Episode 66: Haim Gaifman discusses mathematical reasoning

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we talk recreational mathematics with Haim Gaifman, Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University. Click here to listen to our conversation. Are numbers mind-independent entites, or are they just social constructs? A mountain is definitely real–you can climb it, take pictures of it, fall off it, show it to your friends, and so on....

Episode 65: Julian Savulescu discusses doping in sports

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we consider the role of enhancement in sports with Julian Savulescu, Uehiro Professor of Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford. Click here to listen to our conversation. These days, we take it for granted that taking drugs to enhance athletic performance is wrong. After all, it’s cheating: the rules of all professional sports place strict limits on which drugs their athletes are allowed to use, and for good reason....

Further reading on the analytic tradition

Those of you who would like to follow up on our latest episode, look no further! Here are the introduction and afterword to the volume we discussed. Matt Teichman...

Episode 64: James Conant and Jay Elliott discuss the analytic tradition

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we talk analytic philosophy with James Conant (Chester D. Tripp Professor of Humanities and Philosophy at the University of Chicago) and Jay Elliott (Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Classical Studies at Bard College). Click here to listen our conversation. A lot of us learned a certain story about what analytic philosophy is when we were in college....

Further reading on reference

If you’d like to read up on some of the topics from our previous episode, Michael Devitt recommends the following book: Language and Reality, Kim Sterelny & Michael Devitt Alternatively, if you don’t have access to a library or a bookstore, you can look at the following survey article: “Reference,” Marga Reimer Matt Teichman...

Episode 63: Michael Devitt discusses reference

Subscribe to Elucidations:         Joining us this month to talk about a foundational topic in the philosophy of language is Michael Devitt, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the City University of New York, Graduate Center. Click here to listen to our conversation with him. Some animals make noises to express emotions they’re having. But other animals–notably, we humans–make utterances that do more....

Further reading on Hegel and Kant

If you’d like to read more about Hegel’s repsonse to Kantian ethics, you might take a look at the following two books by our distinguished guest: Sally Sedgwick, Hegel’s Critique of Kant Sally Sedgwick, Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals: An Introduction Matt Teichman...

Rule-Following, Dispositionalism, and Functionalism

In “Kripke and Functionalism” (Episode 61), Buechner describes how Kripke’s criticism of the dispositionalist response to the ‘rule-following paradox,’ found in Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations,can be generalized as a criticism of functionalist accounts of mental states, the thesis that mental states are abstract computational states realized in physical objects, like a brain. Here, I’d like to give a sketch of the rule-following paradox, the dispositionalist response, and Kripke’s criticism in Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language, in order to give you a clearer idea of the criticism of functionalism Buechner points to....

Episode 62: Sally Sedgwick discusses Hegel's critique of Kant

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we talk to Sally Sedgwick Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Affiliated Professor of Germanic Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago) about Hegel’s critique of Kantian ethics. Click here to listen to our conversation. Over 200 years after Immanuel Kant published his work on ethics, it still represents one of the most influential perspectives in the field....

Episode 61: Jeff Buechner discusses Kripke and functionalism

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we talk computers, brains, and minds with Jeff Buechner, Permanent Lecturer in Philosophy at Rutgers University, Newark. Click here to listen to our conversation. Back in the 50s and 60s, a lot of philosophers were attracted to the idea that the human mind is basically a computer. Why would they find that idea attractive?...

Further reading on oughts

If you’re interested in learning more about our distinguished guest’s proposed analysis of ‘ought,’ check out the following two papers: Fabrizio Cariani, ‘Epistemic and Deontic Should‘ Fabrizio Cariani, ‘Deontic Modals and Probabilities: One Theory to Rule Them All?‘ Matt Teichman...

On the Probabilistic Problem for A Single-Meaning Account of 'Ought'

A central distinction in “Thoughts About Oughts” (Episode 60) is that between epistemic and deontic uses of ‘ought.’ As a quick review, here’s an example of an epistemic use of ‘ought.’ Imagine that you open the window in the morning, feel a strong breeze and suffocating humidity, and see a massive, dark wall of clouds on the horizon. You declare to your roommate: (Ep) It ought to rain today. And for an example of a deontic use of ought: Imagine that you have a final exam tomorrow, which you need to pass in order to graduate....

