Friday, December 13, 2013

Employability Guide: The Philosophy Degree

Where Next? Unlocking the potential of your philosophy degree. Yes, philosophy students are very employable.
Using this employability guide is a way to help you, as a philosophy student, reflect on the skills you are gaining as you study, and gather evidence of these skills being put into practice. Sometimes, in a non-vocational course, it can be hard to see how what you learn in the course of your studies will prepare you for your post-university career. Being comfortable with this yourself, and getting it across to future employers, is vital, particularly in a subject such as philosophy where there are plenty of popular misconceptions about what the subject actually entails.
Read the guide.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Department Reception to Honor Students

Join us Tuesday, December 3 from 4:00-5:30 on second floor Landrum as the department of Sociology, Anthropology and Philosophy honors the achievements it students and fall graduates. Graduating with a philosophy major will be James Simons, Aaron Sprinkles and Teddy Wiseman. Graduating philosophy minors include Claudia Anicama, Maria Koch, Arthur Littlefield, Candice Stanfield, and Robert Townson. Several Religious Studies minors will also graduate: Rosa Christophel, Phylicia Gifford, Jesse Hendricks and James Simons. We are also inducting several students into Phi Sigma Tau, the philosophy honor society. Congratulations Brice Elliot, Maria Koch, Arielle Phillips and Candice Stanfield. Finally we recognize the achievements of this year's Ethics Bowl Team: Cory Clark, Dustin Courtney, Laurence Gerlach, Leighann Goins, Theodore Hays, Arthur Littlefield, John Petrie, Ashley Poe and Robbie Tieman.

Most of the time will be spent mingling with food, friends, faculty and all our students who are majoring or minoring in our programs. Please stop by if only for a few minutes to grab some food and say hi.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Philosophers' Cafe: Wikileaks, Hacktivism and the Ethics of Whistle-blowing

Philosophers' Cafe

The Philosophers' Cafe will convene this Friday at 3:00 in GH 316 to discuss Wikileaks, Hacktivism and the Ethics of Whistle-blowing. Stop by and bring your friends.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

2013 NKU Ethics Bowl Team

2013 Ethics Bowl Team
On November 9 the NKU Ethics Bowl team traveled to Marion, IN to participate in the 2013 Regional Ethics Bowl Competition. Teams from different schools debate real-life ethical issues in front of a panel of judges who rank the performances and the arguments. NKU won their debate against Xavier but lost by only a few points to Butler and to Taylor. The NKU team included Cory Clark, Dustin Courtney, Laurence Gerlach, Leighann Goins, Theodore Hays, Arthur Littlefield, John Petrie, Ashley Poe and Robbie Tieman (Ashley and John were not able to travel with the team for this contest). The team practiced for weeks prior to the competition, preparing responses to case studies available in advance. Dr. Yaw served as faculty advisor and coach. Congratulations on a great contest!

2013 Ethics Bowl Team

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Film and Philosophy: High Noon

High Noon
Join us Friday, November 8 from 3:00-6:00 in GH 316 when we screen and discuss the classic western film High Noon. What's the right thing to do? Should one act from a sense of duty? Does religion provide moral answers? What can we expect form our community? Gary Cooper portrays the retired sheriff who takes the Kantian point of view.

Dress for Success

Greek Philosophers
Nancy Hancock's PHI 280 Ancient and Medieval Philosophy students dressed the part this week.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Science and Philosophy

On the importance of recognizing the relationship between philosophy (and other humanities) and science. The authors revisit the case of H.M. who was unable to form new long-term memories but could learn new skills. What is the difference between knowledge of skills and knowledge of facts: know-how and know-that?
Constructing an argument in mathematics or history is one kind of human activity. Football and cabinetmaking are others. We argue that skilled human activity generally requires the acquisition and manipulation of knowledge, as well as implicit processes that do not depend on propositional knowledge (for example, increased dexterity). It is hard, and perhaps not possible, to forge a theoretically significant distinction between working with one’s hands and working with one’s mind.

THE STONE October 27, 2013, Is the ‘Dumb Jock’ Really a Nerd?By JASON STANLEY and JOHN W. KRAKAUER

Monday, October 28, 2013

Become a Philosophy Major

Experience Philosophy in Greece

Philosophy in Greece
In the spring of 2014 we are offering PHI 394 Study Abroad--Greek Philosophy that includes two weeks of study in Greece (May 14-27). There are no pre-requisites for the course; we hope to attract students with diverse interests and backgrounds. The cost for a triple room is estimated at $3700 (double $3765 and single $4115). That includes airfare, hotel, travel between sites, breakfasts and two dinners. We will spend most of our time in Athens but also explore Delphi (home of the Oracle of Delphi), Mycenae, Corinth, and Epidaurus. We also plan to visit the island of Mykonos for a couple of days. It will be a fantastic experience. See our flyer for more information.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Philosophers' Cafe: Is There a Moral Grammar?

