Philosophy

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 »

Capitalism isn’t an ideology — it’s an operating system

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Bhu Srinivasan researches the intersection of capitalism and technological progress. Today’s TED Talk Instead of thinking about capitalism as a firm, unchanging ideology, he suggests that we should think of it as an operating system — one that needs upgrades to keep up with innovation, like the impending take-off of drone delivery services. Learn more about the past and future of the free market (and a potential coming identity crisis for the United States’ version of capitalism) with this quick, ... Read More »

Emotional intelligence: What it is and why you need it

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When emotional intelligence first appeared to the masses, it served as the missing link in a peculiar finding: people with average IQs outperform those with the highest IQs 70% of the time. Travis Bradberry World Economic Forum This anomaly threw a massive wrench into what many people had always assumed was the sole source of success—IQ. Decades of research now point to emotional intelligence as the critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest of the pack. Emotional ... Read More »

Essays On Air: Journeys to the underworld – Greek myth, film and American anxiety

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A central convention of Greek mythological narratives is katabasis, the hero’s journey to the underworld or land of the dead – and it’s a theme modern directors return to again and again. Sunanda Creagh Paul Salmond The Conversation That’s what we’re exploring today on our first episode of Essays On Air, a new podcast from The Conversation. It’s the audio version of our Friday essays, where we bring you the best and most beautiful writing from Australian researchers. In this ... Read More »

Aristotle’s Timeless Advice on What Real Friendship Is and Why It Matters

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At age 17, Aristotle enrolled in the Platonic Academy. Zat Rana He would stay there for 20 years. Personal Growth – Medium Founded by the father of Western philosophy, the Greek philosopher Plato, Aristotle was the most promising student around. He asked many questions and answered even more. The exact time of his departure from The Academy is disputed, but it’s said that he left soon after Plato died due to his dislike of the direction that it subsequently took. ... Read More »

When should you unfriend someone on Facebook?

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The nature and ethics of “fake news” has become a subject of widespread concern. Alexis Elder The Conversation But, for many of us, the issue is much more personal: What are we to do when a cranky uncle or an otherwise pleasant old friend persists in populating our news feeds with a stream of posts that can run deeply contrary to our own values? One option is to unfriend people who share material that conflicts with our values. But a ... Read More »

The Cyprus problem, Turkey and Socrates on justice

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In Book 1, of Plato’s famous dialogue The Republic, Thrasymachus, one of Socrates’ interlocutors, states that justice is that which serves the interests of the strongest so that what is right is always determined by might. <style type=”text/css”> .wpb_animate_when_almost_visible { opacity: 1; }</style> Dr Edward H Spence * Cyprus Mail Socrates refutes Thrasymachus’ notion of justice by simply arguing that justice as a virtue cannot be what serves the interests of the strongest as those interests might result in vice ... Read More »