Massive open online courses take university lectures and other educational materials and make them available for free as online “courses.” Liberal and neoliberal MOOC supporters laud these courses for opening up education to the world while incorporating market dynamics to improve quality and drive down costs. Skeptics claim MOOCs are a bald attempt to privatize higher learning, thus creating an apartheid educational system with traditional universities serving the wealthy while everyone else is left with cut-rate online learning. This essay draws (...) on the political theory of autonomist Marxism, arguing that MOOCs are capital's defensive reaction to the threats of resistant universities on one side, and unmanageable Internet-based learning on the other. It then looks at which MOOC designs would support education for the “multitude,” which is the term used by autonomist Marxism to describe an autonomous, diverse, networked political body. (shrink)
Conspiracy theories are typically thought to be examples of irrational beliefs, and thus unlikely to be warranted. However, recent work in Philosophy has challenged the claim that belief in conspiracy theories is irrational, showing that in a range of cases, belief in conspiracy theories is warranted. However, it is still often said that conspiracy theories are unlikely relative to non-conspiratorial explanations which account for the same phenomena. However, such arguments turn out to rest upon how we define what gets counted (...) both as a ‘conspiracy’ and a ‘conspiracy theory’, and such arguments rest upon shaky assumptions. It turns out that it is not clear that conspiracy theories are prima facie unlikely, and so the claim that such theories do not typically appear in our accounts of the best explanations for particular kinds of events needs to be reevaluated. (shrink)
Belief in conspiracy theories is typically considered irrational, and as a consequence of this, conspiracy theorists––those who dare believe some conspiracy theory––have been charged with a variety of epistemic or psychological failings. Yet recent philosophical work has challenged the view that belief in conspiracy theories should be considered as typically irrational. By performing an intra-group analysis of those people we call “conspiracy theorists”, we find that the problematic traits commonly ascribed to the general group of conspiracy theorists turn out to (...) be merely a set of stereotypical behaviours and thought patterns associated with a purported subset of that group. If we understand that the supposed prob- lem of belief in conspiracy theories is centred on the beliefs of this purported sub- set––the conspiracists––then we can reconcile the recent philosophical contribu- tions to the wider academic debate on the rationality of belief in conspiracy theories. (shrink)
In the literature on conspiracy theories, the least contentious part of the academic discourse would appear to be what we mean by a “conspiracy”: a secretive plot between two or more people toward some end. Yet what, exactly, is the connection between something being a conspiracy and it being secret? Is it possible to conspire without also engaging in secretive behavior? To dissect the role of secrecy in con- spiracies – and thus contribute to the larger debate on the epistemology (...) of conspir- acy theories – we dene the concepts of “conspiracy,” “conspirator,” and “secret,” and argue that while conspirators might typically be thought to commit to keeping secrets once their conspiracy is underway, the idea that conspiracies are necessarily secretive to start with is not as obvious as previously thought. (shrink)
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:“Garrulus sum et loquax et expedire nescio. Diu te tenui in istis, sed de cetero procedam.” These are the words of Richard Rufus of Cornwall, a thirteenth-century Scholastic and lecturer at the Universities of Paris and Oxford. Rufus is apologizing to his readers: “I am garrulous and loquacious, and I don’t know how to be efficient. I have detained you with these things a long while, but let me (...) now proceed to another topic.” This apology introduces the third part of the Speculum animae, a preliminary modern edition of which we publish here. In this short treatise, Rufus presents a unique Aristotelian theory of perception, describes what is and is not intelligible, and finally proves to his own satisfaction the immortality of the rational soul. To us this would hardly seem the place to apologize for being long-winded; indeed, we might wonder how Rufus could accomplish such an ambitious task in such a short treatise. We would certainly not accuse him of excessive verbosity. But Rufus was a man of exceptional humility, who once referred to himself as the least of the lesser thinkers of his time.1Despite Rufus’s humility, he was no minor figure in the development of Scholastic philosophy. A teacher at the Universities of Paris and Oxford ,2 he is the author of the earliest known, surviving lectures on several of Aristotle’s major texts, including the Metaphysics, the Physics, De generatione et corruptione, and De anima3 . In fact, Rufus was one of the very first lecturers to teach the libri naturales at Paris after a ban on such instruction was effectively lifted in 1231 A.D. His works were influential not only among his contemporaries, but also among later authors, particularly John Duns Scotus. Roger Bacon, though a harsh critic of Rufus, acknowledged Rufus’s influence and fame decades after his death, albeit among what Bacon termed the “vulgar multitude.”4The Speculum animae is one of Rufus’s later works. He begins the treatise by posing the following question: “In what way is the soul all things?” This refers, of course, to a familiar doctrine Aristotle establishes in the De anima—that the soul is, in some way, all things —and Rufus is here seeking to clarify it. But this is, in fact, only the first of five questions addressed in the Speculum. The five questions Rufus posits and answers in this treatise are, in order:1. In what manner is the soul all things?2. In what manner do a sensible and the sense, or an intelligible and the possible intellect, become one?3. What is predicated and of what is it predicated?4. What is intelligible?5. What is the cause of the immortality of the soul?In this short work, therefore, Rufus addresses apparently diverse topics including perception, understanding, logic, and the nature of the soul. But, in fact, the Speculum is principally a summary of Rufus’s theory of human perception and understanding. Like other medieval theories of perception and understanding, Rufus’s theory centers around the notion of species, a kind of form that is received in the soul when a person senses something or grasps something intellectually.5 In this, and in other aspects of the theory, Rufus was heavily dependent on Aristotle and St. Augustine. Rufus was working in a philosophical tradition based on Aristotle’s categories that had been accepted for centuries in the West. But in his lifetime, the Aristotelian corpus was enlarged to include Aristotle’s psychology and more generally his natural philosophy and metaphysics, together with the commentaries of Averroës . As is well known, this philosophical tradition was respected and continued not just by Rufus but by many authors after his time.So what makes Rufus’s theory.. (shrink)
A reply to Gérald Bronner, Véronique Campion-Vincent, Sylvain Delouvée, Sebastian Dieguez, Nicolas Gauvrit, Anthony Lantian, and Pascal Wagner-Egger's piece, '“They” Respond: Comments on Basham et al.’s “Social Science’s Conspiracy-Theory Panic: Now They Want to Cure Everyone”.
