Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Bias & Medical Devices

It might seem like woke madness to claim that medical devices can be biased. Are there white supremacist stethoscopes? Misogynistic MRI machines? Extremely racist X-Ray machines? Obviously not, medical devices do not have beliefs or ideologies (yet). But they can still be biased in their accuracy and effectiveness. One example of a biased device is [More]

PragerU’s Unintended Tweet of Truth

PragerU, a right-wing propaganda engine masquerading as an educational YouTube channel, attempted to push back on Twitter against arguments advanced by young Americans about racism. In general, getting involved in Twitter battles is a bad idea. To use an AD&D analogy, Twitter fights are often like punching green slime: the more you attack, the more [More]

The Limits of Defective Character Solutions

In some cases, our intuition that an act is "wrong" may be better explained in terms of the action's revealing a defect of character (e.g. standard counterexamples to consequentialism involving the reckless performance of expectably-bad actions that could only prove optimal by unknowable fluke).  But this philosophical maneuver requires care.  A good test for its prima facie viability is to "naturalize" the case so that the outcome results from purely natural causes, without any agential intervention.  We can then ask: is this is an overall undesirable outcome?  If so, then that would -- contra the character strategy -- suffice to provide objective reasons for an agent not to act so as to bring about that bad outcome.  But if not, i.e. if the outcome itself -- absent any agency -- seems unobjectionable, then it's at least prima facie natural to expect that the act of producing that fine outcome should likewise qualify as unobjectionable.  If our intuitions rebel against an agent performing such an act, we may do better to look to the agent, rather than to the act, as being the true source of the problem.With this diagnostic test in mind, Ben Bramble's 'The Defective Character Solution to the Non-Identity Problem' (forthcoming in J Phil) looks problematic.  Ben argues that "the actions in non-identity cases are wrong just when and because they result from, or reflect in those who have performed them, a morally [More]

The Border & Mercenaries?

When it is not lying about the 2020 election, creating laws to solve problems that do not exist, or doing other dishonest and awful things, the Republican party is focused on the border. Trump obsessed about his wall—but it is a “absentia monumentum, to make up a phrase. Now that Joe Biden is President, some [More]

Florida’s Political Survey

Governor DeSantis signed a law recently that includes a requirement to survey public university faculty and students about their political views. Institutions can lose funding if the results do not satisfy the Republican dominated state legislature. As would be suspected, there are many concerns about this law, or so Republicans have suggested. The survey results [More]

Can You Be a Good Billionaire?

Billionaires and their lesser cousins are generally lauded in American society. But there are some who condemn them simply for being billionaires. This leads to the moral issue of whether a person can be both morally good and a billionaire. The issue is whether, in general, you could be a billionaire and still plausibly be [More]

Helping Nature

On a morning run I came across a sign in the park informing me that the city was “helping nature by controlling invasive plants.” This process involves herbicides and machetes. My adopted city of Tallahassee is quite active in addressing invasive species. Laying aside the various concerns about herbicides, this raises many philosophical issues. On [More]

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