December 2017

In Praise of Affirmative Consent

The recent Twitter popularity of the #MeToo movement has shone a public spotlight on ongoing conversations about rape and sexual assault. There is no single, magical solution to the problem of sexual assault, but an important piece of the puzzle is changing the way we understand sex and consent.

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Lethal Speech

“Can Speech Kill?” The obvious answer, it seems, should be: yes, but not directly. However, if one person engages in hate speech against another—using racial slurs or de-humanizing language such as “cockroaches” or “rats”—can that language be counted as killing or contributing to killing other people?

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An Argument for Regulating Automation

As automation displaces human labor, a universal basic income plan may seem like the perfect solution. But are we being too fatalistic in accepting that automation will eventually obviate the need for human labor?

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Can Words Kill?

Can mere words be used to kill? Words can hurt and offend, but can they be lethal weapons? I don’t mean that in a metaphorical sense. We all can admit that words can hurt or offend. But I’m asking if they can literally kill?

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Buddhism, Science, and the West

Why do many of us assume that Buddhism and science are polar opposites—that Buddhist teachings are so paradoxical and mysterious they are not even meant to be understood? Is it possible instead that the teachings of Buddhism actually predate certain scientific conclusions the West is just now discovering?

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Of Philosophy and Basketball

I’m reaching the end of a semester-long sabbatical, and will soon have to start thinking about preparing for the courses that I will be teaching in the spring semester. I love teaching. However, this time I’m rather less enthusiastic about climbing back in the academic saddle.

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The Midlife Crisis

What exactly is a midlife crisis? One way to think about it is that it’s the creeping feeling that what we’re doing with our lives isn’t worthwhile. Or worse: the midlife crisis can be the feeling that no choice of life could ever have been worthwhile.

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The Odyssey in Plain English

The first woman to translate The Odyssey, Emily Wilson, tells the famous story of Odysseus, Homer's cunning Trojan war hero, in a radically different way. She tells it in plain English. Wilson's translation is direct, and her effort raises important questions around the translation of classical works.

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