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Philosophy and Diversity published 04/07/2016

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The principle of non-contradiction, for example, contains within it the Western worldview that, metaphysically, something either is or it is not; and epistemologically, it is either true or it is false. It cannot be both real and unreal; true and false. Nor can it be resistant to this schematic. But the fact that something either is or is not (true or false) limits the playing field of that which is (or that which is the case) considerably. There is no room for hybridity, no room for mixedness, nor room for ambiguity or nuance.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Tina Fernandes Botts.

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Reid’s Common Sense, Berkeley’s Vision and Whether Gentile’s Fascism Should Matter More Than Berkeley’s Slave Plantation published 25/06/2016

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But you ask: do we face the same sorts of issues regarding Gentile as we do with Heidegger? Gentile – no longer at the center of power by the late 30s – helped Jews in Italy who were threatened by the Fascist regime. But his philosophy and his politics were of a piece, both contributing to a global disaster that cost many lives. Among other things, the disaster was one of nationalisms in conflict. Our politics today is still in turmoil about nationalism and nativism.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Rebecca Copenhaver.
Painting: Billy Childish

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On Perception, Aesthetics etc etc published 18/06/2016

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Our motor skills are developed through physical play; our perceptual skills by playing at looking and listening “pointlessly”—the infant stares, and by doing so she learns how to look. (Notice how my emphasis on active perception plays into this notion of perception as a skill.) It is this fun, I claim, that is the basis of aesthetic pleasure. A child babbling for no other purpose than the sheer joy of it—that’s the prototype of art production. Aesthetic enjoyment isn’t tied to the value of particular things, as standard evolutionary accounts maintain. It is rooted, rather, in the joy that infants get from activities that have no immediate purpose, but which have a long-term benefit in terms of learning.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Mohan Matthen.
Painting: Billy Childish.

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Who Rules? published 11/06/2016

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When Arendt says that “truth has a despotic character,” she explains that she means that as a single person investigates questions in, say, physics or math (even aspects of history, though that’s more complicated), the correct answers are not in any way affected by the fact that there are other minds with other perspectives. It’s simply between me and the non-negotiable world. By contrast, in the domain of the moral and political, there is no subject matter at all if not for multiple minds and perspectives. The right answer is not only hard to know without help from others—that’s also true about lots of math, physics, and history (she emphasizes the need for witnesses, for example). More importantly, in normative matters the right answer is itself some accommodation of multiple perspectives, such as competing aims and convictions.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews David Estlund.

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The Logical Pluralist published 05/06/2016

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It’s not true that everything in the world makes it true that there’s either beer in my fridge or not—there are some parts of the world that are completely silent about my fridge and its contents. You can maintain the classical insights as being correct, but still say that they don’t tell you all there is to know about consequences and logical connections.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Greg Restall.
Picture: Billy Childish.

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Keeping the Manifest Image in Mind published 28/05/2016

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Mental life is prospective, marked by possibilities and plans. There is, to be sure, that famous “problem of consciousness” that allegedly inserts a permanent gap between all things physical and all things mental. But even if the gap were filled – perhaps by one of the endless surprises yielded by quantum physics – there would remain the differences among persons in the matter of their plans; the different incarnations of the same person over the stages of life. Consciousness is the open shutter. Mental life is the actual or imagined plot, often unfolding in ways not anticipated by the author.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Dan Robinson.

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Hume’s Irreligious Core published 21/05/2016

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A plausible compatibilism – what I describe as critical compatibilism – must accept free will pessimism. It is important to note, however, that critical compatibilism and free will pessimism do not propose a solution to the traditional free will problem – as that depends on finding a way to satisfy or at least respect the exclusion requirement. Since critical compatibilism accepts free will pessimism, and free will pessimism involves rejecting the exclusion requirement, critical compatibilism involves rejecting the free will problem as it is generally understood. The morality system – which is deeply embedded in our Western, Christian culture – is highly resistant to this entire picture of the human predicament. Free will pessimism is, however, the truth about our condition and circumstances with respect to moral agency.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Paul Russell.
Picture: Billy Childish

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The Rhetoric and Lethargy of the Anthropocene published 14/05/2016

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The Wittgensteinian metaphor of picture that captivate us, which is the interpretive key to the arguments contained in my book, refers to a collection of futile philosophical assumptions, strongly criticized by the heroes of my narrative. Those assumptions prevented the development of more fruitful and more open views of language. While philosophizing about language we need to take into account a few factors, such as: 1) the existence of non-referential but meaningful expressions as well as the fact of the empirical underdetermination of reference, 2) the importance of performative dimension of language, 3) the role of practice of building and maintaining references in the area of situated speech (parole), 4) the existence of de-essentialised common area shared by the participants of acts of communication.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Ewa Bińczyk.

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Kant, Marx, Fichte. published 07/05/2016

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It is a cause of shame to any member of the human race to be a member of the same species some of whose members could vote for any candidate for president that has been offered by the Republican party. Such people seem to be motivated only by short-sighted greed, ignorance, fear and hatred. It is sad to witness the persistence in our society of the racism and xenophobia that seems to be a permanent part of our political culture. It is shameful to see politicians exploiting these human weaknesses in order to gain political power. It is most depressing of all to contemplate a future in which politicians who do this will continue to have influence over people’s lives. As long as this party exists in its present form, our nation cannot endure as a free society. Still worse, under their policies the human race is being rapidly propelled toward its extinction. It is not possible to exaggerate the importance of what is at stake in our politics at present.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Allen Wood. Illustration: Billy Childish.

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How Far Do You Have To Go Before It’s A Crime? And Other Puzzles published 01/05/2016

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I argue that even if an agent’s commitments are in general morally permissible, they can lead her to act wrongly by silencing what are in fact morally relevant considerations, such that it never even occurs to her that she ought to act other than she does. Think of a person who is so rigidly guided by her plans and policies that she fails to notice that she morally ought to deviate from them in a given case. My claim is that if the moral violation is explained by the kind of deliberative silencing I described, then it is a direct expression of her agency and something she is culpable for.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Sarah Paul.

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