• Most Topular Stories

  • Christianity and paradox

    Alexander Pruss's Blog
    30 Mar 2015 | 5:27 am
    Suppose we have a religion whose central tenets are paradoxical, verging on the contradictory. What would we expect? We might predict that the religion would be unsuccessful. But that would be too quick. The religion could be successful by adopting strategies like the following: Hiding the central tenets from the bulk of the members. Obscuring the paradoxical nature of the central tenets from the bulk of the members. Downplaying the central tenets as unimportant. Appealing almost only to the uneducated and ignorant. Denigrating reason, and thus appealing to anti-intellectual impulses among…
  • Pet Euthanasia

    In Living Color
    9 Mar 2015 | 7:36 am
    Our soulful cat Snownose died on Saturday, from cancer, but with the help of euthanasia.  I've never had a cat euthanized before, though I've had many cats.  The whole month before, I had to work up the courage to do this, as did other family members.  I kept thinking about the conservative stance on euthanasia: that intentionally killing another person is always wrong.  (If this were right,
  • The University as a Money Funnel

    Philosophy News
    30 Mar 2015 | 5:27 am
    View image | One serious problem with American higher education is that the cost of a four-year degree is higher than ever—even when adjusting for inflation. The causes of this increase are well known and well understood—there is no mystery about this. One contributing factor is that universities tend to spend considerable money on facilities that are not connected to education. Critics like to, for example, point out that some universities spend millions on luxurious fitness facilities. These sort of expenditures are ironic (and stupid) given that education funding has…
  • One-party state watch: inequality edition

    Leiter Reports: A Philosophy Blog
    Brian Leiter
    30 Mar 2015 | 6:25 am
    Most Americans want something done about inequality, but candidates in neither party want to deal with the issue. Now what could explain that?
  • Getting a new body

    Philosophy by the Way
    29 Mar 2015 | 3:55 pm
    Sergio Canavero, an Italian neuroscientist, asserts that he can transplant a human head on the body of a donor whose brain has died but whose body is still healthy. He thinks that he will need a preparatory period of about two years and then he can do the transplantation. Or so he says. Canavero has found already a candidate who wants to give his head for the operation: A Russian man called Valery who suffers from a serious neuromuscular disease. Will it be possible? Then I am not thinking of the technical possibility of the operation. Such a transplantation will certainly not be possible…
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    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

  • Equality of Opportunity

    Richard Arneson
    25 Mar 2015 | 9:52 pm
    [Revised entry by Richard Arneson on March 25, 2015. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Equality of opportunity is a political ideal that is opposed to caste hierarchy but not to hierarchy per se. The background assumption is that a society contains a hierarchy of more and less desirable, superior and inferior positions. Or there may be several such hierarchies. In a caste society, the assignment of individuals to places in the social hierarchy is fixed by birth. The child acquires the social status of his or her parents at least if their union is socially sanctioned. Social mobility may be…
  • Belief

    Eric Schwitzgebel
    24 Mar 2015 | 7:00 pm
    [Revised entry by Eric Schwitzgebel on March 24, 2015. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Contemporary analytic philosophers of mind generally use the term "belief" to refer to the attitude we have, roughly, whenever we take something to be the case or regard it as true. To believe something, in this sense, needn't involve actively reflecting on it: Of the vast number of things ordinary adults believe, only a few can be at the fore of the mind at any single time. Nor does the term "belief", in standard philosophical usage, imply any uncertainty or any extended reflection about the matter in…
  • Developmental Biology

    Alan Love
    23 Mar 2015 | 7:40 pm
    [New Entry by Alan Love on March 23, 2015.] Developmental biology is the science of explaining how a variety of interacting processes generate an organism's heterogeneous shapes, size, and structural features that arise on the trajectory from embryo to adult, or more generally throughout a life cycle. It represents an exemplary area of contemporary experimental biology that focuses on phenomena that have puzzled natural philosophers and scientists for more than two millennia. Philosophers of biology have shown renewed interest in developmental biology due to the potential relevance of…
  • Albert of Saxony

    Joél Biard
    23 Mar 2015 | 7:07 pm
    [Revised entry by Joél Biard on March 23, 2015. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Albert of Saxony (ca. 1320 - 1390), Master of Arts at Paris, then Rector of the University of Vienna, and finally Bishop of Halberstadt (Germany). As a logician, he was at the forefront of the movement that expanded the analysis of language based on the properties of terms, especially their reference (in Latin: suppositio), but also in the exploration of new fields of logic, especially the theory of consequences. As a natural philosopher, he worked in the tradition of...
  • Immigration

    Christopher Heath Wellman
    23 Mar 2015 | 5:47 pm
    [Revised entry by Christopher Heath Wellman on March 23, 2015. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] There are a variety of important issues surrounding the morality of immigration, including difficult questions regarding the definition and moral status of refugees, the circumstances (if any) in which it is permissible to use guest workers, what obligations a rich country incurs when it actively recruits skilled workers from a poor state, the rights of irregular migrants, and whether there are any limitations on the selection criteria a country may use in deciding...
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    Talking Philosophy

  • The University as a Money Funnel

    Mike LaBossiere
    30 Mar 2015 | 5:00 am
    View image | One serious problem with American higher education is that the cost of a four-year degree is higher than ever—even when adjusting for inflation. The causes of this increase are well known and well understood—there is no mystery about this. One contributing factor is that universities tend to spend considerable money on facilities that are not connected to education. Critics like to, for example, point out that some universities spend millions on luxurious fitness facilities. These sort of expenditures are ironic (and stupid) given that education funding has…
  • The Confederacy, License Plates & Free Speech

    Mike LaBossiere
    27 Mar 2015 | 5:00 am
    (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Early in 2015 some folks in my adopted state of Florida wanted three Confederate veterans to become members of the Veterans’ Hall of Fame. Despite the efforts of the Florida Sons of Confederate Veterans, the initial attempt failed on the grounds that the Confederate veterans were not United States’ veterans. Not to be outdone, the Texas Sons of Confederate Veterans want to have an official Texas license plate featuring the Confederate battle flag. While custom license plates are allowed in the United States, the states generally review proposed plates. The Texas…
  • Robopunishment

    Mike LaBossiere
    25 Mar 2015 | 5:00 am
    Crime and Punishment (Photo credit: Wikipedia) While the notion of punishing machines for misdeeds has received some attention in science fiction, it seems worthwhile to take a brief philosophical look at this matter. This is because the future, or so some rather smart people claim, will see the rise of intelligent machines—machines that might take actions that would be considered misdeeds or crimes if committed by a human (such as the oft-predicted genocide). In general, punishment is aimed at one of more of the following goals: retribution, rehabilitation, or deterrence. Each of these…
  • Florida’s Bathroom Law

    Mike LaBossiere
    23 Mar 2015 | 5:00 am
    (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Being from Maine, I got accustomed to being asked about the cold, lobsters, moose and Stephen King. Living in Florida, I have become accustomed to being asked about why my adopted state is so insane. Most recently, I was asked about the bathroom bill making its way through the House. The bathroom bill, officially known as HB 583, proposes that it should be a second-degree misdemeanor to “knowingly and willfully” enter a public facility restricted to members “of the other biological sex.” The bill proposes a maximum penalty of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
  • Androids, Autonomy & Agency

    Mike LaBossiere
    18 Mar 2015 | 5:00 am
    Blade Runner (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Philosophers have long speculated about the subjects of autonomy and agency, but the rise of autonomous systems have made these speculations ever more important.  Keeping things fairly simple, an autonomous system is one that is capable of operating independent of direct control. Autonomy comes in degrees in terms of the extent of the independence and the complexity of the operations. It is, obviously, the capacity for independent operation that distinguishes autonomous systems from those controlled externally. Simple toys provide basic examples of the…
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  • Question about Rationality - Eddy Nahmias responds

