THE BLOG @ PHILOSOPHERS' CORNER

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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Who Gets To Decide the Truth?

It isn't just the United States that is preoccupied with the threat of fake news. In Malaysia, a bill outlawing fake news just passed. The new law could mean jail time for those who not only create but also spread misleading information.

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Trolling, Bullying, and Flame Wars

Are trolling, bullying, and flame wars an inevitable result of online communication? Does the anonymity and invisibility of cyberspace lead to toxic speech and behavior? How can we create more toxic-free environments online?

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A Case for Conservative Universities

Some argue that American universities mainly cater to liberal academics and liberal thought. Is there a case to be made, then, for support of "conservative schools" in higher education? Journalist Rachel Lu holds this view in the affirmative.

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Self Help, Nietzsche, and the Patriarchy

How did self-help go so wrong? Philosophy Talk featured contributor David Livingstone Smith explains the atrocious politics of popular self-help guru Jordan Peterson and the links between the toxic ideas embedded in Peterson's shtick.

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Can Technologies Be Monstrous?

This year marks the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s brilliant novel, Frankenstein. So it’s a good time to ask: can technologies be monstrous? Can human beings create devices and platforms that run beyond our intentions and out of our control? What dangerous technologies may be lurking on the horizon?

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The End of Privacy

Once upon a time, your home was considered your castle, a sphere of absolute privacy, where you could reliably escape prying eyes. No one, except perhaps the constable, dared even enter one’s home without permission.

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Technology Ethics

"Move fast and break things" is well known as Facebook's former motto, but it may well be the motto of all of Silicon Valley. Put another way, the Valley builds first, and deals with the consequences later. But this approach is creating bigger and bigger problems.

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An Egalitarian Case for the SAT

The SAT has long been an important factor colleges consider when evaluating applicants, but it has also been the subject of abundant criticism regarding its ability to assess students fairly, without reflecting socioeconomic inequalities into college admissions.

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Does Race Have Any Scientific Basis?

Is race a social construct? Is there any scientific basis for race? If racial categories were drawn arbitrarily by white colonizers and imperialists, can we conclude that that racial categories are themselves racist?

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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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