Take the Mirror Test

When YOU look at yourself in a mirror, WHO do you see there? The mirror test is a technique developed by psychologist Gordon Gallup Jr. as an attempt to determine whether a non-human animal possesses the ability of self-recognition.

Read more

Queer and Christian?

Is it a contradiction to be gay and Christian? Is it possible to preserve a traditional religious identity, while maintaining a lifestyle and identity that—ostensibly—the religion’s canonical texts say is wrong? The answer depends on how we think about religious identities.

Read more

Knowing What We Know—And What We Don't Know

This week’s episode is the first in a new six-part series on the topic of Intellectual Humility. We tackle the big question, whether we can know what we know and what we don’t, since knowing what you do and don’t know is the first step to true intellectual humility.

Read more

[VIDEO] Contrastivism—A Revolution in Philosophy?

It has been described as a revolution in philosophy and a new way to approach age-old questions in the discipline. But what exactly is contrastivism?

Read more

Is Consciousness an Illusion?

Prominent philosophers go head to head in this New York Review of Books piece. Thomas Nagel writes a critical review of Daniel Dennett's new book From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds.

Read more

[VIDEO] What is Neoliberalism?

"Neoliberalism" is one of those terms tossed around by both those who know what they're talking about and those who have absolutely no idea what they're talking about. But like any other complex concept, the definition of neoliberalism is often in contestation.

Read more

Feel like Democracy is Crumbling? So Did Plato

This week in The Atlantic, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein posed a question:  What happens when a society, once a model for enlightened progress, threatens to backslide into intolerance and irrationality—with the complicity of many of its own citizens? How should that society’s stunned and disoriented members respond? Do they engage in kind, resist, withdraw, even depart?

Read more

[VIDEO] So You Think You Can Know?

What does it mean to know something? How is knowing different from merely thinking of believing? Can we establish strict rules for what constitutes knowledge and what does not?

Read more

What are Crony Beliefs?

Crony beliefs are beliefs you have partly because you want to believe them. But is it really possible to form beliefs because you want to have them? Does that explain why so many people seem to believe things that serve their self-interest? Or is there another explanation for that?

Read more

Do Philosophy For Its Own Sake, Not for a Job

Should we encourage students to study philosophy because it turns out that it's actually a great way to make money and have a lucrative career? Or in doing so are we losing sight of the value of a philosophical education? Isn't philosophy essential for a democratic citizenry, for example?

Read more

Art and Obscenity

The Supreme Court defines obscenity as any material which "appeals to a prurient interest in sex, portrays sexual conduct in a patently offensive way," and which "does not have any serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value." But can't some work be both obscene and also have "serious artistic value"?

Read more

To 'Get' a Piece of Art? Maybe 20 Minutes

How long do you think one should spend with a piece of visual art to "get" it? And what does it really mean to “get” a piece of art? What is art doing for us? And what explains the feeling of understanding art?

Read more

[AUDIO] Art and Morality

It is not unusual for pieces of art, such as literature or cinema, to address moral questions. However, is art not seen as entertainment by most? Does its role as entertainment affect its ability to comment on morality? Does art have something to offer on ethical questions that other fields, such as philosophy, cannot offer?

Read more

Queerness

Is queerness something that all lesbian, gay, bi, and trans people have in common? Is it a sexual identity, a political identity, both, or something else entirely? No doubt we are all familiar with the term, but coming up with a definition for “queerness” presents quite a challenge. Sometimes “queer” is used as a slur, yet there are many people who proudly self-identify as queer.

Read more

The Mind-Body Problem, Part 1: Substance Dualism

You have a mind and you have a body.  What’s the connection between the two? All of us are aware of our physical being—our bodies—and we also have an immediate experience of our mental states—our thoughts, emotions, and sensations—but figuring out the relation between these has not been easy.  

Read more

A Country is a Country

A bizarre, somewhat tongue-in-cheek meditation by Point Maganize's Michael Kochin on the concept of a country. Part-historical, part-philospohical, the piece walks us through how America came about and what it meant that it did. The article struggles with the project of figuring out who should get to count as American, and thus touches on the immigration debate raging in American politics today. At its heart, the core question seems to be: what is America for? Here's the full link:

Read more

Why Is Analytic Philosophy Dominant?

How did analytic philosophy come to dominate Anglo-American philosophy departments? If you think it's because analytic philosophy is just superior, that might be your bias showing. Some seemingly important developments in the history of thought are determined by rather uninspiring and unglamorous contingencies like rivalries or personal idiosyncracies.

Read more

We Don't Decide Who We Love

We often think of a love as something natural and powerful—a mysterious feeling we experience spontaneously, deep in the recesses of our essential selves. But our love, and our capacity to love, may have a lot more to do with our society than we acknowledge.

Read more

[AUDIO] What is a Woman?

What does it mean for someone to be a woman? While the answer to this question for much of human history may have seemed obvious, modern feminist thought objects to many longstanding ideas about gender. Is gender just socially constructed? Is anyone whom identifies as a woman, really a woman?

Read more

#FrancisOnFilm: I Am Not Your Negro

I Am Not Your Negro, an extraordinary documentary by Raoul Peck, presents the critical relevance of James Baldwin to the violence that engulfs many African Americans today. But is it a movie made more for white liberals than for African-Americans?

Read more

Is Milo Really a Conservative?

Although the National Review's Jonah Goldberg doesn't frame the aricle this way, I took his recent reflection on Milo Yiannapoulos to be primarily a matter of political courage. The transgressive former-Breitbart editor was, to some extent, embraced by the right. While he did get people's attention, he did so in problematic ways.

Read more

Free Speech on Campus

I will no doubt learn many things from our program on free speech on campus. But going into the program, here are some things I believe.

Read more

Are Self-Help Books Useless?

Do self-help books rely on a sort of magical thinking about the control we have over our lives? Do they feed into an idiosyncratic, American narcissism that prioritizes furthering our pursuits over helping others? Are they even worth reading in the first place?

Read more

The Responsibility of Intellectuals

In these times, in which truth and lies are nearly indistinguishable, do all intellectuals have a responsibility to devote their efforts toward directly speaking truth to power and mobilizing for social justice? Or are some exempt from this responsibility to pursue their interests wholeheartedly, regardless of whether it directly helps the people or not?

Read more

The Philosophical Dimensions of Reparations

The historical injustices perpetrated against blacks on American soil span four centuries and would be impossible to quantify. Even if we think reparations are owed, it seems impossible to settle who should pay, and who should receive them. But before we give in to the impulse to throw up our hands, let’s see if we can alleviate our sense of hopelessness by distinguishing components of the challenge injustices pose—the metaphysical, epistemic, and pragmatic dimensions to the question of how to address them.

Read more