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Time, Language, Ontology published 19/09/2015


Nobody, however, takes the need for spatially variable terms—spatial indexicals—to have any implications about the nature of space itself. Everyone cheerfully accepts that though it is pragmatically necessary to divide space up into the ‘here’ and the ‘there’, space itself is perfectly isotropic; there is no such-thing as an observe-independent ‘here’. Space is not centered, even though our orientation toward space requires us (most of the time) to center our representation of it upon ourselves. This is just one of the ways in which, we all agree, our normal ways of thinking about space come apart from the way it is itself.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Joshua Mozersky.

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Italian philosophy, Magic and Peter of Spain published 12/09/2015


By the time Italian fascism hit bottom in the late thirties, intimidated by Hitler and promulgating its own disgraceful racial laws, Gentile was no longer a major force in the regime or the Party, which he never renounced. Gentile had immense philosophical talent – more focused than Croce’s, whose range was broader, less committed to philosophy. The grand historical narrative of Italian philosophy – with the politics of nation-building as its armature – is still Gentile’s. His metaphysics of actual idealism or actualism is a strikingly original attempt to naturalize (speaking very broadly) idealism.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Brian Copenhaver.

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From the Point Of View of the Universe published 06/09/2015


“The point of view of the universe” is to symbolize an impartial concern for everyone. Sidgwick calls for impartiality in ethics and thinks that when deciding what we ought to do, we should try to take an impartial perspective – not mine, not yours, not my children’s but “the point of view of the universe”.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek.

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Naturalism’s Final Causes published 29/08/2015


I consider myself to be a metaphysical naturalist, despite the fact that I agree with some of the claims the Horwich makes. I do think that there are different epistemic tools that one can use other than the scientific method, as I mentioned above with regards to the intentional stance. But I don’t think that a commitment to these epistemic claims leads to any strange ontological commitments, like the existence of anything over and above the natural world. This probably makes me a committed naturalist still trying to find her way through the wilderness.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Bana Bashour.

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law and ethics published 22/08/2015


I argue that all the standard rationales for capital punishment ─ deterrence-oriented, retributivist, incapacitative, and denunciatory ─ fail to establish that such punishment is morally legitimate. Each of those standard rationales is the application of a general theory of punishment to the death penalty. To succeed as a justification of that penalty, a rationale has to establish that the execution of a convict is both morally obligatory and morally permissible. Since none of the standard rationales does establish the moral obligatoriness and moral permissibility of the death penalty (either when each of those rationales is considered discretely or when they are considered in combination), none of them can properly serve as a basis for the imposition of that penalty.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Matthew Kramer.

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dynamic epistemology published 15/08/2015


Llull is a character and a half. Not only did he write the world’s first novel in the vernacular, articulate voting methods that were not articulated again until the 17th and 18th centuries, turn missionary to Africa in his 50s after learning Arabic so that he could convert Muslims, he was also deeply interested in mechanising reasoning, in a way which put him centuries ahead of his time. In a world where time-travel existed, I would love to get Ramon Llull and Alan Turing in the same room together. I can’t even imagine what sort of brilliant ideas that would spark!

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Sara L. Uckelman

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Life After Faith published 02/08/2015


In my view, most of current Anglophone philosophy is quite reasonably seen as an ingrown conversation pursued by very intelligent people with very strange interests. But it would hardly stop the kinds of investigation that the giants of the past engaged in. In my view, we ought to replace the notion of analytic philosophy by that of synthetic philosophy. Philosophers ought to aspire to know lots of different things and to forge useful synthetic perspectives.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Philip Kitcher.

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Between Saying and Doing published 19/06/2015


I think what distinguishes philosophers as such is that we study humans as discursive beings—that is, as normative rational creatures, in the sense that what we in the fullest sense do (including believing) is subject to normative assessment as to the goodness of the reasons we have for doing or believing that. (How rational we are in the sense of how successful we are at actually fulfilling our obligations to have such reasons is quite a different matter.) Norms and inferential-justificatory behavior can be studied empirically. But the question of what norms and good inferences are, and of how to understand the kind of creatures we are in virtue of living in such a normative space of reasons seem to me to be of the first importance—not only for philosophers, but for the culture at large.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Robert Brandom.

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On German Materialism published 13/06/2015


Materialism has always been political, at least in the eyes of its opponents. This could already be seen in Antiquity, when Plato threatened materialists with jail (Nomoi X), and later when Christianity had become the hegemonic spiritual force in Europe and allied with the ruling forces of feudal society: all kinds of a-religious or anti-religious philosophy, materialism included, became automatically ‘political’ in that they seemed to undermine the foundations of the established social order. This was confirmed by contemporary reactions to Hobbes or to French materialism in the 18th century, accused of having brought about the French Revolution.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Kurt-Otto Bayertz.

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Thinking About Mindreading, Mirroring and Embedded Cognition et al… published 06/06/2015


My impulse is to bring science into partnership with philosophy wherever possible (and relevant) . This was easily exercised in philosophy of mind as well as epistemology. Interestingly, when I turned to the topic of “folk psychology” (later called “theory of mind” or “mindreading”), I noticed that even philosophers preoccupied with some variety of cognitive science oddly chose a strikingly a priori methodology to answer the question of how mindreading is executed. Their answers came straight from the pages of other philosophers, who had floated armchair-based hypotheses about how people assign mental states (to self and others).

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Alvin Goldman.

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