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Interviews » The End Times » How Pragmatism Reconciles Quantum Mechanics With Relativity etc (published 24/05/2015)


While I think quantum theory helps us to understand all kinds of otherwise puzzling phenomena, it does not do this by saying what’s going on at a deeper level: ontologically speaking, there is no quantum level. Quantum theory is fundamental to contemporary physics, and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. But it does not contain fundamental laws, and does not contribute its own fundamental ontology. Since quantum mechanics is in these ways parasitic on other descriptive or representational frameworks it cannot be expected to provide a basis for the reduction of the macroscopic to the microscopic. Nor, therefore, can anything else within the horizon of contemporary physics.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Richard Healey.

Interviews » The End Times » What’s a hole made of and other enigmas (published 16/05/2015)


Holes provided many nice examples of entities about which we have rich and a times conflicting intuitions. These include the idea that holes do not exist, that holes are just parts of the holed-object, or that they are properties that we erroneously re-conceptualize as individuals.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Roberto Casati.

Interviews » The End Times » Why The World Does Not Exist But Unicorns Do (published 10/05/2015)


Commitment to the existence of unicorns is just not as substantive or even outright crazy as it looks if we take it for granted that there really only are those things that the imaginary discipline of physics tells us exists. I am saying “imaginary discipline,” because there is no such thing as the single discipline of physics. “Physics” or “science” still often count among philosophers (particularly among metaphysicians) as empirically grounded forms of metaphysics that get to the bottom of things (the ultimate grounding level). This is neither clearly a consequence of any actual finding of physics to date nor could it be given that we are dealing with metaphysical interpretations of terms such as “particle” or “to consist of” when we claim, for instance, that tables consist of particles and then wonder whether tables even so much as exist. Of course, tables exist and, as far as I know, so do electrons.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Markus Gabriel.

Interviews » The End Times » Darwinian conundrums (published 02/05/2015)


The questions at stake here concern the origin and nature of the mental, social and ethical lives of human beings. These are exemplary philosophical questions. In order to answer them, we need both science and philosophy, and we need collaboration and dialogue between scientists and philosophers.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Jonathan Birch.

Interviews » The End Times » philosophy of science (published 25/04/2015)


In my own thinking of this matter, I found it useful to think of scientific theories as ‘growing existential statements’ in the sense that in adopting a scientific theory, we are committed to the existence of entities that make our (interpreted) theory true and, in particular, to the existence of unobservable things that cause or explain the observable phenomena, but at the same time we leave open the possibility that the theory might not be uniquely realised or that it might fail to be (fully) realised.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Stathis Psillos.

Interviews » The End Times » propositions, analysis and context (published 19/04/2015)


When one looks at the contextually sensitive expressions in natural language, those whose context independent meanings are sufficient by themselves to secure semantic values in context are very much in the minority. Kaplan called such expressions pure indexicals and ‘I’ and ‘yesterday’ may be the only ones (and I worry about ‘yesterday’). Even candidates like ‘here’, ‘now’, and ‘today’ don’t seem to be pure indexicals since e.g. the temporal extent of the semantic value of ‘now’ varies from context to context (‘Let’s leave the party now’ vs. ‘People now watch more content on their computers as opposed to their televisions than they used to’). Similar remarks apply to ‘here’ and ‘today’ (and perhaps ‘yesterday’).

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Jeffrey King.

Essays » Kamal Daoud: L’Étranger Nouveau (published 11/04/2015)


Algerian author Kamal Daoud seems ultra cool, like Camus and it’s not incongruous to push these two Algerian writers together. Daoud’s last novel explicitly talks to Camus. He’s writing about the choices facing us at this precarious time, and doing so from a perspective that isn’t Anglo/American or European. It’s a young modern Algerian existential perspective that’s angry, poised, clever, Muslim, playful, generous, anguished and cosmopolitan.

Richard Marshall raises his glass to Algerian author Kamal Daoud.

Interviews » The End Times » Philosophy of Markets (published 10/04/2015)

Adam Smith

Economic models make simplifying assumptions about human agency and about social interaction. If one only used these models to answer the questions they are supposed to answer, taking into account their methodological limitations, there wouldn’t be any problem. But often they are used to make much wider claims.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Lisa Herzog.

Interviews » The End Times » Philosophy from the Zettabyte (published 05/04/2015)


The philosophy of information is not a matter of developing a philosophy of the next gadget. It is about engaging with the deep transformations caused by ICTs in how we understand the world, hence in our epistemology and metaphysics; in how we make sense of it, hence in our semantics; in how we conceptualise ourselves, and what we think we can be or become, hence in our theories of education, identity, and our philosophical anthropology; in how we interact with each other, how we manage and shape collaborative and conflicting relations, and how we may construct the society we want, hence in our socio-economic and political thinking.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Luciano Floridi.

Fiction » Jeremy Clarkson v. JG Ballard’s Crash (published 02/04/2015)

The walls of his apartment near to the film studios were covered with photographs of Clare Balding, who was neither Irish or Mexican, nor did she have any known resentment of motor vehicles. In his vision of a car crash with the presenter, Clarkson was obsessed by the impact of their two cars meeting head-on in complex collisions endlessly repeated in slow-motion. (Sometimes even imagining her mounted upon a horse as she rode perpendicular to his accelerating Maserati, but mostly they were both seated in cars). He was measured as he verbally catalogued the resulting damage and explicitly detailed wounds. Noticing his heavy, denim-clad groin I was momentarily quieted by the distinct profile of his aroused manhood. In an effort to make the beast subside, I mentioned the Vauxhall Vectra.

Jeremy Clarkson and J. G. Ballard collide in Graham Bendel‘s cheeky mash-up.