Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

I’m the mother I am thanks to my daughter’s disability

On the first Mother’s Day that my daughter, Sesha, no longer lived at home with us, I received a lovely basket with various hand-crafted gifts from her. With help from her aide, she handed it over to me, and as I gushed she looked so very pleased. Mother’s Day is a time for children to […] The post I’m the mother I am thanks to my daughter’s disability appeared first on OUPblog.         Related StoriesMusic schools respond to COVID-19 shutdownWhy we need humour at a time like thisA.J. Ayer and Logical [More]

How We Became Our Data: A Genealogy of the Informational Perso

2020.05.06 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Colin Koopman, How We Became Our Data: A Genealogy of the Informational Person, University of Chicago Press, 2019, 269pp., $30.00 (pbk), ISBN 9780226626581. Reviewed by Ladelle McWhorter, University of Richmond Colin Koopman's title encapsulates the central -- and both disturbing and compelling -- arguments of his book: (1) over the past century, a new sort of subject has emerged, whom he dubs the informational person; (2) this new subject formed within an initially disparate array of administrative and technical practices of data collection, formatting, storage, and application; and (3) this subject is us. The third claim bears emphasizing; Koopman writes, "Our data do not simply point at who we already were before information systems were constructed. Rather, our information composes significant parts of our very selves. Data are active participants in our making. The formats structuring data help shape who we are" (vii). Our informational selves are not merely doubles of our real... Read [More]

The downfall of 'Professor Lockdown': triumphs and failures of science based policies

Scientists normally think that a scientific theory can be good or bad independently of the moral status of the person who proposes it. But in politics, the messenger can be blamed. That was the probable reason for the downfall of Dr. Neil Ferguson, nicknamed "Professor Lockdown," whose moral position was destroyed by a petty sexual scandal. For most scientists, Dr, Ferguson's personal misbehavior has no relevance to the validity of his models, but for politicians and for the public, it does. A lot. You all read the story of the downfall of Professor Neil Ferguson, aka "Professor Lockdown" trashed worldwide in the media for having had his lover, Ms. Antonia Staats, visiting him during the lockdown period that he himself had recommended for everybody else. It was a blessing for tabloids and there is no doubt that Dr. Ferguson deserved much of the scorn and the ridicule that was poured on him. Yet, there are some elements in this story that make it different from an ordinary story of philandering.Let's review what we know: it seems that Ms. Staats and Dr. Ferguson met first over an internet site and then it was Staats who went to visit Ferguson at his home in London, and the same Staats who told the story to friends who, in turn, diffused it around. These encounters took place about one month before the story was revealed in the media. Ferguson didn't deny the media reports and he immediately apologized and resigned from his post of government advisor in epidemiologic matters. [More]

The downfall of 'Professor Lockdown": triumphs and failures of science based policies

Scientists normally think that a scientific theory can be good or bad independently of the moral status of the person who proposes it. But in politics, the messenger can be blamed. That was the probable reason for the downfall of Dr. Neil Ferguson, nicknamed "Professor Lockdown," whose moral position was destroyed by a petty sexual scandal. For most scientists, Dr, Ferguson's personal misbehavior has no relevance to the validity of his models, but for politicians and for the public, it does. A lot. You all read the story of the downfall of Professor Neil Ferguson, aka "Professor Lockdown" trashed worldwide in the media for having had his lover, Ms. Antonia Staats, visiting him during the lockdown period that he himself had recommended for everybody else. It was a blessing for tabloids and there is no doubt that Dr. Ferguson deserved much of the scorn and the ridicule that was poured on him. Yet, there are some elements in this story that make it different from an ordinary story of philandering.Let's review what we know: it seems that Ms. Staats and Dr. Ferguson met first over an internet site and then it was Staats who went to visit Ferguson at his home in London, and the same Staats who told the story to friends who, in turn, diffused it around. These encounters took place about one month before the story was revealed in the media. Ferguson didn't deny the media reports and he immediately apologized and resigned from his post of government advisor in epidemiologic matters. [More]

No parade in Moscow this year, but the "ring of fire" around Russia remains

This year, we won't see the traditional victory parade in Moscow (Парад Победы в Москва) that normally takes place on May 9 (above, an extract of last year's parade). It is another effect of the COVID epidemics, but the parade will be probably held in September. It has too much political significance for Russia to be skipped: it is a reaction against the perception of being surrounded by hostile powers. And that may not be just a sensation but it may derive some substance by noting the "ring of fire" of NATO bases in Western Europe along the borders with Russia. Of course, on this side of the world, we can't imagine that these bases are there for purposes different than the defense of our freedom. But you, as you may perhaps understand that, on the other side there may be a certain feeling that it could be otherwise.   So, the yearly parade in Moscow is a clear political and military message directed to the West. And for a better understanding of how things are perceived in Russia, I think I could propose to you a recent talk by the Russian filmmaker Karen Shakhnazarov on the meaning of the WWII memory in Russia. Shakhnazarov makes several interesting points, often forgotten in the West. Comparing the forces involved, he notes how at the start of WWII the Soviet Union was outnumbered in terms of population and weaker in terms of industrial production. And not just that: the Soviet Union was surrounded in 1940 by a "ring of fire" of hostile powers. It was not [More]

Roads to Reference: An Essay on Reference Fixing in Natural Language

2020.05. : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Mario Gómez-Torrente, Roads to Reference: An Essay on Reference Fixing in Natural Language, Oxford University Press, 2019, 233pp., $70.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780198846277. Reviewed by Manuel García-Carpintero, University of Barcelona This book is a masterful treatment of its topic. In Kripke's terminology, the topic is reference-fixing, for a representative class of referential expressions: indexicals, proper names, Arabic numerals, kind-terms, and terms for sensible qualities like colors. Elaborating on Kripke's ideas, Kaplan and Stalnaker articulated a distinction between semantics and metasemantics, ascribing complementary roles to each: to the former category belong theories that assign meanings to their bearers, prominent among them linguistic expressions; to the latter, theories that provide "the basis" for ascribing such meanings (Kaplan 1989, 573-4) or state "what the facts are" that confer these meanings on their bearers (Stalnaker 1997, 535). This is a metaphysical undertaking, concerning the grounding of meaning-facts; i.e., what determines, fixes or constitutes them. When... Read [More]

Intensional Transitive Verbs

[Revised entry by Graeme Forbes on May 7, 2020. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] A verb is transitive iff it usually occurs with a direct object, and in such occurrences it is said to occur transitively. Thus 'ate' occurs transitively in 'I ate the meat and left the vegetables', but not in 'I ate then left' (perhaps it is not the same verb 'left' in these two examples, but it seems to be the same 'ate'). A verb is intensional if the verb phrase (VP) it forms with its complement is anomalous in at least one [More]