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Epistemology and Democracy published 25/12/2013

One strategy Robert and I find rampant in contemporary argumentative culture is the use of tone of voice to distort a dialectical situation.We call the strategy modus tonens. With modus tonens, you not only reject a view, imply there’s something obviously wrong with it, and communicate that to an onlooking audience, but you also communicate to the interlocutors that they are in need of some educating on the issue – they commit obvious errors, and they don’t even know what they are.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Robert Talisse and Scott F. Aikin.

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what the hell are we doing here ? published 13/12/2013

About ten years ago I interviewed Noam Chomsky, and the first question I asked him was why, with all the irons he has in the fire, he dedicates so much time to engaging with philosophers. He said his concern was really part of a more general concern – that “it should trouble us that we’re not thinking about what we’re up to, and those questions happen to be the domain of what philosophers pay attention to.” I feel that there are just too many human enterprises that are not being subjected to critical thinking, and the problem is getting worse rapidly.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Peter Ludlow.

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rationally speaking published 06/12/2013

As Noam Chomsky once aptly put it, citizens of modern democracies need a course in intellectual self-defense to guard themselves against all the bullshit they will be bombarded with by corporate and governmental powers. I can’t think of anything better than studying history, reading Shakespeare and Joyce, learning how to admire a Picasso or Van Gogh, or understanding Aristotle and Marx as the foundations for that course.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Massimo Pigliucci.

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from the second person published 02/12/2013

I think Nietzsche has a quite brilliant and insightful analysis of a recognizable psychological syndrome that is responsible for much mischief, but he fails to appreciate the ways in which, properly conceived, morality involves a form of mutual respect that is quite positive and life affirming and that develops naturally out of our capacity for mutual response.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Stephen Darwell.

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Adorno’s negative dialectic and so on published 23/11/2013

What’s at stake is really huge. If any modern theory of experience turns out to be correct about the limits of possible experience then human relations really are atomized. The notion of co-constitution is baseless. And arguably the notion of moral – or at least non-instrumental – relations is thereby also baseless.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Brian O’Connor.

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kant in syria published 15/11/2013

What can one say about the current situation in Syria from a Kantian perspective? Is it absolutely clear that the central power of the state has disappeared and the whole country is enveloped in civil war? Has central legal authority disappeared? At the time of writing it seems difficult to say that both conditions are satisfied.

Continung the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Howard Williams.

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ecosovereignty published 08/11/2013

It seems increasingly likely that, for instance, Tibet or Sinkiang, unless they achieve political independence, will be swallowed whole by China (just as Manchuria was). On the other hand, the northern U.S., though heavily exploited by the federal government to finance so-called development in the U.S. South and West, probably just needs a more decentralized political system (less federal, more state governance), so that it can fund mass transit, universal health care, and public housing and schools, legalize marijuana and criminalize gun ownership, and take other measures regarded as anathema by most of the rest of the U.S.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Omar Dahbour.

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go hack yourself published 01/11/2013

Perhaps our machines of tomorrow will come with porn filters embedded in the code that we cannot remove; perhaps with code in the browsers that mark off portions of the Net as forbidden territory, perhaps our reading devices will not let us read certain books, perhaps our smartphones will not let us call certain numbers, perhaps prosthetic devices will not function in ‘no-go zones’, perhaps the self-driving cars of tomorrow will not let us drive faster than a certain speed; the control possibilities are endless. The more technologized we become and the more control we hand over to those who can change the innards of the machines, the less free we are.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Samir Chopra.

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forgiveness, blame, reasons… published 25/10/2013

The ability to satisfy moral demands must be learned, and the psychological resources needed for it must be gained. Often enough, that process goes wrong. Tragically, many people reach adulthood too insensitive, too touchy, too competitive, or too self-absorbed to be able to show other people the respect and regard that is (nonetheless) owed to them. So, these unfortunate souls are destined to do wrong—they lack the psychological resources required to consistently show others respect.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Pamela Hieronymi.

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Philosophy and aesthetics published 18/10/2013

Philosophy begins with what everybody more or less knows. And yet of course an insightful philosopher gives you an entirely new conception of the world that it would be perverse not to call understanding. There’s a reason Goethe said that reading Kant was “like stepping into a brightly-lighted room.” So perhaps the standing crisis for philosophers is not over whether Kant says something and does something; the crisis arises when you try to explain that accomplishment in terms of knowledge gained.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Nickolas Pappas.

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