Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Conspiracy Theories & Not Reading it Right

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The American right is now largely defined by various debunked conspiracy theories such as the big lie about the 2020 election and, of course, those involving all things COVID. While some conspiracy theories are intentionally manufactured by those who know they are untrue (such as the 2020 election conspiracy theories) it does seem possible that other theories get their start by people simply being bad at reading things correctly. For example, consider the claim that there are microchips in the COVID vaccines because of Bill Gates. The Verge does a step-by-step analysis of how this conspiracy theory evolved, which is an excellent example of how such conspiracy claims can arise, mutate, and propagate. The simple version is this: in a chat on Reddit, Gates predicted that people would have a digital “passport” of their health records. Some Americans who attended K-12 public schools have already used a paper version of this; my old report card envelope from my elementary school has my relevant health records in it. The idea of tattoos to mark people who had been vaccinated has also been suggested—as a solution to the problem of medical records in places where record keeping is spotty or non-existent. Bill Gate’s prediction was picked up by a Swedish website focused on biohacking and they put forth the idea of using an implanted chip to store this information. This is not a new idea for biohackers or science fiction, but it was not Gate’s idea. However, the site used the untrue headline, “Bill Gates will use microchip implants to fight coronavirus.” As should surprise no one, this led to my adopted state of Florida. Pastor Adam Fannin of Jacksonville read the post and uploaded a video to YouTube. The title is “Bill Gates – Microchip Vaccine Implants to fight Coronavirus,” which is an additional untruth on top of the untrue headline from the Swedish site. This idea spread quickly until it reached Roger Stone. The New York Post ran the headline “Roger Stone: Bill Gates may. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

Abortion, Women & the Right

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For years, the right has been passing anti-choice laws in the hope they will end up in the Supreme Court and lead to the overturning of Roe v Wade. Alabama passed such a law. More recently, Texas passed a diabolically clever law crafted to effectively ban abortion . My adopted plague land state of Florida has also jumped on board, introducing a similar bill. While purporting to be motivated by pro-life (or at least anti-death) principles, these laws and bills are fundamentally misogynistic. They have three fundamental functions. The first is to appease a key portion of the base; the right has been promising their anti-choice wing that they will ban abortion for decades. Now they find themselves in a position where they both need to and can make good on this promise. Second, couched in pro-life language, these laws provide excellent dog whistles for misogynists. The male misogynists generally understand that the message being sent to them is: “Your baby in her body. Her body in your kitchen. Making you a sandwich to put in your body.” More generally, the laws say to the misogynists in the base “we are misogynists like you, and we will put women in their proper place.”  Naturally, to make these claims is to seem crazy in the eyes of the “normies” who do not have the inclination to peer beneath the surface of the debate. Third, the laws actual codify misogyny by harming women. To be fair, I can add a fourth reason that brings in the Democrats: the abortion debate was something of a battlefield of deceit in which the Republicans falsely claim to be pro-life (or at least anti-death) and the mainstream Democrats agree to fight the battle on this assumption. Their rhetoric is that they are pro-choice and they do not seem inclined to get into a substantial and complex fight over the core ethical and political issues. That is, of course, broadly true across what was mainstream politics: politicians mouthing their fighting words while most of them struggle to keep the status. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

The Practical Origins of Ideas: Genealogy as Conceptual Reverse-Engineering

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2021.09.06 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Matthieu Queloz, The Practical Origins of Ideas: Genealogy as Conceptual Reverse-Engineering, Oxford University Press, 2021, 304pp., $85.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780198868705. Reviewed by P J E Kail, University of Oxford If one heard the word ‘genealogy’ in an Anglo-American philosophical context some 25 years ago, one’s thoughts would have tended to turn to Nietzsche, Foucault, and, perhaps, Alasdair Macintyre, together with notions like ‘subversion’ or ‘debunking’, and all would be coloured in a slightly ‘continental’, and thus marginal, tint. These days, however, genealogy—or rather particular interpretations of the term—has come to the fore in the Anglo-American mainstream. This is due, in no small measure, to Bernard Williams’s 2002 Truth and Truthfulness: An Essay in Genealogy. Matthieu Queloz’s book is heavily influenced by Williams. It comprises the following. First, there are three chapters articulating the conception of genealogy with which Queloz operates. Second, there are two exegetical chapters, one on Hume, one... Read More

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News source: Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews // News

The Metaphysics of the Material World: Suárez, Descartes, Spinoza

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2021.09.05 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Tad M. Schmaltz, The Metaphysics of the Material World: Suárez, Descartes, Spinoza, Oxford University Press, 2020, 291pp., $90.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780190070229. Reviewed by Alison Peterman, University of Rochester Tad M. Schmaltz’s incredibly rich new book is about “the most monstrous hypothesis that could be imagined, the most absurd, the most diametrically opposed to the most evident notions of our mind”—at least, according to Pierre Bayle. The source of Bayle’s scandalization is Spinoza’s claim that God is the only substance and creatures are modifications of it, which Bayle attempts to refute in “Spinoza”, the longest entry in his widely read Dictionnaire Historique et Critique. But Schmaltz’s interest is not with some isolated philosophical beef, or even just with Spinozism’s monstrous absurdities, for Bayle diagnoses Spinoza’s chief absurdity as his (alleged) claim that finite bodies are both modes and parts of the physical world, and interprets Spinoza’s modal and mereological metaphysics in light... Read More

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News source: Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews // News

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