What Philosophers Aren’t Talking About, But Should (Updated)


Occasionally a comment makes its way onto Daily Nous, or into the Daily Nous inbox, along the following lines: “I find it strange that no one seems to be discussing some important topic or defending some important thesis, T. Is it because the majority of philosophers, P, find T philosophically uninteresting? Or is the moderator censoring T? Or is it because P is too scared to talk about T because of the prevailing ideologies in academia or political correctness? If the first, they’re wrong; if the second, then shame on the moderator; and if the third, well, that’s very troubling.”

This comment asserts the importance or plausibility of T, and attributes lack of attention to or belief in it by P to either thoughtlessness or oppressive peer pressure. Since no one is in favor of thoughtlessness or rampant censorship or oppressive peer pressure, the comment may elicit in readers an involuntary (perhaps subconscious) increase in their assessment of T’s credence. It does so without providing any substantive support for T or for the accusations against P. And now that T seems more important or more plausible than earlier, maybe there’s something to this idea of P being a stupid conformist blob, after all. And in fact, the point of the comment seems to be to criticize P, using T.

What’s the name for this clever and tiresome rhetorical move?

Perhaps the most common example of this here on DN has been in regards to differential marriage rights (the state denying to same-sex couples the marriage rights it offers to different-sex couples), where T is some not entirely implausible defense of differential marriage rights. “Why don’t you have anyone on your blog defending T?” “I find it troubling that no one who supports T was included in this post.” “The lack of any consideration of T shows that P is completely biased.” “It is too bad people are too scared to defend T.”

Almost invariably, these complaints are never themselves accompanied by a defense of T.

So here’s a public service announcement: Your complaining that people are not discussing or defending some idea is not to discuss or defend that idea. So, by your own lights, you are part of the problem.

Instead of complaints, much better would be a substantive treatment of T. You are disappointed that no one is having philosophical discussions about T? Please send in your discussion of its philosophical importance or interest as a guest post. You are disappointed that no one is defending some philosophical thesis? Please send in your defense of it. You will have a much better chance of getting it, rather than a mere complaint, posted here.

More recently, someone emailed in proposed post claiming that philosophers were ignoring terrorism—particularly terrorism committed in the name of Islam, or by Muslims. It was suggested that either philosophers have nothing interesting to say about terrorism by Muslims, or people are just too worried about how politically incorrect it is to say anything that might be construed as bad about Islam.

Well hold on a minute. Are philosophers ignoring terrorism by Muslims? Here are thirteen philosophical essays at The Critique, from last year, on “some of the pressing philosophical problems emerging from the… Gaza, ISIS and The Ukraine. Here’s a post on the ethics of bombing ISIS at the Ethical War Blog. Here, still warm in the Heap of Links, is Gary Gutting’s NYT column on religion and violence. And here’s a brand new interesting-sounding book on the aesthetics of terrorism and human tragedy. I’m sure there’s more, but that’s what a few minutes of internet searching got me.

Is there more to be said on this topic? Sure. And maybe at some point in the future there will be an installment in the Philosophers On series on terrorism. (I’m not sure terrorism by Muslims is more philosophically interesting than terrorism by, say, Christians, or philosophically interesting in a way that’s distinct from how terrorism by Christians might be philosophically interesting, so I probably won’t restrict the topic to the terrorism associated with a particular religion.) If that’s something you’re interested in participating in, shoot me an email. Additionally, if you have other topics in mind for that series, or other ideas for posts, feel free to let me know.

But please, spare me the emails in which you merely complain that there is some kind of conspiracy of cluelessness, clampdowns, or cowardice keeping people from talking about your topic of the day.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system—yes, a complaint about complaints, no thank you I don’t need a ride I’ve brought my own petard—I’m opening up the comments here so that readers can propose their candidates for topics they think philosophers are ignoring but shouldn’t. It would be convenient if you limit yourself to one-topic-per-comment (though you can make as many suggestions as you like). If you happen to know relevant discussions or work on a topic that’s listed in a comment, please post a reply with a link to it or information about it. Thanks.

