Philosophy In The News, Weekly: March 11 – 19, 2019

The best of the philosophical internet featuring the ethics of spawning in a warming world; Peter Singer’s Instagram account; the drawbacks of eternal bliss; Puffing up & strutting out (our primate politics); and a new philosophy of sex


“Four in 10 American adults now say they meditate at least weekly. ‘Buddhism has been popular in various forms among certain celebrities and tech elites, but the religion’s primary draw for many Americans now appears to be mental health.'” On why so many Americans are turning to Buddhism. | The Atlantic

“Basically, there’s a scientific consensus that the lives of children are going to be very difficult. And it does lead, I think, young people to have a legitimate question: Is it okay to still have children?” A freshman congresswoman is raising ethical questions about having children in a warming world. | Vox

“People seem to confuse bombastic displays of ‘ME!’ with a rich interior life. No personality really just means quiet, and quiet is seen as unlikable. People who are just trying to go with the flow, to not say anything that might piss anyone off, to not loudly voice their lunch-place preference, haven’t been doing themselves any favors.” On what it means if someone says you have no personality. | The Atlantic

“One thing the right wing has done pretty effectively in the last few years is, they’ve managed to frame the discussion as a kind of puritan, moralistic, sermonizing left versus a kind of edgy, rebellious, punk-rock right. And I refuse to allow them to get away with that.” Natalie Wynn, the YouTube star and creator of Contrapoints, talks about de-radicalizing young, right-wing men. | Vice

“For a personal account, topics like poverty and animal cruelty are unusual Instagram fodder—Singer has been told that his account is ‘very heavy’—and it’s not as if Instagram is spilling over with intellectual philosophers. Because of this, the account has become both an experiment in visualizing ethics and a counterpoint to status-conscious Instagram.” On how Peter Singer, a utilitarian philosopher and ethicist, began his Instagram account | The New Yorker

“I’m not going to learn a lot from having an encounter with a professional troll.” Milo Yiannopoulos and other right-wing pundits are raising fierce debates about free speech as they take their ideas Down Under. | ABC News Australia


“As a philosopher, I’m supposed to ask deep questions about the nature of complex things.” Moral thinker Matt Beard on how philosophy can help you solve everyday problems. | ABC Life

“Eternal salvation is therefore not only unattainable but also undesirable, since it would eliminate the care and passion that animates our lives. What we do and what we love can matter to us only because we understand ourselves as mortal. That self-understanding is implicit in all our practical commitments and priorities.” Martin Hagglund makes a strong case that spiritual life cannot be found in nirvana or heaven, but in the mutual recognition that this finite life is our ultimate purpose. | The New York Times

“Donald Trump’s bullying skills against his male rivals during the Republican primary were legendary. He defeated all his fellow candidates by puffing himself up, lowering his voice and insulting them with demeaning nicknames such as ‘Low-Energy Jeb’ and ‘Little Marco.’ Strutting like a male chimp, the Donald turned the primary into a hypermasculine body language contest.” On what primates can teach us about politics. | The Guardian

“A number of years ago, I found myself at a public sex beach in southern France for research purposes. Unsurprisingly, I experienced some ethical dilemmas. Because I was researching the ethics of sexuality, my research involved potentially having sex with men and women at the beach.” On why we need a new philosophy of sex. | The Conversation

“Several of the major Enlightenment philosophers — including Hume, Voltaire and Kant — developed elaborate justifications for anti-Semitic views. One common thread running through the work of these philosophers is an attempt to diminish the influence of Judaism or the Jewish people on European history.” On confronting anti-Semitic strains in Western philosophy. | The New York Times

“Perhaps you’ve encountered him in one of your lecture classes where he sits in the back, chomping at the bit to play Devil’s advocate whenever he can, his hand always raised and ready… or maybe you’ve seen him piling Lucky Charms onto lukewarm pizza slices, picking arguments with strangers over benign things, screeching about how people shouldn’t use the word ‘literally’ in a figurative sense. A reading list for the freshman philosophy bro. | NYU Local


“Interface University would be the institution where human and artificial intelligence learns to think together, to achieve the state of interface.” A new book discusses the “speculative” alternatives for university education. | Inside Higher Ed


Martha Nussbaum has published a new book called The Monarchy of Fear: A Philosopher Looks at Our Political Crisis. In this podcast, she examines our current political travails and how to mend our deepening divides. | In Contrast on New England Public Radio









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