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Posts Tagged ‘philosophy’

Paul Gustav Fischer, "A fire on Kultorvet" c.1900

Paul Gustav Fischer, “A fire on Kultorvet” c.1900

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…)

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CALL FOR COURSE AND WORKSHOP PROPOSALS
NASSLLI 2014
North American Summer School in Logic, Language and Information
June 23-27 2014
University of Maryland, College Park

URL: http://www.nasslli2014.com

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…)

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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.

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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.

LUND UNIVERSITY
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:
http://www.doodle.com/8r8b6vaxbaqnt7iq
If you would like to take this course please get in touch with the instructor now. E-mail & webpage

Course description
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.

Reference
Adler, J.E., and Rips, L.J. (2008). Reasoning. Studies of Human Inference and its Foundations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (will be made available).
http://www.amazon.com/Reasoning-Studies-Human-Inference-Foundations/dp/0521848156

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.

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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.

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Here’s an interesting bit of controversy over at Leiter’s blog.  Let us leave aside for the moment that the comment spurring it largely constitutes a (pervasive) misunderstanding of what experimental philosophy is and claims to do.  (A better picture of experimental philosophy can be obtained here.)What I find interesting about it is that one thing that seems to be needed in the conversation that follows in the comment thread is a decent analysis of what it means to appeal to expert authority.

Now where, oh where, would they ever find the kind of analysis they need, I wonder?

Heh.  ;)

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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…)

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