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New Philosophy Compass Issue, August 2011

The latest issue of Philosophy Compass is now available on Wiley Online Library

Aesthetics & Philosophy of Art
Ideal Observer Theories in Aesthetics (pages 513–522)
Stephanie Ross
Article first published online: 8 AUG 2011 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1747-9991.2011.00416.x
Logic & Language
Proof Theory for Modal Logic (pages 523–538)
Sara Negri
Article first published online: 8 AUG 2011 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1747-9991.2011.00418.x
Naturalistic Philosophy
The Instrumental Value of Explanations (pages 539–551)
Tania Lombrozo
Article first published online: 8 AUG 2011 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1747-9991.2011.00413.x
Philosophy of Religion
Naturalistic Explanation for Religious Belief (pages 552–563)
David Leech and Aku Visala
Article first published online: 8 AUG 2011 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1747-9991.2011.00414.x
Anselmian Theism (pages 564–571)
Yujin Nagasawa
Article first published online: 8 AUG 2011 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1747-9991.2011.00415.x
Teaching & Learning Guide
Teaching & Learning Guide for: Logic and Divine Simplicity (pages 572–574)
Anders Kraal
Article first published online: 8 AUG 2011 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1747-9991.2011.00417.x

Interview: Philosophy and Pop Culture

We hope you’ll enjoy this brief interview withWilliam Irwin, series editor of the Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series. In this brief interview, Bill tells us about his passion for getting new people into philosophy, and how the series aims to do that by illuminating traditional philosophical problems with examples from pop culture. The books draw on sources as diverse as Harry Potter, Inception, Game of Thrones, and more.

Philosopher’s Eye: Why did you decide to edit The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series?

I’m a huge fan of pop culture in its many forms including movies, TV, and music. Talking about these things has always been a way for me to connect with students in the classroom at King’s College, and it just seemed natural to bring these connections into book form.

What’s the central concern of the series, and why is it important?

The aim is to bring philosophy to people who might not otherwise encounter it, by bringing ancient wisdom and probing inquiry to bear on current movies and TV. Many people already think deeply about their favourite elements of pop culture, so these books give people the philosophical tools and terminology to think more deeply.

And what is it that draws you to this broad area?

I’m passionate about getting people interested in philosophy, and this is one way to do that. “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down,” as a famous British philosopher once said.

What sort of reaction do you hope the books will get?

So far the reaction has been very positive. Not a week goes by that I don’t get an e-mail from someone telling me how these books have made an impact on their life. More and more, I hear from philosophy majors who first became interested in philosophy by reading one of these books.

What sort of audience did you have in mind for these books?

The books are aimed at smart fans of smart pop culture, the kind of people who really like to discuss and dissect their favourite movies, shows, songs, and video games. They are intended for regular people, not professors :).

Is there another book or series you wish you could claim credit for?

I wish I had written Denis Dutton’s The Art Instinct and Jesse Bering’s The Belief Instinct, two incredibly insightful and elegantly written books. I really like Blackwell’s Big Questions Series. I’ve used the Aesthetics and Metaphysics books very successfully in courses. I’d like to see new volumes on Political Philosophy and Eastern Philosophy in the Big Questions Series.

What’s your current project? What’s next?

The series continues with books in the works on Inception, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Game of Thrones, The Big Bang Theory, and others.

How can someone get in touch with you about an idea for a new volume in the series?

I’m always glad to hear from anyone who has an idea for a new book in the series, whether it’s a pop culture fan who would like to see a certain topic covered or a professor who has an idea for a book he or she would like to edit. Just e-mail me at williamirwin@kings.edu.


Philosophy Through Film – Interview with the authors

Richard FumertonDiane JeskeWe recently sat down with Richard Fumerton and Diane Jeske (University of Iowa), the editors of Introducing Philosophy Through Film: Key Texts, Discussion, and Film Selections. In this brief interview, they tell us how the book is different from other introductory texts in its class, and about the great reaction the book is already getting in teaching situations.

 

Philosopher’s Eye: Why did you decide to write Introducing Philosophy Through Film?

