Another terrific reflection on affairs in Pakistan that should be of interest to philosophers of race by philosopher Saba Fatima here.
Another terrific reflection on affairs in Pakistan that should be of interest to philosophers of race by philosopher Saba Fatima here.
(Philosophical Aesthetics' answer to Philosophers’ Annual) has just been announced.
A panel of seven judges were asked to nominate work in Aesthetics or Philosophy of Art published in 2014 they found to be particularly outstanding. From those initial nominations, the panel further deliberated and selected a final five works. Here's the link to the official announcement of the winners:
One of my summer projects is to work up my SPEP paper from last year, which used the school desegregation decisions (like Brown v. Board) as a way to think about the relations between juridical power and biopower in the courts. The role of the courts in the transition from hegemonic juridical power to hegemonic biopower hasn’t been studied a lot, and the tendency is to dismiss the courts as institutions along with juridical power. The centrality of the judiciary in school desegregation convinced me that there’s more to be said, however. Current litigation about whether corporate entities can use rights claims to deny contraceptive insurance coverage to their female employees seems to bear that intuition out. So I’ve been reading, and one thing that didn’t particularly strike me until now is the complexity of the relation between school desegregation policy in the U.S. and what Foucault calls a “race war” at the end of Society must be Defended.
For my MA course on Wittgenstein earlier this year, students had to write a short essay, blog post-style, on the Tractatus. One of them, Joseph Wilcox, took up the challenge of asking what exactly it means to say that Wittgenstein's project in the Tractatus is essentially a Kantian project -- something I kept hammering on them relentlessly. (To me at least this seems like the best and perhaps the only way I can make sense of the Tractatus!) The result is the insightful post below. (Proud teacher here!)
By Joseph Wilcox
Wittgenstein [in the Tractatus] is a Kantian philosopher. Or so I'm told.
What exactly does it mean to say that someone is a Kantian philosopher? I always find it hard to grasp what is meant by such comparisons. Is it some fundamental belief that they share? Is it a field of thought that they both enter into? Is it a common goal that guides their thinking?
As often seems to be the case when it comes to philosophy, I am inclined to say that all the options must have some truth to them. In the case of Wittgenstein, however, I've been led to believe that it is the goal he sets out to achieve that forms the main connection between him and the lifework of his Prussian predecessor. What is it then, that both of these thinkers desire above everything else? The answer is to limit. To designate a point or level beyond which something does not or may not extend or pass. To place a restriction on the size or amount of something permissible or possible. On first looking, this doesn't seem like a very encouraging, confident or even useful objective. Why in the world would we bother to spend our precious time thinking about that which we can't reach? Isn't it far more interesting to seek to pass over such borders? Isn't it more inspiring to think that the impossible can serve as a beacon to aspire to? Isn't the thought of placing limits a token of the kind of pessimism that might cause one to give up hope?
It must be summer: Facebook has released a controversial study of its users. Last year, it was the demonstration that the emotional contagion effect did not require direct contact, and could in fact spread across social networks without direct, face-to-face contact (the controversy wasn’t in the result, it was in the fact that FB did the study by manipulating its users’ Newsfeeds to present more happy content) This time, Facebook’s research wing published a paper in Science purporting to demonstrate that Facebook wasn’t responsible for whatever online echo-chamber effect its users might demonstrate. Or, at least, if the site did contribute to an echo-chamber, it wasn’t the main contributor. From the FB blog discussing the paper:
By Roberta Millstein
I'm sure we've all had the experience of committing to the final version of an article, only to think of that one more thing you should have said. Yeah, that just happened to me. Just the nature of the beast, I guess.
My recent instance has to do with an article concerning GMOs I wrote for The Common Reader, an article aimed at a general educated audience. In the article, one of the claims I defend is that a critique of GMOs is not anti-science, and I note in particular that a critique of GMOs is not the same as a critique of evolution or climate change. (Comments welcome on the article, by the way).
