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.

James Lenman: How to Write a Crap Philosophy Essay

Courtesy Leiter Reports, James Lenman (Sheffield, UK) offers this advice on how (not) to write philosophy.

Debate Over Kant Leads to Gunfight

Following up on her own previous submission, "The Mob Reads Kant", our own Prisilla Hernandez draws our attention to this AP story:

MOSCOW — An argument in southern Russia over philosopher Immanuel Kant, the author of “Critique of Pure Reason,” devolved into pure mayhem when one debater shot the other.

A police spokeswoman in Rostov-on Don, Viktoria Safarova, said two men in their 20s were discussing Kant as they stood in line to buy beer at a small store on Sunday. The discussion deteriorated into a fistfight and one participant pulled out a small nonlethal pistol and fired repeatedly.

One wonders whether it was the nature of the unity of pure apperception that led them to this...

Arete: Undergraduate Journal of Philosophy Call for Papers

If you've a particularly good term paper, you might consider polishing it up and sending it off to Arete, Rutgers' undergraduate philosophy journal. Here is the CFP in full:

Arete,The Undergraduate Philosophy Journal of Rutgers University, is now accepting paper submissions for publication in its Spring 2014 issue. On the order of 3 papers will be published, digitally and in print (limited run).

Traditionally, only work from college upperclassmen is encouraged, as analytic rigor is a prerequisite for publication. That being said, any paper of exquisite quality from any field of philosophy is welcome for submission.

Submissions should not exceed 8,000 words, with a cover page, abstract, and citations. For the purposes of blind review, do not include information in the text of your paper that identifies you as the author or the institution you attend. Papers should be submitted via E-mail attachment, (from an email address we can use to correspond with you) in Word document or PDF format, torundergrad.philo.journal@gmail.comby October 11th, 2013.

The authors of papers accepted for publication will be notified in December.

The Absolutely Wonderful, Timely, and Gorgeous "Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments"

You would do well to set aside whatever it is you happen to be doing, pick up "An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments", and immerse yourself in a masterfully executed piece occupying the delightful intersection between art, philosophy, and technology.

About Those Useless Degrees

Courtesy Leiter Reports, the Physics Central Buzz Blog has a nice analysis of recent GRE results. Led by Philosophy, the LIberal Arts and Sciences continue to dominate in spite of Texas' best efforts.

Is Philosophy Also Useful?

Few who lack exposure to serious philosophical inquiry recognize its intrinsic value, understandably enough. Has it, though, instrumental value? Courtesy Leiter Reports, journalist Shannon Rupp offers her perspective. From the essay,

I tell people the most useful classes I took were all in philosophy.

Yes, the course of study that has long been denigrated as frivolous and useless in the job market has been the part of my education that I lean on again and again. For work and everything else.

The Study of Philosophy

In a 1946 essay, "Philosophy for the Laymen", Bertrand Russell takes up the question, why study philosophy? From the essay,

Those who have a passion for quick returns and for an exact balance sheet of effort and reward may feel impatient of a study which cannot, in the present state of our knowledge, arrive at certainties, and which encourages what may be thought the timewasting occupation of inconclusive meditation on insoluble problems. To this view I cannot in any degree subscribe. Some kind of philosophy is a necessity to all but the most thoughtless, and in the absence of knowledge it is almost sure to be a silly philosophy. The result of this is that the human race becomes divided into rival groups of fanatics, each group firmly persuaded that its own brand of nonsense is sacred truth, while the other side's is damnable heresy. Arians and Catholics, Crusaders and Muslims, Protestants and adherents of the Pope, Communists and Fascists, have filled large parts of the last 1,600 years with futile strife, when a little philosophy would have shown both sides in all these disputes that neither had any good reason to believe itself in the right. Dogmatism is an enemy to peace, and an insuperable barrier to democracy. In the present age, at least as much as in former times, it is the greatest of the mental obstacles to human happiness.

