What is Philosophy For?

Argument analysis flowchart

Anyone who’s interested in thinking ought to read Mary Midgley’s last book, What is Philosophy For? I just finished the book last night and felt the need to share it since it investigates pertinent issues of our time while calling for more people to engage with philosophical thinking. Midgley address head on the notion that computers will inevitable control our lives and calls into question the role that science has taken in our society. Modern science is a fine way to think of the world around us; however, we need to be able to question it and not limit ourselves to just one way of knowing.

Mary Midgley was a philosopher at the University of Newcastle who wrote on a wide range of topics: animal ethics, philosophy of science, philosophy of biology, moral philosophy. She was one of the philosophers who studied ‘Greats’ at Oxford during the Second World War, with the other members of what’s come to be known as the ‘Oxford four’: Midgley, Iris Murdoch, Philippa Foot, and Elizabeth Anscombe. Mary Warnock was also there at the same time, but a few years ahead of them.

This was a really interesting time for women studying philosophy at Oxford because so many men were away. The men that were left were elderly professors or conscientious objectors and so Midgley, Murdoch, Foot and Anscombe were left with slightly more old-school philosophy professors who were interested in Plato and Aristotle and a traditional form of the history of philosophy.

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Working Less is What We can do to Repair the Economy

Collision 2019 - Day One

Before the pandemic too many people spent too much of the time working instead of living. Now, the opposite is true with employers in North America firing people left and right because companies didn’t save a rainy day fund. Indeed, some companies aren’t paying rent and getting away with it (unlike individuals). Maybe there’s a way to save jobs and our mental health. If we went down to a four day workweek we could see an increase in productivity in some jobs, while in other jobs it could open the door for more employment.

“The pandemic has created a moment for businesses to take stock and consider more radical reconstructions of the workplace. It is a time for experimentation and a reevaluation of what it means to be productive,” said Andrew Barnes, author of “The 4 Day Week” and co-founder of the nonprofit 4 Day Week Global. Barnes has emerged as a global ambassador of sorts for a four-day workweek, since switching his own New Zealand-based firm onto that schedule back in 2018 and finding it improved productivity and morale.

“By focusing on productivity and output rather than time spent in a workplace, the four-day week allows for better work-life balance, improved employee satisfaction, retention and mental health,” he said.

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Feeling Lonely? Head to the Virus Cafe

coffee

Feeling lonely and not getting out due to the pandemic? Head over to the virtual virus cafe where you can connect with other nice people on the internet and chat for a little bit. The creator clearly wants people to connect in an impromptu but meaningful way while we are all physically distant from one another. Here’s what the creator says about their creation:

Hey folks! I built Virus Cafe to help you make a friend in 2 minutes! My goal is to help people stuck indoors because of COVID-19 (or police curfews) to make meaningful connections with strangers.

Here’s how it works:

1. You are matched with a random partner for a video chat

2. You’re given a deep question to discuss. You have 2 minutes!

3. The only rule is: no small talk!

Small talk is the worst and I’m on a mission to eradicate it. I’ve expertly crafted over 200 questions designed to stimulate good conversation and skip past the boring introductions.

Here are a few samples:

– When in your life have you been the happiest?

– What would you be willing to die for?

– What is the biggest lie you’ve told without getting caught?

– What is a belief you had as a child that you no longer have?

– What human emotion do you fear the most?

– If a family member murdered someone, would you report them to the police?

– What absolutely excites you right now?

I hope you use Virus Cafe to meet a new friend and make a deep connection today.

Check it out.
Read more at Hacker News.

Visually Communicating Climate Change

Solar Panel School

Showing people the impact climate change is having on people usually results in rather depressing images. It doesn’t have to be this way, we can show people the great things people are doing to mediate and react to our changing planet. The mission of Climate Visuals is to help journalists to find and use positive imagery about climate change. Images that capture the resiliency of people and places that are withstanding the threats of environmental damage. We have the solutions to climate change, so let’s show those solutions to the world.

The first Climate Visuals report ‘Climate Visuals: Seven principles for visual climate change communication (based on international social research)’ summarises research with members of the public in three nations.

The research combined two different methods. Four structured discussion groups (with a total of 32 citizens) were held: two in London, and two in Berlin. Participants responded to dozens of climate images, engaging in detailed discussions about what they saw. Following this in-depth research, an international online survey of 3,014 people was conducted, with participants split equally between the UK, Germany and the US.

The survey allowed us to test a smaller number of images with a much larger number of people. Further details on the methodology can be found in the separate appendix document below.

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Understanding the Anti-Reality Narrative in America

Those of us who have been arguing for sustainable growth and a carbon neutral economy for years know that people don’t listen; in fact people argue against the very concept to their own detriment. The response to these climate change deniers and malicious actors was to ty to change their mind by showing the science, it didn’t work. The same thing is now happening with reactions to the necessity to stay at home to stop the spread of COVID-19. So what do we do when people are actively arguing against what reality has made plain? Over at The New Republic they have some ideas.

Coronavirus denialism and climate denialism aren’t the product of skeptical masses but disingenuous elites. Investigative journalist Lisa Graves pointed out recently in The New York Times that the anti-shutdown protests—like the Tea Party, and like much of the Koch-funded climate denialism—embody a mix of genuine outrage and dark money astroturf funneling that rages toward politically advantageous targets. The protests’ benefactors are dutifully social distancing for fear of getting sick themselves but want everyone else back to work to appease the stock market. Fossil fuel companies lobbied Congress and paid climate deniers in places like the Heartland Institute and Heritage Foundation to spew junk science on cable news, clouding the conversation enough to delay any meaningful action. It’s a similar tactic to that deployed by the Koch brothers in 2009, fearing that a climate bill would be passed: To head it off, they trained Americans for Prosperity’s guns on so-called RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) who thought about supporting it, clouding town halls, congressional offices, and airwaves with doubts about whether the earth was warming at all. If you were a Republican politician at some point in the last decade, it very literally paid to be a climate denier.

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