Philosophical Dialogues

J: Hey, whats’ up?

M: Hey. I wanted to tell you that I think it would be great to bring back the philosophical dialogue.

J: Funny—I just yesterday posted in the Heap of Links a dialogue that University of Colorado philosopher Michael Huemer recently wrote. It’s a four-part series of conversations about the morality of eating meat—“Dialogues on Ethical Vegetarianism” [that is a link to the first part; here are the others: two, three, four].

M: I know. That’s where I got the idea.

J: Ah, ok. I thought maybe for a second you didn’t obsessively follow my blog.

M: I wish. I spend an imprudently significant amount of time on your blog.

J: So do I.

M: Anyway, I was wondering why we don’t have more philosophy written in dialogue form. It’s easy to follow. It shows the back-and-forth of philosophical argument. Frankly, it’s more fun to read.

J: Provided the author doesn’t give anyone an extended monologue. Sometimes you have to wonder what Plato was thinking.

M: Yeah. Socrates can just go on and on sometimes. No one interrupted him because he put them all to sleep!

J: Ha. Well, more evidence that Socrates probably wasn’t the most socially aware guy.

M: Just one more way he is the father of philosophy.

J: Huemer, thankfully, doesn’t have his characters give any speeches.

M: Yeah, and you know, something like this could be done on any topic. It could even be a book series, something aimed at the public, or students, but not necessarily just for them. Or maybe a journal article, even.

J: Right. There are some recent dialogues. John Perry’s “Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality.”

M: The Grasshopperby Suits.

J: Hume. Berkeley.

M: Those aren’t exactly recent.

J: They are closer in time to us than they are to Plato.

M: Irrelevant. But on that, do you want to feel old?

J: No.

M: Tough. Did you know that Radiohead’s OK Computer is 20 years old?

J: Yes. Ugh. Great album, though.

M: Yeah, and it is farther away in the past from us now than the Beatles were when we were kids.

J: Thanks for that. Did you know that Steely Dan’s Aja is 40 years old?

M: Didn’t know, don’t care.

J: So what other recent philosophical dialogues are there?

M: I don’t know. You should ask about it on Daily Nous. Maybe get a list going.

J: Not a bad idea.

M: And ask whether people would write them, or what topics they’d want to see a dialogue treatment of. And whether they’d use them in their courses.

J: Sounds good. Thanks for the suggestion.

M: Alright, man, I’m off.

J: Where you headed?

M: To court!

J: What’s your case? Who are you prosecuting?

M: Someone people think I’m crazy to prosecute. 

J: Why? Is it someone who is going to escape from jail before you get him in court?

M: No, he’s old.

J: Who is it?

M: My father.

J: Your father? How is that not a conflict of interest?

M: I know. This court has strange rules.

J: What’s the charge?

M: Murder.

J: Murder! What? How?

M: It’s complicated, but basically it’s because this jurisdiction doesn’t acknowledge the category of manslaughter. Anyway, gotta go. 

J: Well good luck, I guess. Later!


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