Review of Heaven and Hell

Read the review by Christian Perring.

Publication Announcement

Email from: J. David Velleman <[email protected]>

[email protected] The Editors of Philosophers’ Imprint are pleased to announce the publication of Volume 20, Numbers 11-16:

Jonathan Weisberg, “Belief In Psyontology”
ABSTRACT Neither full belief nor partial belief is more fundamental, ontologically speaking. A survey of some relevant cognitive psychology supports a dualist ontology instead. Beliefs come in two kinds, categorical and graded, neither more fundamental than the other. In particular, the graded kind is no more fundamental. When we discuss belief in on/off terms, we are not speaking coarsely or informally about states that are ultimately credal.

Jonathan Weisberg, “Could’ve Thought Otherwise”
ABSTRACT Evidence is univocal, not equivocal. Its implications don’t depend on our beliefs or values, the evidence says what it says. But that doesn’t mean there’s no room for rational disagreement between people with the same evidence. Evaluating evidence is a lot like polling an electorate: getting an accurate reading requires a bit of luck, and even the best pollsters are bound to get slightly different results. So, even though evidence is univocal, rationality’s requirements are not “unique.” Understanding this resolves several puzzles to do with uniqueness and disagreement.

Lindsay Brainard, “How to Explain How-Possibly”
ABSTRACT Explaining how something is possible is a familiar and epistemically important achievement in both science and ordinary life. But a satisfactory general account of how-possibly explanation has not yet been given. A crucial desideratum for a successful account is that it must differentiate a demonstration that something is possible from an explanation of how it is possible. In this paper, I offer an account of how-possibly explanation that fully captures this distinction. I motivate my account using two cases, one from ordinary life and one from ornithology. On my account, a how-possibly explanation is a greater achievement than a mere description of how a state of affairs might possibly obtain. In addition to being a potential explanation of why some state of affairs actually obtains, a how-possibly explanation must involve the relief of an imaginative frustration on the part of its recipient. When a recipient’s imaginative frustration is relieved, she does not just know that the state of affairs in question is possible, but is also able to imagine how it could possibly obtain.

C. Thi Nguyen, “The Arts of Action”
ABSTRACT The theory and culture of the arts has largely focused on the arts of action, and neglected the arts of action – or, as I call them, the “process arts”. In the process arts, artists create artifacts to engender activity in their audience, for the sake of the audience’s aesthetic appreciation of their own activity. This includes appreciating their own deliberations, choices, reactions, and movements. The process arts include games, urban planning, improvised social dance, cooking, and social food rituals. In the traditional object arts, the central aesthetic properties occur in the artistic artifact itself. It is the painting that is beautiful; the novel that is dramatic. In the process arts, the aesthetic properties occur in the activity of the appreciator. It is the game player’s own decisions that are elegant, the rock climber’s own movement that is graceful, and the tango dancers’ rapport that is beautiful. The artifact’s role is to call forth and shape that activity, guiding it along aesthetic lines. I offer a theory of the process arts. Crucially, we must distinguish between the designed artifact and the prescribed focus of aesthetic appreciation. In the object arts, these are one and the same. The designed artifact is the painting, which is also the prescribed focus of appreciation. In the process arts, they are different. The designed artifact is the game, but the appreciator is prescribed to appreciate their own activity in playing the game. Next, I address the complex question of who the artist really is in a piece of process art — the designer or the active appreciator? Finally, I diagnose the lowly status of the process arts.

Craig French and Ian Phillips, “Austerity and Illusion”
ABSTRACT Many contemporary theorists charge that naïve realists are incapable of accounting for illusions. Various sophisticated proposals have been ventured to meet this charge. Here, we take a different approach and dispute whether the naïve realist owes any distinctive account of illusion. To this end, we begin with a simple, naïve account of veridical perception. We then examine the case that this account cannot be extended to illusions. By reconstructing an explicit version of this argument, we show that it depends critically on the contention that perceptual experience is diaphanous, or more minimally and precisely, that there can be no difference in phenomenal properties between two experiences without a difference in the scenes presented in those experiences. Finding no good reason to accept this claim, we develop and defend a simple, naïve account of both veridical perception and illusion, here dubbed Simple, Austere Naïve Realism.

