This Week’s Special: George Orwell’s, “Politics and the English Language”

by Daniel A. Kaufman Orwell’s influential essay, published in 1946, when considered alongside his “The Prevention of Literature” (1946) and the Appendix to 1984, “The Principles of Newspeak” (1949), offers a powerful picture of language and its abuse, especially in the arena of politics.  It is one of those essays that seems more prescient with each year that passes, which […]

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This Week’s Special: John Stuart Mill’s “Utilitarianism.”

by Daniel A. Kaufman http://socserv.mcmaster.ca/econ/ugcm/3ll3/mill/utilitarianism.pdf One of the two most well-known, most influential works in moral philosophy – the other is Kant’s Groundwork  for the Metaphysics of Morals – Utilitarianism has the virtue of being highly readable, intuitively plausible (at least on first glance), and blissfully short.  Moral philosophy done at its very best. The theory is based on a […]

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This Week’s Special: Edmund Gettier, “Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?”

By Daniel A. Kaufman http://fitelson.org/proseminar/gettier.pdf On tap this week is one of the most widely read and influential essays in epistemology, written since the Second World War, Edmund Gettier’s “Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?” In this remarkably short piece, Gettier succeeded in casting doubt on what had been one of the most widely accepted ideas in philosophy – that to […]

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This Week’s Special: Gottlob Frege’s, “On Sense and Reference.”

By Daniel A. Kaufman http://brommage.freeshell.org/tlp/Frege.pdf On tap this week is likely the single most influential paper in the philosophy of language, Gottlob Frege’s “On Sense and Reference” (Über Sinn und Bedeutung), originally published in 1892.  So many and wide-ranging are the paper’s implications that philosophers are still talking about it today.  While the tide certainly has turned against the Fregean […]

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This Week’s Special: C.S. Lewis, “Meditation in a Toolshed”

By Daniel A. Kaufman https://www.calvin.edu/~pribeiro/DCM-Lewis-2009/Lewis/meditation-in-a-toolshed.pdf On tap this week is a lovely little essay by C.S. Lewis that makes what I think is quite an important distinction, one that may permit us a little insight into what has seemed an intractable philosophical problem: namely, our inability to “reduce” various – mostly mental – concepts to various “lower level” physical ones. […]

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This Week’s Special:  Frank Sibley’s, “Aesthetic Concepts”

By Daniel A. Kaufman http://rci.rutgers.edu/~tripmcc/phil/poa/sidley-aestheticconcepts-controversy.pdf On tap this week is a paper that has had an enormous influence on contemporary aesthetics:  Frank Sibley’s 1959 paper, “Aesthetic Concepts.” The central message of Sibley’s thesis is essentially critical: Aesthetic concepts are not ascribed by way of criteria, but instead, require taste / discernment / perceptiveness to apply.   Beyond aesthetics, Sibley’s critique is […]

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This Week’s Special: Cora Diamond’s, “Eating Meat and Eating People.”

by Daniel A. Kaufman http://www.laurentillinghast.com/DiamondEatingMeat.pdf Cora Diamond is one of the finest of the contemporary Wittgensteinians and more generally, one of the finest contemporary analytic philosophers.  On tap this week, is her outstanding – and influential – essay on the subject of animal rights, “Eating Meat and Eating People,” in which she presents a powerful critique of contemporary ethical arguments […]

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This Week’s Special: C.P. Snow’s “The Two Cultures” (1959)

By Michael Boyle http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/students/envs_5110/snow_1959.pdf In 1956, Charles Percy Snow, physicist, novelist, and civil servant, published an article in the New Statesman, which, three years later, he would turn into a Rede Lecture and then publish as a book, The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution. The lecture and the book had a significant impact on the intellectual life of Britain […]

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This Week’s Special: Meditation One, in Rene Descartes’ “Meditations on First Philosophy.”

By Daniel A. Kaufman http://selfpace.uconn.edu/class/percep/DescartesMeditations.pdf On tap this week is the (in)famous first Meditation, from Rene Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy.  Specifically, I want to draw attention to the logic at the heart of what is – on its own merits – a critique of our claims to knowledge that is both simple and thought-provoking. Descartes’ self-described aim in the […]

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This Week’s Special: Jerry Fodor’s “Special Sciences (Or: the Disunity of Science as a Working Hypothesis)”

By Daniel A. Kaufman http://fitelson.org/woodward/fodor.pdf On tap this week is one of the most influential essays in the philosophy of science, since the Second World War:  Jerry Fodor’s “Special Sciences,” which appeared in the journal Synthese, in 1974. The paper did two very important things.  First, it struck a crippling blow against a certain kind of positivist view of the […]

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