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The High Production Quality/Low Cost Future of Philosophy Education?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 14/01/2021 - 11:18pm in

Here are three trends in higher education:

  • To save money, more students are starting their post-high-school education at a community college, taking courses there for a while and then transferring with those credits to a more prestigious school from which they’ll end up getting their degree.
  • For convenience and now safety, more students are taking their college courses online.
  • Facing unprecendented pedagogical challenges from the fact that their competition for students’ attention is easy and constant access to an ever growing set of all of the world’s distractions (via the internet), professors are feeling a push to be more entertaining.

A relatively new education venture, Outlier, seems to take responding to these trends as its focus, offering attractively marketed, relatively inexpensive, online courses with transferable credits and high production values—and it has just launched an introductory philosophy course.

Outlier was created by Aaron Rasmussen, one of the co-founders of Masterclass, whose celebrity-led courses (Jeff Koons on art, Nancy Cartwright on voice acting, Margaret Atwood on creative writing, Timbaland on beatmaking, etc.) you might have seen advertised on Facebook, or perhaps even taken.

Outlier’s Introduction to Philosophy course is led by John Kaag, professor of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, and author of, among other things, the recent popular philosophy books Hiking with Nietzsche: On Becoming Who We Are and Sick Souls, Healthy Minds: How William James Can Save Your Life.

Joining Professor Kaag for the course are philosophers Anita Allen (University of Pennsylvania), Ann Cudd (University of Pittsburgh), Marya Schectman (University of Illinois, Chicago), Elís Miller Larsen (Harvard), and philosophy-minded psychologist Paul Bloom (Yale).

To see what I mean about marketing and production, check out the promotional video for the course:

The course costs $400—much less than a typical college course—and students who pass it will earn three potentially transferable credit hours through Outlier’s partnership with the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown (“potentially” because typically a course’s transferability is the decision of the destination school). Students who don’t pass the course will get their money back.

Rasmussen says that interest in the course has been strong, though it is too early in its launch to provide exact numbers. If they end up producing a second philosophy course, he says, it will probably be on logic.

What do developments like this course portend for higher education? Are they just another option to meet the varied demands of an increased customer base, beneficially adding to the range of educational offerings? Or are they part of what some have predicted will be big tech’s takeover of higher education, with drastic consolidations and other changes? Or…?

Discussion welcome.

The post The High Production Quality/Low Cost Future of Philosophy Education? appeared first on Daily Nous.


Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 14/01/2021 - 1:13am in


Links, philosophy

New links of interest to those interested in philosophy…

  1. “Multiverse theorists commit the inverse gambler’s fallacy” — Philip Goff (Durham) vs. the multiverse
  2. This department of philosophy has a “director of outreach,” and justifiably so — a survey of various public philosophy outreach initiatives at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  3. A panel event to discuss the renaming of David Hume Tower and Hume’s legacy at the University of Edinburgh — taking place later this month, with Mazviita Chirimuuta, Tommy J. Curry, and others
  4. Over 60 philosophers, bioethicists, psychologists, drug experts “call for the immediate decriminalization of all so-called recreational drugs” — in an article in the American Journal of Bioethics
  5. “One’s psychological history… is the time-spanning rope that ties together [our] different temporal parts and makes us complete” — philosopher Steven Hales (Bloomsburg) on when his rope was cut by amnesia
  6. “It does not seem like a wise precedent to prosecute your political enemies. It does not seem like a wise precedent to leave the criminal behavior of your political enemies unprosecuted.” — “Here we have a proper antinomy” — Just one of the many angles by which Justin E. H. Smith (Paris) approaches recent events.
  7. “The monotony of complimentary reviews steadily fed my cynicism, as it should feed yours” — Paul Musgrave (U. Mass Amherst) on the problems with academic book reviews

Mini-Heap posts usually appear when 7 or so 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. Discussion welcome.

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.

Justin Smith on René Girard

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 13/01/2021 - 1:39am in



Justin Smith wrote a fairly critical blog post on René Girard to which I feel moved to reply. A lot of it attacks Girard’s appeal in Silicon Valley, which I don’t know much about. But the post also criticises Girard’s theory itself. The conclusion states that “René Girard, in sum, is not a particularly great theorist”.

We don’t all have to like the same things, but I think Girard deserves a better reading than Smith is willing to give him.

First, Smith gives a gratuitously unattractive and unfair representation of Girard’s method:

a theorist for him is someone who comes up with a simple, elegant account of how everything works, and spends a whole career driving that account home. A theorist spends all of their time on the positive construction of a case, and none of their time on skeptical doubts or objections, and least of all on the nagging call of humility that pipes back up again whenever a philosophically minded person starts to feel as if they’ve got something right — the call that says, “Why should I, of all people, be the one to have got things right? It seems so improbable.”

