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Towards a Polemical Ethics: Between Heidegger and Plato

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2021.10.01 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Gregory Fried, Towards a Polemical Ethics: Between Heidegger and Plato, Rowman and Littlefield, 2021, 294pp., $125.00 (hbk), ISBN 9781786610003. Reviewed by Robert Metcalf, University of Colorado Denver The title of Gregory Fried’s book led me to expect a study of the polemical character of ethical life, drawing on insights from both Plato and Heidegger—which makes sense, given that both thinkers have much to teach us about polemos and ‘the ethical.’ But in fact, the word, “towards,” in the title, points to something more interesting and more ambitious than what I had expected, for the book intends to lay out what the author describes as a “propaedeutic metaethics” in the precise sense of “establishing the grounds for the possibility of an ethical life, norms, and morality, as well as the customs, laws, and institutions needed to sustain such a life” (4). Such a project entails, among other things, a phenomenological account... Read More

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News source: Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews // News

Deficit & Dependency I: The Deficit Argument

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Progressives in congress are proposing a wide range of benefits for Americans, such as a universal pre-K program, childcare benefits for working families, expansions of the child tax credit and the earned income credit, free college and so on. While it is certainly reasonable to debate the merits of such proposals, many on the right (such as Fox News) have engaged in D&D. Not the roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons, but the Deficit argument and the Dependency argument. The deficit argument, which can also be categorized as the “it costs too much” argument, is that such programs will cost too much money, thus increasing the deficit. Since increasing the deficit is claimed to be harmful, then these programs should not be implemented. Cost-benefit arguments are certainly sensible if they are made in good faith. While some on the right are making this argument in good faith, many are not. While the philosophical problem of other minds shows that I cannot know the content of another’s mind (or even if they have one), a good general test for bad faith is the consistency test. If a person is making a good faith argument based on their professed concern about something, then they will have a similar concern about that thing in other situations as well. Naturally, there can be relevant differences that warrant not applying the same principle in other circumstances. In the case of the deficit argument, the test for bad faith is to see if those making the argument are consistently concerned about cost and the deficit. If so, then this can be reasonably taken as a good faith argument: they believe what they are arguing. If their concern is not consistent, then it is reasonable to suspect bad faith—although people can be inconsistent for other reasons, such as being unaware of the inconsistency. Looking back on the Trump presidency (and other Republican administrations), we can see that the right generally did not care about costs or deficits when it came to spending. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

Facebook: Profits over People

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I was shocked to learn that Facebook (allegedly) puts profits over people. Or I would have been if I knew nothing about Facebook or American capitalism. “Profits over people” is a core principle of how our economic system operates, right up there with “money talks.” While Facebook has weathered numerous controversies in the past, it might finally face serious consequences for its alleged misdeeds. In many ways, the testimony of Frances Haugen served to confirm views about the harms and dangers of Facebook and its associated products, such as Instagram. Most importantly, she provided a trove of Facebook documents to support her claims. Pushed into playing defense, Facebook has decided to borrow the playbook used by tobacco companies in response to analogous misdeeds, such as launching ad hominem attacks on  whistleblowers and critics . While the tobacco companies and Facebook obviously differ, there are some fundamental similarities. They both profit from products they know are dangerous, with the products often intentionally made more dangerous to boost profits. They also both aggressively target the youth, following an ancient strategy. Like tobacco products, Facebook seems even more harmful for young people, making this targeting even more morally reprehensible. But perhaps the tobacco company analogy will hold in other ways. After years of deceit, the tobacco industry eventually had something of a judgment day. Many governments began imposing or expanding their regulations, there were huge settlements, and a decline in smoking. Some predicted that the days of big tobacco were over. However, tobacco companies proved quite resilient. In 2001 American tobacco companies had $78 billion in revenues. In 2016 this was $177 billion. While cigarette sales are still declining, tobacco stocks have been performing extremely well. Given that Facebook has vast financial resources and an addictive product line, it should be able to do at least as well as the tobacco companies. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog


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[New Entry by Neil Dalal on October 4, 2021.] The classical Indian philosophy of Advaita Vedānta articulates a philosophical position of radical nondualism, a revisionary worldview which it derives from the ancient Upaniṣadic texts. According to Advaita Vedāntins, the Upaniṣads reveal a fundamental principle of nonduality termed "brahman," which is the reality of all things. Advaitins understand brahman as transcending individuality and empirical plurality. They seek to establish that the essential core of one's self...

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News source: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

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