The Future of Philosophy: ‘Information First’ By Luciano Floridi

The following opinion piece is one of a series of five being released this week and next to celebrate World Philosophy Day and to publicise the upcoming workshop entitled Editor’s Cut – A view of philosophical research from journal editors. the workshop will take place at the University of London on Friday 13th of January 2012.

Information First
By Luciano Floridi
Professor of Philosophy and UNESCO Chair in Information and Computer Ethics, University of Hertfordshire
 & Oxford University
Editor of Philosophy & Technology

On 23rd of April 2010, Bill Gates gave a talk at MIT in which he asked: “are the brightest minds working on the most important problems?” By “the most important problems” he meant “improving the lives of the poorest; improving education, health, nutrition”. Unfortunately, the list should probably include improving peaceful interactions, human rights, environmental conditions, living standards… and this is only the beginning. Clearly, the brightest philosophical minds should not be an exception, but turn their attention to such pressing challenges. The first question is how. Of course, one may stop philosophising and start doing something about this messy world instead. We may, in other words, close down our philosophy departments and never corrupt our brightest youths philosophically. Yet, such solution smacks of self-defeat. It would be like deciding to burn the wicker basket in which we are travelling, because our hot air balloon is descending too quickly. Philosophy is what you want to keep in a good world, not what you want to get rid of in a bad one. So there must be a different way forward. The fact is that philosophy can be extremely helpful, for it is philosophy, understood as conceptual design, that forges the new ideas, theories, perspectives and more generally the intellectual framework that can then be used to understand and deal with the ultimate questions that challenge us so pressingly. In the team effort made by the brightest minds, the philosophical ones can contribute insights and visions, analyses and syntheses, heuristics and solutions that can empower us to tackle the most important problems. Every little effort helps in the battle against idiocy, obscurantism, intolerance, fanaticisms and fundamentalisms of all kinds, bigotry, prejudice and mere ignorance. If this sounds self-serving recall that Continue reading “The Future of Philosophy: ‘Information First’ By Luciano Floridi”

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The Future of Philosophy: Trends in Philosophy
 By Matti Eklund

The following opinion piece is one of a series of five being released this week and next to celebrate World Philosophy Day and to publicise the upcoming workshop entitled Editor’s Cut – A view of philosophical research from journal editors. the workshop will take place at the University of London on Friday 13th of January 2012.

Trends in Philosophy
By Matti Eklund
Associate Professor, Cornell
Editor of The Philosophical Review

 

What caused the demise of logical positivism? According to certain potted histories of 20th-Century philosophy, it was Willard V.O. Quine’s refutation of central claims about analyticity in “Two Dogmas of Empiricism” that did it, or Thomas Kuhn’s refutation of logical positivism’s claims about science in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, or it was problems about how to understand the verification principle (is it itself verifiable?) that did it in. These explanations are problematic. Quine just didn’t give any compelling argument against analyticity in “Two Dogmas of Empiricism”. At best he argued that it couldn’t be non-circularly characterized, but the same goes for many perfectly legitimate notions, and notions Quine accepted as perfectly legitimate – as H. P. Grice and Peter Strawson were quick to point out. As for Kuhn, it has now been well-documented that Rudolf Carnap, the most famous logical positivist, was quite positive about Kuhn’s project. Simplifying somewhat: while Kuhn presented an account of actual history of science, the positivists discussed science under a certain idealization. Kuhn does not even talk much about logical positivism in Structure. Problems regarding the verification principle are another matter. Those problems are arguably serious. But they weren’t discovered when logical positivism met its demise. (Which was when, exactly? The 1950s? Early 60s?) Rather, such problems were always Continue reading “The Future of Philosophy: Trends in Philosophy
 By Matti Eklund”

The Future of Philosophy: By Tim Mulgan

The following opinion piece is one of a series of five being released this week and next to celebrate World Philosophy Day and to publicise the upcoming workshop entitled Editor’s Cut – A view of philosophical research from journal editors. the workshop will take place at the University of London on Friday 13th of January 2012.

The Future of Philosophy
By Tim Mulgan
Professor of Moral and Political Philosophy, University of St Andrews
Editor of The Philosophical Quarterly

In 1689, John Locke published two treatises on government. Locke’s Second Treatise is a staple of introductory political philosophy courses, pored over by generations of scholars and undergraduates. His First Treatise is barely read today. This differential treatment reflects neither the importance Locke himself attached to the two treatises, nor the comparative cogency of Locke’s arguments, but rather the contemporary relevance of his themes. Locke’s First Treatise attacks Robert Filmer’s defence of the divine right of kings. As events outside philosophy have rendered absolute monarchy irrelevant, so Filmer’s arguments – and thus Locke’s demolition of them – have faded from the philosophical canon.

