Eric Schliesser, over at NewAPPS, has an interesting post up regarding a dispute between Marcus Arvan and Jason Brennan over the ethics of promoting the study of philosophy by citing empirical data about the success of philosophy majors. For those outside the discipline of philosophy this may seem a tempest in a teacup, but I think it warrants a closer look. For where one reads ‘philosophy’ in these discussions one could almost, in every case, substitute the name of another humanities discipline with no damage at all to the logic of the arguments in play. In the same way, I’m writing this post as a philosopher, but my guess is that a good deal of what I say here could probably be said just as well (if perhaps more eloquently) by my colleagues in, say, English or Communications. (more…)
Posts Tagged ‘philosophy’
CALL FOR COURSE AND WORKSHOP PROPOSALS
North American Summer School in Logic, Language and Information
June 23-27 2014
University of Maryland, College Park
The sixth NASSLLI (after previous editions at UT Austin, Stanford University, Indiana University and UCLA) will be hosted at the University of Maryland, College Park, June 23-27 2014. The summer school, aimed at graduate students and advanced undergraduates in a wide variety of fields, is loosely modeled on the long-running ESSLLI series in Europe. It will consist of a number of courses and workshops, selected on the basis of proposals. By default, courses and workshops meet for 90 minutes on each of five days.
Proposals are invited for courses or workshops that present interdisciplinary work between the areas of logic, linguistics, computer science, cognitive science, philosophy and artificial intelligence, though work in just one area is within the scope of the summer school if it can be applied in other fields. Examples of possible topics would include e.g. logics for communication, computational semantics, modal logics, game theory and decision theory, dynamic semantics, machine learning, Bayesian cognitive modeling, probabilistic models of language and communication, and automated theorem proving. (more…)
The connections between argumentation theory and mainstream analytic-ish philosophy may not always be clear for those outside of either discipline. For those that find themselves so bemused, I recommend having a look at yesterday’s interview with philosopher Robert Stalnaker, by 3:AM magazine. The discussion ranges over a wide spectrum of issues, from the importance of pragmatics to the motivations for possible worlds metaphysics. Along the way a number of contact points with the concerns of argumentation theory can be discerned. Consider Stalnaker on this bit about contextualism and disagreement, for example:
There is a philosophical problem that needs to be addressed, but the threat is not just an abstract philosophical concern. The contextualist picture also points to a practical threat that is worth worrying about. The contexts in which discourse and inquiry take place can be, and are, manipulated in ways that distort the outcome. If, as I believe, we can make sense of rational discourse, deliberation and inquiry, only in a given context which involves substantive presuppositions, we face a daunting challenge when the contexts we find ourselves in are skewed – when the basic presuppositions that define the context are false. When disagreements are deep, or when one judges that our whole way of looking at things is radically mistaken, we need to find our way into a new context, and there may be no neutral way to do so. But we have rich and diverse resources for talking and thinking about the world and for deciding what we must do, and even if there is no absolutely neutral set of rules governing rational activity, and no safe platform where we are guaranteed to find common ground on which to settle our disagreements and find the truth, with good will we can usually find a way to get to a place where we can understand each other, and engage in what we can agree is rational debate.
The interview is well worth your time, if you have an interest in connections like these. A plus is that the interviewer makes a point of pushing the question of how the work that Stalnaker does as a professional philosopher is relevant to the world outside the discipline–a challenge that Stalnaker largely is able to answer. You can read interview in its entirety here.
Below are a few details about an intensive graduate course on reasoning to be held over one week at Lund University in Sweden. Credits earned will be transferable, and there is a possibility that help with accommodations may be made available.
Reasoning, 7,5 ECTS
Lecturer: Frank Zenker
Course dates: One week (Mo-Fr 10-12 and 14-16) in autumn 2012. Enter your date preferences now:
If you would like to take this course please get in touch with the instructor now. E-mail & webpage
The study of reasoning—deductive, inductive, abductive, belief revision, defeasible, cross cultural, conversational, argumentative—is a major focus of investigation in both psychology and philosophy. Next to more traditional issues arising from the rationality debate, this includes a focus on fallacious reasoning and its reduction through education, the development of pragmatics, and the study of human reasoning process through neuro-imaging techniques.
Aim: The aim of this course is to enable learners to orient themselves in this research area (which may reasonably be called interdisciplinary) to the extent that they can actively participate in current empirical research and discourse on this matter.
We will work through select parts of a recently compiled selection of “classics” from a reader by Adler and Rips (2008). The three major themes are: 1. Foundations of Reasoning (Philosophical Viewpoints; Fallacies and Rationality), 2. Modes of Reasoning (Deductive Reasoning; Induction; Dual and Integrative Approaches; Abduction and Belief change; Causal and Counterfactual Reasoning; Argumentation); 3. Interactions of Reasoning in Human Thought (Reasoning and Pragmatics; domain-specific, Goal Based, and Evolutionary Approaches; Reasoning and Cultures; Biology, Emotions, and Reasoning).