UPDATE (8/10/16): Inspired by the heated exchanges in the comments, Oxford University is hiring a research fellow to work on “global terrorism and collective moral responsibility.” OK, that’s not true. I mean the part about Oxford being inspired by the discussion here. But it’s totally true that they’re hiring someone to work on terrorism. From the ad:

Applications are invited for a full-time Research Fellow in Philosophy to conduct research and related activities for the ERC Advanced Grant Research Project Global Terrorism and Collective Moral Responsibility:Redesigning Military, Police and Intelligence Institutions in Liberal Democracies (the ‘Project’) under the supervision and direction of Professor Seumas Miller (Principal Investigator). The Fellow will conduct research at the interface between the international laws and moral principles pertaining to counter-terrorism.

As the reader who alerted me to this ad sort of said, “maybe those making the comments could channel their energies into applying for this job.”

 

see hear speak no evil owls crop

 

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fluke
fluke
4 years ago

I always think I have this long list of my mind of these topics and then I see this invitation and draw a blank. But there are always new ones.

The thing that struck me today. Peace. I realize some talk about it but it’s not a hot topic in international ethics or anywhere else.

There could be a perfectly legitimate reason for the shortage of work on peace–but my guess is that it is one of those topics that becomes much more interesting when you start to think about it for a bit. Report

Doc F Emeritus
Doc F Emeritus
4 years ago

It depends on where philosophers are commenting on things. If in professional journals, OK, but that does not mean they are commenting to the general public (obviously). I think philosophers do have a duty to comment in public fora, from letters to the editor, newspapers’ on-line comment pages, local news programs (such as community access pages on cable) or tv (if one is lucky enough to be called upon). Other sources to reach the public are available if we want to try to find them and open issues to input from philosophers.

Having been an APA member for many long years, I remember any number of times the APA urged philosophers to engage in public discourse (public philosophy). It hasn’t seemed to me (and maybe I have a limited perspective or scope) that this has happened. Quickly, think of and name the philosopher you have recently heard speak out on an issue on your cable, radio, newspaper, on-line sites, and then on what issue? Tweets, etc…, may exist but the general public does not monitor philosophers’ tweets. Seriously, we haven’t engaged the general public and need to, since that same public thinks philosophers are a bit weird or have never even thought of philosophy at all. That ought to change. Sure a few biggies get called by NPR or whoever, and offer their opinions, but this is a drop in the bucket (praise to Caplan and others in applied ethics who have been heard on NPR, etc., just need more from the rest of us).

Topics philosophers should address? Well, philosophy addresses most any importatn topic related to living as a human being, doing good, etc… So, hard to say anything is OFF limits. But, and subjective personal opinion only, here are my topics: the treatment of Native Americans and their relations to the government; terrorism, of course; the ethics of policing and relations to the community; advancing the acceptance of science as a source of knowledge as opposed to blind faith from whatever religious perspective; defense of free speech and the value of being a “gadfly”.

Report

Hey Nonny Mouse
Hey Nonny Mouse
Reply to  Doc F Emeritus
4 years ago

I would like to note that there is little recognition or support for the very popular series of books, from multiple publishers, relating philosophy to popular culture for a general audience. This explosion in public philosophy is treated as a dirty skeleton in the closet rather than celebrated. You can see the popularity of these books in bookstores and on Amazon, but often they are not even mentioned in discussions of public philosophy. Certainly, the APA Committee on Public Philosophy never acknowledges their existence, even as the committee exhorts philosophers to engage in public philosophy.Report

Kenny Easwaran
Reply to  Doc F Emeritus
4 years ago

I’ve seen several recent interesting works of public philosophy in the LA Times, Boston Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, and other publications, by people like Eric Schwitzgebel, Kate Manne, Regina Rini, and others. I don’t remember exactly what the topics were in each case, but there have been several in the past year.Report

