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Interviews » The End Times » Peirce, Pragmatism and Race, Racism (published 29/10/2016)

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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.

Reviews » Dylan’s American Poetical Company (published 26/10/2016)

It strikes me that what is enjoyed in contemporary American poets is also what can be enjoyed in Dylan. If you can speak about technique, content, spirit, form, about whether the work is catching ‘the natural impression of any object or event,’ whether there’s ‘vividness,’ ‘imagination’, ‘passion’ and ‘a certain modulation of the voice, or sounds, expressing it’ which is what Hazlitt was asking from Coleridge, Wordsworth, Keats and the rest of the band back in his day, and if you can do so without it seeming not to fit, then I think you’re talking about a poet. If it looks, walks and quacks like a duck then its a duck.

Richard Marshall reviews Christopher Burt‘s The Poem Is You and Thinks Dylan’s In Good Company.

Essays » The Calvinist Roots of American Anti-Intellectualism (published 23/10/2016)

Trump sounds familiar because he is doing on a grand stage what they are told to do every day from pulpits across America. They are told to stick to their guns and to reject the evolution crap and the carbon dating crap and more generally the logic and inductive science crap, and they know that it is HARD. But here is Trump, a man who can proudly, unashamedly, stand up to Renaissance and Enlightenment-forged principles of rational inquiry and rational discourse.

EJ Spode takes down the Calvinist roots of American Anti-Intellectualism – hard.

Interviews » The End Times » 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]

Interviews » The End Times » 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.

Interviews » The End Times » 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.

Interviews » The End Times » 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]

Interviews » The End Times » 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.

Interviews » The End Times » Epicureanism, Early Mods and The Moral Animal (published 23/09/2016)

Even if the gods did exist, the Epicureans argued, they didn’t care about us. Rather, everything comes from nature, and all that really exists are atoms and void, moving and congregating. The life-world of human and animal experience, with colours, tastes, solid objects, is a perceptual effect of massed atoms.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Catherine Wilson.

Interviews » The End Times » The Virtue Epistemologist (published 16/09/2016)

Either we squelch our curiosity or we will have to fall into the circularity or regress to which the skeptic objects. Since the actual infinite regress is of reach for finite humans, we must fall into the circularity, the Cartesian sort of circularity, wherein we use our fundamental faculties (intuition and deduction, as they might be) in order to attain a picture of ourselves and the world around us (ourselves in the lap of a benevolent omnipotence) that enables us to endorse our use of those very faculties. There is no hope for a properly supportive perspective on our basic faculties that is not acquired by means of such inquiry.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Ernest Sosa.

Painting: Harry Adams.