I was asked to let you know about the upcoming conference Voltaire philosophe, which will take place in Paris on May 21-24. Even though the talks won't deal with skepticism, I'm sure that many of you will be interested in this conference. Now, on the first two days there will be some security restrictions to access the Luxembourg Palace, so if you're going to attend bring your ID and write to either one of the organizers, who will warn the security service: Sébastien Charles (Sebastien.Charles@uqtr.ca) or Stéphance Pujol (email@example.com).
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Thursday, February 20, 2014
In a month or so, OUP will publish Strategies of Argument: Essays in Ancient Ethics, Epistemology, and Logic. Although it is not presented as such on the OUP webpage, the volume is a Festschrift for Gisela Striker. Now, the last paper is Svavar Svavarsson's "Sextus Empiricus on Persuasiveness and Equipollence." I look forward to reading it because I dealt with the same topic in a paper published in Méthexis a few years ago, and would like to see how much we disagree.
Sunday, February 9, 2014
An Italian translation, with facing English text, of Hume's Dialogues has just been published: Dialoghi sulla religione naturale (BUR Rizzoli, 2013). Gianni Paganini is the author of the translation, the introduction, and the commentary. Complete information can be found here.
Friday, January 31, 2014
The following volume has just been published despite its official publication date: Stéphane Marchand & Francesco Verde (éds.), Épicurisme et Scepticisme (Roma: Sapienza Università Editrice, 2013). This collection derives from a conference held in Lyon in November 2012 and organized by Marchand. More information can be found on this webpage, but not the table of contents, so here it is:
Pierre-Marie Morel & Emidio Spinelli
Stéphane Marchand & Francesco Verde
PREMIÈRE PARTIE : PROXIMITÉS DU SCEPTICISME ET DE L'ÉPICURISME
Tranquility: Democritus and Pyrrho
Chain of Proof in Lucretius, Sextus, and Plato: Rhetorical Tradition and Philosophy
Scepticisme et thérapeutique : le cas de conscience du dogmatisme épicurien
Le statut particulier de la philosophie épicurienne dans le néo-pyrrhonisme
DEUXIÈME PARTIE : ÉPICURISME, CYRÉNAÏSME, SCEPTICISME
Epicureans and Cyrenaics on Pleasure as a Pathos
La critique du critère de vérité épicurien chez Sextus Empiricus : un scepticisme sur le monde extérieur ?
TROISIÈME PARTIE : SEXTUS EMPIRICUS, SOURCE DE L'ÉPICURISME
Epicurean Attitude toward Geometry: The Sceptical Account
Sextus Empiricus et le τέλoς épicurien : le plaisir est-il par nature digne d’être choisi ?
Friday, January 24, 2014
Monday, January 20, 2014
I haven't been able to post lately because I've been snowed under. So I couldn't let you know that the latest issue of Philosophy contains a nice paper by Steven Hales: "Motivations for Relativism as a Solution to Disagreements." It can be found here.
Thursday, January 9, 2014
Next Tuesday (January 14th), the Université Paris 1-Panthéon Sorbonne will host the workshop, "Travaux en cours sur le scepticisme antique," from 9.00 to 13.00 at the Centre Panthéon, Salle 11. Here's the program:
- Lorenzo Corti (Université de Lorraine): "Sextus, le nombre deux et le Phédon."
- Stéphane Marchand (ENS de Lyon): "Scepticisme, empirisme et vie quotidienne."
- Alfonso Correa (Universidad Nacional de Colombia): "Les choix des pyrrhoniens."
Saturday, January 4, 2014
Friday, December 27, 2013
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Duncan Pritchard and I are going to co-edit the new book series, Brill Studies in Skepticism, which is affiliated with the International Journal for the Study of Skepticism. Below you'll find complete information about the series. Inquiries should be addressed to either Duncan or myself.
Diego Machuca (CONICET) & Duncan Pritchard (University of Edinburgh)
Aims and Scope
Conceived of as a supplement to the International Journal for the Study of Skepticism, the series Brill Studies in Skepticism aims to publish original historical scholarship and cutting-edge contemporary research on philosophical skepticism. The series covers a wide range of areas: the history of ancient, medieval, modern, and contemporary skepticism, as well as systematic discussions of skeptical problems and arguments in epistemology, metaethics, philosophy of religion, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of language. Brill Studies in Skepticism therefore welcomes proposals for monographs and edited volumes from historians of philosophy and contemporary philosophers working in a variety of methods and traditions.
Anthony Brueckner (University of California, Santa Barbara)
John Greco (Saint Louis University)
Baron Reed (Northwestern University)
Claudine Tiercelin (Collège de France)
Submission of Proposals and Peer Review Process
Proposals for monographs and edited volumes on any topic covered by Brill Studies in Skepticism are welcome for consideration. All proposals are first screened by the Series Editors, who, with the assistance of the members of the Editorial Board, evaluate their pertinence and quality. If the proposed monograph or edited volume is deemed to make an original contribution to the study of the history or significance of philosophical skepticism, the author or editor will be invited to submit a complete manuscript, which will undergo double-blind peer review.