Philosophers' Cafe
Join us Friday as we discuss questions about the nature of morality. Is our knowledge of moral rules like our knowledge of the rules of grammar? And what kind of knowledge is that?

The talk will be presented as Pecha Kucha: twenty slides, twenty seconds each. Lots of great discussion.

Friday, October 25, 3:00-4:00 in GH 316.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Why Study Logic?

Logic is the means by which we manage reasoning's vulnerability to luck. Once we see that the form of a piece of reasoning is evaluable independently of the content of its premises, we make a large swath of our reasoning invulnerable to luck. This invulnerability is a focal objective of deductive logic – the aim is to show how, in the case of certain forms of reasoning, the truth of our premises absolutely guarantees the truth of our conclusions. This is a high calling, indeed.
3quarksdaily: Why Study Logic?

Information, Knowledge & Intelligence

Alistair MacFarlane writes about information, knowledge and intelligence and about whether computers could one day hold an intelligent conversation.
Information describes: it tells us how the world is now. Knowledge prescribes: it tells us what to do on the basis of accumulated past experience. Intelligence decides: it guides, predicts and advises, telling us what may be done in circumstances not previously encountered, and what the outcome is likely to be.
Information, Knowledge & Intelligence | Issue 98 | Philosophy Now

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Film and Philosophy: Fight Club

Fight Club
Join us October 11 from 3:00-6:00 in NKU's Digitorium when we will screen and discuss Fight Club. Questions about self, self perception, self discovery, society, advertising, appearance and reality, and much more.

Part of our Film and Philosophy series.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Spring 2014 PHI Schedule of Classes

Spring 2014
The spring course schedule is out. Priority registration begins October 31. You can see the spring schedule of courses on myNKU and I attached a poster to this email. We are offering a number of 300-level PHI courses you are sure to find interesting.
  • PHI 302 Research Ethics: Ethical, legal, and public policy issues stemming from scientific research. Pence MWF 12:00-12:50
  • PHI 304 Zen: Foundational and developmental exposure to the fundamental and essential teachings of Zen. Miller M 6:15-9:00
  • PHI 309 Global Ethics: How ethicists from many cultures do ethics from their unique cultural perspective. Kenney ONLINE
  • PHI 315 Knowledge and Reality: Differing views on the nature of knowledge and reality. Garns TR 12:15-1:30
  • PHI 320 Social and Political Philosophy: Nature and purposes of the state, grounds of political obligation, freedom and its limitations, human rights, social justice, and selected contemporary issues. Frimpong-Mansoh MW 2:00-3:15
And for the first time we are offering a special study abroad experience in Greece. Students who take PHI 394 Study Abroad--Greek Philosophy will spend two weeks in Greece--the birthplace of Western philosophy--during the last two weeks in May. (See attachment) In the course students will critically examine the issues and ideas that confronted the Greek philosophers at the advent of Western philosophy, and come to appreciate the cultural context in which they appear. Hancock TR 1:40-2:55. We are waiving pre-requisites for the course and it will count toward the philosophy major requirements. You don't need to be a philosophy major to take the course and travel to Greece; the course is open to all students; please tell your friends. We should have an estimate on the cost in the next few weeks. Contact Nancy Hancock ( or me ( for more information.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Good news for philosophy majors

Philosophy majors do well on test scores and salaries. This has been true for some time and continues to be the case.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Philosophers' Cafe: Race, Gender, American Justice System

Philosophers' Cafe
Join us this Friday, September 27, from 3:00-4:00 in GH 316 to discuss race and gender in the American justice system. This should be a great discussion. Open to the public.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Film and Philosophy: The Matrix

The Matrix (1999)
This Friday (9/13), the Film and Philosophy series presents The Matrix (1999) from 3-6 in the Digitorium (GH). We will watch the film and then discuss. You might want to refresh your memory of Plato's cave or Descartes' Evil Demon before Friday.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Experience Philosophy in GREECE!

May 14- 27, 2014

The Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Philosophy and the NKU Office of Education Abroad invite you to visit the birthplace of Western philosophy. 

Walk in the footsteps of Socrates!
Join NKU philosophy professors Dr. Nancy Hancock and Dr. Rudy Garns on a two-week tour of Greece that includes visits to the Acropolis and the Parthenon; the ancient agora where Socrates faced trial and was executed; the Temple of Apollo where the Oracle of Delphi issued her prophesies; the Stoa that was home to the Stoics; the Lyceum where Aristotle taught; the ancient cities of Mycenea, and Corinth; the Theater at Epidaurus; the island of Mykonos; and much more.

