:: The End Times

Vices of the Mind: Fake News, Conspiracy Theories, Bullshit etc… published 14/02/2019

An epistemic vice is a personal intellectual failing – usually a character trait, attitude or way of thinking – that systematically obstructs the gaining, keeping or sharing of knowledge. In addition, epistemic vices reflect badly on the person whose vices they are. People can properly be blamed or criticised for their epistemic vices. I call my view Obstructivism. On this view, closed-mindedness is a character vice, an epistemic vice that takes the form of a character trait. Wishful thinking is an example of an epistemically vicious way of thinking.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Quassim Cassam.

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Edith Stein, Phenomenology and Analytic Theology… published 08/02/2019

Decades before Darwin, Kant recognised how dangerous attempts to achieve theoretical certainty of God’s existence via scientific speculation would be to the theologian’s credibility.  Most obviously, such attempts always end up inferring a demiurgic architect of the world, and not the transcendent source of all being.  To this extent Kant helps to clarify and buttress the classical conception of God, whatever one’s stance on transcendental idealism itself; and I am deeply sympathetic to the view that at least part of the attraction of transcendental idealism for Kant was that it safeguarded religious commitment from the naïve forms of natural theology that were so prevalent in eighteenth-century Germany.

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

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The Prābhākara Mīmāṃsā School published 02/02/2019

The school started with a focus on a canon of sacred texts, called Vedas. These are considered authoritative only in their prescriptive part, all the rest being only a supplement of prescriptions. Thus, we have a hermeneutic tradition which focuses on sacred texts without referring to god’s intention (the school is atheist, as no doubt we’ll discuss later) and without allowing for any interference between sacred texts and direct experience (no geocentrism because the sacred texts say it, for instance). At this point, a Euro-American reader is likely to ask about the origin of such texts, given that there is no god. Well, the point is that they have no origin. Their presence is a brute fact, just like the existence of language is a brute fact and theories about their origin are much more cumbersome than the acceptance of the fact that they exist and that one could not imagine a scenario without them.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Elisa Freschi.

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Transitional Justice published 26/01/2019

As a philosopher, normative claims are of interest in themselves.  But in the context of transitional justice, critical evaluation and defense of normative claims matters for an additional reason: they are a source of deep disagreement.  Divergent and incompatible judgments about processes by citizens and by observers of transitional justice processes often reflect at their core disagreements about what morality demands in transitions.  There are debates about what the goal of particular processes of transitional justice should be: forgiveness, retribution, restorative justice, peace, deterrence, ending impunity, social unity, and/or economic justice.   Disagreement about overall aim leads in turn lead to disagreements about the defensibility of certain responses to wrongdoing. 

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Colleen Murphy.

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Causal published 18/01/2019

We are struggling with all the challenges of the indirect measurement of fMRI that massively “smudges” the neural activity in time and space, we don’t know what the correct “variables” are in the brain, our sample sizes are too low, our computers do not have enough RAM for the causal search etc. BUT, the hope is that as we slowly gain traction on this, we may be able to start tracing (and verifying!) the causal connections between brain areas that give rise to particular mental states, such as emotions.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Frederick Eberhardt.

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Glory, Beauty, Epiphany, Imagination: How To Do Moral Philosophy published 11/01/2019

If I want to overthrow the grand récit of ethical theory, then what do I want to put in its place? Part of the answer lies in Williams’ stinging retort to this question when his supervisor Hare put it to him: “I don’t want to put anything in its place—that’s not a place where anything should be.” But if we anti-theorists propose to change the landscape, we do have to explain what we think the landscape should be changed to. So another part of the answer to Hare is that there’s a whole variety of rich ethical resources that we can free ourselves up to deploy if we just get out of the grip of theory. And here (now I’m going well beyond anything that Williams says) are some of them: glory, beauty, epiphany, and indeed imagination.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Sophie Grace Chappell.

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Quine’s Naturalism published 22/12/2018

I find Quine’s variant of naturalism fascinating because he is not particularly interested in these big, often very polarized, debates between naturalists and supernaturalists. Rather, he pretty much assumes that these debates have been settled and he seeks to advance our scientific worldview by showing that a truly naturalistic picture of reality also requires that we radically rethink our philosophical views about truth, justification, mind, reference, and meaning. In short, Quine argues that traditional philosophical disciplines like metaphysics, epistemology, and the philosophy of language need to be naturalized as well.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Sander Verhaegh.

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Curriculum and the Child Redux published 14/12/2018

Cutting across the political and other beliefs that divide us within this framework are values which nearly all of us share or at least say we share. We want ourselves and others to have a flourishing personal life based on autonomously chosen activities and relationships. We want us all to possess the necessary conditions of such a life – good physical and mental health, adequate income, housing, education, time to ourselves, safety, the rule of law, internal and external peace etc. We want interesting work with all positions, including élite positions, open to all of us. We want to live in a democratic society, one that involves all of us in different ways in decision-making affecting the well-being of ourselves and the various communities, local and national, in which we live.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews John White.

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Hegel and the Ethical Life published 08/12/2018

Costello presents a challenge to the account of critical reflection that I go on to offer, because she suggests that such atrocities could become so seamlessly integrated into everyday life that no one suspects (except lone critics like her) that there is something deeply wrong here.  It presents a challenge to Hegel’s optimism that, if there is something deeply wrong here, it will break through the surface in the form of practical contradictions, which will in turn make continued participation in the practice in question increasingly untenable. 

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Andreja Novakovic.

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Kant’s Sublime published 30/11/2018

Kantian moral psychology borrows quite a lot from the Stoics, including the basic conception of the good as the object of practical reason. In the second Critique (5:57ff.), Kant points out that German has ready resources to distinguish good from well-being (Güte from Wohl), and bad from ill-being (Böse from Übel). This is exactly the distinction that the Stoics drew, when they argued that the only truly good thing is virtue; anything else might have a kind of positive (or negative) value for planning things out so that things go well (or ill) for one. The Stoics, like Kant, think that human beings typically suffer from chronic misvaluing, where we confuse what is preferable in this latter way for what is genuinely good, and what is dispreferable in this latter way for what is genuinely bad. The only genuinely good thing is virtue, say the Stoics.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Melissa Merritt.

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