Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Causality, Probability, and Medicine

2019.09.19 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Donald Gillies, Causality, Probability, and Medicine, Routledge, 2019, 300pp., $150.00 (hbk), ISBN 9781138829282. Reviewed by Federica Russo, University of Amsterdam This book is at the crossroads of the philosophy of medicine, philosophy of causality, and philosophy of mechanisms. Specifically, it contributes to understanding the philosophical and historical underpinnings of medical methodology. Donald Gillies' aim in the book is to "develop a theory of causality for theoretical medicine".  In order to establish a link between causality and probability, Gillies shows that we have to link causality and action on the one hand, and causality and mechanisms on the other. Admittedly, it is a rather difficult task to contribute simultaneously to these intricately interconnected issues that are the focus of a number of debates. Gillies does succeed in showing how in-depth analysis of history of medicine can shed light on theoretical issues in... Read [More]

Natural Selection

[New Entry by Peter Gildenhuys on September 25, 2019.] [Editor's Note: The following new entry by Peter Gildenhuys replaces the former entry on this topic by the previous author.] Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace are the two co-discoverers of natural selection (Darwin a Wallace 1858), though, between the two, Darwin is the principal theorist of the notion whose most [More]

“Academic Philosophy Is Ruining Our Marriage”, Non-Hegel Versions

By now many readers will have seen the Reddit post written by a physicist seeking advice about what to do about her Hegel-obsessed philosopher-of-science husband. It was posted in the Heap of Links the other day, and all over social media—to the extent that “Hegel” was trending on Twitter. The post begins: My husband and I are both academics. We’ve been married for 3 years, and been together for 6. He is an academic philosopher and I am a physicist. He has recently expressed displeasure that I’ve never seriously engaged with his work. Now, I’ve read a bit… Unfortunately, everything he’s shown me has just seems completely insane. Here’s the problem: his work apparently involves claims about physics that are just wrong, and wrong in a very embarrassing way! She details some of those claims, points out various problems, and claims his pre-occupation with Hegel “has reached the point of creepiness,” noting that “he keeps a framed picture of Hegel on the nightstand in our bedroom.” The problem grows and culminates in a fight: Recently we got in a huge fight because he was trying to demonstrate an example of the Hegelian concept of the “unity of opposites” (whatever that means) by claiming that right and left hands are opposite but also identical. I told him this is just wrong and that right and left hands are not “identical” in any meaningful sense (chirality is a basic concept [More]

Elizabeth Anderson Wins MacArthur Fellowship

Elizabeth Anderson, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and John Dewey Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan, is a recipient of a 2019 MacArthur Fellowship. The MacArthur Fellowships, informally referred to as “genius grants”, are unrestricted, no-strings-attached awards of $625,000, given to “talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.” The Fellowships are funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. There were 26 Fellows in the 2019 class. Professor Anderson is the only academic philosopher among them. The Foundation says: Elizabeth Anderson is a philosopher examining how evolving concepts of freedom and equality are experienced in our daily lives. She combines a high level of analytical rigor with a pragmatist methodology in her investigations of the ways various institutions, policies, and social practices structure relations among people and serve to promote or hinder conditions of democratic equality and human flourishing. In an extensive body of work, Anderson formulates principles based on empirical evidence about problems of practical importance and urgency—from the persistence of racial segregation to the authoritarian aspects of the modern workplace—instead of engaging in thought experiments or posing hypothetical questions about an ideal world. She has made pivotal [More]

The Experience of Injustice: A Theory of Recognition

2019.09.18 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Emmanuel Renault, The Experience of Injustice: A Theory of Recognition, Richard A. Lynch (tr.), Columbia University Press, 2019, 272pp., $65.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780231177061. Reviewed by Gabriel Gottlieb, Xavier University Emmanuel Renault’s book offers a critical theory of justice grounded in the concept of recognition. His model serves as an alternative to the liberal models of justice found in Rawls and Habermas. Originally published in French in 2004, this English translation (by Richard A. Lynch) of Renault’s book should be welcomed by political philosophers working on theories of justice, identity politics, social movements, the limits of liberalism, and critical theory more generally. For philosophers working on the politics of recognition, the book is essential reading. Building on the Hegelian-inspired theory of recognition articulated by Axel Honneth in The Struggle of Recognition, Renault aims to reorient Honneth’s model of recognition around “the normative content of negative social experiences that can lead to... Read [More]