Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

The spring Film and Philosopher series begins Friday, February 10, from 3:00 to 6:00 in Budig Theater in the NKU University Center. We'll screen Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and follow with a discussion of some of the interesting philosophical ideas in this film. Bring your friends.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Gillian Russell to speak at UC on Relativism


Gillian Russell
Washington University in St. Louis

Relativism without the Fancy Intensions

Friday, February 3
3:00pm, 354 McMicken Hall

Friday, January 27, 2012

20 Brain-Bending TED Talks for Philosophy Students

20 Brain-Bending TED Talks for Philosophy Students.
Philosophy may get a bad rap for being an unmarketable college major, but in actuality, the lessons taught in philosophy classes can be applied to just about everything we do, day in and day out. From morality and ethics to free will and aesthetics, philosophical questions surround us in the creative, business, and scientific fields. Whether you need a reminder of the awesomeness of all things philosophy-related or just want to stretch your brain, check out these amazing TED talks. You’ll hear from a range of scientists, researchers, academics, and yes, even philosophers on issues that have been troubling the human mind for centuries.

Philosophy and Everyday Lives

How can philosophy be useful for our everyday lives? Gary Gutting discusses the matter in his NY Times Opinionator piece.
Even though basic beliefs on ethics, politics and religion do not require prior philosophical justification, they do need what we might call “intellectual maintenance,” which itself typically involves philosophical thinking. Religious believers, for example, are frequently t...roubled by the existence of horrendous evils in a world they hold was created by an all-good God. Some of their trouble may be emotional, requiring pastoral guidance. But religious commitment need not exclude a commitment to coherent thought. For instance, often enough believers want to know if their belief in God makes sense given the reality of evil. The philosophy of religion is full of discussions relevant to this question. Similarly, you may be an atheist because you think all arguments for God’s existence are obviously fallacious. But if you encounter, say, a sophisticated version of the cosmological argument, or the design argument from fine-tuning, you may well need a clever philosopher to see if there’s anything wrong with it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Liberal arts education lends an edge in down economy

 Good news for those majoring in the liberal arts.
Recent college graduates who as seniors scored highest on a standardized test to measure how well they think, reason and write — skills most associated with a liberal arts education — were far more likely to be better off financially than those who scored lowest, says the survey, released today by the Social Science Research Council, an independent organization.
Liberal arts education lends an edge in down economy

Friday, January 20, 2012

Philosophy Cafe: Personal Identity

The Philosophy Cafe!

Topic: Personal Identity
When/Where: Jan 27, 2012 3:00 PM in SU 108

Suppose your brain was transplanted into another body. Would that be you with a new body, or would it be the other person with a new brain? Would you rather be a brain donor or a recipient?

Suppose you walk into a teletransportation machine. A map is made of all the atoms that make up your body and brain. The information that is mapped is sent to another place where different local atoms are rearranged to make an exact duplicate of your body and brain. The original body is destroyed. The new body has all your memories, beliefs, plans and attitudes. Is that you?

For more information contact Professor Yaw: frimpongma1@nku.edu

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Study in Greece

Religious studies or philosophy students might be interested in this study abroad opportunity in Greece. Steve Watkins will be teaching two religious studies courses.

NKU and KIIS (Kentucky Institute for International Studies) is offering two religious studies courses in GREECE this summer. NKU Professor Steve Watkins is teaching two courses: REL 301 Paul's Influence on Early Christianity and REL 399 Greek Orthodox Contributions to Christianity. This program will spend two weeks in Athens and will also travel to six islands (including an optional trip to Santorini) as well as travel to Delphi, Olympia, Corinth, Nauplion, Mycenae and other ancient historical sites. You may find out more information at the following websites: www.kiis.org  and at our Greece website greece2010.wetpaint.com 
Contact Steve Watkins at watkinss1@nku.edu if you have any questions.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Martin Luther King: Gadfly

Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.
-- MLK, Jr. "Letter from a Birmingham Jail"

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Minds of Machines

Namit Arora considers the complexity of consciousness and its implications for artificial intelligence.
A conceptual advance for AI came when some researchers recognized that a computer’s model of the world was not real. By comparison, the human ‘model’ of the world was the world itself, not a static description of it. What if a robot too used the world as its model, “continually referring to its sensors rather than to an internal world model”? (Hubert L. Dreyfus, What Computers Still Can’t Do). However, this approach worked only in micro-environments with a limited set of features which could be recognized by its sensors. The robots did nothing more sophisticated than ants. As in the past, no one knew how to make the robots learn, or respond to a change in context or significance. This was the backdrop against which AI researchers began turning away from symbolic AI to simulated neural networks, with their promise of self-learning and establishing relevance. Slowly but surely, the AI community began embracing Heideggerean insights about consciousness.
The Minds of Machines | Philosophy Now

Thursday, January 05, 2012

A Darwinian Approach to Moral Philosophy

Michael Ruse talks about his Darwinian approach to moral philosophy.
I am a philosophical naturalist. By this I mean (or at least my meaning includes) being eager to accept the findings of science and to use them in my philosophizing as far as possible. So, I start my thinking about ethics by looking to Darwinian biology on human social behavior and I come away with the belief that ethics – meaning by this substantive or normative ethics (“What should I do?”) – is a product of natural selection (on individuals) to further reproductive success. Substantive ethics is an adaptation like eyes and noses and penises and vaginas. I should say that (and I am still at the level of science) I don’t think there is any need of external ethical principles (Mind of God, non-natural properties, Platonic Forms) to get this result. So ethics in a sense is different from say our knowledge about railway engines. Without existing independent railway engines, I don’t see that you could have a science of railway-engine-ology. I don’t think you need these external referents to get ethics. Ethics in this sense is not so much about the real world as it is about social relationships between fellow species members.
A Darwinian Approach to Moral Philosophy

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Philosophy: The Most Useful College Major?

Philosophy teaches students to think; to examine, articulate and analyze arguments and patterns of thinking and to demonstrate their ability to do so by writing papers and in class discussions (and, if you’re up to it, one-on-one interlocutions with your philosophy professor). Thinking and the ability to parse and offer thoughtfully reasoned arguments are not quantifiable skills. But a brief look at, for instance, some of the statements put forth by various US political figures..., can lead one to conclude that a lot of people could benefit from a good dosing in philosophical instruction to firm up their thinking mechanism.
Philosophy: The Most Useful College Major?

Monday, January 02, 2012

Kit Fine on Metaphysics

Philosopher Kit Fine is interviewed on Philosophy Bites about the nature of metaphysics. Metaphysics is the philosophical study of reality. Fine explains how metaphysics differs from science and by way of example discusses different views about causation, about the nature of a person, and about numbers.

Listen to Kit Fine on What is Metaphysics.