Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity

2020.08.02 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Toby Ord, The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity, Hachette, 2020, 480pp., $18.99 (pbk), ISBN 9780316484923. Reviewed by Theron Pummer, University of St Andrews In this timely book, Toby Ord argues that there is a one in six chance that humanity will suffer an existential catastrophe within the next 100 years, and that minimizing this risk should be a major global priority. We live in an age of heightened existential risk, due to such powerful technologies as nuclear weapons, biotechnology, and artificial intelligence. Ord calls this age "the Precipice." It is an unsustainable time: humanity cannot carry on playing Russian roulette. Unless we soon achieve a much higher level of existential safety, we will destroy ourselves. The book offers an engaging and empirically-grounded synoptic view of humanity's past, present, and future, and of the risks threatening to cause that future to be far worse than it could be. Do... Read [More]

Vote by Mail: The Trump Problems

Americans have been voting by mail since the Civil War and it was growing in popularity even before the pandemic. While the risk of infection for in-person voting is low if precautions are taken, poll workers do face significant risk because of repeated (hopefully) low-risk exposures. But why take needless risk when vote by mail [More]

The Belcea Quartet play Beethoven

There will more logic news about the Gödel book (becoming available as an inexpensive print-on-demand book), about Gödel Without Tears, and also about IFL2 (and IFL3!)  before the end of the month. Meanwhile, here are the Belcea Quartet, playing the first … Continue reading → The post The Belcea Quartet play Beethoven appeared first on Logic [More]

Decision-Making Capacity

[Revised entry by Louis C. Charland and Jennifer Hawkins on August 14, 2020. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] In many Western jurisdictions the law presumes that adult persons, and sometimes children that meet certain criteria, are capable of making their own medical decisions; for example, consenting to a particular medical treatment, or consenting to participate in a research trial. But what exactly does it mean to say that a subject has or lacks the requisite capacity to decide? This question has to do with what is commonly called "decisional capacity", a central concept in health care law and ethics, and increasingly an independent [More]