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Philosopher Spotlight: Hrishikesh Joshi

I'm delighted to introduce another great "philosopher spotlight" entry, this time from Hrishikesh Joshi!* * *My work focuses on neglected topics and perspectives within moral and political philosophy. I often employ a philosophy, politics, and economics (PPE) approach, by using tools from the social sciences in trying to analyze philosophical problems. In my view, there are these large vistas of underexplored terrain, and what motivates me to do philosophy is the desire to explore that terrain by using the methods and distinctions our discipline has developed. It’s a Wild West out there and I’d rather settle that territory than remain in the crowded coastal cities. My recent book, Why It’s OK to Speak Your Mind (Routledge, 2021) elaborates on this point in terms of marginal value. As researchers, we have a defeasible duty to seek out projects and defend approaches that add the most marginal value in terms of improving our collective picture of the world. Of course, it is not easy to tell where that value will lie, though we can be reasonably confident about extreme cases. The problem is that in general the incentives need not always align – what’s best for one’s career and social standing need not be the same as what’s best for improving our collective epistemic condition.   Here’s a toy example from the book to illustrate the broader problem. 3 engineers are in charge of the upkeep of a dam. There are (2) good reasons to think the dam will stand, and (3) good reasons [More]

Philosopher Spotlight: Jess Flanigan

Thanks to Jess Flanigan for contributing this guest post, sharing her interesting and provocative work, as part of my ongoing "philosopher spotlight" series.  Enjoy!* * *My published research falls into three categories. I am interested in rights and their enforceability, public health policy, and economic justice issues. In this post I’ll say a bit about my research, hopefully in a way that explains how these topics are all related. Then I’ll talk a bit about the things I’m working on lately. Instead of listing the titles of each paper, each link will just say what the paper is about. If you’re interested in that argument you can click through to see where it’s published.First, let’s talk about rights and enforceability. A lot of my work is motivated by the conviction that just because something is bad doesn’t mean there should be a law against it. I wish that this were more widely appreciated. For example, it’s bad for people to fail to help those in need, but it doesn’t follow from that fact that duties of rescue are enforceable—they aren’t. Assistance isn’t enforceable because people aren’t liable to be interfered with just because they’re well-placed to help. On the flip side, there are lots of rights that people don’t think are enforceable but they are (e.g., gun rights or economic freedom). I argue that all liberty is basic because the same considerations that liberal egalitarians cite in support of upholding the classic list of basic liberties are also [More]

Guest Post: 'Save the Five: Meeting Taurek’s Challenge'

[My thanks to Zach Barnett for writing the following guest post...]At its best, philosophy encourages us to challenge our deepest and most passionately held convictions. No paper does this more forcefully than John Taurek’s “Should the Numbers Count?” Taurek’s paper challenges us to justify the importance of numbers in ethics.Six people are in trouble. We can rescue five of them or just the remaining one. What should we do? This may not seem like a difficult question. Other things equal, you might think, we should save the five. This way, fewer people will die. Taurek rejects this reasoning. He denies that the greater number should be given priority. In effect, Taurek challenges us to convince him that the numbers should count. Can we meet his challenge?You might be pessimistic. Even if you yourself agree that the numbers do count, you might worry that... just as it’s hopeless to try to argue the Global Skeptic out of Global Skepticism... it’s equally hopeless to try to argue someone like Taurek, a Numbers Skeptic, out of Numbers Skepticism. But that’s what I’ll try to do.Let’s start by examining some different forms that Numbers Skepticism can take. Some Numbers Skeptics are driven by considerations of fairness. Often, they hold that we are required to randomize, to ensure that everyone is given an appropriate chance of rescue. For example, Taurek himself suggests flipping a coin to decide whom to save. Here are six human beings. I can empathize with each of [More]

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Philosopher Spotlight

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Dr. Robert McKim
  • on Religious Diversity
  • Professor of Religion and Professor of Philosophy
  • Focuses on Philosophy of Religion
  • Ph.D. Yale

Interview with

Dr. Alvin Plantinga
  • on Where the Conflict Really Lies
  • Emeritus Professor of Philosophy (UND)
  • Focuses on Epistemology, Metaphysics, Philosophy of Religion
  • Ph.D. Yale

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Dr. Peter Boghossian
  • on faith as a cognitive sickness
  • Teaches Philosophy at Portland State University (Oregon)
  • Focuses on atheism and critical thinking
  • Has a passion for teaching in prisons
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