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Episode 101: Miranda Fricker discusses blame and forgiveness

This month, Emily and Matt chat with Miranda Fricker (CUNY Graduate Center) about blame and forgiveness. Click here to listen to our conversation.

We have a lot of conflicting feelings about blame. When someone does something bad, we feel a strong urge to blame them, and when it all goes down as intended, the person deserves the blame, and they learn that what they did was wrong, we intuitively feel that justice has been done. On the other hand, we also have the sense that blaming can be a corrosive or self-destructive activity–a feeling that is manifested in common expressions like ‘let’s not play the blame game.’ So what’s the deal? Is blaming people a useful activity or isn’t it?

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Posted in Podcast.


Further reading on aspiration

To whet your appetite for Agnes Callard’s incredible forthcoming book on aspiration, here is a chapter-by-chapter summary.

Happy reading!
Matt Teichman

Posted in Further Reading.


Episode 100: Agnes Callard discusses aspiration

This month, we sit down with Agnes Callard (University of Chicago) to talk about aspiration. Click here to listen to our conversation.

Have you ever wanted to get into something? Maybe you find it really boring to sit through an opera right now, but you think you might be missing something and want to learn how to appreciate opera. Or maybe you don’t know anything about how to play football, but you’d really like to learn. In this episode, Agnes Callard argues that both examples are cases of having one set of values, wanting to have a different set of values, and going through the long process of revising the values you’re living according to. You don’t currently know anything about what makes a great opera great, but you hope that after this process is over, you’ll be able to just see it. And you don’t know what being an athlete fully involves, but you want to be in a position where you can truly recognize what makes a great play worthy of admiration.

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Posted in Podcast.


Further reading on Spinoza

Those of you who are interested in following up on Spinoza will definitely enjoy this incredible graphic book by Ben and Steven Nadler:

The Graphic Spinoza,’ Ben Nadler and Steven Nadler

Happy reading!
Matt Teichman

Posted in Further Reading.


Episode 99: Steven Nadler discusses Spinoza on freedom

This month, we delve back into the early modern period with Steven Nadler, William H. Hay II Professor of Philosophy, Evjue-Bascom Professor of the Humanities, and Weinstein-Bascom Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Click here to listen to our conversation.

Baruch Spinoza is known for his views about how the mind and body are the same thing (see our Episode 70), and for coming up with a completely non-anthropomorphic notion of God. But these ideas were really in the service of his moral philosophy, and that’s our focus for this episode. Like Aristotle, Spinoza is most interested the difference between being a good person and being a bad person, rather than the difference between doing something wrong and doing something right. Freedom, rationality, power, and virtue get identified with each other. He also thinks that all our actions are determined, which you might think means nobody ever really does anything freely. But strikingly, he seems to think it’s possible to recover a new notion of freedom that’s totally compatible with a person’s actions being determined. That is, there can still be a difference between something you did for the right reason, understanding why you did it, and something you did just because you were pressured into doing it without understanding why–even though the laws of physics kind of set it in stone what’s going to happen in the future.

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Posted in Podcast.


Further reading on credibility

If you’d like to delve further into Jennifer Lackey’s views about credibility excesses, she has generously made her excellent paper ‘Credibility and the Distribution of Epistemic Goods‘ available for you to download.

Enjoy!
Matt Teichman

Posted in Further Reading.


Episode 98: Jennifer Lackey discusses credibility

This month, we talk to Jennifer Lackey (Northwestern University) about what it means to be too trustful of another person. Click here to listen to our conversation.

Jennifer Lackey For some time, feminist authors have been concerned about the fact that women tend to be believed less than men, simply because they’re women. The mere fact that someone is a woman should have of course have no bearing on whether you believe them–you should believe them if what they’re saying is plausible and well supported by evidence, and you should disbelieve them if what they’re saying is implausible and unsupported by evidence. This intuition has led a lot of people to conclude that the only basis for determining whether you should believe another person is whether what they’re saying is plausible and well supported. It’s a good intuition, but Jennifer Lackey argues that that can’t be the whole picture. For instance, what if I’m in a classroom, and I am given a level of credibility that exactly corresponds to my actual reliability, but everyone else in the classroom is treated as a super-reliable mega-genius? It seems like that’s still going to be bad in all sorts of ways, and in particular it’s still going to be bad for me, even though I’m getting the level of credibility that I deserve as an individual.

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Posted in Podcast.


Recommended reading on time biases

Meghan Sullivan’s book on time biases is due out any moment now. (Of course, according to her argument, we should feel indifferent to when it comes out, but I can’t help but feel anticipation!)

If, like me, you are having trouble resisting the pull of that particular time bias, check out her and Preston Greene’s excellent article from last year that explores a number of the arguments we discussed.

Against Time Bias,’ Preston Greene and Meghan Sullivan

Happy reading!
Matt Teichman

Posted in Further Reading.


Episode 97: Meghan Sullivan discusses time biases

This month, Meghan Sullivan (University of Notre Dame) urges us to consider how we feel about the past, present, and future. Click here to listen to our conversation.

Remember the marshmallow test? Back in the 1970s, some psychological experiments suggested that people who opted to delay short-term rewards if it meant a bigger reward in the future were likely to have more successful lives. These days, we’re all prepared to believe that we should try to ignore that voice inside our heads telling us to prefer instant gratification, and instead save up for the future, like the grasshopper in Aesop’s fable. But Meghan Sullvian thinks that is just the tip of the iceberg. Caring more about pleasant experiences when they’re in the here and now, she thinks, is just a special case of a more general phenomenon: namely, caring differently about whether something happens based only on when it happens. And if we recognize that that more general bias is irrational, then we’re on the hook for way more than just saving up for the future. We should instead strive to be temporally neutral. So for example, a temporally neutral person wouldn’t prefer a traumatic experience that already happened over a traumatic experience that was coming up next week.

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Posted in Podcast.


Further reading on the role of belief in reasoning

To do a deep dive into what I discussed with Nic Koziolek, check out the following papers:

Inferring as a Way of Knowing,’ Nic Koziolek
Coming to Believe,’ Nic Koziolek
Belief, Judgment, and Rational Explanation,’ Nic Koziolek

He has a treasure trove of other work up on his website, which I would encourage you to visit.

Matt Teichman

Posted in Further Reading.