Workload/Grading: Successful completion requires reading 20 to 30 pages per meeting, and the preparation and delivery of a max. 30 minute group presentation on one of the above subthemes (the presentation requires additional reading of ca. 60-90 pages). Learners are expected to focus on at least one of the above subthemes (see the table of content under the link below).
Grading occurs on the basis of presentation, an intermediate quiz, peer feedback, and a final paper (of 10-15 pages) due within 2 months after the end of the course.
Prerequisites: A background in mathematics or logic may be found helpful for some (but not all) subthemes. Learners with a background in the empirical sciences are especially welcome. A background in philosophy is not necessary to successfully conclude the course. Those interested in pursuing empirical work are assumed to have a background in empirical research methodology (which is not provided in this course). The course is open to students at Master’s level and up. The language of instruction is English.
Adler, J.E., and Rips, L.J. (2008). Reasoning. Studies of Human Inference and its Foundations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (will be made available).
For more information contact Frank Zenker, Department of Philosophy & Cognitive Science, Kungshuset, Lundagård, 222 22 Lund, Sweden, Tel. 0046.70.148 31 35, http://www.fil.lu.se/persons/person.asp?filpers=792.
Knowing that the process of intellectual development begins long before publication, The American Dialectic Charitable Trust provides opportunities for promising individuals whose efforts and contributions might otherwise go unaided or unrecognized. The Annual Dissertation Contest provides visibility and support for promising new scholars in philosophy and related fields, promoting individuals who continually develop themselves intellectually in such a way that the greater community of thinkers is also served.
The American Dialectic Dissertation Contest is open to all current and recent graduates. The author of the winning essay will receive $500 and the winning essay will be published in American Dialectic the following term. Materials are accepted on a rolling basis, but all finalized materials must be recieved no later than October 1st. For eligibility requirements and contest instructions, please visit: www.AmericanDialectic.org/Dissertation/
American Dialectic is currently accepting submissions in all areas of philosophy. If you would like to learn more about how to submit an article or response to American Dialectic, please visit our submission guidelines page.
Posted in Critical Thinking, Discussion, Teaching, tagged college students, dialectic, fact-value distinction, Inside Higher Ed, Peter Boghossian, philosophy, teaching critical thinking on December 23, 2011 | 6 Comments »
This past term I had a rather unpleasant experience in my critical thinking class. I was confronted with a subset of students who walked in the door assured that I had nothing to teach them about critical thinking. I learned this because they vocally resisted absolutely everything with which they did not personally agree. Unfortunately, this wound up being nearly everything in the class–especially when it ran against the notion that everything is a matter of opinion, a matter for an eternal debate in which all views are equally right.
Now, many readers are probably thinking, “cry me a river, that happens to me every term”. I agree. It happens to me almost every term too. What was different this time was how long it lasted (all term, without let-up) and how deep the resistance went. Not even the definition of deductive validity was accepted as offering a legitimate, if technical and limited, usage of the word ‘valid’. The only validity these students recognized was the sense in which a point of view was “valid to me”, full-stop. They didn’t bother learning the technical sense of ‘valid’ well enough to offer even cursory reasons for why they wouldn’t accept it. Nor could they articulate what it was, exactly, that made a point of view “valid to me” when asked. This is just one example. On multiple occasions, I got the distinct impression that my refrain that sometimes it takes more than an affirmative “gut feeling” to make it reasonable to hold a position was being taken as a personal affront by some of the students. “How dare I”, their attitude demanded, “try to teach them that things were not as they believed?” (more…)
Posted in CFP, Rhetoric, tagged art, cultural context., geographic areas, International Society for the History of Rhetoric, ISHR 2013, literary theory and criticism, philosophy, poetics, politics, religion, Rhetoric, rhetoric conferences on December 13, 2011 | Leave a Comment »
CALL FOR PAPERS
The Nineteenth Biennial Conference of the International Society for the History of Rhetoric (ISHR) will be held in Chicago, USA, from Wednesday, July 24 to Saturday, July 27, 2013. The Biennial Conference of ISHR brings together several hundred specialists in the history of rhetoric from around thirty countries.
SCHOLARLY FOCUS OF THE CONFERENCE
The Society calls for papers that focus on the historical aspect of the theory and practice of rhetoric. The special theme of the conference will be “Rhetoric and Performance.” Papers dedicated to this theme will explore the theory and practice of rhetorical delivery, the historical contexts of rhetorical performance, the performativity of rhetorical texts, and other related topics.