I was OK with my argument, although I knew that with more space I would have elaborated more than I did. But then I read this from Mark Lynas:
I recently talked to a US theologian, who just got a job in a really difficult market. He was reflecting on the challenges facing theologians. You can either work in a secular university, in a religious studies department. Those jobs generally discourage you from making any normative claims, or recognizing religious authorities. Or you can work in a religious college (a so-called confessional college, which is founded upon a confession or creed - in practice almost always some Christian denomination). This sort of job does encourage you to make normative religious claims, but polices those claims to preserve their particular religious identity. There are a few university divinity schools that successfully avoid confronting theologians with this dilemma, but such jobs are far and few between. So jobs at confessional colleges are a theologian's most realistic shot at stable employment.
A theologian needs to be careful about the views she's exploring. My interlocutor's new employer was interdenominational, which typically means they'll have a more liberal stance toward doctrinal issues since they can't follow one particular line. But still, he said, you've got to be cautious - test the waters, consult with other faculty members, to see how far you can go.
This suggests that the case of infringements on academic freedom where people are fired because they say Adam and Eve aren't historical people, or the case of Thomas Oord* more recently (see here and here) aren't just outliers, but part of a greater problem of lack of academic freedom for the majority of US theologians. How can theologians do cutting-edge work if they have to fear for repercussions all the time?
Here's a particularly unsentimental view about last, dying thoughts: Your dying thought will be your least important thought. After all (assuming no afterlife), it is the one thought guaranteed to have no influence on any of your future thoughts, or on any other aspect of your psychology.I did not get my Spaghetti Os. I got spaghetti. I want the press to know this." -- or if your last thought is otherwise detectable by others, it will have an effect; but for this post let's assume a private last thought that influences no one else.
A narrative approach to the meaning of life seems to recommend a different attitude toward last thoughts. If a life is like a story, you want it to end well! The ending of a story colors all that has gone before. If the hero dies resentful or if the hero dies content, that rightly changes our understanding of earlier events. It does so not only because we might now understand that all along the hero felt subtly resentful, but also because private deathbed thoughts, on this view, have a retrospective transformative power: An earlier betrayal, for example, now becomes a betrayal that was forgiven by the end (or it becomes one that was never forgiven). The ghost's appearance to Hamlet has one type of significance if Hamlet ends badly and quite a different significance if Hamlet ends well. On the narrative view, the significance of events depends partly on the future. Maybe this is part of what Solon had in mind when he told King Croesus not to call anyone happy until they die: A horrible enough disaster at the end, maybe, can retrospectively poison what your marriage and seeming successes had really amounted to. Thus, maybe the last thought is like the final sentence of a book: Ending on a thought of love and happiness makes your life a very different story than does ending on a thought of resentment and regret.
The eighteenth century saw a dramatic renewal of ancient ideas of republicanism and democracy (Latin and Greek originated works of course), but that came in the late eighteenth century. The American Declaration of Independence in 1776, the French Revolution of 1789, and the Haitian Revolution of 1791 are the important moments in complex ways which I will not attempt to cover here. The one thing to be noted here is that ideas of republics certainly attracted attention before these events, which are hard to imagine without the influence of those idea, but not in the sense that anyone would have expected the centre piece of the British Empire, the premier nation in Europe, and the centre piece of French colonialism in the Americas to have so dramatically followed through on them.
The idea of democracy was even more anachronistic looking before these events, which in any case did not lead to full implementation of democracy and certainly not its normalisation, but did take steps in that direction. Earlier in the eighteenth century, even Rousseau did not think of democracy as the ideal. Even allowing that his advocacy of elective aristocracy is in accord with representative democracy, it does not look as if he expected republicanism to sweep through Europe. His text on a constitution for Poland was for an aristocratic state on the verge of extinction as Prussia, Russia, and Austria arranged its complete partition between 1772 and 1795. It was not a model for European republics, nor was it any more democratic than the existing aristocratic commonwealth with a limited monarchy. Montesquieu, Smith and Hume looked upon republicanism as a form of government appropriate to liberty, but not as necessarily superior to monarchy, and maybe less desirable than monarchy in the circumstances of most modern states.
