Virtual Dissertation-Writing Groups for Philosophy Grad Students

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 21/08/2018 - 12:38am in

Once again, Joshua Smart (Ohio State) is organizing virtual writing groups for philosophy students working on their dissertations.

Here are the details:

Virtual Dissertation Groups

VDG is a free service that connects graduate students to provide feedback on dissertation work. Members are grouped with two others working in the same general area of philosophy. About once a month, one member sends some work (3-6K words) to the others, who return feedback and comments in a week or so.

While advisors and committees are important, it can be incredibly helpful to discuss one’s work with peers in a lower-stakes environment, and it can be particularly enlightening to do so with those who take a different approach, outlook, or focus. Not only that, but there is evidence from psychological research that thinking about problems in relation to persons who are geographically distant can increase creativity. With students in programs from many states, countries, and every continent with a philosophy Ph.D. program, Virtual Dissertation Groups is a great way to capture some of these benefits!

You can sign up to participate here. Open signups through Sunday, September 7th. (Afterwards, new dissertators are accepted conditional on available spots.)

The post Virtual Dissertation-Writing Groups for Philosophy Grad Students appeared first on Daily Nous.

Online Philosophy Resources Weekly Update

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 20/08/2018 - 9:10pm in

Here’s the Monday morning report on new entries in online philosophical resources and new reviews of philosophy books. 

We check out and report on updates to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP), Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (IEP), 1000-Word PhilosophyWireless Philosophy (Wi-Phi), and occasionally some other sites, as well as new book reviews at Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (NDPR) and in the popular press. If you notice any reviews of books by philosophers in non-academic venues, please let us know. Thanks!



  1. Ibn Rushd’s Natural Philosophy, by Josép Puig Montada (Complutense University of Madrid).
  2. Philippa Foot, by John Hacker-Wright (Guelph).
  3. Ibn Sina’s Logic, by Riccardo Strobino (Tufts).
  4. Proof Theory, by Michael Rathjen (Leeds) and Wilfried Sieg (Carnegie Mellon).


  1. Relative Identity, by Harry Deutsch and Pawel Garbacz (Catholic University of Lublin).
  2. Harriet Taylor Mill, by Dale E. Miller (Old Dominion).
  3. Blame, by Neal Tognazzini ( and D. Justin Coates (Western Washington).
  4. Truth, by Michael Glanzberg (Northwestern).
  5. The Definition of Art, by Thomas Adajian (James Madison).
  6. Intention, by Kieran Setiya (MIT).


  1. Explication, by Moritz Cordes (Greifswald).


  1. Frank Jackson (Australian National) reviews Quality and Content: Essays on Consciousness, Representation, and Modality (Oxford), by Joseph Levine.
  2. Jennifer McWeeny (Worcester Polytechnic Institute) reviews Differences: Rereading Beauvoir and Irigaray, by Emily Anne Parker and Anne Van Leeuwen.
  3. Glen A. Mazis (Penn State-Harrisburg) reviews The Birth of Sense: Generative Passivity in Merleau-Ponty’s Philosophy (Ohio), by Don Beith.
  4. Jill Frank (Cornell) reviews Persuasion, Reflection, Judgment: Ancillae Vitae (Indiana), by Randolphe Gasché.
  5. Johnny Washington (Missouri State) reviews African American Contributions to the Americas’ Cultures: A Critical Edition of Lectures of Alain Locke (Palgrave Macmillan), by Jacoby Adeshei Carter.
  6. John M. Doris (Washington University, St. Louis) and Santiago Amaya (Universidad de los Andes) review Epistemic Situationism (Oxford), by Abrol Fairweather and Mark Alfano (eds.).
  7. Matthew Kostelecky (St. Joseph’s College, University of Alberta) reviews Aquinas on the Metaphysics of the Hypostatic Union (Cambridge), by Michael Gorman.
  8. Daniel D. Hutto (Wollongong) reviews The Philosophical Imagination: Selected Essays (Oxford), by Richard Moran.
  9. Nomy Arpaly (Brown) reviews Humean Nature: How Desire Explains Action, Thought, and Feeling (Oxford), by Neil Sinhababu.