That’s very unflattering. But I’m not sure what reason Smith has to think it. It should be obvious that Girard never thought that he was the one to ‘get things right’. His entire career consisted of presenting ideas he found in the writings of others. His first book, Deceit, Desire, and the Novel, located the idea of “mimetic desire” in the novels of Cervantes, Stendhal, Flaubert, Dostoevsky, and Proust. It’s a work of pure exegesis. The title of his book, Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World, is also a giveaway. It’s a reference to Jesus’s words in Matthew (13:35), and the book is accordingly about things revealed by Jesus of Nazareth, not René Girard of Avignon. In truth I can’t think of a theorist who made more effort to avoid claiming personal responsibility for the ideas he presented. This is hardly surprising since it was a fundamental belief for Girard that, as he once put it, “individualism is a formidable lie” [1].

Smith’s suggestion that Girard spends “none of his time on skeptical doubts or objections” is belied by the very form in which Girard presented his ideas. Most of his books are records of dialogues. Long sections of books like When These Things Begin and Evolution and Conversion consist of Girard responding to objections formulated by his interviewers or brought by them from other sources. With most authors we can debate about whether “the nagging call of humility” is sufficiently active inside them. But Girard brings in external voices. His preference for this dialogue format is another expression of his strong anti-individualism. Why would somebody who wanted to spend “none of his time on skeptical doubts or objections” write his books by answering people who doubt and object to him?

Smith then turns from method to theory, first attacking Girard’s theory that humans desire mimetically — that is, we copy or borrow our desires from others. Smith writes: “For Girard, there is at least some desire that falls outside of the logic of mimesis, but only because it is a sort of proto-desire, a merely biological drive”. Smith goes on to criticise this point. But where does Girard make it? Smith doesn’t cite any text. Girard is quite explicit that he has no intention of reducing all of human psychology to mimesis [2]:

I’ve gotten into the habit of using the word “desire” to refer to the various appetites, needs, and appropriations that are shot through with and governed by imitation. Mimetic phenomena interest me […]. That’s why I place so much emphasis on them. But I’m not saying that they exclude all other types of explanation. For example, I believe in the love that parents have for their children, and I don’t see how you could interpret that love in a mimetic fashion.

Nor does he say anything to imply that these non-mimetic phenomena are “merely biological drives”. Smith declares himself to be “wary of human-scientists who seek to contain the biological with modifiers such as ‘merely’”, but where does Girard do this? There is no citation.

Perhaps more interestingly, one of Smith’s counterexamples to this claim (which Girard doesn’t seem to have made) is the possibility of a “post-mimetic” love:

at least sometimes a man “acquires” a woman by the logic of neighborly competition and status anxiety, but then discovers that she has a soul too, and is worthy of love just like any human being, quite apart from her significance for his social status.

I don’t know what sort of crass sub-Veblenite theory Smith is trying to wish onto Girard and then refute here — I guess he thinks that Girard believes we only want things or love people for the sake of “social status”? In any case, for a profound example of ‘post-mimetic love’, I would encourage you to look up Girard’s beautiful discussion of the statue scene in The Winter’s Tale. When Hermione is resurrected, Leontes is too; he is freed from mimetic desire and its metaphysical illusions. The resurrection of Hermione is, Girard writes, “Leontes’ reward for purging his bad desire” [3].

Far from being a refutation of Girard’s theory, the existence of this post-mimetic love is an illustration of it — of the whole theory, I mean, and not the distorted travesty of some amputated part of it. Girard’s full theory is that mimetic desire — toxic, dangerous, and hopeless — begins with the (non-mimetic) desire for being. “Mimetic desire”, Girard writes, “makes us believe we are always on the verge of becoming self-sufficient through our own transformation into someone else” [4]. If we overcome this, we give up on the hope of self-sufficiency and the desire to be transformed into someone else. We cease to desire the being of another and simply possess the being we have. We achieve what Spinoza calls acquiescentia animi— acquiescence in our own soul. Being in this state is the result of what Girard calls “conversion” (the sentence just quoted is from an essay entitled “Conversion in Literature and Christianity”). The resurrection of Hermione is a symbol of Leontes’ conversion: from mimetic desire into a state of acquiescence, when he can simply love Hermione free of the bad desire that drove him to envy and then destruction.

