Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Philosophical Approaches to Work and Labor

[New Entry by Michael Cholbi on January 11, 2022.] Work is a subject with a long philosophical pedigree. Some of the most influential philosophical systems devote considerable attention to questions concerning who should work, how they should work, and why. For example, in the ideally just city outlined in the Republic, Plato proposed a system of labor specialization, according to which individuals are assigned to one of three economic strata, based on their inborn abilities: the laboring or mercantile class, a class of auxiliaries charged with keeping the peace [More]

Economics in Early Modern Philosophy

[New Entry by Margaret Schabas on January 10, 2022.] Economic discourse of the early modern period offers an analysis of specific core phenomena: property, money, commerce, trade, public finance, population growth, and economic development, as well as investigations into economic inequality and distributive justice. Many of the leading early modern philosophers, from Nicholas Copernicus to Adam Smith, made significant contributions to economics. This list includes Jean Bodin, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, George Berkeley, Montesquieu, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, David Hume, Etienne [More]

2022-23 Fellows-in-Residence at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics - Applications Due November 15!

Job List:  Americas Name of institution:  Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University Town:  Cambridge Country:  USA Job Description:  The Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University invites applications from a broad range of researchers and practitioners who will work over the course of the year on pressing issues in ethics. Faculty in arts and sciences and professional schools, postdoctoral scholars, practitioners, and researchers from industry, government, and NGOs are eligible to [More]

Longtermism Contra Schwitzgebel

In 'Against Longtermism', Eric Schwitzgebel writes: "I accept much of Ord's practical advice. I object only to justifying this caution by appeal to expectations about events a million years from now."  He offers four objections, which are interesting and well worth considering, but I think ultimately unpersuasive.  Let's consider them in turn.(1) There's no chance humanity will survive long-term:All or most or at least many future generations with technological capabilities matching or exceeding our own will face substantial existential risk -- perhaps 1/100 per century or more. If so, that risk will eventually catch up with us. Humanity can't survive existential risks of 1/100 per century for a million years.If this reasoning is correct, it's very unlikely that there will be a million-plus year future for humanity that is worth worrying about and sacrificing for.This seems excessively pessimistic.  Granted, there's certainly some risk that we will never acquire resilience against x-risk.  But it's hardly certain.  Two possible routes to resilience include: (i) fragmentation, e.g. via interstellar diaspora, so that different pockets of humanity could be expected to escape any given threat; or (ii) universal surveillance and control, e.g. via a "friendly AI" with effectively god-like powers relative to humans, to prevent us from doing grave harm.Maybe there are other possibilities.  At any rate, I think it's clear that we should not be too [More]

Personhood in Classical Indian Philosophy

[New Entry by Monima Chadha on January 3, 2022.] Selves and persons are often used as synonyms in contemporary philosophy, and sometimes also in the history of Western philosophy. This is almost never the case in classical Indian philosophical traditions. The Sanskrit term 'ātman' properly translated as self stands for whatever it is that is the essence of individual humans (manuṣya) or the psychophysical complex (pudgala) which includes the mind, body and sense organs. There is disagreement among the [More]

2021 in review

[Past annual reviews: 2020, 2019 & '18, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, and 2004.]Off the blog:The biggest development for me was joining utilitarianism.net as lead editor.  I then completed their chapters on population ethics and theories of well-being, and wrote a new chapter outlining some basic arguments for utilitarianism.  More to come soon!For more traditional academic publications:* Parfit's Ethics appeared in print with Cambridge University Press. (Summary here.)* 'Pandemic Ethics and Status Quo Risk' (summarized here) was accepted by Public Health Ethics.* 'Negative Utility Monsters' was published in Utilitas.I'm also pretty excited about various works-in-progress that are currently under review, especially my new paradox of deontology...Blog posts:Normative Ethics* The Cost of Contraints -- sets out the core of my "new paradox of deontology".  Further developed in Preferring to Act Wrongly, Why Constraints are Agent Neutral, and Discounting Illicit Benefits.* The Most Important Thing in the World -- is plausibly the trajectory of the long-term future.* The Paralysis of Deontology* Three Dogmas of Utilitarianism -- (i) Confusing value with what's valuable; (ii) Neglecting fittingness; and (iii) Treating all interests as innocent.* Agency as a [More]