Who may participate?
Students who want course credit should sign up for PHI 394 Greek Philosophy; the visit to Greece is a required part of the course. Or they can create an independent study for 1 credit hour with a faculty mentor in a discipline of your choice. But you don’t need to sign up for the class to join us on the trip. Current NKU students will receive priority enrollment, but alumni and friends of the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Philosophy, and members of the general public are also welcome to go on the program based on space availability.

How much does the program cost?
The cost of the program is yet to be determined. The price will include airfare, hotel accommodation in double occupancy (single occupancy available at an extra cost), ground transportation, all breakfasts and two dinners, and admission to all scheduled museums. Financial aid and partial scholarships may be available to qualified students. Every effort will be made to adhere to the advertised cost of the program; however, should financial circumstances warrant it some program items may be deleted to avoid a price increase.

What will the itinerary be?
We depart for Athens on May 14 and return to the US May 27. We will spend several days in Athens visiting the Acropolis, the new Acropolis Museum, the National Archaeological Museum, and the Agora, where Socrates faced his trial and was put to death. We will take a three day side tour of Delphi, Nafplion, Mycenae, Epidaurus and Corinth. And a second side trip to the island of Mykonos. This itinerary is tentative and subject to change.

How do I apply?
Applications are available in the NKU Office of Education Abroad in UC 415. The application for the International Study Scholarship is also available in UC 415 or online at http://studyabroad.nku/start/scholarship.php.

More information?
Contact the Office of Education Abroad, University Center 430, (859) 572-6194 email:

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Ethics Bowl! Join the team.

Sign up now
Who's up for a good ethics debate? The Ethics Bowl is coming this fall. See Dr. Yaw for info.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Cute. Sexy. Funny. Dan Dennett

Daniel Dennett
Dan Dennett discusses his TED talk on the evolutionary history of sweetness, cuteness, sexiness, and humor.
The important lesson from evolutionary thinking here is that it is a mistake to think that first there was sweetness, sexiness, and cuteness, and then we evolved to love these properties. That's just about backwards; these properties came into existence as effects of our tastes for them. This is a strange inversion of reasoning, but it's right.
 TED WEEKENDS: It's Not A Question Of Taste...

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Be employable, study philosophy

But a smattering of undergrad philosophy classes taught me something applicable to any and every job: clarity of thought. Name me one aspect of your life that doesn’t benefit from being able to think something through clearly.
Be employable, study philosophy -

Fall Philosophy Events

Mark your calendars for our fall Philosophy events.

Film and Philosophy series

The second Friday of every month from 3:00-6:00 we screen and discuss a feature film.

Friday, September 13, 3:00-6:00 Digitorium (GH) The Matrix (1999)
Friday, October 11, 3:00-6:00 Digitoriium (GH) Fight Club (1999)
Friday, November 8, 3:00-6:00 GH 316 High Noon (1952)

Philosophers' Cafe

The fourth Friday of every month from 3:00-4:00 we invite the larger community to join us as we discuss a provocative philosophical issue.

Friday, September 27, 3:00-4:00 GH 316 Race and gender in the American justice system
Friday, October 25, 3:00-4:00 GH 316 Is there a moral grammar?
Friday, November 22, 3:00-4:00 GH 316 Wikileaks, Hacktivism and the ethics of whistle-blowing 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Best Majors for GRE Scores in 2013: Philosophy Dominates

Philosophy majors tend to do well on GRE exams, particularly the verbal and analytic sections.
Philosophy departments focus heavily on logical reasoning and identifying logical fallacies, most likely leading to philosophy students' dominance of the verbal and analytical writing sections.
Buzz Blog: Best Majors for GRE Scores in 2013: Philosophy Dominates

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Coming this fall: Viva Humanities! @ NKU

Have you thought about how studying the humanities would prepare you for life and a career? 
Viva Humanities is a semester-long celebration of the valuable skills and competencies developed through studying and working in the humanities. 
We have scheduled a six-speaker series of very successful professionals who want to share with you how the humanities helped make them into the people they are today. 
Hear for yourself how English, History, Philosophy and World Languages and Literatures can prepare you to be successful in today’s world of high speed analysis, decision-making, change and communication.
Viva Humanities

