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Reviews » Trade Encroaching a Sacrament… (published 22/08/2015)


Armand’s writing is perceptual, vivid, senses drenched – and so the visceral and bodily responses are foregrounded throughout. Yet by so doing his writing connects us to the neural circuits that instantaneously appraise the perceptions felt along the dimensions of the hedonic, the prudential, dangerous, noxious, nourishing and so on, a buckled sensory array that each organismic character is relating to. These are the bed rock of Armand’s writing, whereby he reenacts as simulations the raw material of biographical narratives whilst showing that these are selves that depend – overdepend – on the bodily stimuli. Without that, they lose a sense of self-identity, as if they have lost in some very distinctive way, a necessarily personal perspective on the information.

Richard Marshall reviews Loius Armand’s Abacus.

Interviews » The End Times » law and ethics (published )


I argue that all the standard rationales for capital punishment ─ deterrence-oriented, retributivist, incapacitative, and denunciatory ─ fail to establish that such punishment is morally legitimate. Each of those standard rationales is the application of a general theory of punishment to the death penalty. To succeed as a justification of that penalty, a rationale has to establish that the execution of a convict is both morally obligatory and morally permissible. Since none of the standard rationales does establish the moral obligatoriness and moral permissibility of the death penalty (either when each of those rationales is considered discretely or when they are considered in combination), none of them can properly serve as a basis for the imposition of that penalty.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Matthew Kramer.

Interviews » The End Times » dynamic epistemology (published 15/08/2015)


Llull is a character and a half. Not only did he write the world’s first novel in the vernacular, articulate voting methods that were not articulated again until the 17th and 18th centuries, turn missionary to Africa in his 50s after learning Arabic so that he could convert Muslims, he was also deeply interested in mechanising reasoning, in a way which put him centuries ahead of his time. In a world where time-travel existed, I would love to get Ramon Llull and Alan Turing in the same room together. I can’t even imagine what sort of brilliant ideas that would spark!

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Sara L. Uckelman

Reviews » Sam Dunn Is Dead & Theory of the Great Game. (published 05/08/2015)


For them the situation required blood and moon crazyness to redirect social synapses into something thrillingly new, refreshed and collective. They indulged in experimental metaphysics and took copious drugs to this end. They saw no point in merely building a left wing political party or joining up with a Surrealism that seemed at times to be nothing more than just another idealist protest group. Instead readers of the magazine were to come face to face with themselves. The idea was ‘to make them despair.’ What they suspected was that the avant-garde-ists and all their potential allies were largely acting in bad faith and were merely concocting intellectual and artistic distractions.

Richard Marshall reviews Bruno Corra’s Sam Dunn is Dead and Rene Daumal & Roger Gilbert-Lecomte etc’s Theory of the Great Game.

Interviews » The End Times » Life After Faith (published 02/08/2015)


In my view, most of current Anglophone philosophy is quite reasonably seen as an ingrown conversation pursued by very intelligent people with very strange interests. But it would hardly stop the kinds of investigation that the giants of the past engaged in. In my view, we ought to replace the notion of analytic philosophy by that of synthetic philosophy. Philosophers ought to aspire to know lots of different things and to forge useful synthetic perspectives.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Philip Kitcher.

Reviews » Shklovsky’s Zoo (published 12/07/2015)


The impression by the end is of conceivable dark and silence or an indefinite approximating towards them. At the last the voice speaks over herself with a possibly apocryphal story about Franz Kafka. Kafka looms large in this. His parables free up narrowing limits. Something expires before our very eyes before the last syllable and what we end up with is that odd kind of actuality Beckett in a letter writes down, i.e.:

‘… the pigeon helping with its wing the too frail branch on which it lights.’

Richard Marshall reviews Joanna Walsh’s Shklovsky’s Zoo, with images by Maja Nilsen.

Interviews » The End Times » Between Saying and Doing (published 19/06/2015)


I think what distinguishes philosophers as such is that we study humans as discursive beings—that is, as normative rational creatures, in the sense that what we in the fullest sense do (including believing) is subject to normative assessment as to the goodness of the reasons we have for doing or believing that. (How rational we are in the sense of how successful we are at actually fulfilling our obligations to have such reasons is quite a different matter.) Norms and inferential-justificatory behavior can be studied empirically. But the question of what norms and good inferences are, and of how to understand the kind of creatures we are in virtue of living in such a normative space of reasons seem to me to be of the first importance—not only for philosophers, but for the culture at large.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Robert Brandom.

Interviews » The End Times » On German Materialism (published 13/06/2015)


Materialism has always been political, at least in the eyes of its opponents. This could already be seen in Antiquity, when Plato threatened materialists with jail (Nomoi X), and later when Christianity had become the hegemonic spiritual force in Europe and allied with the ruling forces of feudal society: all kinds of a-religious or anti-religious philosophy, materialism included, became automatically ‘political’ in that they seemed to undermine the foundations of the established social order. This was confirmed by contemporary reactions to Hobbes or to French materialism in the 18th century, accused of having brought about the French Revolution.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Kurt-Otto Bayertz.

Interviews » The End Times » Thinking About Mindreading, Mirroring and Embedded Cognition et al… (published 06/06/2015)


My impulse is to bring science into partnership with philosophy wherever possible (and relevant) . This was easily exercised in philosophy of mind as well as epistemology. Interestingly, when I turned to the topic of “folk psychology” (later called “theory of mind” or “mindreading”), I noticed that even philosophers preoccupied with some variety of cognitive science oddly chose a strikingly a priori methodology to answer the question of how mindreading is executed. Their answers came straight from the pages of other philosophers, who had floated armchair-based hypotheses about how people assign mental states (to self and others).

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Alvin Goldman.

Interviews » The End Times » Why Murder Philosophers? (published 29/05/2015)


Montaigne says that death’s power over us comes from its “strangeness,” from that when it strikes it usually finds us unprepared. That’s why we need to devise spiritual exercises whereby we make death a familiar presence in our lives – “domesticate” it, if you will. Here’s one recipe that he proposes: “let us frequent [death], let us get used to it; let us have nothing more often in mind than death. At every instant let us evoke it in our imagination under all its aspect.” So we have to bring death into the midst of our existence, show it hospitality, give it shelter and take good care of it.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Costica Bradatan.