The demand for certainty is one which is natural to man, but is nevertheless an intellectual vice. If you take your children for a picnic on a doubtful day, they will demand a dogmatic answer as to whether it will be fine or wet, and be disappointed in you when you cannot be sure. The same sort of assurance is demanded, in later life, of those who undertake to lead populations into the Promised Land. 'Liquidate the capitalists and the survivors will enjoy eternal bliss.' 'Exterminate the Jews and everyone will be virtuous.' 'Kill the Croats and let the Serbs reign.' 'Kill the Serbs and let the Croats reign.' These are samples of the slogans that have won wide popular acceptance in our time. Even a modicum of philosophy would make it impossible to accept such bloodthirsty nonsense. But so long as men are not trained to withhold judgment in the absence of evidence, they will be led astray by cocksure prophets, and it is likely that their leaders will be either ignorant fanatics or dishonest charlatans. To endure uncertainty is difficult, but so are most of the other virtues. For the learning of every virtue there is an appropriate discipline, and for the learning of suspended judgment the best discipline is philosophy.

Epistemic Warfare

Peter Ludlow (Nortwestern) has a piece in the NY Times Stone series exploring the danger of corporate psychological operations (or 'psyops') on consumers. From the article,

On May 28 Jeremy Hammond pled guilty to the Stratfor hack, noting that even if he could successfully defend himself against the charges he was facing, the Department of Justice promised him that he would face the same charges in eight different districts and he would be shipped to all of them in turn. He would become a defendant for life. He had no choice but to plea to a deal in which he may be sentenced to 10 years in prison. But even as he made the plea he issued a statement, saying “I did this because I believe people have a right to know what governments and corporations are doing behind closed doors. I did what I believe is right.” (In a video interview conducted by Glenn Greenwald with Edward Snowden in Hong Kong this week, Snowden expressed a similar ethical stance regarding his actions.)

Given the scope and content of what Hammond’s hacks exposed, his supporters agree that what he did was right. In their view, the private intelligence industry is effectively engaged in Psyops against American public., engaging in “planned operations to convey selected information to [us] to influence [our] emotions, motives, objective reasoning and, ultimately, [our] behavior”? Or as the philosopher might put it, they are engaged in epistemic warfare.

The Greek word deployed by Plato in “The Cave” — aletheia — is typically translated as truth, but is more aptly translated as “disclosure” or “uncovering” — literally, “the state of not being hidden.” Martin Heidegger, in an essay on the allegory of the cave, suggested that the process of uncovering was actually a precondition for having truth. It would then follow that the goal of the truth-seeker is to help people in this disclosure — it is to defeat the illusory representations that prevent us from seeing the world the way it is. There is no propositional truth to be had until this first task is complete.

What is Fair?

Courtesy Leiter Reports, Jonathan Wolff has an essay in the Guardian (UK) on what politician's might need to know about fairness. From the essay,

My first request to deliver a talk on fairness came from a committee struggling with a government brief on social care for the elderly. "We wanted to come up with a fair scheme, so we had first to decide what fairness meant," the committee chair told me. "We thought that would be the easy bit, but we got into a bit of a tangle."

Is it odd that a committee of highly intelligent and accomplished grownups got confused about the notion of fairness, when young children can handle the concept with ease? Or rather, should we say children have little trouble with the concept of unfairness? Much in life is unfair: almost none of it is fair. Except, apparently, recent government policy.;

For the Gadflies Among Us

Peter Ludlow's (Northwestern) essay in the Times brings needed attention to the extreme measures the established order will take to obliterate the iconoclasts it finds irritating. From the essay,

In a world in which nearly everyone is technically a felon, we rely on the good judgment of prosecutors to decide who should be targets and how hard the law should come down on them. We have thus entered a legal reality not so different from that faced by Socrates when the Thirty Tyrants ruled Athens, and it is a dangerous one. When everyone is guilty of something, those most harshly prosecuted tend to be the ones that are challenging the established order, poking fun at the authorities, speaking truth to power — in other words, the gadflies of our society.

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