Conversion is present in Girard’s theory from the very beginning. It is the subject of the final chapter of Deceit, Desire, and the Novel. In his essay on Proust [5], Girard points out that the whole of In Search of Lost Time is a story of conversion: the narrator undergoes a conversion and is resurrected into a new life which was lost the first time around to mimetic desire. He even uses a term that Smith uses — “post-mimetic desire”. The Annunciation of this new life is the madeleine: “an image of a reality that is past from the viewpoint of the author, a promise of a reality that is yet to come from the viewpoint of the narrator” [6]. The author is the achieved being of the narrator, who lives in the pursuit of being that is the condition of mimetic desire. Conversion is, then, the final message of Girard’s gospel — or rather the gospel Girard finds repeated in the great works of literature. It is the crown of the theory; for Smith to take it as a refutation of the theory is a profound misunderstanding.

Smith also attacks the other main part of Girard’s theory — the “scapegoat mechanism” to which he argues that mimetic desire naturally leads. As he explains in one interview [7]:

Inasmuch as they desire the same thing, the members of the group become antagonists, in pairs, in triangles, in polygons, in whatever configurations you can imagine. The contagion signifies that some of them are going to abandon their personal antagonist and “choose” their neighbor’s. We see this all the time, when, for example, we shift the hatred we feel for our private enemies, but that we don’t dare take out against them, onto politicians. In this way partial scapegoats emerge, and by means of the same phenomenon they are gradually reduced in number even as their symbolic charge intensifies.

Smith writes:

Perhaps even more worrisome for Girard’s mimetic theory is that it appears to leave out all those instances in which imitation serves as a force for social cohesion and cannot plausibly be said to involve any process […] leading to a culmination in scapegoating.

I would guess that here Smith is supposing Girard to claim that imitation — mimesis — can only lead to social cohesion through the scapegoat mechanism. But Girard explicitly denied this. Calling the sort of mimesis that leads to scapegoating “bad mimesis”, he explained that while he wanted to emphasise it, he never took it to be exclusive [8]:

in my work, the ‘bad’ mimesis is always dominant, but the ‘good’ one is of course even more important. There would be no human mind, no education, no transmission of culture without mimesis. However, I do believe that the ‘bad’ mimesis needs to be emphasized because its reality remains overlooked, and it has been always neglected or mistaken for non-mimetic behaviour, and even denied by most observers.

Smith also proposes another criticism:

Contrary to Girard’s theory of the scapegoat, a promising alternative account of sacrifice has been defended by such thinkers as the pioneering classicist Walter Burkert, for whom the origins of culture lie in a recognition of the transgressive nature of the killing of animals — even if it is necessary for human life, the spilling of animal blood is a sufficiently powerful action to knock the cosmos out of alignment, and it is only by rituals of atonement that it may be set right again.

In bringing this up, it seems only fair to discuss Girard’s reply to Burkert, which Smith fails to mention. Questioned about Burkert, Girard replied [9]:

In my view his theory has only one flaw: he argues that the hunting of large mammals came before religion. I think his book on Greek religion is remarkable. This is true of all the German anthropological theory on sacrifice. We had a discussion near Santa Cruz. From a theoretical standpoint, I wasn’t quite ready to enter into discussion with Burkert at that time, and he found my thesis too radical. He did not buy into my scapegoat theory because he prefers a theory that ultimately remains close to some kind of functionalism, as the ‘hunting hypothesis’ does.

And Girard discussed this ‘hunting hypothesis’ in Things Hidden [10]:

The hunt has an invariably ritual character in primitive societies. […] Specialists tell us that the human digestive tract has remained that of the mainly vegetarian omnivore, the kind of system that preceded ours in the course of evolution. Man is not naturally a carnivore; human hunting should not be thought of in terms of animal predation.

To understand what might have impelled human beings to set off in pursuit of the largest and most dangerous animals or to devise the strategies necessary for prehistoric hunting, it is necessary and sufficient to recognize that hunting, at first, was actively linked to sacrifice. The object of the hunt is seen as a substitute for the original victim in its monstrous and sacred aspects.

Girard, in other words, gave arguments for his own position in contrast to Burkert’s — for seeing the practice of hunting as deriving from ritual sacrifice rather than the other way around. You can watch a video of him discussing the evidence for this in cave paintings. My point is not that he is necessarily right, but that he has arguments on precisely this point, to which Smith gives no consideration. Smith fails to acknowledge that Girard rejects the “necessary for human life” part of the Burkertian story he favours, in a principled way.

Smith concludes that “it is easy on even a casual study of [Girard’s] work to spot the weaknesses and lacunae”. But his criticisms of Girard don’t seem based on even a casual study. They attack what he seems to guess that Girard believed, on the basis of not very much evidence. Nor are there any quotations provided to support the interpretation. René Girard may or may not be, as Smith suggests, “the theorist our era deserves”. But surely he, along with our era, deserves a fairer standard of critique than this.

