Monday, January 31, 2011

Feminist Philosophy


I could try to justify writing a post on this topic by saying that I'm a little too 'skeptical' about the very idea of feminist philosophy. When about twelve years ago I first heard that certain people were doing research in this area, I was really surprised. Although I believe there are a couple of women working on feminist philosophy here in Argentina, it seems to me that this 'field of research' is in vogue particularly in the US. If you take a look at the website of any philosophy department in the US, you'll probably find someone one of whose areas of specialization is feminist philosophy.

I've been reading some entries on feminism in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and I must confess that I don't get it. What do they intend to do? To study what women have in fact said about certain philosophic problems or the approach(es) they have in fact adopted? Or are there specific philosophic problems discovered or examined only by women? I may be missing something here, but the first thing that comes to mind is this: when I read a book, article, encyclopedia entry, critical notice, or book review on skepticism, epistemology, metaethics, or Wittgenstein, I don't pay attention to whether the author is a man or a woman. Does it really matter?  I mean, would that make any difference? (Perhaps we should to try to investigate this issue from the perspective of so-called experimental philosophy!) I cannot help having the (perhaps false) impression that all this is bullshit (excuse my French).

Friday, January 28, 2011

New Epistemology Journal

Logos & Episteme is a new quarterly open-access epistemology journal published by a group of scholars from the “Gheorghe Zane” Institute for Economic and Social Research at the Romanian Academy. Its editor-in-chief is Teodor Dima. The journal has an impressive Advisory Board and its first two issues contain very interesting material. The second issue features J. A. Barker and F. Adams' "Epistemic Closure and Skepticism". The journal's website can be found here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Kantian Idealism

The collective volume Kant's Idealism (Springer), edited by Dennis Schulting and Jacco Verburgt, features Dietmar Heidemann's "Appearance, Thing-in-Itself, and the Problem of the Skeptical Hypothesis". The paper can be found here.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Reviews of "Kant and Skepticism"

A review of Michael Forster's Kant and Skepticism (Princeton University Press, 2008) has been published in the European Journal of Philosophy. Go here to find it.

In the posts I don't usually refer to the things I write, but here you can also find a short review of the same book which I wrote for Philosophy in Review last year.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Pyrrhonian Inquiry

Those working on Pyrrhonian skepticism will be interested to know that the collective volume Definition in Greek Philosophy (OUP, 2010), edited by D. Charles, features Gail Fine's "Sceptical Enquiry." The paper can be accessed online here (provided you have access to Oxford Scholarship Online).

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Aikin on the Regress Problem

Some months ago, I posted information about a forthcoming book by Scott Aikin (Vanderbilt University). The book finally came out last November:

S. Aikin, Epistemology and the Regress Problem. Routledge, 2010. For more information, go here.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Pointless Thinking

Recently, I've been reflecting again on whether systematic and critical thinking (of the sort we find especially in philosophy) is, in the end, utterly pointless, for I cannot help feeling that it leads us nowhere. This feeling depends, of course, on both one's field(s) of research and the way one approaches philosophy or systematic thinking in general. I mean, if someone studies e.g. skepticism, finds some skeptical arguments plausible or persuasive, and does not insulate his own life from his philosophical research, then it seems clear that this research will have some degree of impact on his Weltanschauung. But if you think skepticism is absurd or if your skeptical stance does not affect the way you look at things in your daily life, then no problem arises - of course, one can talk of a "problem" provided the impact is deemed to be negative.

Be that as it may, lately I've been wondering more often than usual whether this whole thing of philosophy isn't completely worthless. My (entirely unoriginal) point is that, in the final analysis, that kind of thinking leads to aporia (or at least that's where it leads me all the bloody time) because reason appears to undermine itself or to be unable to find acceptable answers to the questions it poses. This is why I'm impressed when I encounter people (both laymen and scholars) who have deep convictions and to whom the world makes sense.

Of course, there's also the question of whether one could do something else, since it may be in the "nature" of some people to think (most of the time) in a critical and systematic way, and so they would be slaves to their own psychological makeup, as it were. I've often read that Wittgenstein recommended his "disciples" that they should abandon philosophy, and part of the reason seems to have been (I may be wrong) that the whole thing is pointless. But is there any going back? For once you've learned to think in a given manner or to deal with everyday situations and problems by analyzing them systematically and thoroughly, it doesn't seem possible to rid yourself of this (exhausting) intellectual habit.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Epistemology of Testimony

A couple of months ago, I wrote a draft of a post about some recent books on the epistemology of testimony. Now that in my two previous posts I referred to the epistemology of trust, I think it's time to mention those books.

The past few years have witnessed a remarkable development in the study of the epistemological problems of testimony, a topic that should be of interest to those seriously working on epistemological skepticism. The best recent books of which I'm aware are the following:

- Sandy Goldberg, Relying on Others. Oxford University Press, 2010.

- Jennifer Lackey, Learning from Words: Testimony as a Source of Knowledge. Oxford University Press, 2008.

- Sandy Goldberg, Anti-Individualism: Mind and Language, Knowledge and Justification. Cambridge University Press, 2007.

- Jennifer Lackey & Ernest Sosa (eds.), The Epistemology of Testimony. Oxford University Press, 2006.
There is a clear and useful discussion of testimony, by Jonathan Adler, in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Click here.
Finally, the epistemology of testimony forms part of so-called "social epistemology", even though those working on testimony do not usually use this phrase to describe what they do. In this respect, there's a very recent collective volume on the topic:
- Adrian Haddock, Allan Millar, and Duncan Pritchard (eds.), Social Epistemology. Oxford University Press, 2010.