Friday, December 27, 2013

Perin on Arcesilaus

The latest issue of Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy (45/2013) contains Casey Perin's article, "Making Sense of Arcesilaus." Unfortunately, OSAP issues are only available in print and as e-books.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

New Book Series: Brill Studies in Skepticism

Duncan Pritchard and I are going to co-edit the new book series, Brill Studies in Skepticism, which is affiliated with the International Journal for the Study of Skepticism. Below you'll find complete information about the series. Inquiries should be addressed to either Duncan or myself.

Brill Studies in Skepticism

Series Editors

Diego Machuca (CONICET) & Duncan Pritchard (University of Edinburgh)

Aims and Scope

Conceived of as a supplement to the International Journal for the Study of Skepticism, the series Brill Studies in Skepticism aims to publish original historical scholarship and cutting-edge contemporary research on philosophical skepticism. The series covers a wide range of areas: the history of ancient, medieval, modern, and contemporary skepticism, as well as systematic discussions of skeptical problems and arguments in epistemology, metaethics, philosophy of religion, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of language. Brill Studies in Skepticism therefore welcomes proposals for monographs and edited volumes from historians of philosophy and contemporary philosophers working in a variety of methods and traditions.

Editorial Board

Anthony Brueckner (University of California, Santa Barbara)
John Greco (Saint Louis University)
Baron Reed (Northwestern University)
Claudine Tiercelin (Collège de France)

Submission of Proposals and Peer Review Process

Proposals for monographs and edited volumes on any topic covered by Brill Studies in Skepticism are welcome for consideration. All proposals are first screened by the Series Editors, who, with the assistance of the members of the Editorial Board, evaluate their pertinence and quality. If the proposed monograph or edited volume is deemed to make an original contribution to the study of the history or significance of philosophical skepticism, the author or editor will be invited to submit a complete manuscript, which will undergo double-blind peer review.
       The Series Editors and the members of the Editorial Board are excluded from authoring monographs in the series and from participating in the review process for any edited volume that contains an essay authored by them. In the latter case, their essay will be double-blind peer reviewed.

Monday, December 16, 2013

SSS 2013 Meeting

Here's the program for the meeting of the Society for Skeptical Studies at the APA-E:

Monday, December 30, 9:00-11:15 am. Chair: James Dunson (Xavier University of Louisiana).

James Dunson: “Ready to Die: Making Ethical Judgments about Personal End-of-Life Choices.”

Christopher Edelman (University of the Incarnate Word): “Essaying Oneself: Montaigne’s Skepticism as a Way of Life.”

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Blackburn on the Existence of God

Some of you may have already read this interview that Simon Blackburn gave to Philosophy Now in which he explains why he is an atheist or "infidel" (as he prefers to be called). Since on FB and elsewhere some people have been complaining about the soundness of his arguments and have been saying that they expected more from a top philosopher, I'd like to make a few very simple remarks because, among other things, I think he makes some good points -- I will only refer to a couple of them.

(1) The first thing to note is that this is a short interview, so one cannot expect the interviewee to fully explain his line of reasoning on such a complex question as whether God exists or whether there is a deity of some kind.

(2) When Blackburn says that the strongest argument against the existence of God is the existence of appalling human and animal suffering, he is thinking of God as conceived of by, e.g., Christians, as his enumeration of the attributes of such a being make clear. So if the argument from evil is sound, it seems it wouldn't disprove the existence of any kind of god, since there may be, e.g., a god that isn't omnibenevolent. But what is important in the present context, in which Blackburn is clearly debating with Christians, is that the argument from evil (presented in a very condensed form in this brief interview) doesn't seem to be a silly argument that is not worth considering. At least, I don't think that Christian philosophers have provided conclusive counter-arguments. As I said in a previous post, theodical explanations that attempt to explain the existence of evil strike me as a game one plays using very peculiar abstract concepts.

