:: The End Times

How Rational is our Rationality? published 18/03/2017

If you calculate a tip when you’re drunk, you should think of yourself as taking a belief-gamble – you’re forming a belief in a way that gives you a 50% shot at getting things right and a 50% shot at getting things wrong. This is the equivalent of guessing. Since the way in which we care about the accuracy of our beliefs prohibits guessing, this way of caring about accuracy also prohibits forming beliefs while drunk. A really interesting question is why we don’t like gambling on our beliefs, when we’re happy gambling on all sorts of other things.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Miriam Schoenfield.

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Time and the Philosophy of Action published 14/03/2017

A billionaire has offered to give you a million dollars if, at midnight tonight, you intend to drink a toxin tomorrow afternoon. The toxin will make you sick, but it won’t kill you, so you wouldn’t mind drinking it for a million dollars. But there is one catch: the money will be deposited in your account (or not) before noon. So here is the problem: you have no reason to drink the toxin (and the billionaire has told you as much), since he isn’t paying you to do so. By the time tomorrow afternoon arrives, you will either be a millionaire or you won’t be, but you will have no reason to drink the toxin and a strong reason not to. Since you know this, it seems that forming an intention to drink the toxin will be difficult or even impossible without finding some way to trick yourself into drinking.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Roman Altshuler.

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The Measure of Things published 04/03/2017

The ‘pragmatist’ line taken by Daoists, Nietzsche and existential phenomenologists such as Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty, is the best one to take in order to dispel the pretensions of ‘absolutism’. The main objection, for example, to the ‘scientistic’ claim that physics describes the world as it is in itself is that, to recall James’s remark, you ‘can’t weed out’ the human contribution. That is, the scientific image of the world, like any other, is indelibly shaped by our interests, practices and prejudices. There is no reason at all to think that creatures with very different purposes and concerns would arrive at the scientific image, and no reason at all to accuse such creatures of getting the world wrong – a point that both Chuang Tzu and Nietzsche make when comparing human and animal perspectives.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews David E Cooper.

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Tragedy and Philosophy published 25/02/2017

Tragedy is the expression of a view of life as defined finally by an insurmountable contradiction (of a law of life at odds with itself), while philosophy will always aim at a sort of overcoming of contradiction (of the law of non-contradiction as the need of truth).

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Dennis J Schmidt.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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