...twenty influential philosophers, plus thirty chosen at random (the apt description of one reader who sent it along, though I see it is making the rounds on facebook as well). Any list that includes, e.g., John McDowell and a self-promoting charlatan like Graham Harman has to be a joke. (Maybe they got confused between Graham and Gilbert?) Daniel Dennett and William Lane Craig? Thomas Nagel and J.P. Moreland?
UPDATE: Turns out this is not just careless and ignorant, but it's got an ideological agenda at work, as reader Glenn Branch explains:
I don't pay a lot of attention to The Best Schools website, but it occasionally promotes "intelligent design" -- e.g. this long interview with Dembski http://www.thebestschools.org/features/william-dembski-interview/-- and often promotes various conservative Christian causes. So the inclusion of people like Craig and Moreland isn't due to ignorance but to ideology.
Suppose, as Wegner and Wheatley propose, that we observe ourselves (unconsciously) perform some action, like picking out a box of cereal in the grocery store, and then only afterwards come to infer that we did this intentionally. If this is the true sequence of events, how could we be deceived into believing that we had intentionally made our choice before the consequences of this action were observed? This explanation for how we think of our agency would seem to require supernatural backwards causation, with our experience of conscious will being both a product and an apparent cause of behavior.
In a study just published in Psychological Science, Paul Bloom and I explore a radical—but non-magical—solution to this puzzle. Perhaps in the very moments that we experience a choice, our minds are rewriting history, fooling us into thinking that this choice—that was actually completed after its consequences were subconsciously perceived—was a choice that we had made all along.
Though the precise way in which the mind could do this is still not fully understood, similar phenomena have been documented elsewhere. For example, we see the apparent motion of a dot before seeing that dot reach its destination, and we feel phantom touches moving up our arm before feeling an actual touch further up our arm. “Postdictive” illusions of this sort are typically explained by noting that there’s a delay in the time it takes information out in the world to reach conscious awareness: Because it lags slightly behind reality, consciousness can “anticipate” future events that haven’t yet entered awareness, but have been encoded subconsciously, allowing for an illusion in which the experienced future alters the experienced past.
Thanks to philosopher Alexander George (Amherst) for passing this on:
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Istvan S. N. Berkeley Sent: Wednesday, August 17, 2016 3:20 AM To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Louisiana Floods
Hi there, South Louisiana, where PHILOSOP is located, is in crisis. Last Friday and Saturday it REALLY rained. At my house (I have a personal weather station) we got 19.8 inches of rain (324.5 mm) in two days. We were lucky and did not flood, but many did. According to some, this is a once in 500 years event.
The media coverage has been reasonable, but not great. The places that flooded are not famous cities, but they are places where real people, including my students, live. So, this event has not been covered too well in the media. That being said, according to some people I have talked to, if Katrina was a 7 event on whatever scale they use for such things, this one counts as a 7.5. So, should you feel so inclined, a bit of help to this part of the world would be very much appreciated! Only 20-25% of people have flood insurance, so people will have lost houses, vehicles and everything. So, donations would be really helpful.
A few Dollars, Pounds, Euros, or whatever, would make a really big difference. It does not have to be much, but every bit helps. Should you feel inclined to help, here are some useful links to donate:
I know through e-mail that many people only have a vague idea about the situation in South Louisiana. Should you be interested in local media reports in the region where PHILOSOP is located, then I would suggest,
This is real. Help would really be appreciated! Perhaps it could also be integrated into an Ethics class as an example of how Utilitarianism can be applied in practice?
Thank you in advance and all the best,
Istvan, PHILOSOP Listowner -- Istvan S. N. Berkeley Ph.D Philosophy and Cognitive Science E-mail: email@example.com The University of Louisiana at Lafayette P.O. Box 42531 Tel: +1 337 482-6807 Lafayette, LA 70504-2531 Fax: +1 337 482-6809 USA http://www.ucs.louisiana.edu/~isb9112
Women who are interested in serving as mentors should complete the website form before September 1, 2016. Mentors should currently hold a permanent academic post and have had job market experience at the junior level in the past seven years. Women who are interested in being mentored should complete the website form before September 1, 2016. Preference will be given to job candidates who have not participated in this mentoring program before.