    26 Mar 2015 | 9:28 am
    I came across a webpage which makes this claim."Skeptics of homeopathy insist that homeopathic medicines do not work, but have difficulty explaining how so many people use and rely upon this system of medicine to treat themselves for so many acute and chronic diseases." Is there a name for the kind of fallacy this person is making or particular way to describe it? I feel like that even if I couldn't explain why so many people "rely" on Homeopathy that doesn't mean that it is a valid form of medicine. Response from: Eddy Nahmias You are probably thinking of the informal fallacy, Argument ad…
  • Question about Existence - Stephen Maitzen responds

    26 Mar 2015 | 9:02 am
    Is there a clear way to distinguish physical and non physical things? I'm not implying that there are non physical things. I would prefer if you didn't define "physical" as whatever is studied by physicists. Response from: Stephen Maitzen How about this: All physical things occupy spacetime. But not all nonphysical things occupy spacetime, and maybe none do.The clearest example of allegedly nonphysical things would, I think, be abstract objects such as numbers and sets. Platonists say that there are infinitely many such things. See this SEP entry.
  • Question about History - Charles Taliaferro responds

    21 Mar 2015 | 12:07 pm
    Can historical value judgements be objective? Because questions presuppose other questions having been answered, it seems crucial to figure out what prior questions it assumes, and philosophy of history often boils down to the psychological motives of people and individuals which must involve interpretations and not just a listing of facts. Response from: Charles Taliaferro To begin with some of your observations and then move to your question: I believe you are quite right that history involves more than the listing of facts that might be more true of a chronicle than a history and the…
  • Question about Language, Logic - Allen Stairs responds

    19 Mar 2015 | 3:03 pm
    I'm still puzzled by the answers to question 5792, on whether it is true that Mary won all the games of chess she played, when Mary never played any game of chess. Both respondents said that it is true. But is it meaningful to say "I won all the games I played, and I never played any game."? It seems to me that someone saying this would be contradicting himself. Response from: Allen Stairs I think you're right to at least this extent. If I say to someone "I won all the games of chess I played," the normal rules of conversation (in particular, the "pragmatics" of speech) make it reasonable for…
  • Question about Profession - Jonathan Westphal responds

    19 Mar 2015 | 10:09 am
    Why is so little phenomenology taught and researched in North American philosophy departments? Because it studies the essence of consciousness is it too continental for your analytic minds? Why must philosophy be categorized so strictly? Response from: Jonathan Westphal I think the answer may be that phenomenology has produced so disappointingly little. In a non-philosophical sense phenomenology is defined as the preliminary classification of phenomena in an enquiry. So one might for example regard it as a piece of phenomenology in this non-philosophical sense to say that a white surface seen…
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    Ethics Etc

  • Indeterminacy in Ethics at Reading

    S. Matthew Liao
    26 Mar 2015 | 9:15 pm
    Registration is now open for the 2015 Ratio one-day conference at the University of Reading: Indeterminacy in Ethics (programme below). You can register at the conference website or by emailing Luke Elson (luke.elson (at) if you’d prefer to pay in person: £20 staff; £10 graduate students; £5 undergraduate students. Here is a tentative […]
  • CFP: Race and Aesthetics

    S. Matthew Liao
    16 Feb 2015 | 8:32 pm
    New submission deadline and format A British Society of Aesthetics Connections Conference Conference website: May 19th and 20th, 2015 Leeds, UK CONFIRMED SPEAKERS Alia Al-Saji (McGill University) Nathaniel Adam Tobias Coleman (University College London) Kristie Dotson (Michigan State University) A.W. Eaton (University of Illinois – Chicago) Sherri Irvin (University of Oklahoma) Ron Mallon (Washington […]
  • Interview with Princeton Alumni Weekly

    S. Matthew Liao
    12 Jan 2015 | 9:21 pm
    Readers of Ethics Ethic might be interested in Princeton Alumni Weekly’s special issue this month on the brain, which includes a Q&A with me about the ethics of neuroscience. Here is the link to the issue: And here’s the link to my Q&A: Do check them out!
  • CFP: 2015 Association for Political Theory Annual Conference

    S. Matthew Liao
    12 Jan 2015 | 9:10 pm
    University of Colorado Boulder, October 22-24, 2015 Proposal deadline: Friday, February 13, 2015 Program Co-Chairs: Lilly Goren (Carroll University) and Peter Josephson (St. Anselm College) The Association for Political Theory (APT) invites proposals for its thirteenth annual conference, to be held October 22-24, 2015, at the University of Colorado Boulder. Proposals from faculty members, independent […]
  • Interview with Newsweek about Geoengineering and Human Engineering

    S. Matthew Liao
    17 Dec 2014 | 10:16 am
    Readers of Ethics Etc might be interested in Newsweek’s cover story in December entitled “Planet Reboot: Fighting Climate Change With Geoengineering,” in which they interviewed me about whether human engineering may be less risky than geoengineering as a means of mitigating the effects of climate change. The online version can be found here: 4.html
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    Feminist Philosophers

  • Register now: Why are there so few women in philosophy?

    30 Mar 2015 | 7:49 am
    Looks like a fantastic workshop in Stockholm, April 17-18!
  • To do or not to do?

    29 Mar 2015 | 11:21 am
    Yesterday I sat in a determinologist’s waiting room before very minor surgery to remove a cyst.  And there before my eyes were descriptions of procedures that changed one’s appearance without any cutting.  I’ve been in general dead set against any purely cosmetic surgery, or at least in my own case.  Still, I thought it would be interesting to discuss these fairly non-invasive procedures with feminist philosophers. Some examples:  One device, called something like a skin pen, has fine needles that puncture one’s skin and so kick off a self-repair repair process…
  • The Sunday Cat permits comparisons with dogs

    29 Mar 2015 | 9:52 am
    But only because it is Eddy Izzard:
  • I have one; shouldn’t you?

    29 Mar 2015 | 9:44 am
    There’s a new campaign and t-shirt: Promoting the presence, awareness, and progress of women in traditionally male dominated fields. Follow the link and you can get your own very cool t-shirt.
  • Nancy McHugh on food fear and righteous eating

    Sam B
    29 Mar 2015 | 8:30 am
    Feminist philosopher Nancy McHugh was interviewed on Utah Public Radio by Tom Williams on his show Access Utah. They talked about the lecture she was giving at Utah State University on food marketing, food fear, and orthorexia. They also talked about her forthcoming book, The Limits of Knowledge. You can listen to her talk about “clean eating” here.
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    In Socrates' Wake

  • What are the learning objectives for the philosophy undergraduate major?

    Harry Brighouse
    4 Mar 2015 | 6:26 am
    Our administration is asking us (well, telling us) to come up with learning objectives for all our programs (BA, MA, PhD). Thinking about what our learning objectives are -- and should be -- made me curious both what other departments think of as the learning objectives for their majors, and what individual philosophers who think hard about their teaching think of as their objectives.A couple of observations before you comment.1. Derek Bok, in his book Our Underachieving Colleges, observes, I think rightly, that in most traditional majors the curriculum is designed -- and a lot of the…
  • Why do some students become Philosophy majors? Survey questions sought.

