Cover of Philosophy in the Contemporary World
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articles
1. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1/2
Sharyn Clough Using Values as Evidence When There’s Evidence for Your Values
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I have argued that political values are beliefs informed, more or less well, by the evidence of experience and that, where relevant and well-supported by evidence, the inclusion of political values in scientific theorizing can increase the objectivity of research (e.g., Clough 2003, 2004, 2011). The position I endorse has been called the “values-as-evidence” approach (Goldenberg 2013). In this essay I respond to three kinds of resistance to this approach, using examples of feminist political values. Solomon (2012) questions whether values are beliefs that can be tested, Alcoff (2006) argues that even if our values are beliefs that can be tested, testing them might not be desirable because doing so assigns these important values a contingency that weakens their normative force, and Yap (2016) argues that the approach is too idealistic in its articulation of the role of evidence in our political deliberations. In response, I discuss the ways that values can be tested, I analyze the evidential strength of feminist values in science, and I argue that the evidence-based nature of these values is neither a weakness nor an idealization. Problems with political values affecting science properly concern the dogmatic ways that evaluative beliefs are sometimes held—a problem that arises with dogmatism toward descriptive beliefs as well. I conclude that scientists, as with the rest of us, ought to adopt a pragmatically-inclined appreciation of the fallible, inductive process by which we gather evidence in support of any of our beliefs, whether they are described as evaluative or descriptive.
2. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1/2
James B. Gould Covid 19, Disability, and the Ethics of Distributing Scarce Resources
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The Covid-19 pandemic provides a real-world context for evaluating the fairness of disability-based rationing of scarce medical resources. I discuss three situations clinicians may face: rationing based on disability itself; rationing based on inevitable disability-related comorbidities; and rationing based on preventable disability-related comorbidities. I defend three conclusions. First, in a just distribution, extraneous factors do not influence a person’s share. This rules out rationing based on disability alone, where no comorbidities decrease a person’s capacity to benefit from treatment. Second, in a just distribution, undeserved luck does not influence a person’s share. This rules out rationing for biologically caused comorbidities that decrease capacity to benefit. Third, in a just distribution, social injustice does not influence a person’s share. This rules out rationing for socially caused comorbidities that decrease capacity to benefit.
3. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1/2
Charles Harvey Insatiable: Why Everything is not Enough
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In this essay, I argue that the deepest roots of Homo sapiens’ propensity towards excessive consumption lie in the emptiness of human awareness, itself possibly rooted in brain plasticity. I attempt to demonstrate how this insight emerged and appeared repeatedly throughout the history of philosophy and religious thought and how industrialized capitalism and consumer culture led to the current domination and envelopment of our lives by the “commodity canopy.” In the final section of the paper, I envision one way that contemporary humanity might use the history of insights about empty, restless awareness and brain plasticity to develop cultures that focus more on doing than having, more on events than on objects.
4. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1/2
Lawrence Quill Should A.I. Be Your Therapist?
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Recent advances in Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) and their application within the field of mental health provision raise issues that cross social, economic, and philosophical boundaries. While Therapeutic A.I. promises to disrupt the current provision of mental health services to reach populations without access to adequate mental health care there are risks. This paper addresses the philosophical problems posed by Therapeutic A.I. I suggest that in the absence of legal guidelines there is a need for philosophical guidance that prioritizes the dignity of clients/consumers. To that end, I advance Rosen’s (2012) concept of dignity-as-respectfulness as the most appropriate philosophical principle to guide the application of Therapeutic A.I.
5. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1/2
Joshua M. Hall iZombie Cyborg Dancers: Rechoreographing Smartphone Abusers
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Compulsive smartphone users’ psyches, today, are increasingly directed away from their bodies and onto their devices. This phenomenon has now entered our global vocabulary as “smartphone zombies,” or what I will call “iZombies.” Given the importance of mind to virtually all conceptions of human identity, these compulsive users could thus be productively understood as a kind of human-machine hybrid entity, the cyborg. Assuming for the sake of argument that this hybridization is at worst axiologically neutral, I will construct a kind of phenomenological psychological profile of the type of cyborg which engages in these patterns of behavior. I follow Judith Butler in seeing this identity as the result of performance practices, which as such can be modified or replaced using other performances. Pursing one such alternative, I compose a dancing critique that “reverse engineers” the choreographies implied by these cyborgs’ survival practices. The upshot of this critique is that their movement patterns do indeed align closely to those of horror cinema’s zombies. I therefore conclude by suggesting a few possible choreographic imperatives to facilitate more enabling ways of being for iZombie cyborgs today.