Episode 60: Fabrizio Cariani shares some thoughts about oughts

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, Fabrizio Cariani (Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Northwestern University) comes back for his second appearance on the program, this time to tell us about the meaning of the word ‘ought.’ You can listen to our conversation by clicking here. ‘Ought’ is a pretty important word in human affairs....

Further reading on reproductive risk

If you’d like read more about some of the issues we discussed with Rebecca Kukla, take a look at these two articles: ‘Measuring Mothering,’ Rebecca Kukla ‘The ethics and cultural politics of reproductive risk warnings: A case study of California’s Proposition 65,’ Rebecca Kukla Matt Teichman...

Episode 59: Quill Kukla discusses reproductive risk

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we talk to Quill Kukla, Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University and Senior Research Scholar at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, about some of her work on reproductive risk. Click here to listen to our conversation. A pregnant woman is usually advised to be cautious about what products to purchase, whether to drink alcohol, and which locations to frequent....

Further reading on vagueness

If you’d like to poke through some of the details of Shapiro’s theory, take a look at this article from a collection called Heaps and Liars: ‘Vagueness and Conversation,’ Stewart Shapiro Matt Teichman...

Episode 58: Stewart Shapiro discusses vagueness (part II)

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we are delighted to make our return to the topic of vagueness, this time in conversation with Stewart Shapiro, Professor of Philosophy at The Ohio State University. Click here to listen to our discussion. You may remember from our previous episode on vagueness that most of the adjectives, common nouns, verbs, and prepositions we use are vague....

Further reading on virtue ethics

If that last episode whetted your appetite for virtue ethics (it certainly whetted mine), Julia Annas recommends the following references: Intelligent Virtue, Julia Annas On Virtue Ethics, Rosalind Hursthouse Virtue Ethics: A Pluralistic View, Christine Swanton A Theory of Virtue, Robert Merrihew Adams Enjoy! Matt Teichman...

Episode 57: Julia Annas discusses virtue ethics

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month we sit down with Julia Annas, Regents Professor of Philosophy at the University of Arizona, to talk about virtue ethics. Click here to listen to our conversation. Today we’re used to thinking of ethics as the study of how to act in certain situations. Given any particular hypothetical scenario, what would be the right thing for you to do?...

Further reading on corporate rights and responsibilities

If you’re interested to learn more about Philip Pettit’s views on corporate rights and responsibilities, take a look at this 2007 paper: Philip Pettit, ‘Responsibility Incorporated‘ Matt Teichman...

Episode 56: Philip Pettit discusses corporate rights and responsibilities

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we sit down with Philip Pettit to discuss some of his work on whether corporations have rights. Click here to listen to our conversation. Much of what goes on in today’s world is the work of corporations, which command far more money and power than any individual person can....

Further reading on paradoxes of consistency

To see Branden Fitelson’s notion of coherence spelled out in full detail, you can read the following two papers: Branden Fitelson and Kenny Easwaran, “Accuracy, Coherence, and Evidence.” Branden Fitelson, Rachel Briggs, Fabrizio Cariani, and Kenny Easwaran, “Individual Coherence and Group Coherence.” For an interesting extension of that framework to cover cases where a person suspends judgment, you can take a look at: Kenny Easwaran, “Dr. Truthlove: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Bayesian Probabilities....

Episode 55: Branden Fitelson discusses paradoxes of consistency

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month we are delighted to have Branden Fitelson back for his second appearance on the program. The topic was some recent work he has been doing with Rachel Briggs, Fabrizio Cariani, and Kenny Easwaran on paradoxes of consistency. Click here to listen to our conversation. Imagine you’re a scientist, and you publish a huge book presenting the results of your research over the past decade....

Further reading on Frege and logicism

Interested in following up on our discussion with Patricia Blanchette? Take a look at the following material on the debate between Gottlob Frege and David Hilbert: ‘The Frege-Hilbert Controversy,’ Patricia Blanchette ‘Frege and Hilbert on Consistency,’ Patricia Blanchette If you’re curious to take a look at what Frege wrote about the logicist project, his Foundations of Arithmetic is a wonderful read and readily accessible to those without a background in mathematics: Foundations of Arithmetic, Gottlob Frege Happy reading!...

