The European Journal of Philosophy is delighted to bring you this Virtual Issue on the theme of Nietzsche. Please click on the articles below to read for free, along with the introduction by Robert Pippin from the University of Chicago.
Many positive scientific effects published in the literature seem to diminish in their significance with time; this is known as the decline effect. For example, initial parapsychological research indicated evidence for psychic ability, but this effect declined with subsequent studies. Some scientists link this to the strange statistical effect called regression to the mean: the phenomenon that if a variable is extreme on its first measurement, by the second measurement it will be closer to the average. It is impossible to test this, however, without access to negative results of scientific studies.
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The 9th International Conference on Intercultural Philosophy was held last month at the University of Costa Rica, and went under the banner of ‘Living together: Problems and possibilities in today’s world. An intercultural approximation’. The general objective of the conference was stated as: To know the various dimensions of human living together according to diverse current cultures of the world, particularly as ways of life in today’s societies. The ‘intercultural’ ethos of this particular event consisted in approaching the above objective in a tripartite manner:
1. Each of the various cultures’ perceptions regarding living together; 2. The discussion of the various proposals provided by each culture in relation to living together from an intercultural point of view; 3. The analysis of the possible interpretations of living together for human beings under the current conditions of today’s global society.
Representatives from Korea, Taiwan, Congo, Tunisia, Germany, Austria and much of Central and South America, convened for this occasion in order to share perspectives on the task of living together in the age of globalisation and all its attendant problems (‘…global warming, migration, cultural intolerance, terrorism of various sorts, economical crises…’). Continue reading “The Questionable Questions of Intercultural Philosophy”
We all know that science is a construct of unquestionable truth about the world. This is drummed in to every school child, almost doctrinally, for several years (and, in this author’s experience, for an upsettingly long time at university as well). Admittedly it is portrayed as an ever-changing, evolving truth, not only in the context of how each year the explanation of a particular concept is given increasingly refined detail, but also in how science is studied itself, moving from simpler concepts to more complex ones, leading us to wonder where the buck finally stops. And that is usually conceived of as being someone, somewhere, even if they are Einstein-esque and would struggle to fill a string quartet with contemporaries who understand them, who really knows how something works, or is. And that should be comforting to all budding scientists. Continue reading “Its a scientifically un-certain fact.”
No, I do not want to hear anyone’s confession. It is only that since I read yesterday’s article in the Independent about the science of lying, researched by Robert Feldman, Professor of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts, I do very much think about how much I have lied and how much those I am talking to have lied in the last 24 hours. If this question is bizarre for most people, it is even more so for a philosopher. We are interested in the TRUTH, not in how the truth is bended to fit our or anyone’s purpose. The article claims however that the latter is what we are doing constantly. Continue reading “Have you told a lie today? Tell me about it!”
This week the Guardian published an article questioning the veracity of UK sex trafficking figures. Not long ago, numbers as high as 25,000 were being used to motivate government policy which has led to changes in the priorities of virtually every police force in the country, and likely changes in the law. But it turns out the figures are bogus. The Guardian article charts their genealogy.
A central division that shapes the epistemology of testimony is that between reductionists and non-reductionists. Reductionists think that interlocutors have to justify what they are told by their own means. Non-reductionists think that interlocutors can, in principle, be justified in being so told, alone. The present situation offers a nice illustration of what’s at issue.
It’s difficult to imagine how anyone could know everything that is known. But in any society in which there is a division of epistemic labour, many people make decisions which affect the lives of others on matters about which they are not experts or even knowledgeable hobbyists.
This combination (absent first-hand knowledge, and, a capacity to affect the lives of others) introduces a requirement that people rely on what the authorities (whoever they are: mechanics, scientists, economists, estate agents, policy designers, teachers…) tell them. This is a fact of modern life. Most of what you know you do not know first hand. But for this dependence on authority to work effectively as a basis on which interlocutors can make good decisions, and act appropriately: the authorities in question must have an accurate reputation; the theatres in which authorities have their checks and controls need to be functioning properly; and that which leaks out into the public domain needs to be put in a way that non-experts can understand and put to use responsibly.
When we have non-expert consumers of information, much scaffolding needs to be in place for a reliance on authority not to end in disaster. But with it in place, we get a picture of the epistemological status of testimony that is not obviously either reductionist or non-reductionist.
Related articles: Knowing from Testimony
Department of Philosophy, Northern Illinois University
(Vol. 1, June 2006) Philosophy Compass