THE BLOG@PHILOSOPHERS' CORNER

Does Reputation Matter?

How much should we care about our reputation? One can easily imagine a Stoic telling us not to care at all: it’s not something that is under our control, and so our job is simply to learn not to worry about it. But it’s not clear that reputation is something that is entirely out of our control.

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Subway Spreading and Personal Space (Part I)

The phenomenon of taking up too much room on the subway has gotten a lot of attention in the last few years under the label “manspreading.” But why does this spreading happen? And what does it have to do with men in particular? The answer starts with preferences for personal space.

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Anti-Semitism 101

Many Americans seem have a hard time grasping the idea of Jews as a race because they think of race mainly in terms of the color of a person’s skin. So they tend to frame anti-Semitic violence as attacks on the Jewish faith, rather than racist terror.

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The Wrong Abortion Question

Is abortion the murder of an innocent child? Or the exercise of a woman’s right to control her own body? Or maybe we’re focusing on the wrong question.

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How #MeToo Helps Men

A backlash to the #MeToo movement suggests if society’s default is to believe women who claim they were sexually assaulted, that will open men up to rampant false accusations, which women will exploit for malicious purposes. But the reality is that #MeToo promotes social habits that make men less likely to be susceptible to false accusations.

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Can Reason Save Us?

Is reason our only guide to the true and the good? Or can reasonable people disagree on what is true and good? Is it simply a mistake to fetishize reason? These are some of the questions we tackle as we take on the broader question of whether reason can save us.

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They’re Only Lobsters

The Great Chain of Being—the notion that the biosphere is partitioned into ranks, with humans at the top, and every other organism at some inferior position—is a way of thinking that’s incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to dislodge. Most of us have a strong conviction that it’s true, but we don’t have a clue why we think that.

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The Philosophy of Westworld

At first glance, Westworld is just another show about robots run amok. If you look a little closer, though, you find all kinds of other philosophical questions in play, and you find them being explored with impressive seriousness and subtlety. At the level of philosophical reflection, this is golden-age television at its very best.

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Do They Believe in God?

A question has plagued me since the latest cluster of scandals emerged from the Catholic church. The scandals are both about clergy who sexually abused young people and about the church hierarchy’s cover-ups. The question is this: do the priests who commit such abuses believe in God?

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The Psychology of Cruelty

Are people cruel because they lack empathy? Is cruelty always a matter of seeing others as less than human? Or are there some who simply enjoy seeing people suffer? These are some of the questions we’ll be tackling in this week’s show.

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Puzzle About Conspiracy Theorists (Part II)

Conspiracy theorists think quasi-rationally, but their thinking only goes in one direction. Because conspiracy theorists are less analytic, their thinking tends not to override their starting intuitions. So how can we alleviate people's tendencies to adopt irrational conspiracy theories?

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Lessons from Lobsters

At a gut level, most of us consider humans’ lives far more significant than lobsters’ lives. But does this intuition just reveal a cognitive bias most of us have? Are there any good arguments to support the idea that lobster lives matter less?

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Athletics and the Philosophical Life

The idea that athletics and philosophy are connected may sound strange at first. But if we see philosophy as a way of life rather than a set of beliefs, it’s not a stretch to imagine that athletic training can cultivate skills we need for the whole of our lives, both on and off the playing field.

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The Ethics of Algorithms

We are delegating more and more morally fraught decisions to computers and their algorithms. Many find the prospect of such a thing truly alarming. It’s hard to blame them for that. After all, how many of us would be willing to trust our own lives to a computer algorithm?

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A Puzzle About Conspiracy Theorists (Part I)

You might think that conspiracy theorists like the flat earthers don't really think about things. But if you've ever argued with one, you'll find that they do. They have an answer for everything. So how do we reconcile their irrationality with their rational thinking?

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Failing Successfully

To say that a person can fail successfully sounds really weird. To succeed at something is to achieve some goal that you’re aiming at, and to fail at something is to not achieve a goal that you were trying to achieve. But this isn’t the end of the story.

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#FrancisOnFilm: Mission Impossible

Mission Impossible: Fallout is an intensely escapist movie, but it's also a deeply philosophical one. It explores the question: should you be the kind of person who saves his friends and risks millions of lives, or the kind of person for whom saving the millions matters to the exclusion of all else?

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Does Science Overreach?

Science is typically not construed as a form of intellectual arrogance. After all, the scientific method is about making sure your beliefs are regulated by observations and experiments rather than by personal biases, subjective preferences, or mere stubborn pride. But science has the tendency to believe that it is the measure of all things.

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The Truly Beautiful Game

With the World Cup having just ended, I am led to reflect on my own lack of interest in soccer. It's not that I don't appreciate the athleticism involved in soccer. And it’s not that I can't see the strategies unfolding. But somehow it still leaves me pretty cold.

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[VIDEO] Philosophers' World Cup

Even as we wait in anticipation for Sunday's World Cup final between France and Croatia, there is at least one other major soccer event that we can watch right now: the "Philosophers' World Cup" by Monty Python.

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Enlightenment Peddlers

Because the IDW thrives on consumer popularity rather than peer scrutiny, it doesn’t have mechanisms for sorting out the worthwhile stuff from the trash. The burden is on the consumer to decide to what extent the dark web pundits have something valuable to offer or to what extent they’re "enlightenment peddlers."

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Who Is a “Criminal”?

Someone categorized as “a criminal” is likely to experience social ostracism, unlike people who break laws not associated with the word “criminal.” But we don't call every single person who does a technically criminal act a “criminal.” So when is it appropriate to apply the label "criminal" to someone who breaks the law?

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Self-Reliance and the Ethics of Homeschooling

It's no secret that black children in American receive a subpar education compared to their white peers: underfunded schools, higher rates of suspension, and largely teachers that are not like them. To address this, some black parents are turning to homeschooling their children.

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One Person, One Vote?

The slogan “one person, one vote” have been used in a variety of settings to express a democratic ideal: elections should provide every citizen with an equal say in governance. But in America, the reality still falls short of the ideal.

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#FrancisOnFilm: The Rachel Divide

The Rachel Divide, a documentary about Rachel Dolezal and the controversy over her claims to racial identity, came out in April on Netflix. The movie would have benefited, however, from some philosophical consideration of what race is—or is not—and what claims to racial identity assert.

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