Episode 54: Patricia Blanchette discusses Frege's logicism

Subscribe to Elucidations:         Full transcript here. This month, we sit down with Patricia Blanchette to discuss the work of Gottlob Frege, one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century. Click here to listen to our conversation. We saw in our episode on the philosophy of mathematics how difficult it was to say what numbers are....

Further reading on Wittgenstein and formal semantics

For those of you interested in following up on our previous episode, Martin Stokhof has a number of papers on the topics we discussed. On Wittgenstein and formal semantics, you can check out: ‘The Architecture of Meaning: Wittgenstein’s Tractatus and Formal Semantics,’ Martin Stokhof ‘Formal Semantics and Wittgenstein: An Alternative,’ Martin Stokhof On the distinction between abstraction and idealization, see: ‘Abstractions and Idealisations: The Construction of Modern Linguistics,’ Martin Stokhof & Michiel van Lambalgen...

Episode 53: Martin Stokhof discusses formal semantics and Wittgenstein

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we talk semantics with Martin Stokhof, Professor of Philosophy of Language at the Institute for Logic, Language, and Computation in Amsterdam. Click here to listen to our conversation. Formal semanticists are in the business of spelling out the rules by which the meaning of a sentence in English (or French, or Spanish, or some other human language) are derived from the words in it and the way they’re put together....

Elucidations is now on Twitter!

Check out our new Twitter feed at @ElucidationsPod. We’d love to hear your comments/thoughts/suggestions....

Episode 52: Rafeeq Hasan discusses Rousseau on freedom and happiness

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we talk political philosophy with Rafeeq Hasan, Harper-Schmidt Fellow and Collegiate Assistant Professor in the Division of the Humanities at the University of Chicago. Click here to listen to our conversation. In today’s political discussions, we tend to assume that there are two ways a person can lean....

Conditional Questions: A Problem for a 'Classical' Semantic Approach

In Elucidations Episode 51, Groenendijk and Roelofsen sketch out some of the merits of the inquisitive semantics approach to questions in contrast to the ‘classical’ semantic approach. One stark area of contrast is with respect to conditional questions—questions like: “If Matt drinks coffee, does Phil drink coffee?” Groenedijk and Roelofsen observe that the classic semantic approach to questions cannot easily accommodate these conditional questions. In this post, I’d like to flesh out this observation just a bit more....

Inquisitive Semantics Website

There really is a lot of exciting work being done right now using the framework of inquisitive semantics. If you’d like to browse through it all, a great place to start is the inquisitive semantics website. Matt Teichman...

Background reading on inquisitive semantics

If you’d like to take a look how the inquisitive semantic framework is set up, this is an up-to-date overview: Ciardelli, Groenendijk, and Roelofsen, ‘Inquisitive Semantics: a New Notion of Meaning‘ And if you’d like to examine the framework in a little more detail, this paper will probably answer all of your burning questions: Ciardelli, Groenendijk, and Roelofsen, ‘Inquisitive Semantics: NASSLI 2012 Lecture Notes‘ Matt Teichman...

Episode 51: Jeroen Groenendijk and Floris Roelofsen discuss inquisitive semantics

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we get a little bit meta and ask our distinguished guests some questions about questions. Or at least about the semantics of questions. Jeroen Groenendijk is Professor of Philosophy of Language and Floris Roelofsen is Assistant Professor of Logic and Semantics at the Institute for Logic, Language, and Computation in Amsterdam....

How to save the value of productive work

Toward the end of his interview on Elucidations, Greg Salmieri [S.] argues against Aristotle’s view that some of our life-activities are intrinsically valuable apart from the whole they constitute, in order to make room for valuing productive work alongside the candidates Aristotle himself prefers. This raises a question about Aristotle and a worry about S.’s own view. The question is this: what was Aristotle’s criterion for distinguishing the intrinsically valuable activities from the rest?...

Instruments, Constituents, and the Holistic View on Life

In this post, I would like to propose an elaboration of Salmieri’s (Episode 50) discussion of instrumental and constitutive means, and his suggestion of a holistic approach to the evaluation of activities (the ‘holistic view of life’). In particular, I will suggest one way in which we can see a blurring of the distinction of instrumental and constitutive means as leading us to the holistic picture that Salmieri sketches in the episode....