The Series Editors and the members of the Editorial Board are excluded from authoring monographs in the series and from participating in the review process for any edited volume that contains an essay authored by them. In the latter case, their essay will be double-blind peer reviewed.
Monday, December 16, 2013
Here's the program for the meeting of the Society for Skeptical Studies at the APA-E:
Monday, December 30, 9:00-11:15 am. Chair: James Dunson (Xavier University of Louisiana).
James Dunson: “Ready to Die: Making Ethical Judgments about Personal End-of-Life Choices.”
Christopher Edelman (University of the Incarnate Word): “Essaying Oneself: Montaigne’s Skepticism as a Way of Life.”
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Some of you may have already read this interview that Simon Blackburn gave to Philosophy Now in which he explains why he is an atheist or "infidel" (as he prefers to be called). Since on FB and elsewhere some people have been complaining about the soundness of his arguments and have been saying that they expected more from a top philosopher, I'd like to make a few very simple remarks because, among other things, I think he makes some good points -- I will only refer to a couple of them.
(1) The first thing to note is that this is a short interview, so one cannot expect the interviewee to fully explain his line of reasoning on such a complex question as whether God exists or whether there is a deity of some kind.
(2) When Blackburn says that the strongest argument against the existence of God is the existence of appalling human and animal suffering, he is thinking of God as conceived of by, e.g., Christians, as his enumeration of the attributes of such a being make clear. So if the argument from evil is sound, it seems it wouldn't disprove the existence of any kind of god, since there may be, e.g., a god that isn't omnibenevolent. But what is important in the present context, in which Blackburn is clearly debating with Christians, is that the argument from evil (presented in a very condensed form in this brief interview) doesn't seem to be a silly argument that is not worth considering. At least, I don't think that Christian philosophers have provided conclusive counter-arguments. As I said in a previous post, theodical explanations that attempt to explain the existence of evil strike me as a game one plays using very peculiar abstract concepts.
(3) I'm not making any assertion about the existence or non-existence of God, since I'm a religious agnostic. What I'm saying is that philosophical discussion of this topic shouldn't dismiss out of hand certain arguments and positions. I find a condescending and arrogant attitude in those (believers and non-believers) who have criticized Blackburn's answers, which is the same attitude I've found in many believers when they're confronted with arguments for atheism or for agnosticism. And this goes both ways. In May, at a conference in Brazil, I remembered asking a friend of mine, who is a smart and respected epistemologist, about how to resolve a fundamental disagreement between a champion of the natural selection view and a champion of the intelligent design view. His answer was just that the defender of the intelligent design view does not really believe what he says he believes. A surprising reply.
(4) Blackburn remarks that he doubts that he could be convinced through reasons and reasonings that there is a God, and that he's "sure that emotional traumas, loss, oppression and despair cause many people to seek some kind of refuge in supernatural hopes." What's the problem with this claim? I think it is descriptive. If I restrict myself to my own experience, I should say that when I tell someone that I do not believe in God, the soul, the afterlife, Reiki, tarot, or astrology, most of the time the reaction I get is: "But how can you live without believing in anything?" (They mean, of course, without having any of those "central" beliefs.) So the reason they give is not that it is evident that, e.g., God exists or that there are compelling arguments that prove that He exists. Rather, the reason is pragmatic: life would be pointless or meaningless if there were no god/God, or no soul, or no afterlife, etc.; and this is precisely what Blackburn is saying. I suspect that many philosophers who hold metaphysical (or even supertitious) beliefs do so for purely pragmatic reasons.
(5) As regards the existence of the universe, Blackburn remarks that, "as David Hume said, if there is some unknown, inconceivable quality of ‘necessarily existing’, then for all we know it might belong to the cosmos itself. No need, then, to add anything else." I attended a Catholic school, and in high school I remember telling one of my teachers that, if it didn't make sense for the universe to have existed forever, why did it make sense for God to have existed forever? A few years later, I was surprised to hear a similar point made in a terrible American B movie. Still, I don't think that such a point can be dismissed out of hand (even though even a teenager can think of it): why is it absurd to assign certain attributes, such as eternity, to the universe but not to some sort of supernatural being?
(6) Blackburn also makes some good points in refusing to accept the similarity between skepticism about the existence of God and external world skepticism. Personally, whenever someone tells me that that he/she knows that there is a god/God on the basis of his/her religious experience, I usually stop offering arguments becaue I feel I cannot confidently deny that the person is question is having such an experience. But Blackburn seems right in pointing out that religious experience cannot justify all the attributes that are usually assigned to God. Or at least believers should explain how personal religious experience can do that. The burden of proof lies with them.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Stéphane Marchand has called my attention to a talk that Michael Williams will give in Lyon on December 9: "Dreamers, Drunkards and Doppelgängers: the Originality of Descartes’s First Meditation." Complete information can be found here.