Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Articulating a Thought

2020.05.10 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Eli Alshanetsky, Articulating a Thought, Oxford University Press, 2019, 164pp., $50.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780198785880. Reviewed by Matt Weiner, University of Vermont Eli Alshanetsky has written a valuable and original study of a phenomenon that is familiar to us all, but that has received little scrutiny in recent analytic philosophy: putting our thoughts into words. Sometimes articulating our thoughts is easy; they come to mind as sentences of the language we speak. But other times finding words for our thoughts is a struggle. It is these hard cases that Alshanetsky focuses on, where we seem to have a thought that we must work to formulate, and then we arrive at a formulation that we recognize as capturing the original thought. As Alshanetsky argues in Chapter 1, much of the philosophical literature on self-knowledge focuses on cases in which the thinker can easily state... Read [More]

The Great EROEI Scam: Are renewables a good idea?

The cheetah in the figure knows very well that it cannot spend more energy in chasing the impala than the impala can provide once eaten (in other words, the cheetah needs an energy return on the investment (EROEI) >1). Carnivores make no calculations about that question, they only know that, if they want to eat, they have to run. And this is our destiny, too. If we want to survive, we need to build new energy sources to replace fossil fuels and to that before depletion or climate change (or both) destroy us. But, unlike lions and cheetahs, we tend to discuss a lot on the subject and, sometimes, to get it completely wrong. This is the problem with the recent movie "Planet of the Humans" and its totally wrong evaluation of renewable energy (image by Nick Farnhill, creative commons license)   Years ago, when I discovered the concept of "EROEI" (or EROI), energy return for energy invested, I was both delighted and elated. "Here is," I thought, "an objective way to evaluate and compare the efficiency of energy technologies. No more shaky financial calculations, no more ideology, no more politics, only facts. And everyone has to agree on the facts." And the beauty of the concept was that if the EROEI is smaller than one for a certain technology, then it is an energy sink, not an energy production system.I was wrong more than I could have imagined. From when the idea of EROEI was first proposed, in the 1980s by Charles Hall, the concept was stretched, squashed, squeezed, [More]

Normative Externalism

2020.05.09 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Brian Weatherson, Normative Externalism, Oxford University Press, 2019, 245pp., $70.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780199696536. Reviewed by Bruce Russell, Wayne State University In this book, Brian Weatherson defends a view about what is important when it comes to evaluating actions and beliefs (and also agents and advice). He writes: I'm going to defend a fairly simple, and fairly extreme, position. It isn't a bad-making feature, in any way, of a belief that the believer thinks it is irrational, nor is it a bad-making feature of believers that they have beliefs that they think are irrational . . . The general principle throughout is to motivate and defend a picture where what matters is conformity to the actual rules -- be they rules of action or rules of belief -- rather than conformity to what one takes (or even rationally takes) the rules... Read [More]