Episode 50: Greg Salmieri discusses the Aristotelian good life and productive work

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month it is our pleasure to discuss Aristotle’s ethics with Greg Salmieri, Visiting Fellow in the Department of Philosophy at Boston University. Click here to listen to our conversation. Aristotle was somewhat ambivalent about the activity of craftsmanship: i.e. the activity of making things like shoes, clothes, or pottery....

Further reading on DRT

For a well-written survey of discourse representation theory and its many applications, take a look at Beaver and Geurts’ Stanford Encyclopedia article: Bart Geurts and David Beaver, Discourse Representation Theory Matt Teichman...

An Essay by Hans Kamp

Hans Kamp has generously provided his paper, ‘The Time Of My Life,’ for us to make available on the blog. Give it a read and tell us what you think! Matt Teichman...

Episode 49: Hans Kamp discusses discourse representation theory

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we talk dynamic semantics with Hans Kamp, Visiting Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Natural Language Processing in Stuttgart. Click here to listen to our conversation. The goal of formal semantics is to explain how the meaning of a whole sentence is derived from the words that make it up and the way they’re put together....

Further Reading on Aquinas

If you’re interested in learning a bit more about Aquinas’ philosophy, Jennifer Frey recommends the following two books: Herbert McCabe, On Aquinas Etienne Gilson, Wisdom and Love in Saint Thomas Aquinas Matt Teichman...

Aquinas' Method of Philosophy

In our latest episode, Frey sketches out Aquinas’ “exemplary method of philosophy,” the ‘quaestio format.’ With this format, Aquinas models a core pedagogical technique of the universities of his time—quaestiones disputatae (lit: questions debated). For this technique, students would take up sides of an issue, articulated as a question, and offer arguments for each side. The master (think professor) would then evaluate the arguments and adjudicate. That Aquinas structures many of his texts around this technique (especially his magnum opus, the Summa Theologica) indicates that he is concerned with students reading his texts acquiring not only the content of the view Aquinas himself supports, but also the proper method for thinking through an issue and arriving at a view—one which engages with contrary arguments and show the superiority of one’s own view to such arguments....

Episode 48: Jennifer Frey discusses the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month we’re joined by Jennifer Frey, Harper Schmidt Fellow and Collegiate Assistant Professor in the Humanities at the University of Chicago. Click here to listen to our conversation. In this episode, we begin with an overview of Thomas Aquinas, one of the most prolific philosophers ever. (It is sometimes said that he wrote, on average, about 10,000 words per day....

Knowing that One Knows

In Episode 47, Baltag and Matt briefly discuss what they call the ‘KK principle,’ or the ‘principle of positive introspection.’ The basic formulation of this principle is: (KK): If I know that p, then I know that I know that p. (Where ‘p’ is some proposition.) For example, if I know that 2+2=4, then I know that I know that 2+2=4. A close cousin of the ‘KK principle’ is what we’ll call the ‘K-not-K principle,’ or the principle of negative introspection....

Episode 47: Alexandru Baltag discusses the logic of knowledge

Subscribe to Elucidations:         In our latest episode, we talk some epistemology with Alexandru Baltag, Associate Professor of Logic at the Institute for Logic, Language, and Computation in Amsterdam. Click here to listen to our conversation. Knowledge may seem straightforward at first. But try to give an exact definition of what it is, and you’ll soon find that it’s more difficult than you would have thought....

No True Scotsman Fallacy

In the Veltman episode on normality (46), Matt mentions the “No True Scotsman Fallacy,” in its relationship to statements of normality. I’d like to sketch out what the fallacy is just a bit more fully, and further highlight how it brings out the problem of how we falsify normality claims. The basic idea behind the No True Scotsman Fallacy is that one can make a generalization of some sort (from the offensive ‘All Greeks are lazy’ to the more benign ‘Bears normally hibernate’), and then protect this generalization from any counterexample by claiming that it isn’t a real counterexample....

Episode 46: Frank Veltman discusses normality

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we talk with Frank Veltman, Professor of Logic and Philosophy at the Institute for Logic, Language, and Computation in Amsterdam. Click here to listen to our conversation. Most of our everyday reasoning involves the notion of things normally being one way rather than another. But sometimes, this gets us into trouble....

Bayes' Theorem

In the first part of this post, we talked about the motivations behind the epistemic interpretation of probability. Now, let’s take a look at one of the core mathematical theorems employed by those who subscribe to such an interpretation: Bayes’ Theorem (which is mentioned by Fitleson in Ep. 31). Before introducing Bayes’ Theorem, it is important to get clear on one last concept: conditional probability. The basic idea behind conditional probabilities is that we offer the probability that some event occurs, given that something else is true....

