:: The End Times

Saving Wittgenstein, Credence Knowledge and Semantics published 26/11/2016

Wittgenstein got stuck when it came to analyzing propositions about the colors of objects. Take four propositions about the color of some particular object A. These propositions aren’t logically independent from each other, so at most one of them could be an elementary proposition. But then the worry is that once we determine that one of these four propositions is elementary, we’ll have no way to analyze the three leftover propositions, since they won’t each be truth functions of the elementary color proposition. A lot of people think that this problem motivated Wittgenstein to abandon the central project of the Tractatus.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Sarah Moss.

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Wittgenstein’s Ethical Enterprise and Related Matters published 19/11/2016

I am very firmly of the view that philosophy needs to be aware of the non-philosophical investigations going on in its very many neighbouring disciplines (whether that is in history or in mathematics or in art or in psychiatry: it’s not as if everything that isn’t philosophy is science), without surrendering its responsibilities to any of them. After all, quite often when things start getting really interesting in these neighbouring disciplines it’s because they are getting philosophical, whether or not this is recognized.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Edward Harcourt.

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Nihil Unbound published 12/11/2016

In Sellars’s account, the “myth of Jones” is perhaps the most momentous step in the construction of the Manifest Image and hence in the development of our collective self-conception as humans. It is the step through which we begin to understand ourselves both as minded beings motivated by beliefs and as sentient beings affected by sensations. In Sellars’s myth, Jones is the genius who first suggests that what humans say and do can be explained as the outward manifestation of inner mental states of believing, desiring, and sensing.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Ray Brassier.

[Pic: Shirren Lim]

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Constructing Race published 05/11/2016

In the case of race, explicit racism seems to be much rarer than in the past. A range of other barriers remain, but a substantial part of the explanation of the relative deficit of nonwhite philosophers (especially black philosophers) seems to involve large-scale inequality in society as a whole. There remains substantial disagreement about how to correct such inequality (even were there the political will to do so). Thus, even once we acknowledge a role for various kinds of explicit, implicit, and structural racism (even when we acknowledge a role for the social construction of race), there are other barriers that we as a society must understand and address.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Ron Mallon.

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Peirce, Pragmatism and Race, Racism published 29/10/2016


I argue that we need to be involved in defining ourselves, to own the definitional project, otherwise we, as a group, are doomed in Europe. Given the surge in far right sentiment across Europe I worry that we may already be doomed, but while ever someone else controls whats defines us we can simply be erased by fiat. Now, perhaps this borrows the tools of “white” mainstream philosophy by talking of definitions and concepts and precision etc. but I don’t feel as though my philosophical work is especially tainted because of that. Its just another aspect of the many ways that philosophers can and are doing important work on such issues.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Albert Atkins.

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Reason In Our Dark Time published 22/10/2016

People and countries have done an enormous amount of damage in their attempts to bring about the best possible world. Communism is an obvious example. But so is British imperialism, which was not grubby self-interest all the way down, but at least in part a sincere attempt on the part of people who felt they were superior to other people to magnanimously improve the lot of their inferiors. In much of the world today there are no more chilling words than “I’m from the United States and I’m here to help you.”

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Dale Jamieson.

[Picture: MikkoLagerstedt]

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Death, Afterlife, Justice and Value published 15/10/2016

At no point in their theory do utilitarians rely on an independent notion of justice or fairness. They are concerned solely with the maximization of value. Non-consequentialists are the only people who treat justice as a fundamental moral concept. Since justice is a fundamental moral concept, the question should be: how do we (any of us) accommodate ideas of justice, and especially ideas about the justice of basic social, political, and economic institutions, within an overall outlook that is also sensitive to a variety of other moral values and principles, including values and principles that apply to small-scale personal relationships?

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Samuel Scheffler.

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From A Biological Point Of View, and Then Some published 09/10/2016

I don’t endorse deism or interventionist theism. My point is just that evolutionary biology is logically compatible with the former and with some versions of the latter. I have bothered to make this point in print because I want to take the heat off of evolutionary biology. The more evolutionary theory gets called an atheistic theory, the greater the risk that it will lose its place in public school biology courses in the United States. If the theory is thought of in this way, one should not be surprised if a judge at some point decides that teaching evolutionary theory violates the Constitutional principle of neutrality with respect to religion. Creationists have long held that evolutionary theory is atheistic; defenders of the theory do the theory no favor when they agree.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Elliott Sober.

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Against Empathy and Other Philosophical Beefs published 07/10/2016

It is not only the sciences that have changed the landscape, but also culture more generally, the present stage of capitalism, media and communication, finance, new forms of governance, lifestyles and consumption habits, new forms of political expression, new people making there presence felt on the global stage, and so on. There is some truth to the claim that some forms of classical philosophical inquiry might have lost their purchase on human reality in the wake of these transformations.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Jan Slaby.

[Pic: Edward Colver]

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Robust published 30/09/2016

Models in science are based on assumptions, which are simplifications of real-world systems, in a similar way as with the model of the bridge. How can we apply the result of a model to real-world phenomena, where the initial simplifications do not hold? The idea behind robustness analysis is that if the result of a model holds under different assumptions, each of which captures certain possible aspects of the real world phenomenon, then our confidence in the result of the model is higher than before we proved its robustness.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Chiara Lisciandra.

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