    Harry Brighouse
    20 Jan 2015 | 3:25 pm
    My department is  working on a project for the department to try to get more systematic information about why undergrads become philosophy majors (and why students who might, don't).  As one component of that project, we're planning to conduct two online surveys—one of current philosophy majors and another of students who recently took introductory-level philosophy classes.  Obviously we're particularly interested in why women and members of certain racial minorities become majors at lower rates than men, and members of other racial groups. Thing is --being a philosophy…
  • CFP: APA Newsletter on Teaching Philosophy

    Jennifer M Morton
    15 Jan 2015 | 12:44 pm
    The Fall 2015 issue of the APA Newsletter on Teaching Philosophywill be devoted to the special topic of teaching philosophy in non-traditional settings, and we encourage readers to submit papers on this topic. We are interested in papers on pedagogical information and insights, on the particular intellectual challenges these settings present, and especially, on what you have learned about teaching philosophy, and about philosophy, from your experiences. The following guidelines for submissions should be followed: The deadline is March 2, 2015. Papers should be between 10-24 double spaced…
  • Seeking Participants for Problem Based Learning in Philosophy Project

    Nathan Nobis
    31 Dec 2014 | 1:29 pm
    Available in PDF here. RE: Doing Philosophy in Teams. Invitation to participate in an NEH Digital Humanities Implementation Dr. Michael HoffmannAssociate ProfessorDirector of the Philosophy ProgramSchool of Public Policy m.hoffmann@gatech.eduDecember 31, 2014Grant proposalDear colleague,I would like to invite you to participate in the writing of a grant proposal whose goal is to get funding for a three-year, $325,000 project that focuses on using web-based argument mapping software to support problem-based learning (PBL) in philosophy. PBL is…
  • The undergraduate seminar paper

    Michael Cholbi
    15 Dec 2014 | 8:48 am
    For the first time in a long time, I have the opportunity to teach a bona fide seminar. The "seminar paper" is a pretty ubiquitous feature of that experience. But to my surprise, I've never thought very explicitly about what an undergraduate seminar paper is supposed to be. So I'm interested in how all of you have explained this to your students: What's its main rhetorical function? What's the proposed length? What are the main components?Thanks!
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    Philosophy by the Way

  • Getting a new body

    29 Mar 2015 | 3:55 pm
    Sergio Canavero, an Italian neuroscientist, asserts that he can transplant a human head on the body of a donor whose brain has died but whose body is still healthy. He thinks that he will need a preparatory period of about two years and then he can do the transplantation. Or so he says. Canavero has found already a candidate who wants to give his head for the operation: A Russian man called Valery who suffers from a serious neuromuscular disease. Will it be possible? Then I am not thinking of the technical possibility of the operation. Such a transplantation will certainly not be possible…
  • Happy words

    22 Mar 2015 | 5:05 pm
    Maybe you’ll not remember it, for it’s already five years ago that I wrote it, but once in a blog I told how I ride better with a smile on my face when making a bike tour. This is exactly in line with what I newly wrote about the movements of the body and the way you feel, and especially about the relation between the expression on your face and your feelings. Of course, this has a wider application than only the practice of sports. Trainers in interpersonal communication, for instance, make use of the relation between bodily expression and feeling. They advice to adapt your physical…
  • Empathy and sympathy

    15 Mar 2015 | 4:40 pm
    Two weeks ago I published the photo above by way of illustration for my blog. I had taken it especially for this occasion and it was supposed to express the idea of empathy. But does it really do? Empathy is a complex notion that has got many different interpretations. We have seen this yet in my blog last week. Within limits it is a bit arbitrary what meaning we should give it. However, I think that one thing has become clear from my discussion: Empathy refers to a kind of reflection of another’s emotion or experience within me. After the discovery of the so-called mirror neurons this…
  • On the meaning of “empathy”

    8 Mar 2015 | 5:16 pm
    In my blog last week, I remarked that scientists do not agree about what empathy involves. In fact, they give it many interpretations. In an article on its features and effects Amy Coplan gives a list of the most popular ways empathy is understood: (A) Feeling what someone else feels(B) Caring about someone else(C) Being emotionally affected by someone else’s emotions and experiences, though not necessarily experiencing the same emotions(D) Imagining oneself in another’s situation(E) Imagining being another in that other’s situation(F) Making inferences about another’s mental…
  • Why women have more empathy than men

    1 Mar 2015 | 4:05 pm
    Empathy is a rather faint concept. Scientists do not agree what it exactly involves and they haven’t succeeded yet to define it clearly. For this blog that’s not important. Let’s say that empathy is feeling what someone else feels; that it is a kind of feeling that makes that one understands and feels the emotions of another person, because one imagines the situation he or she is in. Then one gets the same emotion as the other, although usually in a lesser degree. One sees that the other is sad or just happy, which makes that you feel sad or happy as well. It’s the same for other…
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    Jon Cogburn's Blog

  • Blog Interregnum and Forthcoming New Group Blog

    Jon Cogburn
    16 Mar 2015 | 4:38 pm
    [Updates: (1) Thus far, in addition to me and the Rochas, we also have Mark Silcox, Neal Hebert, J. Edward Hackett, Charles Pence, Tiffany Cvrkel, BP Morton, Debbie Goldgaber, Olufemi Taiwo, Duncan Richter, Stephen C. Finley, Tristan Haze and one or two more forthcoming authors that will be added here. (2) We've decided that the go date will be around May 13th., (3) our reason for being and general policies are up here.] With the amount of work I'm putting into my book on Tristan Garcia and am about to undertake on the new edition of the Martin philosophy of language book with…
  • New Philosophers' Carnival (#173)

    Jon Cogburn
    16 Mar 2015 | 3:13 pm
    Philosopher's Carnival #173 is HERE. Kudos to The University of Newcastle's Samuel Douglas for hosting.
  • Why is Randy Orton saving John Stewart?

    Jon Cogburn
    3 Mar 2015 | 1:01 pm
    In this post I covered Acts I and II of the John Stewart/Seth Rollins feud. In Act III Seth Rollins went on TMZ Hollywood Sports to respond to Stewart's promo: Then, Act II, Rollins upped the ante by showing up on Stewart's own turf: And, finally, the denouement. And I must say that Stewart's appearance on WWE's Monday Night Raw was certainly my moment of Zen: I love how Seth Rollins' flunkies laughed at his jokes and he told them to shut up whenever they hammed it up too much. Really first-rate, classic heel behavior. I can't quite figure out why Randy Orton was the…
  • Review of Garcia's Form and Object in Dialogue

    Jon Cogburn
    2 Mar 2015 | 5:48 pm
    This review by York University's Daniel F.J. Siksay is pretty gratifying. If you can't make it past the pay-wall and want a copy, just e-mail me and I'll send you one. Helping Mark Allan Ohm translate Garcia's magnum opus was probably the second hardest thing (after caring for a newborn) I've yet done, and it's tremendously validating to get a pat on the shoulder as well as to see that other people agree with me that it was not time wasted. To be clear, if you had to translate a one hundred seventy thousand plus word metaphysics tome from its original French, you could…
  • Emily's Pretty Cool Blog - Talent is Overrated

    Jon Cogburn
    25 Feb 2015 | 6:59 am
    A new post by Emily about how talent is overrated here. It's an interesting synchronicity to read that post after reading Peter Railton's recent APA Presidential address, specifically his remarks on the cult of smartness in philosophy: How did smartness get to be so central in evaluation in a discipline that is supposed to be seeking knowledge and wisdom? And what is it doing t o us as students, teachers, colleagues, and researchers to allow this culture to persist? What are the full costs of this culture, in which we all to some degree participate, even if only passively? Sarah-Jane…
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    Continental Philosophy

  • Conference on Deleuze & Guattari, April 24-26, Athens, Greece

    James Luchte
    25 Mar 2015 | 3:02 pm
    Conference on Deleuze & Guattari, April 24-26, Athens, Greece  
  • Call for Papers – Nietzsche and Chinese Thought – The Agonist Fall 2015 Issue – The Nietzsche Circle – Final Deadline: August 31, 2015

    James Luchte
    9 Mar 2015 | 11:02 am
    Call for Papers Nietzsche and Chinese Thought – Fall 2015 Issue The Agonist – The Nietzsche Circle Guest Editor: Dr James Luchte Final Deadline: August 31, 2015 The Agonist is seeking essays for its Fall 2015 edition ‘Nietzsche and Chinese Thought.’ The essays for this edition have the opportunity of variety, due to the richness of this topic. Essays may cover firstly any aspect of the influence of Nietzschean thought upon Modern Chinese history, politics, literature, art, music, philosophy and/or religion. Secondly, the essays can be explorations of the myriad relationships…
  • Raymond Williams NOW – May 30, 2015 Conference and Call For Papers (1 March 2015)