[1] Girard, René. Battling to the End: Conversations with Benoit Chantre (Michigan State University Press, 2009), ch.1, §3.

[2] Girard, René. When These Things Begin: Conversations with Michel Treguer (Michigan State University Press, 2009), p.11.

[3] Girard, René. A Theatre of Envy (Gracewing, 2000), p.337.

[4] Girard, René. Mimesis and Theory (Stanford University Press, 2008), p.265.

[5] Girard, René. Mimesis and Theory, pp.56–70.

[6] Girard, René. Mimesis and Theory, p.68.

[7] Girard, René. When These Things Begin, p.19.

[8] Girard, René. Evolution and Conversion (Bloomsbury, 2008), p.56.

[9] Girard, René. Evolution and Conversion, pp.101–2.

[10] Girard, René. Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World (Bloomsbury, 2016), pp.68–9.

Online Philosophy Resources Weekly Update

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 11/01/2021 - 11:48pm in

The weekly report on new and revised entries in online philosophy resources and new reviews of philosophy books…


New: ∅ 


  1. Hugo Grotius, by Jon Miller.
  2. Presupposition, by David I. Beaver, Bart Geurts, and Kristie Denlinger.
  3. Vasubandhu, by Jonathan C. Gold.
  4. World Government, by Catherine Lu.
  5. Liberal Feminism, by Amy R. Baehr.
  6. The Structure of Scientific Theories, by Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther.
  7. The Identity Theory of Truth, by Richard Gaskin.

IEP   ∅


  1. Robert Guay reviews Structural Injustice: Power, Advantage, and Human Rights (Oxford), by Madison Powers and Ruth Faden.

Wireless Philosophy  ∅

1000-Word Philosophy

  1. Distributive Justice: How Should Resources Be Allocated?, by Dick Timmer and Tim Meijers.
  2. Pascal’s Wager: A Pragmatic Argument for Belief in God, by Liz Jackson.

Recent Philosophy Book Reviews in Non-Academic Media    

  1. Machiavelli: The Art of Teaching the People What to Fear by Patrick Boucheron, reviewed by Camila Vergara at Boston Review.
  2. Feline Philosophy: Cats and the Meaning of Life by John Gray, reviewed by Constantine Sandis in Times Higher Education.

Compiled by Michael Glawson

BONUS: “Do you think true knowledge is intriniscally good?” “Absolutely. That is why we must destroy science.”

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

History Debunked Calls for More Black Blood and Organ Donors to Show Black Lives Really Matter

This is another, really short video from History Debunked. It’s creator, Simon Webb, is an author, and has published several history books. He’s very definitely a man of the right, and many of his videos tackle and refute some of the myths and false history being promoted as part of the Black history movement. In this video he expresses his incredulity at the rioting and destruction of statues that broke out earlier this year with the eruption of the Black Lives Matter movement. He finds it difficult to understand how defacing a statue of Winston Churchill or setting fire to the Union flag shows that Black lives matter. Black deaths at the hands of the cops are widely publicised, but they probably occur at the rate of less than one a year. There hasn’t been one for over a year now, and they may well only happen once every 2 to 3 years.

A far greater killer of Black lives is Sickle Cell Anaemia. This can result in episodes, known as Sickle Cell crises, that can produce blindness, disability and death. They can be treated with transfusions. There are differences in the blood of different races, so that Black people are better treated with blood from other Black people, Whites with White blood. But there is a terrible, pressing shortage of Black blood and organ donors. The NHS in London and Birmingham is currently seeking 5,000 Black blood donors so that they can treat the Black victims of this disease. Whites are twice as likely to donate blood and the organs of dead relatives as Blacks, which means, for example, that Blacks on average wait twice as long as Whites on dialysis for a kidney transplant. He therefore feels that the people, who protest against a statue of Cecil Rhodes at Oxford University, instead of demonstrating against injustices that may have occurred centuries ago, should donate blood in order to show that they really believe Black Lives Matter.

Saving black lives; a way forward for the Black Lives Matter Movement – YouTube

This is obviously a controversial view of BLM. The demonstrations and riots against the statues occurred because the historic western slave trade is seen as being inextricably linked to the terrible, underprivileged conditions of many western Blacks. Institutional racism in the police has been a particularly obvious cause of anger and resentment amongst the Black community. It could be said that it doesn’t matter how low the actual numbers of Black people killed by the cops are, it’s still too many. In fact, it’s questionable how disproportionate the number of Blacks killed by the cops compared to Whites actually is. Sargon of Gasbag, the Sage of Swindon, went through the official statistics in one of his videos and concluded that Whites were in far more danger of being killed by the police than Blacks. This certainly runs counter to the allegations made by BLM. Sargon is, however, extremely right-wing. Too right-wing for UKIP, as when he joined, more socially liberal members left. I don’t agree with Sargon’s views about Trump, capitalism or how British political theory begins and ends with John Locke, but he did present a very good case on this issue.

