Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

APA Member Interview: Jaime Edwards

Jaime Edwards is currently an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at St. Norbert College. He completed his PhD at the University of Chicago in 2018. He specializes in social & political philosophy and 19th & 20th century continental philosophy. What excites you about philosophy? First, I think that philosophy provides the least dogmatic venue for seriously working [More]

Mike’s Free Encounter #14: Bad Mercenaries

This is the 14th in an ongoing series aimed to provide the overworked DM with ready-to run encounters. The PCs face off against bad mercenaries threatening peaceful farmers. The encounter includes: History/Background for the encounter. New Monsters Encounter guide. Color Maps The companion ZIP file contains: JPEG and Campaign Cartographer versions of the maps (with [More]

Escaping Skinner's Box: AI and the New Era of Techno-Superstition

[The following is the text of a talk I delivered at the World Summit AI on the 10th October 2019. The talk is essentially a nugget taken from my new book Automation and Utopia. It's not an excerpt per se, but does look at one of the key arguments I make in the book]The science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke once formulated three “laws” for thinking about the future. The third law states that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. The idea, I take it, is that if someone from the Paleolithic was transported to the modern world, they would be amazed by what we have achieved. Supercomputers in our pockets; machines to fly us from one side of the planet to another in less than a day; vaccines and antibiotics to cure diseases that used to kill most people in childhood. To them, these would be truly magical times. It’s ironic then that many people alive today don’t see it that way. They see a world of materialism and reductionism. They think we have too much knowledge and control — that through technology and science we have made the world a less magical place. Well, I am here to reassure these people. One of the things AI will do is re-enchant the world and kickstart a new era of techno-superstition. If not for everyone, then at least for most people who have to work with AI on a daily basis. The catch, however, is that this is not necessarily a good thing. In fact, it is something we should worry about. Let me explain by way of an analogy. In [More]

Refereeing Papers About Your Own Work

A graduate student in philosophy writes in with the following query:  Under what conditions is it appropriate to referee a paper that responds directly to your own work?  The student elaborates: On the one hand, it seems unethical to review such a paper, given the personal investment in the subject. On the other, it seems plausible to me that the conflict of interest doesn’t necessarily make a potential referee a less qualified reviewer than whoever would replace them, especially if the topic is a niche one or is highly technical. I can see an argument for the idea that it might be unfair to the author (or bad for the subject) to “selfishly” refuse to contribute in cases where one’s expertise might make a relevant difference. (Though I suspect that there are very few cases in which the topic is genuinely as niche or technical as that.) It also seems worthwhile to balance concerns of the time required to find additional reviewers and the associated costs to both author and editor. Finally, I’m unsure how I would draw a cutoff for papers that one shouldn’t review—speaking only for myself, I suspect that I would be more likely to be uncharitable to a paper that failed to engage with my work on a subject than with one that responded to it, for instance.  I reached out to Rebecca Kukla (Georgetown), editor-in-chief the Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal and former editor-in-chief of Public Affairs Quarterly for a response. She writes: [More]

Mary Astell on female education and the sorrow of marriage (philosopher of the month)

Mary Astell is widely considered one of the first and foremost English feminists. Her pioneering writings address female education and autonomy in the early modern period and had a profound influence on later generation of feminists. Astell was born into a middle class family in 1666. Her father was Newcastle coal merchant who died when […] The post Mary Astell on female education and the sorrow of marriage (philosopher of the month) appeared first on OUPblog.         Related StoriesThe moral mathematics of letting people dieJohn Duns Scotus – The ‘Subtle Doctor’ – Philosopher of the MonthG.E. Moore – his life and work – Philosopher of the [More]

Racism’s Guts? The Physiology of Oppression

by Shannon Sullivan Can a person’s belief in racial hierarchy—for example, that white people are superior to Black people—be embodied in their gut? I wondered this after having an “aha” moment while reading Elizabeth Wilson’s book Psychosomatic: Feminism and the Neurological Body. Chapter two of her book examines the psychology of the stomach and the intestines [More]

U. Chicago Reforms PhD Programs: Lifts Limits on Funded Time, Sets Limits on Number of Students

The University of Chicago has announced several reforms to its Ph.D. programs in the humanities, social sciences, and some other fields. The changes cover graduate student funding and teaching responsibilities:  “Every enrolled PhD student in good academic standing has full tuition coverage, paid health insurance premiums, and funding for the duration of their program at least at the guaranteed stipend level,” apparently with no preset limit on the number of years one can receive funding (though presumably programs may remove students for lack of progress). Funding is independent of teaching duties—“Regardless of whether a student is teaching in a particular quarter or year, gross stipends will not vary”—and teaching duties will be aimed at helping graduate students “learn how to teach.” “The total number of PhD students across a particular school or division [e.g., Humanities, or Social Sciences, or Divinity] will be a fixed number, and new students will not be admitted until currently enrolled students graduate or leave their program. The model allows for variation across fields in time to degree and provides autonomy for departments to weigh the trade-off between entering cohort size and years in the program.” As Colleen Flaherty puts it at Inside Higher Ed: If full funding is the carrot to finish one’s degree in a timely manner, minimizing financial distractions, there is a stick—at least for departments. [More]