The Philosophy Program at A&M University - Corpus Christi offers the Minor (18 hrs.) and the Major (30 hrs.) in Philosophy. Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any questions about studying philosophy.

Obama the Pragmatist

The NY Times is reporting on Harvard historian James T. Kloppenberg's foray into President Obama's intellectual roots in, apparently, American Pragmatism.  From the article (links mine),

To Mr. Kloppenberg the philosophy that has guided President Obama most consistently is pragmatism, a uniquely American system of thought developed at the end of the 19th century by William James, John Dewey and Charles Sanders Peirce. It is a philosophy that grew up after Darwin published his theory of evolution and the Civil War reached its bloody end. More and more people were coming to believe that chance rather than providence guided human affairs, and that dogged certainty led to violence.

Pragmatism maintains that people are constantly devising and updating ideas to navigate the world in which they live; it embraces open-minded experimentation and continuing debate. “It is a philosophy for skeptics, not true believers,” Mr. Kloppenberg said.

AJ Ayer, the Spy Who Weakly Verified

The Guardian (UK) reports that the philosopher Ayer, AJ Ayer--the author of "Language, Truth, and Logic" and long a proponent of Logical Positivism and the Vienna Circle to Anglo-American philosophy--was also a spy for Britain's vaunted MI-6

IF Extravaganza (meeting)!!!!!

10/20/2010 5:00 pm

Hello Everyone,
Be sure to attend this week's IF meeting on Wednesday the 20th at 5:00 pm (plenty o' time before coffee talk) in the UC Tarpon Room 323! We will be discussing, planning and finalizing upcoming events for the made up "Week of IF Extravaganzaness!!!!! (no, not extravagance)" The week's events will include the following:
~"Ask-an-Atheist" table
~The Levitucus Patrol
~Hypothetical Interfaith Debate/Contradictions in the Bible/Ruling over H.P. Garcia Plaza!
lf you are interested in getting involved you can come to the meeting, come to an event (soon to be posted) or look us up on or
See you Wednesday!

Trolleyology 102

With the sad news of Philippa Foot's death (1920-2010, excellent obituaries here and here), our colleague and physicist Dr.Balasubramanya ("Dr. Bala") points us to the following vivid dramatization of the traditional trolley case in a follow-up to our recent "Trolleyology 101" story:

On a side note, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Professor Foot when she visited the University of Kansas in the early 90's.  She struck everyone as dauntingly intelligent yet unfailingly gracious.  She was certainly one of our favorite visiting scholars.  I distinctly remember the feminist philosophers pressing her for stories of her struggles to gain recognition in the male-dominated, sexist world of analytic philosophy.  She gently suggested that far from struggling, she always felt she received special consideration for being one of the few women philosophers.  Of course, not all attention is wanted, as the blog "What is it like to be a woman in philosophy?" discusses (link courtesy Leiter Reports.)

Coffee Talk: Q&A on the new Philosophy BA

10/20/2010 7:00 pm

The Philosophy Club's next meeting will be an open discussion, question/answer session on the newly approved bachelor's degree in philosophy at TAMU-CC. Everyone is invited to this event. All disciplines, all colleges, all majors, all are welcome.

Some of the highlights we will cover:

  • What to tell people (parents) when they ask "What does a degree in philosophy do for you anyway?"
  • The new courses that will be offered.
  • What the students would like to see from the new program.

Professors from the Philosophy Deptartment will be on hand to answer all of your questions.

This meeting will take place at Coffee Waves (Alameda @ Waverly) at 7:00pm on Wednesday, October 20.


FMI: Contact Don Berkich

The Experience Machine

UT's David Sosa contributes to the NY Times' Stone series with a short essay on happiness, framing his discussion in terms of Nozick's Experience Machine Thought Experiment.  Quoting from Nozick's Anarchy, State, and Utopia, p. 3,

Suppose there were an experience machine that would give you any experience you desired. Super-duper neuropsychologists could stimulate your brain so that you would think and feel you were writing a great novel, or making a friend, or reading an interesting book. All the time you would be floating in a tank, with electrodes attached to your brain. Should you plug into this machine for life, preprogramming your life experiences? [...] Of course, while in the tank you won’t know that you’re there; you’ll think that it’s all actually happening [...] Would you plug in?

Think "The Matrix", or, better, "Total Recall".  In any case, Sosa uses the Experience Machine Thought Experiment to argue that happiness cannot be viewed as a state of mind simpliciter.  Much more is involved--enough, perhaps, to warrant refusing to plug in to the Experience Machine.

IF Meeting/discussion

10/06/2010 4:58 pm

Hello Everyone,
This Wednesday the 6th at 5:00pm, the blessed people of IF will be holding a service in CCH 226 (yes, I did forget to reserve a room so we will be using the honors secret layer/lounge/cave of intelligence).
Snacks may or may not be provided, but there is a nearby waterfountain, guarenteed!
We will be planning our upcoming event, "Ask an Atheist Table" and plot how to rustle up a NET member! yeehaw!
See you there!

Science in Texas FTW

Our own Michael Jordan brings us the good news (here, and here) that the Texas State Board of Education is on the verge of eliminating language from the curriculum which has for some time been used as a cover to teach creationism in biology courses.

The Friday Funny

The Independent (UK) has the transcript from a 2002 trial in which the defendant is, shall we say, somewhat brighter than the prosecutor charging him.  His crime?  Stealing 40,000 coat hangers from hotels.  The exchange between prosecutor (counsel/barrister), defendant, and judge is priceless.

More 'Bad Blood'

Advocates for careful ethical controls on human experimentation often point to the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment (1932-1972) in which government scientists working for the Public Health Service deliberately refrained from treating almost 400 poor black farmers for their syphilis.  Instead, the men were told they had 'Bad Blood' and were given years of examinations so researchers could collect data on the etiology (development) of the disease.

The Boston Globe is now reporting that Wellesley's Susan Reverby has discovered the U.S. conducted similar experiments during the 1940's in Guatemala, only this time the researches went so far as to deliberately infect their experimental subjects with syphilis.  From the article,

Reverby writes that US physicians selected men in a Guatemalan penitentiary and army barracks as well as men and women in a mental hospital for the study. Initially, the researchers used prostitutes to attempt to infect the prisoners. When that approach largely failed, the doctors then "did direct inoculations made from syphilis bacteria poured onto the men's penises or on forearms and faces that were slightly abraded."

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