:: The End Times

The Critical Imagination published 18/11/2017

Most philosophers appeal to two conditions: originality and value. They think an imaginative story, for instance, is one that is good in an original way. I think this isn’t right. Leonardo da Vinci’s designs for flying machines were bad designs for flying machines, because the machines couldn’t have flown. But they were still imaginative. I’m also not persuaded that there is any interesting sense in which something imaginative must be original. It might be imaginative for a contemporary poet to use a medieval poetic form, even though she got the idea to use that form from the medieval poets she read.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews James Grant.

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Thinking About Globalisation, Immigration and Refugees published 04/11/2017

Refugees are, at least typically, distinctive in important ways. The dangers that they face – persecution on the basis of one of the “protected grounds” – is such that it can really only be plausibly addressed by given them refuge in a safe country, and eventual access to full membership. This is because the dangers they face are ones that we can’t expect to end relatively quickly, or that can be plausibly addressed with direct assistance (as would be the case with many natural disasters), or with more foreign aid (as would be the case with other dire living circumstances), or with direct intervention into the offending country. Because direct intervention is unlikely to be appropriate, we also cannot expect the danger to end any time soon, making permanent or at least long-term assistance necessary.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Matthew Lister

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Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Heidegger: Sex, Death and Boredom published 25/10/2017

Like Keats, Schopenhauer tells us that, metaphysically speaking, life is but a (bad) ‘dream’. And whereas Kant argues that since we cannot escape the fabric of our own minds, reality ‘in itself’ is unknowable by us, Schopenhauer thinks he knows what it is. (At least he thinks he does in his youth. Later on he retreats, somewhat, from the claim.) What underlies the surface of things, Schopenhauer claims, is the tormented and tormenting ‘will’.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Julian Young

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Brentano’s Mind, Frege’s Sense published 14/10/2017

Brentano is a thorn in the side of pragmatically-minded philosophers such as Mach and later Schlick. He held that we can study cognition from the first-person standpoint independently of its function or purpose. Part of the development of Austrian Philosophy are attempts to overcome Brentano’s point of view. Brentano’s descriptive psychology is still a model for Non-Naturalists and Non-Pragmatists.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Mark Textor.

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brains published 07/10/2017

In sum, I am not a fan of using “brain reading” techniques in the courtroom, at least not yet. I suspect that some in the law are taking the prospect of neuroscience in the courtroom more seriously than they should, in part because some legal scholars that have only a working knowledge of neuroscience have been far too uncritical of the scientific work (which may be excellent basic science, but whose applicability to real cases may be quite limited), and have overblown its prospects for near-term application in the courts.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Adina L Roskies.

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Understanding Defensive Killing published 30/09/2017

I don’t buy the conceptual division between war and ‘ordinary life’ – I think it’s just a hangover from Walzer – so I don’t want to talk of one as an extension of the other. Talk of ‘ordinary life’ conjures up an image of a peaceful suburb in New Hampshire, which is a pretty parochial way to think about morality. Some people live their whole lives in failed states. Some people grow up in dire poverty, surrounded by violence and lawlessness. Ordinary life might, to them, feel a lot like a permanent state of conflict. And we can have crises outside of war – outbreaks of disease or natural disasters, for example, that raise a lot of the questions that also arise in war (the distribution of resources, allowing harm, collateral harms, uncertainty and so on).

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Helen Frowe.

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embodiment published 24/09/2017

Eagleton has more of a kind of British wit and works a lot with understatements; this is something he has in common with one of his intellectual precursors, the Dominican friar and philosopher Herbert McCabe. Žižek’s version of humour is more explicit or drastic, and less subtle, often drawing upon the distance between the ‘high’ matter under discussion – philosophy, Hegel, Lacan – and the ‘low’ form of the joke through which he wishes to illuminate the matter at hand.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Ola Sigurson.

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Does God Play Dice? published 17/09/2017

The puzzle of how the electron moves in an atom had been plaguing me. Day after day, I gradually doubted the reality of continuous motion. But I still felt in my bones that the electron is a particle and it must move in space in some way. Finally, in an early morning of October 1993, I experienced a sudden enlightenment or revelation. At that moment, I felt that my body permeated the whole universe and I was united with it. I “disappeared”. A clear picture then appeared: a particle is jumping in a random and discontinuous way. It is not inert but active; it moves purely by its own “free will”.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Shan Gao.

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Why Compromise? Why Peace? published 09/09/2017

I argue that we are never morally required to establish fair compromises, at least if fair compromises are understood as compromises in which the parties make an equal amount of concessions relative to what they can gain and lose. If you disagree with a friend about where to go on vacation, then you should certainly try to accommodate your friend’s interests, but this does not mean that you should be concerned with how much both of you can gain and lose from the interaction (and hence with the power relations between you two). Fair compromises might sometimes serve a pragmatic function as “focal points”, but there is nothing moral about them.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Fabian Wendt.

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The Infidel and the Professor published 02/09/2017

Friendship was absolutely central to their lives and also important in their writings. Hume and Smith were both lifelong bachelors, so their relationships with each other and with their other friends were the most meaningful ties they had (along with Smith’s close relationship with his mother). And both of them claimed repeatedly, throughout their philosophical works, that friendship is an indispensable component of a good and happy life. Hume declared that “friendship is the chief joy of human life,” for instance, and Smith proclaimed that the esteem and affection of one’s friends constitutes “the chief part of human happiness.”

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Dennis Rasmussen.

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