Why is it that some truths have to be learned over and over and over again? I suppose it’s because they’re just too hard to believe. I learned about fifteen years ago that many of the people I work with don’t share what I thought were the values we all share, because, well, surely we … Continue reading DON QUIXOTE’S BLESSING
Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt has argued, quite convincingly, that a university can dedicate itself to the search for truth, or to the promotion of social justice, but not both. Truth and justice are seldom about the same thing. But when they are, what’s true may not be just, and what’s just may not be true. … Continue reading THE HAIDT HYPOTHESIS
As a philosopher of mind Kant was beyond brilliant. As an ethicist he was an idiot. Kant asks us to consider two scenarios: I steal your wallet, you steal mine. If I think the one is okay, I have to think the other is too. Why? “Well, because they’re the same.” No they’re not. In … Continue reading OH BUT THAT’S DIFFERENT
There are a few things that I get that other people don’t. If this weren’t so I wouldn’t be of much use to them, now would I? So no, since it’s not hubris, no apology warranted, so none forthcoming. And then there are a few things other people get but I don’t. For example, I … Continue reading NECESSITATED HYPOCRISY
The nineteen martyrs of 9/11 were never charged let alone convicted of a crime. This is because - so as not to squander precious prosecutorial resources - we tend not to indict dead people. But now let’s suppose the Truthers are right. Since these nineteen young men didn’t do it, they’re probably not dead. Or … Continue reading WHAT’S WRONG WITH THOSE TRUTHERS?
‘Denialism’ is a neologism in search of a meaning. Let’s see if we can find it one. As it turns out we’re going to fail. As it turns out calling someone a denialist is going to have about as much cognitive content as calling him an asshole. It’s an expletive. A term of strong disapproval. … Continue reading DENIALISM
Hans Kuhn observed that a scientific hypothesis survives, and rightly so, until a better one comes along. But surely there are some hypotheses which, notwithstanding we don’t yet have – perhaps we’ll never have – an alternative to replace it, can be conclusively rejected because it’s simply falsified by the evidence. In such cases all … Continue reading THE TRUTH ABOUT TRUTHERS
Down the hall and around two corners, I have a colleague named Tony Hall. I say ‘colleague’, but only in the sense that we’re both tenured professors at the same university. I teach in the Philosophy Department; he’s a one-man show in a program he calls Globilization Studies. Tony’s an affable enough fellow, but he’s … Continue reading HOLOCAUST DENIAL AND ANTI-SEMITISM