Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

“Frustration, Mediocrity, and Drama”

A year in the academic life of the typical Nigerian philosopher is a long one defined by frustration, mediocrity (either self-imposed or externally imposed) and drama. The drama aspect revolves around violent student activism leading to university closures, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) industrial actions, blood-letting on university campuses by students who are members of violent cults, the intrigue surrounding the selection of new vice chancellors, the latest corruption scandals, political interference in university administration, or accusations of sexual harassment directed at prominent professors… Those are the words of Ada Agaba (University of Calabar, Nigeria) in a post at The Philosophers’ Cocoon that highlights the challenges faced by philosophers in Nigeria. Poor research funding, outdated libraries, and corrupt administrators and colleagues are common problems, and give rise to frequent strikes by the university teacher’s union, which in turn means that the public universities have, in practice, “no fixed academic calendars.” Political and ethnic favoritism “is the norm” in hiring. The “collapsing academic system” in Nigeria hinders education and research there and the opportunities for interaction between Nigerian philosophers and those elsewhere, and so provides yet another example of the ways in which “what philosophy is” is affected by the contingencies of economics, politics, [More]

Hurricanes & Pharmaceutical Prices

While the Democrats and President Trump have expressed support for reducing the cost of pharmaceuticals, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made it clear that he will oppose efforts to impose price controls, saying that “Socialist price controls will do a lot of left-wing damage to the healthcare system.” This does not, of course, entail [More]

The Impossibility of Immigrants Refusing to Integrate into British Society (guest post by Hasko Von Kriegstein)

The following is a guest post* by Hasko Von Kriegstein, an assistant professor in the Department of Law & Business at Ryerson University, regarding matters related to Brexit. The Impossibility of Immigrants Refusing to Integrate into British Society by Hasko Von Kriegstein Brexit continues to make international headlines. The desire to leave the EU appears to be, in large part, driven by a desire to limit immigration. This brings many questions about immigration to the forefront, among them the question whether immigrants have a duty to integrate into the receiving society. Many in Britain seem to think that there is. In 2016, for example, then communities secretary Sajid Javid stated: “for too long, too many people in this country have been living parallel lives, refusing to integrate failing to embrace the shared values that make Britain great.” 2.5 years later, former prime minister Tony Blair concurred: “ [Government] has to be a passionate advocate and, where necessary, an enforcer of the duty to integrate while protecting the proper space for diversity. Integration is not a choice; it is a necessity.” I do not hold strong views, one way or the other, on the question whether there is a duty to integrate. What I argue here is that, in the case of Britain, the question is moot. That is because it is impossible to refuse to integrate into British society. Consider the following argument. (1)   Any immigrant into British society either does, or does not, make an effort [More]

A Philosopher Is Running for President

Jerome Segal, a former philosophy professor, announced his candidacy for president of the United States last week. Segal, who earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Michigan and is the author of works such as Graceful Simplicity: Toward a Philosophy and Politics of Simple Living and Agency, Illusion, and Well-Being: Essays in Moral Psychology and Philosophical Economics, taught philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania and was later affiliated with the University of Maryland’s philosophy department. He is also the founder of the Jewish Peace Lobby and has written extensively on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In 2018, Segal created a new socialist party called “Bread and Roses” and is now running as its candidate for president. The party has already qualified for the ballot in Maryland and efforts for similar recognition in other states is underway. However, as The Washington Post reports, “despite some disagreements with the Democrats running for president, [Segal] shares their desire to replace President Trump and does not plan to campaign in swing states, where it might cut into votes for Trump’s opponent.” This is not Segal’s first foray into politics. Last year he challenged the Democratic party incumbent for Maryland Senator, and lost. Segal, according to the Washington Post, doesn’t “have any fantasies about actually being president… This is really about ideas and about adding something to the [More]

Mental Illness & Gun Violence

It seems a matter of common sense to think that a mass shooter must have “something wrong” with them. Well-adjusted, moral people do not engage in mass murder. But are mass shooters mentally ill? Mental illness is a medical matter, not a matter for common sense pop psychology to resolve. Looked at in strict medical [More]

The Value of Mass Shootings

On the face of it, the value generated by a mass shooting is negative. People are murdered and injured. But it is important to go beneath the bloody surface and explore the depths in terms of value. From an economic standpoint, a mass shooting has obvious negative value; but it also has positive economic value [More]

Political Hostility and Willingness to Discriminate in Philosophy

A new study of nearly 800 academic philosophers provides support for several claims about their political views, perceptions of politics-based hostility, and willingness to engage in politics-based discrimination. The study, “Ideological Diversity, Hostility, and Discrimination in Philosophy“, by Uwe Peters (KU Leuven), Nathan Honeycutt (Rutgers), Andreas De Block (KU Leuven), and Lee Jussim (Rutgers), is forthcoming in Philosophical Psychology. Their findings include the following: “Philosophers are predominantly left leaning” 74.8% of philosophers are left-leaning, 14.2% were right-leaning, 11% were moderates. Analytic philosophers in general identified as slightly less left-leaning than continental philosophers. Additionally, “participants also perceived their colleagues as primarily left-leaning” and “viewed them as more left-leaning than themselves” “The more right-leaning the participant, the more hostility they reported personally experiencing from colleagues, and, overall, the more left-leaning the participant, the less hostility they reported personally experiencing.” “Participants also perceived right-leaning individuals in the field… to experience more hostility than left-leaning subjects.” “Participants reported that they would be more reluctant to defend their own argument if it led to a right-leaning conclusion… than if it led to a left-leaning one” “There was [More]

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