Category Archives: philosophy

some notes on Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil

Here–free for the digital commons–are some teaching notes for chapter 1 of Nietzsche’s Beyond Good & Evil. Before discussing this text, my class had read Plato’s Apology; I present Nietzsche and the Socrates of the Apology as foils. Socrates begins a … Continue reading

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Lifeworld and System: a primer

The great social theorist Jürgen Habermas has drawn attention–for more than half a century–to the problem that he calls the “colonization of the Lifeworld by System.” Here is my explanation, based mainly on a rare concrete example from his Theory of … Continue reading

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libertarianism and democracy

In  the Washington Post, Michael Chwe argues that the “beliefs and values” of James M. Buchanan “conflict with basic democratic norms.” Buchanan (1919-2013) was a hugely influential public choice economist. Chwe is intervening in the debate about him that has … Continue reading

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science, law, and microagressions

We live and work in settings that are diverse but unequal. Opportunities and outcomes can often be predicted on the basis of race/ethnicity, culture and religion, gender and sexual orientation, and class background. In these settings, we communicate constantly. Some … Continue reading

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psychoanalyzing presidents

There’s lots of conversation right now about Donald Trump’s mental condition. It includes claims that he demonstrates narcissistic personality disorder and that changes in his speech patterns reveal cognitive decline. I [analyzed] his speech pattern from a particular angle here. This … Continue reading

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is everyone religious?

In the perennial debate about the place of religion in politics and public life, one available stance is: “Everyone is religious.” This position has weaknesses, which I will mention below, but here are three points in its favor: Ethical people hold beliefs … Continue reading

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what does it mean to attribute narcissistic personality disorder to a person?

(St Louis, MO) We have two rival languages for analyzing personality: the medical and the moral. They are largely incommensurable, yet cases force us to choose between them. For instance, psychiatrists and pundits are currently debating whether to diagnose Donald Trump … Continue reading

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Habermas on the French election

Here are Jürgen Habermas’ recent remarks on “the future of Europe” at an event with President-elect Emmanuel Macron and German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel. They spoke in March, before the election, but Habermas credits Macron with courage in “a challenging situation.” Habermas … Continue reading

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what makes conversation go well (a network model)

I’m looking forward to presenting later today at NULab’s first annual conference, on the theme: “Keeping the Public Sphere Open.” I think of the “public sphere” as all the venues where people come together to share experiences, emotions, and reasons in … Continue reading

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on the relationship between ethics and politics

The basic ethical question is “What should I do?” Three prevalent ways of addressing that question are: 1) to universalize, asking what you’d want anyone to do who was similarly situated, 2) to maximize, asking how you can do the … Continue reading

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