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: 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”

Interview: Is God a Delusion? A Reply to Religion’s Cultured Despisers

Eric Reitan’s latest book, Is God a Delusion? A Reply to Religion’s Cultured Despisers was named an Outstanding Academic Title of 2009. Here he tells us how he was motivated to write the book partly in response to the misrepresentations of religious thought he discovered in Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, but also by a very personal desire to reconcile his deep intuitions about ultimate reality with open intellectual inquiry.

Philosopher’s Eye: Why did you decide to write Is God a Delusion?

Eric Reitan: One day a few years ago, a colleague of mine handed me a photocopied page from a book, without any identifying information, and asked me to evaluate it as I would a student paper. On that page the unknown author attempted to summarize and then critique the first three of Aquinas’ “Five Ways” for proving God’s existence. I say “attempted” because the author got the arguments wrong Continue reading “Interview: Is God a Delusion? A Reply to Religion’s Cultured Despisers”