:: The End Times

Evidence, Agency and Bad Faith published 18/02/2017

Since it might be extremely important for us to do something difficult, we can have excellent practical reasons to do it even if we don’t have evidence in light of which we can rationally predict that we will follow through with our decision. In those cases, we can rationally believe against the evidence: We can believe that we will do something difficult, even though we have evidence that there’s a significant chance that we will fail to follow through. If, however, we look to our evidence to settle the question of what we will do, when matters are up to us, we deny our freedom and we exhibit something akin to bad faith.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Berislav Marušić.

»

Why Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics Is More Important Than That of Poached Eggs published 11/02/2017

I think the scientists who are unhappy with metaphysics generally have a rather narrow view of what metaphysics is – that it’s speculation, unconstrained by empirical findings, angels on the head of a pin stuff. I’m not saying that doesn’t go on. But there is such a thing as empirically informed metaphysics. If you want to find out about the nature of the physical world, then sure, look to physics. But don’t expect a physics textbook to provide all the answers.

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

»

Internalism and Descartes’ Demon and Stuff published 04/02/2017

He seemed to think that sensations, perceptual experiences, emotions, imaginations – all mental features with a phenomenal character – supervene on bodily states and require what he called the “union of mind and body”. This aspect of Descartes’s dualism often puzzles interpreters, since in addition to asserting that mind and body are distinct, he also says that they are “intermingled”. I propose an interpretation of the relevant texts that is coherent with dualism. The key is that on Descartes’s view, all the mental features just mentioned need a proximate cause outside the mind. So they depend on the body not for their existence, but for their causal origin.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Katalin Farkas

»

Against Post-Truth: The Logical Experience of Knowledge, the Circularity of Truth etc published 28/01/2017

Truth is definitely a circular concept. And it is essentially circular; there is no non-circular way of giving an extensionally adequate definition of truth. The circularity is not vicious, however, in any sense that implies incoherence or defect in the concept of truth. On the contrary, some of the functions truth serves require that the concept be essentially circular.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Anil Gupta.

»

Turing tests, Chinese Rooms, Sherlock Holmes, Wittgensteinian Vagueness and Descartes published 22/01/2017

Brain research can make no contribution to traditional philosophical questions. These are conceptual, not empirical, and therefore no empirical discovery can shed light on the issues they involve.
But even more specific, non-conceptual questions that can be asked by neuroscientists sometimes involve problematic conceptual assumptions which might undermine them. I think the search for a brain correlate of voluntary action is one such case.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Hanoch Ben-Yam.

»

Darwinian Creativity, Memetics and Some published 14/01/2017

Memetics reduces again either to something trivial – no big news that there are cultural items that spread, right – or to something false: that they make copies of themselves and that they spread because of their properties. The last point, an explanatory analogy, is often taken to also imply that memes spread independently of the beliefs and interests of human beings, which is also wrong.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Maria Kronfeldner.

»

Kant, other minds and intersecting issues… published 07/01/2017

An Epicurean is someone who thinks that when people are dead, they no longer exist. Our suggestion is that people are implicit Epicureans. How should an implicit Epicurean answer the questions in the study? Consider first the vignette in which David is dead. You’re asked whether you agree or disagree with statements such as ‘David has emotions and feelings’. This statement presupposes that David exists. And it’s very natural to think that when a statement has a presupposition that you take to be false, neither agreement or disagreement seems appropriate. (Compare being asked whether you agree or disagree with the statement ‘I’ve stopped cheating on my partner’.)

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Anil Gomes.

»

Kuhn’s Science and Does Medicine Really Care About Patients? published 23/12/2016

Who is the physician? The answer to this question has changed dramatically through the centuries. For the Greek and Roman traditions, for example, the nature of the physician shifted from priest to philosopher. Today another shift has occurred, from philosopher to scientist—especially technician. The human factor has been eliminated or greatly marginalized, and so professionalism is often reduced to technical competence. Little if any human competence, if you will, is required of a medical professional today, and this can result in patient harm and compromise the morality of modern medicine. Unfortunately, modern medicine too often resembles an industrial factory in which patients are placed on a conveyer belt, and then anatomized, tested, and treated.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews James Marcum.

»

Ethics, Law and Politics published 17/12/2016

I see loyalty – roughly perseverance in relational commitments despite the cost of such perseverance – as an important human value/virtue. Think of it as a kind of relational glue. It is odd that a value/virtue that plays such a central role in dramatic literature has played such a small role in philosophical writing. There are probably a number of reasons, but I think that a predilection for a certain kind of individualism is a major one. Others might include the fashionability of consequentialism, the idea that loyalty has more to do with sentiment than reason, as well as its proneness to corruption. The revival of interest in virtue/character as distinct from rules/principles has also created space for a renewed, if hesitant, interest in loyalty.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews John Kleinig.

»

What Kind of a Fact is a Flying Pig for Kant? and Things like That published 03/12/2016

If we really can’t help but think a certain way, one might worry that this doesn’t guarantee that that is the correct way to think. If we can’t rationally doubt certain principles, then there is a certain kind of sceptical worry that we are stuck being unable to doubt false principles. I appeal to Kant’s idea that conditions on the possibility of thought and experience are themselves also conditions on the objects of thought and experience.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Jessica Leech.

»