Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

In Our Best Interest: A Defense of Paternalism

2019.05.12 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Jason Hanna, In Our Best Interest: A Defense of Paternalism, Oxford University Press, 2018, 271pp., $74.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780190877132. Reviewed by Andrew I. Cohen, Georgia State University Liberals typically treat freedom as a fundamental value in political morality. They then often argue that paternalism is an unjustified restriction on liberty. Paternalism is interference with a person's choices against or without her endorsement in order to protect her from harm. Liberal critics sometimes object to paternalism because it gives power over our choices to persons who seldom deserve it, often abuse it, and rarely apply it correctly. Even if paternalism can be effective, liberal critics often complain it disrespects us as persons. It infantilizes by usurping a person's authority over her life and denying her the opportunity to be a full arbiter of her destiny. On Jason Hanna's account, such complaints about paternalism... Read [More]

Old Age and Decline: Some Philosophical Reflections

The Four Ages of Man - Nicolas LancretThere’s an oft-repeated ‘fact’ thrown around in debates about retirement and old age. The details can vary but it’s something to the effect that when the pension entitlement age was set at 65 in the early part of the 20th century, very few people could expect to collect it, and those that did could only expect to collect for a few years (probably no more than 5). This was because life expectancy was so much lower back then. Hence setting pension entitlement at 65 was a relatively low cost gesture for the government. But what was low cost back then has turned into a major expenditure today, now that people are living so much longer and life expectancy has shot up. Whereas most people could only expect to live to their early 60s in the early 1900s, nowadays the majority can expect to live into their late 70s/early 80s. This places considerable strain on public finances and means more people are spending more of their lives in a ‘retired’ and ‘non-productive’ (from an economic/tax-paying perspective) state.Having done some digging, it turns out this fact is not quite true. While it is true that life expectancy was much lower back then, that was mainly due to high infant and early adult mortality (due to infectious disease and war). If you cleared those early-life hurdles, and made it all the way to 65, you could expect to live a good bit longer, upwards of 13 years in fact (more if you were a woman). That post-65 life expectancy has gone [More]

Socially Extended Epistemology

2019.05.11 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews J. Adam Carter, Andy Clark, Jesper Kallestrup, S. Orestis Palermos, and Duncan Pritchard (eds.), Socially Extended Epistemology, Oxford University Press, 2018, 318pp., $65.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780198801764. Reviewed by Joseph Shieber, Lafayette College I know the way from my house in the suburbs of Philadelphia to Carnegie Hall in New York City. Okay, yes: practice (very amusing). The more promising route for me, however, is the one encoded in the GPS-enabled maps app included on my cell phone. I also know that the Seleucid Empire once stretched roughly from what is now present-day Turkey to Pakistan and Turkmenistan. I know that because I read it . . . somewhere, although I no longer recall where. If you're like me, you know information like those little tidbits not because of information stored "inside your head" -- or at least not solely because of the information stored there -- but... Read [More]