A very funny remark by John Gardner (Oxford) about the cyber-treatment of Thomas Pogge:
I don’t know who ‘Jane’ might be, but she/he shows exemplary patience and wisdom for someone commenting below the line on a philosophy blog. The reply from ‘Grace’ who thinks that the hounding of a wrongdoer is a ‘natural consequence’ of his wrongdoing is chillingly reminiscent of Victorian attitudes to malefactors found in the pages of Dickens and Hardy. Thanks, Grace, for returning the philosophy blogosphere to its normal role as a home for absolutely dreadful and long-discredited ideas. (13.07.2016)
For those who don't want to wade through the comment thread (I haven't the strength or tolerance myself to read most comment threads on philosophy blogs), here is "Jane":
For weeks now, there’s been one article after another bringing up Pogge. There seems to be no merit in their publication, other than to continually drag his name through the mud.
The guy’s alleged transgressions are already well known. This seems to be an extended exercise in moral signalling, in stomping down on the back of someone’s head as he already lies in the mud, bringing up the topic again and again whenever people are bored of it so that nobody ever forgets how horrible Pogge is. We get it. And yet, it doesn’t stop.
Now we’ve read an article translated from German that discusses the old facts yet again. Is that enough, editors of Daily Nous? Can we move on?
I’m all for open discussions of sexual harassment policies. I just don’t see the merit in running down particular individuals or exulting in their shame.
2. Oh, Good, Another Piece on Rawls. “Footnote 458 of A Theory of Justice has not been sufficiently explored. Buckle up for 300 pages of exploration!”
3. Splitting the Difference. “Famous philosopher A argues X. Famous philosopher B argues not-X. In this dissertation, I argue the truth is somewhere in-between.”
4. Incomprehensible Kantian Nonsense. “I’m going to argue that some policy P is justified on Kantian grounds. This argument will take 75 steps, and will read as if it’s been translated, or, rather, partially translated, from 19th century German. It will also be completely implausible, and so, to non-Kantians, will simply read like a reductio of Kant rather than a defense of P.”
From the editors (I've added institutional affiliations--big year for Wisconsin and USC!):
We are pleased to announce this year's final selection:
The Philosopher’s Annual volume 35
from the literature of 2015
Andrew Bacon (Southern California), “Stalnaker’s Thesis in Context,” from the Review of Symbolic Logic
John Bengson (Wisconsin), "The Intellectual Given," from Mind
Chiara Cordelli (U Chicago, Poli Sci), “Justice as Fairness and Relational Resources,” from the Journal of Political Philosophy
Kenny Easwaran (Texas A&M), “Dr. Truthlove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Bayesian Probabilities,” from Noûs
Marko Malink (NYU), “The Beginnings of Formal Logic: Deduction in Aristotle’s Topics vs. Prior Analytics,” from Phronesis
Victoria McGeer (Princeton/ANU), “Mind-Making Practices: The Social Infrastructure of Self-Knowing Agency and Responsibility,” from Philosophical Explorations
James Messina (Wisconsin), “Conceptual Analysis and the Essence of Space: Kant’s Metaphysical Exposition Revisited,” from the Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie
Jeffrey Sanford Russell (Southern California), John Hawthorne (Southern California), & Lara Buchak (Berkeley), “Groupthink,” from Philosophical Studies
Charles Sebens (UC San Diego), “Quantum Mechanics as Classical Physics,” from Philosophy of Science
Titelbaum, Michael G. (Wisconsin), “Rationality’s Fixed Point (or: In Defense of Right Reason),” from Tamar Szabó Gendler & John Hawthorne, eds., Oxford Studies in Epistemology, vol. 5
These will be posted shortly with links and a general introduction at www.philosophersannual.org. Our thanks to the Nominating Editors for a wonderful set of initial nominations and for extremely useful survey input and comments.