To illustrate the role of historical contingencies here, consider the fact Continue reading “The Future of Philosophy: By Tim Mulgan”

The Future of Philosophy: IPAD – Information Processing and the Analysis of Democracy by Vincent F. Hendricks

The following opinion piece is one of a series of five being released this week and next to celebrate World Philosophy Day and to publicise the upcoming workshop entitled Editor’s Cut – A view of philosophical research from journal editors. the workshop will take place at the University of London on Friday 13th of January 2012.

IPAD – Information Processing and the Analysis of Democracy
A research program for interdisciplinary philosophy

Vincent F. Hendricks
University of Copenhagen and Columbia University
Editor of Synthese

Useful philosophy is seldom pure philosophy. It is rather philosophy mixed with something else, in order to solve some pertinent, conceptual or practical problems. Philosophical research for the future is an essentially interdisciplinary enterprise, involving scholars from a good spread of disciplines ranging from humanities over social science to natural science and technology.

An example: “democracy”. Among political philosophers the concept of democracy has Continue reading “The Future of Philosophy: IPAD – Information Processing and the Analysis of Democracy by Vincent F. Hendricks”

The Future of Philosophy: ‘Whither Philosophy?’ By Robert Stern

The following opinion piece is one of a series of five being released this week and next to celebrate World Philosophy Day and to publicise the upcoming workshop entitled Editor’s Cut – A view of philosophical research from journal editors. the workshop will take place at the University of London on Friday 13th of January 2012.

Whither Philosophy?
By Robert Stern
Professor of Philosophy, University of Sheffield
Editor of the European Journal of Philosophy

The story goes that when the Chinese premier Zhou Enlai was asked in the early 1970s about the effects of the French Revolution, he replied with sage-like wisdom that it is ‘Too early to tell’. Likewise, in being asked ‘what currents in contemporary philosophy will shape the future of the discipline?’, it is tempting to hide behind Zhou Enlai’s caution, and respond similarly. Moreover, even if one feels he was being unduly pessimistic about the question when applied to the French Revolution, he may still seem wise if instead he thought he was being asked about the student revolts of 1968 a mere three years before – as is now claimed. Futurology is a notoriously dangerous pursuit, likely to make its proponents look foolish.

Nonetheless, it perhaps seems likely that certain trends and issues in Continue reading “The Future of Philosophy: ‘Whither Philosophy?’ By Robert Stern”

The Future of Philosophy: Happy World Philosophy Day!

Today is World Philosophy Day, people. This is the day when we come together all over the globe (possibly) to honour our august and noble discipline, and are encouraged to entertain new and unfamiliar ideas.

To celebrate, the Philosopher’s Eye is pleased to announce that we will be bringing you five cutting-edge opinion pieces written by highly distinguished philosophers.  Each short piece will explore the theme:  ‘The Future of Philosophy’, and will be posted as follows:

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  • Whither Philosophy?
    By Robert Stern
    Professor of Philosophy, University of Sheffield
    Editor of the European Journal of Philosophy
    Going live: Later today
  • The Future of Philosophy
    By Tim Mulgan
    Professor of Moral and Political Philosophy, University of St Andrews
    Editor of The Philosophical Quarterly
    Going live: Mon 21
    st November, 9am GMT
  • Trends in Philosophy
    By Matti Eklund
    Associate Professor, Cornell
    Editor of The Philosophical Review
    Going live: Tue 22
    nd November, 9am GMT
  • Information First
    By Luciano Floridi
    Professor of Philosophy and UNESCO Chair in Information and Computer Ethics, University of Hertfordshire
 & Oxford University
    Editor of Philosophy & Technology
    Going live: Wed 23
    rd November, 9am GMT

 Our five philosophers and many others will meet to discuss the future of philosophy at a workshop entitled Editor’s Cut – A view of philosophical research from journal editors. The workshop is organized by the Institute of Philosophy, School of Advanced Study, University of London, on Friday the 13th of January 2012, in collaboration with Wiley-Blackwell’s journal Metaphilosophy and the UNESCO Chair in Information and Computer Ethics.