And it is true that Sickle Cell Anaemia is killing Black people. Black people are more prone to it thanks to an adaptation in their blood cells which makes them far less palatable to mosquitoes, and hence vulnerable to the malaria they carry, than Whites. And it is true that there is a terrible shortage of Black blood and organ donors. Various Black ‘slebs have appeared on The One Show to urge Black people to consider donating blood.

Years ago I read in the book Black Pioneers of Science and Invention, that the use of blood plasma to save lives in blood transfusions was the invention of a Black American doctor, who successfully used it on Brit injured in the Blitz. It would undoubtedly be great if more Black people followed in his footsteps by donating their blood to save other Black lives.


Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 10/01/2021 - 4:04am in


Links, philosophy

New additions to the Heap of Links…

  1. “If we take the general status quo for granted, and apply ethical procedures only to narrowly defined questions within its limits, we abandon the most potent power ethical thinking can exhibit” — Troy Jollimore’s (CSU Chico) look at the work of an ethics consultant suggests there’s room for improvement in that business
  2. Taking skepticism about microaggressions seriously — Regina Rini (York) talks with Robert Talisse (Vanderbilt) on the ethics of microaggressions
  3. “Be Here Now” — John Martin Fischer (UCR) brings philosophy to bear on this common spiritual injunction
  4. The “Fake News Immunity Chatbot” employs Socrates, Aristotle, & Gorgias to teach you to spot fake news — developed by Eleni Musi (Liverpool). (Note: I was able to use the site on my iPhone, but not in any browser on my Windows laptop)
  5. Developments in physics in 2020 — a select summary at Quanta Magazine
  6. “It is the unconscious cognitive dissonance at the heart of explicit racism which prevents explicit racists from seeing the immoral nature of their racist actions” — Berit Brogaard (Miami) and Dimitria Gatzia (Akron) on racism and psychology
  7. When it’s clear that the referee misunderstood your paper — there is still something that may be learned from the referee report, explains Lewis M. Powell (Buffalo)

Mini-Heap posts usually appear when 7 or so 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. Discussion welcome.

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.

“Biting the Bullet”: A Note on Style from Caspar Hare

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 09/01/2021 - 4:12am in

In his 2013 book, The Limits of Kindness, Caspar Hare (MIT) includes a brief “stylistic note” that gets across an important lesson for academic writers: don’t overestimate the familiarity of your readers with specialist terminology—even when the intended readers are others in your discipline.

Such terminology may be unusual words or purpose-built neologisms, but may also just be a technical way of using or putting together ordinary words. You may want to avoid using them or be sure to explain them when you do.

Professor Hare’s example is “biting the bullet”:

I agree that “these small gaps in understanding are more common than we normally think.” Your examples of other terms or phrases subject to such gaps would be welcome.

The post “Biting the Bullet”: A Note on Style from Caspar Hare appeared first on Daily Nous.

New: Virtual Publisher Showcases at the APA (guest post)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 09/01/2021 - 1:12am in

One of the pleasures of the divisional meetings of the American Philosophical Association (APA) is browsing the book displays. With the pandemic forcing the Eastern Division meeting online, it seemed like that wouldn’t be possible. Yet constraints can inspire innovation, and that is what has happened here.

In the following guest post*, Adam Hodgkin (@adamhodgkin), the chairman and co-founder of Exact Editions (and author of Following Searle on Twitter) explains how his company is working with the APA to create a virtual open digital display of books from multiple publishers.

Virtual Publisher Showcases
by Adam Hodgkin

The American Philosophical Association for its Eastern Meeting (January 7th – 17th) has organised an open digital display of 30+ new philosophy titles from 6+ publishers.

Although the display is free it is not Open Access in the way that term is used in libraries or by research funders. The free access is temporary, time-limited by software. But the display is free/open in two senses (1) to any web user who follows a Reading Room link—no subscription, pre-qualification or registration is required; (2) the book displays are to complete books, no pages are hidden, all of the books are readable, searchable and browse-able. The conference display is organised as a set of publisher-specific collections, but the full set can be accessed here.

