magazine issue 21 • 1st quarter 2003
contents reporter 6news hound the regular round up from the world of philosophy
11pressing ahead how hard is life for small philosophy publishers?
13word of mouse our new regular internet column
15chinese whispers Nicholas Bunnin reports on political philosophy debates in China
17our new look your guide to the changes we’ve made to TPM
18out & about Tim LeBon enthuses about Socratic dialogue thoughts 19uncertaintyFDavidPeat on a century-long western decline in certainty
21sci-phiMathew Iredale’s regular look at science and philosophy
25provocationsMichaelLaBossiere’snewcolumnofthought-provokers forum special 28interviews are us why four major new interviews are fitting for our birthday
29Bernard Williams “Britain’s greatest living philosopher” talks about truth and truthfulness
33Onora O’Neill in conversation about trust and philosophy in public life
37Donald Davidson talks to Gary Jones about the unifying principles of his philosophy
40Philippa Foot discusses natural goodness and the objectivity of ethics discussion 44open debate your chance to take Tibor Machan to task for his defence of libertarianism
48Ken Binmore the economist turned moral philosopher talks to Alex Voorhoeve the lowdown 51the directory listings for UK and US philosophy organisations
52snapshotsthelowdown on Mahatma Ghandi and Emmanuel Levinas subscriptions page ten
54conceptual carvery a brand new series exploring philosophy’s vital distinctions
55explaining ethics part nine of Simon Eassom’s ethics primer arrives at Nietzsche review 57On Film by Stephen Mulhall, reviewed by Chris Darke
58What is Ancient Philosophy? by Pierre Hadot, reviewed by James Warren
59Paradoxes from A to Z by Michael Clark, reviewed by Francis Moorcroft
60Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction by Edward Craig, reviewed by Julian Baggini
61Emergence by Steven Johnson, reviewed by Phil Stokes last words 62Bertrand’s break cartoons, quizes and the crossword
64lettersinwhich the editor’s failings are mercilessly dissected
66the skeptic Wendy Grossman doubts for Britain
The Philosophers' Magazine/1st quarter 2003 As even a cursory look at my shirt collection will instantly reveal, I’m not exactly obsessed with constantly changing my look in the pursuit of contemporaneity. The same can be said for my colleague Jeremy Stangroom, who I'm not sure even understands the meaning of the word “shirt” unless there’s a T before it.
Nevertheless, for this issue we have made the effort and tarted the magazine up, if not ourselves. The reason? It’s our fifth birthday, and also our 21st issue, a traditional number for coming of age celebrations. Full details of these changes are given on page seventeen. Expect more incremental changes over coming issues, building on the more fundamental innovations heralded in this one. Be as forthcoming with your comments on the changes as you are about putting me straight when I get my quotations in a muddle. (See the letters on page 64 for the full, grizzly story of that one.)
To mark the anniversary we’ve assembled a quartet of special interviews. The accolade “Britain's greatest living philosopher” may lose its force when it comes from your publisher, but when that description of Bernard Williams (p29) is endorsed by Richard Rorty in the London Review of Books you know you've got to take it seriously. Onora O’Neill (p33) gave the prestigious BBC Reith Lectures in 2002 and sits in the House of Lords, making her one of Britain’s most important “public philosophers” – and one with an equally impressive academic reputation. Donald Davidson, (p37) along with his friend and mentor W V O Quine, has been one of the dominant figures of Anglo-American analytic philosophy in the second half of the twentieth century. And Philippa Foot (p40) is one of our most important moral philosophers, whose views have constantly run against the grain of contemporary fashions in the subject. We decided to celebrate our birthday with these interviews because we think that the TPM interviews have been one of the most distinctive and valuable features of the magazine. I say more about this theme in the introduction to the interviews (p28). Like any good party or celebration, we thought our special issue should involve choosing what we do best and then doing it to excess.
Reflecting on the first half-decade of the magazine many thoughts come to mind. Some are relatively minor curios, such as the fact that our cover price is still exactly the same as it was back in 1997. Others are more significant. Those of you who only read the paper edition of the magazine may not realise just how integral to the TPM project our web site has been (www.philosophers.co.uk), and how much it has grown over the years. It now features several interactive games, a quotations database and quote-a-day service, a café for lighter reading and a secure online shop, as well as many articles and the entire archive of over 600 of them. Of these features, only the archive is restricted in access (subscribers can use it for free), which means it has become a tremendous open resource for students, teachers and anyone interested in philosophy. That’s something Jeremy, as new media editor, could justly feel proud of. But, as I have already hinted, a man with a wardrobe like his simply doesn’t know the meaning of the word pride.
So we’ll allow ourselves a glass of the fizzy stuff – even if it's only Diet Coke for the teetotal among us – in celebration of five fascinating years. Then it's back to work and the unremitting effort required to sustain and improve standards, all the time trying not to misattribute quotes, spell philosophers’ names incorrectly, or lop off the last five clues of the crossword, all among the many sins that remind us that there’s no such thing as having finally cracked this job. Which makes it rather like the job of philosophy itself.
98 Mulgrave Road, Sutton, Surrey SM2 6LZ, United Kingdom Tel: 020 8643 1504 Fax: 0709 237 6412 firstname.lastname@example.org www.philosophers.co.uk Editors Julian Baggini (print edition) Jeremy Stangroom (new media)
News Editor Natasha Gilbert email@example.com Reviews Editor Jonathan Derbyshire firstname.lastname@example.org
Contributing Editors Susan Dwyer, Simon Eassom, Peter Fosl, Michael LaBossiere, Jeff Mason, Christian Perring
Graphics Jerry Bird, Michael LaBossiere
Illustrations Felix Bennett (cover), Gareth Southwell, Shaun Williams
Contributors Douglas Allen, Nicholas Bunnin, Chris Darke, Paul Davis, Steve Deery, Simon Eassom, Peter S Fosl, Natasha Gilbert, Wendy Grossman, Lawrence R Harvey, Mathew Iredale, Sue Johnson, Gary Jones, Michael LaBossiere, Tim LeBon, Tibor Machan, Francis Moorcroft, F David Peat, Phil Stokes, Alex Voorhoeve, James Warren.
With Thanks to Ophelia Benson, Susannah Gill, Lori Fells, Kathryn Knisley, The Rainnies, Pam Swope
Subscriptions UK: 01442 879097 North America: 1 800 444 2419 See page 10 for full details
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Contributors Notes Contact the editor for further information or to submit ideas. Please do not send unsolicited manuscripts.
© 2002, The Philosophers’ Magazine
All views expressed in ThePhilosophers’ Magazinerepresent those of the authors of each article and do not necessarily reflect those of the editors or publishers.
The Philosophers' Magazine/1st quarter 2003