    James Luchte
    5 Mar 2015 | 6:33 pm
    Raymond Williams Now – Conference May 30, 2015 Recent years have witnessed major critical reappraisals of British Cultural Studies and its key figures. This one-day conference, organised by the Greater Manchester-based Radical Studies Network, continues that process through assessment of Raymond Williams’ work and legacy. The event will feature a keynote lecture from Professor Tony Crowley. Artist Ruth Beale will present a film of her 30-minute performance, ‘Performing Keywords’, first performed at the Turner Contemporary, 2013. The day will conclude with a round-table discussion…
  • They Destroy, We Create

    James Luchte
    28 Feb 2015 | 7:55 pm
    They Destroy, We Create: The Anti-Austerity UK Alliance Planet Magazine, Wales
  • Call for Papers: The Journal of Philosophical Investigations – University of Tabriz

    James Luchte
    28 Feb 2015 | 7:21 pm
    Call For Papers – Journal of Philosophical Investigations – University of Tabriz     The journal of Philosophical Investigations accepts articles on the following topics: Metaphysics (Epistemology & Ontology) Applied Philosophy (philosophy of art, philosophy of religion, philosophy of ethics…) Islamic Philosophy Comparative philosophy  All contents of this Journal can be downloaded for free (Open access ) Most Visited Articles The Place of Ethics in Heidegger’s Thought and Heidegger’s Position on Ethics Hermeneutical phenomenology survey of…
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    In Search of Enlightenment

  • Virtue Ethics and Democracy Paper

    24 Mar 2015 | 6:27 am
    Tomorrow the Queen's Political Philosophy Group will be discussing my new paper titled "Virtue Ethics and the Democratic Life". The group is very good at highlighting the problems with an author's argument- bringing to the fore an author's hidden assumptions, misinterpretations, mistakes, etc. so it should be fun! A draft version of the paper is available on my page, Cheers, Colin
  • Getting to Age 100... How Healthy Are Centenarians in the Years Leading Up to that Milestone?

    9 Feb 2015 | 1:48 pm
    One of the central concerns people often express about longevity science is the worry that science might just extend the number of years we live in a frail, disabled state at the end of life. Our goal should be to "add life to years, rather than simply adding (unhealthy) years to a long life".The good news is that an aging intervention would most likely address exactly that concern. The bad news is that the current approach of the biomedical sciences (what I call "negative biology"), by striving to tackle each specific disease of aging, is doing *precisely* what we all don't want- extending…
  • Biologically Modified Justice (now forthcoming...)

    26 Jan 2015 | 10:46 am
    For the past 15 years I have been working on my book titled Biologically Modified Justice, which is an examination of some of the ethical and social implications of the genetic revolution. I was thrilled to learn this week that Cambridge University Press has agreed to publish this book. This project has been a true (and lengthy!) labour of love. Now that I am in the final stretch of completing it I thought I would share some reflections on the challenges and joys of writing an interdisciplinary book over so many years.The book develops a series of ideas, insights and arguments I have…
  • "Back in My Day!" [er, well, when I was a kid anyways! :) ]

    21 Jan 2015 | 6:06 pm
    This morning I happened to be reading an article from a 1970s issue of Ethics when I was struck by the difference in length and reliance on citation/notes typical of articles in the journal from 40 years ago. So I decided to compare the Jan 2015, 2005, 1995, 1985 and 1975 issues of the journal to get a sense of how philosophical articles in the journal have transformed over that time. Here is what it looks like [I'm assuming one page length then = one page now]:1975: average size of article is 13 pages with 17 references/notes.1985: 14 pages and 25 notes1995: 22 pages and 47 notes2005: 33…
  • New Paper on Virtue Epistemology and Democracy (Work in Progress #1)

    15 Jan 2015 | 9:52 am
    I am currently writing a commissioned article (for OUP's Oxford Handbook on Virtue) on virtue epistemology and democracy. In this first blog post I want to briefly outline the basic framing of the exercise, at least as I have it worked out so far.Very General Frame: virtue ethics has a PR problem when it comes to democracy. It is typically associated with anti-democratic ideals, and its main historical proponents (namely Plato and Aristotle) criticized democracy. This article aspires to show how the virtue ethicist’s focus on what kind of person we should be can yield valuable insights for…
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    In Living Color

  • Pet Euthanasia

    9 Mar 2015 | 7:36 am
    Our soulful cat Snownose died on Saturday, from cancer, but with the help of euthanasia.  I've never had a cat euthanized before, though I've had many cats.  The whole month before, I had to work up the courage to do this, as did other family members.  I kept thinking about the conservative stance on euthanasia: that intentionally killing another person is always wrong.  (If this were right,
  • The Marquette Situation

    5 Feb 2015 | 9:28 am
    A word about Marquette's attempt to fire John McAdams.  One thing (among many) that bothers me is that Dean Holz's letter reveals a double standard.  In the second paragraph he charges McAdams with trying to "silence the less-powerful" but nowhere in the letter does he voice any concern at all about the undergraduate--who is the less powerful person in the instructor-student relationship.  Here
  • Sexual Misconduct on College Campuses

    1 Dec 2014 | 11:43 am
    Every week there's another appalling story about the way college campuses deal with sexual misconduct.  A Rolling Stone investigation of UVA shows that on some campuses there's not much of a response even if  a student complains of being gang raped by seven men at a frat party. Among many astonishing details in the story: there were 38 allegations of sexual assault in a recent one year period at
  • "I should but I'm not going to"

    1 Dec 2014 | 9:17 am
    This phrase intrigues me, every time I think about the fact that I'm not a vegan. Here are some interesting and relevant reflections from someone who's neither a vegan nor a vegetarian.
  • Bedtime Stories

    12 Nov 2014 | 1:58 pm
    Harry Brighouse and Adam Swift ask an interesting question about conferring advantage on children in their new book Family Values.  We do all sorts of things that confer advantage, from reading kids bedtime stories to sending them to private schools.  All these things get in the way of fair equality of opportunity, they say, giving children a leg up just because they happen to be born into
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    Stephen Law

  • Today's powerpoint at Manwood school - religious language

    25 Mar 2015 | 2:21 pm
    n  Religious Languagen  Stephen Lawn  Verification, Falsification, Wittgensteinn  In this session we will:n  Outline Ayer’s Verification Principle and his attack on the meaningfulness of religious language (plus criticisms)n  Outline Flew’s use of falsification (plus criticisms).n  Outline some Wittgensteinian moves to defend religion (plus criticisms). n  Ayern  A. J. Ayer’s key principle is the verification principle (VP). It is a principle about meaning:n  A statement is meaningful iff. it is verifiablen  (for non-analytic…
  • 'Has Science Buried God?' Opening statement from my debate in Trondheim Norway

    11 Mar 2015 | 12:02 pm
     (Photo - hall starting to fill before the debate) Here's my opening statement from today's debate with Christian evangelist and debater Peter Payne in Trondheim, Norway today.  HAS SCIENCE BURIED GOD? Thank you to the organisers for inviting me to participate in this excellent event. I'm delighted to be here.  In one of his online resources Peter Payne says, and I quote:  "The net of scientific method, namely the net of hypothesis and experimental/observational test, is unable to demonstrate either the truth or falsity of the Christian faith, for it is simply…
  • Baudrillard - J'accuse! (again)

    26 Feb 2015 | 8:02 am
    The Radio 3 The Verb programme, in which I discuss pseudo-profundity (with some analytic vs continental philosophy discussion), is repeated tomorrow night at 10pm GMT on Radio 3. It will be availabe for a week on bbc radio iplayer. Below is my old post concerning that programme. Link to programme website here.Here is a quote from Baudrillard that Prof Paul Taylor chose for the Radio 3 programme we recorded to be broadcast tonite at 10pm (I am talking about pseudo-profundity and bullshit and pointing a finger at some post-modern thinkers - listen here for a week [I am on from about…
  • Enlightened citizens vs moral sheep