By Roberta Millstein
About a month ago, David Sloan Wilson posted a transcript of a wonderful phone conversation that he had with Richard Lewontin concerning the (in)famous paper that Lewontin co-authored in 1979 with Stephen Jay Gould, The Spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian Paradigm: A Critique of the Adaptationist Programme, a paper that attracted a lot of attention from biologists but also from philosophers of biology (too many to cite here). The attention was, and continues to be, both positive and negative, i.e., the paper is a bit of a lightning rod.
I recommend the interview in full, as it has a lot of wonderful nuggets in it, but here are the things that stood out to me:
High registration fees at conferences and workshops ignore the growing group of people who have a PhD but are not securely employed and have no institutional support. Often, there are only reduced rates for students. High conference fees creates a barrier of entry for adjuncts, lecturers and other non-tenure track faculty members to participate. We can make this situation a bit less unjust by pledging to create a reduced or waived fee category for contingent faculty in any conference we organize, lobby with academic organizations we are members of to create this category of fees, or - for more privileged members of the profession - forego honoraria or payment of travel expenses to make lower registration fees possible. Sign this petition to pledge on one or more of the actions we can take http://www.thepetitionsite.com/108/832/205/inclusive-fees-campaign/
The Supreme Court on Tuesday heard oral arguments in Obergfell v. Hodges, which presents the Court with an opportunity to strike down state bans on same-sex marriage once and for all. Most observers seem to think that the court will take the opportunity. The four liberal judges are taken as a given, and both Justice Kennedy and Justice Roberts arguably have obtainable votes. Kennedy, who has repeatedly departed from his conservative colleagues on gay rights issues, seemed to think that the recognition of marriage afforded a kind of dignity to a relationship, and that there wasn’t any good reason why gay couples should be denied that dignity. Chief Justice Roberts, as Andrew Koppleman points out, seemed to be considering a very easy way out: bans on same-sex marriage are sex discrimination.
The sex discrimination argument isn’t immediately apparent, but once you see it, it makes pretty good sense. Mary wants to marry Joe. So does Bob. Mary can, and Bob can’t. The only reason Bob can’t marry Joe is his sex. It’s clear, it’s tidy, and it doesn’t require anything legally novel, like declaring that being gay (or otherwise gender non-conforming) makes one a member of a “suspect class” (something like race, where members of the class have been historically the objects of “invidious discrimination;” legislation affecting them as a class is then guaranteed a higher level of judicial scrutiny). If same-sex marriage bans discriminate on the basis of sex, then they have to survive judicial strict scrutiny, and that seems pretty unlikely. For one thing, it’s not at all clear what compelling governmental interest is served by restricting marriage only to heterosexual couples. The states in question were putting their eggs in the basket that marriage is for the sake of having and raising (one’s own biological) children. As William Saletan points out, that argument makes sense in a vacuum, but if it’s true, then states ought to ban marriage by the old or the infertile. Attorneys defending the ban apparently had one of those bad-days-at-work, repeatedly falling into incoherence.
By Roberta Millstein
Science Visions is the new internet home for news from the Philosophy of Science Association Women’s Caucus, and its editors are already hard at work collecting their thoughts on philosophy, science, gender, academia, and university life to share with you.
Just as Donna Haraway’s Primate Visions sought to expand our view of women and primate research, Science Visions seeks to expand our view of women in philosophy of science. The goal is to gather the best of the web on issues of interest to its readers, from research and teaching issues in philosophy of science and the experience of minorities in the academy to conference announcements, news briefs, and career advice. Its editors will draw on their own perspectives and interests and those of their peers to lend philosophy of science a new set of voices. It will host their original content, as well as items of interest to our readers from elsewhere on the web, calls for fellowships and conferences, and other special features.