(3) I'm not making any assertion about the existence or non-existence of God, since I'm a religious agnostic. What I'm saying is that philosophical discussion of this topic shouldn't dismiss out of hand certain arguments and positions. I find a condescending and arrogant attitude in those (believers and non-believers) who have criticized Blackburn's answers, which is the same attitude I've found in many believers when they're confronted with arguments for atheism or for agnosticism. And this goes both ways. In May, at a conference in Brazil, I remembered asking a friend of mine, who is a smart and respected epistemologist, about how to resolve a fundamental disagreement between a champion of the natural selection view and a champion of the intelligent design view. His answer was just that the defender of the intelligent design view does not really believe what he says he believes. A surprising reply.

(4) Blackburn remarks that he doubts that he could be convinced through reasons and reasonings that there is a God, and that he's "sure that emotional traumas, loss, oppression and despair cause many people to seek some kind of refuge in supernatural hopes." What's the problem with this claim? I think it is descriptive. If I restrict myself to my own experience, I should say that when I tell someone that I do not believe in God, the soul, the afterlife, Reiki, tarot, or astrology, most of the time the reaction I get is: "But how can you live without believing in anything?" (They mean, of course, without having any of those "central" beliefs.) So the reason they give is not that it is evident that, e.g., God exists or that there are compelling arguments that prove that He exists. Rather, the reason is pragmatic: life would be pointless or meaningless if there were no god/God, or no soul, or no afterlife, etc.; and this is precisely what Blackburn is saying. I suspect that many philosophers who hold metaphysical (or even supertitious) beliefs do so for purely pragmatic reasons.

(5) As regards the existence of the universe, Blackburn remarks that, "as David Hume said, if there is some unknown, inconceivable quality of ‘necessarily existing’, then for all we know it might belong to the cosmos itself. No need, then, to add anything else." I attended a Catholic school, and in high school I remember telling one of my teachers that, if it didn't make sense for the universe to have existed forever, why did it make sense for God to have existed forever? A few years later, I was surprised to hear a similar point made in a terrible American B movie. Still, I don't think that such a point can be dismissed out of hand (even though even a teenager can think of it): why is it absurd to assign certain attributes, such as eternity, to the universe but not to some sort of supernatural being?

(6) Blackburn also makes some good points in refusing to accept the similarity between skepticism about the existence of God and external world skepticism. Personally, whenever someone tells me that that he/she knows that there is a god/God on the basis of his/her religious experience, I usually stop offering arguments becaue I feel I cannot confidently deny that the person is question is having such an experience. But Blackburn seems right in pointing out that religious experience cannot justify all the attributes that are usually assigned to God. Or at least believers should explain how personal religious experience can do that. The burden of proof lies with them.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Williams on Descartes and Skepticism

Stéphane Marchand has called my attention to a talk that Michael Williams will give in Lyon on December 9: "Dreamers, Drunkards and Doppelgängers: the Originality of Descartes’s First Meditation." Complete information can be found here.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Free Access to IJSS

Excellent news: until December 31st, you can access the International Journal for the Study of Skepticism for free. Follow these four steps:

2. Register to create your own user account.
3. Go to my account and click on "add content."
4. Enter access token SKEP4U and manage your publication alerts.

(If you happen to have a problem with any of these steps, let me know.)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Doubt, Ignorance, and Science

Another interesting event will take place in Paris in a couple of weeks: "Doubt, Ignorance and Science: New Perspectives on Knowledge," a workshop that will be held at the École Normale Supérieure, on December 2 and 3. For complete information, click here.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Skepticism, Pragmatism, and Ordinary Language

On December 7th, 2013, the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne will host the conference "Scepticism, Pragmatism and Ordinary Language Philosophy." Complete information can be found here.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Skepticism of John of Salisbury

The study of skepticism in medieval philosophy has undergone significant progress in the last few years. Our understanding of this topic will be further improved by the recent publication of Christophe Grellard's Jean de Salisbury et la renaissance médiévale du scepticisme (Les Belles Lettres, 2013).