    17 Feb 2015 | 4:10 am
    My latest CFI blog post...Here's the text from my talk at the British Academy in London tonight (I am one of six panellists that also include Rebecca Goldstein. I wonder what she'll say? The event is called 'What's the point of philosophy?' )  As I’m both the author of several popular philosophy books - including three philosophy books for children - and also editor of the Royal Institute of Philosophy journal THINK which is aimed at the general public, I thought I would talk a little about why I think engaging young people with philosophy, especially in the classroom, might be a good…
  • The 'No Punching Down' Case Against Satirising Islam

    8 Feb 2015 | 4:29 am
    My CFI post on this is now up here.
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    Alexander Pruss's Blog

  • Christianity and paradox

    30 Mar 2015 | 5:27 am
    Suppose we have a religion whose central tenets are paradoxical, verging on the contradictory. What would we expect? We might predict that the religion would be unsuccessful. But that would be too quick. The religion could be successful by adopting strategies like the following: Hiding the central tenets from the bulk of the members. Obscuring the paradoxical nature of the central tenets from the bulk of the members. Downplaying the central tenets as unimportant. Appealing almost only to the uneducated and ignorant. Denigrating reason, and thus appealing to anti-intellectual impulses among…
  • Instructable for python coding for Minecraft

    28 Mar 2015 | 9:07 pm
    If anybody is interested, I wrote up an Instructable for python coding for Minecraft using my Raspberry Jam Mod.
  • Quantum Mechanics and functionalism

    27 Mar 2015 | 11:16 am
    Some theories suffer from the too-many-minds problem. Here I'll say that a theory suffers from a too-many-minds problem if the theory predicts that most minds are aberrant, say because they experience very unlikely scenarios (cream forming into words on their coffee, etc.) or because they live a truncated or disconnected life like Boltzmann brains.Thinking about the main interpretations of Quantum Mechanics, I was struck by the following curious fact: Each main interpretation either suffers from the too-many-minds problem or requires a non-functionalist (typically, dualist) theory of mind or…
  • Absolute simultaneity and common sense

    25 Mar 2015 | 7:09 am
    It's common sense that there is absolute simultaneity, whether directly so or because it's common sense that there is an objective present. It is sensible for philosophers to want to hold on to what is common sense. But here we should not be so quick. For consider some common sense claims: There is absolute simultaneity. If A and B are absolutely simultaneous and C and D happen t units of time after A and B respectively, then C and D are absolutely simultaneous. Properly functioning clocks correctly measure lengths of time. Clocks continue to properly function when moving, as long as they are…
  • Divorce

    24 Mar 2015 | 8:55 am
    A marriage forges the couple into something analogous to a new person. Divorce is intended to be destructive of that something analogous to a new person. Thus divorce is at least presumptively wrong.Objection: What if a marriage fails to forge that something analogous to a new person?Response: I think we should see persons as through and through normative beings. What makes the married couple be something analogous to a new person is not that they actually make decisions together, become aligned to one another's needs and so on, but that such joint decision-making, this kind of alignment to…
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    The Splintered Mind

  • "A" Is Red, "I" Is White, "X" Is Black -- Um, Why?

    Eric Schwitzgebel
    25 Mar 2015 | 4:59 pm
    This is just the kind of dorky thing I think is cool. Check out this graph of the color associations for different letters for people with grapheme-color synesthesia. [click on the picture for full size, if it's not showing properly] This is from a sample of 6588 synesthetes in the US, reported in Witthoft, Winawer, and Eagleman 2015. Presumably, they're not talking to each other. But there's a pretty good agreement that "A" is red, "X" is black, and "Y" is yellow. But you knew that already, right? Now some of these results seem partly explicable: "Y" is yellow, maybe, because of the word…
  • On Being Blameworthy for Unwelcome Thoughts, Reactions, and Biases

    Eric Schwitzgebel
    19 Mar 2015 | 8:42 am
    As Aristotle notes (NE III.1, 1110a), if the wind picks you up and blows you somewhere you don't want to go, your going there is involuntary, and you shouldn't be praised or blamed for it. Generally, we don't hold people morally responsible for events outside their control. The generalization has exceptions, though. You're still blameworthy if you've irresponsibly put yourself in a position where you lack control, such as through recreational drugs or through knowingly driving a car with defective brakes. Spontaneous reactions and unwelcome thoughts are in some sense outside our control.
  • Perils of the Sweetheart

    Eric Schwitzgebel
    11 Mar 2015 | 9:42 am
    Tonight in Palm Desert, I'm presenting my "Theory of Jerks (and Sweethearts)" to a general audience. (Come!) In my past work on the topic, jerks have got most of the attention. (Don't they always!) A jerk, in my definition, is someone who gives insufficient weight to (or culpably fails to respect) the perspectives of others around him, treating them as tools to be manipulated or fools to be dealt with rather than as moral and epistemic peers. The sweetheart is the opposite of the jerk -- someone who very highly values the perspectives of others around him. You might think that if being a jerk…
  • Zhuangzi's Delightful Inconsistency about Death

    Eric Schwitzgebel
    5 Mar 2015 | 10:39 am
    I've been working on a new paper on ancient Chinese philosophy, "Death and Self in the Incomprehensible Zhuangzi" (come hear it Saturday at Pitzer College, if you like). In it, I argue that Zhuangzi has inconsistent views about death, but that that inconsistency is a good thing that fits nicely with his overall philosophical approach. Most commentators, understandably, try to give Zhuangzi -- the Zhuangzi of the authentic "Inner Chapters" at least -- a self-consistent view. Of course! This is only charitable, you might think. And this is what we almost always try to do with philosophers we…
  • Depressive Thinking Styles and Philosophy

    Eric Schwitzgebel
    25 Feb 2015 | 10:51 am
    Recently I read two interesting pieces that I'd like to connect with each other. One is Peter Railton's Dewey Lecture to the American Philosophical Association, in which he describes his history of depression. The other is Oliver Sacks's New York Times column about facing his own imminent death. One of the inspiring things about Sacks's work is that he shows how people with (usually neurological) disabilities can lead productive, interesting, happy lives incorporating their disabilities and often even turning aspects of those disabilities into assets. (In his recent column, Sacks relates how…
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    In the Space of Reasons

  • ‘The co-production of what?’ Notes for a workshop at Keble College, Oxford

    12 Mar 2015 | 10:18 am
    I am giving a talk at a workshop in Oxford next week called Therapeutic Conflicts: Co-Producing Meaning in Mental Health. I suspect it’s a closed mulling-things-over event as I’ve not noticed any publicity for it. The background is:‘Therapeutic Conflicts: Co-Producing Meaning in Mental Health’ is a year-long project involving Edward Harcourt (Principal Investigator), Anita Avramides, Bill Fulford, Matthew Broome (Co-Investigators), Toby Williamson, David CrepazKeay (Partners, Mental Health Foundation) and Elianna Fetterolf (Post-Doctoral Research Fellow). The project grows out of…
  • Mind and Society 2.0: workshop on philosophy and ethnomethodology

    9 Mar 2015 | 6:31 am
    Here is a flier for a workshop on philosophy and ethnomethodology at MMU on 30-31 March.“a symposium on the interface between ethnography, ethnomethodology and post-analytic philosophythis symposium marks the return of mind and society, an annual symposium that ran for 15 years between 1993 & 2008, in manchester and cambridge UK. mind and society served as the foremost forum for wittgensteinian philosophy. speakers included avner baz, jim conant, jeff coulter, giuseppina d’oro, john dupre, juliet floyd, warren goldfarb, adrian haddock, lars hertzberg, phil hutchinson, john hyman,…
  • On not being the subject of one's dreams

    6 Mar 2015 | 8:22 am
    As I’ve got older I have been increasingly aware how my ‘take’ on the world is mediated by emotions. When I was younger, it seemed that such a ‘take’ was purely epistemic. I’m now sure it wasn’t but that is how it seemed. Then I wouldn’t have needed to use a dreadful word like ‘take’ to describe what was surely merely having the world in view. Now I reach for that odder word to allow for the possibility that more is going on: a blurring of my emotions and the external facts.Pushing perhaps the limits of what I want to record on a public blog, let me record a disturbing…
  • Ur and the unsayable

    5 Mar 2015 | 6:26 am
    Just a quick comment on a couple of aspects of the Philosophy and Psychotherapy Workshop I attended at MMU, Manchester yesterday.  Richard Gipps gave an intriguing paper called ‘Ur’. I see that he has put the notes for it on his blog so I’ll just borrow a couple of quotes to support the strand that struck me most. The presentation and the blog entry have rather more going on, as well as this strand, including an interesting diagnosis of the various motivations for the position he opposes. (I’m also going to construe the blog entry and the talk as the same abstract entity.) The…
  • Why should nurses aim to have knowledge of their subject?