Note that the access is to a temporary display and no content is available from the Reading Room link after 17 January, when the exhibition closes. There will be books shown from: Broadview, Brill, De Gruyter, Hackett, Oxford, Princeton, and Wiley. As it happens there will be very similar content available, again on a temporary basis, for the Central and Pacific meetings. So if a reader misses the event in January there will be further opportunities to sample the books.

The service uses a system of streamed access to Reading Rooms (each book having its own Reading Room) which has been developed by Exact Editions. It is the first time that the Exact Editions platform (built originally for consumer magazines) has been used extensively for book displays, but the company views the APA service as a potentially useful prototype for the wider use of Reading Rooms for a range of promotional services: review copies; inspection copies for instructors; sampling, or tasting, preliminary to the sale of print or digital books; book fairs; audience access to accompany blogs or conferences and other circumstances in which books can be useful digitally even when they are not being sold or subscribed.

The solution has been tested with philosophy books by the APA Blog. See their recent notice of The Murder of Professor Schlick. The Reading Room concept may be particularly suitable for online reviews, and philosophy, having an excellent online open access reviewing service, would be well placed to take advantage of it. When a good review appears, the publisher who has a Reading Room capability can, and we expect will, amplify the notice by posting or circulating a Reading Room for the book being discussed (one day, seven days, or 30 days being the default choices in the publisher’s tool box).

Exact Editions is positioning its service as a promotional platform for publishers in general, not as a sales or subscription service, and it may be particularly attractive to publishers with lists of highly illustrated or design-rich titles that are not well served by e-books formats. Why then start with philosophy titles? There may be an element of accident in the choice of a major philosophy conference as a venue to launch the notion of temporary but free access to complete digital books. But Daryl Rayner, Managing Director and co-founder of Exact Editions, notes that philosophy is similar to other academic disciplines a subject where “short term and temporary access to digital books should be the best way of promoting their value”. She adds that Exact Editions has also been rolling out promotional Reading Rooms for poetry books. So philosophy may be a subject particularly suitable for digital promotion, especially with temporary tools, precisely because the books are meant to last and a brief glimpse will never be enough to satisfy serious readers.

Although the APA showcases are temporary, the system of displayed Reading Rooms is a web-based streaming service and usable with other interactive tools. So it is straightforward to record and integrate sessions of database use with these digital books, projecting the session into interactive tools such as Skype, Zoom, PowerPoint, Teams, YouTube etc. Two recorded Zoom sessions from the APA collection are reproduced here:  an overview of the digital reading interface together with an appreciation of Ethical Reasoning, Theory and Application (Andrew Kernohan – Broadview Press) and a glimpse of  The Murder of Professor Schlick (David Edmonds – Princeton University Press).  These Zoom recordings,  by another Exact Editions co-founder, Adam Hodgkin, unlike the Reading Room links are not time-limited.

The post New: Virtual Publisher Showcases at the APA (guest post) appeared first on Daily Nous.


Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 08/01/2021 - 1:39am in


Links, philosophy

The latest links added to the Heap…

  1. Over 1500 political scientists call for Trump’s immediate removal via impeachment or the 25th amendment — “The President’s actions show he is unwilling or unable to fulfill his oath to protect and defend the Constitution”
  2. “There are almost no consciousness deniers” — Andrew Brook (Carleton) is interviewed about cognitive science, consciousness, selves, and more
  3. “Rather than viewing the granting of honorifics as settling a social question, we can see it as an imperfect way of inviting debate over what society ought to honor in the name of universal justice” — Eric Schliesser (Amsterdam) on the broader lessons of the controversy over Kathleen Stock’s OBE
  4. “Political power accumulates across massive timescales, much larger than the ones folks usually use when evaluating the institutional arrangements that history makes possible” — an interview with Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò (Georgetown)
  5. “The film ends with much of the NYU philosophy department being attacked and turned into vampires themselves in a blood-soaked climax” — “The Addiction” (1995) starred Lili Taylor as a philosophy PhD student and Christopher Walken as a vampire, and was produced by Antony Blinken, Biden’s likely Secretary of State
  6. “Quentin Smith was exactly the kind person who’s not supposed to exist in modern, ultra-specialized, ultra-professionalized academia.” — a beautiful and interesting appreciation of Smith, who died this past November, by Ben Burgis (Georgia State Perimeter College)
  7. The ethics of publicly discussing public health strategies — the downside risks of openly floating some ideas should be taken more seriously, argues Matthew Smith (Northeastern)

Mini-Heap posts usually appear when 7 or so 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. Discussion welcome.

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.

APA Announces Multiple Awards

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 07/01/2021 - 7:00pm in


awards, philosophy

The American Philosophical Association (APA) has announced the winners of 15 prizes and honors, as well as the creation of a new prize.