Friday, November 8, 2013

New Issue of IJSS

Issue 3/4 of the International Journal for the Study of Skepticism is now out. This issue includes three articles on skepticism in contemporary philosophy as well as a critical notice and three reviews of books on ancient and modern skepticism.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Ethical Irrealism

The latest issue of Ratio is a special issue entitled "Irrealism in Ethics". I haven't been able to read it yet, but Richard Joyce and Hallvard Lillehammer usually write excellent things.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Schellenberg's Religious Skepticism

In his recent book, Evolutionary Religion (OUP, 2013), John Schellenberg (Mount Saint Vincent) offers an intriguing evolutionary argument for skepticism that is based on the acceptance of deep time.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Ioppolo on Academic Skepticism

Anna Maria Ioppolo's collected essays on Hellenistic philosophy have just been published under the title Dibattiti filosofici ellenistici: Dottrina delle cause, Stoicismo, Accademia scettica (Academia Verlag). The volume, edited by B. Centrone, R. Chiaradonna, D. Quarantotto, and E. Spinelli, contains five papers on Academic skepticism. Of these, I particularly liked "The Academic Position of Favorinus of Arelate" and "Gli accademici “νεώτεροι” nel secondo secolo d.C.", which I read a few years ago.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Burnyeat's Papers on Skepticism

I just discovered that last year CUP published Explorations in Ancient and Modern Philosophy, a two-volume work that collects Myles Burnyeat's papers on ancient and modern philosophy. The first volume contains his papers on skepticism.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

On Sosa and Skepticism

Springer recently published Virtuous Thoughts: The Philosophy of Ernest Sosa, edited by John Turri. Two of the contributions deal with skepticism, namely, John Greco's "Reflective Knowledge and the Pyrrhonian Problematic," and Baron Reed's "Historical Reflections: Sosa’s Perspective on the Epistemological Tradition."

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The New Atheism and Its Critics

The latest issue of Midwest Studies in Philosophy is devoted to the so-called "New Atheism". It features contributions by Gary Gutting, Richard Fumerton, and Jonathan Kvanvig, among several others. It's definitely a debate worth reading.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Two Recent Papers on Ancient Skepticism

A few days ago, I received copies of these two papers by Ramón Román Alcalá:

"Evidencias del escepticismo de Diógenes Laercio en el libro IX de sus Vidas,Estudios filosóficos 61 (2012): 69-82.

"La invención de una 'escuela escéptica' pirrónica y radical," Revista de filosofía 37 (2012): 111-130.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Review of In Praise of Reason

My review of Michael Lynch's In Praise of Reason (MIT Press, 2012) recently appeared in Philosophy in Review. As expected, Lynch's defense of the value of reason against skepticism does not strike me as successful.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Reception of Cicero's Academica

The latest issue of the French journal Astérion is devoted to the reception of Cicero's Academica in the modern age. The articles by Sylvia Giocanti, Stéphane Marchand, Christophe Grellard, Luiz Eva, and Sébastien Charles can be accessed for free here.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Skepticism in Classical Islam

In a couple of months, Routledge will publish Paul Heck's Skepticism in Classical Islam: Moments of ConfusionMore information can be found here.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The New Evil Demon

On September 12-13, the Université de Génève will host the conference "The New Evil Demon: Knowledge, Rationality and the Internal." Here's the program:

Thursday, September 12th

14-15:30: Stewart Cohen: "Justification, Rationality, and Truth."
16-17:30: Clayton Littlejohn: "A Plea for Epistemic Excuses."

Friday, September 13th

9-10:30: Nico Silins: "The Evil Demon Inside."
11-12:30: Julien Dutant: "Knowledge-Based Decision Theory and the New Evil Demon."
14:30-16: Maria Lasonen-Aarnio: TBA.
16:30-18: Timothy Williamson: "Legality and Law-Abidingness."

