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Interviews » The End Times » The Infidel and the Professor (published 02/09/2017)

Friendship was absolutely central to their lives and also important in their writings. Hume and Smith were both lifelong bachelors, so their relationships with each other and with their other friends were the most meaningful ties they had (along with Smith’s close relationship with his mother). And both of them claimed repeatedly, throughout their philosophical works, that friendship is an indispensable component of a good and happy life. Hume declared that “friendship is the chief joy of human life,” for instance, and Smith proclaimed that the esteem and affection of one’s friends constitutes “the chief part of human happiness.”

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Dennis Rasmussen.

Essays » Bad Coop Eleatics (published 31/08/2017)

Twin Peaks Week | Day 4

Twin Peaks acknowledges a certain heroism and nobility in being average. Lynch populates his strangeness with the strangeness of characters who we best resemble, our average mystic neighbour. We place in them our own beliefs and desires so that what comes out are the beliefs, desires and hypothetical actions that follow from this simulation. The closer we assume they were to us in the first place, the greater the degree of predictability, dependability and precision that follows from this isomorphism. The victims and heroes of Twin Peaks’ horror have been predictable and dependable because we recognise them as being, all in all, like us. The weird terrors of the plot are beyond understanding and exist as uncanny manifestations of our own endless, inescapable dread.

By Richard Marshall.

Interviews » The End Times » How to Talk About Empiricism (published 27/08/2017)

Empiricists in the philosophy of science take the basic criterion of success in science to be empirical, with the ultimate aim of empirically adequate theories, accurate representation of what is accessible to human observation and manipulation. Theories and the search for explanation are important, but instrumentally, as roads toward greater empirical knowledge. Empiricism is not skepticism, nor anti-realism in any general sense, it is just anti-scientific-realism. Empiricism as it is now can be combined with a ‘common sense realism’ that sees no difficulties in our reference to trees, rocks, persons, lasers, electron microscopes, interferometers, radio telescopes …. or, in their own way, optical phenomena such as rainbows and images produced by microscopes, to give some examples.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Bas C. van Fraassen.

Interviews » The End Times » Aristotelian Metaphysics (published 19/08/2017)

In understanding priority in Aristotle’s metaphysics we should first ask about the respect in which we are viewing priority: is it priority in time, in account, in definition, in knowledge, or in being, substance, and nature? I argue that the central notion, in the sense of what plays the role of a criterion for what counts as fundamentally real –Aristotle’s primary substance– or even in the sense of what being fundamentally real (partly) consists in, is ontological priority (in respect of being, substance, or nature).

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Michail Peramatzis.

Reviews » Back To The Real AI (published 14/08/2017)

There’s no demand for AI with common sense. We seem to like our AI supersmart and dumb. None of our current billion dollar research projects into AI are looking to create fully intelligent AI with common sense. According to Levensque, we’re creating systems that can deal with stable, normal circumstances but which are not able to deal with the unexpected. Levensque is quietly alarmed: ‘ … if this is the future of AI, we need to be careful that these systems are not given the autonomy appropriate only for agents of common sense.’ Automation poses political questions rather than technological ones for the AI community.

Richard Marshall reviews Hector J Levesque‘s Common Sense, The Turing Test, and the Quest for Real AI.

Interviews » The End Times » Causation, Probability and Philosophy (published )

It’s a mistake to analyze actual causation and think that you have thereby analyzed causation. The surface grammar of our language is misleading in this regard. Consider philosophers’ favorite example: “Suzy’s throwing her rock caused the bottle to smash”. This statement describes a relation of actual causation, but there is nothing in the wording to indicate that a specialized causal concept is involved. The word “caused” seems to suggest a fully general notion of causation. One of the clues that this is wrong is that many concepts that involve a causal dimension don’t involve actual causation.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Christopher Hitchcock.

Interviews » Psychedelics and Philosophy » Tripping For Knowledge: The Psychedelic Epistemologist (published 05/08/2017)

I think psychedelic states can offer genuine knowledge. Specifically, I think psychedelic subjects gain what philosophers call ‘knowledge by acquaintance’ of their own vast psychological potential. They become directly acquainted—because it becomes manifest—with the modal or dispositional fact that there are vastly many, often very unusual, possible ways that their minds can be. And this knowledge often makes a strong impression; many spiritual seekers in the 60s became dedicated meditation practitioners in order to realise the psychological potential they’d discovered by tripping.

Lindsay Jordan kicks off 3:AM’s Psychedelics and Philosophy series interviewing Chris Letheby.

Interviews » The End Times » On Doing and Allowing Harm (published )

I do not think you would be required to sacrifice your own life to save the child or indeed to sustain permanent major physical damage to your body which would leave you severely mentally or physically incapacitated for life. It would probably be morally admirable to do so, but this is not something that can be demanded from people. Requirements to sacrifice yourself in this except under truly exceptional circumstances undermine your authority over your own body.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Fiona Woollard.

Interviews » The End Times » On the Nature of Truth (published 30/07/2017)

‘Believe only what is true!’ is a useless epistemic norm. It’s correct, but it cannot guide us, because what we need are criteria we can actually apply; truth, however, isn’t a criterion we can directly test. ‘Believe only what is consistent with your entire belief system!’ is similarly useless. By Church’s theorem we cannot test a given set of axioms for its consistency. In general, this is beyond the computational powers of the best ideal computer.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Volker Halbach.

Reviews » Endless (published 27/07/2017)

His Endless House was a shock proof shelter, like the rock-shaped formations of his Magic Architecture, rooted in primal regression but rather than being a hypersexualised elastic expression like Paris Endless the new version was rather ‘a palpable luxury of warm soft glowing atmospheres of multimedia affections.’ Kiesler exploded space creating endlessness through illusions that ‘sweep past the boundaries’ dwelling in a solid protective shell.

Richard Marshall reviews Stephen J Phillips on Frederick Kiesler.