2020 graduate student prize article
6. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1/2
Grace Goh Rethinking Belonging in a Globalized World: Home(s) in Morrison and Lugones
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book reviews
7. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1/2
Brian Hisao Onishi George Yancy. Across Black Spaces: Essays and Interviews from an American Philosopher (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2020). Kindle Edition
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articles
8. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Robert Paul Churchill An Introduction to Honor Killing and Women in the Crossfire
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9. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Christian Matheis “Transformations of Shame and Honor: Ideology, Diagnostics, and Liberation from State Interests”: A response to Robert Paul Churchill’s Women in the Crossfire: Understanding and Ending Honor Killings
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10. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Candice L. Shelby A Complex Adaptive Systems Approach to Understanding the Honor Killer: Comments on Robert Paul Churchill’s Women in the Crossfire: Understanding and Ending Honor Killing
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11. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
James Snow Women in the Crossfire: A Reply to Robert Paul Churchill
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12. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Robert Paul Churchill Response to My Critics
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13. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Eddy Souffrant Some Approaches to an Ethics for Disaster
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We have witnessed, and in some instance from afar, disasters of all sorts that span the globe from the Caribbean, South and North America, Asia, to Australia and other affected regions of the world. Some of these destabilizing and at times fatal events have resulted in lives lost, forced migration, and a restructuring of the physical, social and economic architecture of the affected parts of the globe. Further, the disasters as massive restructuring of the physical and psychological status quo are at times human made and at others, natural.
14. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Karen Lancaster The Robotic Touch: Why There is No Good Reason to Prefer Human Nurses to Carebots
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An elderly patient in a care home only wants human nurses to provide her care – not robots. If she selected her carers based on skin colour, it would be seen as racist and morally objectionable, but is choosing a human nurse instead of a robot also morally objectionable and speciesist? A plausible response is that it is not, because humans provide a better standard of care than robots do, making such a choice justifiable. In this paper, I show why this response is incorrect, because robots can theoretically care as well as human nurses can. I differentiate between practical caring and emotional caring, and I argue that robots can match the standard of practical care given by human nurses, and they can simulate emotional care. There is growing evidence that people respond positively to robotic creatures and carebots, and AI software is apt to emotionally support patients in spite of the machine’s own lack of emotions. I make the case that the appearance of emotional care is sufficient, and need not be linked to emotional states within the robot. After all, human nurses undoubtedly ‘fake’ emotional care and compassion sometimes, yet their patients still feel adequately cared for. I show that it is a mistake to claim that ‘the human touch’ is in itself a contributor to a higher standard of care; ‘the robotic touch’ will suffice. Nevertheless, it is not speciesist to favour human nurses over carebots, because carebots do not (currently) suffer as the result of such a choice.
15. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
James Rocha Environmental Racism and Privileged Consumerism
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Environmental racism concerns the ways in which environmental protections are unfairly distributed along racial lines. One outcome of environmental racism is that environmental degradation does not harm us all equally, with oppressed racial groups facing greater burdens. Consequently, members of privileged groups can more comfortably engage in environmentally destructive consumerism because they will neither initially nor primarily face the worst impact from environmental destruction. I will argue that the ability to feel comfortable while engaging in environmentally destructive consumerism is a form of racism, and that this racism strengthens the blameworthiness of such privileged consumerism.
16. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Sanjay Lal On Becoming Worthy of Victory: Asserting a Natural Place for Philosophy in Global Struggle
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While there has been no shortage of philosophical writings dealing with humanity’s great struggles (be they on issues of justice, war, the proper structure of the state, et al) there is a notable absence within academic philosophy in asserting a broad, overriding, and natural place for philosophical analysis regarding such issues—a role which can be crucial in making us better people (and thus capable of realizing a better world). In the first part of this paper, I will discuss the notable absence of certain character traits on the part of activists fighting for a better world that are essential for attaining the lofty goals protest movements aim for. I will then show that philosophy is uniquely suited for helping develop such traits (specifically when philosophy is seen as a practice). In the last part of this paper, I will discuss possible areas of philosophical exploration that would be particularly fruitful for making us better people. My intention is to ultimately help establish a unique and irreplaceable role academic philosophy can have in activist movements.
17. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
José A. Haro Colonialism and Ressentiment
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In this paper I apply Friedrich Nietzsche’s critique of European morality to the Western colonial context. I specifically focus attention on his notions of ressentiment and slave morality, and how his critique implicates these as being exported and imposed upon the people Western powers colonized. However, the process of colonization reveals that the imposed morality is transformed into a distinct type of ressentiment that Nietzsche does not to consider. I call this type of ressentiment “colonial ressentiment” in distinction to Nietzsche’s slave morality. To provide the content to clearly distinguish colonial ressentiment from that of slave morality, I utilize Frantz Fanon’s description of the colonial drama to help illuminate their differences. To conclude the paper, I discuss some of the upshots of colonial ressentiment and their relation to present day struggles.
18. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Jeremy Wisnewski Affordances, Embodiment, and Moral Perception: A Sketch of a Moral Theory
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My aim in this article is programmatic. I argue that understanding perceptual experience on the model of perceptual affordances allows us to acknowledge the centrality of embodiment to moral phenomenology, on the one hand, and to see more transparently the place of the emotions in the moral life, on the other. I suggest some means by which moral perception, construed as the perception of moral affordances, might be cultivated.
19. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
David Koukal The Fatally Flawed Leadership of Donald J. Trump: A Platonic Analysis
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Over the past two years, several political commentators have drawn on Plato’s Republic to shed light on our last presidential election. Many of these authors emphasize the features of democracy that make it especially susceptible to demagoguery, which heralds the arrival of tyranny, and then go on to relate this to Donald Trump’s political ascension. The problem with these analyses is that they tend to unquestioningly adopt Plato’s pessimistic view of democracy. While Plato’s criticisms do have the virtue of making us aware of democracy’s weaknesses, we would argue that our present political circumstances did not issue from these flaws. This makes these criticisms irrelevant. Other commentators come closer to the mark when they talk about Plato’s passages addressing the person of the tyrant in Book IX, but what is lacking in these accounts is a context that more fully explains why the tyrant is what he is, in Platonic terms. In this essay we argue that other parts of the Republic, particularly Book IV, can tell us much more about Trump and his presidency. This part of the dialogue deals with Plato’s conception of human nature, which he presents in his discussion of the soul or psyche [ψυχή]. An examination of these passages will grant us insight into the Trump’s actions and utterances and show that the president is not only intellectually but also temperamentally unqualified for his office, which should give citizens good cause for worry.
20. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Rob Lovering “That’s Just So-and-So Being So-and-So”: On Some Possible Meanings, Functions, and Moral Implications of an Explanation
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When it comes to explaining someone’s puzzling, objectionable, or otherwise problematic behavior, one type of explanation occasionally employed in the service of doing so is as follows: “That’s just so-and-so being so-and-so.” But what, exactly, do explanations of the type “That’s just so-and-so being so-and-so” mean? More specifically, in what way, if any, is it meaningful or informative to say such things? And what is the precise function of such explanations of someone’s behavior? Is it merely to present what one takes to be the underlying causes of the behavior, or something beyond that? In what follows, I lay out a few possibilities—basic possibilities, to be precise, given philosophy’s keen interest in fundamentals—with respect to the various meanings, functions, and moral implications of explanations of the type “That’s just so-and-so being so-and-so.” While doing so, I apply these basic possibilities to three tokens of this kind of explanation: “That’s just Manny being Manny” (in reference to Manny Ramirez, the former professional baseball player), “That’s just Charlie being Charlie” (in reference to Charlie Rose, the former television host), and “That’s just Trump being Trump” (in reference to Donald Trump, the current President of the United States).