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Colin McGinnPhilosophy of Language: the Classics Explained

MIT Press, 2015

by Chris Cummins on May 28, 2015

Colin McGinn

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I must admit that my relationship to philosophy of language is a bit like my relationship to classic literature: I tend to admire it from afar, and rely on the opinions of people who have read it. The danger is that the received wisdom can sometimes be unreliable, for one reason or another, either making something accessible sound rarefied, or making something subtle and elusive sound banal, or both.

In his book, Philosophy of Language: the Classics Explained (MIT Press, 2015), Colin McGinn sets out to demystify some of the classic and much-cited texts in philosophy of language, and in doing so, also opens up some interesting new angles that tend to get overlooked. In this interview, we talk about the works, their historical context and their (ongoing) reception, and consider how the field has developed and might develop in the future.

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Michelle Ann StephensSkin Acts: Race, Psychoanalysis and the Black Male Performer

May 28, 2015

Why would Bert Williams, famous African-American vaudeville performer of the early twentieth century, feel it necessary to apply burnt cork blackface make-up to his already dark skin, in order to emphasize "blackness"? According to Michelle Ann Stephens, this was one question about the space between realness, race, and performance that led her to write Skin Acts: […]

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Beatrix HoffmanHealth Care for Some: Rights and Rationing in the United States since 1930

May 28, 2015

Disputes over the definitions or legality of 'rights' and 'rationing' in their various guises have animated much of the debate around the United States Affordable Care Act. Many legislators and vocal members of their constituency have strong convictions about the state of our current national health care system and where it is going. Far fewer, […]

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Beatrix Hoffman, "Health Care for Some: Rights and Rationing in the United States since 1930" (U of Chicago, 2012)

May 28, 2015

Disputes over the definitions or legality of 'rights' and 'rationing' in their various guises have animated much of the debate around the United States Affordable Care Act. Many legislators and vocal members of their constituency have strong convictions about the state of our current national health care system and where it is going. Far fewer, […]

Read the full article →

Beatrix Hoffman, "Health Care for Some: Rights and Rationing in the United States since 1930" (U of Chicago, 2012)

May 28, 2015

Disputes over the definitions or legality of 'rights' and 'rationing' in their various guises have animated much of the debate around the United States Affordable Care Act. Many legislators and vocal members of their constituency have strong convictions about the state of our current national health care system and where it is going. Far fewer, […]

Read the full article →

Beatrix Hoffman, "Health Care for Some: Rights and Rationing in the United States since 1930" (U of Chicago, 2012)

May 28, 2015

Disputes over the definitions or legality of 'rights' and 'rationing' in their various guises have animated much of the debate around the United States Affordable Care Act. Many legislators and vocal members of their constituency have strong convictions about the state of our current national health care system and where it is going. Far fewer, […]

Read the full article →

Beatrix Hoffman, "Health Care for Some: Rights and Rationing in the United States since 1930" (U of Chicago, 2012)

May 28, 2015

Disputes over the definitions or legality of 'rights' and 'rationing' in their various guises have animated much of the debate around the United States Affordable Care Act. Many legislators and vocal members of their constituency have strong convictions about the state of our current national health care system and where it is going. Far fewer, […]

Read the full article →

Greg SiegelForensic Media: Reconstructing Accidents in Accelerated Modernity

May 26, 2015

Greg Siegel's new book is a wonderfully engaging and meticulously researched account of a dual tendency in modern technological life: treating forensic knowledge of accident causation as a key to solving the accident, and treating this knowledge as the source for the future improvement of both technology and civilization. Forensic Media: Reconstructing Accidents in Accelerated Modernity […]

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Winnie Won Yin WongVan Gogh on Demand: China and the Readymade

May 26, 2015

Reading Winnie Wong's new book on image production in Dafen village will likely change the way you think about copying, China, and the relationship between them. Based on fieldwork that included artist interviews, studio visits, and participant observation alongside local officials, bosses, interpreters, foreign artists, buyers, and traders, Van Gogh on Demand: China and the […]

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Jon L. MillsPrivacy in the New Media Age

May 25, 2015

That privacy in the digital age is an important concept to be discussed is axiomatic. Cameras in mobile phones make it easy to record events and post them on the web. Consumers post an enormous amount of information on social media sites. And much of this information is made publicly available. A common question, then, […]

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