Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

90 - The Future of Identity

What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be you? Philosophers, psychologists and sociologists all seem to agree that your identity is central to how you think of yourself and how you engage with others. But how are emerging technologies changing how we enact and constitute our identities? That's the subject matter of this podcast with Tracey Follows. Tracy is a professional futurist. She runs a consultancy firm called Futuremade. She is a regular writer and speaker on futurism. She has appeared on the BBC and is a contributing columnist with Forbes. She is also a member of the Association of Professional Futuriss and the World Futures Studies Federation. We talk about her book The Future of You: Can your identity survive the 21st Century?You can download the podcast here or listen below. You can also subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify and other podcasting services (the RSS feed is here).  Show NotesTopics covered in this episode include:The nature of identityThe link between technology and identityIs technology giving us more creative control over identity?Does technology encourage more conformity and groupthink?Is our identity being fragmented by technology?Who controls the technology of identity formation?How should we govern the technology of identity formation in the future?Relevant LinksThe Future of You by TraceyTracey on TwitterTracey at ForbesFuturemade consultancyTracey's talk to the London Futurists [More]

'Risky Research' Redux

I'm looking forward to participating in 1DaySooner's Zoom panel discussion on 'What is the Upper Limit of Risk in Clinical Trials?' next week (May 4th, @6pm ET) -- you can register here if you're interested in attending.My basic view is that there is no absolute upper limit: given informed consent, the risk just needs to be proportionate, i.e. outweighed by the social value of the information gained from the research.Indeed, this strikes me as entirely straightforward.  There are two key values that public policy should be guided by: beneficence (promoting the overall good) and autonomy (respecting individuals' choices about their own lives).  Conflicts between the two values can be morally tricky.  But if both of these values point in the same direction, as they do in the case of valuable research involving willing volunteers, then it really should be a no-brainer.  There's just no good reason to engage in anti-beneficent paternalism.  So: let's please stop doing that!I think that's the simplest case for "risky research".  In my paper with Peter Singer, we additionally proposed a principle of risk parity according to which, "if it is permissible to expose some members of society (e.g. health workers or the economically vulnerable) to a certain level of ex ante risk in order to minimize overall harm from the virus, then it is permissible to expose fully informed volunteers to a comparable level of risk in the context of promising research [More]


[Revised entry by Stefan Gosepath on April 26, 2021. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] This article is concerned with social and political equality. In its prescriptive usage, 'equality' is a highly contested concept. Its normally positive connotation gives it a rhetorical power suitable for use in political slogans (Westen 1990). At least since the French Revolution, equality has served as one of the leading ideals of the body politic; in this respect, it is at present probably the most controversial of the great social ideals. There is controversy concerning the precise notion of equality, the relation [More]

D.C. Statehood

With the Democrats just barely controlling the House, they passed a bill aimed at granting D.C. statehood. This bill now goes to the Senate where it will, one assumes, be filibustered. This matter raises the question of whether D.C. should become a state. From a pragmatic standpoint, Republicans generally oppose D.C. statehood because making D.C. [More]

Spinoza’s Physical Theory

[Revised entry by Richard Manning on April 24, 2021. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] Spinoza's thought stands at an uneasy and volatile period in the development of physical theory. His physical science is largely Cartesian, both in content and rationalistic method. It is harshly dismissive of the "occult qualities, intentional species, substantial forms, and a thousand other trifles" (letter 60, to Boxel) of pre-revolutionary scholastic natural philosophy. It is likewise antagonistic to the new Baconian experimentalism, holding that empirical findings can at best present examples of what [More]

Evolutionary Game Theory

[Revised entry by J. McKenzie Alexander on April 24, 2021. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] Evolutionary game theory originated as an application of the mathematical theory of games to biological contexts, arising from the realization that frequency dependent fitness introduces a strategic aspect to evolution. Recently, however, evolutionary game theory has become of increased interest to economists, sociologists, and anthropologists--and social scientists in general--as well as philosophers. The interest among social scientists in a theory with explicit biological roots derives from three facts. First, [More]