The prizes and their winners are:

From the selection committee: The P4C/Aggie School of Athens Philosophy Summer Camp for Teens exhibits excellence and innovation worthy of the prize. The program organizes undergraduate students to run a philosophy camp for high school students. What is especially impressive about this program is that it extends beyond the summer camp to year-round projects that involve college students engaging high school students in philosophical conversation. While giving college students hands-on experience mentoring and engaging high school students in philosophy, the program also gives high school students a genuine voice in the organization of the camp and the year-long program. The program offers a model to others looking to develop philosophy for children programs that can serve to both strengthen undergraduate engagement in philosophy and create enthusiasm for philosophy among high school students. The program has also been successful in engaging the community and highlighting the importance of philosophy in the development of children. 

From the selection committeeNguyen’s article offers a remarkably original and wide-ranging reflection on the status of games as art. But importantly, he also mines the aesthetic experiences provided through the artistic medium of games as a source of insight into the nature of human agency. It is precisely in part the apparent artificiality and arbitrariness of games, Nguyen argues, which make them “a valuable tool for human self-development.”

From the selection committeeJeffrey W. Howard’s “Dangerous Speech” offers a strong argument for the following claims, among others: that the right to free speech does not protect speech that incites the incontrovertible violation of others’ rights, that the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brandenburg test (according to which speech is protected by the First Amendment so long as it is not directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is not likely to produce such action) is problematic, but that considerations of wide proportionality might indeed speak against the suppression of dangerous speech. The committee found this article illuminating and original, in a way that really advances an important and central debate in the philosophy of law.

  • 2021 Dewey Lectures
    “Three annual lectures, one at each divisional meeting of the APA (Eastern, Central, and Pacific), given by a prominent and senior (typically retired) philosopher associated with that Division, who is invited to reflect broadly and in an autobiographical spirit on philosophy in America as seen from the perspective of a personal intellectual journey.” (Lecture and $1000.)

From the selection committeeThe APA Committee on Hispanics is pleased to award the 2020 Essay Prize in Latin American Thought to Dr. Rafael Vizcaino for his essay, “Which Secular Grounds? The Atheism of Liberation Philosophy.” The Committee commends Dr. Vizcaino for his profound, rigorous, and original essay, which not only contributes to the growth and expansion of the field but also represents the best, unpublished, English-language philosophical essay in Latin American Thought.

From the selection committee: We were pleased to select Christian List’s Why Free Will is Real as the recipient of the 2020 Joseph B. Gittler Award for its contributions to the philosophy of social science. List defends a “compatabilist libertarianism,” demonstrating how a deterministic account of human organisms, construed as physical systems, might be reconciled with the substantive kinds of choice, agency and self-control people must have if they are to be justly held responsible for their actions in moral and legal contexts. In accessible prose, List weaves together work on mental causation, counterfactual dependency, and psychological explanation to sketch an attractive account of free will that might be used to unify the diverse perspectives of humanists and social scientists. The resulting synthesis is remarkable for both its clarity and practical significance.

  • 2021 Jean Hampton Prize 
    “Awarded biennially to a philosopher at a junior career stage whose paper is accepted for the Pacific Division meeting. The paper must be in some area of philosophy in which Professor Hampton worked, including social and political philosophy, foundations of ethics, normative ethics, the philosophy of law, rational choice theory, feminist theory, Hobbes to Hume, Kant, realism, and pragmatism.” ($500)
    Awarded to Nathan Hauthaler (Stanford University) for “For No Particular Reason”.
  • 2021 William James Prize
    For “the best paper in the area of American philosophy that is both (a) written by a philosopher who received the Ph.D. within five years of the beginning of the calendar year in which the paper is submitted, or is a graduate student, and (b) accepted for inclusion in the Eastern Division program by the program committee through the normal process of anonymous-reviewing.” ($300)
    Awarded to Heather Spradley (Harvard University) for “Inquiring While Believing”.

From the selection committeeSpradley’s paper treats the relationship between two topics central to American Pragmatism: inquiry and belief. She makes the case that while it might seem impossible for a person to inquire into whether something is true if they already believe it, this combination of attitudes is not only possible but sometimes the rationally important to cultivate. Without combining inquiry and belief, Spradley argues, epistemic bubbles will form that impede living together cooperatively in political society. The paper brings into focus in an original and compelling a type of epistemic demand imposed by political association.

