Many of you know by now that I’ve committed to presenting philosophical puzzles for the duration of the Corona crisis. The idea is to distract you from the woes of the world. My first two puzzles were on whether beliefs are under voluntary control and on how to define the concept of an identity. In each blog I explain the puzzle and don’t say anything by way of solution until the next. (Accordingly, I’ll offer some thoughts on identity at the end of this one.)
This month’s puzzle is somewhat sci-fi in nature, but it’s not…
Since the Corona crisis rages on, it has come time for a second blog whose purpose is to distract you from the woes of the world. In case you missed it, I promised in my last blog that for the duration of the crisis I would write about philosophical puzzles in order to give you, readers, something to occupy your minds.
Last month’s puzzle was about whether people have voluntary control over their beliefs. That issue is moderately big in philosophy of mind and epistemology, and most philosophers who think about it lean toward involuntarism —…
Need a distraction from the incessant stream of information (good and bad) and speculation (mostly bad) that has consumed the airwaves lately? I certainly do.
Well, here’s my attempt to give you one. For my next sequence of blogs, I’m going to post about philosophical puzzles that are either old or new. And I’m going to describe the puzzles and attempt to make them gripping — and not offer you any help in solving them. …
by Ray Briggs
Do we really have the right to own our fellow creatures? Are there some animals that should never be kept as pets? Is it okay to declaw a cat, clip a bird’s wings, or dock a dog’s tail? These are some of the questions we’re asking in this episode.
Ideally, keeping a companion animal is a good thing that enriches both of your lives. I can’t find fault with someone who adopts an animal from a shelter and provides care throughout the animal’s life. But many people who keep pets fall short of this ideal.
by Joshua Landy
Is there such a thing as a self, something that makes you who you are? Or is the self just a convenient fiction? Would the world be a better place if we all stopped believing in selves? These are some of the questions we’re asking in this show.
Eighteenth-century philosopher David Hume certainly believed the self was just an illusion. “When I enter most intimately into what I call myself,” he said, “I always stumble on some particular perception or other… I can never catch myself.” There’s also a wonderful Buddhist story that runs along similar lines…
As I write these words, my new book, On Inhumanity: Dehumanization and How to Resist It is poised to be released by Oxford University Press. This would normally be a joyous, exciting time for me. Ten years of painstaking research distilled into one, short, accessible volume is an accomplishment of which I can legitimately be proud.
But in reality, this is not a happy time for me, and not just because of the Covid pandemic. Pandemics come and go, but racism persists. …
How many times have you heard people advise others to let go of the past? Once you see that these painful, traumatic experiences are over and done, and you stop “holding on” to them, you supposedly achieve “closure” and can “get on with your life.”
If you’re like me, you’ve heard this kind of stuff a lot.
Not recognizing that the past is over and done with is supposed to be bad for your mental health, and a troubling failure to embrace the reality that life is lived in the here-and-now.
In mental health professions, this…
As I write these words, the world is in the path of a mounting pandemic. People are frightened. They should be. The novel coronavirus is dangerous. It can and does kill. But its biologically menacing character is just one part of the threat that it poses. The virus also presents us with a social threat.
Viruses and other microscopic sources of disease are unobservable to the naked eye. And even though we nowadays understand the causes and nature of infection, this theoretical knowledge doesn’t always affect our behavior as it should. …
by Joshua Landy
I hope you’ve had a chance to see Parasite, the wonderful film by South Korean director Bong Joon-ho. For me — as for the good people at the Oscars — it was far and away the best film of 2019. Other people, however, are eagerly denouncing Parasite as a failure, a capitulation, a “conservative” film, indeed a movie full of “contempt” for the working class. What is going on?