Academic philosophy can be puzzling to newcomers. The conventions, terms, and expectations entrenched among philosophers aren’t always clear from the outside. Why are philosophers so preoccupied with finding “the truth”—doesn’t everyone have their own philosophy? Is philosophy so deep and difficult that its literature has to be incomprehensible? What kinds of arguments can there be for a philosophical position? Where does the evidence come from? Why is there so much jargon—wouldn’t it be better to do away with it altogether? Best-selling (...) author and retired philosophy professor Robert Martin answers these questions and many more, offering a practical guide to arguing and writing philosophically. Anecdotes, jokes, asides, digressions, oddments, and entertainments are included throughout, resulting in an informal introduction that doesn’t shy away from the nuts and bolts of philosophical argument. (shrink)
Open peer commentary on the article “I Can’t Yet and Growth Mindset” by Fiona Murphy & Hugh Gash.: When a student changes to a growth mindset, a new set of affordances becomes available for that student. In my commentary, I discuss how Murphy and Gash’s approach to influencing both teacher’s and students’ beliefs about learning differs from the more prevalent and traditional approach based on the idea of transmission of knowledge. Then I consider how this approach to reflexivity is relevant (...) to bringing about change in schools, in teacher education, and in other settings. (shrink)
_Scientific Thinking_ is a practical guide to inductive reasoning—the sort of reasoning that is commonly used in scientific activity, whether such activity is performed by a scientist, a reporter, a political pollster, or any one of us in day-to-day life. The book provides comprehensive coverage of such topics as confirmation, sampling, correlations, causality, hypotheses, and experimental methods. Martin’s writing confounds those who would think that such topics must be dry-as-dust, presenting ideas in a lively and engaging tone and incorporating amusing (...) examples throughout. This book underlines the importance of acquiring good habits of scientific thinking, and helps to instill those habits in the reader. Stimulating questions and exercises are included in each chapter. (shrink)
Effective teamwork in an initially leaderless group requires a high level of collective leadership emerging from dynamic interactions among group members. Leader emergence is a crucial topic in collective leadership, yet it is challenging to investigate as the problem context is typically highly complex and dynamic. Here, we explore leadership emergence and leadership perception by means of computational simulations whose assumptions and parameters were informed by empirical research and human-subject experiments. Our agent-based model describes the process of group planning. Each (...) agent is assigned with three key attributes: talkativeness, intelligence, and credibility. An agent can propose a suggestion to modify the group plan as a speaker or respond and evaluate others’ suggestions and leadership as a listener. Simulation results suggested that agents with high values of talkativeness, intelligence, and credibility tended to be perceived as leaders by their peers. Results also showed that talkativeness may be the most significant and instantaneous predictor for leader emergence of the three investigated attributes: talkativeness, intelligence, and credibility. In terms of group performance, smaller groups may outperform larger groups regarding their problem-solving ability in the beginning, but their performance tends to be of no significant difference in a long run. These results match the empirical literature and offer a mechanistic, operationalized description of the collective leadership processes. (shrink)
Open peer commentary on the article “Heterarchical Reflexive Conversational Teaching and Learning as a Vehicle for Ethical Engineering Curriculum Design” by Philip Baron. Upshot: Philip Baron focuses on changing university curricula in South Africa to enable students to succeed who do not share the culture, expectations, and experience of their teachers. With increasing need and desire for more education worldwide, his article is relevant to university education in all countries, especially in those with underserved populations. This commentary focuses on the (...) factors Baron describes which can be generalized to all university education. (shrink)
_Philosophical Conversations_ is a light, informal, and contemporary introduction to the study of philosophy. Using a dialogue format, Robert M. Martin delves into the traditional questions of philosophy in a manner that readers will find engaging. These substantive yet entertaining conversations emphasize that philosophical questions are contested and open-ended. The characters in each dialogue advocate different answers to questions on religion, ethics, personal identity, and other topics equitably and without naming any clear winners. Philosophic positions are presented with maximum clarity (...) and persuasiveness, so that readers can appreciate all sides of an issue and make their own choices. An excellent tool for newcomers to philosophy, _Philosophical Conversations_ provides the necessary background for further study while vividly portraying the back-and-forth argument that is essential to the philosophical method. (shrink)
I argue for the inadequacy of the Kantian approach to the analysis of personal relations in business presented by Moberg and Meyer, in A Deontological Analysis of Peer Relations in Organizations (Journal of Business Ethics). It is unclear or implausible that the (mostly reasonable) principles of business relations they advocate really do follow from Kant's theory. Kant's theory, and deontological theories in general, do not yield reasonable principles of personal relations, particularly in the business context.
We began by distinguishing Tarskian and Fitchean notions of universality in such a way that the claim that no language is universal in the sense of Tarski is compatible with accepting Fitchean universality. Then we examined a proposal involving two truth concepts — one that fit the Fitchean notion and another that followed Tarski's views on truth — finding little advantage in such generosity. We attempted a reformulation of Herzberger's argument for the negative view — the view that no language (...) is universal in Tarski's sense — but found it unsuccessful when the language of the argument's formulation was brought under consideration. A more persuasive argument for EI was found, free of the defect of the previous one. EI was then shown to have unsettling consequences, prompting us to inquire about avoiding it. We found this possible, noting that EI is itself a solution to the semantic paradoxes, to which there are alternatives that avoid the unwelcome aspects of EI. However, whether any such alternative is ultimately preferable to EI remains to be seen. (shrink)
The assumption is often made that there cannot be scientific laws about individuals. I shall try to provide a plausible semantics and epistemology for scientific laws about individuals. This would be interesting, however, only if one were tempted to believe that mentioning individuals did not disqualify a sentence from scientific lawhood. To begin with, I will try to provide such a temptation.
Kauffman’s target article explicates Spencer Brown’s Laws of Form and Varela’s Calculus of Indications as a way of thinking about the observer and the observed. This commentary points out that thinking about observer and observed in this way can also be a way of thinking about learning and meaning.
Searle’s famous attempt at what might loosely be called deriving ought from is has received much critical attention; but the main lines of attack on his attempt have been irrelevant, mistaken, or otherwise defective. I shall here offer an account of what, I feel, really centrally has gone wrong with his attempt. I shall use the version of the derivation attempt which is found in Searle’s book, Speech Acts.The attempted derivation has, as its important steps, the following statements:S uttered the (...) words, “I hereby promise to perform A for you, H.”S promised to perform A for H.S placed himself under a obligation to perform A for H.S is under a obligation to perform A for H.S ought to do A for H. (shrink)
The title of Stewart’s biography is a tribute to Alain Locke’s seminal work, The New Negro: An Interpretation. This 1925 anthology highlighted the works of several up-and-coming black writers of the 20th century, planting these authors and, thus, a new black intellectual movement squarely in the public eye. While Alain Locke and John Dewey did not work directly together, Dewey’s philosophical approaches, specifically aesthetic valuation, significantly influenced Locke’s life. John C. Stewart provides a dense and thorough illustration of Locke’s use (...) of aesthetic valuation in his personal, professional, and educational experiences. Locke was pursuing his doctoral degree at Harvard University in Dewey’s discipline at... (shrink)