Epistemic Interpretations of Probability

Two recent episodes (Fitelson, Ep. 31; Vasudevan, Ep. 45) have mentioned ‘epistemic interpretations’ of probability and Bayes’ Theorem. For Fitleson, Bayes’ Theorem provides a model for inductive reasoning, and he is concerned with deviations from this model (as in the ‘base rate fallacy’ and ‘Linda cases’). Vasudevan takes epistemic interpretations of probability as the historical response to the apparent tension between determinism and our intuitions about chance events like the flip of a coin—a response which he ultimately rejects....

New Blogger

Please join me in welcoming our new blogger, Phil Yaure! He will be with us for the next few months to talk about the various philosophical topics that come up during our interviews. Coming up is an introduction to the Bayesian interpretation of probability. Matt Teichman...

Episode 45: Anubav Vasudevan discusses probability and determinism

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we talk with Anubav Vasudevan (Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Chicago) about whether there’s any conflict between objective probability and determinism. Click here to listen to our conversation. Suppose I say there’s a 50⁄50 chance that when I toss a coin, it will land heads....

Further reading on metacognition

To learn more about the topics we discussed during our last episode, check out these two papers by Joëlle Proust: Epistemic agency and metacognition: an externalist view, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 2008, CVIII, 3, 241-268. Metacognition and mindreading: one or two functions? in: M. Beran, J. Brandl, J. Perner & J. Proust (Eds.), The Foundations of Metacognition. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (2012), 234-251. Those of you who have access to Philosophy Compass can also look at Proust’s survey article....

Episode 44: Joëlle Proust discusses metacognition

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month we talk some philosophy of mind with Joëlle Proust, Professor of Philosophy at the École Normale Supérieure and member of the Jean Nicod Institute. Click here to listen to our conversation. You’re on your way to the supermarket to pick up the ingredients for a delicious vegetable stew....

More Background Listening...

If you’d like to hear more about some of the philosophical ideas that Al-Kindi was responding to in the work we discussed during our last episode, you really can’t find a better resource than Peter Adamson’s own History of Philosophy podcast. To learn about Aristotle’s arguments for the eternity of the universe, check out this interview with Richard Sorabji. For a great introduction to Plotinus’ influential idea that the ultimate explanatory principle behind the universe has to be completely unified, check out this episode....

Further reading on Al-Kindi

For those of you who would like to follow up on our discussion of Al-Kindi’s philosophy, a great place to start is Peter Adamson’s Stanford Encylopedia entry on Al-Kindi. If you’re looking to go into a bit more depth, Adamson’s monograph is a riveting read! And finally, if you’d like to look at some of Al-Kindi’s own writings, take a look at this new collection of translations. Matt Teichman...

Episode 43: Peter Adamson discusses the philosophy of Al-Kindi

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we sit down with Peter Adamson, Professor of Philosophy at Ludwig Maximilians Universität in Munich and King’s College, London. Click here to listen to our conversation with him. Al-Kindi may not be required reading for undergraduate philosophy majors these days, but the role he played in the history of philosophy was pivotal....

Bonus episode: Agustín Rayo interviews Matt

Before we began recording our previous episode, our guest turned the tables and interviewed me! Click here to listen to our conversation about a number of topics, including filmmaking, avant-garde cinema, interdisciplinary work, podcasting, and the illusion of philosophical depth. Matt Teichman...

Further reading on logical space

If you’re curious to learn more about what we discussed in our previous episode, keep your eye out for Agustín Rayo’s forthcoming book, The Construction of Logical Space. In addition, there are many papers available for download on his website. They cover a wide variety of topics in logic, the philosophy of mathematics, metaphysics, and the philosophy of language, and they’re a pleasure to read! Matt Teichman...

Episode 42: Agustín Rayo discusses the construction of logical space

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month we’re joined by Agustín Rayo, Associate Professor of philosophy at MIT. Click here to listen to our conversation with him. Many things are theoretically possible. In fact, just about anything you can imagine is possible in the broadest sense of the term. I might win the lottery, or win a tennis match, or travel to Mars....

