Philosophy everywhere everywhen
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Philosophy everywhere everywhen
First Law of Philosophy: For every philosopher, there is an equal and opposite philosopher. The Second Law of Philosophy: They're both wrong
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Is altruism self-interest in disguise?

Is altruism simply self-interest in disguise? And can a mathematical equation hope to answer the question?

In 1968, an academic almost unknown in the UK walked into University College London and presented its staff with an equation so remarkable, that they offered him an honorary position and the keys to his own office.

His name was George Price, and his equation addressed a problem that has vexed scientists since Charles Darwin published On The Origin of Species more than a century earlier. If we are selfish creatures, engaged in a battle for survival, why do we display altruism? Why do we show kindness to others even at a cost to ourselves?

Price's equation explained how altruism could thrive, even amongst groups of selfish people.

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Pedro Tavares's curator insight, October 11, 2013 9:47 AM

A respeito do Altruísmo...

Atotsm's comment, November 17, 2013 12:47 PM
somehow
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Russian man shot in quarrel over Immanuel Kant’s philosophy

Russian man shot in quarrel over Immanuel Kant’s philosophy | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
A philosophical argument over views on Immanuel Kant descended into violent mayhem in southern Russia, leading to a man being shot several times.

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A philosophical argument over views on Immanuel Kant descended into violent mayhem in southern Russia, leading to a man being shot several times.

The dispute occurred when two men waiting for a beer became involved in an increasingly fractious argument over the work of Kant – the author of canonical philosophical text Critique of Pure Reason – according to a police spokeswoman in Rostov-on-Don, the town where the argument broke out.

The row ended with one of the men producing an air gun and firing several rubber bullets at his opponent.

Police did not identify the men but said that the gunman had been detained after fleeing the scene, while the victim was in hospital with non-life-threatening wounds. The attacker now faces up to 10 years in prison for intentional infliction of serious bodily harm, police said.

It is not known which of Kant’s many theories was the subject of debate.

However, it is highly unlikely the violent nature of the argument would have pleased Kant, left, the widely revered philosopher best known for his writing on ethics and his habitually sedentary lifestyle.

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Marja Oilinki's curator insight, September 17, 2013 8:08 AM

Vähän enemmän taustoitusta kuin Hesarin uutisessa.

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The Common Belief Fallacy | Experts' Corner | Big Think

The Common Belief Fallacy | Experts' Corner | Big Think | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
The twisting path to becoming less dumb has led to many stops. 

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Back when Shakespeare said you were the paragon of animals, both noble in reason and infinite in faculties, he did so during a time when physicians believed the body was filled with black bile, yellow bile, phlegm, and blood, and all sickness and health depended on the interaction of those fluids. Lethargic and lazy? Well, that’s because you are full of phlegm. Feeling sick? Maybe you’ve got too much blood and should go see a barber to get drained. Yes, the creator of some of the greatest works of the English language believed you could cure a fever with a knife.

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Pedro Tavares's curator insight, September 9, 2013 9:32 AM

to think about...

Ashley Deemer's curator insight, October 27, 2013 10:21 PM

I had to write and create fallacies last week for english. good article

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Religious people are less intelligent than atheists, according to analysis of scores of scientific studies stretching back over decades

Religious people are less intelligent than atheists, according to analysis of scores of scientific studies stretching back over decades | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
A new review of 63 scientific studies stretching back over decades has concluded that religious people are less intelligent than non-believers.

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A new review of 63 scientific studies stretching back over decades has concluded that religious people are less intelligent than non-believers.

A piece of University of Rochester analysis, led by Professor Miron Zuckerman, found “a reliable negative relation between intelligence and religiosity” in 53 out of 63 studies.

According to the study entitled, 'The Relation Between Intelligence and Religiosity: A Meta-Analysis and Some Proposed Explanations', published in the 'Personality and Social Psychology Review', even during early years the more intelligent a child is the more likely it would be to turn away from religion.

In old age above average intelligence people are less likely to believe, the researchers also found.

One of the studies used in Zuckerman's paper was a life-long analysis of the beliefs of 1,500 gifted children with with IQs over 135.

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Morteza Mostashari's comment, September 15, 2013 8:35 PM
This kind of makes me laugh due to the fact the I am a strong atheist and a firm believer of science. I think it's perfectly fine to have religion and that doesn't change my point of view on people but it does explain why politicians don't has common sense. But it amazes me that religion affected intelligence. I mean many people that are religious are geniuses and this article is not saying that religious people are dumb or mentally retarded, it is just saying that they tend to be lower than people who don't have a god to believe in. I guess you truly do learn something new everyday.
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Language boosts invisible objects into visual awareness

New research suggests that language can both enhance and diminish the sensitivity of of vision

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The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein famously said that, "the limits of my language mean the limits of my world," meaning that we can only understand the world through the language we use, and that if our language does not include words for some particular idea or concept, then that concept cannot exist for us. The relationship between language and thought is complex, which researchers continue to debate. Some, like Wittgenstein, argue that thought is dependent on language. Others point out that thought can occur in the absence of language, deaf people being an important case in point.