Doc F Emeritus
Doc F Emeritus
4 years ago

Oh, I forgot to mention my former professor, Al Gini, who has been a regular commentator on radio and in papers in Chicago on ethical issues of all sorts. Goes back decades to the 80’s at least, I think. Kudos Al!!! More of us, given we have the ability to do so, ought to emulate Professor Gini. Alas, given my region and such, not possible for me, but I do write my letters to the editor and so forth. Come on, philosophers, address the public as Professor Gini does.Report

Hey Nonny Mouse
Hey Nonny Mouse
4 years ago

I would like to see philosophers address the question of what the professional end of our research is. Should the public be paying for philosophical research? If so, why?Report

Arthur Greeves
Arthur Greeves
4 years ago

Yet another dull post from DN where Justin obstinately refuses to address the important issue of discriminatory hiring practices against earnest yet incompetent imbeciles. What a joke of a website!Report

Toomuchcoffeeman
Toomuchcoffeeman
4 years ago

Fatherhood. Not the legal issues (of which I can find a very little), but how fathering has and ought to change. Particularly from a feminist perspective. Report

Kate Norlock
Reply to  Toomuchcoffeeman
4 years ago

I would read that, and the fact that such a great comic book character recommended it is all the more reason to upvote this one.Report

Reuben
Reuben
4 years ago

Justin links to several essays/posts/books to illustrate the philosophers are not “ignoring terrorism by Muslims.” If you follow the links, however, many of them seem to illustrate the critic’s claim that philosophers are silent on this topic. Take the book “on the aesthetics of terrorism and human tragedy” published this year. An Amazon.com search of this book for the words “Islam” or “Islamic” gets zero hits. The word “Muslim” appears only in an endnote and the bibliography. In other words, a philosopher wrote a whole book about terrorism, published in 2016, and had nothing to say about the relation between terrorism and Islam. In the excerpts of thirteen philosophical essays at The Critique, the word “Israel” appears 12 times, “Islam” 9 times, “Muslim” 0 times, and “terrorism” twice (not counting “terrorism” mentioned in an author’s bio). Just skimming the text, there seems to be a lot about Israel’s alleged wrongdoings and, except for one article (#9), very little about Muslims engaging in terrorism. Is there not prima facie evidence that professional philosophers are relatively silent on the subject of Islamic terrorism? I’d like to know why.Report

Reuben
Reuben
Reply to  Justin Weinberg
4 years ago

Because my paper on Islamic terrorism got rejected.Report

sin nombre
sin nombre
Reply to  Reuben
4 years ago

I’d note a couple of things:
1. Reuben is incorrect in his assessment of how often the word Islam is used in The Critique. If he clicked on any of the ISIS articles he’d see that. I mean, they’re literally called the Islamic State.
2. I like the rhetorical move that gives Israel the benefit of the doubt (“alleged wrongdoings”), but not the Muslim terrorists.
3. Most scholars who work on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict do not think this is about religious traditions, but rather land.
4. Despite all this, I would actually really like to read what Reuben wrote as I’m also working on counter-terrorism, particularly against Muslims. And as someone who has been doing a ton of research, there is work in it though not *always* by philosophers and most of it came out shortly after 9/11. Report

Reuben
Reuben
Reply to  sin nombre
4 years ago

sin nombre,

1. You write: “Reuben is incorrect in his assessment of how often the word Islam is used in The Critique. If he clicked on any of the ISIS articles he’d see that. I mean, they’re literally called the Islamic State.”

I wrote: “In the excerpts of thirteen philosophical essays at The Critique…”–that is, *in the excerpts*. If you click on the articles you get a different count, which is consistent with what I said. I didn’t think it was necessary to undertake a study of all thirteen articles to make my basic point, and I think my point still stands. The one article with “ISIS” in the title is #9. I explicitly acknowledged that article #9 was an exception.

2. Are you saying we should refer to ISIS’s wrongdoings as “alleged”?

3. ?

