Philosophers Among NEH Grant Winners

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 15/08/2019 - 9:53pm in



The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has announced the winners of its latest round of grants. 

Among the winners are several philosophy professors. They’re listed below, along with their project titles and descriptions, grant amounts, and grant types:

  • Jose Bermudez (Texas A & M University) and Catherine Conybeare (Bryn Mawr College)
    Reconsidering the Sources of the Self in the Ancient, Medieval, and Early Modern Periods
    A conference and preparation of an edited volume of essays on the influential Sources of the Self: The Making of Modern Identity by philosopher Charles Taylor (1931–).
     $48,961 (Collaborative Research)
  • Richard Cohen (University at Buffalo)
    Emmanuel Levinas: Ethics of Democracy
    A One-week seminar for 16 college and university faculty on Levinas and democracy.
    $63,789 (Seminars for College Teachers)
  • Angela Coventry (Portland State University)
    David Hume in the Twenty-first Century: Perpetuating the Enlightenment
    A four-week institute for 30 college and university faculty on the Scottish thinker David Hume.
    $185,975 (Institutes for College and University Teachers)
  • Karen Detlefsen (University of Pennsylvania) and Lisa Shapiro (Simon Fraser University)
    New Narratives in the History of Philosophy: Women and Early Modern European Philosophy
    A conference on the works of early modern women philosophers (1500 to 1850) in preparation for an edited volume of essays.
    $50,000 (Collaborative Research)

Also funded is an education researcher’s project on philosophers of education:

  • Peter Gibbon (Boston University)
    What We Teach and Why: Philosophers of Education from the Enlightenment to the Present
    A three-week seminar for 16 K-12 educators on the philosophical foundations of American education.
    $105,000 (Seminars for School Teachers)

The NEH awarded grants totaling $29 million to 215 projects this round*. That means that only 1.86% of the grants, and 1.2% of the funding, went to philosophy professors.

* Correction: the original version of this post mistakenly attributed these figures to the 2019 year in total, rather than to the latest round of funding. Thanks to Malcolm Keating for the correction.

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Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 15/08/2019 - 4:29am in


Links, philosophy

The latest Mini-Heap:

  1. “In philosophy we tend to theorise too soon, about things that we don’t yet understand well enough because we haven’t looked at them hard enough before we rush into theory.” — Sophie Grace Chappell (Open University) on what it has been like for her to be a trans woman, and what can be learned from her experiences
  2. Political Science deploys devastating new weapon in best-disciplinary-conference wars— I think this is one of those situations in which no one will object to someone starting a petition
  3. Attempts to find out whether we’re simulated minds in a simulated world will be “either extremely uninteresting or spectacularly dangerous” — Preston Greene (Nanyang) in the NYT
  4. The charge of politicizing tragedy “has its purchase only if one thinks that the political considerations brought out in the grief are misguided or irrelevant” — Scott Aikin and Robert Talisse (Vanderbilt) on the charge of politicizing tragedy
  5. Ned Block (NYU) talks consciousness — on The Partially Examined Life podcast
  6. Philosophy Job Market Mentoring Program — those seeking mentoring and those able to offer it: sign up!
  7. Different theories in the philosophy of mind as illustrations — by Jasper van den Herik (EUR), with other suggestions in the replies

Mini-Heap posts 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.

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!


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What You Wish You Knew When You Started Teaching Philosophy

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 15/08/2019 - 12:46am in

Philosophers and Petitions

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 14/08/2019 - 4:48am in



Numbers generate a pressure to believe that isn’t grounded in explanatory force, because having more and more adherents to a view doesn’t give rise to better and better accounts of why the view is correct…

Philosophers ought to be especially sensitive to introducing this element of belief imposition into our culture. As a philosopher, I want my influence to be philosophical, which is to say, I want to bring people to believe only what they, by their own lights, can see to be justified; I don’t want them to believe something because (I am one of the) many people who think it.

