March 2015

The McDonalds-ification of Education

There is an approach to learning that is corroding education, especially higher education, in the US: the "McDonalds-ification of Education."

Read more

If God Is Dead, Why Isn't Everything Permitted?

Read more

Mental “Disorder”: Do You Miss the Mountains?

In the hit musical Next to Normal, a climactic scene portrays Diana Goodman, the lead female character, throwing out her bipolar medications, singing “I miss the mountains.” The lyrics, written by Brian Yorkey for music by Tom Kitt, continue: I miss the highs and lows, All the climbing, all the falling, All the while the wild wind blows, Stinging you with snow And soaking you with rain. I miss the mountains, I miss the pain.

Read more

Democracy in Crisis

Read more

Watch Where You Point That Thing

The recent assassination of cartoonists of the publication Charlie Hebdo was deplorable.  Producing humor that helps us deal with the day-to-day stress of modern living should not be a life-threatening occupation—even if it is the traditional tasteless French “gouaille” humor, which is intentionally outrageous and offensive.

Read more

Review of Iris Murdoch's The Nice and the Good

This is a review of Iris Murdoch's novel, The Nice and the Good (1968). 

Read more

Forbidden Words

Read more

Ethical Relativism

"What makes a man go neutral?  Lust for gold?  Power?  Or were you just born with a heart full of neutrality?" -- "Captain Zapp Brannigan," Futurama

Read more

Philosophy Meets Literacy Through Positive Coaching

T. R. Girill
Society for Technical Communication/Lawrence Livermore National Lab.
trgirill@acm.org Philosophy Meets Literacy Through Positive Coaching When I show high-school science students (or their teachers) how to
design effective nonfiction ("technical") text, they often end up
with a lesson not just in linguistics but also in philosophy--
about writer responsibility.  One way to see this is to tap the
distinction (another philosophical move!) between positive and
negative coaching.

Read more

Disorders of the Mind - The Philosophy of Psychiatry

There’s something odd about how psychiatry defines mental disorders—namely, by their symptoms. It’s to be expected, on some level. After all, how else could doctors diagnose psychiatric disorders, if not, in part, by their symptoms?

Read more

Obituary for Stanford Professor Emeritus David S. Nivison

David Shepherd Nivison, emeritus professor of philosophy, religious studies, and Chinese language at Stanford University, passed away peacefully on October 16, 2014, aged 91. I am honored to have been one of his doctoral students.

Read more

The More Good the Better?

Suppose we know what all the goods are.  It doesn't matter whether we are hedonists or ideal utilitarians who want to include knowledge or virtue or instances of beauty or whatever as goods.  Perhaps we just think goods are satisfactions of wants--whether they produce pleasure or not.  For the moment, it doesn't matter.  Let's just suppose we know what they are.

Read more

Why Philosophize?

Recently, at a conference in Las Vegas, I was looking out my 29th floor window at the desert and some mountains.  A storm was moving slowly toward the North.  There was a clear patch over a large park, but the storm would soon be there and the impending deluge was quite apparent.  I thought about how different this was from our usual experience of weather, on the ground.

Read more

Can Studying Philosophy Make You a Better Person?

One of the many people who is considerably smarter and more productive than I am is Prof. Eric Schwitzgebel of the University of California at Riverside. Eric writes the blog, The Splintered Mind, and one of his many research interests is whether there is any empirical connection between studying ethics in a contemporary college or university and the improvement of one's character.  So far, the evidence is that the academic study of ethics does not make you a better person.  Why?

Read more