Hesperus is Bosphorus

A group blog by philosophers in and from Turkey

Archive for February 2012

Philosophy Seminar at Istanbul Technical University, 6th March

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Turning the Tables on Truth: An Objection to Williamson’s Proof of Necessary Existence
Aviv Hoffmann (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

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Written by Barry Stocker

February 29, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Posted in Events in Turkey, Logic

Gender and Philosophy (in Turkey)

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I’ve been involved in discussion of the latest Hendricks scandal at the NewAPPS blog. (For those who have not followed this, information and discussion can be found here, here, here, here and here). And so I’ve been thinking a bit about gender and the profession. In the USA and UK there seems to be a quite significant gender imbalance in academic philosophy. So, for example, in many philosophy departments it seems that only between 20-30% of graduate applications for philosophy are from women. (See here. Other interesting discussions and data can be found here, here and here).

Based on personal experience of having taught in two philosophy departments here in  Turkey, however,  there does not seem to be the same gender imbalance in philosophy here in Turkey as in the US and UK. My experience of teaching here is that the majority of philosophy students are female. Here are the statistics for current philosophy students and faculty at Bogazici.

Undergrad: women 91, men 55.
Grad (MA and Phd): women 30, men 29.
Faculty: Women 6, men 8.

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Written by Lucas Thorpe

February 27, 2012 at 4:50 pm

A new twist on Zeno’s Arrow Paradox

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Zeno of Elea’s arrow paradox, like some of his other extant paradoxes, aims to show that our observations of change and becoming in the world are illusions. Our senses suggest that there are all kinds of change and motion of things around us, but our reason concludes otherwise. As good philosophers, we should listen to the voice of our reason, rather than the evidence of our senses, and reject the reality of motion and change in the world.

Here’s how the Arrow Paradox is supposed to help show the unreality of motion. (What follows is a common reconstruction of Zeno’s argument.) Consider an object like an arrow which our visual experience describes as moving in its trajectory in the air. Zeno claims that at every instant of its supposed flight, the arrow occupies a region of space exactly coinciding the size and shape of the arrow. But if an object occupies a region of space coinciding with the size and shape of the object, then the object must be at rest. The arrow at every instant during its supposed flight, therefore, is at rest; it is at no moment in that time interval in motion. So, contrary to the judgment of our senses, motion is impossible.

A popular solution to Zeno’s Arrow Paradox is Russell’s “at-at theory of motion.” According to Russell, an object cannot be in motion (nor can it be at rest) at an instant. To be in motion is to be at different locations at different times. (And to be at rest during an interval of time is to occupy the same location at every instant of that time interval.) Knowledge of the location of an object at a single instant does not tell us anything about its kinematic status.

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Written by Erdinç Sayan

February 25, 2012 at 12:36 am

Posted in Metaphysics

A more devastating version of the Raven Paradox

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C.G. Hempel’s “Raven Paradox” involves derivation of the intuitively unpalatable conclusion that observation of things like a white shoe or a rainbow confirms the raven hypothesis: “All ravens are black.” Here’s how it goes. An earlier author Jean Nicod had put forward the following criteria for confirmation of hypotheses of the form “All A’s are B’s”:

Observation of an object which has the property of being an A and also the property of being a B confirms “All A’s are B’s.”

Observation of an object which has the property of being an A but not the property of being a B disconfirms “All A’s are B’s.”

Observation of an object which does not have the property of being an A neither confirms nor disconfirms “All A’s are B’s.”

Add to these criteria the following highly plausible claim, which Hempel called “the equivalence condition”:

If an hypothesis H1 is logically equivalent to another hypothesis H2, then, if an observation O confirms H1, then O also confirms H2.

The equivalence condition sounds perfectly true, because to say that H1 and H2 are logically equivalent is to say that H1 and H2 make exactly the same claims about the world. Thus if a piece of evidence confirms one of the hypotheses, it must equally confirm the other one.

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Written by Erdinç Sayan

February 22, 2012 at 11:42 pm

Psychiatry: Far From the Madding Grief?

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The Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is the official classification manual developed for use in clinical, educational, and research settings; it is published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and is regularly revised. The fifth edition (DSM-5) is expected to appear in May 2013. In the DSM’s current edition (DSM-IV), feelings of sadness and associated symptoms (e.g., insomnia, poor appetite, and weight loss), following the death of a loved one are excluded from the criteria for a Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), but a cautionary clause states that if these symptoms continue beyond two months and impair the individual’s psychological, social and occupational functioning, she may be given an MDD diagnosis.

The DSM-5 Working Group for the Mood Disorders has recently proposed the removal of the bereavement exclusion from the diagnostic criteria for a Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), arguing that the available evidence does not support distinguishing bereavement from other stressors that underlie MDD.

This proposal has led to a controversial debate on the advantages and disadvantages of distinguishing between the cases that involve individuals who develop major depression in response to bereavement and those who develop depression following other severe stressors. For instance, Allen Frances, the lead editor of DSM-IV, is concerned that removing the bereavement exclusion will result in over-diagnosing and over-treating non-pathological grief by labelling it MDD.

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Written by Serife Tekin

February 22, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Common Sense and Seduction by Grammar.

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In the Genealogy of Morals Nietzsche suggests that because, grammatically, every verb requires a subject we naturally think that every deed requires a doer. This natural belief he argues is a result of being seduced by grammar; we confuse the need for a grammatical subject with the existence of a real subject. Nietzsche’s argument here is reminiscent of Kant’s argument in the Paralogisms of Pure Reason that rational psychology is the result of confusing the need for a logical subject of thought with the intuition of a real subject. Similarly, in “On Denoting” Russell argues that philosophers need to look beyond the surface grammatical structure of natural language to discover the underlying logical structure. In my previous post (here), I suggested that many contemporary philosophers have been seduced by a contingent feature of the grammar of Indo-European languages.

My argument might suggest that I am sceptical of appeals to the way natural languages work in philosophy. Unlike, Nietzsche, however I am not, in general, a sceptic about appeals to natural language in philosophy. Like Thomas Reid I I am sympathetic to the view that we can use certain features of natural language as defeasible evidence for (or against) philosophical positions. Although Reid is often seen as a forerunner of ordinary language philosophy I think that it is more plausible to describe him as a “universal language philosopher”, for what has philosophical significance for Reid is the agreement of all languages on a certain point, not the contingent features of a particular language.

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Written by Lucas Thorpe

February 22, 2012 at 4:50 pm

External memory, memory enhancement

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This article by Evan Selinger provides an accessible discussion of debates around external memory and memory modification, including ethical work and theoretical work from both philosophy and psychology.

Those working in this area might want to submit a poster to this interesting conference in Grenoble, which aims to bring together philosophical and psychological perspectives on episodic memory. (Unfortunately, I won’t be able to submit, in part due to the fact that the dates of the conference coincide exactly with those of the philosophy of mind conference organized by my colleague István Aranyosi at Bilkent, about which I’m sure István will post later.) They might also consider submitting for the special issue of Review of Philosophy and Psychology on distributed cognition and memory research that I’m co-editing with John Sutton.

(Incidentally, I gave a talk on this theme at Boğaziçi recently; hopefully, the paper will soon be forthcoming, but if anyone’s curious, they can e-mail for a draft in the meantime.)

Written by Kourken Michaelian

February 21, 2012 at 7:12 am

Posted in cfp, memory

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