4. If my article ever gets published I’ll send it to Justin to add to his heap of links.Report

sin nombre
sin nombre
Reply to  Reuben
4 years ago

1. My bad, though I would note that again the word Islam is already in the acronym ISIS and there are more essays on ISIS than the other two conflicts. I’d also note that the excerpts are basically abstracts and as such wouldn’t necessarily have a lot of detail. Given that the essays on Gaza are about Israel’s counter-terrorism methods I don’t see why we it’s so strange to see “Israel” come up so often.
2. Bad analogy. Israel is fighting in Gaza, not Syria/Iraq and the point is manifold:
(a) we generally give states a pass on state violence, and often with very weak justifications.
(b) we tend to give Israel in particular a pass on its state violence (and violation of international laws, including the Geneva Convention).
(c) the irony is we can more easily trace the violence from states than we can of non-state groups, unless those non-state groups claim it, which is sometimes supcicious.
3. I don’t know how to answer to ? Do you have a specific question about my comment regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I’m happy to provide sources (including a good book by two philosophers: http://www.palgrave.com/us/book/9780230535374
4. If you don’t mind breaking anonymity to just me I don’t mind breaking anonymity to just you, and if Justin doesn’t mind revealing our anonymity to each other we could ask Justin to either give you my email or give me your email. Also, I’m genuinely curious where you are sending this too.Report

Ward
Ward
Reply to  Justin Weinberg
4 years ago

Hold on. Clearly it’s relevant to point out that philosophers who are writing on terrorism aren’t talking about Islam and terrorism. And he owes us no explanation for why he himself isn’t writing about Islam and terrorism. Asking Reuben to explain why he isn’t writing on terrorism here is like asking someone who points out a book about England doesn’t mention the Queen to explain why she herself isn’t writing about the queen. Pointing out shortcomings in others’ scholarship doesn’t require you to contribute to the field.Report

Emmanouil Aretoulakis
Emmanouil Aretoulakis
Reply to  Reuben
4 years ago

Dear Reuben,

since you have referred to my book Forbidden Aesthetics, Ethical Justice, Terror in Modern Western Culture (Lexington Books, 2016), (and not “Aesthetics of terrorism and human tragedy”) let me say that it raises, amongst other issues, questions related to Al Qaeda, ISIS, and generally fundamentalist terrorism and terror; “terror” expanding onto mass destruction or even the terrorism of physical terrorism. Of course, it would be odd to refer to Muslims where the discussion concerns the Lisbon earthquake of 1755. However, if anyone is interested in my discussion of Islamist terrorism, extreme-leftist, etc. radicalism and fundamentalism, one may check out my ebook “Terrorism and Literariness: The Terrorist Event in the 20th century” (free on the internet through the academic platform “www.kallipos.gr” or if you google it directly). Thank you for reading this Report

Raf
Raf
4 years ago

“I’m not sure terrorism by Muslims is more philosophically interesting than terrorism by, say, Christians, or philosophically interesting in a way that’s distinct from how terrorism by Christians might be philosophically interesting, so I probably won’t restrict the topic to the terrorism associated with a particular religion.” In other words: don’t think that political correctness is preventing discussion, it just isn’t “philosophically interesting” to focus on Islamic terrorism. And I agree: the recent spate of terrorist attacks committed in the name of Christ (in countries that I used to consider as safe) proves that there is nothing special about Islamic terrorism.Report

Raf
Raf
Reply to  Justin Weinberg
4 years ago

I think a phenomenon that is causing so many casualties (as many as possible), mainly among innocent civilians, on a weekly basis, in countries that were hitherto considered safe, but also elsewhere, informing public discussion about immigration policy (borders, refugees), privacy, and military interventions, having an impact on recent elections, but without a clear agreed-upon explanation or solution, is prima facie philosophically interesting. Report