Attendance is free. Further information can be found on the conference's website: http://www.unige.ch/lettres/philo/evenements/2013/newevildemon.php.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Bibliography on Pyrrhonism

My annotated bibliography on Pyrrhonism has just been published in Oxford Bibliographies in Philosophy. It includes not only works on ancient Pyrrhonism, but also works dealing with Pyrrhonism in modern and contemporary philosophy.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Barnes on Ancient Skepticism

The third volume of Jonathan Barnes's essays on ancient philosophy, Proof, Knowledge, and Scepticism (OUP, 2014), will contain his several papers on ancient skepticism, most of which deal with Sextus Empiricus's Pyrrhonism. For complete information, go here.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Issue 3/3 of IJSS

Issue 3/3 of the International Journal for the Study of Skepticism is now available online here. This issue includes articles on ancient and contemporary skepticism as well as reviews of books on ancient, medieval, and modern skepticism.

NB: the home page of the journal offers a link where you can recommend it to your librarian with one simple click.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Skepticism and Perceptual Justification

A couple of days ago, I read about this forthcoming collection: Scepticism and Perceptual Justification (OUP), edited by Dylan Dodd and Elia Zardini. For more information, go here.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Against Ethical Skepticism

In his recent book, Knowing Right from Wrong (OUP, 2012), Kieran Setiya (Pittsburgh) proposes to meet several skeptical challenges to moral knowledge. Information about the book can be found here; and here you'll find Charlie Kurth's review in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Inquiry, Rationality, and Action in Sextus

Today I received the electronic offprint of my "Pyrrhonism, Inquiry, and Rationality," Elenchos 34 (2013): 201–228, which is a critical notice of Casey Perin's The Demands of Reason (OUP, 2010). I enjoyed writing this paper because discussing Casey's thoughtful views and arguments allowed me to restate my general interpretation of Sextus and think further about the problems raised by his Pyrrhonism.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Skepticism about Free Will

A couple of days ago, I received an email letting me know about this new collection: Exploring the Illusion of Free Will and Moral Responsibility (Lexington Books, 2013), edited by Gregg Caruso. For complete information, go here.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Williams on Skepticism

The latest issue of Philosophy and Phenomenological Research contains Michael Williams's "Skepticism, Evidence, and Entitlement," which can be found here.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Skepticism in the Enlightenment

I'd like to let you know about this new volume: Scepticism in the Eighteenth Century: Enlightenment, Lumières, Aufklärung (Springer, 2013), edited by S. Charles and P. Junqueira Smith. Information can be found here.

Monday, June 24, 2013

New Review of New Essays on Ancient Pyrrhonism

The latest issue of Revue Philosophique de Louvain (111/1, pp. 176-179) contains Brigitte Pérez-Jean's review of New Essays on Ancient Pyrrhonism. It can be found here.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

New Issue of Sképsis

The latest issue of the Brazilian journal Sképsis is now out. The papers can be accessed here.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Skepticism Impossible?

A very recent issue of The Philosophical Review includes Daniel Greco's "The Impossibility of Skepticism," which can be found here.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Conference Reminder: Epistemology of Atheism

Just a reminder: on June 26-28, the Université de Lorraine will host the conference "Epistemology of Atheism." For complete information, click here.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Conference on Skepticism and Religion

On June 20-22, the Université Bordeaux 3 will host the international conference "Scepticisme et Religion." Complete information, including the program, can be found here.

Friday, May 31, 2013

IJSS Advance Articles

A bunch of accepted articles and book reviews that have not yet been included in an issue of the International Journal for the Study of Skepticism have now been published online as 'Advance Articles'. They can be found here.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Conference on the Gettier Problem

The School of Philosophy, Psychology, and Language Sciences at the University of Edinburgh will host the conference "The Gettier Problem at 50" on June 20-21. Complete information can be found here.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Curitiba Conference

The three-day conference on Pyrrhonism that Luiz Eva organized in Curitiba ended yesterday. It was really good because of the combination of heated historical, exegetical, and philosophical discussion. As far as I am concerned, such discussion allowed me to confirm that, in order to defend a neo-Pyrrhonian outlook in contemporary epistemology, it is crucial to focus on the phenomenon of disagreement (or at least so it seems to me).

