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: