Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Auto-Icon

Jeremey Bentham, preserved utilitarian, faces off against Phillipa Foot.

The Auto-Icon - Existential Comics

The odd phenomenon of "blind insight"

A growing body of evidence is revealing that our guesses and our confidence in those guesses don’t come from the same place in our minds.

The odd phenomenon of "blind insight" - Boing Boing

Extended Cognition (Part I)

Andy Clark and David Chalmers
Some thoughts on the extended mind thesis. Does cognition and mind go beyond the boundaries of our skull? Are the tools and instruments used in cognitive processes part of the cognitive process?

3quarksdaily: Extended Cognition (Part I)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Seven Tools For Critical Thinking

Dennett excerpts seven tools for thinking from the new book. Having taught critical thinking and argumentation to undergraduates for years, I can say that his advice is pretty much standard fare of critical reasoning. But Dennett’s formulations are uniquely—and bluntly—his own.
Philosopher Daniel Dennett Presents Seven Tools For Critical Thinking | Open Culture

9 Philosophical Thought Experiments

Sometimes, the best way to illustrate a complicated philosophical concept is by framing it as a story or situation. Here are nine such thought experiments with downright disturbing implications.
9 Philosophical Thought Experiments That Will Keep You Up at Night

Camus Explained Perfectly with Candy Land

Camus Explained Perfectly with Candy Land [Comic] | Critical-Theory.com

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Optimistic Science of Leibniz

"The diversity of Leibniz’s interests and undertakings is dizzying. How are we to make sense of a man who contributed prominently to so many fields, including both religion and science? In our day, it is common to think especially of religion and science as either pulling in opposing directions in their respective understandings of the world, or as parallel but different domains. How did they hang together for Leibniz?"
The Optimistic Science of Leibniz - The New Atlantis

Congratulations Graduates!

Congratulations to all the philosophy and religious studies students graduating this semester. Best of luck to all of you and please keep in touch.

Cory Clark, Philosophy Major
Ryan Frye, Philosophy Major, Phi Sigma Tau Honors Society
Jennifer Greenwell, Philosophy Major
Marc Kennedy, Philosophy Major, Phi Sigma Tau Honors Society
Ashley Poe, Philosophy Major, Phi Sigma Tau Honors Society
William Wethington, Philosophy Major

Jason Block, Philosophy minor
Zachariah Casey, Philosophy minor
Brock Larkins, Philosophy minor
Adam Riser, Philosophy minor
Max Roberts, Philosophy minor
Mandy Turner, Philosophy minor, Phi Sigma Tau Honors Society

Samantha Lewis, Philosophy Focus
Zachary Thompson, Philosophy Focus

Andrew Gilbert, Religious Studies Minor
Adam Howard, Religious Studies Minor

Kevin Patton, Religious Studies Focus

Rosetta discovers water?

Attention Philosophy students: "Rosetta discovers water on comet 67p like nothing on Earth" What would Putnam say if it is NOTHING like earth water?

Rosetta discovers water on comet 67p like nothing on Earth | Science | The Guardian

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Margaret Cuonzo Talks About Paradoxes

Margaret Cuonzo
Margaret Cuonzo talks about paradoxes, philosophy and more.
The sorites is, to my mind, one of the deepest paradoxes out there and it provides a good example for understanding different ways to solve paradoxes. It is very deep because the premises of the paradox are close to certainly true, the reasoning is straightforward, and yet the conclusion is obviously false. In addition, the phenomenon that gives rise to the paradox, namely the vagueness of language, is so ubiquitous that the paradox has implications for much of our language. It tells us a lot about the concepts that we use everyday. The vast majority of our concepts, those like, baldness, wealth, strength, nearness, and so on, are vague. These admit of borderline cases and this can lead to outright contradiction. One fascinating thing about the sorites, then, is that it exposes how perfectly useful concepts lead to contradiction.
3:AM Magazine by Richard Marshall

Friday, November 28, 2014

Religious Studies Courses for Spring 2015

Check out the spring 2015 courses for the Religious Studies minor. And note the KIIS summer semester in Greece!

The Is-Ought Problem

From the BBC4 series on the History of Ideas: The Is-Ought Problem. "Do you draw conclusions from how things are to think about how things should be? There might be a gap in your reasoning."

Companions in Misery [or "Happy Together"]

On being miserably happy:
[Schopenhauer's] account of others as “fellow-sufferers” in “On the Sufferings of the World” encourages us to nurture a soft spot for even the most flawed individuals. That we are all condemned to the same Sisyphean fate ought to make us compassionate instead of competitive, work together instead of in isolation, and rely on one another instead of just ourselves. While Camus, in his well-known essay on the myth, has Sisyphus suffer his punishment alone, Schopenhauer’s account of redemption through shared misery might give Sisyphus, and us, neighbors to love. Still, Camus concludes, “One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” And if Camus can imagine happiness for a man sentenced to an eternity of meaningless toil, perhaps we can do the same for dissatisfied New Yorkers. Whether we are grieving the death of a friend or complaining about alternate-side-of-the-street parking, I think Schopenhauer was right to call us “companions in misery,” with the emphasis on companions.
From New York Times, The Stone, Companions in Misery By Mariana Alessandri

Runaway Trolley: Pragmatism is Not Welcome!

From Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

Friday, November 21, 2014

Morality is the key to personal identity

‘Know thyself’ is a flimsy bargain-basement platitude, endlessly recycled but maddeningly empty. It skates the very existential question it pretends to address, the question that obsesses us: what is it to know oneself? The lesson of the identity detector is this: when we dig deep, beneath our memory traces and career ambitions and favourite authors and small talk, we find a constellation of moral capacities. This is what we should cultivate and burnish, if we want people to know who we really are.
Morality is the key to personal identity – Nina Strohminger – Aeon

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Essay Contest

Essay Contest
Attention philosophy students: Please consider submitting something to this essay contest. Take a paper you wrote for a course in a previous semester or a paper you're writing now. Philosophy faculty would be happy to work with you to polish it for the contest.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Ethics Bowl 2014

Congratulations to this year's Ethics Bowl team. Ted Hays, Courtney Knox, Christian Willett, Leighann Goins, Ryan Frye and Marc Kennedy competed in Marion, IN recently. They did a great job, ranking 12th and ahead of some very good schools. Thanks to Dr. Yaw for helping prepare the team.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Viva Humanities Student Symposium

Philosophy students: please consider participating in this Viva Humanities event at NKU in the spring. If you have an idea for a paper or presentation, you can contact any of the program faculty for advice and help.
As part of NKU’s goal to cultivate transdisciplinary inquiry, the Viva Humanities committee invites students to participate in the Viva Humanities Student Symposium showcasing students’ critical and creative endeavors. 
We welcome proposals from diverse disciplines to consider the question “What does it mean to be human in a digital world?” The format for delivery may be a talk, a paper or poster presentation, a reading of creative writing, a discussion of an original art piece, or a digital performance or presentation. Topics for consideration may include (but are not limited to):
  • Impact of technology, digital media, and/or social media on relationships 
  • Arts, film, and literature in the digital world
  • Artificial intelligence 
  • Impact of technology on medicine
    Impact of technology on relationships between countries and cultures 
  • How technology brings the world, countries, and/or people closer together (or further apart) 
  • How technology affects the relationship of humans and the environment/nature
    How technology impacts the environment 
  • Ethical questions related to technology or digital media 
The Symposium will be a one day event on NKU’s campus that will include student panels and poster sessions. We solicit proposals for brief (5 minutes) roundtable presentations that approach our question from a “humanities” perspective. According to the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities Act from 1965:

The term 'humanities' includes, but is not limited to, the study and interpretation of the following: language, both modern and classical; linguistics; literature; history; jurisprudence; philosophy; archaeology; comparative religion; ethics; the history, criticism and theory of the arts; those aspects of social sciences which have humanistic content and employ humanistic methods; and the study and application of the humanities to the human environment with particular attention to reflecting our diverse heritage, traditions, and history and to the relevance of the humanities to the current conditions of national life. 
Deadline for Abstracts: February 13, 2015"

Viva Humanities: Northern Kentucky University

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Spring 2015 Schedule

The Spring 2015 schedule is available. Philosophy majors who need to make an advising appointment should contact Rudy Garns (garns@nku.edu) or make an appointment online.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Cultural Evolution

Last May, Daniel Dennett gathered, at the Santa Fe Institute, a handful of people who have written about cultural evolution. The general impression was that (as he tweeted some time later) "the meeting revealed a lot of unexpected common ground".
Summaries from participants available here.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Why A Philosopher Teaches Privacy

While privacy education requires philosophical insight, relevant philosophical analysis must be applied to constantly shifting technological, social, legal, and political conditions.
Why A Philosopher Teaches Privacy

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Philosophy Referee Hand Signals

"The next time you’re presiding over an intense philosophical debate, feel free to use these hand signals to referee things. "

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Philosophy and Science: Double Team? » IAI TV

So even before we get to the ethics and the politics, I would say right from the very beginning, science and philosophy are intertwined. Philosophers need to keep pointing that out.
Philosophy and Science: Double Team? 

'via Blog this'

Don’t Dismiss the Humanities

Nicholas Kristof of the NY Times writes
So let me push back at the idea that the humanities are obscure, arcane and irrelevant. These three philosophers influence the way I think about politics, immigration, inequality; they even affect what I eat. 
It’s also worth pointing out that these three philosophers [Berlin, Singer, Rawls] are recent ones. To adapt to a changing world, we need new software for our cellphones; we also need new ideas. The same goes for literature, for architecture, languages and theology.
Don’t Dismiss the Humanities

The humanities strengthen the study of science

Elizabeth H. Simmons, dean of Lyman Briggs College, acting dean of the College of Arts and Letters, and University Distinguished Professor of Physics at Michigan State University, writes about the value of a humanities education for scientists.
In the end, Cushing’s brain collection vividly reminds us why it is crucial to immerse natural science students in interdisciplinary science studies that incorporate the social sciences and humanities. It is not merely because hot new fields are said to lie at the unexplored intersections of fields whose borders were arbitrarily codified decades or centuries ago (though that is true). It is not merely because the terms interdisciplinary, cross-disciplinary, and trans-disciplinary are presently in vogue (though that is also true). It is because such cross-training produces scientists who are both more capable of extraordinary breakthroughs and more mindful of their broader impacts. The humanities truly strengthen science.
The humanities strengthen the study of science

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

On human nurture | The University of Chicago Magazine

Jesse Prinz
Profile of philosopher Jesse Prinz.

Prinz’s work, which one of his CUNY colleagues applauds as “intellectually promiscuous,” draws on philosophy, cognitive neuroscience, experimental psychology, and other disciplines to explore the ways humans have moved beyond that reptilian origin. Prinz has written a lot, all of it united by an uncompromising empiricism—his position that our diverse sensory and cultural experience, varying from person to person and place to place, is the ultimate foundation for our concepts, conjectures, and knowledge. “The study of the human mind,” he has written, “is fundamentally the study of place.” In other words, nurture over nature. “The headline news in telling our story,” he says, “is in telling the story of learning and change.”
On human nurture | The University of Chicago Magazine

Philosophy student wins on The Voice

Philosophy student Josh Kaufman wins on The Voice. He's taking a break from studying philosophy at Northern Illinois University. 

Friday, May 02, 2014

Spring 2014 Graduation

Saturday May 10 is the College of Arts and Sciences' Commencement ceremonies. Graduation will begin at 9 am and it will conclude around 11:30. At 11:30, immediately after the ceremony our department will be co-hosting a post-graduation gathering for our students and faculty. There will be snacks and refreshments.

The event will be in the Founders Room of the NKU Soccer Complex, from 11:30-1 pm. The Soccer complex is located adjacent to the Bank of Kentucky Center and the parking lot around the BoK Center. It is very easy to find and close to BoK where Commencement will be held. The elevators take you up to the beautiful Founders Room on the second floor.

One of our department's graduates, Mayra Guzman, has the prestigious honor of being selected as the student Speaker for the ceremony and she has received the NKU President’s award.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Department Reception

As the spring semester winds down, let me remind you that next week we will have a department reception to recognize graduating seniors and celebrate student achievements. Please attend; mark you calendars.

Tuesday, April 22, from 5:00-7:00 in SU 104

The reception is open to everyone and refreshments will be served. We will hand out Outstanding Senior awards and induct new Phi Sigma Tau members. The brief awards ceremony will be surrounded by lots of time to mingle with family, friends and faculty.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Philosophers' Cafe

This Friday, 3 PM in GH 316. The Philosophers' Cafe. We'll discuss the ethical issues surrounding the human use of animals.

Join us!

Philosophy Advising

Philosophy students who need an advising appointment can go to https://rudygarns.youcanbook.me/. Sign up for a 30-minute slot. Email me at garns@nku.edu if you have questions.

NKU Student Forum

NKU students are invited to attend a Strategic Plan feedback session on Wednesday, April 2, from 3:30-4:30 p.m., in the University Center Ballroom.

This hour-long session will consist of four 15-minute rounds that will allow you to give your insights and feedback at stations set up around Ballroom on topics (enrollment strategies, academic innovation, student retention and success, financial resources, marketing and public awareness, facilities and sustainability, technology support, and community engagement) that are of most interest to you.

It’s like speed dating for our future. This is your chance to help shape NKU as we approach our 50th Anniversary in 2018. We hope to see you there!

You can learn more about the forum and RSVP at this website: http://www.nku.edu/features/2014/march/studentforum.html
Fall 2014
Time to register for fall classes.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Film and Philosophy: Being John Malkovich

Being John Malkovich
Join us this Friday, March 21, from 3:00-4:30 in GH 316 as the Film and Philosophy series presents Being John Malkovich. The 1999 Spike Jonze movie is most certainly the funniest film on free will, personal identity, and the nature of mind that you will ever see. Discussion and snacks, as always.

Enhanced punishment: can technology increase life sentences?

Rebecca Roach, a philosopher at Oxford, talks about how new technologies might change future punishment.
Technology, then, offers (or will one day offer) untapped possibilities to make punishment for the worst criminals more severe without resorting to inhumane methods or substantially overhauling the current UK legal system. What constitutes humane treatment in the context of the suggestions I have made is, of course, debatable. But I believe it is an issue worth debating.
Enhanced punishment: can technology increase life sentences?

Also, read this interview with Roach at Aeon Magazine, Hell on earth: What happens to life sentences if the human lifespan is radically extended? A philosopher talks about future punishment

The Experience Machine

What makes life worth living? Robert Nozick introduces a thought experiment--the experience machine--to refute one answer to the question.

Suppose there were an experience machine that would give you any experience you desired. Superduper neuropsychologists could stimulate your brain so that you would think and feel you were writing a great novel, or making a friend, or reading an interesting book. All the time you would be floating in a tank, with electrodes attached to your brain. Should you plug into this machine for life, preprogramming your life's experiences?... Of course, while in the tank, you won't know that you're there; you'll think it's all actually happening. . . . Would you plug in? What else can matter to us, other than how our lives feel from the inside?

3quarksdaily: The Experience Machine

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Philosophers among the most famous people

Still wondering whether Philosophy is worth studying? The ten most famous people in the last 6,000 years.

1. Aristotle
2. Plato
3. Jesus Christ
4. Socrates
5. Alexander the Great
6. Leonardo Da Vinci
7. Confucius
8. Julius Caesar
9. Homer
10. Pythagoras

Who’s More Famous Than Jesus? - NYTimes.com

Friday, March 07, 2014

Is Philosophy the Most Practical Major?

What makes philosophy different? It can seem self-absorbed; philosophers themselves joke about Arthur Koestler's definition: "the systematic abuse of a terminology specially invented for that purpose." But it also is a tool (like history and religious studies) for thinking about everything else, and every profession from law and medicine to motorcycle maintenance.
Is Philosophy the Most Practical Major? - Edward Tenner - The Atlantic

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

The Unexpected Way Philosophy Majors Are Changing The World Of Business

"You go into the humanities to pursue your intellectual passion, and it just so happens as a byproduct that you emerge as a desired commodity for industry," said Horowitz. "Such is the halo of human flourishing."

The Unexpected Way Philosophy Majors Are Changing The World Of Business

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Louise Antony on Atheism

Louise Antony
Gary Gutting interviews philosopher Louise Antony.
So the question is, why do I say that theism is false, rather than just unproven? Because the question has been settled to my satisfaction. I say “there is no God” with the same confidence I say “there are no ghosts” or “there is no magic.” The main issue is supernaturalism — I deny that there are beings or phenomena outside the scope of natural law.
Read more at the NY Times.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Interview: David Chalmers and Andy Clark

Interview: David Chalmers and Andy Clark | New Philosopher:

Andy Clark is a Chair in Logic and Metaphysics at the University of Edinburgh. He was Director of the Philosophy/Neuroscience/Psychology Program at Washington University in St. Louis. Andy’s interests span not just philosophy of mind, but also artificial intelligence, including robotics, artificial life and embodied cognition. David Chalmers is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and director of the Centre for Consciousness at Australian National University. He is also Professor of Philosophy and co-director of the Center for Mind, Brain, and Consciousness at New York University. David is best known for his work on consciousness, but is also interested in metaphysics and epistemology, and the foundations of cognitive science.

Interview with Daniel Stoljar

Daniel Stoljar
An interview with philosopher Daniel Stoljar.
Daniel Stoljar thinks all the time about what we can and can’t learn from introspection, about ignorance and the imagination, the epistemic view of consciousness, the ignorance hypothesis, slugs and tiles, distinctions between empirical and philosophical questions, physicalism as weltanschauung, whether materialism is part of a scientific world view, on materialism and physics and on whether metaphysics harmonising with science is any different from tourism doing so also. This one keeps hooking to the body. Brawlin’.
epistemic consciousness

Friday, February 28, 2014

Greek Philosophy & International Education - NKU

Philosophy major Marc Kennedy has created a video about the Study Abroad opportunities provided by the philosophy program.

"A reflection on the importance of learning outside the classroom, and outside the country. Presented by Dr. Rudy Garns and Dr. Nancy Hancock of the Northern Kentucky Univ. philosophy program."

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Philosophers' Cafe: Net Neutrality

Join us this Friday, Feb. 28, from 3:00-4:30 in GH 316 as we meet in the Philosophers' Cafe to discuss Net Neutrality. Should Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally? Do providers have a right to charge more for premium content and high-demand services? Do you have a right to access what you want and how you want it on the Internet?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Smith College Alumnae Career Paths

A liberal arts degree can take you anywhere—a fact that is born out in the results of a recent survey that examined how alumnae are using their Smith degrees.

Smith College Alumnae Career Paths - Smith College Grécourt Gate

Monday, February 17, 2014

2014 Departmental Essay Contest

SAP Writing Contest
All students of Sociology, Anthropology, or Philosophy (majors, minors, and focus) are invited to submit a paper for the 2014 Departmental Essay Contest. The authors of the selected papers will each be awarded a $200 prize (up to 10 papers may be selected); the winning authors will be expected to submit their papers to one of the Kentucky professional societies for the discipline (e.g., KPA, KAS, or ASK, see descriptions below). Students who attend professional meetings may receive up to an additional $100 to support conference attendance and fees for the 2014-2015 meetings.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Film and Philosophy: Memento

Join us Feb. 14 as the Film and Philosophy series presents Christopher Nolan's Memento. We will screen and discuss this most interesting film: lot's of great philosophical questions to explore. 3:00-6:00 in NKU's GH 316.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Is economic inequality morally justifiable?

