:: The End Times

minimalism published 31/03/2018

Why I call my approach ‘minimal’ is that I think we should adopt a minimal job description for a theory of meaning: a theory of meaning should explain how the meanings of complex expressions are determined given the meanings of their component expressions, together with those expressions’ mode of composition, but it shouldn’t have to explain other things people have sometimes wanted from a theory of meaning (like telling us about what things there are in the world). Perhaps more controversially, I’ve also suggested that a theory of meaning should not be required to explain our incredible communicative capacities. That is to say, a theory of meaning – a semantic theory – should capture the literal content of expressions and explain productivity and systematicity, but there will still be lots of contents we communicate when we speak which go beyond what a semantic theory can explain.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Emma Borg.

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On the Frontiers of Physics, Math and Philosophy published 24/03/2018

Quantum mechanics should be able to explain not just the results of highly esoteric experiments involving electrons and photons and particle collisions, but also why the ordinary world around us appears the way it is and why, for example, our macroscopic measuring devices actually yield results. I like to think about this as a constraint on the construction of quantum theories. We know that the old classical physics was able to give us a pretty good rough picture of how macroscopic objects like cannonballs and measuring devices behave when they’re thrown about. So any quantum successor to classical physics had better be able to explain why classical physics was and is so successful, even if it’s not completely correct.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Benjamin H Feintzeig.

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What’s Fair About Disability, Rationing Health Care, Ageing and Overpopulation? published 17/03/2018

I don’t think that equality in itself is valuable. We should care about inequalities, but we shouldn’t try to deal with them by making people more equal; rather, we should help those who are worse off. In philosophical terms, that makes me a prioritarian rather than an egalitarian. A prioritarian holds that a unit of benefit has more value when it goes to a worse off person, and the worse off the person is, the greater its value; but she does not think it’s worth pursuing equality for its own sake.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Greg Bognar.

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The Social Ontology of Power published 15/03/2018

In a much discussed article in Nature researchers Agnes Wold and Christine Wennerås showed that women had to be 2.5 times more productive than men to receive the same scientific competence score (in the context of post doc applications). Before the publication few people in Swedish society knew about this fact. And if we take this fact as an indication of a gender structure in Swedish (research) society, then we can see how this opaque power, which was disadvantageous to women and advantageous to men, depends on a gender structure to exist.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Åsa Burman.

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McTaggart and Metaphysics published 09/03/2018

The starting point of the argument is that an adequate conception of time is one that has to incorporate change, because the very idea of reality being in time has to do with change. McTaggart then moves on to offer a phenomenological analysis of how time appears to us in experience, in order to then consider if that appearance incorporates change of some kind.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Rognvaldur Ingthorsson.

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Davidson and Indeterminacy of Truth Conditions published 03/03/2018

I’m interested in the questions of what it is to understand a language, what it is to be able to communicate with others, and what kinds of knowledge these might involve. And my view is that a promising approach to foundational questions in semantics is one that’s guided by concerns with the nature of semantic competence and the communicability of meaning. My interest is in the nature of our linguistic practices and the capacities underlying them. My questions are not “What is a language? What is meaning?”, but rather, “What are we, as producers and consumers of language, doing here? What does it take for us to be able to do it?”

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Arpy Khatchirian.

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Ramchandra Gandhi and Contemporary Indian Philosophy published 24/02/2018

And there are instances of modernity extending premodernity in thinking. Take Gandhi who produced one of the most remarkable feats of hermeneutics when he went against the prevalent view that saw the Bhagavad Gita as a text that promotes violence. He found a new interpretation by drawing on resources both from within and outside the text to claim it to be a text of non-violence. All these developments if they are left untouched and disorganised can be reduced to a mere whimper. But as I said before, if one works on them then they can contribute to the making of a more confident India.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews A. Raghuramaraju.

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Metaphysics of Technology and Panpsychism published 16/02/2018

Mechanistic materialism simply cannot account for the mind: qualia, consciousness, origins of the mind, subjectivity—these all remain intractable mysteries. Panpsychism offers new solutions and new ways of resolving old dilemmas, and philosophers are beginning once again to realize this fact.

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

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Impossibility and Non-Existence published 10/02/2018

According to Quineans, the concept of existence is captured by the quantifier. It is sometimes claimed that Quineans (should) deny that existence is a property, or that it is a property of individuals. That’s a mistake, as Quineans like van Inwagen pointed out. Quineans can have their existence property — a property of individuals. That’s the property of being something. It just isn’t a real property: anything is something.

For Meinongians, existence is a real property. That can’t be right for Quineans: to claim that some things do not exist is to claim that some things are such that there are no such things, which is preposterous.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Franz Berto.

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Who Are We Today? Foucault: Proust: Deleuze published 03/02/2018

Why desire, after all? Two reasons, really: first, the problem of desire is one that traverses virtually the entire history of philosophy, and of a number of other discourses, past and present, from theology to political economy, the science of sexuality, and the ethics and politics of recognition. Why is that? Why does desire occupy such an important place in our (again, western) history? The other, perhaps more important reason is the following: one way (that adopted by Foucault) to understand and analyse liberalism is less as a theory of individual freedom, and a reflection on ways to neutralise or at least minimise tyranny, and more as a technique or ‘technology’ of government, as a way of governing others as well as one’s own self, and one that could shed light (transversal light as it were) on the different forms of liberalism, on liberalisms of the right and the left.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Miguel de Beistegui.

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