Papers are also invited on every aspect of the history of rhetoric in all periods and languages and the relationship of rhetoric to poetics, literary theory and criticism, philosophy, politics, art, religion, geographic areas and other elements of the cultural context.
PROCEDURE FOR SUBMISSION
Proposals should be submitted for a 20-minute presentation delivered in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, or Latin. Group proposals are welcome, under the following conditions. The group must consist of 3 or 4 speakers dealing with a common theme in order to form a coherent panel. The person responsible for the panel has the task of introducing the papers and guiding the discussion. Each speaker in a panel should submit a proposal form for his or her own paper and send the finished paper to the head of the panel before the conference; proposals for such papers must specify the panel for which they are intended. In addition, the person who is responsible for the panel must complete and submit a separate form explaining the purpose of the proposed panel. (more…)
Posted in Critical Thinking, Informal Logic, News, Teaching, tagged Academically Adrift, critical thinking, Lee McIntyre, philosophy, teaching critical thinking on December 12, 2011 | Leave a Comment »
A new article in the Chronicle of Higher Education on the decline of philosophy in the academy stresses again (see my previous post) the importance of philosophy in providing critical thinking education. I’m pleased to see the props the author (Lee McIntyre) gives to feminist philosophers for their attention to pressing issues of our time, but I’m not sure his general despair over philosophy is warranted given other reports of the rising popularity of philosophy education.
McIntyre may simply be building a career as an alarmist. His most recent book “Dark Ages: The Case for a Science of Human Behavior” despairs over losing the emancipatory potential of the social sciences. (See Berel Dov Lerner’s review here.) One begins to sense a pattern, and while I haven’t had a chance to investigate “Dark Ages” yet, I’m sceptical that it claims to promote value-free science.
However, his message about the need for a revaluation of the significance of philosophy education, and the central role of critical thinking in that context, may be important. (He has a book coming out on this too.) He says “the goal—especially at the undergraduate level—should be to help students recognize that philosophy matters. Not just because it will improve their LSAT scores (which it will), but because philosophy has the potential to change the very fabric of who they are as human beings.” This requires taking critical thinking to a much higher level than most undergraduate programs will.
McIntyre blames the discipline for hiring sessional instructors, which is absurd since those decisions are made by administrators rather than faculty members. However, philosophers do tend to view critical thinking, argumentation, and introductory education as less valuable, and so assign it to sessional instructors. That might be rethought, but only if we begin to have philosophers trained in those methodological issues.
As argumentation theory and informal logic continue to grow (see the introductory editorial in Cogency), giving rise to new journals (such as Cogency) and becoming institutionalized in new research centres and doctoral programs, perhaps we will have the resources for that. As it stands, critical thinking is much less a part of the philosophy curriculum than one might expect.
Philosophy is not alone in promising (and perhaps failing) to teach “critical thinking,” since that buzzword is so heavily used in education that it is almost meaningless. Yet philosophers continue to claim a rightful ownership of that terrain. That claim and the pride that goes with it flies in the face of typical educational and hiring practices that undervalue teaching and research in argumentation and informal logic.
What we need to turn things around may be a radical reconsideration of what is the purpose of a philosophy education. McIntyre suggests that should be an appreciation of the value of philosophy, and that may require greater focus on the skills of philosophy. That will certainly depend on a broad consciousness-raising among philosophers, not to stem the hiring of sessional instructors but to demand that instructors of courses and authors of textbooks in critical thinking have expertise and training in informal logic.
Posted in CFP, tagged affective education, Argumentation, contemporary psychology and sociology, CRRAR, emotion, history of psychology, Informal Logic, Jon Elster, literary studies, philosophy, psychology, the history of emotion, the scholarship of teaching and learning, University of Windsor on August 17, 2011 | Leave a Comment »
Psychology, Emotion, and the Human Sciences
A Symposium at the University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario Canada
20th to 21st of April, 2012.
Deadline for Submissions: 1 November 2011
In Alchemies of the Mind: Rationality and the Emotions [Cambridge, 1999], Jon Elster argues that “with an important subset of the emotions [for example, regret, relief, envy, malice, pity, indignation, ...] we can learn more from moralists, novelists, and playwrights than from the cumulative findings of scientific psychology.” Elster then explores the work of both ancient and early modern moral philosophers in order to substantiate his argument.
This symposium will explore Elster’s assertions: what can contemporary ‘scientific psychology,’ barely 150 years old, teach us about the emotions that early modern literary and philosophical inquiry cannot? Does psychology [of various sorts] deserve its status as the discipline of feeling? What can contemporary philosophical work teach us about feeling and emotion? Are there viable ways of bringing historical and contemporary emotional inquiry into contact? What insight can various forms of inquiry bring to the increasingly prominent issue of affective education [the education of emotions, dispositions, and values]? What is the status of emotional inquiry across disciplines? (more…)