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Perceptual Justification and Skepticism

The latest issue of Philosophy and Phenomenological Research includes Matthew McGrath's "Dogmatism, Underminers, and Skepticism," which can be found here.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Program Conference on Neo-Pyrrhonism

Here's the program for the conference “Neo-Pyrrhonism, Ancient and Contemporary,” to be held in Curitiba (Brazil) next week.

WEDNESDAY, MAY 22th

9h00 - Welcome to Participants

9h45 - Diego Machuca (CONICET):  “A Pyrrhonian Response to the Disagreeing about Disagreement Argument.”

11h00 - Plínio Smith (Unifesp): “From ancient Pyrrhonism to Neo-Pyrrhonism: on Anomalia and Following a Rule.”

12h15 - Lunch Break

14h00 - Livia Guimarães (UFMG): TBA.

15h15 - Stéphane Marchand (ENS Lyon): “Sextus Empiricus: Skepticism and Daily Life.”

16h30 - Coffee Break

16h45 - Richard Bett (Johns Hopkins University): “A Sceptic Looks at Art (but not very closely): Sextus Empiricus on Music.”

THURSDAY, MAY 23th

9h45 - Oswaldo Porchat (USP/Unicamp): “On What Appears,” text presented and commented by Plínio Smith

11h00 - Luiz Eva (UFPR): “Neo-Pyrrhonism and Phainomenon.”

12h15 - Lunch Break

14h45 - Flávio Williges (UFSM): “Williams on Scepticism.”

16h00 - Michael Williams (Johns Hopkins University): “Skepticism, Guidance and Deontology.”

FRIDAY, MAY 24th

9h45 - Todd Ryan (Trinity College): “Is Philo a Consistent Skeptic?”

11h00 - Baron Reed (Northwestern University): “Doubt, Wonder, Wisdom.”

12h15 - Lunch Break

14h45 - Hilan Bensusan (UnB): “Heraclitus Meeting Aenesidemus Centuries later: The Ontology of Doubts and the Ontological Ground of Scepticism.”

16h00 - Federico Penelas (UBA): TBA.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

New Volume on Disagreement

As you may remember, a couple of months ago Routledge published the collection Disagreement and Skepticism. Now the volume The Epistemology of Disagreement: New Essays, edited by David Christensen and Jennifer Lackey, has come out with OUP. More information can be found here or here.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Pyrrhonian Inquiry

I recently got a copy of Marta Anna Włodarczyk's Pyrrhonian Inquiry (The Cambridge Philological  Society, Suppl. Vol. 25, 2000). I haven't read it yet, but I'm sure it will be of interest to those working on the question whether the Pyrrhonist does, or can, claim to search for truth.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Book Symposium

The latest issue of the Israeli journal Philosophia includes a book symposium on Annalisa Coliva's Moore and Wittgenstein: Scepticism, Certainty and Common Sense (Palgrave, 2010). It can be found here. (Most of the contributions can be accessed for free.)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Conference on Neo-Pyrrhonism

On May 22-24, the Universidade Federal do Paraná, in Curitiba (Brazil), will hold the conference "Neo-Pyrrhonism, Ancient and Modern." You can find more information by clicking on the image below. I will post the program in due course.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Epistemology of Atheism

On June 26-28, the Université de Lorraine (France) will host a conference on the Epistemology of Atheism. Among the speakers will be John Greco and John Schellenberg. For complete information, go here.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Skepticism in 18th Century Germany

John Christian Laursen (Riverside) recently published "Escepticismo inofensivo en la Alemania ilustrada," in Ámbitos 28 (2012): 21-28. The journal doesn't seem to have a website where papers can be downloaded.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Academics vs. Pyrrhonists