    3 Mar 2015 | 7:08 am
    This is a reworked first section of a chapter for a nursing textbook. I am trying to say something general about knowledge without stumbling into an account of the last 50 years of anglo-american epistemology. This version mentions Gettier’s criticism of the traditional model of knowledge (as justified true belief) but does not draw the obvious conclusion (that the JTB analysis is false). In the context, I hope this works, is not too misleading.The value of knowledgeWhy should nurses aim to have knowledgeof their subject? What is the valueof knowledge? Exercise: Think about this question…
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    Freemason Information

  • Baphomet – Symbols and Symbolism

    Greg Stewart
    22 Mar 2015 | 9:26 am
    In this installment of Symbols & Symbolism, we look at a reading from Albert G. Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, on the infamously nefarious figure of Baphomet – the alleged false idol of the knights Templar and one of the key instruments of their undoing by Pope Clement. More installments of Symbols & Symbolism are available here and on YouTube. Pope Clement V The imaginary idol, or, rather, symbol which the Knights Templars were accused of employing in their mystic rights. The forty-second of the charges preferred against them by Pope Clement is in these words: Item…
  • The Frustration Factor

    18 Mar 2015 | 5:50 am
    BRYCE ON LIFE - How we become more impatient as we enter our sixties. (Click for AUDIO VERSION) To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request. My daughter came home for a visit recently. During the course of our conversations, she made the observation, “Dad, you’re not as patient as you used to be.” This caught me off guard, and in reflection, she was right. Whereas I was more tolerant years ago, now I am more black and white. At first, I dismissed the subject until I happened to consider the state of some of my friends locally who are also displaying the same…
  • Reverend Brother John Marrant & Birchtown, Nova Scotia

    Fred Milliken
    12 Mar 2015 | 7:44 am
          This year I made a family vacation trip back to Nova Scotia where I summered every year as a child. We visited many historical sites while there, among them was Shelburne, Nova Scotia. When I drove down the main street of Shelburne there were British flags everywhere and the word “Loyalist” was prominently used on signs, businesses and all things written. So I was to relearn that a large contingent of White Americans, who wanted to remain loyal to the British Crown after the American Patriots defeated the British in the Revolutionary War, sailed to Nova Scotia in 1783…
  • Famous Freemason Tom Mix

    Greg Stewart
    7 Mar 2015 | 10:54 am
    In this series on Famous Freemasons, we delve deeper into the history of these notable individuals to explore their dynamic lives beyond the lodge room door. In this installment, we meet: Tom Mix , May 21, 1925 Tom Mix b.Jan. 6, 1880 – d. Oct. 12, 1940 A name that many film buffs recognize, cowboys idolize, and at least for a time, the man that everyone wanted to be. Tom Mix was a circus performer, champion horseback rider, radio personality, beloved Freemason, and perhaps most known for his roles in Western films as the clean cut cowboy who always saved the day. Mix appeared in…
  • The Ashlar

    Greg Stewart
    1 Mar 2015 | 8:16 am
    In this installment of Symbols & Symbolism, we look at a reading from Albert G. Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, on the Ashlar – a symbol familiar to every individual made a mason. More installments are available here under Symbols & Symbolism, and on YouTube. “Freestone as it comes out of the of the quarry.” – Bailey. In Speculative Masonry we adopt the ashlar in two different states, in the Apprentice’s Degree. The Rough Ashlar, or stone in its rude and unpolished condition, is emblematic of man in his natural state – ignorant,…
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    Philosophy & Philosophers

  • Moral Utilitarianism: Definition and Concept

    30 Mar 2015 | 12:52 pm
    Utilitarianism has been founded by Jeremy Bentham. Very popular today and probably dominant, this moral philosophy is trying to make happiness the more accessible. It starts from the simple fact that the brutal and thoughtless sake of pleasure often leads to immoral actions but also results in more pain than joy. Therefore, to serve his interest and pleasure, a reflection and calculate interest. This is the famous “arithmetic of pleasures” that intervenes. To his moral balance, we must literally “calculate” the pleasures of all dimensions: intensity: one must prefer…
  • Indian Philosophy and Wisdom

    9 Mar 2015 | 12:50 pm
    All philosophies of India are as interpretation and resumption of Vedic hymns written there 5000 years. Themselves represent an effort to secure a full and complete vision of the truth. The Indians thus share with the West the idea of a dogmatic and universal thought, that would not only Weltanshauung. Hinduism and truth The principle of Hindu philosophy is that abstract knowledge has in itself no value if it does not lead us to experience the truth. Speaking first in invocation (mantra), then in parables (Upanishad), rituals (brahmana), techniques (yoga), contemporary philosophy has found…
  • Will and philosophy

    28 Feb 2015 | 11:48 am
    What do we say when we say that someone has “will”? Why is it a compliment? The philosophical origins of this theme allow better understanding of the current uses of the term. Recent concept, themed by Descartes as a metaphysical plane as infinite power by which man is like God. Kant will move this concept ethically: the will is connected to duty and the moral law. It is the tool of practical reason. Schopenhauer will make the blind force exerted on all beings. Psychology will give a weaker sense, the sense of thoughtful and fully conscious form of activity. According to the…
  • Tinder and the absent date: The modern dating philosophy

    15 Feb 2015 | 11:47 am
    Eevery woman has a seducer. Her happiness is only to meet him (Kierkegaard in The Journal of the Seducer) Modern Love has strange forms. or, precursors of the online dating had dematerialized the date. An application again from the United States, available on Facebook, Tinder, took some magnitude (750 million reviewed in day) seems to bring back a disruption of the meeting. What does this success? Is it an epiphenomenon or can it be analyzed as paradigmatic relationships with others today? Tinder and modern courtship Tinder with the gallant court practiced since the…
  • Is it possible to destroy democracy ? Thoughts on Charlie Hebdo’s attack

    9 Feb 2015 | 11:40 am
    After New York, London and Madrid, so this is Paris, through the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which has been hit by terrorism. “Why? “Is the question everybody is wondering. What objectives pursued cowards who attacked these designers? The destruction of democracy. So this is an opportunity to revisit the foundations of democracy, which makes the superiority of this system over all others and ways to protect it. Democracy and its enemies Returning to facts: 2 people attacked the journal writing and another attacked a Jewish customers supermarket. The toll was heavy: 17…
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    Philosophy News

  • Video of van Inwagen-de Sousa Debate

    30 Mar 2015 | 12:02 pm
    I have just posted a video of a debate between Peter van Inwagen and Ronald de Sousa that took place in Toronto on March 6th, 2015. The video can be viewed at: The topic was: “What Difference Would (or Does) God’s Existence Make?”Continue reading . . . News source: The Prosblogion
  • The University as a Money Funnel