Raf
Raf
Reply to  Justin Weinberg
4 years ago

Justin, you didn’t ask me for my philosophical claims about Islamic terrorism. You asked me to explain why we should take a philosophical interest in Islamic terrorism at all. These are quite different questions. Compare: “Should we take a philosophical interest in truth?” and “What is your theory of truth”? Honestly, when it comes to my own views on the subject, I wouldn’t trust them to an editor who refuses to publish my post and then writes an extensive reply to it on his blog.Report

recent grad
recent grad
Reply to  Raf
4 years ago

Is the idea that Islam is more friendly to terrorism than other religions are? I hear a lot of conservatives say this. While I doubt it’s true, I think it’s a serious question worthy of consideration. But: how is it a philosophical question? If I want to know the answer, I defer to historians of religion, political scientists, even statisticians. I ask non-rhetorically: what does a philosopher have to contribute to the question?Report

JT
JT
Reply to  Raf
4 years ago

Raf, calling that an issue to do with specifically Islamic terrorism prejudges the question in an unhelpful way insofar as it simply assumes one common factor involved in the terrorist attacks you gesture at, a commonality that falls away as soon as we begin to attend to the internal divisions within Islam, is the salient factor for philosophical inquiry on the matter despite all of the complex cultural, political, economical, and historical contingencies in play. One doesn’t have to be a member of the PC thought police (or whatever) to see that an analysis that begins by privileging such a coarse-grained category of religious affiliation while running roughshod over important religious differences and social empirical facts is just bad philosophy.Report

Jared Michaelson
Jared Michaelson
Reply to  JT
4 years ago

Agreed. But I think the type of terrorism misleadingly called “Islamic Terrorism” — let’s call it, more accurately, religious terrorism, as it’s been practiced and could be practiced by a whole slew of religions — raises some interesting issues. For one, religious terrorism forces us to define terrorism more carefully, in that this brand is often quite different from the sort that has been philosophically studied, and suggests different moral and political conclusions. For example, religious terrorism is not necessarily an instrumental means to a political end (“the weapon of the weak”), with all the controversial implications thereof (i.e. that terrorism may be justified in some contexts, as a last resort). And, unlike classical terrorism, it is not necessarily a response to governments or their policies — as we recently saw, it could just target gays or heretics. It is, perhaps, better seen as a violent expression of religiously-based hate or opposition. But maybe not. The point is, if terrorism is philosophically important, then we need to reckon with this prominent but (morally) distinct phenomenon going under the same name, if only to see whether and how it fits the discussions already underway. Report

Raf
Raf
Reply to  JT
4 years ago

Just a quick reply to JT and Jared Michaelson, and then recent undergrad. To JT and Jared Michaelson: one can take a philosophical interest in X and call for a discussion of X without assuming that X (for example, art or science) is unified, and even without assuming that X is real (for example, God). To recent undergrad: I think there are many issues that could be discussed by philosophers. JT and Jared Michaelson already suggested some. For example, is Islamic terrorism unified? If so, how? If not, then what follows from this fact? Were particular instances of it justified? Is anyone other than the terrorists blameworthy? Among the measures that have actually been taken to prevent it, which ones are justified? Can other measures (say, a temporary ban on Muslim immigration) be justified? Is all revealed religion inherently violent, or is there something special about Islam? There are no doubt more questions, but to me they seem worthy of discussion by philosophers (“philosophically interesting”) even if I myself don’t immediately provide an answer to them.Report

SCM
SCM
4 years ago

If only terrorists would use trolleys, now that would be a real game-changer.Report

Brian
Brian
Reply to  SCM
4 years ago

RIght SCM then we could get the utilitarians and the consequentialists to comprehend the issue as it would speak in the their language. However given they are usually rusted on hard left people they probably do not reject violence as a method for social change. After all the birth of terrorism in the west came with the ‘enlightened’ political thought of Voltaire and some of the hard left endorse the use of violence. So the question of who rules the state and the methods they employ may very well not be a question of some form of attempted objective moral code that rejected violence. For all of us that do reject all the forms it would seem the retreat into naturalism would provide more fruitful endeavour as the violent ones sell to dominate the political sphere for all its dubious worth.Report

JT
JT
Reply to  Brian
4 years ago

I must be missing something, because I can’t make heads or tails of this comment. Care to elaborate?Report

Spencer Case
Spencer Case
4 years ago

Philosophers are interested in the practice of philosophy, and what philosophers do (and don’t do) is relevant to the practice of philosophy. If there is some important public issue that philosophers aren’t discussing, maybe that signals some kind of ideological bias that is affecting the practice of philosophy.