Philosophers' Cafe
Friday, January 31 from 3:00-4:30 the Philosophers' Cafe will meet from 3:00-4;30 in GH 316 to discuss social inequality: Is economic inequality morally justifiable? Please join us.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Pat Churchland on Colbert

Neuroscientist and philosopher Pat Churchland talks to Stephen Colbert about morality from a scientific perspective,

Sunday, January 19, 2014

9 Philosophy Majors Who Became Extremely Successful In Business

"...philosophy, one of the more cerebral and seemingly less practical majors out there, has produced some incredibly successful people."
  1. Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina was a medieval history and philosophy major at Stanford University.
  2. Activist investor Carl Icahn was a philosophy major at Princeton University.
  3. Former FDIC Chair Sheila Bair was a philosophy major at the University of Kansas.
  4. Hedge fund manager George Soros was a philosophy major at the London School of Economics.
  5. Former Fannie Mae CEO Herbert Allison Jr. was a philosophy major at Yale University.
  6. Former Time Warner CEO Gerald Levin was a philosophy major at Haverford College.
  7. Overstock.com founder and CEO Patrick Byrne got a Ph.D. in philosophy from Stanford University.
  8. Flickr co-founder Stewart Butterfield got both a Bachelor's and Master's degree in philosophy.
  9. PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel was a 20th century philosophy major at Stanford University.
Read more at businessinsider.com

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Philosophy Events for Spring 2014

Events for the philosophically-minded this spring. Mark your calendars!

Film and Philosophy Series
Join us as we screen a feature film, followed with an open discussion of important philosophical themes and questions.

Memento (2001)
February 14, 3:00-6:00 316 GH

Being John Malkovich (1999)
March 21, 3:00-6:00 316 GH

Rashomon (1950)
April 11, 3:00-6:00 316 GH

Philosophers’ Cafe
Join us as we discuss important and current issues of philosophical interest. Open to the public.

“Is economic inequality morally justifiable?”
January 31, 3:00-4:30 316 GH

Topic: Net Neutrality
February 28, 3:00-4:30 316 GH

Topic: Animal Ethics
March 28, 3:00-4:30 316 GH

Topic: TBA
April 25, 3:00-4:30 316 GH

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Moral Design is the Latest Form of Intelligent Design

Paul Bloom

Paul Bloom authors, "Did God Make These Babies Moral? Intelligent Design's oldest attack on evolution is as popular as ever" on the New Republic web site.
People can be selfish and amoral and appallingly cruel, but we are also capable of transcendent kindness, of great sacrifice and deep moral insight. Isn’t this evidence for God? This version of “intelligent design” is convincing to many people—including scientists who are otherwise unsympathetic to creationism—and it’s worth taking seriously. Like other intelligent design arguments, it doesn’t work, but its failure is an interesting one, touching on findings about evolution, moral psychology, and the minds of babies and young children.

Digital Humanities Lecture

Digital Humanities Lecture
Anthony Beavers, chair of the department of Philosophy at the University of Evansville and director of the Digital Humanities Laboratory, will deliver a talk on the digital humanities on Thursday, January 23 from 3:00-4:00 in the Digitorium. His talk will be "The Digital Revolution and Research in the Humanities: Why the humanities should not be afraid of computational methods."

Everyone is invited.

Kentucky Philosophical Association Spring 2014 Meeting

The Kentucky Philosophical Association will hold its spring 2014 Meeting on Saturday, April 5, 2014 at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green. Please see the call for papers. We want to particularly encourage students to submit essays to the student essay contest.

Kentucky Philosophical Association Spring 2014 Meeting CFP and Student Essay Contest.