    30 Mar 2015 | 5:27 am
    View image | One serious problem with American higher education is that the cost of a four-year degree is higher than ever—even when adjusting for inflation. The causes of this increase are well known and well understood—there is no mystery about this. One contributing factor is that universities tend to spend considerable money on facilities that are not connected to education. Critics like to, for example, point out that some universities spend millions on luxurious fitness facilities. These sort of expenditures are ironic (and stupid) given that education funding has…
  • Honor, History, and Relationship: Essays in Second-Personal Ethics II

    29 Mar 2015 | 7:18 pm
    2015.03.42 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Stephen Darwall, Honor, History, and Relationship: Essays in Second-Personal Ethics II, Oxford University Press, 2013, 285pp., $29.95 (pbk), ISBN 9780199662616. Reviewed by D. Justin Coates, University of Houston Opening his review of the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main St., Lenny Kaye writes: There are songs that are better, there are songs that are worse, there are songs that'll become your favorites and others you'll probably lift the needle for when their time is due. But in the end, Exile on Main Street spends its four…
  • Music and perception of time

    29 Mar 2015 | 6:46 pm
    Ever lost yourself sublimely in a work of music? Schubert understood this effect two centuries before science caught up…more»Continue reading . . . News source: Arts & Letters Daily
  • On Lionel Trilling

    29 Mar 2015 | 6:46 pm
    “I am ashamed of being in a university,” said Lionel Trilling. “I have one of the great reputations in the academic world. This thought makes me retch”… more»Continue reading . . . News source: Arts & Letters Daily
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    The Mindful Word

  • BODYWORK: Using the mind, the limbs and the organs to heal from trauma or sickness

    30 Mar 2015 | 12:07 pm
    “It can perhaps be conjectured that unresolved trauma is responsible for a majority of the illnesses of modern mankind.” - Peter Levine, Ph.D. For much […] Continue reading at The Mindful Word journal of engaged living []
  • LOVE IS AN ISLAND: “Entire of itself,” open to all

    Jane Olivier
    28 Mar 2015 | 6:56 am
    LOVE IS AN ISLAND: 'Entire of itself', open to all It is a human condition to feel we have to do something in order to deserve good things. That is what inhabiting the apex of the current evolutionary totem pole does for us, Continue reading at The Mindful Word journal of engaged living []
  • HOW TO INTERPRET DREAMS: 7 keys to gain guidance from your inner self

    26 Mar 2015 | 12:07 pm
        Someone is chasing me! I cannot recognize who it is, but I am scared…I am so scared… Thankfully, I wake up… A nightmare […] Continue reading at The Mindful Word journal of engaged living []
  • BARELY THERE: Living naturally without clothes

    25 Mar 2015 | 12:44 pm
    BARELY THERE: Living naturally without clothes My family and my very close friends well know my decades-long relationship to clothes—I am not a comfortable carrier of textiles. The moment my feet enter my door, the clothes disappear. I am comfortable in my skin, wrinkles, imperfections and all. Continue reading at The Mindful Word journal of engaged living []
  • HOMAGE TO THE SAHARA: Much more than just sand dunes and desert

    24 Mar 2015 | 12:55 pm
    Hollywood had taught me to think of the Sahara as an immense waste of endless sand dunes, unbearably hot by day and freezing cold at […] Continue reading at The Mindful Word journal of engaged living []
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  • Why We Can’t Say ISIS is Wrong

    10 Mar 2015 | 4:16 pm
    It is clear that we in the West do not agree with ISIS. We find it wrong what they think, and more importantly: we find it wrong what they do. They decapitate Western journalists, promote violence against people who don’t agree with their religious beliefs, and now even destroy Iraq’s cultural heritage – statues that were over 5000 years old. How can they do this? Why do they do this? Is it due to their set of beliefs? And if they act on their beliefs, can we then judge them for doing what they think is the right thing to do? Let’s take a look at these questions. First a…
  • Why It Is Possible to Make Above Average Returns – Even in Efficient Markets

    25 Feb 2015 | 1:08 pm
    There is a well-known hypothesis in financial economics, called the Efficient Market Hypothesis (EMH), that spawns a lot of debate. The EMH states that financial markets are ‘informationally efficient’. In other words: a financial asset’s market price always incorporates and reflects all available relevant information. Hence no investor can consistently use such information to find stocks that earn him above average returns. After all: such information is already reflected in the asset’s price; so if there is a lot of ‘positive’ information about the company, the stock’s market…
  • Why You Should Always Do What You’re Afraid To Do

    23 Feb 2015 | 1:20 pm
    Ralph Waldo Emerson said: ‘Always do what you are afraid to do.’ And this rule seems a reasonably good guide for self-improvement. Because it turns out that people are often afraid to do the things they are least familiar with. Whether is approaching a girl in a club, giving a speech to 50 people, or setting up a business: things make us feel anxious because we do not know what we will experience. In such cases the anxiety will often push you away from doing the thing, thereby still leaving you clueless about what you will experience, or even increasing your future…
  • Why Discrimination Is Reasonable, According to Karl Popper

    19 Dec 2014 | 3:11 am
    A while ago, I had a discussion with a friend of mine: we were talking about how people from different cultures interacted with each other. My friend claimed – and he was quite serious about it – that ‘All Moroccans are aggressive’. ‘How do you know?’ I asked him, ‘Have you met all Moroccans?’. ‘No’, he said, ‘but the ones I’ve met, were all aggressive’. Well that seems discriminating, doesn’t it? But while he said this, an idea popped into my mind: Karl Popper’s falsification theory. And I came to…
  • Come On People: Let’s Cut the Crap!

    18 Dec 2014 | 1:09 pm
    This is a plea against humanity and its deeply ingrained narrow-mindedness. For as long as we can remember it has been the same old story: people have different beliefs –> people believe that only their beliefs are true –> people feel endangered by other people’s beliefs –> people find it okay to attack those who have different beliefs. This is the ever repeating cycle of human ignorance: a cycle we – apparently – cannot escape. Just when we think we’ve figured it all out, just when we believe peace is within reach, a new group of people…
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    The Philosophers' Cocoon

  • Job-Market Boot Camp, Part 2: Building a Strong, Competitive CV

    Marcus Arvan
    29 Mar 2015 | 5:10 pm
    This is the first substantive post of the Cocoon's Job-Market Boot Camp. As I mentioned in my introduction, the series will discuss all things job-market related, with the aim of helping candidates to better prepare for the academic market. As I also explained, I would like for the series--both my posts and comments--to be as evidence-based as possible. Although, again, sound evidence for how to succeed on the market is hard to come by, my hope that is by tying information and advice to evidence, rather than pure speculation, the series will actually provide readers with good…
  • Job-Market Boot Camp, Part 1: Introduction

    Marcus Arvan
    28 Mar 2015 | 5:20 pm
    As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I am going to run a new series here at the Cocoon: a Job-Market Boot Camp of sorts. The basic aim of Boot Camp is to share and discuss information and advice on how to succeed on the academic job market. We will discuss everything from what a good dossier looks like (CVs, research statements), to developing a unified research program, to interviewing, stress management, and lots of other things. The idea for the series came, quite frankly, from my own struggles on the market. It took me a lot of time to "figure things out" and come across…
  • The composition of ranked programs

    Marcus Arvan
    27 Mar 2015 | 10:12 am
    By Michel Antoine-Xhignesse There's been quite a bit of talk on the internet recently about the role of institutional prestige in philosophy, especially in hiring decisions. The Cocoon has led part of that discussion, with Marcus tallying a whole whack of job market stats (see here and here). And every once in a while someone posting in a job market thread will advise job seekers to have a look at the faculty roster wherever they're applying to see whether people with pedigrees similar to their own have managed to snag jobs there. (Brian Leiter used to keep some information of this…
  • Some common prejudices about Indian Philosophy: It is time to give them up

    Elisa Freschi
    27 Mar 2015 | 2:17 am
    Is Indian Philosophy "caste-ish"? Yes and no, in the sense that each philosophy is also the result of its sociological milieu, but it is not only that. Is Indian Philosophy only focused on "the Self"? Surely not. Why am I asking these questions? Because ---no matter how sophisticated our discussions of specific topics of philosophy can be--- one still encounters these prejudices in secondary literature…and consequently also in the writings of many colleagues who do not have access to direct sources. They cannot be blamed for that, but I hope that they will be grateful to receive some advice…
  • Why the academic job market is not like professional sports