Asking what is especially philosophically interesting about Islamic terrorism is like asking what is especially philosophically interesting about sexism against and harassment of women. Nothing conceptually, perhaps. But maybe that’s where we think the problem is. So if we’re generally interested in public problems, then it’d be an odd thing to ignore.Report

JT
JT
Reply to  Spencer Case
4 years ago

Really? There’s a false equivalence if I’ve ever seen one. For one, the matter of the standing of women in society is not just a public problem, but it is also clearly relevant to developing a theory of justice, while Islamic terrorist in particular seems to have no more import for thinking about justice than other forms of terrorism. Of course, I agree that we should as a profession devote more of our time to philosophical engagement with matters of public concern, but it is just silly to think that there’s some great lefitist (or whatever) conspiracy/bias (or whatever) to draw attention to sexual/gender inequalities while downplaying the problem of Islamic terrorism. Moreover, just war theorists have written lots on the ethics of terrorism, so it’s not like the problem has been completely neglected by the profession, even if the emphasis isn’t placed where you think it should (to Justin’s point, if you’re not happy with how a topic is being treated in the literature, you can always try to change that by doing a bit of philosophy instead of gripping online about it).Report

Michael Cholbi
4 years ago

Philosophers are good at talking about the norms concerning various relationships but aren’t as good at talking about ethical questions related to creating and ending relationships. I’d like to see more work on marriage (not so much on policy but on its value), the decision to procreate, divorce, grief, etc.Report

BWS
BWS
4 years ago

Riffing off toomuchcoffeeman’s suggestion of fatherhood as a topic, here’s another: Why have a child? For many women and men with regular access to contraception, having a child is no longer a necessity. Children don’t help the family make a living any more, and these women are no longer likely to have a child just because they’re in a sexual relationship. Having a child can thus become a subject of deliberation and conscious choice in a way that is arguably unprecedented in human history. So what are the best reasons for and against having a child? Or is the meaning of bringing a new person into the world so inconceivable that there are no good reasons, only what people end up doing? The vast bulk of public discussion about kids already assumes the woman wants to get pregnant or already is, so I think there’s a gap there for professional and public philosophy.Report

Sarah
Sarah
Reply to  BWS
4 years ago

Try “Transformative Experience” by L.A. Paul for an in-depth discussion about the choice between a child-free life and a life with a child.Report

David Mathers
David Mathers
Reply to  BWS
4 years ago

There is a small literature on the ‘anti-natalist’ view that having children is flat out impermissible, much of it discussing this book:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Better-Never-Have-Been-Existence/dp/0199549265/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1470771711&sr=1-1&keywords=better+never+to+have+been

I have a vague sense that ‘more work on really grim and nihilistic views on which human life is viewed as fundamentally absurd’ is something I’d like to see more of. Report

Neven
Neven
4 years ago

Justin, consider the following two sentences:

(1) Almost no one among philosophers has discussed Islamic terrorism.
(2) A particular philosopher X has not discussed Islamic terrorism.

When X asks for an explanation of (1), which seems surprising, your response is to ask for an explanation of (2). Your response is an example of the fallacy of irrelevance because there is no logical relationship between (1) and (2). From the truth value of one of these sentences nothing can be deduced about the truth value of the other. So basically you are trying to divert the attention from the question that has been raised.

