Philosophy: Eternal topics, evolving questions

Philosophers are famous for disagreeing on the issues that interest them. Is morality objective? Is the mind identical to the body? Are our actions free or determined? Some professional philosophers will say no to these questions—but an almost equal number will say yes.

Moreover, empirical data bears this out. In a widely publicized PhilPapers survey, conducted by David Bourget and David Chalmers, little or no consensus was found among contemporary philosophers on key philosophical theses. In the face of all this, does philosophy make progress?

Surely the question answers itself. If philosophers can’t agree on their answers, the inevitable conclusion is: they make no progress. Or, at least, they make no progress, except on the meta-question of whether there is progress. On this there can be no disagreement.


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UNESCO Philosophy Manual: A South-South Perspective

The modest title should not, however, conceal the true significance of this work, misleading the reader into thinking, perhaps, that it is just another philosophical manual, despite the fact that it is from the “South” and dedicated to somewhat “exotic” philosophy. If we begin this brief introduction warning against the risk of drawing this potentially hasty conclusion, it is because this manual – on account of both its systematic and methodological structure and its contents – is a work that challenges us with a call to become committed to working towards an innovative turning point, not only in the perception of the theoretical purpose and social role of philosophy, but also as regards the task of philosophy teaching in contemporary societies.


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Deleuze contra Hegel: The Rupture of the Dialectics towards Non-Conceptual Difference

This paper is a brief philosophical analysis of the relationship between G.W.F. Hegel and Gilles Deleuze’s philosophy. In the first part, I will present Hegel’s dialectical philosophy as the opus’ point of departure including a truncated elucidation of the totalitarian aspect of his thinking. Since the Hegelian system is very comprehensive, it has also influenced other parts of Europe, especially France. Upon its arrival in the French soil, the system’s structurality was re-attuned in accordance with the materialities engendered by the political events besetting the French society during the 1960s. In order to explicate this hermeneutical fusion of horizons, I will utilize Deleuze’s philosophy of difference in order to undermine the Hegelian system. However, as  Deleuze’s intellectual career progresses, his radicalism has mitigated. From an inclusive diagnosis of the said system, it has merely ruptured the metaphysical walls of the dialectic to become sensible to the pluralistic voices of difference. Amidst this so-called Deleuzian turn, I will delineate in the last part some additional albeit sophisticated convergence between their philosophies.


Posted in Deleuze, Hegel | Tagged ,

Deleuze and Guattari’s Philosophy and/as Relational Ontology

Starting from the famous statement by Deleuze and Guattari in What Is Philosophy? that ‘[i]mmanence can be said to be the burning issue of all philosophy’, this article explores their claim of an ontology of immanence and/as relational ontology in quantum terms. The theme of this special issue allows for a rereading of the terminology of different/citation, which Deleuze developed in ‘The Method of Dramatization’ and Difference and Repetition, and I here relate it to the question of consistency of the plane of immanence, such as it is emphasised in the later work of Deleuze and Guattari. The article exemplifies the significance that the early issue of ‘dramatization’ as different/citing passage has on an adequate understanding of both ‘immanence’ and ‘becoming’, and it shows their in/seperability for a relational ontology as onto-ethology. By making the Deleuze-Guattarian immanence resonate with Barad’s (quantum) agential realism, the article zooms in on the specific quality of the ‘passage’ in order to do justice to the claim of a ‘mature’ philosophy that thinks immanence as immanent only to itself.


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Political Philosophy and Epistemology: The Case of Public Reason

Public Reason theorists in political philosophy – roughly, Rawlsians – often make what sure sound like epistemological statements. They talk about justifying principles to others, about the uncertainty with which we should hold our evaluative commitments, about reasonable persons and comprehensive doctrines, about a morally politically motivated higher epistemic standard, about intellectual modesty, and of course, about the burdens of judgment. But they rarely explain, let alone defend, these seemingly epistemological commitments, nor do they engage contemporary epistemological literature. In this paper, I expose these commitments to epistemological scrutiny, arguing that at the end of the day they cannot be vindicated. I focus on what, on such theories, a reasonable person who is nevertheless committed to a comprehensive doctrine believes, and on what epistemic standard may be politically relevant in this context.