Episode 41: David Enoch discusses metaethics and robust realism

Subscribe to Elucidations:         In this episode, we talk some metaethics with David Enoch, Professor of Philosophy and Jacob I. Berman Professor of Law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Click here to listen to our conversation with him. Are moral judgments, for example “stealing is wrong,” ever true? Are they even the kinds of things that can be true or false, or are moral judgments just fancy ways of expressing our feelings about stuff, so that “stealing is wrong” is just a fancy way of saying “Boo stealing!...

Further reading on logical dynamics

Those of you who are interested in following up on this month’s episode with van Benthem should check out his recent book on the topic, Logical Dynamics of Information and Interaction (2011). It’s a thrilling read! There is also his earlier book on the topic, Exploring Logical Dynamics (1996). Matt Teichman...

Episode 40: Johan van Benthem discusses logical dynamics

Subscribe to Elucidations:         In this episode, we talk to Johan van Benthem, University Professor of pure and applied logic at the University of Amsterdam and Henry Waldgrave Stuart Professor of philosophy at Stanford University. Click here to listen to our conversation with him. Logic is traditionally assumed to have deductive reasoning as its subject matter....

Episode 39: Nicholas Asher discusses the philosophy of language

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month we’re joined by Nicholas Asher, research director at the CNRS and the IRIT in Toulouse, and former longtime Professor of Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin. Click here to listen to our conversation with him. Remember Spanish class? You had to learn all those rules about where to put the verb, where to put the subject, which nouns have which genders, which prepositions to use when, etc....

Episode 38: Christopher Frey discusses Aristotle on living organisms and their parts

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month we talk to Christopher Frey, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Chicago. Click here to listen to our conversation. Aristotle thought that after you chop off a person’s hand, it ceases to be a hand in the original sense of the term. Sure, we _ call _ it a hand....

Recommended readings on philosophical methods

If you’re curious to learn more about what Catarina Dutilh Novaes called conjunctive pluralism (as opposed to disjunctive pluralism), take a look at some of her blog posts from NewAPPS: Methodological Pluralism in Philosophy Intuition-based Philosophical Methodology and Belief Empirically-informed Philosophy of Logic Feynman on Precise Definitions and Philosophical Methodology On the Origins of Analytic Philosophy Instrumentalist and Intrinsic Value Defenses of History of Philosophy History of Philosophy as Antidote to Philosophical Intuitions...

Episode 37: Catarina Dutilh Novaes discusses methods in philosophy

Subscribe to Elucidations:         In this episode, Matt continues his European adventure by sitting down with Catarina Dutilh Novaes, Assistant Professor and Rosalind Franklin Fellow at the University of Groningen. Click here to listen to their conversation. Philosophers want to answer big, sexy questions like how one should live or what knowledge is. How should one go about answering questions like that?...

An excellent discussion of vagueness

If you’re interested in learning about how the ancient Stoic philosopher Chrysippus tried to deal with the sorites paradox, give episode 61 of the amazing History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps podcast a listen. Matt Teichman...

Recommended readings on vagueness

For an excellent introduction to the issues we discussed in Episode 36, you can read: Robert van Rooij, ‘Vagueness and Linguistics‘ If you’re curious to see the details of van Rooij’s solution to the sorites paradox, including the distinction between strict truth and tolerant truth, take a look at the following: Robert van Rooij, ‘Tolerant, Classical, Strict‘ Matt Teichman...

Episode 36: Robert van Rooij discusses vagueness

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month we’re joined by Robert van Rooij, Assistant Professor of Philosophy of Language at the Institute for Logic, Language, and Computation, at the University of Amsterdam. Click here to listen to our conversation with him. As it happens, nearly everything we say is imprecise. For example, when I indicate where I want you to stand while posing for a photo, I don’t give exact coordinates; I just point with my finger....

Recommended Reading for Episode 35: Martha Nussbaum

For those of you who’d like to read more about the issues we discussed with Martha Nussbaum in Episode 35, we recommend you check out her recent book, Creating Capabilities: The Human Development Approach (Belknap Press, 2011). The book provides a wonderful and concise presentation of the capabilities approach to human development, and contains an excellent bibliography. Matt Teichman...

Episode 35: Martha Nussbaum discusses the capabilities approach

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month, we speak with Martha Nussbaum, Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago. You can listen to our conversation here. What do we mean when we talk about nations being more or less developed? Is it simply a matter of being financially better-off?...