We hope that you will join us as a nominating editor again next year, and that you will be keeping your eye out for excellent work in the literature of 2016 in the meantime.
With all the best,
Nominating Editors: Alia Al-Saji, Rachel Barney, JC Beall, Ned Block, Ben Bradley, Tyler Burge, Victor Caston, David Chalmers, Andrew Chignell, David Christensen, Gregory Currie, Ann Cudd, David Danks, Keith DeRose, Cian Dorr, Lisa Downing, Julia Driver, Adam Elga, Branden Fitelson, Owen Flanagan, Alan Hajek, Ned Hall, Elizabeth Harman, Verity Harte, Gary Hatfield, Benj Hellie, Christopher Hitchcock, Des Hogan, Brad Inwood, Simon Keller, Tom Kelly, Joshua Knobe, Niko Kolodny, Jennifer Lackey, Marc Lange, Brian Leiter, Neil Levy, Martin Lin, Peter Ludlow, Jeff McMahan, Shaun Nichols, Paul Noordhof, Derk Pereboom, Jim Pryor, Greg Restall, Geoffrey Sayre-McCord, Richard Scheines, Mark Schroeder, Laura Schroeter, Ted Sider, Michael Slote, Scott Soames, Roy Sorensen, Peter Spirtes, Johan van Benthem, Mark van Roojen, Peter B. M. Vranas, Ted Warfield, Eric Watkins, Sam Wheeler, Jim Woodward, Gideon Yaffe
This new review essay may interest some readers; a version will appear in NDPR soon (those interested can cite and quote from either the SSRN version or the NDPR version when it appears):
This review essay discusses Paul Katsafanas’s The Nietzschean Self (Oxford, 2016), which purports to offer an interpretation of Nietzsche’s moral psychology, including questions such as “reflection’s role in action, the genuine action/mere behavior distinction, the nature of evaluative judgment, the structure of human motivation, the possibility of freedom, and the nature of responsibility.” Katsafanas also claims that Nietzsche “wants to understand how ethical claims are justified” (hereafter, the problem of “normative authority”), although no textual evidence is ever adduced anywhere in the book showing Nietzsche to be concerned with this question.
I argue that (1) Katsafanas’s claim that Nietzsche thinks that only conscious mental states are conceptually articulated is not supported by the texts and trades on Katsafanas’s own confusion between linguistic and conceptual articulation, one that vitiates many of the arguments in the book; (2) Katsafanas has a more successful account of the role of drives in Nietzsche’s philosophical psychology and their influence on conscious reflection; (3) Katsafanas’s attempt to resist the import of the latter account for Nietzsche’s ideas about free will and the role of conscious deliberation depends on misrepresentations of the texts and philosophical confusions about the thesis that consciousness is epiphenomenal; (4) Katsafanas misrepresents Schiller’s views about the “unity” of a self, and thus fails to refute the popular view in the literature that unity, for Nietzsche, is a matter of unity among a person’s drives; and (5) many of Katsafanas’s mistakes, and especially his frequent carelessness with Nietzsche’s texts, are best-explained by his desire to construe Nietzsche’s moral psychology as responding to the problem of normative authority.
In the end, the “Nietzschean moral psychology” of this book is largely Katsafansas’s invention, occasionally inspired by snippets from Nietzsche.
His 2013 book on Nietzschean Constitutivism--putting aside the interpretive issues, which took a backseat there--is more interesting and successful in my view. It also involves far fewer philosophical mistakes than the new book.
UPDATE: I uploaded a very slightly revised version today, August 12. The main difference comes in the treatment of nonconceptual content and psychological explanation at 3-4.
Professor Feferman, an eminent figure in mathematical logic and the foundations and philosophy of mathematics, was emeritus in both the Math and Philosophy Departments at Stanford University, where he had taught since 1956. I will add links to memorial notices when they appear.