That’s Agnes Callard (Chicago), writing in The New York Times, on why “petitions, regardless of their content, compromise core values of intellectual inquiry” and why their use “constitutes a kind of philosophical malpractice.” Her central focus is on petitions and open letters directed at academics.

Mural by David de la Mano and Pablo S. Herrero

I get what she’s saying. In regard to an academic petition from a couple of years ago, I urged that “in conducting our academic work we should try as much as possible to rely on the exchange of evidence and arguments, not (directly) on the numbers of people who agree with us, or the strength of their agreement” and cautioned against activities that push us towards “a version of academia in which, in the contest of ideas, when expertise bumps up against popularity, the latter is more likely to win.”

In her column, Callard writes:

We’d never approach questions such as “Are possible worlds real?” or “Is knowledge justified true belief?” by petition, so why are we tempted to do so in the case of questions around sex, gender and hurtful speech?

She thinks the answer she’d get is:

the latter question involves real feelings and real people, and it is about something that is happening now—for all these reasons, it strikes us as being of grave importance. The petition writers are thinking to themselves, this time it really matters. 

And she replies:

I think it is a mistake for a philosopher to take the importance of a question as a reason to adopt an unphilosophical attitude toward it… If we are going to have professional, intramural discussions about the ethics of the profession, we should do so philosophically and not by petitioning one another. We should allow ourselves the license to be philosophical all the way down.

I’m somewhat sympathetic with this, but I’m not sure Callard accurately characterizes the thinking of petition writers. She emphasizes that petition writers think it’s the “importance of a question” that draws them to that particular tool. Importance is one thing, sure, but I suspect the crucial element is practical urgency. That is, there is a decision or action that needs to be taken on a specific matter, or as part of the shaping of practices and norms in our shared work environment, and there are reasons to think it would be better if this decision or action were taken sooner rather than later.

Callard says we should make these decisions “philosophically and not by petitioning one another.” We know, though, that, generally, any given philosophical discussion is an ongoing matter unlikely to be resolved any time soon, and so sometimes we employ non-philosophical methods to make practical professional decisions. We vote on association bylaws or departmental policies, for example. We answer polls on various questions related to the discipline. Are these unphilosophical methods of proceeding? Maybe, but fortunately we are not forced to choose between them and doing philosophy, for we can philosophize in advance of them, during them, and after them. And that’s what we do.

The same goes for petitions and open letters. I see little evidence that they are substituting for philosophical conversation that otherwise would have taken place on their subject matter, even when the subjects veer a little from practical professional matters into substantive philosophical issues. If anything, they draw attention to the subjects, provide information about people’s beliefs, and prompt increased philosophical conversation and more robust disagreement among a greater number of parties.

That said, Callard’s considerations may inform discussions of what is reasonable to state in petitions or open letters directed at fellow academics, or what is reasonable to ask of our colleagues in such documents—as well as the ways in which it’s responsible to let them affect our reasoning.

Callard says “we should allow ourselves the license to be philosophical all the way down.” Sure. And as we head all the way down, if we need to make a few decisions along the way, or think it would be useful to know the prevalence of certain opinions about our journey, we should allow ourselves to make thoughtful use of various tools we have at our disposal to do so. That doesn’t stop us from doing philosophy.

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New Site for Experimental Philosophical Bioethics

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 13/08/2019 - 11:13pm in

BioXphi aims to be an online hub for experimental philosophical bioethics.

[Matthew Cox, “Lashes and Earrings”]

What is experimental philosophical bioethics? It’s an emerging field that

will use traditional research methods of experimental philosophy and the empirical social and psychological sciences to investigate key premises in the arguments of various positions in theoretical bioethics. Though bioethicists have occasionally drawn on empirical data to supplement arguments and normative bioethical analysis, bioXphi by contrast seeks to uniquely probe the intuitions of patients and possible stakeholders in order to extrapolate—and make explicit wherever possible—the underlying cognitive and psychological processes that inform their responses. In this way, a major purpose of bioXphi is to make bioethical theorizing increasingly responsive to empirical insights in the formulation of clinical practice, institutional policy, and ongoing theoretical debate. As an interdisciplinary line of research, bioXphi can be thought of as advancing at least two types of inquiry: descriptive questions about the psychology and mechanism of bioethical decision-making, and prescriptive questions that constitute the core of bioethics.

