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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Thoughts on Sex and Gender

by Daniel A. Kaufman ___ I am beginning to suspect that gender cuts no ontological ice – that genders are not things, as sexes are – and that the concept of gender identity is the problem rather than the solution in our current struggles over gender and sex.  Please note that these are only sketches of ideas.  The issues are […]

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A Sense of Justice

by E. John Winner Behold I see a canyon where many souls will die Behold I see a world that will always wonder why — Marty Stuart, “Wounded Knee” (1) 1. I am here to consider our responses to what we perceive as just or unjust.  I do not hope to reach a conclusion. I write as an educated layman, […]

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Envisaging Homer’s World

by Mark English To what extent do we have access to the thought-worlds of past eras? My experience of doing research in intellectual history has led me to be acutely aware of the difficulties. At first you think you understand. Then, gradually, you realize the extent of your ignorance. The subtleties of a given culture are essential to it: they […]

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Mindful of the Republic

by David Ottlinger ___ Resistance. It is a concept many people now use to describe their politics. It is regrettable more people have not thought on what it means. It is worth noting, for instance, that the concept is inherently reactive. By declaring themselves part of “The Resistance,” the Resistors implicitly state that they feel besieged by some alien force, […]

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