January 2012

Is Democracy a Universal Value?

Democracy can take many forms. But is democracy itself – as opposed to this or that form of democracy – an inherently good thing? Smart people have differed on this issues. The great philosopher and statesman, Winston Churchill, noted, "democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." Plato was a better philosopher, and he disagreed. He thought democracy was the worst possible form of government. He favored an aristocracy run by philosopher kings.

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The Examined Year: 2011

This week, we do something special. We take a look back at the past year, though the lens of Philosophy. We call the episode -- The Examined Year: 2011. But this is not your typical year in review show -- not by a long shot. We take our inspiration, from Socrates who said that the unexamined life is not worth living. For us, that implies that that the unexamined year is not worth living through. Fortunately for us all, though, 2011 was a year well worth living through and well worth examining. It was best of times and the worst of times -- a year in equal parts inspiring and troubling.

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The Right to Privacy

This is one of those times when we need to start by disentangling concepts. We use ‘private’ and ‘privacy’ in several different ways. Both words derive from ‘privus’ in Latin which means `single’ or `individual’. Being private is usually opposed to being public; privacy means withdrawn in one way or another from the public. In philosophy, we often say that one’s inner mental life is private, which means only you can know what you are thinking and feeling. Other people don’t have the same kind of direct access to your thoughts and feelings as you do.

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Philosophy in Fiction

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