Bayesianism + Philosophy of space and time + Intro to philosophy of race

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Editor’s note: for many readers, this introduction to Bayesianism would be more profitably read after first reading Introduction to the Probability Calculus by Thomas Metcalf.

INTRO: Bayesianism says that degrees of belief or justification can be represented by probabilities, and that we can assess the rationality of degrees of belief—of credences—by seeing whether they follow a certain set of rules. This essay is an introduction to Bayesianism... (MORE - details)

Philosophy of Space and Time: Are the Past and Future Real?

INTRO: In his Confessions, St. Augustine remarks about time that, “. . I know what it is if no one asks; but if anyone does, then I cannot explain it.”

It may seem easy to explain the present: it’s what’s happening, what’s real, now. But are the past and future just as “real” as the present? And what does “real” mean in this context?

Here we’ll consider the three most popular positions on the reality of the past and future. Our discussion introduces the philosophy of space and time, of which the philosophy of time is one part. This area of philosophy—at the intersection of metaphysics and the philosophy of physics—helps us understand whether the past and future are real or not... (MORE - details)

Philosophy and Race: An Introduction to Philosophy of Race

INTRO: Race is central to many issues about justice and ethics, as well as our identities and lived experience as persons in communities. Race thereby raises many philosophical issues. This essay introduces some of the major topics in the philosophy of race.

1. What Are Races?

Many people’s idea of “race” has to do with genetics and biology, which contrasts with “ethnicity,” which is normally understood to refer to groupings of people based on common ancestry and culture.[2] And most people understand races to be certain types of groups of people, but this could be false or, at least, misleading.

So what are races? Do different races even exist? We can summarize major theories about the existence of race as follows:
  • realist naturalism: that races are real, and are naturally or biologically individuated groups of people;
  • constructivism or constructionism: that races are real—they clearly have important social and political roles—but they only exist because human beings create and allow them to exist, much like money exists;
  • skepticism or anti-realism: that races don’t exist.
Even if there is some biological component of race, there is very little scientific basis to the modern division of races into four or five categories such as “White,” “Black,” “Asian,” etc. We can also summarize the main theories about talking about race:
  • eliminativism: that it’s a mistake, or wrong, to think and talk as if races were real;
  • analogy: most psychiatrists are anti-realists and eliminativists about demons: demons aren’t real, and it’s harmful to cite them as explanations for psychological events;
  • conservationism: that it is useful or beneficial in some way to talk about races or behave as if they are real.
Last, philosophers study how race and ethnicity fit into the traditional philosophical topic of personal identity, that is, the question of what makes someone who they are, as well as questions about the meaning of their existence. Philosophers of race commonly critique essentialism, which is the view that the experiences or identities of members of some group can be reduced to key, invariable traits... (MORE - details)

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