Check out Science Vision's first editorial, from editor Soazig Le Bihan, who argues that our moral obligation towards our students goes beyond providing them with good critical and analytical skills. (And while you're there, there's some other good stuff posted, so please browse around!)
UPDATE: And check out our a second editorial from Gillian Barker about a philosophy of science collaboration that seeks to change the world, called the Geo-Functions project.
[Full disclosure: I am a co-chair of the PSA Women's Caucus, together with Julia Bursten].
By Catarina Dutilh Novaes
The European Society for Analytic Philosophy was created in 1990, with the mission to promote collaboration and exchange of ideas among philosophers working within the analytic tradition, in Europe as well as elsewhere. It has thus been responsible for organizing major conferences every 3 years, the highly successful ECAP’s.
The current Steering Committee (of which I am a member), under the leadership of current president Stephan Hartmann, is seeking to expand the ways in which we can serve the (analytic) philosophical community in Europe. We will of course continue to organize ECAP, which will take place in 2017, and for which we already have a fantastic lineup of invited speakers (check it out!). But we are also considering various ways in which we can provide valuable services to the ESAP members, such as negotiating journal access with publishers (this is still in the making), among other initiatives. In particular, the brand-new website of ESAP is now online, and the goal is, among others, to concentrate useful information for (analytic) philosophers working in Europe all in one place.
However, we are only getting started, and at this points suggestions on how ESAP can truly support and galvanize the analytic philosophy community in Europe (as well as strengthening ties with colleagues elsewhere) are much welcome! We haven’t even started with an official membership system yet, precisely because we first want to have a number of services in place so as to make membership to the ESAP an attractive proposition. What are the initiatives and services we could provide that would really make a difference and facilitate the activities of our members? Comments with suggestions below would be much appreciated!
I’d like to look here a little more at Foucault’s claim that Heideggerian ontology is internalist (see my discussion here), because I think it makes an important point about the political nature of context-setting. Although questions of context are of course very difficult, one can quite plausibly propose that Being and Time begins in Plato (as evidenced by the opening passage), and most of Heidegger’s career follows the sort of trajectory that opening might suggest, conducting an extended engagement with Greek philosophy, attempting to discover whatever mistake it was the Greeks (or maybe the Romans) made that led to modern technology, according to an intrinsic logic that is present at its inception. None of this is news, and I bring it up here only to notice why the shift in context (as evidenced in his rejecting the “Heideggerian habit” in the D’Eramo interview) in Foucault’s case is significant. Indeed, one can compare Heidegger and Foucault directly on the point. Foucault introduces the question of Being in the parrhesia lectures with reference to Leibniz, and Heidegger’s 1955 lecture course The Principle of Reason [= PR] basically reduces Leibniz’s principle of sufficient reason to the Greeks. Heidegger, though talking about the atomic age, has Leibniz channeling the ancients:
By: Samir Chopra
This past Monday, on 20th April, Christia Mercer, the Gustave M. Berne Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University, delivered the Philosophy Department's annual Sprague and Taylor lecture at Brooklyn College. The title of her talk was 'How Women Changed The Course of Philosophy'. Here is the abstract:
The story we tell about the development of early modern philosophy was invented by German Neo-Kantians about 150 years ago. Created to justify its proponents’ version of philosophy, it is a story that ignores the complications of seventeenth-century philosophy and its sources. In this lecture, Professor Christia Mercer uncovers the real story behind early modern rationalism and shows that many of its most original components have roots in the philosophical contributions made by women. [link added]
At one point during the talk, in referring to the contributions made by Julian of Norwich, Professor Mercer began by saying, "Julian does not offer an argument here, but rather an analysis...". During the question and answer session, focusing on this remark, I offered some brief comments.