These arguments focus on the relationship between language and so-called "higher order" thought processes – our ability to evaluate and analyze, to conceptualize and understand. What about lower-order brain mechanisms, such as perception? New research provides evidence that language can influence these processes, so that hearing the name of an otherwise invisible object can enhance visual perception, boosting that object into our conscious awareness.

Wildcat2030's insight:

go read..

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Adilson Camacho's curator insight, August 13, 2013 6:43 PM

The question involves the scales and boundaries of places..

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Mind, brain and consciousness - SUSAN GREENFIELD, DPhil

There is a familiar dichotomy between mind and brain, whereas the concepts of ‘mind’ and ‘consciousness’ often are conflated: I wish to argue here that both suppositions are wrong.

First, let us consider the terms ‘mind’ and ‘ brain’. Where ‘brain’ obviously needs no definition, ‘ mind’ presents more of a trip-wire. Normally the term is used to refer to abstract airy-fairy events that float free of the biological squalor of neuronal circuitry and chemicals. But more than rather vague mental activity, ‘mind’ is used also for personal aspects of brain function, as in ‘I don't mind’, ‘broaden the mind’, ‘ make your mind up’, etc. I would venture therefore that perhaps ‘ mind’ is very close to what we might refer to as ‘ personality’, but the big difference is that personality is in the eye of a third-person beholder, whereas ‘mind’ is a first-person perspective, i.e. it is what it feels like to be you rather than what other people judge you to be.

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You've Spent Years on Your Ph.D.: Should You Publish It Online for Free?

You've Spent Years on Your Ph.D.: Should You Publish It Online for Free? | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
Why the American Historical Association is encouraging graduate programs "adopt a policy that allows the embargoing of completed PhD dissertations"
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Nothing to See Here: Demoting the Uncertainty Principle-Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle is not quite as strange as we think

Let’s put an end to the misuse of quantum physics to validate outlandish metaphysical claims.

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“You’ve observed the robbers. They know it. That will change their actions,” says Charlie Eppes, the math savant who helps detectives on television’s “Numbers.” Eppes claims that this insight follows from quantum physics, in particular, Werner Heisenberg’s infamous “uncertainty principle.” Not all mischaracterizations of Heisenberg’s principle are as innocent as Eppes’s. The film “What the Bleep Do We Know!?” uses it to justify many articles of faith in New Age philosophy. Asserting that observing water molecules changes their molecular structure, the film reasons that since we are 90 percent water, physics therefore tells us that we can fundamentally change our nature via mental energy. Fundamentally inaccurate uses of the principle are also common in the academy, especially among social theorists, who often argue that it undermines science’s claims to objectivity and completeness. As Jim Holt has written, “No scientific idea from the last century is more fetishized, abused and misunderstood — by the vulgar and the learned alike — than Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle.”

Why exactly is the uncertainty principle so misused? No doubt our sensationalist and mystery-mongering culture is partly responsible. But much of the blame should be reserved for the founders of quantum physics themselves, Heisenberg and Niels Bohr. Though neither physicist would have sanctioned the above nonsense, it’s easy to imagine how such misapprehensions arise, given the things they do say about the principle, and especially the central place they both give to the concept of measurement.

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John Searle: Our shared condition -- consciousness

John Searle: Our shared condition -- consciousness | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it

Philosopher John Searle lays out the case for studying human consciousness -- and systematically shoots down some of the common objections to taking it seriously. As we learn more about the brain processes that cause awareness, accepting that consciousness is a biological phenomenon is an important first step. And no, he says, consciousness is not a massive computer simulation. (Filmed at TEDxCERN.)

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"A becoming on the line" by Doria JD and Sayfan G. Borghini-Organizational Aesthetics

Art puts a question upon the world of ideas and perceptions. A question that artists pause upon in their every day practices with matter, mediums and minds. It is composed of the vivid sense of openness, unpredictability and chance that emerges with creativity: how open is the world around us – and in us? It comes to challenge the vision we have concerning the world and primarily the notion of strong determinism. Art is occupied in the generation of forms, from the times of its beginning in the caves of the Paleolithic. Ever since, and today more than ever, Art declares that aesthetic is not arrested in frozen objects, but rooted in the open dynamics of life, in the complex activity through which forms emerge, sustaining and modifying themselves. The journey of an artist into morphogenesis and aesthetics happens between experimental exploration and selected constrains. Through the subtle interplay between the chaotic and the coherent the artist understands aesthetic from within. The outcome is a work that confronts the constraints of what is the expected dénouement of a painting, and explodes in a multiplicity of images and worlds.