1000-Word Philosophy

  1. Hannah Arendt’s Political Thought, by David Antonini (Clemson).

Wireless Philosophy Ø

Recent Philosophy Book Reviews in Non-Academic Media Ø

Bonus: Regret of studying philosophy.

Compiled by @MichaelGlawson (University of South Carolina)

The post Online Philosophy Resources Weekly Update appeared first on Daily Nous.


Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 18/08/2018 - 3:14am in


Links, philosophy

Here’s the latest edition of Mini-Heap.

  1. What is rationality and why is it valuable? — a discussion of “The Value of Rationality” by Ralph Wedgewood (USC)
  2. To reduce the risk of moral catastrophes, should society hire lots more philosophers? — Eric Schwitzgebel (UC Riverside) is somewhat skeptical
  3. “Odysseus texts Penelope to let her know that he’s running late.” — Classical tragedies that could have been prevented with smartphones
  4. Chico the Philosurfer has a series of videos aimed at bringing philosophy to high school students and others — he’s a former teacher at a prep school in California
  5. “Let me admit up front that, until this interview, I hadn’t thought much at all about disability’s relations to philosophy” — Stephen Yablo (MIT) is interviewed at Discrimination and Disadvantage
  6. “We can never really be post-truth” — Simon Blackburn (Cambridge) interviewed at Vox
  7. “Professors with voices critical of dominant ideologies have long been targets” — Jason Stanley (Yale) interviewed about fascism and anti-intellectualism
  8. To really expand the canon, philosophy needs not just more historical texts but “a way into them” — Lisa Shapiro (Simon Fraser) on the importance of secondary literature on non-canonical figures
  9. “The reason to cultivate hope in uncertain times is Kant’s reason: we have a duty to work for the improvement of our societies, but energetic action to serve the public good is not possible without hope” — an interview with Martha Nussbaum (Chicago)
  10. 18th Century fan art by Jacob Böhme enthusiasts — who is going to make a pop-up book of your philosophy?

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Mini-Heap posts appear when about 10 new items accumulate in the Heap of Links, the ever-growing collection of items from around the web that may be of interest to philosophers.

The Heap of Links consists partly of suggestions from readers; if you find something online that you think would be of interest to the philosophical community, please send it in for consideration for the Heap. Thanks!

The post Mini-Heap appeared first on Daily Nous.

Why Did This Philosophy Program Survive?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 18/08/2018 - 1:07am in


Budget, philosophy

Goucher College in Towson, Maryland, like several other institutions of higher education, has decided to cut its undergraduate programs.

The school will no longer offer majors in math, physics, music, religion, Russian studies, studio art, theatre, and elementary and special education. But it will continue to offer a philosophy major.

The cuts, listed here, were reported on by The Baltimore Sun and Inside Higher Ed. According to a statement from Goucher College president José Bowen, “there is no financial crisis” at the school. Rather, he says, the cuts are being made so as to “offer the best education for a price more people can afford.”

Philosophy seems to be among the subjects often considered for elimination by schools attempting to save money. Why was it not targeted at Goucher?

I began to wonder whether this signaled a turn against the trend of targeting philosophy programs, and if so, why?

Part of the answer, I thought, may be that cuts to philosophy programs are often well-publicized among philosophers who then loudly object to them. Additionally, knowing that they may be threatened, some departments take proactive steps to protect themselves.

Perhaps, I thought, philosophy’s stature in the eyes of university administrators—and society more broadly—is improving.

While philosophers have long been among the famous there is no doubt about philosophy’s increased visibility over the past several years, owing to more and more public philosophy and outreach, forms of popular entertainment that reference philosophy, high-profile prizes for philosophy and other awards won by philosophers, increased recognition of the practical value of a philosophical education, high profile philosophy-focused philanthropyconcerns about emerging technology that have been raised by philosophers, and so on (not to mention the creation of a place aimed at collecting, discussing, and publicizing a lot of this news).

The extent to which any of these factors are playing a role in affecting the public’s opinion of philosophy (and not merely reflecting changes owed to other causes) and, in turn, affecting the fortunes of philosophy programs is a complicated empirical matter. My thoughts here are admittedly speculative.

They’re also, in the case of Goucher College, just plain wrong.