Vida Yao, “Grace and Alienation”
ABSTRACT According to an attractive conception of love as attention, discussed by Iris Murdoch, one strives to see one’s beloved accurately and justly. A puzzle for understanding how to love another in this way emerges in cases where more accurate and just perception of the beloved only reveals his flaws and vices, and where the beloved, in awareness of this, strives to escape the gaze of others – including, or perhaps especially, of his loved ones. Though less attentive forms of love may be able to render one’s continued love coherent and justifiable in these cases, they risk further alienating the beloved precisely because they are less attentive and because of the operations of the beloved’s shame. I argue that attentive love is well-suited to alleviate this problem of alienation, but that in order to do so, it must be supplemented with grace. I propose a conception of gracious love as an affectionate love for the qualities of human nature, distinguishing this from a love of humanity, and show how this complex emotion, in being responsive to the complexities of shame, is able to alleviate the problem of alienation.

Book Review

Read the review here.

Listen and learn

Michael Shermer gives a remote lecture on Holocaust Denial that anyone can watch for free.

In this lecture on Holocaust Denial, Dr. Michael Shermer employs the methods of science to history, showing how we can determine truth about the past. Many scholars in the humanities and social sciences do not consider history to be a science.

Go here.

Thanks to Michael Shermer!

The Agora



Mark Singer has a short piece in The New Yorker here describing a recent event in New York with several philosophers delivering short twenty minute papers.

What do you think? Are we ready for such an event in Nanaimo?

Opportunity Knocketh

Dear List Subscribers,

It is our pleasure to present last month’s highlights from Last month, we featured:

  • A monster double-bill in blog entries, including Benjamin Pinsent (UEA)’s analysis of practical effects in King Kong (1976), and Steve Rawle (York St. John)’s discussion of performance and stardom in the cinematic world(s) of Godzilla
  • Reflections on animation as a tool of imaginative visualisation, including Nea Ehrlich’s (Ben Gurion) consideration of the medium’s role in popular visual culture and Mihaela Mihailova (University of Michigan) discussing the use of animation as a visualization tool within the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Podcasts on Disney’s The Emperor’s New Groove (2000) and Hercules (1997)

If you are interested in contributing to an ever-expanding research community of academics, writers, animators and artists, get in touch via fantasy-animation[http://.org/].org. We operate on a rolling submission basis and are always open to receiving proposals for editorials, reviews and creative reflections.

All best wishes,

Dr. Alexander Sergeant
Lecturer in Film & Media Studies
School of Film, Media and Communications
University of Portsmouth

Go here.

Good book!

Thought experiments are a staple in philosophy. We all remember the unconscious violinist, the Thomson lamp, Galileo’s complex objects, People seeds, and Einstein’s elevator. These “experiments” are narratives designed to stimulate thought on some philosophical problem or other and to encourage discussion. Often challenging, they ask readers to reconsider long held beliefs and pay attention to the consequences of a position.

Review and report

While scientists, particularly epidemiologists, have taken centre stage during the coronavirus outbreak, as the world tries desperately to see a way out of the crisis, it is the social scientists who will help rebuild societies, academics have told THE. Experts in these disciplines say they will be able to make sense of the impact on society and respond to the new challenges people face around the world. “Above all, the humanities and social sciences represent the wise side of human knowledge. Wisdom is more than technical expertise, and technical expertise alone will not help us repair the wounds in our common life that a great pandemic causes,” according to one historian. At the same time, economics experts say the discipline may come out of the Covid-19 crisis better than after the last financial crash because the knowledge it has developed will be vital to governments navigating the “trade-offs” involved in responding to a pandemic, we report.