New Books in Philosophy

Interview with Philosophers about their New Books



      Alexus McLeod, “Philosophy of the Ancient Maya: Lords of Time” (Lexington Books, 2018)

      The ancient Maya are popularly known for their calendar, but their concept of time and the metaphysics surrounding that conception are not. In Philosophy of the Ancient Maya: Lords of Time (Lexington Books, 2018), Alexus McLeod reconstructs an ancient Mayan metaphysical system based on key texts and other artifacts plus using analogies with ancient Chinese philosophical thought. On his view, the Maya held that we can understand everything in temporal terms but that everything does not reduce...



      Gloria Origgi, “Reputation: What it is and Why it Matters” (Princeton UP, 2018)

      We all put a great deal of care into protecting, managing, and monitoring our reputation. But the precise nature of a reputation is obscure. In one sense, reputation is merely hearsay, a popular perception that may or may not have any basis in fact. Yet we rely heavily on reputations for example, when were choosing a restaurant, mechanic, or physician. Accordingly, multiple sites on social media are devoted to helping us to discover the reputation of service providers, social events, and...



      Menachem Fisch, “Creatively Undecided: Toward a History and Philosophy of Scientific Agency” (U Chicago Press, 2017 )

      Thomas Kuhn upset both scientists and philosophers of science when he argued that transitions from one scientific framework (or “paradigm”) to another were irrational: the change was like a religious conversion experience rather than a reasoned shift from one theory to another based on the best evidence. But even if one disagrees with Kuhn, how can this change be shown to be rational? More generally, how can transitions from one set of normative standards to another be rational,...


       2018-03-15  43m

      Karen Neander, “A Mark of the Mental: In Defense of Informational Teleosemantics” (MIT Press, 2017)

      The two biggest problems of understanding the mind are consciousness and intentionality. The first doesn’t require introduction. The latter is the problem of how we can have thoughts and perceptions that about other things for example, a thought about a tree, or a perception of a tree. How can mental states be about other things? A naturalistic theory of intentionality is one that explains intentionality using just those resources available from the natural sciences, such as causal...


       2018-02-15  1h0m

      Bart Streumer, “Unbelievable Errors: An Error Theory about All Normative Judgments” (Oxford UP, 2017)

      It’s intuitive to think that statements of the form “lying is wrong” ascribe a property—that of wrongness—to acts of the type lying. In this way, one might think that statements of this kind are much like statements of the form “Bill is left-handed,” which also seems to attribute a property—left-handedness to Bill. But what about a statement like “Bill is a Wookie?” As there is no property of being a Wookie, the statement seems...


       2018-02-01  1h2m

      Sam Cowling, “Abstract Entities” (Routledge, 2017)

      Here’s a true sentence: The number seven is odd. What’s philosophically odd about the sentence is that it seems to imply that there must be numbers, including the number seven just as the truth of The Statue of Liberty is in New York implies that there is such a statue. But the number seven, unlike the statue, isn’t located anywhere, and we can’t see it or touch it. It is, Plato argued long ago, an abstract entity. But should we think reality includes abstract...


       2018-01-15  1h5m

      Kieran Setiya, “Midlife: A Philosophical Guide” (Princeton UP, 2017)

      Middle-agedness is a curious phenomenon. In many ways, one is at one’s peak and also at the early stages of decline. There is much to do, but also dozens of paths irretrievably untaken. Successes, but also regrets. It’s no wonder that the idea of a midlife crisis is so familiar. But midlife is not commonly a subject of explicit philosophical study. In Midlife: A Philosophical Guide (Princeton University Press, 2017), Kieran Setiya develops a philosophical account of the crises...


       2018-01-01  1h4m

      Owen Flanagan, “The Geography of Morals: Varieties of Moral Possibility” (Oxford UP, 2017)

      What is it to be moral, to lead an ethically good life? From a naturalistic perspective, any answer to this question begins from an understanding of what humans are like that is deeply informed by psychology, anthropology, and other human-directed perspectives as these are constrained by evolution. In The Geography of Morals: Varieties of Moral Possibility (Oxford University Press, 2017), Owen Flanagan sets out to clarify the landscape of moral possibility for actual human beings. He defends...


       2017-12-15  59m

      Daniel R. DeNicola, “Understanding Ignorance: The Surprising Impact of What We Don’t Know” (The MIT Press, 2017)

      Epistemology is the area of philosophy that examines the phenomena of and related to knowledge. Traditional core questions include: How is knowledge different from lucky guessing? Can knowledge be innate? Is skepticism a threat, and if so, how should it be countered? And: Is it possible to know something simply on the basis of another person’s say-so? In the background of all of these traditional questions is a broad concern thats not often explicitly addressed—the concern is...


       2017-12-01  1h0m

      Susanna Siegel, “The Rationality of Perception” (Oxford UP, 2017)

      Seeing is often a good reason for believing—when things go well. But suppose we have a case like this: Jill believes that Jack is angry, although she has no good grounds for this belief. Nevertheless, when she sees him, she sees his face as angry even though it is neutral. Is it reasonable for Jill to believe he is angry on the basis of what she sees? No, argues Susanna Siegel: her perception has been hijacked by her prior unfounded belief, and so it cannot turn around and justify that...


       2017-11-15  1h7m