Brazilian scholars and students in particular will be interested in this new book by Roberto Bolzani Filho (São Paulo): Acadêmicos versus Pirrônicos (Alameda, 2013). More information can be found here.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Apraxia Objection in Cicero

The latest issue of Ancient Philosophy (32/2, 2012) contains Suzanne Obdrzalek's "From Skepticism to Paralysis: The Apraxia Argument in Cicero’s Academica". It can be found here.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Issue 3/1 of IJSS

The latest issue of the International Journal for the Study of Skepticism is now out. The papers can be accessed on Brill Online.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

IJSS on PhilPapers

The International Journal for the Study of Skepticism is now on PhilPapers. References to all published and forthcoming papers will be added soon.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Sextus on Daphnet

A preliminary version of the Greek text of all of Sextus's extant writings is available for free on Daphnet (Digital Archives of Philosophical Texts on the NET). Just click here. (Thanks to Emidio Spinelli for the info.)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Colloquium on Disagreement

19th International Philosophy Colloquium Evian: Disagreement - Désaccord - Uneinigkeit. Evian (Lake Geneva), France, July 7-13, 2013.

Proposals (maximum length: one page) are invited  for presentations, along with a short CV (maximum length: two pages), by March 31, 2013. These documents should be sent via e-mail to: evian@philosophie.fu-berlin.de. Complete information can be found here. I must say that this colloquium looks promising, so if you can get financial support from your institution, you should send a proposal.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Skepticism in Antiquity and the Renaissance

Michelle Zerba (Louisiana) recently published Doubt and Skepticism in Antiquity and the Renaissance (CUP, 2012). More information can be found here. It doesn't seem to be a philosophy book in the proper sense of the word. (Thanks to Roger Eichorn for reminding me of this book.)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Book on Cyrenaicism

A few days ago, I received a copy of Ugo Zilioli's The Cyrenaics (Acumen, 2012). Given the skeptical aspects of Cyrenaic epistemology, this book might be of interest to some of you.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Pyrrhonism and Belief

A very recent paper on Sextan Pyrrhonism by Katja Vogt: "Appearances and Assent: Sceptical Belief Reconsidered," The Classical Quarterly 62 (2012). It can be found here.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Spinelli's Questioni Scettiche

Emidio Spinelli's Questioni Scettiche: letture introduttive al pirronismo antico (Roma: Lithos, 2005) can be read for free here.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Elenchos Issue on Sextus

Volume 13 (1992) of the Italian journal Elenchos was devoted to the proceedings of the international conference "Sesto Empirico e la storia del pensiero antico," which took place in Rome in 1991. The good news is that this issue is now available for free here. (Thanks to Emidio Spinelli for the information.) I highly recommend that you read at least the articles by Annas, Decleva Caizzi, Ioppolo, and Sedley.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Workshop on External World Skepticism

Workshop "New Perspectives on External World Scepticism," Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy (MCMP), LMU Munich, 9-10 July 2013.

Is the external world largely as it appears to be? How can we rule out the possibility that we are constantly deceived by a vicious demon or the Matrix? In response to the global sceptic, contemporary epistemologists claim - for example - that perceptual justification is immediate in that it doesn't require independent reason for rejecting sceptical alternatives. Others contend that we are a priori entitled to trust "cornerstone" propositions that guarantee the reliability of our perceptions. Another view is that ordinary hypotheses are preferable to sceptical alternatives because they better explain our experiences. All these responses have been challenged with informal and formal objections. Bayesian methodology seems to vindicate entitlement theories but it is arguably unsuitable to model the state of radical ignorance presupposed by the sceptic. Immediate justification theories are affected by gruelling difficulties, like the bootstrapping and the cognitive penetrability problem. The thesis that explanatory force produces justification is controversial and - some contend - incompatible with formal representations of rational belief. The workshop focuses on these and other interesting responses to external world scepticism. It aims to gather together traditional and formal epistemologists to foster collaboration between researchers working from a variety of perspectives. 

