Philosophy Now February - March 2021

Philosophy Now is a magazine for everyone interested in ideas. It isn't afraid to tackle all the major questions of life, the universe and everything. It tries to corrupt innocent citizens by convincing them that philosophy can be exciting, worthwhile and comprehensible, and also to provide some light and enjoyable reading matter for those already ensnared by the muse, such as philosophy students and academics. It contains articles on all aspects of philosophy, plus book reviews, film reviews, news, cartoons, and the occasional short story.

United Kingdom
Anja Publications Ltd
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6 Issues

in this issue

3 min
tree of knowledge

According to Genesis (the Bible book, not the rock group) the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil grew in the Garden of Eden. It bore the Forbidden Fruit; the apple whose sweet taste ends innocence. The serpent tempted Eve to take a bite; she in turn gave it to Adam and that, as they say, was that. Another famous apple tree of legend is the one that still grows in the garden of Sir Isaac Newton’s family home in Lincolnshire. According to a story Newton himself often told, it was watching an apple fall from the tree that set him to wondering whether the Earth itself was somehow pulling the apple towards its centre, and if so, whether that force might extend up into space as far as…

1 min
some of our contributors

Howard Darmstadter is a retired lawyer and philosophy professor. He received his doctorate from Princeton and his law degree from Harvard Law School. He taught philosophy at New York University, University of Wisconsin – Madison, University of Massachusetts – Boston and Barnard College Devon Bombassei is a New York native and senior at Emory University studying philosophy and economics. She has a deep interest in German philosophy (particularly the Frankfurt School), and has conducted research at Emory School of Law in legal ethics and political philosophy. She looks forward to pursuing a joint JD-PhD in philosophy. Seán Moran is Philosophy Now’s Street Philosopher. From Paris and Prague to Lahore and Mumbai, he goes equipped with a notebook and fountain pen, together with a vintage camera and an Irish flute. Seán was educated…

5 min

Ethics For All In Austria, a law has been passed that states students from Year 9 onwards who have chosen not to participate in religious studies classes, an option that is open to them, have to attend ethics classes instead. However, a new initiative, Ethics For All, argues that separate classes for the discussion of moral problems are a bad idea. The organisers believe that there is a need for a shared ethics debate, regardless of confessional or other differences. A petition organised by Ethics For All has exceeded the required 100,000 signatures for consideration in parliament. Ethics For All spokesperson Eytan Reif is not surprised: refering to a survey they commissioned six months ago, he says that 70 percent of the Austrian population seem to favour common ethics classes for…

3 min
philosophy shorts

Pop songs are usually about variations on the theme of love. ‘More songs about Buildings and Food’ was the title of a 1978 album by the rock band Talking Heads. It was about all the things rock stars normally don’t sing about. Philosophers, likewise, tend to have a narrow focus on epistemology, metaphysics and trifles like the meaning of life. But occasionally great minds stray from their turf and write about other matters, for example buildings (Martin Heidegger), food (Hobbes), tomato juice (Robert Nozick), and the weather (Lucretius and Aristotle). This series of Shorts is about these unfamiliar themes; about the things philosophers also write about. Philosophers on Buildings The English have always been a very practical lot. Francis Bacon (1561-1626) was a case in point. “Houses are built to live in…

16 min
the limits of argument

Political and religious opinions often seem bedded in mental concrete, immune from polite rational attempts at persuasion. (My mother cautioned me to avoid talking politics or religion with strangers.) But lately, all sorts of ostensibly non-political issues have been politicized. People with fringe politics tend to become climate change deniers, flat earthers, or anti-vaxxers. What’s wrong with these people? How can they deny the obvious facts? Don’t they care about the evidence? I can’t explain why extremisms wax and wane, though there’s no shortage of explanations floating about. What I’ll try to do here is offer some reasons why the usual processes of argument seldom convince people on the other side. Given what philosophers and psychologists have learned about the structure of our beliefs, clinging to extreme views is what we…

14 min
criticising science

Martin Kusch: In many political debates today, one can observe a curious phenomenon: while scientific knowledge seems crucially relevant for dealing with a large-scale problem, important political players go out their way to downplay and attack that very knowledge, and the science behind it. Debates regarding the climate crisis and the Covid-19 crisis are obvious cases in point, but there are many other examples as well. Alexander Reutlinger: Yes. This raises important questions for citizens and politicians who aren’t scientific experts. When and to what degree can one trust science? And, how should one adjust one’s level of trust in a scientific claim when that claim is attacked or criticized? MK: There are of course many different kinds of ‘science criticism’ in the media as well as in science itself. Which kinds…