According to a source at the school, the decision just came down to numbers. The college hired a consultancy which gathered a lot of data about students, enrollments, and faculty costs, and calculated how many student credit-hours each department needed to be responsible for in order to remain “viable.” Some departments were deemed viable, such as Business, Communication, Public Health, Psychology, Political Science, Africana Studies, Women and Gender Studies, and Equine Studies (!) to name a few. Other departments, including Philosophy and many of the other humanities and sciences, were put into the category of “in need of revitalization” and given time to develop a plan to improve. The rest of the majors were cut.

Goucher College’s Philosophy Department has done a good job at attracting students to the philosophy major and keeping enrollments in their courses high. They have around 40 majors, which is excellent for a school population of roughly 1,400 undergraduates. Good for them.

As for whether the broader cultural factors and developments within the philosophy profession noted above make any difference to the flourishing of philosophy programs—that remains to be seen.

James Nolan Gandy, “Drawing from Drawing Machine #605”

The post Why Did This Philosophy Program Survive? appeared first on Daily Nous.

An Automated Modal Reasoner

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 17/08/2018 - 12:10am in

Brian Tackett, a computer science student at the University of Buffalo who previously studied philosophy, has created an “automated modal reasoner.”

The program “takes lists of formalized sentences and checks them for consistency or validity in Propositional Modal Logic (S5 Axiom System).” He notes: “Since modal logic extends non-modal logic, this program can also be used for non-modal propositional logic.” However, “Quantifiers like ‘all’ and ‘some’ are not supported at this time.”

I asked him about why he made the program. He replied:

Mainly, I wanted to see how difficult it would be to program a computer to analyze arguments in modal logic. Generally, computers are very adept at processing sentences with truth-functional operators, but non-truth-functional operators are more complicated.  Since a goal in the field of Artificial Intelligence is to allow computers to reason as humans do, making them capable of reasoning about possibilities (not just probabilities) seemed helpful. I started with S5, since it seemed like one of the most well-known systems of modal logic.

He provides instructions on how to use it on the main page and examples (and explanations) here. Check it out!

David Roy, “Labyrinth”

The post An Automated Modal Reasoner appeared first on Daily Nous.

“We’re Going to Get More, and More Interesting, Kinds of Philosophy”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 16/08/2018 - 12:09am in

That’s, uh, me, from a conversation with Daniel Kaufman (Missouri State) on his Sophia program on

Yes, it was the event that regular readers of Daily Nous had been hotly anticipating. “Finally, we’ll have a chance to hear what Weinberg and Kaufman think!”

We start off with some talk about Daily Nous, but then move into a conversation about how to characterize what philosophers do and how philosophy makes progress.

There’s some discussion of the infrastructure of the philosophy profession and the American Philosophical Association, popular demand for philosophy, and various forms of public philosophy. We also talk about threats to philosophy and the humanities more generally, and the future of philosophy.

The quote that forms the title of this post comes towards the end of the program, where I make what may strike some readers as a number of highly implausible claims about the growth, diversification, and quality of philosophy.

Don’t miss the brief guest appearance by Dan’s dog at the 5:26 mark.

You can watch the program at the Sophia site, where there are links to some of its segments, or below.

Thanks for having me on, Dan!

The post “We’re Going to Get More, and More Interesting, Kinds of Philosophy” appeared first on Daily Nous.


Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 15/08/2018 - 10:34pm in


Links, philosophy

Here’s the latest edition of Mini-Heap.

Mini-Heap posts appear when about 10 new items accumulate in the Heap of Links, the ever-growing collection of items from around the web that may be of interest to philosophers.

The Heap of Links consists partly of suggestions from readers; if you find something online that you think would be of interest to the philosophical community, please send it in for consideration for the Heap.