I, of course, post a certain number of these, based on my judgment of what is interesting and noteworthy, but I thought I'd try opening up a thread periodically to invite readers to do the same. You can just copy and paste the full URL in the comment setion, it will convert automatically to a clickable link. Please explain what the link is to and why it is noteworthy in your view. Submit your comment once, it may take awhile to appear. Thanks.
Three women of colour from developing countries who have worked with Thomas Pogge asked me to share a statement regarding how the response to the allegations against Prof. Pogge has affected them. They had originally planned to make this a signed statement (which I had offered to post), but as one of the authors explained to me:
At each step, we were discouraged by friends and colleagues, who said we would be viewed as apologists for Thomas, and that we could kiss our feminist reputations goodbye. I'm very disappointed with where we are in academia, and I'm also disappointed with myself. We're going to have to think of another way of expressing our views, or perhaps we will just need to wait a few months until the storm blows over. I'm sorry for having wasted your time, though it's been good (for me) to connect with you. I read your blog regularly and appreciate your courage on many issues very much.
In the end, they decided they could share the statement they drafted, but without their names. Here it is:
We write to express some concern about the widely circulated Open Letter condemning Thomas Pogge. We clarify, first, that our aim is not to cast doubt upon the allegations upon which the letter is based. We are all too familiar with the institutional ‘cultures of silence’ that try to muzzle women who speak out against sexual harassment and sexual assault. We stand, always, with such women of courage in their quests for justice.
Our intention, here, is to advocate for the women, including ourselves, whose academic achievement, commitment to social justice, and personal integrity have been unjustly brought under a cloud due to Prof. Pogge’s alleged misconduct and also some efforts to condemn it. In particular, our concern is with what is said and yet left unsaid in the open letter. Among other things, Pogge is accused of violating professional norms by making “quid pro quo offers of letters of recommendation and other perks,” presumably in return for sexual favours. In no way has this been our experience with Prof. Pogge. Nor is it that of many other women whom we know to be professionally associated with him. In our view, the open letter should have been more discriminating in its choice of words rather than painted with such a broad brush.
Furthermore, while it is commendable that concern for the well-being of women, “notably women of colour,” associated with Pogge features prominently in the open letter, we are saddened that there is no corresponding language that recognizes our talent, merit, and integrity. This is a serious lapse, given the potentially harmful impact of the letter on women, notably young, professionally insecure women of colour from developing countries, who have worked with Prof. Pogge.
It is distressing that any of this needs to be said. But in a world where women still struggle to be taken seriously in their professional lives, and where women of colour are all too easily eroticized and portrayed as lacking agency, dignity, and integrity, we speak out of concern that the open letter’s categorical language on Pogge’s women of colour victims, along with thoughtless social media discussions about his corrupt, nefarious relationships with them, will only reinforce sexist and racist stereotypes. Our unease is amplified by the fact that the letter was shared hundreds of times across multiple online platforms, i.e., well beyond the academic “philosophical community” to which it is originally addressed. We ask for more caution, care, and compassion moving forward.
The prize is awarded September 1 in Bern, Switzerland, followed by a day-long symposium the next day on his work. Past winners include Fred Dretske, Michael Dummett, Hilary Putnam, and Ruth Marcus, among others.
As readers know, I'm no fan of The Stone blog at the New York Times, which too often features lightweights and hacks (usually "friends of Simon"), and in which even good philosophers don't always come off too well, with occasional exceptions. But one steady exception has been regular contributor Gary Gutting (Notre Dame), and I want to especially commend to the attention of readers this recent piece. The Catholic Church was a horror for much of its existence, but intra-religious slaughter and then the Enlightenment, cured Christianity. In significant parts of the Islamic world, this transformation has not occurred as Prof. Gutting discusses.
Reading this book, one gets the impression that Swanton has not so much studied Nietzsche as eavesdropped on a couple of teenage boys shooting the bull after reading Atlas Shrugged. Snippets of his ideas are glued together haphazardly with commonsense bromides, poorly disguised tenets of Rand, and unhelpful allusions to Adler and other individual psychologists. The resulting pastiche is a chimera....
