THE BLOG@PHILOSOPHERS' CORNER

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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Against Marriage

It might seem baffling that the state gets involved in our love life. Why does the government need to keep track of who's married to whom? Will they next start tracking who our friends are?

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The Morality of Big Business

"Big business" for many has largely immoral associations: corrupt, profit-driven at the expense of human wellbeing or the environment, threatening to mom-and-pop shops everywhere. But this wasn't always the case—big businesses used to be viewed positively by the public.

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On Deepities and Bullshit

The so-called Law of Attraction, one of the cornerstones of New Age positive thinking, is a textbook case of what Dan Dennett calls a "deepity"—an ambiguous claim that on one reading is either true but trivial, on another is false but would be earth-shattering if true.

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Consciousness Deniers?

The idea that consciousness is an illusion may be a familiar one. Thinkers like Daniel Dennett, Brian Farrell, and Richard Rorty espouse this basic notion. But is it, as philosopher Galen Strawson calls it, "the silliest claim ever made"?

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Is there a Right to Sex?

Most of us would think that straight men who demand the right to sex are motivated by a patriarchal sense of entitlement. As a reaction against this claim, we may naturally argue that nobody is entitled to sex. But this reaction can buttress sexual preferences that are extremely problematic.

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Faith and Humility

For better or for worse, believers and non-believers are unlikely to fully agree about the relationship between faith and humility. Indeed, some non-believers may insist that there is an inherent conflict between the two.

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Happy 200th, Karl Marx!

It's Karl Marx' 200th Birthday! It is hard to deny that Marx left a lasting, far-reaching impact on the course of history. But how exactly can we distill the core insights of Marx's teachings?

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May the Fourth Be With You

In honor of 5/4, Star Wars Day, we're taking a deeper look at the paradox of Force in Star Wars. Eduardo Perez, an Assistant Professor of English, examines the paradox of the Force in George Lucas' Star Wars universe.

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Dark Knowledge: A User’s Guide

The Intellectual Dark Web has developed into an academic counterculture, with an enormous and rapidly growing fan base. While it’s wonderful that there are sites where taken-for-granted orthodoxies can be challenged in accessible ways, I have grave concerns about the way that this movement is unfolding.

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Are We Alone?

Are we alone in the universe? Or is the cosmos teeming with life? And what difference would it make if we found the answer? Those are just some of the questions we address in this week's show.

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Toppling the Dehumanization Thesis

Perpetrators of some of the worst atrocities in human history have used rhetoric that labels the group they oppress as animals or objects, like "vermin" or "roaches." But is this kind of dehumanization required for humans to commit violent atrocities?

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Are We Really All Equals?

Most of us hold the deep moral commitment that we are all equal in some basic way. All humans are worthy of equal (moral) concern, respect, and dignity. But is a commitment to basic equality enough to ground meaningful principles of justice?

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Stop Silencing Sex Workers

The popular imagination typically pits feminism and free speech advocacy against each other. But in reality, they often align. The new SESTA-FOSTA bill is a case in point. Both feminists and free speech advocates should strongly oppose this law, and for closely related reasons.

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

Despite how obvious it is that the perpetually recurring "arguments" given against gun control are bad, many people in the United States are taken in by them. So why aren't these bad arguments more easily dismissed?

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The Not-So-Goodness of Liberalism?

Is liberalism really the "unmitigated good" many of us Westerners believe it is? Is more freedom always a good thing? Shadi Hamid explores these questions, questioning whether liberalism truly is ideologically neutral.

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