What is the point of scientific journalism? That’s the question asked by a thoughtful piece by Brooke Borel at The Guardian. Science journalists are not just cheerleaders for science, and investigating a scientist’s conflicts of interest ought to be part of the job.
That’s the question I tackled in a recent essay at The Philosophers’ Magazine online, prompted by a conversation over coffee with Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist at NYU with whom I’ve had a number of disagreements about the intersection of social science, politics, and philosophy.
As I’ve written recently over at The Philosopher Magazine’s Online, rumors of widespread psychopathy among utilitarians are overrated. Indeed, they appear to be entirely unfounded, an artifact of not-so-carefully thought out social psychology experiments on “trolley-type” dilemmas. And the whole story ought to be a cautionary tale about research in moral psychology in general, especially when done by psychologists who know little about moral philosophy.
Do we live in the area of information overload? Turns out we have been doing that at the least since the time of Socrates. The real problem, argues this article, isn’t too much information, but the lack of a paradigm to sort it out and extract meaning from it.
From time to time I write about the ever delicate, and seemingly never exhausted, issue of race. For instance, this year I published a paper on the famous Morton skulls controversy, co-authored with Jonathan Kaplan and Joshua Banta (a Plato Footnote summary is here). Back in 2013 I co-wrote a paper with my friend Guido Barbujani on races from a biological perspective, and in the same year I published a solo paper on the same topic from the combined point of view of a philosopher and a scientist. Way back in ’03 Jonathan and I wrote a piece for Philosophy of Science on the applicability to humans of the biological concept of race.
“‘Death with Dignity’: is it suicide?” is the title of a thoughtful OUP blog post by veteran philosopher Margaret Battin, who argues that what we label certain activities matters very much in shaping how we think of them.
Dan Kaufman (see his webzine, the Electric Agora) and I had another of our conversations over at MeaningofLife.tv, this time centering on Dan’s recently articulated skepticism about ongoing defenses of the concept of a liberal arts education in college. Here is his original article, provocatively entitled “On Some Common Rationales for Liberal Education (and why they aren’t very good).”