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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Voltaire and the one-liner

As we mark Voltaire’s 323rd birthday – though the date of 20 February is problematic, the subject of another blog – what significance does the great Enlightenment writer have for us now? If I had to be very very short, I’d say that Voltaire lives on as a master of the one-liner. He presents us with a paradox. Voltaire wrote a huge amount – the definitive edition of his Complete works will soon be finished, in around 200 volumes.

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Philosopher of the Month: Socrates

This March, the OUP Philosophy team honors Socrates (470-399 BC) as their Philosopher of the Month. As elusive as he is a groundbreaking figure in the history of philosophy, this Athenian thinker is perhaps best known as the mentor of Plato and the developer of the Socratic method.

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Paul Feyerabend and the debate over the philosophy of science

Paul Feyerabend (born 13th January, 1924, died February 11th, 1994) is best-known for his contributions to the philosophy of science, which is somewhat ironic because, I suspect, he wouldn’t have thought of himself as a philosopher of science. I don’t just mean he wouldn’t have thought of himself as just a philosopher of science. No, I mean that he thought of himself as a thinker for whom disciplinary boundaries meant absolutely nothing. In his later years, he even denied being a philosopher.

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Embodied Selves and Divided Minds

Where your mind goes, you go? (Part 2)

Is there some other way to resolve the duplication problem that acknowledges this insight? Remember that according to Parfit, we all agree that if my brain is transplanted into someone else’s brainless body, and the resulting person has my character and apparent memories, then this resulting person is me. But should we agree, or do these intuitions rest on questionable assumptions?

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Can we have more than one friend? According to Montaigne, no

The Essais are the perfect mate to accompany anybody, throughout all stages of life. It is always interesting to explore Michel de Montaigne’s life and his marvellous book: the Essais. Within his lifespan, Montaigne was able to find true friendship for himself and record its effects therein. Here we propose to navigate Montaigne’s approach to friendship.

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“Nevertheless she persisted.”

This week we saw a male US senator silence his female colleague on the floor of the United States Senate. In theory, gender has nothing to do with the rules governing the conduct of US senators during a debate. The reality seems rather different.

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APA Eastern 2017 annual conference wrap-up

Thanks to everyone who joined us at the annual meeting of the American Philosophical Association Eastern Division. We had a great time in Baltimore attending sessions and interacting with customers, authors, and philosophers.

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Embodied Selves and Divided Minds

Where your mind goes, you go? (Part 1)

What does it take for you to persist across time? What sorts of changes could you survive, and what sorts of changes would bring your existence to an end? The dominant approach to personal identity says that a person persists over time by virtue of facts about psychological continuity (e.g. continuity of memory, character, or mental capacities). Various puzzle cases have been presented to support this view.

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Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics

A basic income for all: crazy or essential?

Shouldn’t society provide a safety net for all in modern society? The radical idea of ensuring a regular stream of cash payments to all members of society, irrespective of their willingness to work, has attracted increasing attention in recent years. ollowing the mobilization of a citizens’ initiative, the world’s first national referendum on basic income was held in Switzerland in 2016.

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Graphs and paradoxes

A directed graph is a pair where N is any collection or set of objects (the nodes of the graph) and E is a relation on N (the edges). Intuitively speaking, we can think of a directed graph in terms of a dot-and-arrow diagram, where the nodes are represented as dots, and the edges are represented as arrows.

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Immunology in perspective

Among students of science, in contrast to those who do science, the dominant discussion revolves around the degree to which scientific interpretations are subject to extra-curricular influences, specifically, to what extent are facts independent of the larger political context in which science resides.

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Measuring belief?

Pop quiz: What do standing in a long line outside a temple on New Year’s Eve, kneeling alone in a giant cathedral, and gathering around with 10-15 friends in an apartment room all have in common? It’s kind of an unfair question but the answer is that each of these would qualify equally as a statistical instance of “having prayed” despite the glaringly different social context and relational ramifications of the action itself.

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