The site, developed by Brian Earp (Yale, Oxford), contains a bibliography of work in and related to experimental philosophical bioethics, information about an upcoming conference, and a blog.

The post New Site for Experimental Philosophical Bioethics appeared first on Daily Nous.

Indulge Yourself or Serve Others? It Depends

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 13/08/2019 - 1:04am in



A new study shows that both self-indulgence and giving to others yield emotional benefits, depending on your current life circumstances.

Online Philosophy Resources Weekly Update

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 12/08/2019 - 8:36pm in

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

Below is a list of recent updates, if there have been any, to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP), Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (IEP), Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (NDPR), 1000-Word Philosophy, and Wireless Philosophy (Wi-Phi). There’s also a section listing recent reviews of philosophy books appearing in popular media.


New:  ∅


  1. Translating and Interpreting Chinese Philosophy, by Henry Rosemont Jr.
  2. Word Meaning, by Luca Gasparri and Diego Marconi (Free University of Berlin).
  3. Religion and Morality, by John Hare (Yale).
  4. Emmanuel Levinas, by Bettina Bergo (Montreal).
  5. Moses Mendelssohn, by Daniel Dahlstrom (Boston University).
  6. God and Other Necessary Beings, by Matthew Davidson (Colorado State-San Bernardino).
  7. Special Obligations, by Diane Jeske (Iowa).
  8. The Philosophy of Neuroscience, by John Bickle (Missouri State), Peter Mandik (William Patterson University), and Anthony Landreth.
  9. Heidegger’s Aesthetics, by Iain Thomson (New Mexico).


  1. Edward Hanslick, by Christoph Landerer and Alexander Wilfing (Austrian Academy of Sciences).


  1. Amy M. Schmitter (Alberta) reviews Affects, Actions and Passions in Spinoza: The Unity of Body and Mind (Edinburgh), by Chantal Jaquet.
  2. David Phillips (Houston) reviews The Birth of Ethics: Reconstructing the Role and Nature of Morality (Oxford), by Philip Pettit.
  3. Marcus Arvan (Tampa) reviews A Defense of Simulated Experience: New Noble Lies (Routledge), by Mark Silcox.
  4. Chris Haufe (Case Western Reserve) reviews Speculation: Within and About Science (Oxford), by Peter Achinstein.
  5. T. Mullins (St Andrews) reviews Christian Philosophy: Conceptions, Continuations, and Challenges (Oxford), by J. Aaron Simmons (ed.).
  6. Anne-Lise Rey (Université Paris-Nanterre) reviews The Leibniz-Stahl Controversy (Yale), by G. W. Leibniz.
  7. Jennifer Matey (Southern Methodist) reviews Evaluative Perception (Oxford), by Anna Bergqvist and Robert Cowan (eds.).
  8. Douglas I. Thompson (South Carolina) reviews Must Politics Be War?: Restoring Our Trust in the Open Society (Oxford), by Kevin Vallier.
  9. Gary Kemp (Glasgow) reviews Quine, New Foundations, and the Philosophy of Set Theory (Cambridge), by Sean Morris.

1000-Word Philosophy

Wireless Philosophy

Recent Philosophy Book Reviews in Non-Academic Media

  1. Julia McMichael reviews Zen: An Introduction, by Alan Watts, in the San Francisco Book Review.
  2. Jonathan Egid reviews Witcraft, by Jonathan Rée, at the Times Literary Supplement.
  3. James Miller reviews Karl Marx: Philosophy and Revolution, by Shlomo Avineri, at The New York Times.

Compiled by Michael Glawson.

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

Sarah Paul from Wisconsin to NYU-Abu Dhabi

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 10/08/2019 - 12:11am in

Sarah Paul, until recently associate professor of philosophy at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, has taken up an associate professorship in philosophy at the Abu Dhabi campus of New York University.