Why is (1) surprising? Well, given that philosophers love to be involved in all kinds of debates (including the ones about trivial issues) isn’t it odd that they avoid discussing the phenomenon that has a long and bloody track record of massacres of innocent civilians in many countries?Report

JT
JT
Reply to  Neven
4 years ago

“…the phenomenon that has a long and bloody track record of massacres of innocent civilians in many countries?” What? You mean terrorism? There is a whole SEP article devoted to that. Did you mean to suggest that Islamic terrorism is a distinct phenomenon, philosophically speaking? I can’t see why, but I’m sure you can explain it to me in terms that my poor kool-aid addled brain can comprehend.Report

Matt McAdam
Matt McAdam
4 years ago

Justin, could you explain what you mean by “philosophically interesting”? Report

Matt McAdam
Matt McAdam
Reply to  Justin Weinberg
4 years ago

You just won the internet.Report

Ghost
Ghost
Reply to  Justin Weinberg
4 years ago

why don’t you ever tell me things about my mom? 🙁Report

Dale Miller
Reply to  Justin Weinberg
4 years ago

I don’t know if philosophers are spending too little time discussing my mother. But she seems to think that they aren’t spending enough time on the phone with her.Report

JT
JT
4 years ago

The philosophy of virtual reality and video games/simulations. Lots of interesting questions from nearly every subfield! A few off the top of my head: Is virtual ‘property’ property? What are the ethics of relationships in simulated worlds (e.g., WOW, Second Life, etc.)? What are the differences between virtual and offline interpersonal interaction, and what does it (if anything) mean for moral psychology; can one truly love/empathise with another they only know virtually? What is the ontological status of virtual/simulated entities? Can virtual experiences have real world epistemic benefits and (if so) how? What are virtual experiences (i.e., are they perceptual? Representational? Necessarily conceptual? Etc.)? Can one have moral virtual experiences? The usual pop-ethics questions about violence and video games… Are video games art, or aesthetic objects more generally? Is pro-gaming a sport? How does engagement with virtual worlds impact virtue?Report

JT
JT
Reply to  JT
4 years ago

Oh, and, of course, the philosophy of Pokemon Go (and other sorts of ‘augmented’ realities, I guess)!Report

Nobody Important
Nobody Important
Reply to  JT
4 years ago

Oh, I’d be keen to read that. But better than pop ethics, what about the ethics and expectations of “fair play” in games and their relation to justice?Report

JT
JT
Reply to  Nobody Important
4 years ago

That’s a nice angle that hadn’t occurred to me. But now that you’ve mentioned it, an interesting related question is what massive online games that involve heavy resource management elements and internal economies (e.g., Eve) may tell us about distributive justice. To your point about fair play, developers often have to work hard to ensure that resource distribution and acquisition in the game environment is at least somewhat balanced and that new players aren’t starting off at too much of a disadvantage relative to more established and experienced players, but without alienating their core players by making success in the game too easy, arbitrary, or trivial. It’s a fine line to walk, and lots of devs fail to toe it, but it’d be interesting to see which approaches are successful and under what conditions.Report

Joel Prushan
Joel Prushan
Reply to  JT
4 years ago

David Chalmers just did a podcast with the Philosophy Zone on that very topic!Report

JT
JT
Reply to  Joel Prushan
4 years ago

Yes, I saw! It’s near the top of the list of things I’m saving for later..Report

Bret Haynes
Bret Haynes
4 years ago

Philosophers never defend or attack or acknowledge our anthropocentrism. We have whole entire branches of philosophy based upon it (continentals). We use it as a base to preserve this theory or defend that one or strengthen this other one. Yet, it itself is never defended or closely examined. The world is indifferent to our suffering . Our wills and desires too. Philosophers should address this most used of our axioms of everyday life much more.

I also think that the meta-ethical question of “What is a man?” Is also not asked and answered (and more importantly extrapolated) frequently enough. This was once one of the greatest philosophical mysteries. Yet , today is it assumed and then mostly forgotten.Report

Dale Miller
Reply to  Bret Haynes
4 years ago
Andrew Sepielli
Andrew Sepielli
4 years ago

I wouldn’t mind seeing more philosophy aimed specifically at helping people to understand and empathize with one another. So many people seem to display only the most superficial understanding of why others might see the world as they do, act as they do, make the trade-offs that they do. Philosophers tend to be good at making the implicit explicit, so maybe they could help in this regard.Report

