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Academic Philosophy Today

Two and a half years ago the Chronicle of Higher Education posted a biting discussion of philosophy as practiced as an academic speciality. Here's the URL:

I doubt much has changed in the intervening period. If I'm wrong, and something has changed, I would be happy to be better informed by a commenter here! Or if the authors were painting an inaccurate picture in the first place, I welcome readers of Jamesian Philosophy Refreshed who might tell me so.

Here is the bottom line of that article:

Too many graduate students chasing tenure-track jobs that are themselves disappearing; rising societal demands for accountability coupled with budget cuts; the loss of faith in ‘higher knowledge’; and an insular philosophic culture, in which professors write nearly exclusively for one another. 

William James himself never sought a Ph.D. in philosophy. The university system was very diffe
rent in his day. H…
Recent posts

When Nine Justices Were "Equally Divided": Part I

We still have eight Justices on the US Supreme Court, so there will surely be further cases this term where we will see the court equally divided.

Of course, even with a nine Justice court there are such moments, as when one Justice recuses himself for whatever reason and the non-recusing justices split evenly.

But one case in 1939 stands out as an oddity. All nine Justices participated in a case concerning the very controversial matter of the child labor laws (this was two years after the "switch in time" and the consequences of that '37 jurisprudential shift were still being worked out). The Justices decided that the case involved three distinct issues of law. They then voted 5-4 on one of those decisions, 7-2 on the second, (so plainly nine Justices were each voting) and then declared themselves "equally divided" of the third issue, so they took no position on it.

This has left historians scratching their heads ever since. Presumably one of the nine decline…

A few words about Joseph Nicolosi

Insofar as any one man has served as the public face of "conversion therapy" over the years, it has been that of the dearly departed Joseph Nicolosi.

Nicolosi, the author of REPARATIVE THERAPY FOR MALE HOMOSEXUALITY (1997) passed away last week, on March 8, at the age of 70.

I've written about conversion therapy, as a legal issue, before in this blog. Here's a link: once you get to the other side of it, scroll down a bit 

The above is the stock photo of Nicolosi used by MSNBC. It makes him look like a televangelist, which seems fair.

Apparently the phrase "reparative therapy" was Nicolosi's own coinage, and refers to his views as distinct from some other styles of conversion effort. He coined it because he held the view that (male) homosexuality is a unconscious effort to repair a sense of inferiority.

I really ought to read or at least skim Nicolosi's book before commenting further. But, hey, this is a blog, and ignorance isn't usually an impe…

Philippa Gregory

My recent reading includes large helpings of Philippa Gregory's latest, THREE SISTERS, THREE QUEENS (2016), another of her fictionalized takes on love and betrayal among the royals of Renaissance Europe.

In this book, the focus is on the early Tudor dynasty, and especially on Margaret Tudor, the eldest daughter of Henry VII, founder thereof, and the older sister of the future Henry VIII. Margaret became Queen of Scotland with an arranged marriage to James IV. She reigned and ruled under the title of Dowager Queen after James' death at the Battle of Flodden in 1513.

So who, you ask, were the other two sisters of the novel's title? One is Margaret's blood sister, Mary Tudor, who was known as one of the great beauties of the age. Mary was the inspiration for the name her brother Henry gave to his older daughter. More important for Gregory's story, she wed the King of France (Louis XII) in 1514, and Anne Boleyn served as her maid of honor at that ceremony.

The third &…

The Cut-off Point

What is the cut-off point for use of the phrase "he [she] died tragically young"?

Does it vary with the context? Would the "tragically young" line be good enough for a eulogist, at ages that would be too old for a pundit to employ it?

I'm thinking 40. Anyone care to differ?

Stefan Molyneux, Part Two

Molyneux's most sustained effort at systematic philosophy is the book Universally Preferable Behavior (2007).

Upon publication, it was the object of a memorable take-down by David Gordon, a senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

Here is that review:

One incidental fact: Gordon's review is headlined "The Molyneux Problem," which is a sidelong reference to another Molyneux from a long time ago.

It was in 1688 that an Irishman, William Molyneux, wrote to the English philosopher John Locke asking him about an issue in the psychology of perception.  He asked whether a man who has been born blind, and who has learned to distinguish between a sphere and a cube by touch, would be able to distinguish the sphere from the cube if he did gain sight in the course of his adult life, by sight alone. This is the original Molyneux Problem.

Why is the historical pun relevant to the book? Gordon's view of Molyneux is that of so…