  1. A philosophical appreciation of the hip-hop magazine “The Source” — from Lawrence Ware (Oklahoma State)
  2. Avital Ronell (NYU), a professor of German and Comparative Literature known for work in contemporary Continental philosophy, is found to have sexually harassed a male student — NY Times looks at the case and a now infamous letter from other academics defending her
  3. What is media impartiality? — Joe Mazer (LSE) offers an account
  4. “The Man-Not: Race, Class, Genre, and the Dilemmas of Black Manhood” by Tommy Curry (Texas A&M) is one of the winners of the American Book Awards — awarded by the Before Columbus Foundation
  5. “An incident of sexual harassment occurred at the annual American Society for Aesthetics conference last November. … I am the accuser.”
  6. A philosopher is writing a book composed of “Batman slapping Robin” memes and commentary thereon — the author is Simon Evnine (Miami), and he’s blogging about it
  7. What’s going on when people preface their remarks with phrases like, “as a [member of some demographic group]”? — Kwame Anthony Appiah (NYU) takes a look
  8. The ethics of miscarriage, reproductive loss, and fetal death — Kathryn Norlock (Trent) on Radical Philosophy Radio
  9. “Historians [of philosophy] will chide you for claiming something about the past that they are happy to claim about the present” — Martin Lenz (Groningen) on “myths in the history of philosophy”
  10. Novel teaching practices in philosophy courses — share yours

The post Mini-Heap appeared first on Daily Nous.

Philanthropy for Philosophy: Fleeting Fad or Fertile Future?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 15/08/2018 - 1:28am in

“Are we on the cusp of a philosophy giving golden age?”

That’s a question asked in a recent article at Inside Philanthropy. Noting two recent large gifts to philosophy departments ($75 million to Johns Hopkins University and $25 million to UCLA)  Mike Scutari writes that they add to the existing evidence that

Donors remain steadfast in their support for the liberal arts. What’s more, corroborating evidence suggests that these donors increasingly see themselves as a kind of philanthropic bulwark against a gathering storm of technology-driven forces sweeping modern society… Both sets of gifts come during a precarious time in history in which higher ed donors find themselves concerned with nothing less than the humanity (for lack of a better term) of the body politic.

Concerns about social media, the future of civil discourse, robotics, artificial intelligence, and other technologies appear to be spurring donations to the humanities.

Scutari writes:

The larger philanthropic climate is a lot different than it was even five years ago. Civic-minded donors—like a lot of other people—are increasingly fretting about a technology-driven, socially balkanized, and, dare I say it, dystopian future. Philosophy’s role in helping humanity form “a better society,” as [UCLA’s Seana] Shiffrin put it, is appealing to these kinds of donors… At the same time, research indicates the STEM gold rush may start to lose steam, at least in those parts of the country where the supply of skills outpaces demand. 

An additional “encouraging” factor in possible increased philosophy giving may be that many of those in a position to be especially giving. “As [JHU donor Bill] Miller himself noted, very rich people like Carl Icahn, Leon Black, Peter Thiel and Reid Hoffman once studied philosophy. Miller said it would be “great” if they followed his lead by giving money to this timeless field.”


You can read the whole article here.

As I noted in a previous post about the UCLA gift, there has been quite a bit of philosophy-related philanthropy over the past few years, in addition to two already mentioned, including:

If you know of other donations since, say, 2014, that belong on this list, please mention them in the comments. Also welcome are thoughts on experiences you’ve had soliciting donations for philosophy-related projects, and especially on what motivates donors.

Owl dollar art by Mark Wagner

The post Philanthropy for Philosophy: Fleeting Fad or Fertile Future? appeared first on Daily Nous.

Daily Nous Tops “Authority Index”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 14/08/2018 - 11:23pm in

A vast array of websites appear in most internet search results, and often those who are searching don’t know how to determine which sites experts consider reliable.

Gloria Origgi, a philosopher at the French National Centre for Scientific Research, puts the point this way (in an essay here and in this book): we are moving beyond “the information age” into what she calls “the reputation age” in which “information will have value only if it is already filtered, evaluated and commented upon by others.”

She says:

Whenever we are at the point of accepting or rejecting new information, we should ask ourselves: Where does it come from? Does the source have a good reputation? Who are the authorities who believe it? What are my reasons for deferring to these authorities? Such questions will help us to get a better grip on reality than trying to check directly the reliability of the information at issue. In a hyper-specialised system of the production of knowledge, it makes no sense to try to investigate on our own, for example, the possible correlation between vaccines and autism. It would be a waste of time, and probably our conclusions would not be accurate. In the reputation age, our critical appraisals should be directed not at the content of information but rather at the social network of relations that has shaped that content and given it a certain deserved or undeserved ‘rank’ in our system of knowledge. These new competences constitute a sort of second-order epistemology. They prepare us to question and assess the reputation of an information source, something that philosophers and teachers should be crafting for future generations.