Sunday, July 21, 2013

the mad dog naturalist

Alex Rosenberg
Alex Rosenberg, a philosopher of science at Duke, is interviewed at 3:AM Magazine.
Alex Rosenberg is the mad dog proponent of nice nihilism who broods on the implications of naturalism. He is always thinking about the relationship between science and religion, science and its laws, reductionism, Dan Dennett, the philosophy of biology, about why scientific realism is better than instrumentalism, giving the atheist a guide, why it’s ok not to have freewill, why Fodor was wrong about Darwinism, why economics is mostly mathematical politics and is improving but still faces the reflexivity problem, about how biology is growing in importance in the social sciences and about analytical metaphysics and recent disputes. This one bites!
the mad dog naturalist » 3:AM Magazine

Friday, July 12, 2013

Professor Retires

Some of our friends of the Philosophy Program might have heard already that Professor Bob Trundle has retired this summer. We was a member of the university for 26 years and taught a wide variety of courses for our program.

Prof. Trundle was scheduled to teach several courses in the fall and over the summer we worked to cover many of those classes. We will cancel the Existentialism course (PHI 305) for this fall but plan to offer it again next fall. Nancy Hancock will cancel her PHI 360 Environmental Philosophy course and take over Dr. Trundle's PHI 280 History of Ancient Philosophy class. The general education classes will all be offered as scheduled.

Those still looking for PHI classes should consider PHI 311 Philosophy of Women, PHI 350 Philosophy of Religion, PHI 375 Ethical Theories and PHI 394 Philosophy of Love. All of these have seats remaining.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The relentless naturalist

Rebecca Kukla
3:AM Magazine interviews philosopher Rebecca Kukla.
Rebecca Kukla is chillin’ rad philosopher always thinking about the pragmatic topography of the space of reasons. She thinks philosophers have thought too much about statements broadcasting information and should look elsewhere like Plato, Rousseau and Nietzsche did.She’s suspicous of semantic theory, thinks McDowell wrong to think we are accountable to objects, thinks squirrels illustrate something important, finds certain ubiquitous risk communication both unhelpful and damaging to moral agency, is a relentless naturalist who thinks we should teach everyone to be scientifically and statistically literate, doesn’t mind being called a naturalised Kantian and has a great deal of sensible stuff to say about the scandal of gender inequality in academic philosophy. All in all, this is slick fuggly jive.
the relentless naturalist » 3:AM Magazine

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Soren Kierkegaard Turns Two Hundred

Soren Kierkegaard
If your soul has bunions, however, reading Kierkegaard may inflame them: he invented self-doubt in its modern form. “Either/Or,” for example, ought really to be subtitled “Neither.” Kierkegaard, who has often been called the father of existentialism, champions the examined life, and the conscious choice that informs it—yet he mocks choice as futile. “I see it all perfectly,” he wrote. “There are two possible situations—one can either do this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: do it or do not do it—you will regret both.”
Soren Kierkegaard Turns Two Hundred : The New Yorker

Why isn't there more progress in philosophy?

A talk given by David Chalmers (ANU, NYU) at the Moral Sciences Club of the Faculty of Philosophy on 7th May 2013.

Video & Audio: Why isn't there more progress in philosophy?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Daniel Dennett's seven tools for thinking

Daniel Dennett
Cognitive scientist and philosopher Daniel Dennett is one of America's foremost thinkers. In this extract from his new book, he reveals some of the lessons life has taught him.

  1. Use you mistakes
  2. Respect your opponent
  3. The "surely" klaxon
  4. Answer Rhetorical Questions
  5. Employ Occam's razor
  6. Don't waste your time on rubbish
  7. Beware of deepities

Read about it: Daniel Dennett's seven tools for thinking

Friday, May 10, 2013

Edouard Machery Interview

Edouard Machery
Interview with philosopher Edouard Machery.
Edouard Machery is a killer cool philosopher working on the cutting edge of interfaces between analytic philosophy, psychology, xphi and cognitive science. He’s a continental doing analytic philosophy who thinks philosophy without science is blind. He’s always investigating social phenomena like racism and the ‘integration challenge’, alongside the nature of concepts and whether they are the same as perceptual representation. This month he’ll be going head to head with the chillin’ blue-haired philosopher Jesse Prinz in Latvia on this very issue. He thinks concepts aren’t a natural kind and kind of thinks that studying them is like studying a science of Tuesdays. He’s also brooding on what the folk think and whether experts have judgements that can be trusted, suggesting that philosophy needs to be humble. Everything he does goes to the heart of how we think about ourselves and all in all is one hell of a badass groove. Shakin’.
without concepts » 3:AM Magazine

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

The Philosophy of Kierkegaard

Soren Kierkegaard
A 1984 documentary on existentialist philosopher Soren Kierkegaard.
Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard—often considered the first existentialist—was born 200 years ago this past Sunday in Copenhagen. Writing under pseudonyms like Johannes Climacus and Johannes de Silentio, Kierkegaard attacked both the idealism of contemporary philosophers Hegel and Schelling and the bourgeois complacency of European Christendom. A highly skilled rhetorician, Kierkegaard preferred the indirect method, deploying irony, ridicule, parody and satire in a paradoxical search for individual authenticity within a European culture he saw as beset by self-important puffery and unthinking mass movements.
The Philosophy of Kierkegaard, the First Existentialist Philosopher, Revisited in 1984 Documentary | Open Culture

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Why Study Philosophy?

