Category Archives: philosophy

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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don’t confuse bias and judgment

“Even good and, at bottom, worthy people have, in our time, the most extraordinary fear about making judgments. The confusion about judgment can go hand in hand with fine and strong intelligence, just as good judgment can be found in … Continue reading

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evolution, game theory, and the morality of modern human beings

It’s valuable to model the development of phenomena like altruism and spite (harming someone else at a cost to oneself) by combining game theory with evolutionary theory. The results should be seen as predictions to be tested against empirical evidence about actual … Continue reading

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