By Roberta Millstein
Following on Helen De Cruz's excellent Why we should cite unpublished papers and some recent reflections of my own while refereeing, I thought it might be helpful to compile a list of suggestions for when to cite (now that we know that our citations should include both published and unpublished work):
It is possible to see Homer as the beginning of a lot of things. (The use of ‘Homer’ here is simply for convenience as a way of referring to The Iliad and The Odyssey and should not be taken as an assertion that there was a single author of those two epics or that if there was such an author, the author had that name). Nevertheless, it may be particularly appropriate to see Homer at the beginning of virtue ethics. There are ways that there is a version of virtue ethics in the Homeric epics related to later virtue ethics in antiquity, and while there is no equivalent version of later metaphysics, epistemology, or political theory.
Virtue ethics dominates the way we see ancient ethics and that vein of ancient ethics can be taken back to Homer even if not quite the same as in later more abstract philosophical elaborations, and even lacking in the same vocabulary. What follows will just assume that a language of virtues can be applied to Homer and is not concerned with how far such a language can be found in an explicit way in that literature. The Homeric approach is interestingly different and even superior to the later philosophical reflections in that virtues are shown to varied and conflicting, rather than as part of rationally unified and hierarchically structures.
I'm writing a paper where I'm citing an unpublished paper. It's by a relatively junior author, available on the internet, and it has been already cited, for example, I recently saw a citation to it in a published paper that's already in print for several years (that paper is very well known in the subject matter I'm writing about now - it is unsurprisingly by a far more senior author at a high-ranking institution).
I talked to the author of the unpublished draft a few months ago, and they said that the paper had been under review a couple of times, once in a top journal where it was under review for over a year until eventually the editor decided 'no'. They are now resubmitting this paper for the nth time.
Upon learning this paper is unpublished, my first reaction was to avoid citing it. And I was frustrated with my own initial reaction - was I trying to use my citations strategically (not implausible, see e.g., here) to cite the papers that are deemed "central" in this discussion? Was I not willing to cite because I have often tried to track down, in vain, unpublished papers that are cited in the works of others and I am trying to avoid this frustration in my potential audience?
By Catarina Dutilh Novaes
The best teacher I’ve ever had in my life was my history teacher in my first year at the Lycée Claude Monet in Paris: Monsieur (Denis) Corvol. Aged 14, I had just arrived from Brazil to spend two years in France with my parents, who were on an extended research leave from their positions as medicine professors in São Paulo, Brazil. I barely spoke French upon arrival, and to say that the first months were tough is an understatement. Many of the teachers seemed to be particularly harsh on me, and one (the math teacher) said in front of everyone in class: “if you can’t solve this problem, and you obviously don’t speak French very well, I wonder what you are doing in this class”.
But there was Monsieur Corvol, whose unorthodox teaching methods included talking about a variety of topics that seemed to have no connection whatsoever with the content we were supposed to be learning (the French Revolution and so forth – for that, he told us to go read the textbook on our own). (Years later I realized he was some sort of Habermasian, emphasizing inter-subjective communication and rational discourse.) When I arrived, he spent some two or three classes talking about Brazil -- what a remarkable country it was, how much the French could learn from Brazil -- in an obvious maneuver to make me feel more welcome, and to invite my classmates to engage with me in more positive ways.
From time to time I remember Monsieur Corvol with much fondness; many of the things I heard from him for the first time still reverberate with me. One of them, which I am reminded of now with the ongoing disaster of the migrant crisis in Europe, was: “Migrants are the bravest people in the world.” Migrants are the people who have the courage to fight for a better life in a new, unknown, possibly inhospitable country; for that, they must be resourceful and determined. Lucky is the country that can count on the drive and ambition of migrants, as a wonderful recent campaign in the UK has also highlighted. The 800 people who died in the Mediterranean Sea, many of whom children, should be remembered as among the bravest people in the world.
By Roberta Millstein
It's been a little over a week since I posted my Why is this philosophy? reflections, and I find myself still puzzling over a common sort of reaction that I got to the post. The common reaction seemed to be that other areas of philosophy are subject to similar challenges, and/or that philosophers in other areas are subject to similar difficulties on the job market, etc. And so (the implication seemed to be), what was my point?
