Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Things: In Touch with the Past

2019.09.22 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Carolyn Korsmeyer, Things: In Touch with the Past, Oxford University Press, 2019, 218pp., $49.95 (hbk), ISBN 9780190904876. Reviewed by Filippo Contesi, University of Barcelona Carolyn Korsmeyer's monograph bolsters her reputation as a leading innovator in analytic aesthetics research. Like so much of her previous work, this book is beautifully written, thoughtful and thought-provoking, carefully referenced and rich in artistic examples and historical anecdotes. The book is a defence and analysis of the aesthetic value of genuineness in things. In it, Korsmeyer argues that being before the real specimen of something -- often, though not necessarily, a valuable work of art -- is capable of yielding aesthetically valuable experiences. On her account, moreover, aesthetic value in such experiences is often connected to ethical and cognitive value. Finally, these aesthetically valuable experiences are crucially mediated by the operation of the sense of touch. At least... Read [More]

Worthless Harm-Prevention and Non-Existence

We typically assume that it's really important to prevent great harms.  And indeed, usually it is.  But there are at least a couple of exceptions.Most obviously, some harms might be outweighed by greater associated benefits.  Benatar thinks it's terrible to allow someone to come into existence given all the subsequent harms their life will contain (no matter how overall happy their life will be).  That's obviously nuts.  These harms are more than compensated for by the overall happiness of the life.  So it's only uncompensated harms, or "net harms", that we should seek to prevent.More interestingly, even net harms may nevertheless not warrant preventing (in a certain way).  For suppose the harm is comparative in nature: the harmful event does not put the victim in an intrinsically bad state, but rather harms them in virtue of depriving them of some much better alternative.  There are then two very different ways in which a comparative harm could be prevented.  You could ensure that they get the better alternative.  (That's the good way!)  Or, you could prevent the "better alternative" from ever arising as a possibility to be deprived of in the first place.  There is generally no reason whatsoever to prevent a harm (however grave) in this way.For example, suppose you know two facts: (i) your friend is about to pick up a discarded lottery ticket that is, unbeknownst to them, a winning ticket, worth millions [More]

How to talk to your political opponents

Imagine that you are having a heated political argument with a member of the “other” party over what the government should or should not do on various issues. You and your debate partner argue about what should be done about immigrants who want to come into the country. You argue about what should be done about the never-ending mass murder of people in schools, places of worship, and entertainment venues by killers using assault weapons. You argue about what should be done to improve employment and to improve the healthcare system. The post How to talk to your political opponents appeared first on OUPblog.         Related StoriesWhy love endsWhy more democracy isn’t better democracyThe long trauma of revenge [More]

Debating Pornography

2019.09.21 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Andrew Altman and Lori Watson, Debating Pornography, Oxford University Press, 2019, 323pp., $24.95 (pbk), ISBN 9780199358717. Reviewed by Lina Papadaki, University of Crete This book provides a clear, thorough. pro-and-con philosophical analysis of major issues about pornography and the debates pornography generates. Andrew Altman and Lori Watson provide strong arguments to support their conclusions, while engaging with various studies on the effects pornography has on its consumers. Their volume is an excellent introduction to the ethical issues pornography raises. At the same time, it can be appreciated by the more advanced reader already familiar with contemporary philosophical discussions about pornography. Altman and Watson are concerned about important questions such as: How are we to define pornography? Why do we have reason to reject an obscenity based approach to pornography and to adopt, rather, a sex-equality approach? Does the right to sexual autonomy include the... Read [More]


[New Entry by K. Scarlett Kingsley and Richard Parry on September 26, 2019.] In the middle of the fifth century BCE, Empedocles of Acragas formulated a philosophical program in hexameter verse that pioneered the influential four-part theory of roots (air, water, earth, and fire) along with two active principles of Love and Strife, which influenced later philosophy, medicine, mysticism, cosmology, and religion. The philosophical system responded to Parmenides' rejection of change while embracing religious injunctions and magical practices. As a result, Empedocles has occupied a significant [More]

I am wondering about a logical situation in which one starts with a desired

Read another response about Logic Logic Share I am wondering about a logical situation in which one starts with a desired conclusion and then works backward to discern solid premises from which to construct said conclusion. The particular conclusion I have in mind is "each one of us should always be open to the possibility that we might have made a mistake." One set of inarguable premises might be "all people make mistakes at one time or another" and "I am a person." For some people, however, that is not sufficient: implicitly, they always seem to say "while I agree in theory that I might make a mistake, I will never actually admit to a mistake in any specific situation." and so I am looking for another set of premises. These one actually is based on strong empirical evidence as cited by Kahneman in Thinking Fast and Slow: "It is more likely that another person will notice when I make a mistake than it would be for me to notice it." Then I get stuck. It seems I need another premise alongside this one to finish my syllogism. Any thoughts from the panel would be [More]