Category Archives: philosophy

V.S. Naipaul’s view of culture

I read a lot of Naipaul in my youth and see value in his work. But Ian Buruma’s obituary profile reminds me of the main way in which I disagreed with him. Naipaul believed there were “whole cultures”: comprehensive, harmonious, … Continue reading

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postmodernism and Trump

In the Washington Post, Colby College English professor Aaron Hanlon argues that postmodernist theorists didn’t inspire or prepare the way for Donald Trump and other politicians who openly disparage truth. Rather, postmodernists lamented a world in which propaganda and media … Continue reading

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issues in the philosophy of social science

Here is the outline of a course I’d like to take–or possibly design and teach some day: What is the social world? Is it, for example, a bunch of human individuals who interact? Perhaps not, since individuals’ identities and values … Continue reading

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my self, your self, ourselves

Thesis: I have a vocabulary for describing my own behavior that’s full of words about motives, goals, and principles. “Why did I raise my hand? Because I wanted to answer your question. Why did I give that answer? Because I … Continue reading

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how philosophy is supposed to work

(Posted during the Social Ontology 2018 Conference, hosted at Tufts) We live in a positivist culture in which many smart people hold fairly simple views of science and believe that all rigorous thought is scientific. Their objection to highly abstract … Continue reading

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empathy, sympathy, compassion, justice

I’d posit the following definitions: Empathy: Feeling a similar emotion in response to someone else’s emotional state. Your friend is mad at her boss because he treated her unfairly. That makes you mad at her boss. Your anger is probably … Continue reading

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the right to strike

Yesterday, Alexander Gourevitch from Brown University spoke on “The Right to Strike.” I won’t try to summarize (or scoop) the argument of his forthcoming paper, except to say that Gourevitch uses an account of oppression to give a strong defense … Continue reading

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system, organism, person, organization, institution: some definitions

If you want real expertise on this kind of question, you should attend “Social Ontology 2018, the 11th Biennial Collective Intentionality Conference” from August 22-25, 2018 at Tufts. But in case you want some light musing on the subject … A system is … Continue reading

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from I to we: an outline of a theory

These are the main ideas that I’ve defended (or plan to develop) in my theoretical scholarship. They are organized from micro to macro and from ethics to politics. As always, I put this draft online to welcome critical feedback. Each … Continue reading

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notes on the metaphysics of Gandhi and King

Gandhi offers a fully developed metaphysics and epistemology–original even though it is grounded in classical Indian thought. For Martin Luther King, Protestant theology provides a core theory of human nature, but King navigates his way through debates in modern Protestantism … Continue reading

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