Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

The militarization of the Western Empire: How the COVID pandemic accelerated the process

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 Donald Trump may not have been not such a warlike emperor as previous Western Emperors have been (and probably will be). But, even assuming that Trump is trying to avoid wars, he cannot oppose the militarization trends of the Western economy that was boosted by the COVID-19 epidemics.  History repeats itself - oh, yes! And sometimes it repeats itself so fast and so ruthlessly that it leaves you out of breath. Think of what's happening right now: the COVID; the lockdowns, the face masks: all that happened in a few months, and the world of last year looks so remote that it could be seen as part of the still ongoing Middle Ages. And, yet, there is some logic in what has happened. History may surprise you and it usually does (the only sure thing we learn from history is that people never learn from history). But whatever happens in history has a reason to happen. And what we are seeing is not unexpected. We have seen it already, stark clear and unavoidable: it is the militarization trend of a decaying society. Let's go back to the Roman Empire, as always the paradigmatic story of a state that preceded us and went through a full cycle of growth and collapse. The Roman world was not so technologically sophisticated, nor so rich as ours, but the basic needs of citizens were the same and the Roman government provided many of them. You may have heard the expression "Panem et Circenses" (bread and circus games). That described two of the services that the Roman state ensured: the shipment of food from Africa to the Roman cities and the various kind of games performed in the amphitheaters. But there was much more than that. The state built and maintained the roads that connected the different regions of the empire. It built and maintained the aqueducts that carried water to the cities. But the main service was security: the government provided an internal justice system that guaranteed a certain degree of social security to the free citizens. The Romans. . .

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News source: Cassandra's Legacy

The Hunter Biden Thing

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Official portrait of Vice President Joe Biden in his West Wing Office at the White House, Jan. 10, 2013. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)..This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House. The New York Post grabbed media attention recently. They purport to have acquired Hunter Biden’s laptop containing emails damning to Joe Biden. This story has also been suppressed on Facebook and Twitter because of issues with its sourcing and general credibility. This matter raises an array of important issues relevant to philosophy. As always, I will present my principles and arguments while also noting possible objections and counters to my views. I am aware this is largely pointless from a practical standpoint; but it is a matter of ethics and professionalism. The first point of concern is the matter of profiting from family connections to people holding public office. I do agree with the obvious fact: Hunter Biden profited from being the son of Joe Biden because there was no other reason for the deal he received. Even if Joe Biden did not actively aid his son and even if this deal did not influence him, allowing this sort of exploitation of connections is morally problematic because it opens the door wide to corruption. I have also consistently argued that there should be robust laws with meaningful punishments to deter such corruption. If Biden was actively involved in this matter, then this would be one more moral mark against him to add to the stack. If he was not actively involved, then this would not be a mark against him personally—after all, a person is not morally accountable. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

Elisabeth Brauss at Wigmore Hall

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Of the recent streamed performances from Wigmore Hall, Elisabeth Brauss’s lunchtime concert of Beethoven (Op. 10 No. 3),  Mendelssohn (Variations sérieuses), and  Prokofiev (Piano Sonata No. 2) really stood out for me — and not just for me. Astonishingly good playing, without bombast or exaggeration. She is surely on the threshold of a stellar career. To be watched and re-watched. Enjoy! The post Elisabeth Brauss at Wigmore Hall appeared first on Logic Matters.

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News source: Logic Matters

“Do You Personally Know Anyone Who Died of COVID?”

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As the death toll from COVID-19 rose, people on social media started asking if anyone personally knew someone who had gotten COVID or died from it. I first thought people were either curious or concerned but then I noticed a correlation: people who asked this question tended to be COVID doubters. It was evident the question was often not a sincere inquiry but a rhetorical tactic and perhaps an attempt to bait people into fallacious reasoning. In this essay I will look at this sort of question as a rhetorical tool and as fallacy bait. This sort of question can be raised about things other than COVID, so the generic question would be “do you personally know anyone who X?” Used as rhetoric, the purpose is to garner either “no” responses or no responses. If this succeeds, it will tend to create the impression that X is rare or does not occur at all. It can also be used to create the impression that X is not serious. In the case of COVID, one goal is to create the impression that COVID is rare. Another goal is to create the impression that it is not that bad. Rhetoric is logically neutral in that it neither counts for nor against the truth of a claim. Its purpose is to influence people, and this is often aimed at making it easier to get them to accept or reject a claim. To use an analogy, rhetoric is like the flavoring or presentation of food: it makes it more (or less) appealing but has no effect on the nutritional value. As flavoring and presentation is compatible with serving nutritional food , rhetoric is compatible with serving plausible claims and good arguments. A person could use this rhetoric to influence their audience when they are making a true claim. For example, a person who wants to protect sharks might address worries about shark attacks by asking the audience if anyone has been attacked by a shark. They are hoping that no one will say “yes” and plan on using that to make the audience receptive to their dull statistics showing that shark attacks are. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

Walter Benjamin

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[Revised entry by Peter Osborne and Matthew Charles on October 14, 2020. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Walter Benjamin's importance as a philosopher and critical theorist can be gauged by the diversity of his intellectual influence and the continuing productivity of his thought. Primarily regarded as a literary critic and essayist, the philosophical basis of Benjamin's writings is increasingly acknowledged. They were a decisive influence upon Theodor W. Adorno's conception of philosophy's actuality or adequacy to the present (Adorno 1931). In the 1930s, Benjamin's efforts to develop a politically...

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News source: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

The Emotional Mind: A Control Theory of Affective States

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2020.10.11 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Tom Cochrane, The Emotional Mind: A Control Theory of Affective States, Cambridge University Press, 2019, 244pp., $99.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781108429672. Reviewed by Colin Klein, The Australian National University Tom Cochrane's book forges into the philosophy of emotion on a new and powerful vehicle: the idea of valent representations. His project is ambitious. Cochrane uses valent representations to give models of affect, pleasure and pain, emotion, moods, expressive behavior, social intentionality, norms, collective effervescence, inner speech, sentiments, personality, and character. Philosophers interested in any of these topics will find it a rich book, full of nuance and insight. Chapter 1 introduces the idea of valent representations. They are not necessarily the only primitive kind of mental content, says Cochrane, but they have a kind of content, and form the primitive foundation for other affective states. Valent representation is built around the idea of negative feedback loops. Detection of something in... Read More

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News source: Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews // News

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