  • 2020 Journal of Value Inquiry Prize
    Biennially “awarded for the best unpublished, article-length work in philosophy by a non-academically affiliated philosopher. The winner’s work may be published in the Journal of Value Inquiry by mutual agreement of the author and the editors of the journal.” ($1000)
    Awarded to Matthew Bennett for “Demoralising Trust”.

From the selection committee“Demoralizing Trust” argues against widely held “moralizing” accounts of trust. According to such accounts, a person who trusts someone else does so because they expect the trusted person to possess the moral motivations and moral qualities that would lead to the expected behavior. The alternative proposed here is a commitment account according to which the person trusted is believed to be committed to behaving in the relevant way. The notion of commitment used here is a psychological one, not a moral one—though moral commitment could be involved, too. However, moral motivations are neither necessary nor sufficient for trust. “Demoralizing Trust” is not only a very well written and argued paper but also a highly original one. It makes an important contribution to ongoing discussions about trust and related issues. It is an excellent choice for the Journal of Value Inquiry Prize.

From Dominic McIver Lopes, chair of the APA Board of Officers: The Philip L. Quinn Prize is given “in recognition of service to philosophy and philosophers, broadly construed,” and each laureate represents a distinctive and personal vision of how the life of a philosopher can enrich the lives of other philosophers. Kwame Anthony Appiah’s writings in ethics, culture, and identity are subtle and timely, and his contributions catalyzed the mainstreaming of philosophy of race and Africana philosophy within the discipline. His leadership on the boards of the APA, the MLA, the ACLS, and the AAAS, and on many juries, including the jury for the Berggruen Prize, has fortified the communities of scholars within which we thrive. In his column as “The Ethicist” in the New York Times Magazine, Appiah embodies a new model of the public philosopher as confidant and advisor, as well as advocate and explainer.

  • 2020 Sanders Book Prize
    For “the best book in philosophy of mind, metaphysics, or epistemology that engages the analytic tradition published in English in the previous five-year period.” Funded by the Marc Sanders Foundation. ($7000).  (Note: according to the APA, “due to the financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, this prize has been temporarily suspended.)
    Awarded to Sarah Moss (University of Michigan) for Probabilistic Knowledge (Oxford).

From the selection committeeSarah Moss’s Probabilistic Knowledge is a philosophically creative work that moves canonically-significant conversations  forward in epistemology and philosophy of language, with important and interesting applications in philosophy of mind and ethics. The book contends that the role propositional content plays in epistemology should be supplanted by probabilistic content, with the result that knowledge is constituted by probabilistic epistemic claims and so is justified by richly-pragmatic means. A further distinctive feature of the book is its engagement with a vast and diverse literature.

  • 2021 Sanders Graduate Student Awards
    “Awarded to each of the three best papers in mind, metaphysics, epistemology, or ethics submitted for the annual APA Eastern Division meeting by graduate students, as chosen by the Eastern Division program committee.” Funded by the Marc Sanders Foundation. ($1000 each)
    Awarded to:
    • Lucas Battich (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich) for “Opening up the Openness of Joint Attention”
    • Kathleen Connelly (University of California, San Diego) for “Blame and Patronizing”
    • Madeleine Ransom (University of British Columbia) for “Perceptual Learning of High-Level Properties”
  • 2020 Prize for Excellence in Philosophy Teaching
    “Recognizes a philosophy teacher who has had a profound impact on the student learning of philosophy in undergraduate and/or pre-college settings.” Sponsored by the APA, the American Association of Philosophy Teachers (AAPT), and the Teaching Philosophy Association (TPA).
    Awarded to:
    • Russell Marcus (Hamilton College)
      From the selection committeeDr. Marcus is one of the central figures in the success of the AAPT/APA teaching hubs, an important scholar of teaching and learning in philosophy, author of a logic textbook, founder and director of the Hamilton summer program for innovative teaching, and beloved mentor. His inventive team-based pedagogies and exemplary scaffolded assignments motivate transformative student learning.
    • Eduardo Villanueva (Pontifical Catholic University of Peru)
      From the selection committeeDr. Villaneuva has changed the way philosophy is practiced in Peru, inspiring a letter writer to say that he is “the most important philosophy teacher in Latin America today.” He removes barriers. Without his work, some people would not have access to college. Without his work, opportunities for philosophic engagement from around the globe would not be available to students at his university and beyond.

The APA also announced the creation of the Alvin Plantinga Prize. Funded by the Bossenbroek Family Foundation, the prize was established in honor of Alvin Plantinga, John A. O’Brien Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. The prize will recognize original essays that engage philosophical issues about or in substantial ways related to theism. One prize of $10,000 and up to two honorable mention prizes of $5,000 each will be awarded annually.

The APA’s announcement of its awards is here.

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