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Naturalism’s Final Causes published 29/08/2015

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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Why Murder Philosophers? published 29/05/2015

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Montaigne says that death’s power over us comes from its “strangeness,” from that when it strikes it usually finds us unprepared. That’s why we need to devise spiritual exercises whereby we make death a familiar presence in our lives – “domesticate” it, if you will. Here’s one recipe that he proposes: “let us frequent [death], let us get used to it; let us have nothing more often in mind than death. At every instant let us evoke it in our imagination under all its aspect.” So we have to bring death into the midst of our existence, show it hospitality, give it shelter and take good care of it.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Costica Bradatan.

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How Pragmatism Reconciles Quantum Mechanics With Relativity etc published 24/05/2015

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While I think quantum theory helps us to understand all kinds of otherwise puzzling phenomena, it does not do this by saying what’s going on at a deeper level: ontologically speaking, there is no quantum level. Quantum theory is fundamental to contemporary physics, and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. But it does not contain fundamental laws, and does not contribute its own fundamental ontology. Since quantum mechanics is in these ways parasitic on other descriptive or representational frameworks it cannot be expected to provide a basis for the reduction of the macroscopic to the microscopic. Nor, therefore, can anything else within the horizon of contemporary physics.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Richard Healey.

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What’s a hole made of and other enigmas published 16/05/2015

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Holes provided many nice examples of entities about which we have rich and a times conflicting intuitions. These include the idea that holes do not exist, that holes are just parts of the holed-object, or that they are properties that we erroneously re-conceptualize as individuals.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Roberto Casati.

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