Nobody Important
Nobody Important
4 years ago

Somewhat in relation to the terrorism debate, I have to wonder why issues of collective reponsibility largely side with the presumption that a very rigid set of qualifying organizational patterns are necessary (a lá Petit or List). And this especially in a decade where members of P are seriously raising the possibility that collectives, nations, etc. may have their own proto-consciousness (or sufficient φ) based on very different sorts of patterns.Report

Nobody Important
Nobody Important
Reply to  Nobody Important
4 years ago

Although being me, I’ve likely just missed the blimp.Report

Matt Weiner
Matt Weiner
4 years ago

As far as I can tell there’s very little (analytic) philosophy of history being done these days.

Specifically I’d like to hear more about the metaphysics and epistemology behind the causal statements that a historian might make, such as “The cause of the American Civil War was slavery” or “States’ rights was not the main cause of the Civil War—slavery was.” (Picking that case because it’s one where there’s a consensus among most historians but also enough dispute among the general public that historians have felt the need to show their evidence articulate their reasoning, and IMO it doesn’t fit too cleanly into e.g. a probabilistic model of causation.

Someone may come and say “X, Y, and Z are doing this kind of work, and you just don’t know about it.” I would welcome that!Report

SCM
SCM
4 years ago

I’ve been trying to think about ways to incorporate issues raised by the BLM movement in my Philosophy of Law class. There are lots of things going on here, and there’s masses of literature, especially if you situate the current situation in the long history of racialised violence in the US. So, e.g., I have started using material on the practice of lynching with respect to the historical and ongoing deficiencies in the criminal justice process in the US, mass incarceration, post-1865 neo-slavery, etc.

But one thing I’ve noticed is that there is comparatively little philosophical discussion of policing (i.e., before any criminal charge gets to court), esp. the use of violence by police. Most philosophical discussions of policing and race tend to focus on the issue of racial profiling, which is understandable. But it strikes me that racial profiling *in itself* is not *the* fundamental problem, as if what BLM was protesting was *simply* the presence of racist or discriminatory attitudes and practices in the police force.# Nor is this rectified just by considering how racial profiling fits in to more systemic racial inequality. Rather, I think there are, in addition, somewhat more generic questions about the vulnerability of the individual to state violence, the subjection of the individual to official authority, and the effective immunity of state officials as they use this violence and exercise this authority. These are, of course, deeply familiar questions in modern liberal political philosophy from Hobbes on. But I don’t think we have done a good enough job connecting them to realities of contemporary policing and the lived experiences of members of racial minorities.

My pet peeve is that there is a tendency in the US to think that if African Americans are protesting some issue, then it must be a sui generis issue of race, and that therefore the proper philosophical response to the problem is to reiterate that racism is really really bad. Because black people are defined and encapsulated by their difference from white people, right?

#By analogy, consider the claim that the fundamental problem with lynching is that it was carried out on a racially discriminatory basis. Report

sin nombre
sin nombre
Reply to  SCM
4 years ago

It depends on who gets to count as a philosopher. For example, Angela Davis’ work on prisons talks about the police a bit. But aside from crimonlogists, there really is a lack of work here, which is strange to say the least. Nevertheless, I saw this when I was reading Miller’s work on terrorism and counter-terrorism. I haven’t read this, but his other work is pretty good.
https://www.amazon.com/Police-Ethics-Seumas-Miller/dp/1741146771

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SCM
SCM
Reply to  sin nombre
4 years ago

Yes, there’s some stuff. John Kleinig has a book, “The Ethics of Policing,” too. But not enough. I expect that’s because policing is a very minor issue in the lives of most academic philosophers.Report

sin nombre
sin nombre
Reply to  SCM
4 years ago

I suspect that’s true, though probably more to it. I mean, most philosophers aren’t in prison or part of the global poor or even non-human animals (though, of this I’m not entirely certain) and yet there is a fair amount of scholarship on these issues. Report

SCM
SCM
Reply to  sin nombre
4 years ago

True dat.Report