    Marcus Arvan
    26 Mar 2015 | 6:41 pm
    One of the more common analogies one hears about the academic job market is that it is similar to professional sports. In athletics, the best college teams tend to produce the best athletes. Professional teams, in turn, are looking to hire the best athletes they can. Thus, if you want to end up on a professional team, you should try to get onto the best college team you can and become the best player you can be. By a similar token, the thought is, if you want an academic job, you should go to the best program you can, publish in the best journals you can--and if you do these things, you…
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    Re-constructing Strategy

  • You Know You’re at an Archetypal ‘Islamic’ Event when….

    saqib qureshi
    28 Mar 2015 | 8:42 pm
    Without exception, everybody is either a ‘sister’ or a ‘brother’ … irrespective of any underlying aroused sense of intimacy between any of the ‘sisters’ and the ‘brothers’ ; and notwithstanding whether the attendees themselves self-identify in those terms The ratio of long-bearded men to clean-shaved men is so out of whack with what’s to be found in society at large Many ‘sisters’ are frightened out of their minds at the prospect of sitting alongside, greeting or even acknowledging the existence of any of the ‘brothers’, even though they’ll have no problem…
  • The Curious Case of Stephen Harper and the Hate Mongers

    saqib qureshi
    22 Mar 2015 | 9:29 am
    Canada has this prime minister whose name is Stephen Harper. That in itself may be controversial for some readers, who want nothing to do with a prime minister who has pursued some policies and positions which are quite radical for Canada – one example being Ottawa’s appetite for foreign military engagements. Harper is an associate of Rabbi Daniel Korobkin, who has travelled with the prime minister and been invited to Harper’s residence. You can easily find photographs of the pair together on the internet. This all seems good and wholesome – always good to see a prime minister reach…
  • Canada’s Terrorism – A Recipe For Discrimination

    saqib qureshi
    15 Feb 2015 | 7:22 am
    On Valentine’s Day 2015, a day often associated with romance, love and extortionate prices for roses, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) alleged that four friends intended on that day to massacre ordinary shoppers at the Halifax Shopping Centre, located in one of the most eastern parts of Canada. Lest you’re wondering, the RCMP, formed in 1920 isn’t particularly ‘mounted’ much to my surprise … they tend not to police mounted on horses across Canada and within eight of Canada’s ten provinces. Nor for that matter do they for the most part walk around in crisp, red blazers…
  • Reconstructing Strategy

    saqib qureshi
    9 Feb 2015 | 11:39 am
    Filed under: Uncategorized
  • Democracy … Advancing Into Stagnation

    saqib qureshi
    28 Sep 2014 | 3:57 pm
    Out here in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), we are in the midst of our political elections. They are quite similar to political elections in any major Western democracy, and as such they unfortunately suffer from the same stagnation and disenchantment which we are witnessing worldwide in advanced democracies. Up for grabs in the GTA in October are the posts of Mayor, Town Councillors and Regional Councillors. Elected every four years, these chaps have a big say on what services are provided and how public funds are deployed. In my town of Markham, a dozen or so officials are hoping to be…
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    Your Motivation Guru

  • 30 Most Common Interview Questions and Answers

    28 Mar 2015 | 11:57 am
    30 Most Common Interview Questions and Answers   Employers conducting interviews generally have a list of about 20 to 30 frequently asked questions. They tend to ask all interviewees an arbitrary mixture of around 10 questions. Before we begin, keep in mind that, in a HR interview, there is no perfectly correct or incorrect response. All you need is a correct way of responding. Tell me about yourself. This is the first and foremost question for any HR interview. The answer to this question sets the tone for the rest of the interview. The ideal way to answer this is to give a brief of your…
  • 10 Life Lessons to learn from Mahatma Gandhi

    18 Mar 2015 | 8:04 am
    10 Life Lessons to learn from Mahatma Gandhi   1. Don’t run after Material Possession. Gandhiji was a man of few material possessions the below picture shows the few things he owned. In the quest of material wealth we tend to forget that we will have to leave all this at the end. Gandhiji taught us to limit our possessions to less than hundred things, he said we should rather spend our time and money in learning new things, engaging in new hobbies, travelling and sharing our wealth with the less fortunate.   2. Consume simple food and in control. Gandhiji used to eat in a…
  • 4 Fascinating quirks about Thomas Alva Edison

    16 Mar 2015 | 11:20 pm
    4 Fascinating quirks about Thomas Alva Edison   World’s Greatest Scientists/Inventors Thomas Edison is one of the supreme inventors of all-time. He is well-known for the ground breaking inventions he made. Here are few fascinating facts about Edison that’ll blow your mind. 1. According to his teachers he was “Confused and vague” – Edison was a curious kid yet he was only an average student as his mind frequently drifted. He had seven siblings and Edison was the youngest amongst all seven. According to Edison’s teachers he was confused and vague they even labelled him as…
  • Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”

    12 Mar 2015 | 9:07 pm
    Robert Frost -> The Road Not Taken….   In Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” the poet is faced with two roads, two decisions, and two potential alternatives, here “road” symbolizes a path in life, and a choice between the two roads symbolize life decisions……..what we call as CHOICES. This poem brings out three big questions in life what might have occurred, what could have been, and how things would have happened if we would have chosen otherwise. In life…..there are roads that direct you to recognition and affluence or seclusion and scarcity.
  • 2 Simple Steps to Reprogram Your Brain to Positive Thinking

    16 Jan 2015 | 6:14 am
    2 Simple Steps to Reprogram Your Brain to Positive Thinking  How can we reprogram our mind??? In general, all of us have automatic thoughts and more often than not these are negative thoughts in order to change our thought process we need to get a hold of our thoughts. Like I said earlier we tend to have recurring negative thoughts, every so often we get obsessed by something bad that has happened and on other occasions we find it difficult to control our attention, what we are really struggling to do is to master our mind in a more capable way. We have conscious and unconscious…
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  • Five things only people who grew up with crazies can understand

    Alina Eerolainen
    17 Mar 2015 | 1:18 pm
    It’s true most of us had a less than perfect childhood ; after all, nobody can escape life without disappointments and hurt feelings. Yet in some families , you have such wild dysfunction that you begin to think jumping off airplanes or swimming with sharks might actually help calm your nerves. Below are five things only those who grew up [...]
  • Light within

    Alina Eerolainen
    11 Mar 2015 | 5:09 pm
    I thought I was afraid of the dark, Terrified of the ghosts of yesterday still hiding in the shadows. I kept my eyes closed and my heart sealed, certain this would spare me from pain. One day, something turned on the light and I realized that was what I’d been running away from: not my weakness but my strength; not [...]
  • Why are young westerners joining ISIS fighters?

    Alina Eerolainen
    11 Mar 2015 | 12:17 pm
    Why would young, sometimes non-Muslim men and women voluntarily travel to Syria to join ISIS in their barbaric bloodshed? How could teenagers growing up with all the opportunities afforded to them in the west rejoice the chance of giving them all up? In light of the recent case of three British teenagers, who according to the mass media were ‘groomed’ [...]
  • On sadness, melancholy and human suffering

    Alina Eerolainen
    5 Mar 2015 | 7:42 pm
    Suffering and disappointment are an inevitable part of life, yet most of us tend to hide feelings of sadness and melancholy from others as well as from  ourselves. There is a sense that it is both shameful and embarrassing to feel down on the dumps , no matter what the circumstances. The stiff upper lip mentality of Britain has a [...]
  • Benjamin Franklin on Liberty

    Alina Eerolainen
    24 Feb 2015 | 11:52 pm
    Democracy is two wolves in lamb’s clothing voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote. Benjamin Franklin
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