The contributors to this volume argue that whilst there is a commonplace superstition conspiracy theories are examples of bad beliefs (and that the kind of people who believe conspiracy theories are typically irrational), many conspiracy theories are rational to believe: the members of the Dewey Commission were right to say that the Moscow Trials of the 1930s were a sham; Woodward and Bernstein were correct to think that Nixon was complicit in the conspiracy to deny any wrongdoing in the Watergate (...) Hotel break in; and if we either accept the terrorist events of 9/11 were committed by Al-Qaeda, or that the Bush Administration was responsible, then it seems we are endorsing some theory about a conspiracy to commit an act of terror on American soil. As such, there is no reason to reject conspiracy theories sui generis. This volume challenges the prima facie that conspiracy theories are irrational beliefs, arguing that we should treat conspiracy theories and the phenomena of conspiracy theories seriously. It presents fresh perspectives from the wider philosophical, sociological and psychological community on what is becoming an issue of increasing relevance in our time. (shrink)
This paper considers two competing pictures of knowledge of what one ought to do—one which assimilates this to other propositional knowledge conceived as partial ‘locational’ knowledge of where one is in a space of possibilities, the other which distinguishes this from other propositional knowledge by construing it as partial ‘directional’ knowledge of what to do in particular circumstances. I argue that the apparent tension can be lessened by better understanding the contextualized modal-cum-prescriptive nature of ‘ought’ and enriching our conception of (...) the kinds of possibilities within which we can locate ourselves. (shrink)
In this review essay, the author commends Matthew Ratcliffe for his masterful and highly valuable account of the emotional phenomenology of existential change—of shifts in our experience of belonging to a shared world of possibilities—but criticizes him for his commitments to two frameworks that are actually extraneous and inimical to his project and that perpetuate remnants of Cartesian isolated-mind thinking—Husserlian ‘‘pure phenomenology’’ and traditional diagnostic psychiatry. The author contends that Ratcliffe’s devotion to a decontextualizing psychiatric language in particular conceals (...) the contexts of severe emotional trauma in which the existential feelings that he so beautifully elucidates take form. (shrink)
Typical analyses of belief in conspiracy theories have it that identifying as a conspiracy theorist is irrational. However, given that we know conspiracies occur, and theories about said conspiracies can be warranted, should we really be scared of the locution 'I'm a conspiracy theorist...'?
A reply to Patrick Stokes' 'Reluctance and Suspicion'—itself a reply to an early piece by myself replying to Stokes—in which I clarify what it is I intend when talking about how we should investigate conspiracy theories.
I argue that Aristotle took pleasure to be a certain aspect of perfect activities of awareness, namely, their very perfection. I also argue that this reading facilitates an attractive interpretation of his view that pleasures differ in kind along with the activities they arise in connection with.
In The Moral Foundation of Professional Ethics Alan H. Goldman provides a general approach to the evaluation of the ethical responsibilities of professionals in diverse fields, and offers specific prescriptions for judges, politicians, lawyers, doctors, and businesspersons. This Review Essay describes Goldman’s principal arguments and conclusions, and illuminates a number of the major difficulties with his treatment of professional ethics. First, his argument for a common moral framework is not compelling. It is not clear, as Goldman claims, that it is (...) possible for individuals with radically different values to reach agreement on difficult moral issues. Goldman's assertion that a theory of rights is part of the common moral framework is even more questionable. Second, there is reason to doubt that Goldman's focus on the concept of role differentiation as the basic approach to professional ethics is correct. This is demonstrated through examination of Goldman's discussion of the ethical positions of judges and lawyers. (shrink)