Let me first clarify that I certainly never meant to imply – and looking back over the post, do not see where I said – that philosophy of science or philosophers of science have it worse than anyone else. I do not take that to be the case. I know that there are certain areas of philosophy that are quite marginalized, causing practitioners in those areas to struggle at various points in their careers. So, why speak about philosophy of science? Well, philosophy of science is what I do, and so the particular criticisms of it are in my face more so than criticisms of other areas. I encourage others to speak out about challenges in their own areas, challenges that I am not in a position to speak to. But let's be clear that the challenges in area X, even if worse than the challenges in philosophy of science, don't make the challenges in philosophy of science go away or unworthy of discussion.
So, what are the particular criticisms that can make doing philosophy of science challenging?
In 1% Skepticism, I suggest that it's reasonable to have about a 1% credence that some radically skeptical scenario holds (e.g., this is a dream or we're in a short-term sim), sometimes making decisions that we wouldn't otherwise make based upon those small possibilities (e.g., deciding to try to fly, or choosing to read a book rather than weed when one is otherwise right on the cusp).
But what about extremely remote possibilities with extremely large payouts? Maybe it's reasonable to have a one in 10^50 credence in the existence of a deity who would give me at least 10^50 lifetimes' worth of pleasure if I decided to raise my arms above my head right now. One in 10^50 is a very low credence, after all! But given the huge payout, if I then straightforwardly apply the expected value calculus, such remote possibilities might generally drive my decision making. That doesn't seem right!
I see three ways to insulate my decisions from such remote possibilities without having to zero out those possibilities.
First, symmetry: My credences about extremely remote possibilities appear to be approximately symmetrical and canceling. In general, I'm not inclined to think that my prospects will be particularly better or worse due to their influence on extremely unlikely deities, considered as a group, if I raise my arms than if I do not. More specificially, I can imagine a variety of unlikely deities who punish and reward actions in complementary ways -- one punishing what the other rewards and vice versa. (Similarly for other remote possibilities of huge benefit or suffering, e.g., happening to rise to an infinite Elysium if I step right rather than left.) This indifference among the specifics is partly guided by my general sense that extremely remote possibilities of this sort don't greatly diminish or enhance the expected value of such actions. I see no reason not to be guided by that general sense -- no argumentative pressure to take such asymmetries seriously in the way that there is some argumentative pressure to take dream doubt seriously.
Second, diminishing returns:
At the beginning of a 1974 interview (D&E II, 521), M. D’Eramo puts the following question to Foucault: “you always start your analyses at the end of the Middle Ages, without ever speaking of antiquity, but it seems to me that ancient Greece is important for constructing what you call an ‘archaeology of knowledge.’ Are you avoiding the subject intentionally?” Foucault’s response, which is one of the very few times in which he mentions Heidegger by name other than in the context of existentialism, should be quoted at length:
In their series that could be titled "Academic sexism is a myth", Wendy Williams and Stephen Ceci have a newest installment: on the basis of fictive scenarios, faculty members in STEM disciplines had to make decisions about hiring particular male or female candidates. I'm not going to talk in detail about the methodology - which involved presenting faculty members fictitious scenarios about the on campus interviews of female and male candidates - but about the problem of inductive risk whenever we investigate biases against women and other underrepresented groups, such as African Americans, people with disabilities, etc.
Inductive risk is the chance that one is wrong accepting or rejecting a scientific hypothesis. For instance, a food additive that poses a serious health risk is wrongly concluded to be safe, or conversely, a food additive that has no health risk is wrongly concluded to be carcinogenic. Both false negatives and false positives can potentially pose inductive risks. Heather Douglas has argued that inductive risk is one way to let values play a role in science. Because scientists are in an epistemic position to assess the risks and benefits of their work, they should assess the non-epistemic consequences (in policy, public perception, health hazards etc) of publishing particular research findings. How does this concept apply to the research by Williams and Ceci?
