March 2018

The Irreverent Peter Sloterdijk

From The New Yorker, this delightful long-form piece, "A Celebrity Philosopher Explains the Populist Insurgency," discusses Peter Sloterdijk, one of Germany's most famous and celebrated living philosophers.

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Is Every Idea Worth Engaging?

Is every idea worth responding to, or are some ideas so harmful that we should not engage at all? Philosopher Elizabeth Barnes explores this question in a recent article, arguing that it is sometimes worth it to engage with harmful ideas.

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Dark Knowledge?

A new intellectual counterculture has been coalescing in virtual space. The intellectual dark web is billed as island of free speech in a sea of dogma: a place where bold, creative thinkers can discuss their ideas at length and without censure by the mainstream media or suppression by a hidebound academic establishment.

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Is 'The Will of the People' Sacred?

One golden standard of successful democracy is whether its political decisions and institutions adequately reflect the will of the people. But what exactly is this will of the people? Is it the sum of constituent preferences or is it something beyond that?

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Adorno and the Culture Industry

A lot of the popular culture we consume these days is produced and distributed by large studios and record companies. Should that worry us? Are doomed to mediocre music, television, and film? Or even worse: are we doomed to songs, shows, and movies that secretly serve a hegemonic propaganda machine?

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From Pessimism to Nihilism

Young adult dystopian novels like Divergent and The Hunger Games may have ruled the marketplace in the 2010s, but now there's a new trend in young adult literature. Stories of teens committing (or ideating) suicide have become the new obsession. But why?

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Is Alexa a Setback for Feminism?

Voice-activated personal assistants like Alexa and Siri are becoming increasingly popular. While the assistants each try to differentiate themselves in someway, there is one inescapable commonality: they are all female.

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Racist Algorithms and Fair Sentencing

Can an algorithm be racist? An algorithm used to determine bail sentencing assesses the risk that an individual will reoffend. Critics claim the algorithm is unfair because it incorrectly assesses more black individuals as high risk than white.

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Humble Disagreement

Should you cling to your beliefs even when others disagree? Or should you reconsider your beliefs whenever they’re challenged? Is it possible to disagree without being disagreeable?

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The “Complicated” Causes of Gun Death (Part I)

Imagine an organization—the Materials Rights Association (MRA)—that contributes millions to the campaigns of politicians who keep the laws that govern building materials safety lax. The MRA reaps huge financial rewards because cheap building materials, even if highly flammable, are desirable to its member builders.

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Philosophy for Prisoners

Can prisoners benefit from engaging in philosophical thinking? Kirstine Szifris spent six months teaching philosophy to prisoners and says it can can mitigate prison violence and help prisoners to engage in deep self-reflection, getting closer to the ideals of rehabilitation.

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Moral Philosophy and The Good Place

The Good Place, a hit TV show, begins with a woman named Eleanor who wakes up in the afterlife. Eleanor learns that she has landed in "The Good Place," even though she knows that she should have landed in the other place. Chidi, a professor of moral philosophy whom Eleanor confides in, decides to teach her to be good.

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Stories To Think With

Philosophers are notorious for expressing themselves in a dry and, let’s face it, boring way. But this isn’t the only way to do philosophy. There are some great philosophical stories that delight and engage, rather than putting the reader to sleep.

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Is Killmonger to Blame?

Marvel's newest superhero movie, Black Panther, has been setting records left and right since its release. In many ways, it is a classic superhero movie, with a clearly defined and often one-dimensional super villain that eventually loses to our hero. But many are questioning who is to truly blame in Black Panther.

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#FrancisOnFilm: The Shape of Water

Loneliness isn't written about much by analytic philosophers. Nearly everything philosophical written about it is either theological, existentialist, or social psychological. The Shape of Water is a lovely movie for reflecting on loneliness and how it can be overcome in the lives of ordinary people.

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Is Punishment Wrong?

Is it ever morally okay to punish people? To punish someone is to hurt them because of a wrong they’ve already committed—whether or not any future benefit will come of that hurt. How could it be okay to deliberately hurt someone?

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