Professor Paul works in philosophy of action, philosophy of mind, and practical reason. You can learn more about her here.

The post Sarah Paul from Wisconsin to NYU-Abu Dhabi appeared first on Daily Nous.


Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 08/08/2019 - 11:56pm in


Links, philosophy

A new Mini-Heap…

  1. Synthetic wombs and the abortion debate — the ideas of a few philosophers are discussed in this NYT article
  2. “The aesthetic and the moral are not as separate as we would like to believe” — Agnes Callard (Chicago) on the “fine line between respecting others’ right to their bad taste, and opting to participate in it”
  3. “There is no established orthodoxy about gender in academic philosophy” — a statement from 33 philosophers
  4. The top ten places for an undergraduate degree in philosophy in the UK, according to The Telegraph — more noteworthy for the publicity it brings to philosophy than its content
  5. “The people you want to listen… aren’t the ones who are listening” — Mark Alfano (Australian Catholic University) is attempting to burst the anti-vaxxer bubble.
  6. “The rapid speed at which this science is advancing suggests the potential for promising applications of memory-editing techniques in the future” — a discussion of recent advances in memory editing and how they might translate to current clinical practice
  7. There’s no such thing as the direction of time — Matt Farr (Cambridge) lays out the C-Theory of time, which “goes a significant step further even than the B-theory”

Mini-Heap posts 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.

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.

Publicly Engaged Philosophy: A Dispatch (guest post by Jennifer Morton)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 07/08/2019 - 11:18pm in



“What I’m suggesting here is… doing philosophy with the public not just because of what we think we can offer with our expertise, but because of what we think the public can offer philosophy.”

The following is a guest post* by Jennifer Morton, associate professor of philosophy at the City College of New York and CUNY Graduate Center.

Publicly Engaged Philosophy: A Dispatch
by Jennifer Morton

A few weeks into teaching a philosophy of action course at the City College of New York, one of my students exclaimed in exasperation something along the lines of, “We are just talking about the problems of privileged, white people here!” Several other students concurred. I urged them to say more. The examples, one of them explained, were disconnected from their experience of making choices. She didn’t have a second-order desire that her desire to go to her job as a cashier at Walgreens be effective over her desire to stay in bed in the morning. She had to work. Her job sucked, but she did it. Their critique resonated with me. I too had had the experience of reading philosophy and thinking that it wasn’t about people like me. Now, after years as a professional philosopher with a decent salary, I have come to see more of my life reflected in the literature—decisions about whether to agree to referee a paper or where to go on vacation seem relevant rather than fanciful.

But the complaint my student lodged raises a serious worry for our profession. Philosophers tend to come from a narrow slice of the population. The worries about the profession’s elitism, whiteness, and maleness have been well-documented and discussed here and elsewhere. But even those of us who buck the demographic trends might find that after years of professional philosophy, we start to sound more and more like our colleagues than like the friends and family with whom we grew up. This is the predictable result of training, socialization, and years of immersion in the system of higher education. One might argue that this is the price of expertise. But it also means that even as the demographics of our profession continue to improve, our epistemic blinders might not be mitigated quite as rapidly. Of course, work in epistemic injustice, non-ideal theory, philosophy of race, and philosophy of gender is starting to become more widely accepted by the analytical mainstream. Surely this is to some extent due to increasing demographic diversity in the profession. Yet, we still focus too often on the problems of middle-aged, middle-class academics at the expense of the rich variety of human experience out there.

Maintaining a porous boundary between philosophy and non-philosophers is not simply about fixing our marketing problem or about bringing philosophical ideas to the public square. It is also about pushing those of us within the profession to consider a broader range of experiences in the philosophical work we do. Sometimes our work is hard for the public to appreciate because it is rigorous and understanding it requires training, but often it simply doesn’t resonate with the experiences of many outside of the academy.

