World Philosophy Day

World Philosophy Day2012 marks the tenth anniversary of World Philosophy Day, an all-day event sponsored by UNESCO with international, national and local events centered around the theme of “Future Generations.”

According to UNESCO, this year’s theme is particularly timely, as “global concern for sustainable development has given increased pertinence to the interests and moral standing of future generations.

These questions are profoundly philosophical. They concern communication between beings who cannot talk to one another; identities, as extended in time and space; the scope and power of the moral imagination; and of course the ethical issue of responsibility.”

Also, check out the online event that we ran last year as part of World Philosophy Day; a series of five leading-edge opinion pieces exploring the theme ‘The Future of Philosophy’, from Robert Stern, Vincent Hendricks, Tim Mulgan, Matti Eklund and Luciano Floridi.

Write for The Philosopher’s Eye!

Image: Gaetan Lee

Are you a philosophy graduate looking for a writing opportunity?

We want to hear from budding writers who are looking for a chance to write about philosophy for a popular blog, and who want to show how the ideas of philosophy can improve our understanding of current affairs.

Do you feel that philosophy has something important to say about the political beliefs of Sarah Palin? Or the slapstick of Charlie Chaplin? Do you think that new technology changes the limits of human potential? Do you want to show why aesthetics is relevant beyond the tedious ‘but-is-it-art‘ questions of the mainstream?

Sex! Drugs! Pop! Violence! Videogames! Hume! We want your take on it.

We can’t pay you per se; we’re looking for people who want to work for the sheer, electric joy of peeling back layers of ambiguity to expose the quivering, naked Truth of It All. As well as the opportunity to write for an international audience, we’ll also create a profile for you on our News Editors page.

Contact us at PHCOeditorial@wiley.com to tell us about your interests and background, and send a sample post of around 300 words. Nominations of others are welcome.

War is Reason Free From Passion

When we imagine robotic combatants, we naturally expect that they will be modelled on ourselves. Ancient Crete, for example, had the bronze, xenophobic robot Talos, who indiscriminately hurled missiles towards all foreign ships. Talos had autonomy, the power to reason (however dimly), and the power to determine his own behaviour. But most importantly, behind the face of Talos was a single agent, an agent modelled after a human subject.

But as the Economist reports, BAE systems, in conjunction with several UK universities, has put forward a vastly different intelligence model for our future robotic warriors. Eschewing full-fledged autonomy, the individual combatants are designed to pool information about the environment, potential targets, and available resources, and then arrive globally on a course of action; individual robots may also ‘bid’ to avail themselves of resources, but the allocation of resources Continue reading “War is Reason Free From Passion”

Banning Discussion of Suicide?

Newspaper and pages are currently impressed with the melancholoy story of two stangers (Joanne Lee and Steve Lumb) who met on a suicide discussion forum and subsequently met for the first time in order to fulfill a suicide pact, dying together in a fume-filled car.

Of course the circumstances of these deaths are incredibly sad and we should have sympathy for those affected by their demise. However, when individuals like the understandably distraught father of one of those now dead call for the banning of newsgroups and forums focused on suicide on the grounds that they provide an opportunity for depressed individuals to be both encouraged to end their own lives and instructed on preferred methods, they’re simply mistaking the medium of communication for the message. Continue reading “Banning Discussion of Suicide?”

Super Bowl, Baby?

Oh, the Super Bowl! Unique among sporting events in the States, this annual tour de force remains incomparable. Long after the final minutes, the critical question lingers on – Which will be remembered, the game or the commercials?

However, this year, even by Super Bowl standards, the prospects of these ‘epic’ ads are already drawing more than their fair share of publicity. Continue reading “Super Bowl, Baby?”

$4.4 Million Grant to Study Free Will

(Cross-posted from Religion Compass Exchanges)

The John Templeton Foundation recently awarded Alfred Mele, the William H. and Lucyle Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University (FSU), a $4.4 million grant to “oversee a four-year project to improve understanding of free will in philosophy, religion and science.” Funding for the project, “Free Will: Human and Divine — Empirical and Philosophical Explorations,” will support international researchers (“who submit proposals to study the science, conceptual underpinnings and theology of free will”), research colloquia and a postdoctoral position at FSU’s department of philosophy over the next three years, a two-week seminar in the summer of 2012, and as much as $30,000 in prize money Continue reading “$4.4 Million Grant to Study Free Will”

Sticks and Stones …

Philosophers have long since begun to question the possibility of ‘neutral’ speech acts.  More recently, thinkers like Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, and Rene Girard have each offered diverse analyses of the many ways in which discourse is marked by violence.  Is language necessarily connected to acts of oppression?  Can we speak without limiting the world, reducing the ‘other’?

Recent headlines suggest the beginning of a kind of bare minimum assent to such theories.  According to the BBC, the French government is deliberating over the possibility of legally banning ‘psychological violence’ (i.e., verbal abuse) within couples.  While practical questions of ‘proof’ remain, the consideration itself is encouraging.  Contrary to the old adage, words can hurt.  And, if the law passes, ‘violent’ verbal exchanges will yield real penalties.

Continue reading “Sticks and Stones …”