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Leibniz, Berkeley, Kant, Frege; bees, toasters and Julius Caesar published 19/09/2014

Within ten years he had produced a strikingly original, if slightly crazy, physics of his own. He then traveled to Paris and received a crash course in the cutting edge physics and mathematics of his day. Shortly afterwards, he began making really big contributions in math and physics, some of which I suspect still aren’t fully appreciated today. Among other things, he discovered the infinitesimal calculus, offered a devastating critique of Descartes’s laws of motion, and laid the foundations for important developments in the eighteenth century by the likes of Euler, Lagrange and Jacobi.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Jeffrey K. McDonough.

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philosophy of captivity published 12/09/2014

The magnitude of the harms done to animals is almost incomprehensible — 60 billion suffer before they are slaughtered for food in global industrial agricultural production annually and that contributes more greenhouse gas emissions than any other sector, which in turn is wreaking havoc on animal habitats on land and in the sea. When we also consider the additional threats that other animals face from human activities, it becomes clearer that the problems are structural and remedies cannot solely rely on individual tastes. But there are some really hard philosophical questions about what, if anything, individuals can do to help curtail these harms.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Lori Gruen.

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Towards a Secular Europe published 05/09/2014

I regard 1989 as more important than 9/11 in bringing back religion to the world order. Once the division of the world along allegedly secular values collapsed, the way to re-draw boundaries and decision fell back on religious identity as the strongest form of cultural difference, at least in the eyes of the ruling west. 9/11 was just the first global stage to assert the change of picture. It is true that starting from this 9/11, religious voices became more prominent at the global level: they quickly understood that the political stakes were high; it was not about controlling national politics, but about shaping the international order along religious lines.We know what happened: the still born constitution gave birth to a set of minor technocratic changes; religion as a political fuel is alive and well in the spirit of European people in particular when it comes to define Europeanness and otherness, which typically takes the form of Islam-as if we were back to the time of the Crusades.

Continung the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Lorenzo Zucca.

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from normativity to responsibility etc published 01/09/2014

We are united by our relations to a common history, a common heritage of cuisines, architecture, crafts, professional and leisure activities, arts and literature, and more which shape our imagination, providing us with the memory of smells and colours and patterns of response, and mutual expectations, which enable us to understand each other, and open avenues for individual development and creativity within the common bonds, individuality which makes itself understood to others, because its roots are in the common culture, and which can be freer and richer because of the richness from which it derives. Interpretations of cultural goods, of history and psychology, are crucial to these processes precisely because they combine preservation with change, plurality with relating to a common core, the common object of interpretation.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Joseph Raz.

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The Ethical Machiavelli published 29/08/2014

Up to the second half of 18th century some of Machiavelli’s most intelligent readers – philosophers like Francis Bacon and Spinoza and Rousseau – read him as a thinker who wanted to uphold high moral standards. They thought he wrote ironically to expose the cynical methods politicians use to seize power, while only seeming to recommend them. Which doesn’t mean they thought he was writing pure satire, a send-up of political corruption. He had constructive aims too: to train people to see through plausible-sounding excuses and good appearances in politics, and think harder about the spiralling consequences of actions that seem good at the time.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Erica Benner.

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Saying no! to Jack Bauer: mainstreaming torture published 22/08/2014

Within a few weeks of the 9/11 attacks, it became clear to anyone who wanted to know that one result was that people were going to be tortured. Of course this wasn’t the first time the U.S. government has been involved with torture, but September 11 did mark a real change. Almost overnight, a question that many people believed had been resolved – whether or not torture is wrong – was reopened. In November of 2011, Jonathan Alter, a mainstream liberal columnist, wrote in Newsweek, “In this autumn of anger, even a liberal can find his thoughts turning to … torture.” He wondered whether it might be a good plan to deport the Muslims living in the United States whom the FBI had rounded up to “Saudi Arabia, land of beheadings.”

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Rebecca Gordon.

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responsibility and punishment published 15/08/2014

A multi-disciplinary perspective is necessary if one wants a nuanced understanding of the mental states legal responsibility depends upon, and the way in which scientific psychology may, or may not provide evidence that such states are present in a criminal defendant. Court cases are a rich source of information regarding folk psychological assessments of responsibility, and legal scholars discuss, categorize, and critique courts’ handling of hard cases. Neuroscience currently represents cutting-edge scientific accounts of human psychology, and lawyers are increasingly presenting neuroscientific data as evidence. Philosophy is a way to bridge the gap between the folk psychological foundation of legal responsibility and neuroscience.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Katrina Sifferd.

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queer theology and sexchatology published 08/08/2014

Saying we all have a sexuality doesn’t mean we are all being sexual, in the way we usually use that shorthand, all the time. Sexuality is about our creativity, our generativity, the energy through which and in which we interact with the world – so a person who’s temporarily or permanently celibate doesn’t stop being sexual just because they’re not being genital with anyone else. Sexuality is about far more than orientation.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Susannah Cornwall.

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Foucault’s freedom published 01/08/2014

Practices of state violence are not just instruments for upholding sovereignty and for enforcing the law. They have increasingly got their own internal ends that legitimize them and law is used simply as a particular tactic for the achievement of these ends. The deployment of law thus becomes strategic: it functions as means to predetermined policy ends and not as the ground of their legitimacy.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Johanna Oksala.

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truth, success and frank ramsey published 25/07/2014

Philosophy was then very popular in France, but not in the present day sense of people going to philosophical cafés or festivals, and of the success of lousy books on happiness and wisdom. Philosophy was a political subject, which made a difference to our lives. The intellectual atmosphere was electric, and just after 1968 we had a sense that something was happening, although nobody knew what it was. Sartre was still very active in leftist politics, as well as Deleuze and Foucault. They were our stars, and everyone was discussing Freud, Lacan, Marx, Mao. We dreamt – but only dreamt – of being street fighting men.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Pascal Engel.

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