Kieran Setiya's recommended readings

If you’d like to read up on the epistemology of moral disagreement, you can have a look at: Adam Elga, ‘Reflection and Disagreement‘ Tom Kelly, “Peer Disagreement and Higher-Order Evidence“ Those two articles set the stage for the following article by Kieran Setiya: Kieran Setiya, “Does Moral Theory Corrupt Youth?“ In addition, keep your eye open for his forthcoming monograph: Kieran Setiya, Knowing Right From Wrong Matt Teichman...

Episode 34: Kieran Setiya discusses moral disagreement

Subscribe to Elucidations:         In this episode, we’re joined by Kieran Setiya, Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh. Click here to listen to our conversation with him. Disagreement in ethical matters is a common enough phenomenon. Yet, what exactly is the appropriate way to respond when one is confronted with it in one’s own life?...

Daniel Sutherland's recommended readings

If you’re interested in reading about some of the issues that came up during our conversation with Daniel Sutherland, you can check out these articles: Paul Benacerraf, “Mathematical Truth”, The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 70, No. 19, (Nov. 8, 1973), pp. 661-679. W.D. Hart, “Benacerraf’s Dilemma”, CRÍTICA, Vol. XXIII, No. 68 (August 1991): 87-10 Unfortunately, you need online access to JSTOR to view those papers. Sorry we weren’t able to provide freely available background readings this time!...

Episode 33: Daniel Sutherland discusses the philosophy of mathematics

Subscribe to Elucidations:         In this episode, we’re joined by Daniel Sutherland, Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Click here to listen to our conversation with him. In this technological age, most of our day-to-day tasks involve numbers and arithmetic. And yet, it can be difficult to say what a number is....

Episode 32: Jennifer Lockhart discusses ignorant knowledge

Subscribe to Elucidations:         This month we’re joined by Jennifer Lockhart, Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in the Humanities at Stanford University and recent graduate of the PhD program in Philosophy at the University of Chicago. Click here to listen to our conversation with her. You’re at a party. Some guy is dominating the conversation, holding forth loudly and at great length about the importance of politeness....

Branden Fitelson's Recommended Readings

Anyone who’s curious to learn more about the fallacies of inductive reasoning covered in our last episode can take a look at the following: On the base rate fallacy, see Jonathan J. Koehle’s “The base rate fallacy reconsidered: Descriptive, normative, and methodological challenges” On the conjunction fallacy, see Vincenzo Crupi, Branden Fitelson, and Katya Tentori’s “Probability, confirmation, and the conjunction fallacy” Professor Fitelson has also kindly shared the following lecture notes, closely related to his conversation with us, and which include a very useful bibliography....

Episode 31: Branden Fitelson discusses reasoning fallacies

Subscribe to Elucidations:         In this episode, Branden Fitelson, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University, joins us to discuss reasoning fallacies. Click here to listen to our conversation with him. Imagine that you are worried that you have a rare disease for which there is a reliable test. If you take this test and it returns a positive result, how certain should you be that you have the disease?...

Aristotle on what must necessarily be...

Much of our last episode dealt with what Aristotle meant by words like ‘every’ and ‘some.’ As we discussed at some length in our previous post, in the Aristotelian setting, the meaning of ‘every’ was slightly different from what we’re used to. Under today’s meaning of the word ‘every,’ when I say ‘every frog is green,’ you can check to see whether what I just said is true by checking to see whether the set of frogs is a subset of the set of green things....

Episode 30: Marko Malink discusses modal syllogistic

Subscribe to Elucidations:         Episode transcript here. Marko Malink is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Chicago. Click here to listen to our conversation with him. An episode on modal syllogistic is guaranteed to sound a bit challenging to someone who hasn’t ever studied logic. But the topic isn’t just fascinating–it’s easy to grasp once you’ve learned some of the relevant terminology....

Hume's views on induction: a follow-up

In our latest episode, Peter Kail addressed a popular misreading of David Hume’s views about induction—the process of inferring things about the future on the basis of facts about the past. According to this reading, Hume is a skeptic about induction. Let’s distinguish skeptical from non-skeptical views about induction like this: Skepticism about induction: we are never justified in believing things about the future on the basis of facts about the past....