Monday, December 16, 2013

AAPSS Session at Eastern APA: Libertarianism on the Brink

Professors Narveson and Sterba have been debating libertarianism for decades (see their book: Are Liberty and Equality Compatible ) and take up the discussion again at this year's meeting of the American Association for the Philosophic Study of Society at the 2013 Eastern American Philosophical Association

SATURDAY MORNING, DECEMBER 28th GIII-1, 11:15 a.m. -- 1:15 p.m. 

Chair: Jennifer Baker (College of Charleston)


  • Jan Narveson (University of Waterloo): "On blood and turnips: fun, but still impossible" 
  • James Sterba (University of Notre Dame): "Libertarianism on the Brink"

The American Association for the Philosophic Study of Society (AAPSS) is a professional society affiliated with the American Philosophical Association.
AAPSS was founded by Douglas Den Uyl and Douglas Rasmussen.
Current Co-Presidents are Jennifer Baker, Associate Professor of Philosophy at College of Charleston, and Shawn E. Klein, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Rockford College.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Review: Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius

Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius
Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius by Angeline Stoll Lillard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lillard sets out to present the empirical evidence for the Montessori Method. Using research of Montessori directly and psychological research more generally, she explains both the Montessori theory and how the evidence supports much of what goes on in a Montessori classroom. The breadth of evidence that supports many of the key claims of Montessori is impressive and worth a serious look by anyone interested in Montessori or educational philosophy in general.

Another important aspect of the book is where Lillard points out the need for more research to support various aspects of Montessori. She is also careful to note the qualifications or limiting conditions on many of the studies. These are important both because it points out paths for future researchers, but also demonstrating Lillard’s intellectual honesty. She is clearly a Montessori supporter, but she is not dogmatic about it.

A downside here is that Lillard is often critical of traditional, mainstream education, but too often in an overly general way. She paints it with too broad of a brush and so might be seen as unfairly dismissing traditional schools and teachers. This is a point reinforced by some of my students’ responses to the book. I assigned this for my graduate class in Philosophy of Education. For the most part, they liked it and found much of it valuable and eye-opening; but a few noted her easy dismissal of traditional education and felt it unfairly characterized their own experiences. If the book was: “Why Montessori is better than traditional schools” then this would be a significant failing. But Lillard is not writing this book to criticize mainstream education but to show how research supports Montessori. So the fact that she falls short in fairly dealing with traditional education is not damning for the overall quality and importance of this book.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

CFA: Steve Jobs and Philosophy (Popular Culture and Philosophy Series)

CFA: Steve Jobs and Philosophy (Popular Culture and Philosophy Series)
Edited by Shawn E. Klein

  • Papers must focus on topics or ideas that are significantly connected to the life, work, and/or cultural impact of Steve Jobs. 
  • Submit abstracts of no more than 300 words to: 
  • Direct any questions about possible topics to: 
  • Abstracts due: On-Going
  • Notification of accepted abstracts: On-Going
  • Completed paper due: May 9, 2014
  • 3,000-word philosophy papers written in a conversational style for a lay audience 

 Any relevant topic considered, but here are some possibilities:

  • Jobs’ leadership style and ethical considerations raised by it: the virtues of leadership and how these were (or were not) exemplified by Jobs.
  • Epistemological issues of creativity (related to how Jobs sought to inspire and cultivate creativity and innovation at Apple, NeXT, and Pixar)
  • Epistemological and ethical issues in being a “visionary”; the effects of the so-called “Reality Distortion Field” 
  • The ethical, social, or corporate importance of creativity 
  • Epistemological issues in intuitionism and its role in Jobs’ thinking. 
  • Perfectionism: virtue or vice? 
  • Technology and aesthetics (Form and function) 
  • The originator vs. the integrator/popularizer. (e.g. Apple didn't invent the GUI or point and click, but integrated them with other systems and made them popular) 
  • Philosophical lessons learned by failure and success (from the Newton to the Iphone; Jobs getting pushed out and then returning to lead Apple) 
  • Buddhism and its role in Jobs’ life and career. 
  • The juxtaposition of Jobs’ counter-culture attitude and his capitalistic success. 
  • The virtue (or vice) of pride: moral ambitiousness or hubris? 
  • Steve Jobs vs Bill Gates/Apple vs Microsoft
  • Jobs on philanthropy 
  • Jobs’ political philosophy/outlook
  • Company creating and building as a moral enterprise.

 Steve Jobs and Philosophy will be a book in Open Court Publishing Company’s Popular Culture and Philosophy Series: Submit ideas for possible future PCP books to the series editor, George A. Reisch, at