Friday, April 27, 2012

Ruth Barcan Marcus: Philosopher

Ruth Barcan Marcus was a highly respected Yale logician and philosopher who died this past year at the age of 90.
Marcus scaled the heights of a field utterly dominated by men, at a time when sexism was rife in academia and the “old boys’ network” was still in its prime. She would tell of having to fend off the unwelcome advances of a male professor (thankfully not a philosopher!) with a coat hanger, of being barred from all undergraduate classrooms at Yale while studying there for her Ph.D., and of being forced to publish her landmark papers under her married name — just a few of the indignities she would endure. In her 2010 Dewey Lecture to the American Philosophical Association, Marcus recalled, “Yale had a philosophy club open to undergraduate and graduate students. I was elected president but then received a letter from the chair of the department suggesting that I decline. The reasons given were that Yale was predominantly and historically a male institution and that my election may have been a courtesy. Also, the club’s executive committee met at Mory’s, which was closed to women. I did not respond to the letter and did not decline. It was, to me, obviously unreasonable.”
Ruth Barcan Marcus: Philosopher -

Monday, April 23, 2012

Shift Happens

David Weinberger writes about Thomas Kuhn's famous work The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.
Kuhn wanted to free us from the illusion that knowledge is independent of history and of the sociality that marks us as humans, but he did not think that all beliefs that our history and sociality put before us are equally worthy. Indeed, he quickly moved away from the "shift happens" conception of paradigms as bundles of beliefs, emphasizing instead that they're examples of good scientific practice that researchers apply in their daily work.
Read more

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Pat Churchland on Brains as Causal Machines

Pat Churchland is interviewed at 3:AM Magazine. She talks about philosophy, morality, brains and much more.
I discovered that Quine understood the problem with the claims about a priori truths and necessary truths more generally. Analyzing a concept can (perhaps) tell you what the concept means (at least means to some philosophers), but it does not tell you anything about whether the concept is true of anything in the world. But many philosophers in the second half of the 20th century really seemed to think that they were laying the foundations for science by laying down the conceptual (necessary) truths. I asked one: show me one example where 20th century conceptual analysis laid a foundational plank for any empirical science — any empirical science. No answer.
Read more of the interview "Causal Machines"

Monday, April 09, 2012

What is Philosophy?

A few examples:
Most simply put it’s about making sense of all this… We find ourselves in a world that we haven’t chosen. There are all sorts of possible ways of interpreting it and finding meaning in the world and in the lives that we live. So philosophy is about making sense of that situation that we find ourselves in.” ~Clare Carlisle

I think it’s thinking fundamentally clearly and well about the nature of reality and our place in it, so as to understand better what goes on around us, and what our contribution is to that reality, and its effect on us.” ~ Barry Smith

[Philosophy is] a process of reflection on the deepest concepts, that is structures of thought, that make up the way in which we think about the world. So it’s concepts like reason, causation, matter, space, time, mind, consciousness, free will, all those big abstract words and they make up topics, and people have been thinking about them for two and a half thousand years and I expect they’ll think about them for another two and a half thousand years if there are any of us left.” ~ Simon Blackburn
 What is Philosophy? An Omnibus of Definitions from Prominent Philosophers

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Business Majors and Philosophy

A business major isn't enough. Companies want well rounded students: "...a 22-year-old who can think creatively and has good problem solving skills and can write." Not everyone in business programs is getting this education. A philosophy major would have an advantage.

Read more at WSJ: Wealth or Waste? Rethinking the Value of a Business Major

Tuesday, April 03, 2012


Utilitarianism explained

NKU Soc, Ant, Phi Student Awards Reception

Attention NKU Philosophy Majors:

You are invited to the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Philosophy Student Awards Reception. Wednesday, April 25 from 5:00-7:00 in SU 104. Send RSVP to Jessica at Food. Awards. Friends.