Why study philosophy? It prepares you for well-paying jobs. It's interesting. It's great preparation for law school, business school or graduate school. The USC philosophy department has gathered some interesting data.

Undergraduate > School of Philosophy

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Daniel Dennett, ‘Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking’

Dan Dennett
Dan Dennett has written a new book about thought experiments, imagination, and the art of doing philosophy.
“Philosophers are infamous for being navel-gazers, but a lot of them are remarkably unreflective about their own methods.” He added, “If you do get a little self-conscious, it opens up so many weak spots and helps you think.”
Daniel Dennett, Author of ‘Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking’

Monday, April 29, 2013

Ethics and the Limits of Evolutionary Psychology

Interesting essay on the state of naturalized ethics and the influence of evolutionary psychology.

"Wittgenstein sums this up for us: 'if I want to fix my mind on what I mean by absolute or ethical value…I wonder at the existence of the world.'"

IASC: The Hedgehog Review - Volume 15, No. 1 (Spring 2013) - Ethics and the Limits of Evolutionary Psychology - Thomas de Zengotita

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

the possible worlds hedgehog

Philosopher Robert Stalnaker is interviewed at 3amMagazine.
Robert Stalnaker is the grandmaster flash of contemporary metaphysicals. He thinks that a language-first approach to philosophy is ludicrous, Paul Grice an inspiration and Saul Kripke very important to his early thinking. He broods on issues about internalist and externalist doctrines and approaches, on our knowledge of the external world, about the nature of phenomenal knowedge, about the view from nowhere, the opacity of transparency, contextualism, relativism, possible worlds, the entanglement of semantics with metaphysics, haecceitism and the beauty of metaphysical theories, amongst other things. He is currently on a phased retirement at MIT and becoming a Visiting Professor at Columbia. He is simply a modern daddy of the mac!Chillin’!
the possible worlds hedgehog » 3:AM Magazine

Monday, April 01, 2013

On the benefits of a philosophy major

Philosophy majors are regularly exposed to critical thinking and analysis. They have skills that make them very attractive on the job market.
Thus it is not a surprise (at least to me!) that philosophy majors are some of the best with regard to analytical skills, evidenced by the above graphic. According to the Educational Testing Service, which administers the GRE, the analytic writing section tests “critical thinking and analytical writing skills. It assesses [your] ability to articulate and support complex ideas, construct and evaluate arguments, and sustain a focused and coherent discussion.” Philosophy majors are also the best with regard to verbal ability, and the best of the liberal arts students at quantitative reasoning. Simply put, our students have the best all-around intellectual skills.
On the benefits of a philosophy major | Pleas and Excuses

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Ironic Success Of Experimental Philosophy

What is experimental philosophy? They are getting a lot of press and making some interesting observations.
Practitioners of experimental philosophy ("X-Philes") are a heterogeneous bunch, but most believe that there are important limitations to philosophy's dominant "armchair" methods of reflection and argumentation, prompting the adoption of a burning armchair as a logo (you can hear the accompanying anthem, sung by Alina Simone, on YouTube). To explore and remedy these limitations, they have turned to psychological research on people's judgments, feelings and behaviors. Some of them conduct this research themselves; others collaborate with social scientists or draw upon their work.
The Ironic Success Of Experimental Philosophy : 13.7: Cosmos And Culture : NPR

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Philosophers' Cafe: The Nature of Information

From Plato's Forms to IRS forms. From Aristotle's Essences to DNA. From Hume's ideas to symbolic AI. From sense data to databases. From carnivores to informavores. It's all about information. 

We are said to live in an information age in which corporations and governments collect all kinds of information about each of us. We dispense information from information booths, place it on maps and in brochures, report it in newspapers and on the evening news, and pick it up in classrooms and around dinner tables. What is this idea?

