:: Interviews

What We Owe Each Other published 05/08/2016

I agree that science is the best way of understanding the natural world, and therefore that we have reason to believe what the best science tells us about the objects in that world and the relations between them. But this does mean that the natural world is the only thing we can have true beliefs about. The status of material objects such as the desk I am writing on as things that are “real” is a matter of their having physical properties, such as weight, solidity, and spatio-temporal location. In order to be real, such things need not have, in addition to these properties, some further kind of metaphysical existence.

Continuing the End Times series Richard Marshall interviews T.M. Scanlon.

Painting: Mark Manning aka Z

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The Tyranny of the Ideal published 29/07/2016

Morality is, in my view, the crowning achievement of humanity: in our evolutionary development we made it, as it made us into the cooperative, fair-minded, deeply social species that we are. As a species we are up to morality and justice because we made it up. Many, I suspect, think this demeans morality, just as some Christians think that evolution demeans human dignity. I draw a very different conclusion: what an incredible species we are to invent this way of living together!

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Jerry Gaus.

Painting: Billy Childish.

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The Philosopher’s Library (Part 3) published

But let me mention two ways in which things outside philosophy, especially in the arts (novels, films, plays, dance, visual art), are important to my work in philosophy. First, novels, movies, etc., stimulate the imagination, which is very important for doing philosophy: for drawing new connections, for contemplating new concepts, for seeing things from new perspectives, and so on. Second, they give us a sense of a very deep kind of truth, different from the kinds of truth I have investigated so far, but one that I hope to incorporate into my study of truth in the future.

Philosophers recommend books for your bookshelves taken from the End Times series.

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My Afternoon with Ondi published

The L.A-based Filmmaker Ondi Timoner on doing Yoga with Bob Dylan, the joys of taking out the garbage, and why she’d make a great shrink.

Interviewed by Joanna Pocock.

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In Praise of Desire and Some published 22/07/2016


People of relatively low intelligence can be morally wonderful if they desire the right and the good (not necessarily under the description “right” or “good”). Their low intelligence sometimes results in their accidentally doing something wrong, but doing something wrong out of low intelligence alone is like stepping on a person’s foot because you are (literally) blind or missing a cry for help because you are (literally) deaf. We do not judge the blind or deaf person as morally bad. This is a lot of what motivates my view that virtue is about wanting right and good things, not about being particularly good at thinking.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Nomy Arpaly.

Image: Billy Childish.

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Frege and Necessary Beings published 15/07/2016

I’m still inclined to believe that numbers are abstract objects, but there’s been quite a bit of work recently, partly by people who know a lot more about linguistics than I do, arguing that contrary to some appearances, number-words are best understood as predicates rather than names or singular terms. Given my broadly Fregean view of the relations between syntactic and ontological categories this might be the basis of an argument for viewing numbers as properties rather than objects. I used to believe that there was a compelling argument for taking them to be (abstract) objects, but now I am not really sure about this. What seems to me far more important is not whether numbers are objects rather than properties, but whether, and in what sense, they exist.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Bob Hale.

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Interview with We Heard You Like Books published 12/07/2016

Boyd started Straight to Hell while the Vietnam War was going on, and a number of the articles denouncing straight fascism draw a direct connection between the sexual repression of the United States and its campaign of imperialist warfare in Vietnam. Soldiers who had not been allowed to express themselves sexually at home went abroad to enforce America’s hegemony, and they ran amok. Let’s not forget that this tendency has not gone away.

Interview with We Heard You Like Books.

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evolution, bioethics and human nature published 08/07/2016

Once we acknowledge that ‘human nature’ can include abilities, beliefs or values that have become widespread throughout our species because of learning processes, it’s clear that we will have to be rather liberal when it comes to what we include as part of human nature. Very large numbers of people can eat with chopsticks, very large numbers of people can recognize David Beckham. It’s hard to keep these traits out of ‘human nature’, while keeping imitation in.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Tim Lewens.

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Eight Questions for Yuri Herrera published 06/07/2016

Eight questions for Yuri Herrera

I do not want to tell others what is their moral or social responsibility, but the way I see it, literature gives you the opportunity to intervene in the public sphere from a freer margin, one more difficult to tame. The influence that literature exerts is quite different from that of journalism, it takes more time, but it brings to the table other ways of understanding our common problems, other nuances and other affections.

Interview with Yuri Herrera.

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Philosophy and Diversity published 04/07/2016

The principle of non-contradiction, for example, contains within it the Western worldview that, metaphysically, something either is or it is not; and epistemologically, it is either true or it is false. It cannot be both real and unreal; true and false. Nor can it be resistant to this schematic. But the fact that something either is or is not (true or false) limits the playing field of that which is (or that which is the case) considerably. There is no room for hybridity, no room for mixedness, nor room for ambiguity or nuance.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Tina Fernandes Botts.

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