Monday, November 28, 2011
Friday, November 25, 2011
Oxford philosopher Peter Kail discusses the legacy of David Hume in this podcast.
Hume’s work has had an enormous impact on contemporary thought about induction and moral psychology, to name just two. In our interview, Prof. Kail discusses the ways in which Hume’s influence in these areas rests on some significant misunderstandings of his own views.Episode 29: Peter Kail discusses the legacy of David Hume
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Frans de Waal talks about the natural origins of morality and empathy.
Human morality is older than our current religions, and may go back to tendencies observable in other mammals. In a bottom-up view of morality, this talk is one man's road to discovering an array of positive tendencies in animals at a time when competition and aggression were the only themes.
If you've seen the movie Inception, you may have wondered whether the character Cobb is dreaming throughout the film. Can Cobb know whether he is dreaming? How do you know whether you are dreaming now? This is the famous question Descartes asks, suggesting we can never, at any given moment, be sure we are not dreaming.
You may feel certain that you are not dreaming right now, but you have been just as certain that you are not dreaming while you have been dreaming! (We've all had that dream that we were so certain was real.) Thus we can't use our own subjective feeling that we are not dreaming as evidence that we are not-but what else could settle it? Although many philosophers have tried to solve this problem, all have failed. One cannot be certain that one is not dreaming; in fact, it seems that one cannot even know.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
MIT philosophy professor Casper Hare talks about practical rationality and its role in real world decision-making.
How we (should) decideCaspar Hare is interested in your choices. Not the ones you’ve already made, but the ones you will make, and how you’ll go about making them. The more important, the better....“What people, and young people in particular, think about moral questions is powerfully influenced by emotional responses that they have — in particular, disgust-related emotional responses, which are acquired via socialization,” Hare says. “It’s good for people to be able to step back and think about how to respond to a moralized case not by just saying, ‘How do I immediately feel about this? Does it set off my ‘yuck response’?’ but knowing how to think carefully about it and really evaluate what’s going on.”
Monday, November 21, 2011
Should we think of corporations as people? Maybe from a legal point of view, but what about from a philosophical oint of view? What is a person? Mike Labossiere discusses the issue in a recent Talking Philosophy blog post.
I am committed to trying to treat corporations as people. Perhaps they can be treated as people in terms of their moral status and moral obligations. Of course, if they are morally people, then this would seem to have some interesting implications for moral theories. Since corporations apparently cannot possess virtues, then virtue theory would be out as a moral theory. The same would also apply to many forms of utilitarianism. Since, for example, corporations do not feel pleasure or pain, they would not count morally, so these theories would need to be rejected. Kant’s theory would also be right out-his account of persons and the role they play in morality would be completely incompatible with the corporation-person. Of course, there is always the option of arguing that there are persons and there are corporation-people. They are both persons, but different sort of persons in fundamental ways. So different that one might suspect that corporations are not people.Talking Philosophy | Corporations as People
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Congratulations to the NKU Ethics Bowl team, who competed admirably at the 2011 Regional Ethics Bowl Debating competition at Marian University in Indianapolis, November 12, 2011. Organized and coached by Dr. Yaw, the team included Amy Rector-Aranda, Thomas Weatherford, Jessica Whyte, and Andrew Witte. They won one debate and finished ahead of some very good schools. Very impressive.
Recently a computer has beaten humans at the challenging game of Jeopardy. According to Alva Noë IBM's remarkable computer Watson "has the mind of a plant," though even that is an exaggeration. Find out more....
IBM's Watson: Bettered By A Plant
IBM's Watson: Bettered By A Plant
Sunday, November 13, 2011
At Friday's Philosophy Cafe (Nov. 18, 3:00-4:00, Room SU 108) we'll be talking about whether a computer could think? We'll want to get a little clearer on what a computer is and, of course, on what thinking is. Neither is a simple task. The philosopher John Searle has written extensively on this, arguing that thinking is more than just running a computer program. It's got something to do with the special ways in which a biological brain works, but we still have a long way to go to understand all that. I recommend reading Searle's article "Is the Brain's Mind a Computer Program?" and then joining us in discussion Friday.
Wednesday, November 09, 2011
What would John Rawls think about the Occupy Wall Street movement? This interview with Stanford's Prof. Cohen is interesting.
To celebrate Bank Transfer Day, I sat down with Stanford Professor of Political Science, Philosophy and Law Joshua Cohen to discuss how political philosopher John Rawls might view the Occupy Wall Street movement. The late Rawls, a Harvard professor and the author of A Theory of Justice, is widely recognized as the most important political philosopher of the 20th century. His theory about how to set up a just society, called ‘Justice as Fairness,’ could provide a legitimate philosophical framework for the Occupy the Wall Street movement. I talked with Cohen about what Rawls’ theory says, and what it means for the 99%.A discussion of John Rawls, author of A Theory of Justice, on Occupy Wall Street
Wednesday, November 02, 2011
“Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities”
Thursday, November 10, 2011, 7:30 pm
O’Donnell Hall, Student Success Building, Eastern Kentucky University
EKU CHAUTAUQUA LECTURE
7th Annual Distinguished Lecture in International Studies
Free and Open to the Public
From The Atlantic (online).
One of the many small surprises of the recession has been a significant growth in the number of philosophy majors, according the the Philadelphia Inquirer. It has slightly exceeded the growth of enrollments in the last ten years; many other humanities and social science fields have just kept up. At the University of California at Berkeley, despite or because of the state's economic turmoil, the number of majors has increased by 74 percent in the last decade.Is Philosophy the Most Practical Major? - Edward Tenner
What makes philosophy different? It can seem self-absorbed; philosophers themselves joke about Arthur Koestler's definition: "the systematic abuse of a terminology specially invented for that purpose." But it also is a tool (like history and religious studies) for thinking about everything else, and every profession from law and medicine to motorcycle maintenance.
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
New series of podcasts on bio-ethics. Includes interviews with Tim Lewens, Jonathan Wolff, Onora O'Neill, Nick Bostrom, and Peter Singer.
This series of interviews, representing various ethical perspectives tackling controversial subjects arising out of recent scientific advances, is freely available.
The Oxford Centre for Neuroethics - Bio-Ethics Bites: "‘Bio-Ethics Bites’.