How Racism Abroad Exposes Domestic Racism

By Nathan Eckstrand George Yancy’s April 29th article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, “The Ugly Truth About Being a Black Professor in America,” (1) quoted numerous threats Yancy received in response to his earlier New York Times op-ed, “Dear White America” (2). The Chronicle’s May 3rd follow-up confirmed that many see racism in higher education, by quoting examples sent […]

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The Circle of Quality and Expertise

By Daniel A. Kaufman ___ My daughter Victoria just finished two weeks of a classical voice program at NYU.  It was her first taste of the really big leagues.  Until now, she has excelled in our small city in southwest Missouri as well as statewide.  She is the top singer in her high school and has received the highest score […]

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Some Things We All Should Agree On

By Daniel A. Kaufman ___ Sometimes it is useful to try and identify a number of things that everyone should be able to agree on.  To the extent to which our moral and political positions may depend upon complex tangles of presuppositions and reasoning, we may not notice that a position we take involves presuppositions that are obviously false or […]

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Crankish Thinking

by Mark English The term ‘conspiracy theory’, though it no doubt serves a useful purpose when used in carefully-considered ways, is most often used in polemical contexts simply as a derogatory descriptor. I want to set down a few ideas on the problem of deciding which ideas in the political realm (and, by extension, which sources) are too crankish (or […]

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Belief and Knowledge Reconsidered

E. John Winner How did we ever come to use such an expression as “I believe . . . “?  Did we at some time become aware of a phenomenon (of belief)?  Did we observe ourselves and other people and so discover belief? — Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations (1) §1. Recently, while reading Section 10 of Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations, Part […]

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The Common Sense

Note from the author: this is a non-technical, impressionistic introduction to my PhD dissertation. It doesn’t contain a mountain of technical references or jargon, and is going to be developed much further and with more rigor, when I reach those stages of the project. Think of it as an extended “Provocations” piece for now. To that end, it is broad in […]

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Language and Meaning

by Mark English The topic of eliminative materialism (or ‘eliminativism’ as its current manifestation is usually called) has been the focus of some recent debate. What prompted this piece, however, was a brief discussion in a comment thread about a very specific kind of eliminativism which applies to language and which is known as semantic (or meaning) eliminativism. My original […]

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Epithets in Philosophy

By Daniel A. Kaufman ___ Do epithets have a place in philosophical disputes? Is it useful, productive, or even appropriate to call people “racist,” “misogynist,” or “transphobic,” when engaged in philosophical arguments about the ethics of affirmative action, or whether we are properly described as living in a “rape culture” or whether gender identity is such that trans-women are in […]

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Self-Expression, Knowledge and Value

by Mark English Attempts to express a comprehensive personal view of the world are doomed to failure. Each of us has a view of the world; some such views are more developed and plausible than others. But language (even supplemented with other modes of expression) is simply not equipped to articulate the complex and shifting set of values and beliefs […]

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A Parkinson’s Playlist

by Mark English My mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease more than a decade ago, and before that she had a series of other health problems. Old and very frail, she has lived in a care home for more than six years now. Her concentration span is limited and she finds speaking increasingly difficult. But music remains important to her. […]

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