In addition to six invited speakers, there is space for about two additional speakers. Anyone interested in presenting a paper, should check the workshop website here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Conference on Disagreement

You might be interested in this Call for Papers (thanks to Emidio Spinelli for the information):

"Disagreement" - University of Alberta Philosophy Graduate Conference, May 10-12, 2013, Edmonton, Alberta

Keynote Speakers:
Thomas Christiano, University of Arizona
Adam Morton, University of British Columbia

We invite submissions of papers by graduate students and postgraduates (who were awarded their PhDs no earlier than 2007) to the graduate philosophy conference to be held on May 10-12, 2013 at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.

At first, one might take ‘disagreement’ to be merely a matter of subjective opinion. Nevertheless, disagreement is a pervasive and genuine phenomenon of and in our experience which calls for philosophical reflection. This conference focuses on the notion of disagreement broadly construed. We invite papers that discuss the nature, value of, and attitudes towards disagreement. Papers from both the analytic and continental traditions, as well as from disciplines and traditions of investigation other than philosophy are welcomed. Possible questions for consideration include but are not limited to: What constitutes disagreement? What distinguishes private from public disagreement; internal from external disagreement; or intra- from inter-personal disagreement? Are all disagreements resolvable, and on what grounds? Are disagreements structured by power dynamics? Is reconciliation always desirable or is there value in perennial discord? Can there be faultless or harmless disagreements in the realms of ethics/politics/aesthetics/epistemology, etc.? If so does this entail some sort of relativism or pluralism, and if it does is this a bad thing?

Deadline for submissions: January 30, 2013 (Extended from January 10, 2013)

Submission Guidelines: Papers should not exceed 3000 words. They should be prepared for blind review and sent as a PDF file to uofaphilconference@gmail.com. In a separate PDF attachment, please include your name, academic affiliation, e-mail address, paper title, and an abstract of no more than 150 words. For more information, please contact us at uofaphilconference@gmail.com

Thursday, January 10, 2013

God & Evil

I've just read this claim made by Trent Dougherty: 

"The greater one's sense of solidarity with the human community, the greater one will feel the problem of evil. Yet, at the same time, the value of that solidarity provides greater scope for understanding why it is permissible for God to allow humans to suffer."

I must first of all say that, unlike Trent, I'm not an expert in theodicy, so I may be missing something here. This said, I cannot help feeling that theodical explanations are forced. And this happens as soon as one combines in a single being (or Being!) so many attributes, some of which seem to be nonsensical when applied to someone/something: God is all-powerful, omniscient, all-wise, eternal, infinite, and also just, merciful, and the summum bonum (I'm talking in general, since in the quoted text, there's no reference to possible attributes). It appears to me that, once one accepts the existence of such an fantastic being, everything gets messy and one needs to come up with seemingly absurd explanations. I'm not asserting that the claim in question is false, but only that the second conjunct strikes me as highly problematic and that I myself don't understand in the slightest how it is permissible (or possible or obligatory or whatever) for such a being to allow humans (and animals) to suffer so much. It looks like a game with some very abstract concepts: let's assume there's this guy with such and such attributes; what follows? and how can we combine them so as to make them compatible? Mutatis mutandis, this reminds me of those situations in which the nerds from The Big Bang Theory wonder, as though they were real, whether, e.g., The Hulk could kick The Thing's ass or Wolverine Batman's, or whether The Hulk could lift Thor's hammer (they actually discuss much more subtle questions about superheros and their powers). Positions like this one are those which are so mercilessly attacked in Sextus Empiricus's works. In the end, none of this makes much sense to me, but this may be due to my intellectual limitations and my lack of faith.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Skepticism in Cicero's Academica

The volume Cicero’s Practical Philosophy (University of Notre Dame Press, 2012), edited by W. Nicgorski, contains Hal Thorsrud's "Radical and Mitigated Skepticism in Cicero’s Academica".