers of a bus that used to be packed full before the epidemic. Note the signs saying "You cannot sit here!" They don't seem to be necessary, given the situation.To pass to you some idea of the somber atmosphere in Florence these days, here are two fragments of conversations I had or witnessed in the street. Maybe these people are too pessimistic, but I have a feeling that [More]

Mental Causation: A Counterfactual Theory

2020.05.18 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Thomas Kroedel, Mental Causation: A Counterfactual Theory, Cambridge University Press, 2020, 224pp., $99.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781108487146. Reviewed by Umut Baysan, University of Oxford In this relatively short book, Thomas Kroedel has two central goals: (i) to propose and defend a theory of causation; (ii) to show how mental causation is possible. Regarding (i), as the title suggests, we are given a counterfactual theory of causation, supported with auxiliary theories concerning metaphysics of events and semantics of counterfactual conditionals. As to (ii), by "mental causation", Kroedel really means "causation of physical effects by mental causes" (p. 1), so he is not interested in cases where mental events cause other mental events. Focusing on the mental-to-physical cases, Kroedel explores what various views in contemporary metaphysics of mind imply about the possibility of mental causation. Mental causation -- in particular causation of physical effects by mental causes... Read [More]