THE BLOG@PHILOSOPHERS' CORNER

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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Puppet Philosophers

The puppets of Sesame Street and The Muppet Show should step aside — a new puppet show is in town. Featuring Noam Chomsky, Elon Musk, Karl Marx, and Ayn Rand as rod puppets, Manufacturing Mischief premiered in April at MIT.

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Why America is not a Nation

America is not a nation. It is only a place. Or so I will argue in this blog entry. And this fact, I claim, has great significance for understanding the potential demise of the republic we once dreamt of.

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Distortion in Philosophy

There are more women and people of color in academic philosophy now, but when most of the authors we read are white and male, some aspects of the subject matter get distorted, and it’s hard to tell where the essential stuff ends and the accidental stuff begins.

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Philosophers and the Meaning of Life

Many philosophers think asking about the meaning of life is confused or misguided. Or they try to explain what individuals can do to make their lives meaningful. But that does not offer the same existential solace as explaining what makes life itself valuable.

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The Ethics of Care

Caring and being cared for are really important for human flourishing. But caring has its risks too. Caring about one person too much can cause you to care about others too little. Or you can care about the wrong things altogether. Figuring out who and what to care about and to what degree can be a tricky thing.

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Should Robots Be Caregivers?

Is it ethical for robots to be caregivers? That's the question asked by the winner of Ireland's "Young Philosopher of the Year" award. The inspiration for his project came when his ailing grandfather fell in the middle of the night and was unable to reach the help button in his assisted living facility. He was found dead a day later.

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Are We Slaves to Technology?

In 2017, more than 67 percent of Americans owned a smartphone, and researchers expect that percentage only to increase over time. But how might this phenomenon, of always having our phones and access to social media at the tips of our fingers, impact the experience of being human?

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How a Glitch Caused a Crisis

We are in a constitutional crisis. It is not a looming crisis. It has already arrived, with the president’s declaration that he has the absolute right to pardon himself and his potential partners in crime, and the absolute right to stop any investigation for whatever reason he chooses.

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An Antidote to Bullshit

One of the problems with the Intellectual Dark Web, in common with other online, non-academic outlets for discussing big ideas, is that it doesn’t have have any effective mechanisms for intellectual quality control. With this in mind, I’ve assembled a twelve-point checklist for evaluating what you might come across on the IDW and beyond.

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Repugnant Markets

There are many things that just shouldn’t be for sale at any price—human beings chief among them. You can’t legitimately sell what you don’t own in the first place. But there are many things that we do own the buying and selling of which are considered in some way abhorrent or repugnant and are therefore banned.

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Is Kanye a Philosopher?

Kanye West, best known for his music career, is now expanding into philosophy, as revealed in an interview with his interior designer. But the 'book' Kanye has in mind will find its medium not in printed pages, but in real-time tweets.

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The Twilight Zone and the Human Condition

The Twilight Zone aired its last episode in 1964. The show's most prevalent themes distill to the following: "'you are not what you took yourself to be,' 'you are not where you thought you were,' and 'beneath the façade of mundane American society lurks a cavalcade of monsters, clones, and robots.'”

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What is it Like to Lose Your Identity?

Hannah Upp has dissociative fugue, an extremely rare form of amnesia, in which people lose access to their autobiographical memory and personal identity. If we associate autobiographical memory with personhood, is the Hannah Upp during an episode of fugue a different person from the Hanna Upp who is conscious of herself?

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