:: The End Times

Death, Afterlife, Justice and Value published 15/10/2016


At no point in their theory do utilitarians rely on an independent notion of justice or fairness. They are concerned solely with the maximization of value. Non-consequentialists are the only people who treat justice as a fundamental moral concept. Since justice is a fundamental moral concept, the question should be: how do we (any of us) accommodate ideas of justice, and especially ideas about the justice of basic social, political, and economic institutions, within an overall outlook that is also sensitive to a variety of other moral values and principles, including values and principles that apply to small-scale personal relationships?

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Samuel Scheffler.

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From A Biological Point Of View, and Then Some published 09/10/2016


I don’t endorse deism or interventionist theism. My point is just that evolutionary biology is logically compatible with the former and with some versions of the latter. I have bothered to make this point in print because I want to take the heat off of evolutionary biology. The more evolutionary theory gets called an atheistic theory, the greater the risk that it will lose its place in public school biology courses in the United States. If the theory is thought of in this way, one should not be surprised if a judge at some point decides that teaching evolutionary theory violates the Constitutional principle of neutrality with respect to religion. Creationists have long held that evolutionary theory is atheistic; defenders of the theory do the theory no favor when they agree.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Elliott Sober.

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Against Empathy and Other Philosophical Beefs published 07/10/2016


It is not only the sciences that have changed the landscape, but also culture more generally, the present stage of capitalism, media and communication, finance, new forms of governance, lifestyles and consumption habits, new forms of political expression, new people making there presence felt on the global stage, and so on. There is some truth to the claim that some forms of classical philosophical inquiry might have lost their purchase on human reality in the wake of these transformations.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Jan Slaby.

[Pic: Edward Colver]

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Robust published 30/09/2016


Models in science are based on assumptions, which are simplifications of real-world systems, in a similar way as with the model of the bridge. How can we apply the result of a model to real-world phenomena, where the initial simplifications do not hold? The idea behind robustness analysis is that if the result of a model holds under different assumptions, each of which captures certain possible aspects of the real world phenomenon, then our confidence in the result of the model is higher than before we proved its robustness.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Chiara Lisciandra.

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Epicureanism, Early Mods and The Moral Animal published 23/09/2016


Even if the gods did exist, the Epicureans argued, they didn’t care about us. Rather, everything comes from nature, and all that really exists are atoms and void, moving and congregating. The life-world of human and animal experience, with colours, tastes, solid objects, is a perceptual effect of massed atoms.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Catherine Wilson.

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The Virtue Epistemologist published 16/09/2016

C.O.S.T - Copy

Either we squelch our curiosity or we will have to fall into the circularity or regress to which the skeptic objects. Since the actual infinite regress is of reach for finite humans, we must fall into the circularity, the Cartesian sort of circularity, wherein we use our fundamental faculties (intuition and deduction, as they might be) in order to attain a picture of ourselves and the world around us (ourselves in the lap of a benevolent omnipotence) that enables us to endorse our use of those very faculties. There is no hope for a properly supportive perspective on our basic faculties that is not acquired by means of such inquiry.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Ernest Sosa.

Painting: Harry Adams.

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The Constitution of Selves: Locke and the Person Led View published 08/09/2016


Our lives are unified, ongoing events that unfold over time and constitute a single, persisting person who is the right kind of entity to be the target of different kinds of practical concerns at different phases of her life. Infants are to be taught and nurtured and adults to be held morally responsible. So it is true of persons as wholes that they are beings who can be held morally responsible for what they do, but not throughout the whole of their lives.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Marya Schechtman.

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Keeping It Real: The Colour of Mind published 02/09/2016


Social scientists tell us that some white people (especially liberal ones) do indeed feel collective guilt for past racial injustice. I have nothing to say about whether they should feel this way or are right to feel this way. Some social psychologists including one that I have co-authored two papers with (Nyla R. Branscombe) find that tapping into white guilt can have social justice-promoting positive benefits. But playing the guilt and blame game when it comes to race matters is, and has always been, tricky business in America. Martin Luther King Jr. certainly appreciated this, which explains why he worried (after the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, were passed) that eradicating racial inequality in America was going to be even more challenging than putting an end to formal racial discrimination.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Derrick Darby.

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On The Nature Of Normativity published 26/08/2016


I just got gripped by the central question of ethics, which Socrates poses so insistently: How should we live? While this is the central question of ethics, in my view answering this question also involves epistemology – since to know how we should live, we need to understand what we should believe, and how we should form and revise our beliefs in response to experience and reflection; and the question as I see it also involves the theory of rational choice or decision—since to know how we should live, we need to understand how we should make choices or decisions, and how we should revise our plans or intentions as we acquire new information over time.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Ralph Wedgwood.

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Having Cake and Eating it With Hume and Spinoza published 19/08/2016

Hume makes both a metaphysical claim and a psychological claim. The metaphysical claim is that the mind is in fact a complex bundle of different perceptions standing in causal relations to one another. A consequence of this is that, while the bundle may be made possible by a continuing but changing human brain, a person is not an immaterial soul or self underlying and in addition to the bundle itself. The psychological claim is that we ascribe unity (simplicity at a time and identity through time) to this complex bundle only because of the power of mental association operating on perceived relations of causation and resemblance.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Don J Garrett.

Painting by Mark Manning aka Z.

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