Philosophy

What philosophers have to say about eating meat

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WeWork, a co-working and office space company, recently made a company policy not to serve or reimburse meals that include meat. Joan McGregor The Conversation WeWork’s co-founder and chief culture officer, Miguel McKelvey, said in an email that it was the company’s attempt at reducing its carbon footprint. His moral arguments are based on the devastating environmental effects of meat consumption. Research has shown that meat and dairy production are among the worst culprits when it comes to the production ... Read More »

What makes a good friend?

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Good friendships seem worth celebrating. But for many of us, tensions can appear from time to time between being a good friend and doing “the right thing.” Alexis Elder The Conversation When faced with, for example, a situation where it’s tempting to lie to cover for a friend, it can seem as though friendship and morality are on a collision course. I am an ethicist who works on issues involving friendship, so this tension is of great interest to me. ... Read More »

How a moral philosopher justifies his carbon footprint

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I recently flew to Florida to visit family. My round-trip economy seat emitted roughly two tonnes of carbon dioxide, according to one carbon offsetting website. Luke Elson The Conversation By contrast, the average person in Britain is responsible for roughly seven tonnes for the entire year, already quite high by global standards. This makes me a climate change villain. Dumping such huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere seems clearly morally wrong, because of the harm this will cause others. ... Read More »

America is in the middle of a battle over the meaning of words like ‘diversity’

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You might think that the culture war over race and immigration primarily transpires in dramatic events, like the woman who climbed the Statue of Liberty to protest Trump’s child detention policy or the events in Charlottesville last summer. Jennifer Mercieca The Conversation But it also exists in the banal and everyday ways that we communicate. It involves battles over the dominant meaning of words, and how we use those words to describe our values and construct our policies. For example, ... Read More »

It’s impossible to lead a totally ethical life—but it’s fun to try

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You want to do the right thing. But in a world where it often seems impossible to eat, shop, drive, travel, or pretty much do anything without causing some measure of harm to others and the planet, leading an… Ephrat Livni Quartz It’s true that practically everything we do in life has ethical repercussions. “Any decision that has an impact on others now or in the future is an ethical choice,” explains ethicist Christopher Gilbert, author of the new book ... Read More »

Abortion and the human person

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The fall of Christendom and the rise of secularism has profound consequences for our understanding of the human person. Peter Sellick OnLineOpinion The latter would have it that humanity is but a species among species. This is so because nature is taken as the primary source of our being. Evolutionary theory and the discovery that we share a large amount of our DNA with other species underlines the point. Human beings are biological. The other view of humanity is that, ... Read More »

In praise of doing nothing

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In the 1950s, scholars worried that, thanks to technological innovations, Americans wouldn’t know what to do with all of their leisure time. Simon Gottschalk The Conversation Yet today, as sociologist Juliet Schor notes, Americans are overworked, putting in more hours than at any time since the Depression and more than in any other in Western society. It’s probably not unrelated to the fact that instant and constant access has become de rigueur, and our devices constantly expose us to a ... Read More »

Why bullshit hurts democracy more than lies

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Since the inauguration of Donald Trump as president, members of his administration have made many statements best described as misleading. Michael Blake The Conversation During the administration’s first week, then-press secretary Sean Spicer claimed that Trump’s inauguration was the most well attended ever. More recently, Scott Pruitt claimed falsely to have received death threats as a result of his tenure at the Environmental Protection Agency. President Trump himself has frequently been accused of telling falsehoods – including, on the campaign ... Read More »

Embracing multicultural voices can lead to a more democratic future

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One of the great moral challenges of our time is the rising tide of inequality in liberal democracies around the world. Duncan Ivison The Conversation This includes Australia, where both income and wealth inequality are increasing, especially the latter. There are arguments about the rise of China and other authoritarian regimes threatening the viability of liberal democracy. But a deeper problem is the persistent inability of liberal democracies to live up to their own moral promise. That promise is one ... Read More »

We need to rethink our moral obligations to create a better world

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Our collective overuse and misuse of antibiotics is accelerating resistance to these universal drugs, leaving people increasingly vulnerable to infections that can no longer be treated. Anne Schwenkenbecher The Conversation This applies not only to the use of antibiotics in human medicine, but also in animal industries. Antibiotic resistance is an example of a collective action problem. These are problems where what is individually rational leads to a collectively undesirable outcome. Small things that many of us do, often on ... Read More »

Why virtual reality cannot match the real thing

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Suppose you were offered the opportunity to hook yourself up to a machine that would give you all the experiences you desire. Janna Thompson The Conversation Using this technology you could have the sensations of climbing Mt Everest, enjoying great sex with a good looking partner or visiting the Taj Mahal. The philosopher Robert Nozick used the idea of an “experience machine” to refute the view that good experiences are all we want from life. He thought that most of ... Read More »

The greatest moral challenge of our time? It’s how we think about morality itself

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It would be easy to conclude that there’s a deficit of morality in the world today That if only people were more motivated to behave ethically, if only they made morality more prominent in their thinking, then the world would be a better place. Tim Dean The Conversation But when it comes to pinning down a single greatest moral challenge of our time, I’d argue that there’s not a lack of morality in the world; there’s too much. In fact, ... Read More »

A Guide to Let Go of Your Perfectly Good Things

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Finding our lives under everything we own is more than clearing away just junk. Often it requires removing good quality things. Note: This is a guest post from Zoë Kim of Raising Simple. BecomingMinimalist Expensive things. Useful things. Admired things. Fancy things. It means letting go of perfectly good stuff in order to pursue something more meaningful. I began de-owning my excess six years ago. My husband deployed frequently and we had two children under five. I was spending more time doing something with our stuff ... Read More »

Should you send a text or email? Here’s some advice from Aristotle

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Suppose you want to get in touch with a friend. Once, your options for doing so might have been sparse: pick up the phone or write a letter. Alexis Elder The Conversation But these days, you have to decide: Should you call or text, use Snapchat, or reach out on Twitter, Messenger or Skype? Other considerations, whether it’s an old friend or new acquaintance, or whether you’re asking a favor or checking in, as well as your own conversational tendencies ... Read More »

What today’s anti-immigrant populists could learn from Homer about kindness to strangers

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Troy, a new BBC adaptation of Homer’s Iliad, shows the enduring interest we have in Ancient Greek myths. Aleardo Zanghellini The Conversation Today, Homer’s epic works remain both politically and ethically relevant. The Greek poet’s insight into why law and legality matter is particularly enlightening in the context of contemporary debates about immigration, which loom large amid the rise of right-wing populism on both sides of the Atlantic. Those who object to immigration and demonise immigrants argue that the West’s ... Read More »

Mark Cuban says studying philosophy may soon be worth more than computer science—here’s why

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According to billionaire technology entrepreneur Mark Cuban, earning a college degree in computer science might not be the safe investment you think it is. Ali Montag CNBC Today, students who study computer science have a high likelihood of scoring a lucrative job: Glassdoor determined computer science and engineering to be the number one highest-paying major to study in 2017. Meanwhile, students of liberal arts subjects often make far less. But Cuban, also an investor on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” expects that to change. “I’m going to ... Read More »