Join us Friday, March 22, from 3:00-4:00 in GH 316 for the Philosophers' Cafe. We are going to talk about the nature of information.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Double Majors Produce Dynamic Thinkers

As reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education, a study finds that double majors produce more dynamic thinkers. The philosophy major at NKU requires only 30 hours, which means many students take a second major. The article below highlight integration and creativity as benefits to pursuing two (or more) majors.
An undergraduate education is traditionally supposed to provide students with both breadth and depth of knowledge, which derive from their general-education requirements and major, respectively. 
Increasingly, education experts also want students to develop a third skill, integrative thinking. It entails learning the deeper, underlying meaning of a discipline, making connections across courses and subjects, and applying different intellectual perspectives. Even better, some researchers say, is creative thinking, in which students master multiple disciplinary approaches to generate fresh and original ideas. 
Students who major in two fields are more apt than their single-majoring peers to think both integratively and creatively, according to a new study. But they achieve those goals largely on their own, often despite the obstacles put in their way by academe. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A philosopher in the age of science

Hilary Putnam
An article about philosopher Hilary Putnam, who has just released a collection of essays, Philosophy in the Age of Science.
Like Russell, Putnam began his philosophical career working on topics concerning logic and mathematics. In the 1960s his work with three other mathematicians led to the solution of Hilbert’s Tenth Problem, and his work with Martin Davis led to the creation of an algorithm about satisfiability for first-order predicate logic. Like William James, Putnam has a keen eye for where lofty philosophical notions such as truth, knowledge, value, and justification can be related to pragmatic concerns about use and practicality. And like James and Russell, Putnam sees both science and philosophy as participating in a similar project of refining our conception of reality. Sadly Putnam has never enjoyed a similar level of fame or public influence, though his famous essay “Brain in a Vat” may have been one of the inspirations behind The Matrix, a film which introduced philosophical scepticism to a whole new audience.
... A Kant without hubris, a Wittgenstein without quietism, an unrelenting critic, gadfly and deeply original thinker, Putnam is one of the 20th century’s true philosophical giants."
A philosopher in the age of science

Brief encounter with the mysterian

Colin McGinn
Colin McGinn is a mysterian--he believes that some problems in philosophy will not, and cannot, be explained by human minds. He is interviewed on 3:AM Magazine.
Colin McGinn has no time for interviews because he’s too busy writing his books, practicing his backhand and doing the philosophical stuff – but even so he took time out for a swift fly-past for the benefit of 3:AM Magazine. He’s funny, caustic and a guy who reckons he has the measure of what needs to be said and done. His blog is an evergreen provocation and he’s not out to make friends but to keep the controversies hot. Best thing to do is to read the damn books I guess. His is the kick-ass obloquy done in the high-handed Swiftian style. Raw!
Brief encounter with the mysterian » 3:AM Magazine

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Mary and the Zombies: Can Science Explain Consciousness?

We will talk about these issues (and more) in PHI 345 Philosophy of Mind next fall.
We trust science because its claims are based on experience. But experience itself is a subjective reality that seems to elude the objectivity of scientific understanding. We know that our experiences—of seeing red, feeling pain, falling in love and so forth—depend on physical systems like the brain that science can, in principle, exhaustively explain. But it’s hard to make sense of the idea that experiences themselves could be physical. No doubt experiences correlate with objective physical facts, but, as subjective phenomena, how could they be such facts? When I feel intense pain, scientists may be able to observe brain-events that cause my pain, but they cannot observe the very pain that I feel. What science can observe is public and objective; what I feel is private and subjective.
Mary and the Zombies: Can Science Explain Consciousness? -

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Fall 2013 Schedule

Our PHI / REL fall 2013 schedule is here. In the fall we offer our usual array of lower division general education classes as well as a variety of upper division elective and required courses. You are sure to find something that interests you.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Film and Philosophy: A.I.

The Film and Philosophy series will screen and discuss Steven Spielberg's A.I. This Friday, March 8, from 3:00-6:00 in the Digitorium. See just how much a robot boy can feel love and abandonment (not to mention despair and angst).

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Immanuel Kant and his Man-Servant Lampe

Very interesting blog on the end of Kant's life and his relationship to his man-servant, Lampe. Most of the information comes from Ehregott Andreas Wasianski's 1804 work, Immanuel Kant in seinen letzten Lebensjahren.
Wasianski pauses to describe the relationship between the two in some detail. He considers it important to do so, since Kant and Lampe had a falling out two years before the philosopher's death. The nature of the dispute is not entirely clear from what Wasianski is willing to report of it, but it leads to the servant's dismissal, in 1802, and inaugurates the period of Kant's decline and eventual death two years later.
Immanuel Kant and his Man-Servant Lampe - Justin Erik Halldór Smith

Monday, February 25, 2013

Can pills change our morals?