Philosopher Valerie Tiberius (Minnesota), the current President of the APA Central Division, asked me to share the following, which I am happy to do:
As chair of a philosophy department at a large state institution (University of Minnesota), I’ve frequently been called upon to defend philosophy and to justify its place in higher education. This has made me reflect on what really is worth preserving, celebrating, or (possibly) changing about our field. To this end I want to solicit the views of my philosophy colleagues in a more systematic way than just asking my Facebook friends, which is what drew me to the project of creating a survey.
I am now writing to ask you to participate in this (fairly short) survey: “What Matters to Philosophers”. Please click the link below to take the survey, or copy it into the location bar of your web browser:
The point of this survey is to gather your views regarding what is valuable in your academic discipline, so that we can address questions about philosophy’s future and its role in the academy on the basis of values we share as a community.
I should say that this survey is not intended to answer tactical questions about effective ways of helping philosophy to survive in difficult times; rather, I would like to know what you believe is valuable and worth preserving in academic philosophy. And so that you can feel comfortable being entirely candid in your responses, the survey is completely anonymous.
Of course, the success of this project depends on the generous contributions of time from people like you. Mindful of this, I have tried to create a survey that will not take too much of your valuable time – it should not require more than 15 minutes to complete.
Data from the survey will form the substance of my presidential address at the APA Central Division meeting in Kansas City in March 2017. Presidential addresses are published in the APA proceedings, and I hope to publish and discuss my findings in other arenas as well. I will also share the data – in a form that does not permit the identification of any individual’s responses – with the APA and with philosophy departments who are interested in it.
During the planning process for this project, some philosophers have expressed reservations about completing the survey because they do not have full time academic positions, or are still in graduate school, or are not APA members. Please be assured that there are no such restrictions on who may take the survey! It is only by hearing from as many philosophers as possible that we can get an accurate picture of what we, as a community, think about philosophy.
According to an affidavit written by [Martha] Nussbaum to support Lopez Aguilar’s 2014 pre-action filing against Yale, which was obtained by the News, Pogge was a candidate at the University of Chicago about a decade before he was hired at Yale. When there was a vacancy in the political science department around 2000, Iris Young — a senior professor in the department — thought Pogge would be a good appointment for the position.
But Larmore, who also taught at the University of Chicago at the time, told Nussbaum and Young about the Columbia incident involving Pogge, and Young dropped the idea of recruiting Pogge. In her affidavit, Nussbaum recalled that Larmore believed the matter was “quite serious” and likely part of “an ongoing pattern.”
Larmore said he remembers telling Nussbaum about the incident and opposing the idea of bringing Pogge to the University of Chicago, but he said he does not remember if the allegation was ever brought up before the political science department.
Scruton says chianti with Hegel. I say Bud Light with Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead.” It’d be apropos because as Rand is to philosophy, Bud Light is to wine — improperly categorized, and still pretty lousy when regarded within its proper category.
Philosopher Christina Hoff Sommers, now a Research Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, asked me to share this recent video (followed by a transcript of it). Comments are open at that site, and Dr. Sommers writes, "I will do my best to reply to questions and objections."
As longtime readers know, I'm skeptical that the underrepresentation of women in philosophy is due to the "argumentative" nature of the subject, lack of female authors in the canon or on syllabi, and the like. The evidence of stereotype threat based on gender is also very weak, though implicit and explicit bias is more real. What Dr. Sommers ignores, I fear, is the role of a previously permissive culture of sexual harassment, but that, fortunately, is changing (at last).