One firm that appears to be in the business of this “second-order epistemology,” at least when it comes to information online, is Agilience. As they put it on their “about” page:

There are billions of web pages, hundreds of millions of blogs or social media sources on the internet. If you are interested in a specific topic such as a sport, a hobby, a city, a cause to stand for, a business of any kind, etc., what are the most relevant sources you should read to have a trustworthy and up-to-date account of what’s going on? 

Agilience ranks online sources in various categories, including philosophy. And according to it, Daily Nous is ranked #1 in philosophy on its “authority index.”

I don’t know much about Agilience’s methodology. “Philosophy” as a category is rather broad. DN fits well in a category of “philosophy news,” but doesn’t quite fit into “philosophy reference material” (in which, presumably, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy would rank highly). It also seems heavily influenced by social media presence.

Unfortunately, I was unable to find a reliable ranking of reliability rankings. So, while it was a nice surprise to hear about how well Daily Nous is doing according to Agilience, I don’t know much about how well Agilience is doing. If you know more about it, or similar services, feel free to let us know in the comments.

(Thanks to Françoise Morvan for letting me know about this.)

The post Daily Nous Tops “Authority Index” appeared first on Daily Nous.

Journal of Ethics Founding EIC Steps Down after 23 Years

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 14/08/2018 - 10:13pm in

J. Angelo Corlett, professor of philosophy at San Diego State University, founded the Journal of Ethics in 1995 and has served as its editor-in-chief since then. In an editorial in the journal last month, he announced he was stepping down as editor-in-chief and made some remarks that readers might find of interest.

The first concerns a topic discussed recently here: the length of articles. While just last month, Av Hiller (Portland State) argued for more short philosophy articles, Professor Corlett writes:

I also hope that the new editor will continue my tradition of not placing any page limitations on what is published in its pages as most of us have important articles which deserve to be published but cannot easily find a home for them because of the obsession among most publishers and their academic journals to publish rather brief pieces due to the fact that, as far as has been explained to me by some academic publishing editors, publishers are paid among other factors by the number of articles per journal volume sold. Given this fact, it behooves publishers to have published in their journals a greater number of brief articles than lengthy ones, no matter how much this adversely effects the publication of excellent lengthy articles or the quality of published research generally. The Journal of Ethics should continue to serve the philosophy community of ethicists by remaining open to publishing high quality work no matter what its length as this is yet one more distinctive feature of the journal. And it should not hesitate to publish high quality philosophical papers which go against the grain of mainstream ethics, though it is increasingly difficult to procure suitable referees in various areas of ethics due to entrenched biases among ethicists. This journal must continue to stand with Plato’s Socrates who urges us to follow the arguments wherever they lead us. I am confident that Socrates means for this injunction to be construed in a non-partisan manner.

The second concerns the general approach that Professor Corlett thinks editors should take towards authors. I don’t think his ideas here are controversial, but some may think that in academic philosophy generally they are not always lived up to:

Equally as important is that I wish the new editor the best of skill, dedication and luck and encourage him or her to edit with moral integrity and to attempt as I did to treat authors as s/he would like to be treated. Authors ought to be treated with dignity, respect, justly and fairly. And when errors are made, it is the duty of the Editor-in-Chief to take ultimate responsibility (with an attitude of taking strict liability) for the errors and to do all s/he can to correct them as quickly and as well as possible, providing authors with as much autonomy and authority in the process and as is possible under the circumstances. I have attempted to do this since 1995. It is the very least that an academic editor can do out of respect to authors, the journal s/he edits, and to the academic profession as a whole.

The whole editorial is here. Professor Corlett will continue to be listed as the journal’s Founding Editor. To my knowledge, a new editor-in-chief has not yet been named.

The post Journal of Ethics Founding EIC Steps Down after 23 Years appeared first on Daily Nous.