Category Archives: philosophy

structured moral pluralism (a proposal)

(New York) Isaiah Berlin recalled that the Russian novelists he read as boy shared with “the major figures [of philosophy], especially in the field of ethical and political thought,” a common “Platonic ideal.” This ideal implied, In the first place that, as in … Continue reading

Posted in moral network mapping, philosophy | Leave a comment

the lack of diversity in philosophy is blocking its progress

I’m on vacation this week and most of next, so I’m not blogging. However, a piece of mine has just appeared in Aeon, entitled “The lack of diversity in philosophy is blocking its progress.” It begins: Philosophy is a remarkably … Continue reading

Posted in academia, philosophy, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

pragmatism and the problem of evil

Discussing Dewey in the Summer Institute of Civic Studies yesterday, I (and, I think, several colleagues) had the sudden recognition that American pragmatists tend not to deal with evil very persuasively. In The Public and its Problems, Dewey writes: Nevertheless, … Continue reading

Posted in philosophy, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

an alternative to Moral Foundations Theory

Jonathan Haidt’s Moral Foundations Theory is one of the most influential current approaches to moral psychology and it exemplifies certain assumptions that are pervasive in psychology more generally. I have been working lately with 18 friends and colleagues to “map” … Continue reading

Posted in moral network mapping, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

who says that binary thinking is Western?

I often hear that binary oppositions are typical of Western thought. The implication is that “we” should strive to avoid being trapped by such oppositions. To be sure, certain distinctions (white/non-white, male/female, Christian/non-Christian) are the basis of injustices. Those distinctions have been important in Western … Continue reading

Posted in philosophy, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

aphorisms, proverbs, maxims, and the purpose of this blog

If you search the Internet for “aphorisms,” you’ll find a mix of authors, from Lao Tze to Jean Baudrillard. Some are literary figures who are eminently quotable–good at writing short, memorable passages that stand on their own even if they were originally composed … Continue reading

Posted in notes on poems, philosophy, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

10 theses about ethics, in network terms

People hold many morally relevant opinions, some concrete and particular, some abstract and general, some tentative and others categorical. People see connections–usually logical or empirical relationships–between some pairs of their own opinions and can link all of their opinions into one network. (Note: … Continue reading

Posted in moral network mapping, philosophy, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

the advantages and drawbacks of precision in ethics

I like to ask people to state their own beliefs that are relevant to ethics and then draw connections among those ideas to create networks that represent their moral worldviews. I put people (students and others) in dialogue with each … Continue reading

Posted in moral network mapping, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

does focusing philosophy on how to live broaden or narrow it?

Pierre Hadot (1922-2010) built a quietly devoted following and influenced many others indirectly, via Michel Foucault. A classicist, Hadot interpreted the Hellenistic philosophical schools (Stoicism, Epicureanism, Skepticism, and Neoplatonism) as communities of people devoted to improving themselves by employing a range of mental techniques. Argumentation was just … Continue reading

Posted in philosophy, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tamsin Shaw’s critique of moral psychology

I think that Tamsin Shaw’s article “The Psychologists Take Power” (New York Review of Books, February 25, 2016) is very important. I enjoyed an informal seminar discussion of it on Friday, but that conversation made me realize that the article … Continue reading

Posted in philosophy, Uncategorized | Leave a comment