When we investigate sexist biases against women in academia, there are two types of inductive risk: (1) There are no biases against women (indeed women are now being preferred as candidates for some positions in some fields). (2) There are in fact biases against women, but Williams and Ceci failed to detect it.
Our discipline suffered a terrible loss yesterday with the sudden and untimely passing of Pleshette DeArmitt, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Philosophy Department at University of Memphis. We here at NewAPPS extend our deepest condolences to her family, her colleagues and her considerable network of friends.
From the University of Memphis’s announcement:
Prof. DeArmitt's research and teaching interests included contemporary continental philosophy, feminist theory, psychoanalysis, and social and political thought. She regularly taught undergraduate courses in feminist theory and 19th- and 20th-century continental philosophy. She taught graduate courses on Rousseau’s moral psychology, Freud’s metapsychology, Kristeva's philosophy of bios, and themes in contemporary continental philosophy.
Prof. DeArmitt published scholarly articles on Derrida, Kofman, and Kristeva in journals such as Mosaic, Parallax, Philosophy Today, Research in Phenomenology, and The Southern Journal of Philosophy. She was the author of The Right to Narcissism: A Case for an Im-possible Self-Love (Fordham University Press, 2013) and the co-editor of Sarah Kofman’s Corpus (SUNY Press, 2008).
She is survived by her husband, Kas Saghafi, also Associate Professor of Philosophy, and her beloved daughter Seraphine. Memorial announcements will follow.
On a more personal note, I want to add that Pleshette was a dear friend, colleague and inspiration to me for many years. What has been lost in her passing far exceeds the summary of Pleshette’s scholarly production and academic accomplishments. For those who didn’t know her, Pleshette’s was an incredibly rare sort of gentle, unpretentious, amiable and warm-hearted disposition. She was quick to laugh, quicker to smile, and hilariously (often subversively) funny herself. She was generous to a fault. Often, in conversation, Pleshette would reach out, seemingly reflexively, and put a hand on your arm, as if to reassure you that she was there, engaged, attentively listening. There was never any doubt that she was all of those things. Pleshette was one of the most “present” people I’ve ever known.
She was also, of course, an imaginative, critical, and whip-smart thinker, deeply invested in Philosophy as a discipline, a profession and a way of life. She was just as committed to its preservation as she was to its diversification. On that last point, I cannot emphasize enough how important Pleshette was as a role model, mentor, friend and colleague to so many women in Philosophy. Only a few months ago, at a dinner table where the “status of the discipline” was being discussed, I remember Pleshette leaning over and whispering in my ear: “you and I could fix this, if they’d let us.” I laughed, nodded, shrugged my shoulders. Then, Pleshette added, with that sly smile of hers: “I can’t see any reason to wait for them to let us, though.”
Right on, Pleshette.
I’ll miss her, Memphis will miss her, and I know so many others will, too. For the last several months, Pleshette has been organizing an Alumni Conference to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Philosophy PhD program at the University of Memphis, which will take place in just a few weeks. Without doubt, hers will be an unbearable absence at that event.
By Roberta Millstein
Most philosophers of science have been on the receiving end of this question at one time or another. A friend of mine recently called it a type of hate speech. I think my friend was joking. But maybe not. Philosophers of science struggle to get into grad programs, to obtain jobs, to earn promotion and tenure, to be perceived as "central" and important figures in the field, all because their work is not seen as philosophical. So, while it may not be hate speech, it is speech that does genuine harm.
This isn't a new issue and it's one that others have touched before. But a number of recent events have brought the issue to mind for me and emphasized the importance of continuing to discuss it. One in particular was a conversation with a colleague whose opinion I value and whose good faith I have utter confidence in. And yet this colleague had doubts about an essay being philosophical even as I could see that it fell squarely within the domain of philosophy of science. The colleague was willing to take my word for it, but the fact that such a well meaning person had doubts really brought home to me the fact that this is (at least in some case) simply a lack of awareness about philosophy of science. Thus this post. I can't hope to fully convince anyone in a blog post length entry, but I can at least point to some of the other events that have got me thinking about this topic again.
