Archive for category Philosophy
Modern “conservatives” pull over “the thinker”.
Says it all, don’t ya think?
I’ve been waiting to see the master interviewer sit down with Tim for a long time!
The wait is over:
I ran across a comment by the philosopher Jeff McMahan on gun control recently, and I have been thinking about it for the past few weeks. I should probably do some research and see where he was going with it, but I haven’t had time. Instead, this is a bit of thought that has been going on in the background since I heard him. He said (roughly, I heard it, and as I said I haven’t had a chance to look it up) that generally philosophers don’t bother to discuss gun control as philosophy, because we assume that the weight of the facts alone will show that no rational person would support gun ownership. That gave me pause for two reasons: first, he is right, I assume that the facts are enough to show that owning guns is generally a bad idea, and second, that it may be a huge moral mistake for the simple reason that while gun ownership seems like a private matter, it clearly isn’t. As I mentioned, I don’t know where he was headed with the topic, but he is certainly implying that it is a mistake to pass up the opportunity to think philosophically about gun control.
So how exactly do we think about gun control in a philosophical manner? My first reaction is to simply break it down to its basic components and then look for assumptions and relationships. Read the rest of this entry »
I am about out of energy for this week. But I do have the smoking remains of an irony meter sitting in the corner crying to be heard. And a tiny little mangled… something. Something Confucius might have called Ren. Something I almost forgot about. Read the rest of this entry »
Perhaps in a Hall of Fame somewhere in a child’s imagination or somewhere else:
Somehow a catolog of great music spanning decades doesn’t measure up to the Rock n’ Roll hall of fame.
If I were they, I would tell them to keep it!
I’m sure The Moodies don’t really want my input here. I once heard a horrible story about people in wheelchairs showing up at their concerts wanting to be healed.
All they were trying to do is enlighten us.
I ran into a good talk the other day. The speaker, Paul Zak, summed up his research on morality and brain chemestry.
“Oxytocin is the moral molecule. It makes us more trusting, more trustworthy, and increases our empathy.” -Paul Zak, neuroeconomist
Some moral philosopher a while back had a similar idea, but without the chemistry.
Forgive me, this gets a little geeky in a few places. But that isn’t the purpose, and hopefully the geek factor doesn’t scare too many people off.
After Glen wrote a piece about Microsoft possibly failing as it announces its latest foray into operating systems and hardware marriage, I sparred a bit with Nathan over Apple and the hardware mod community. I don’t actually think that the things I was discussing with Nathan in that thread are particularly meaningful, but I didn’t want to discuss what is to me a more important topic until I let the idea stew a little. I wasn’t, and am still not, entirely sure how I feel about the larger matter. Still, I thought it was about time to tackle the topic.
One of the reasons I was, and remain, a fan of Apple (even when they were not producing products I wanted I was still a fan, and watched what they did as a company) is that they seem to implicitly understand that the best tools work well because they work with human nature rather than against it. From the time that our first humanoid ansestor used a stick to bring something just out of reach to within grasp, we have used tools that work with our understanding and thought processes. The better they mesh with the way we work, the better the tool. We had telephones rather than telegraphs installed in our homes, in part, because it is more natural to the human brain to translate thoughts to words (if that even requires translation) than to translate words into taps and pulses. We invent tools like blenders, again in part, because the machines mimic methods we already use when doing the same tasks by hand.
Data, facts, prejudice. All in one tweet and one sentence, via DailyKOS.
How does race shape the vote? In NJ poll, whites uneasy w/racial change back Romney 9-1; those ok w/it back O by 3-2. http://t.co/…
— @RonBrownstein via web
In other words, not all Republicans are racists, but almost all racists are Republicans.
The last line is of course a variation on the words of John Stewart Mill, who said (roughly, I am too lazy to pull it up right now) “it is not true, as some have claimed, that all conservatives are stupid. It is however demonstrably true that the vast majority of stupid people are conservative.”
This is becoming more and more of a problem for the American conservative. It is indeed true that I am pretty liberal in my leanings. However it is also true that pragmatically speaking I expect my government to lean only very slightly liberal. The reasoning is that a slight lean means progress. With almost no exception, the good life, the proper politics, the reasons we stay in society… The qualities of what Aristotle would call a eudimonaic or flourishing life, have come down to us through liberal policies. We are better for having given suffrage rights to everyone. We live better lives for having ended slavery. We improve quality of life for having weekends and less hours worked per week. We raise the standard of living for all by giving maternity leave, and so on, and so forth.
Read the rest of this entry »
I have a special interest in heroes. A professional interest.
There is a neo-Aristotelean view that heroes are a very important way to teach morality. The view accepts that we are a social animal, and that the primary means of being social is verbal communication. I would add to those assumptions the claim that we think primarily in metaphor and analogy. Taking these three claims at face value, and extending them into Aristotelean ethics leads us to the not at all implausible notion that the best way to teach ethical behavior is not to teach complicated rules or lists of does and don’ts, but rather to make a list of character traits we believe people should have. We then treat these traits metaphorically. That is, rather than telling people to be brave, we tell them a story of someone who exemplifies this trait. We don’t tell people “co-operate!” we watch Pixar’s “Incredibles” with them. We don’t tell people to learn to be compassionate, we tell the the “Pursuit of Happiness” story.