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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
Excellent news: until December 31st, you can access the International Journal for the Study of Skepticism for free. Follow these four steps:
1. Go to booksandjournals.brillonline.com.
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.)
(If you happen to have a problem with any of these steps, let me know.)
Friday, November 22, 2013
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
Thursday, November 14, 2013
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
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Thursday, October 31, 2013
Friday, October 25, 2013
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
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
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 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
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
Sunday, September 15, 2013
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
Monday, September 2, 2013
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
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
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 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
Monday, July 29, 2013
Friday, July 19, 2013
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
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Saturday, June 29, 2013
Monday, June 24, 2013
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Friday, June 7, 2013
Monday, June 3, 2013
Friday, May 31, 2013
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Saturday, May 25, 2013
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
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Here's the program for the conference “Neo-Pyrrhonism, Ancient and Contemporary,” to be held in Curitiba (Brazil) next week.
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
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.
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Thursday, May 2, 2013
Sunday, April 28, 2013
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
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
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
Friday, March 29, 2013
Monday, March 25, 2013
Monday, March 18, 2013
Saturday, March 9, 2013
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Friday, March 1, 2013
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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
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
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Saturday, January 26, 2013
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 "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
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
Thomas Christiano, University of Arizona
Adam Morton, University of British Columbia
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 email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, January 10, 2013
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.