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).