We discovered over the past several years that we were very often talking about movies in our classes to illustrate more vividly some of the thought experiments that are such an important part of so much of analytic philosophy.  We noticed that students immediately seem to become more engaged as soon as they could relate the philosophical reading to something that they are already used to talking about in more informal contexts with their friends

What’s the central concern of the book, and why is it important?

The book contains readings that give students a really sound introduction to most of the main areas of contemporary philosophy.  It differs from standard introductory texts by pairing those readings with philosophically interesting Continue reading “Philosophy Through Film – Interview with the authors”

New Philosophy Compass Issue, June 2011

The latest issue of Philosophy Compass is available on Wiley Online Library

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Aesthetics & Philosophy of Art:

Drawing the Line: Art Versus Pornography (pages 385–397)
Hans Maes

Chinese Comparative Philosophy:

Caring in Confucian Philosophy (pages 374–384)
Ann A. Pang-White

History of Philosophy:

Locke on Personal Identity (pages 398–407)
Shelley Weinberg

Legal & Political:

Constitutional Interpretation: Non-originalism (pages 408–420)
Mitchell N. Berman

Philosophy of Science:

Mechanistic Theories of Causality Part I (pages 421–432)
Jon Williamson

Mechanistic Theories of Causality Part II (pages 433–444)
Jon Williamson

Teaching & Learning Guide:

Teaching & Learning Guide for: Mechanistic Theories of Causality (pages 445–447)
Jon Williamson

New issue of Philosophy Compass out now! Vol. 6, Iss. 4

The latest issue of Philosophy Compass is available on Wiley Online Library

Ethics

Recent Work on the Ethics of Self-Defense (pages 220–233)
Tyler Doggett

History of Philosophy

Ancient Skepticism: Overview (pages 234–245)
Diego E. Machuca
Ancient Skepticism: Pyrrhonism (pages 246–258)
Diego E. Machuca
Ancient Skepticism: The Skeptical Academy (pages 259–266)
Diego Machuca

Mind & Cognitive Science

Phenomenal Concepts (pages 267–281)
Pär Sundström

Philosophy of Religion

Logic and Divine Simplicity (pages 282–294)
Anders Kraal

Teaching & Learning Guide

Teaching & Learning Guide for: Essentialism (pages 295–299)
Sonia Roca-Royes

Online classrooms

Anya Kamenetz has new book titled DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education.  You can read her article-length distillation of it at The American Prospect.  Kamenetz’ vision of higher-education’s future is pretty techno-utopian, but less naive than many in the “facebook will revolutionize college!” caucus.  A taste:

Whether hybrid classes, social networks, tutoring programs, games, or open content, technology provides speed skates for students and teachers, not crutches. To save money and improve learning, educational technology has to be well-designed and carefully implemented. The roles of professors will shift, and new jobs will be created in place of the old. “Technology can’t make a bad teacher into a good teacher,” says Sarah Robbins, an expert on the use of gaming in teaching who goes by the Internet handle Intellagirl. “Students who don’t want to learn won’t suddenly become great students when you put a gadget in their hands. Learning to teach with technology is less about ‘how does it work’ and much more about ‘why should I use it.'”

I’m excited about the increasingly huge amount of high-quality educational material available online.  I depend on wikipedia more every year, and I’ve gotten a lot out of MIT’s and Yale’s free online courses.  These materials are great at making huge amounts of information available to people who want to learn it.

But especially at the introductory levels, philosophy classes aren’t (or, I think, shouldn’t be) about absorbing information.  Rather, lower-division philosophy courses should about learning a style of thinking.  Students should come out of their first philosophy class better able to recognize philosophical problems, to recognize and understand arguments, and to critically evaluate arguments.

To develop new thinking skills requires more active engagement from students than is needed to memorize a set of facts, or to become familiar with a body of literature.  To develop these skills requires discussion and writing, lots of failure and correction, and modeling by the instructor.  I worry that these things are more effectively accomplished when students are physically present, where the stakes are higher, and instructors and peers alike can challenge passiveness.

And so I worry that the move to online delivery of college courses, while a boon for the spread of high-quality, reliable information, will come at the cost of high-quality critical thinking.

Related articles:

You can find many cool sample syllabuses here on the Philosopher’s Eye, in the Teaching & Learning section.