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Truth, Knowability, Mind and Romantic Love published 07/02/2016


Romantic love is a classical philosophical topic, and while neuroscientists and psychologists have much to add, I am of the belief that this is one of the few areas left where philosophers have a clear advantage and can make genuine progress. What really drew me to this topic was my interest in the emotions. Add to that my bewilderment upon witnessing the puzzling tendency in the popular literature to focus either on the ‘feelings’ involved in love or the brain chemicals and neural correlates underlying them.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Berit Brogaard.

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Nietzsche, Art and the Neo-Hegelian Commitment published 31/01/2016


Some might see the Nazis, on this front, as having tried to put Nietzsche’s ideas into action in fashioning themselves as the Germanic inheritors of the Greco-Roman culture of the past. Think, in this vein, of all that neo-classical triumphalist architecture of Speer. They wanted to make a resplendent culture, in part by aestheticizing the political sphere, in that famous description due to Walter Benjamin. Nietzsche despised the nascent German Reich under Bismarck, despised power politics, and would have despised the Nazis. But his celebration of excellence, achievement, strength, and splendor, including when these come at the expense of ordinary morality, can leave him uncomfortably close to some ideas that took a hugely nasty turn—a turn, I again stress, that he wouldn’t have supported.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Andrew Huddleston.

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Necessary Metaphysics published 17/01/2016


Metaphysics and science both examine and explain reality, even though the means by which they do so differ. So metaphysics and science share their subject matter, but not their methods. But this non-overlap of methods does not entail that science and metaphysics are two completely independent ways of asking questions about a common subject and providing answers to those questions. Instead, we insist that the methodological autonomy of metaphysics can be maintained even if metaphysicians also employ the empirical results of science — as they should.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Tuomas E Tahko.

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The Hedonistic Utilitarian published 10/01/2016


Once we realise that utilitarianism comes with the idea of blameworthy rightdoing (such as when you push a big man onto the tracks in order to save five lives) and blameless wrongdoing (such as when you don’t push a big man onto the tracks in order to save five lives), then utilitarianism all of a sudden appears to give the right answers. It is indeed right to push the big man, but we should attempt not to become people who are prepared to do this, since this would, even if it helps us to the right decision in this abstract thought experiment, make us dangerous, nasty, and ones no one should want to socialise with.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Torbjörn Tännsjö .

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Neuroethics published 20/12/2015


Philosophy of mind interested me deeply, but I was frustrated by the lack of empirical perspectives in the philosophical faculties when I was a student, where the road to hell was paved with empirical propositions! Yet it never seemed possible to me to understand the mind purely through a priori reasoning, ignoring the organ that does the job. On the other hand, brain science took scant interest in conceptual, philosophical analyses at the time, which seemed equally lopsided. Today the situation is fortunately different: philosophy and the neurosciences collaborate in a very fruitful manner. And that is why I now have turned my philosophical focus to studies of consciousness and neuroethics.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Kathinka Evers.

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Thinking How To Live published 05/12/2015


We must distinguish what it means to say that I ought to do a thing and what being what I ought to do consists in. Maybe, for example, being what I ought to do consists in something hedonic, such as being what will maximize my happiness. Even so, ‘ought’ doesn’t mean “would maximize one’s happiness.” If it did, as Moore argued, then “You ought to maximize your happiness” would just mean “Maximizing your happiness would maximize your happiness.”

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Allan Gibbard.

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Metacognition published 21/11/2015


Metacognition raises ethical questions, for instance: are all epistemic agents equally equipped to think correctly, and, hence, responsible for their judgments, as Descartes claimed? Or rather, is their social environment responsible for the existence and appropriate use of their critical abilities? This kind of question can now be posed in much more exact terms, thanks to the empirical science of metacognition.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Joëlle Proust.

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Waking, Dreaming, Being published 04/10/2015


One of the fascinating and valuable things about the Indian philosophical tradition is that it has sophisticated and technical debates, spanning centuries, about whether dreamless sleep is a peculiar mode of consciousness or whether it’s a state in which consciousness is absent. Both Advaita Vedānta philosophers (Advaitins) and Buddhist philosophers argued that a subtle form of awareness continues in deep sleep (though they disagreed about the nature of this awareness), whereas the Nyāya philosophers (Nyaiyāyikas) held that consciousness is absent from dreamless sleep.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Evan Thompson.

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Time, Language, Ontology published 19/09/2015


Nobody, however, takes the need for spatially variable terms—spatial indexicals—to have any implications about the nature of space itself. Everyone cheerfully accepts that though it is pragmatically necessary to divide space up into the ‘here’ and the ‘there’, space itself is perfectly isotropic; there is no such-thing as an observe-independent ‘here’. Space is not centered, even though our orientation toward space requires us (most of the time) to center our representation of it upon ourselves. This is just one of the ways in which, we all agree, our normal ways of thinking about space come apart from the way it is itself.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Joshua Mozersky.

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Italian philosophy, Magic and Peter of Spain published 12/09/2015


By the time Italian fascism hit bottom in the late thirties, intimidated by Hitler and promulgating its own disgraceful racial laws, Gentile was no longer a major force in the regime or the Party, which he never renounced. Gentile had immense philosophical talent – more focused than Croce’s, whose range was broader, less committed to philosophy. The grand historical narrative of Italian philosophy – with the politics of nation-building as its armature – is still Gentile’s. His metaphysics of actual idealism or actualism is a strikingly original attempt to naturalize (speaking very broadly) idealism.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Brian Copenhaver.

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