Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

9780199385157

Seeing things the way they are

A few really disastrous mistakes have dominated Western philosophy for the past several centuries. The worst mistake of all is the idea that the universe divides into two kinds of entities, the mental and the physical (mind and body, soul and matter). A related mistake, almost as bad, is in our philosophy of perception. All of the great philosophers of the present era, beginning with Descartes, made the same mistake, and it colored their account of knowledge and indeed their account of pretty much everything.

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Illari and Russo Causality

Why causality now?

Head hits cause brain damage, but not always. Should we ban sport to protect athletes? Exposure to electromagnetic fields is strongly associated with cancer development. Should we ban mobile phones and encourage old-fashioned wired communication? The sciences are getting more and more specialized and it is difficult to judge whether, say, we should trust homeopathy, fund a mission to Mars, or install solar panels on our roofs.

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Cook_Yablo Paradox

Accusation breeds guilt

One of the central tasks when reading a mystery novel (or sitting on a jury, etc.) is figuring out which of the characters are trustworthy. Someone guilty will of course say they aren’t guilty, just like the innocent – the real question in these situations is whether we believe them. The guilty party – let’s call her Annette – can try to convince us of her trustworthiness by only saying things that are true, insofar as such truthfulness doesn’t incriminate her.

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Garrett - Entertaining Judgement

Speak of the Devil: Satan in imaginative literature

Al Pacino is John Milton. Not John Milton the writer of Paradise Lost, although that is the obvious in-joke of the movie The Devil’s Advocate (1997). No, this John Milton is an attorney and — in what thus might be another obvious in-joke — he is also Satan, the Prince of Darkness. In the movie, he hires a fine young defense attorney, Kevin Lomax (Keanu Reeves), and offers him an escalating set of heinous — and high-profile — cases to try, a set of ever-growing temptations if you will. What will happen to Kevin in the trials to come?

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9780199334582

Atheism: Above all a moral issue

The New Atheists – Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Dan Dennett, and the late Christopher Hitchens – are not particularly comfortable people. The fallacies in their arguments beg to be used in classes on informal reasoning. The narrowness of their perspectives are remarkable even by the standards of modern academia. The prejudices against those of other cultures would be breathtaking even in the era when Britannia ruled the waves. But there is a moral fervor unknown outside the pages of the Old Testament. And for this, we can forgive much.

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9780198702696 - Philosophy Bites Again

Nine pieces of thought-provoking philosophy

Despite what some may believe, philosophy is prevalent and holds a great level of importance in today’s society. It allows us to examine the most fundamental issues that we face as self-aware beings and apply them to a variety of different topics, from free-will to politics to interpretation.

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17445019

Adderall and desperation

“Butler Library smells like Adderall and desperation.”
That note from a blogger at Columbia University isn’t exactly scientific. But it speaks to the atmosphere that settles in around exam time here, and at other competitive universities.

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9780199665792_450

Group belief

Groups are often said to believe things. For instance, we talk about PETA believing that factory farms should be abolished, the Catholic Church believing that the Pope is infallible, and the U.S. government believing that people have the right to free speech. But how can we make sense of a group believing something?

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9780199371624

Preparing for APA Eastern Meeting 2014

Look out Philadelphia!Oxford University Press has been attending the American Philosophical Association-East conferences for decades. The conference has been held in various cities including Baltimore, MD, Newark, DE, New York, NY, and Boston, MA. This year, we’re gearing up to travel to Philadelphia, we’ve asked our staff across various divisions to see what they are looking forward to.

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Garrett - Entertaining Judgement

Almost paradise: heaven in imaginative literature

Paradise, a 1982 knock-off of the movie Blue Lagoon, stars Phoebe Cates and Willie Aames as teenagers who find themselves alone in a place of natural beauty and experiencing the ultimate joy together. Ann Wilson of Heart and Mike Reno of Loverboy can see forever in each other’s eyes in “Almost Paradise,” their Top Ten hit from the Footloose soundtrack (“Almost paradise / We’re knocking on Heaven’s door”). Ridley Scott’s Gladiator (2000) references the Elysian Fields, a paradise beyond this one where the blessed go when they die.

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9780199923113

Giving the gift of well-being

In the film A Christmas Story, Ralphie desperately wants “an official Red Ryder, carbine action, 200 shot range model air rifle.” His mom resists because she reckons it will damage his well-being. (“You’ll shoot your eye out!”) In the end, though, Ralphie gets the air rifle and deems it “the greatest Christmas gift I ever received, or would ever receive.”

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9780199350803

Excusing torture

We have plenty of excuses for torture. Most of them are bad. Evaluating these bad excuses, as ethical philosophers are able to do, should disarm them. We can hope that clear thinking about excuses will prevent future generations–for the sake of their moral health–from falling into the trap.

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9780199370733

Parenting during the holidays

The holiday season can be an insanely stressful time. Looking for presents, wrapping them, cooking, getting the house ready for visitors, cleaning before and after. Nothing like a normal Saturday night on the couch in front of the TV or with a couple of close friends. The holidays demand perfection. You see it all around you, friends are talking about how stressed out they are, how much they still have to do in just a couple of days. Hyper-decorated stores are talking in their own way.

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9780199373512

John Boyd and Sun Tzu’s The Art of War

Renowned US military strategist John Boyd is famous for his signature OODA (Observe-Orientation-Decision-Action) loop, which significantly affected the way that the West approached combat operations and has since been appropriated for use in the business world and even in sports.

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9780199656004_140

The development of peace

The story of peace is as old as the story of humanity itself, and certainly as old as war. It is a story of progress, often in very difficult circumstances. Historically, peace has often been taken, to imply an absence of overt violence or war between or sometimes within states- in other words, a negative peace. War is often thought to be the natural state of humanity, peace of any sort being fragile and fleeting. I would challenges this view.

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Cook_Yablo Paradox

The impossible painting

Supposedly, early 20th century packaging for Quaker Oats depicted the eponymous Quaker holding a package of the oats, where the art on this package depicted the Quaker holding a package of the oats, which itself depicted the Quaker holding a package of the oats, ad infinitum. I have not been able to locate an photograph of the packaging, but more than one philosopher and mathematician has attributed an early interest in the nature of the infinite to childhood contemplation of this image.

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