THE BLOG@PHILOSOPHERS' CORNER

Creativity and Character

Do you have to be courageous to be creative? Or is it better to give the public what it wants? What are the character traits that make somebody exceptionally creative? What exactly are we picking out when we praise an individual for her creativity. Is it eccentricity? novelty? originality?

Read more

Which Statues Should Go?

Many public monuments in the United States depict people who have done hideously immoral things. Almost all depict morally imperfect people. If we accept that some statues should be left in place and some should be torn down, what principles determine which should be torn down?

Read more

Flexitarian vs. Vegetarian

Suppose our goal is to reduce overall meat consumption. Would it be better to become a vegetarian, who eats no meat, or a flexitarian, who eats a little meat? A recent Aeon article by Alberto Giubilini makes the case for flexitarianism.

Read more

Dennett vs. Papineau on Consciousness

Both David Papineau and Dan Dennett are famed materialists (the doctrine that consciousness can be fully explained by material and neuronal functions), so why did Papineau give Dennett's book, From Bacteria to Bach and Back, a critical review?

Read more

Is James Franco Rescuing Philosophy?

You might not have expected it, but the actor James Franco is promoting analytic philosophy in his new YouTube series, Philosophy Time. In relatively short videos, Franco chats back and forth with prominent philosophers on issues ranging from metaphor to abortion. Could these videos be the answer to the "crisis" in philosophy and the humanities?

Read more

Could the Laws of Physics Change?

What if gravity suddenly stopped working? Or what if e gradually came to equal mc3 rather than mc2? Could the fundamentals of physics really change? Or Is this just the stuff of science fiction?

Read more

Mental Health and Assisted Suicide

Should people with a mental illness be helped to die if that is what they wish? When thinking about assisted suicide, should we distinguish between severe mental and physical health conditions? Or would expanding assisted suicide to mental health conditions simply provide an "out" to tough situations?

Read more

#FrancisOnFilm: Dunkirk

Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk portrays ordinary people acting under tremendous fear. Some are glorious, some are mean-spirited, some are anxious, and many are patient. But the lesson to be drawn from this movie is that it is not particular individuals alone but practical solidarity that matters “to outlive the menace of tyranny,” in Winston Churchill’s words.

Read more

Philosophy of the Midlife Crisis

In “Death and the Midlife Crisis” psychoanalyst Elliot Jacques found that his patients were flourishing but had a sense of malaise and meaninglessness associated with death. Philosopher Kieran Setiya thinks that the answer to the midlife crisis is to pursue activities that do not necessarily have a particular end point.

Read more

Robots and Sexthics

Robotic yet eerily human-like, sex robots and their proliferation will promise a new revolution in sex. But what are the benefits of this technology and its potential ethical risks? For example, could it mitigate sexual assault? Or might it simply legitimate it?

Read more

Superpredators Old and New

In a recent speech, Trump painted a picture of humanoid predatory animals hell-bent on torturing, killing, and raping beautiful, innocent teenage girls. Trump’s speech should not be regarded as the return of the superpredator idea, because the idea that young Black and Latino males are roving, predatory beasts never really disappeared.

Read more

Driverless Cars at the Moral Crossroads

Will driverless technology someday make human drivers obsolete? Would you be willing to trust YOUR safety to an algorithm? What if you knew that the algorithm might decide to sacrifice your life to save the lives of others?

Read more

Fast Lane Ethics

Driverless cars make decisions based on speed, weather, road conditions, and distance. Does that mean that the main challenge for these autonomous vehicles is technical? Or are there also real ethical problems facing this new technology?

Read more

Rumor, Suspicion, and Misinformation

Why would anyone believe that the symptoms typically associated with AIDS are the product of supernatural practices like sorcery, when a perfectly good and comprehensive scientific explanation of HIV/AIDS is available?

Read more

The Offensive Peter Singer

In a recent interview, the controversial philosopher Peter Singer states that "Philosophy always causes offense—perhaps it should cause offense." But not everyone agrees that offensive philosophical views are necessarily a good thing, especially when reasonable critiques are ignored.

Read more

In Praise of Reading

We modern humans read all sorts of things and for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes reading a densely packed text takes a lot of skill and effort. But mastering the ancient art of reading can help us to master the even more difficult art of reading the text that is the world.

Read more

Sex and Global Consequences

We are now more aware of the frighteningly near future of overpopulation and limited world resources. Yet 50% of all pregnancies are unplanned. Is there an ethical solution to the overpopulation crisis, one that doesn't violate anyone's reproductive rights?

Read more

Is Philosophy Just Harder Than Science?

Whereas science has accumulated an enormous wealth of knowledge about the world, philosophy hasn't produced conclusive answers to questions posed thousands of years ago. What's the reason for this difference? Could it be that philosophy is just harder than science?

Read more

How is the Internet Changing Friendships?

How is the internet changing the nature of friendships? Does social media strengthen friendships or make them more shallow? And can liking a friend's status or commenting on their Instagram meaningfully bolster your interactions with them in person?

Read more

Transhumanism

Transhumanists seek to use science and technology to improve the human condition and conquer mortality. But is extending life indefinitely a way to promote human flourishing? Or would it just render life meaningless?

Read more

Cognitive Bias

Aristotle defined humans as the rational animal. But he was wrong! The human mind is riddled with cognitive biases. At last count, there are something like 150 named cognitive biases – confirmation bias, in group bias, loss aversion, the Ikea effect, the halo effect, endowment effects.

Read more

D'oh! Philosophy in The Simpsons

The Simpsons may not seem like a legitimate source for philosophical discourse and ideas. But the University of Glasgow just launched a successful one-day course entitled "D'oh! The Simpsons Introduce Philosophy" as an introduction to the world's most eminent philosophical thinkers.

Read more

To Game or Not to Game

Video game use among young, lower skilled men has increased markedly in the past few decades. In general, the underemployment of this demographic has struck many as deeply worrying, foreshadowing changes in the future of work and creating a need for a universal basic income.

Read more

Philosophy Majors: Unexpectedly Employable

Contrary to popular belief, a philosophy degree may be useful in the job market. An education in philosophy teaches students critical thinking, precise analysis, and cogent writing, skills that essential for any professional career.

Read more

Should Sex-Identity Be on Birth Certificates?

Why do we think it's so important to assign a sex and gender to a baby at birth? Does it serve an important public policy or public health purpose, or does this practice more reflect our irrational need to classify people along these axes as quickly as possible?

Read more