The Authority of Testimony

Whom do you trust?

Of the many potential pieces of knowledge I have gained this week, numbering amongst them are the facts that the late Pope John Paul II was responsible for a miracle, and that U.S. Special Forces killed Osama Bin Laden. These stories are presented to me, and I must somehow decide whether to accept them or not. Enter epistemology.

WARNING: CRACKPOT CONSPIRACY THEORY ALERT! On Monday, over a million people crowded the streets of Rome to celebrate and witness the beatification of the late Pope John Paul II. One of the requirements for such a beatification is the confirmed attribution of a miracle to the “blessed” one in question. This requirement was satisfactorily fulfilled by the testimony of a nun, Marie Simon-Pierre, who claimed that she had been miraculously cured of Parkinson’s Disease by the supernatural intervention of John Paul’s spirit. Now, denounce me as a sceptic if you wish, but I’m just not sure that this is entirely reliable. Continue reading “The Authority of Testimony”

Interview: The Philosopher’s Toolkit

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Peter Fosl and Julian Baggini make complex and abstract philosophical work accessible to the uninitiated with their outstanding books The Philosopher’s Toolkit and The Ethics Toolkit. In this interview, Peter Fosl talks about what philosophy did for him, and why he is motivated to share what he calls  one of “the extremely good things” he has discovered in life.

The Philosopher’s Eye: Why did you decide to write The Philosopher’s Toolkit and The Ethics Toolkit?

Peter Fosl: I wrote them for two reasons, really.  First, I took up work on the toolkits to advance my project of bringing philosophy to as many people as possible. The second reason I became involved with the Toolkit projects was Julian Baggini. I had come to know Julian and his work through writing for The Philosophers’ Magazine (which he co-founded and edits). Julian has proven himself stunningly effective at bringing philosophy to a wide audience and doing so in a way that doesn’t dumb the material down. Continue reading “Interview: The Philosopher’s Toolkit”