Molly Crockett
Could we change the way people respond to moral situations by manipulating their brain chemistry with antidepressant pills? Molly Crockett is a neuroscientist investigating this question.
It seems that if we can just wrap our heads around the idea that peoples’ attachment to their ideals is not fixed, but can change, we’re more likely to listen to each other. It’s unclear whether we will ever be able to create a “morality pill”—in part because we have yet to reach consensus on what is “moral” in the first place.4 And we still have a long way to go before we fully understand how brain chemistry shapes moral judgment and behaviour.5 But preliminary work suggests we ought to cultivate a healthy skepticism towards our own sense of right and wrong – it may well be vulnerable to factors below our awareness and beyond our control.
Can pills change our morals? | thInk

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Bertrand Russell on science, education and democracy

Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Russell contends that "science education — something that leaves much to be desired nearly a century later — is key to attaining a future of happiness and democracy." In his 1926 book Education and the Good Life Russell writes about the good life, science, democracy and the importance of education.

For the first time in history, it is now possible, owing to the industrial revolution and its byproducts, to create a world where everybody shall have a reasonable chance of happiness. Physical evil can, if we choose, be reduced to very small proportions. It would be possible, by organization and science, to feed and house the whole population of the world, not luxuriously, but sufficiently to prevent great suffering. It would be possible to combat disease, and to make chronic ill-health very rare. … All this is of such immeasurable value to human life that we dare not oppress the sort of education which will tend to bring it about. in such an education, applied science will have to be the chief ingredient. Without physics and physiology and psychology, we cannot build the new world.

Bertrand Russell on human nature, construction vs. destruction, and science as a key to democracy | Brain Pickings

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Philosophers' Cafe Topic: Gun Violence

“Gun Violence: A Philosophical Debate” is our topic at the next Philosophers' Cafe. Friday, February 22, 3:00-4:00 in GH 316.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Consciousness Conference Online

Are you  interested in the philosophy of mind and the nature of consciousness? You might want to check out this online conference. It begins February 15 at noon. You can browse the papers and the comments, including the activity from previous conferences.
The conference begins on the third Friday in February and runs for two weeks (that being ‘the conference’). Those presenters who allow it have their papers posted online at least a week before the conference begins so that people can read as many papers, in as much detail, as they choose beforehand to enhance and deepen discussion. During this two weeks discussion takes place in the comments section of each session (i.e. each post). It is much like blogging, only during a specific two week period. As such it can be done from anywhere at any time! After the conference the comments section will be closed (unless requested to be left open by author). Presentations, videos, papers, etc and discussion are left for people to view (unless the presenter requests otherwise) but no new comments are approved.
Consciousness Online

Was Jane Austen a Moral Philosopher?

Was Jane Austen a moral philosopher? Thomas Rodham thinks so. 
Jane Austen (1775-1817) wrote delicious romantic comedies about middle-class girls looking for good husbands among the landed gentry of Regency England. But if that were all there was to it we wouldn’t take her any more seriously now than the genre hacks published by Mills and Boon. What’s so special about her novels that we are still reading them today? It’s not just their literary quality. Austen was also a brilliant moral philosopher who analysed and taught a virtue ethics for middle-class life that is surprisingly contemporary. Appreciating this can help us understand why she wrote the way she did, and how and why we should read her today.
Reading Jane Austen as a Moral Philosopher | Issue 94 | Philosophy Now

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Ronald Dworkin

Ronald Dworkin
The legal philosopher and scholar Ronald Dworkin passed away at age 81. Dworkin made important contributions to the philosophy of law and political philosophy.
His theory of law as integrity, in which judges interpret the law in terms of consistent and communal moral principles, especially justice and fairness, is amongst the most influential contemporary theories about the nature of law. He advocates a "moral reading" of theUnited States Constitution,[4] and an interpretivist approach to law and morality. (Wikipedia)

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Should You Kill The Fat Man?

Try this thought experiment at The Philosopher's Magazine:
This activity is a treatment of some of the issues thrown up by a thought experiment called 'The Trolley Problem', which was first outlined by the philosopher Philippa Foot, and then developed by Judith Jarvis Thomson and others. But before we start properly, we need to ask you four preliminary questions so we get a sense of the way that you think about morality.
Should You Kill The Fat Man?

Friday, February 01, 2013

Minority Report

The Film and Philosophy series will screen and discuss Steven Spielberg's Minority Report on Friday, Feb. 8, from 3:00-6:00 in the Digitorium. Please join us!
For more information about the film see:

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Philosophy Student Conference

Fifth Annual Philosophy Student Conference

This is the call for papers for the fifth annual Philosophy Student Conference at the University of Georgia. The conference will be held at Peabody Hall, University of Georgia, Room 115 on Saturday, March 30th. (phone(706)-542-2823). The deadline for submissions is March 9th. Following the deadline, all submissions will be reviewed and selections will be made, with notifications sent to all no later than Saturday, March 16th, 2012. It is the committee's intent to accommodate as many of the student papers submitted as possible. Papers will be followed with discussion.