The second event was the excellent essay "Philosophical Enough" by Subrena Smith, a recent Featured Philosop-her. Smith rightly points out:
By Catarina Dutilh Novaes
(Cross-posted at M-Phi)
(I am currently finishing a paper on the definition of the syllogism according to Aristotle, Ockham, and Buridan. I post below the section where I present a dialogical interpretation of Aristotle's definition.)
Aristotle’s definition of ‘syllogismos’ in Prior Analytics (APri) 24b18-22 is among one of the most commented-upon passages of the Aristotelian corpus, by ancient as well as (Arabic and Latin) medieval commentators. He offers very similar definitions of syllogismos in the Topics, Sophistical Refutations, and the Rhetoric, but the one in APri is the one having received most attention from commentators. In the recent Striker (2009) translation, it goes like this (emphasis added):
A ‘syllogismos’ is an argument (logos) in which, (i) certain things being posited (tethentôn), (ii) something other than what was laid down (keimenôn) (iii) results by necessity (eks anagkês sumbainei)(iv) because these things are so. By ‘because these things are so’ I mean that it results through these, and by ‘resulting through these’ I mean that no term is required from outside for the necessity to come about.
It became customary among commentators to take ‘syllogismos’ as belonging to the genus ‘logos’ (discourse, argument), and as characterized by four (sometimes five) differentiae:
By: Samir Chopra
In this country it is chiefly to the judiciary that is entrusted the task of preventing a discrepancy between the law as declared and as actually administered. This allocation of function has the advantage of placing the responsibility in practiced hands, subjecting its discharge to public scrutiny, and dramatizing the integrity of the law. There are, however, serious disadvantages in any system that looks to the courts as a bulwark against the lawless administration of the law. It makes the correction of abuses dependent upon the willingness and financial ability of the affected party to take his case to legislation. It has proved relatively ineffective in controlling lawless conduct by the police, this evil being in fact compounded by the tendency of lower courts to identify their mission with that of maintaining the morale of the police force. [pp. 81-82]
There is little need to emphasize the topicality or relevance of these words, originally uttered in 1964 by Fuller, during the delivery of the Storrs Lectures on Jurisprudence at Yale Law School. Still, one is almost unavoidably drawn to the last sentence of the excerpt above. The considerations raised there are especially worth revisiting. (Fuller's larger project, of course, is to argue that law-abiding behavior is better ensured by a consideration of the moral weight attached to any injunction of the law.)
In the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases, both of which resulted in acquittals and failures to indict the police officers, it was transparent to most dispassionate observers that the judiciary did not see its work as upholding the law, as much as it saw it as supporting the police force, a 'partner' in the work it was engaged in elsewhere. Prosecutors and district attorneys work with police forces to enforce the law; they were not interested in bringing any of their 'co-workers' to justice, to subjecting them to the same standards employed on other legal subjects.
These facts are worth keeping mind when we think about the developments in the latest case of murderous policemen: the shooting, in South Carolina, of Walter Scott, an unarmed black man, supposedly for grabbing an officer's stun gun. The police officer, Michael T. Slager, who shot him in the back as he ran away--and then planted evidence, the allegedly stolen stun gun, next to Scott's body--is now facing murder charges. My first reaction to this story dipped deep into a constantly replenished well of cynicism:
My guess is, the new strategy is go ahead and indict, and avoid the fuss that will be made if you don't. You can always acquit later with the right kind of jury.
Hours have passed since I wrote the comment and I see no reason to reconsider. Video evidence--the kind that led to the formulation and pressing of the initial murder charges--has never been considered probative when it comes to assaults on black men by police. And as always, the enduring and transient members of the judiciary--like the jury--will, in all likelihood, worry more about the hit the morale of the good police officers of South Carolina, and perhaps nationwide will take. Such dangerous work, such little reward; surely these men in the line of duty, standing shoulder to shoulder with us in the administration of the law, should be forgiven their minor transgressions?