Category Archives: philosophy

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

Posted in civic theory, philosophy | Leave a comment

the moral significance of instinct, with special reference to having a dog

When dogs and their human owners look into each others’ eyes, oxytocin, a hormone involved in the maternal bond, rises in both creatures. When dogs are given oxytocin via a nasal spray, they want to look in their humans’ eyes … Continue reading

Posted in philosophy, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

sorting out human welfare, equity and mobility

Here are three distinct goals that you might pursue if you see education as a means to improve a society. All three are plausible, but they can conflict, and I think we should sort out where we stand on them. … Continue reading

Posted in education policy, philosophy | Leave a comment

a college class on equality

This is an outline of a class discussion that seemed to work pretty well this morning. The reading is T.M. Scanlon’s “When Does Equality Matter?” Scanlon offers five reasons that a given difference among people may be unjust, and I … Continue reading

Posted in philosophy, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Kieran Setiya on midlife: reviving philosophy as a way of life

I read Kieran Setiya’s Midlife (Princeton, 2017) not only because I have that condition and am sometimes troubled by its complaints, but also because I appreciate the style of thought that Pierre Hadot named “philosophy as a way of life.” … Continue reading

Posted in philosophy, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Social Ontology 2018: The 11th Biennial Collective Intentionality Conference

On August 22-25, 2018, Tufts University will host the biennial Collective Intentionality conference, with the Tisch College of Civic Life as a co-sponsor. This interdisciplinary and international conference will bring together people who study the nature of the social world … Continue reading

Posted in philosophy, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

against state-centric political theory

What do all these statements have in common? “Republicanism is a consequentialist doctrine which assigns to government, in particular to governmental authorities, the task of promoting freedom as n0n-domination.” — Philip Pettit, Republicanism: A Theory of Freedom and Government “Of … Continue reading

Posted in civic theory, philosophy, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

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

Posted in philosophy, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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

Posted in civic theory, philosophy, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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

Posted in philosophy, Uncategorized | 1 Comment