Paper Submission Guidelines:
  • The colloquium is open to any undergraduate student. Papers submitted can be on any topic of serious philosophical concern and are to be between a minimum of 1, 500 words and a maximum of 3,000 words.
  • Please prepare paper for blind review. Include cover letter and provide no identifying information in paper.
Submissions should be sent by e-mail attachment (word document) to:

Phi Sigma Tau-University of Georgia Chapter

An Interview with Philosopher Hilary Kornblith

3:AM: What made you become a philosopher? Has it turned out to be what you imagined? 
Hilary Kornblith
Hilary Kornblith: When I was in high school, I read a lot of existentialist novels and plays – Dostoevsky, Camus, Sartre – and I went on from there to read Nietzsche and some of Sartre’s essays and Being and Nothingness. When I got to college, I planned to be a math major, and, in addition to signing up for some math courses, I decided to take some philosophy. Quite by chance, I took a philosophy of science course in which the entire semester was devoted to reading Locke’s Essay. I was hooked. For the next few semesters, I took nothing but philosophy and math courses, and it wasn’t long before I realised that it was the philosophy that really moved me. I don’t know whether I can say that having a career in philosophy has turned out as I imagined, since in many ways I had little idea of what such a life would be like. But philosophy is still tremendously exciting to me, and the opportunity to think, and talk, and write about these issues has been wonderful.
On reflection: Interview with Hilary Kornblith » 3:AM Magazine

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Right to Bear Arms?

Do you have a right to own a gun? Take the poll below.

Be sure to attend our Philosophers' Cafe on February 22 when discuss Gun Violence

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Normal Well-Tempered Mind

Dan Dennett talks about "selfish neurons" and the well-tempered mind.
Dan Dennett
We're beginning to come to grips with the idea that your brain is not this well-organized hierarchical control system where everything is in order, a very dramatic vision of bureaucracy. In fact, it's much more like anarchy with some elements of democracy. Sometimes you can achieve stability and mutual aid and a sort of calm united front, and then everything is hunky-dory, but then it's always possible for things to get out of whack and for one alliance or another to gain control, and then you get obsessions and delusions and so forth. 
You begin to think about the normal well-tempered mind, in effect, the well-organized mind, as an achievement, not as the base state, something that is only achieved when all is going well, but still, in the general realm of humanity, most of us are pretty well put together most of the time. This gives a very different vision of what the architecture is like, and I'm just trying to get my head around how to think about that.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Philosophy Movies

The Film and Philosophy series continues this spring the second Friday of each month at 3:00 in the Digitorium.

Female Philosophers Shake Up Their Field

Philosophy has been slow to change:
Most philosophy departments and conference meetings are still saturated with men. More than 80 percent of full-time faculty members in philosophy are male, compared with just 60 percent for the professoriate as a whole, according to 2003 data compiled by the U.S. Education Department, the latest available.
But it is changing.
Ms. Alcoff [President of the Eastern Division APA] and other women say that despite the overwhelmingly male nature of their discipline, faculty members picked her as president in part because those who vote in the association's elections are more likely than others to endorse change, and because the association's nominating committee assembled a diverse slate of presidential candidates, including a black male and two feminist philosophers. "One of my goals is to increase diversity," Amy Ferrer, the association's new executive director, told The Chronicle.
At NKU about 25% of our majors are female. And only one of our five tenured faculty is female. We have few opportunities to hire new faculty, but we can do more to attract more female majors and minors.  Any suggestions?

We will offer PHI 311 Philosophy of Woman in the fall. Look for it.

Female Philosophers Shake Up Their Field - Faculty - The Chronicle of Higher Education (Firewall)

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Knowledge, Innovation, and Integration (in Philosophy)

Here's an interview video we made with Integrative Studies last year. The topics included generating knowledge within philosophy, innovation and integration.

The best books of 2012 from The Philosophers Magazine

There are some good books on this list.
With 2012 safely behind us, we ask TPM’s reviewers to select a favourite book published last year (give or take a few months), taking into account our commitment to the twin virtues of philosophical rigour and readability. As a slightly late stocking stuffer, we offer you this rich, juicy and still mildly festive list of philosophy books which are both illuminating and enjoyable.
The best books of 2012 | The Philosophers Magazine