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Gender and Philosophical Intuition

In recent years, there has been much concern expressed about the under-representation of women in academic philosophy. Our goal in this paper is to call attention to a cluster of phenomena that may be contributing to this gender gap. The findings we review indicate that when women and men with little or no philosophical training are presented with standard philosophical thought experiments, in many cases their intuitions about these cases are significantly different. In section 1 we review some of the data on the under-representation of women in academic philosophy. In section 2 we explain how we use the term ‘intuition’. and offer a brief account of how intuitions are invoked in philosophical argument and philosophical theory building. In the third section we set out the evidence for gender differences in philosophical intuition and mention some evidence about gender differences in decisions and behaviors that are (or should be) of considerable interest to philosophers. In the fourth section, our focus changes from facts to hypotheses. In that section we explain how differences in philosophical intuition might be an important part of the explanation for the gender gap in philosophy. The fifth section is a brief conclusion.


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The Philosophy of Trust

Trust is central to our social lives. We know by trusting what others tell us. We act on that basis, and on the basis of trust in their promises and implicit commitments. So trust underpins both epistemic and practical cooperation and is key to philosophical debates on the conditions of its possibility. It is difficult to overstate the significance of these issues. On the practical side, discussions of cooperation address what makes society possible-of how it is that life is not a Hobbesian war of all against all. On the epistemic side, discussions of cooperation address what makes the pooling of knowledge possible-and so the edifice that is science. But trust is not merely central to our lives instrumentally; trusting relations are themselves of great value, and in trusting others, we realise distinctive forms of value. What are these forms of value, and how is trust central to our lives? These questions are explored and developed in this volume, which collects fifteen new essays on the philosophy of trust. They develop and extend existing philosophical discussion of trust and will provide a reference point for future work on trust.


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Trust, Ethics and Human Reason

Olli Lagerspetz’s book has two stated aims: “to present a general outline of the philosophical trust debate” (5) and “to develop a view that does justice to interpersonal dependence and trust as central aspects of reason itself” (5). To the first end the book’s seven chapters discuss various issues that have been raised in the philosophical debate on trust, which include the analysis of trust, the place of trust in accounts of cooperation, including game-theoretical conceptions of this, the social place of generalized or basic trust, and the role of trust in the epistemology of testimony. With respect to the second end, there is no chapter devoted to presenting Lagerspetz’s positive view, rather this view simply emerges from his criticism of the existing debate. For this reader, at least, this is unfortunate because what gives this book its interest and value is Lagerspetz’s positive view, which is both original and philosophically interesting. So let me start this review by trying to crystallize the positive view that I think emerges from Lagerspetz’s objections.


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Marx and Wittgenstein: Knowledge, Morality and Politics

What, the reader of this review may well wonder, is the point of a collection of essays connecting Marx and Wittgenstein? After all, “it is possible to take almost any two thinkers of genuine insight and sophistication and to find some parallels and commonalities in their thought. Indeed, doing so is one of the favourite intellectual pastimes of all academics.” Indeed, one could legitimately ask whether “any two thinkers have less in common than Karl Marx and Ludwig Wittgenstein.” Consider, for a moment, the case for the prosecution. On the one hand we have Marx, political activist and economic theorist, the founder of the ’science’ of ’historical materialism,’ whose Theses on Feuerbach proclaim that “philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways, the thing however is to change it.” On the other, Wittgenstein, a philosopher who “showed virtually no interest in conventional political activity,” famous for writing that “philosophy … leaves everything as it is” and who asked himself “who knows the laws by which society evolves?” only to answer “I am sure they are a closed book to the cleverest of men.”


Posted in knowledge, Marx, Morality, Politics, Wittgenstein | Tagged , , , ,

Morality and the Emotions

Philosophers of mind have been paying increasing attention to the emotions over the past thirty years, and this work inspires and is inspired by developments in ethics. Morality and the emotions seem bound up with one another, but how should we understand the connection? One question that has divided thinkers is whether to see emotions as hindering or enabling our engagement with morality. Answers to this question are likely to depend on one’s conception of the emotions, and one’s conception of morality, particularly whether one is a cognitivist or non-cognitivist about either or both. This volume comprises new work from philosophers who by and large affirm the important role of the emotions in moral experience, but represent varying traditions ranging from the Humean, through the Kantian to the phenomenological. It also ranges over the role of the emotions in areas such as moral motivation, moral epistemology, identity and moral responsibility. As such it presents a good overview of the fertile work being done in this area at the present time and will be an important resource for those working on the topic.


Posted in Emotions, Morality | Tagged ,