Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Virtual Reality and the Meaning of Life

Here's a new draft paper. This one is about whether it is possible to live a meaningful life in virtual reality. It is set to appear in the Oxford Handbook on Meaning in Life, which is edited by Iddo Landau. I'm not sure when this book will be published, but you can access a final draft version of the chapter at the links provided below.Title: Virtual Reality and the Meaning of LifeLinks: Philpapers; Researchgate; AcademiaAbstract: It is commonly assumed that a virtual life would be less meaningful (perhaps even meaningless). As virtual reality technologies develop and become more integrated into our everyday lives, this poses a challenge for those that care about meaning in life. In this chapter, it is argued that the common assumption about meaninglessness and virtuality is mistaken. After clarifying the distinction between two different visions of virtual reality, four arguments are presented for thinking that meaning is possible in virtual reality. Following this, four objections are discussed and rebutted. The chapter concludes that we can be cautiously optimistic about the possibility of meaning in virtual worlds.  #mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; } /* Add your own MailChimp form style overrides in your site stylesheet or in this style block. We recommend moving this block and the preceding CSS link to the HEAD of your HTML file. */ Subscribe to the [More]

Florida: Recording Professors

As this is being written, a Republican bill has been passed in Florida that would allow students to record lectures without the professors’ consent. The bill also encourages students to report lectures they think are stifling “viewpoint diversity” on campuses. Republicans have claimed that this bill is intended as protection against “Marxist professors and students.” [More]

Infinity

[New Entry by Graham Oppy, Alan Hájek, Kenny Easwaran, and Paolo Mancosu on April 29, 2021.] Infinity is a big topic. Most people have some conception of things that have no bound, no boundary, no limit, no end. The rigorous study of infinity began in mathematics and philosophy, but the engagement with infinity traverses the history of cosmology, astronomy, physics, and theology. In the natural and social sciences, the infinite sometimes appears as a consequence of our theories themselves (Barrow 2006, Luminet and Lachieze-Rey 2005) or in the modelling of the relevant phenomena (Fletcher et al. [More]

A quick question about animal ethics. Presumably, the philosopher who responds

Animals Ethics Read another response about Animals, EthicsShare A quick question about animal ethics. Presumably, the philosopher who responds to this would agree that if we were currently doing to humans what we do to animals in our food systems—that is, breeding and slaughtering them by the billions every year, not out of nutritional necessity, but for the sake of taste pleasure—that would be immoral. (I sure hope so!) So the question is: What is the trait absent in nonhuman animals that, if also absent in humans, would justify breeding and slaughtering humans by the billions for something as trivial as taste pleasure? The knee-jerk justification today’s nonvegans would give is that, relative to humans, animals have diminished mental capacities, and that mass confinement and slaughter is therefore acceptable. But surely intelligence can’t be the trait, because the same nonvegans would never dream of arguing that it’s okay to confine and slaughter a human being (let alone billions of them) just because he has a level of intelligence equivalent to that of a pig or cow. Neither can the missing trait be the ability to experience physical pain or psychological suffering, both of which, according to scientists like Jane Goodall, animals like cows, pigs, chickens (and yes, even fish!) evolved to do. So what is the trait? Or what are the traits? (Full disclosure: I do not believe the trait or group of traits [More]

Was Spinoza a populist? [Long read]

Recent studies of Spinoza’s political theory in a contemporary perspective often place it in one of two categories, depicting him either as a defender of individual free speech and liberal democracy or as a champion of radical democracy and collective popular power. For some, he is something like a liberal supporter of the equal individual rights of all citizens to express whatever is on their mind, an early defender of “free speech.” The post Was Spinoza a populist? [Long read] appeared first on OUPblog.        Related StoriesThe coming refugee crisis: how COVID-19 exacerbates forced displacementWhat if COVID-19 had emerged in 1719?Can skepticism and curiosity get along? Benjamin Franklin shows they can [More]

Beef with Biden

Fox News and some others on the right recently pushed the false claim that Biden intends to limit American meat consumption. The truth of the matter is that the Daily Mail baselessly linked an academic study to Biden. This study did an analysis of the possible impact of a hypothetical reduction in meat consumption by [More]