When I started working on my forthcoming book on the ethical costs of upward mobility, I found myself hamstrung by the philosophical methodologies that I had been trained in as an analytical philosopher. I was taught to analyze and evaluate arguments, find counterexamples, identify weaknesses, and put forward my own arguments. Arguments that would receive the same critical feedback from my peers. Yet, in writing this book I was interested in a topic that was not being discussed by analytical philosophers—the ethically challenging experience of seeking upward mobility through education—and I wanted to write a book that would accurately capture the experiences those students were having. The social science research on this topic was critical in helping me further along in my project (another reason to embrace a porous boundary with other academic disciplines), but I also felt that it didn’t go far enough in asking the sorts of questions I was interested in: What is it like for a striver (one seeking opportunities for upward mobility through education) to have a foot in both worlds? How do strivers think of the value of what they sacrificed in their path and of what they gained? And how do they contend with the demands of family, friends, and community when these demands come into conflict with their educational trajectory?

As a first-generation student myself, I had a sense of my own answers to those questions, but I wanted to have a dialogue with those whose experiences hadn’t yet been filtered by years of experience in professional philosophy. So, I conducted about three dozen interviews with people who had been first-generation college students and were now successful professionals, of whom only a couple of were academics. It was an exercise in philosophical ethnography. I’m not a social scientist, so this wasn’t meant to be a study from which I could form generalizations or draw broad empirical conclusions. I relied on work by trained social scientists for that (and there are important questions about training that deserve their own discussion), but I wanted to approach the ethical question from the ground up. Fortunately, this isn’t as uncommon in philosophy of education, especially in education schools where disciplinary boundaries are routinely crossed. Meira Levinson at the Harvard School of Education has been developing richly-described normative case studies that are drawn from real dilemmas facing educators and schools. Doris Santoro at Bowdoin College has been writing about the ethical experiences of teachers on the basis of her own interviews. Yet this approach is not as common in analytically-minded philosophy departments. There are exceptions. X-phi philosophers are interested in discovering what the public’s intuitions are about a wide range of cases of interest to philosophers. But this approach seems inadequate to addressing the concern I’m raising. We need methods that allow us to be genuinely open to new questions and topics of research that speak to broader segments of the population.

The concern I’m raising here is not new. Recently, Kristie Dotson has raised similar concerns in her paper “How Is this Philosophy?”. Dotson seeks to challenge what she calls the culture of justification in philosophy that relies on legitimizing views by appealing to widely accepted set of ‘traditional’ or ‘mainstream’ practices, beliefs, and standards that historically have excluded those who are under-represented in our profession—minorities and women. She suggests that we embrace a different culture of praxis in which different cannons, methodologies, and practitioners are welcome within the umbrella of philosophy. What I’m suggesting here is that we think of public philosophy as an arm of that expansion—doing philosophy with the public not just because of what we think we can offer with our expertise, but because of what we think the public can offer philosophy. Barry Lam’s excellent podcast Hi-Phi Nation, offers a model here not just of how to bring philosophy to the public but of how the public can be a fecund source for interesting philosophical questions and insights. And I saw this in my own experience working on the topic of upward mobility. My philosophical expertise allowed me to analyze and defend a set of claims that form the linchpin of the book, but it was the interviews that I conducted that allowed me to capture the heart-wrenching, ethically complicated nature of upward mobility. Strivers told me about the regret and guilt they felt about their fraying, complicated relationships with those with whom they grew up and how this affected their understanding of themselves. Even though the experience of strivers is a rich topic for ethics (and political philosophy), if they had turned to contemporary analytical philosophy, they would have found little that would speak to it.

The image of the philosopher in the public square is at least as old as Plato, of course, and so there is a sense in which doing public philosophy has always been at the heart of our discipline. Yet, too often this model is thought of as one in which the sage shares his wisdom with the folk; it is time that we recognize that the folk have something to teach us.

art: sculpture and photo by Charles Pétillon

The post Publicly Engaged Philosophy: A Dispatch (guest post by Jennifer Morton) appeared first on Daily Nous.