The APA Ombudsperson for Discrimination and Sexual Harassment, philosopher Ruth Chang (Rutgers), asked me to share the following statement:
As former students of Thomas Pogge, we suspect that there is one group of people who have been harmed in relation to the recent allegations against Pogge, who have not been much considered in the discussion surrounding them. It is not our intention here to take a stand on the truth or falsity of the allegations. Rather, regardless of their veracity, current and recent students of Pogge’s, male or female, may now feel that they cannot turn to him for mentoring, as any continued involvement with Pogge may taint them or call into question their accomplishments and abilities in the eyes of other members of the profession. Indeed this is one of the reasons we’ve chosen to keep our own identities anonymous. For those who are finishing their PhDs, or have not yet secured tenure track employment, that loss of mentoring is a great loss indeed. Though we both secured tenure track employment before the allegations were made public, we empathize with the situation of Pogge’s graduate students and post-grads who have not yet done so.
Accordingly, we are reaching out to current and recent students of Pogge’s to determine whether they are in need of alternate mentoring. If so, and the demand is great enough, we propose to develop a list of senior philosophers in related areas who would be willing to step in and provide such mentoring. Please note that while a letter of recommendation for use on the job market is a desirable and certainly possible outcome of a mentoring relationship of this type, being paired with a mentor would by no means guarantee such a letter. Rather, it would provide an opportunity to gain feedback on some papers or dissertation chapters and to receive general advice on professional issues. The exact extent of that mentoring would be up to the junior and the senior philosophers to determine on an individual basis.
The identity of anyone requesting mentoring would be kept confidential, and be known only by us (the two former graduate students of Pogge’s organizing the connection), and the eventual mentor. At this point, we are only asking for expressions of interest from current or past students of Pogge’s – both male and female – who have not secured permanent employment and who would like to be connected to an alternate mentor. Registering your interest now does not commit you to eventually being paired with a mentor – it only helps us to determine how many potential mentors to contact. You may decide at a later date whether you would actually like to be paired with a mentor. Please contact us by September 1, 2016 at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please help to spread the word to Pogge’s current and former students.
I think this is a sensible undertaking for the reasons given. But I'd like to emphasize that it's also clear that Professor Pogge has worked with and written letters for many students, including female students (and including female students "of color"), in which there have been no allegations of misconduct, quid pro quo endorsements, or anything of the kind. (I say it is "clear" because I've been told that by various students and others for whom Prof. Pogge has written.)
There's been lots of discussion over the years on the blog about journal practices, but usually in regards to the submissions and review process.
What I don't think has been discussed is in many ways a much more important issue: how are editors - that is, editors in chief, those who usually are the first to look at and do the initial screening of submitted papers - chosen by philosophy journals? Since these are among the most powerful people in the profession, that would be good know. I've asked around about this over the years and no one really knows. And the process by which these editors are chosen, and the rules (if any) that set out their duties, and regulate their official actions, are less than clear. For example, in most cases, there seem to be no declared procedural rules by which they are chosen, no term limits, and (implied) absolute discretion in fulfillment of their functions as editor. Indeed the people I have met who have served in that role have usually reported stepping down from the position, not by rule or any formal process, but simply because they'd grown tired of it and wanted to get back to their own writing.
I wonder if journals ought to have something like by-laws, whereby the procedures by which these appointments are made are written and public.
Thoughts from readers? (An earlier, related discussion is here.)
They are: Jonathan Dancy ("Research Professor" at Reading; also Professor at UT Austin); Miranda Fricker (Sheffield, but who is moving to CUNY); and (as a Corresponding Fellow), Judith Jarvis Thomson (emerita, MIT). In addition, the political theorist Michael Walzer (emeritus, IAS) was also elected a Corresponding Fellow.
UPDATE: Philosopher Rob Stainton (Western Ontario) writes: "Robyn Carston, a linguist but also a very influential figure in empirically oriented Philosophy of Language, was also just elected to the British Academy. She's been one of the key figures working on the Semantics-Pragmatics boundary since her pioneering work in the 80s."
Continental Philosophy Farhang Erfani, a philosopher at American University, provides a useful set of links to news, events, interviews, reviews, videos, etc. related to "Continental philosophy" (broadly construed)