Recommended Citation

JD, Doria and Borghini, Sayfan G. (2013) "A becoming on the line: painting and the genesis of form," Organizational Aesthetics: Vol. 2: Iss. 1, 84-96.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.wpi.edu/oa/vol2/iss1/8

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Name Five Women In Philosophy. Bet You Can't. : NPR

Name Five Women In Philosophy. Bet You Can't. : NPR | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
Academic philosophy is an outlier within the humanities, with fewer than 20 percent of full-time faculty positions occupied by women. Commentator Tania Lombrozo discusses some recent findings that might help us understand why.

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Last Friday I found myself in a lovely lecture hall at Brown University with some 50 philosophers and psychologists attending the annual meeting of the , affectionately known as "SPP." Daniel Dennett was in the seat just ahead of me; additional luminaries were scattered about the room. A quick count revealed about equal numbers of men and women in the audience — an unusual figure for an event in philosophy, where .

That was precisely the topic we'd gathered to discuss: the underrepresentation of women in philosophy, where numbers mirror those for math, engineering, and the physical sciences, making philosophy an outlier within the humanities.

There's been no shortage of speculation about . Perhaps, to quote Hegel, women's "." Perhaps women are turned off by philosophy's confrontational style. Perhaps women are more inclined toward careers with practical applications.

But the most plausible hypothesis is that operate in philosophy, . Unfortunately, though, this explanation refines our question rather than answering it.

Why should bias be any greater in philosophy than in other humanistic disciplines? Is sexual harassment unusually common within philosophy, as might be suggested by , not to mention some chilling experiences reported in the blog Might our implicit assumptions about what a philosopher should look like and sound like be especially hard to reconcile with our implicit assumptions about women?

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nerdfiles's comment, July 4, 2013 3:35 PM
Joyce McDougall, Patricia Churchland, Margaret La Caze, Iris Murdoch, Mary Wollstonecraft
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Nature Photography: Good or Bad for the Environment?: Scientific American

Nature Photography: Good or Bad for the Environment?: Scientific American | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
It's a wonderful way to share the beauty and wonder of the natural world with others, but not if landscapes are trampled and wildlife is frightened

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Is nature photography good or bad for the environment?—Cal Moss, Camden, Maine

Nature photography is a wonderful way to share the beauty and wonder of the natural world with others who don’t have the opportunity to see a given subject first-hand. An obvious benefit of the art is raising awareness about and generating empathy for special landscapes and species. But too much love can be a bad thing if landscapes are trampled and wildlife is frightened—all in the name of leaving only footprints.

The use of photography as a conservation tool dates back as far as photography itself. William Henry Jackson’s photos from his travels with the Hayden Expedition of the 1860s to survey the American West helped convince Congress to create Yellowstone National Park in 1872—and as such played a role in the birth of the worldwide movement to set aside special places as national parks. Ansel Adams carried this torch forward a century later; opening up millions of viewers’ eyes to the splendor of many an iconic western landscape. And more recently wildlife photographers have gotten up close and personal to wild animals large and small so the rest of us can appreciate their beauty out of harm’s way.But some say there is a dark side to all this exposure of the wild and the natural. In a provocative essay in the Fall 1997 issue of DoubleTake magazine, activist and author Bill McKibben argued that the world has enough wildlife photography and that continuing to invade the lives of animal subjects—given the vast oversupply of images already available—is counterproductive to the goals of preserving biodiversity. He also decried the idealized view of the world that wildlife photography portrays. “How can there really be a shortage of whooping cranes when you’ve seen a thousand images of them—seen ten times more images than there are actually whooping cranes left in the wild?” he asked.
Most wildlife photographers bristle at McKibben’s stance. “The real problem with wildlife photography is not that there is too much of it but that photographers…are failing to reflect natural diversity,” argues UK-based nature photographer Niall Benvie. “Far from inhibiting productivity, it needs to be expanded greatly, telling the story of species and locations unknown to readers and viewers.”

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The Zombie Threat to a Science of Mind | Issue 96 | Philosophy Now

The Zombie Threat to a Science of Mind | Issue 96 | Philosophy Now | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
Philip Goff discusses a thought-experiment about consciousness.

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For the last five hundred years or so physics has been doing extraordinarily well. More and more of our world has been captured in its explanatory net, from the formation of planets and stars, to the nature of space and time, to the very basic constituents of the matter that makes us up. There’s a long way to go: our best theory of the very big, i.e., Einstein’s general relativity, is inconsistent with our best theory of the very small, i.e., quantum mechanics. But many look forward to the day when physicists will resolve these niggling issues and present the public with the Holy Grail of science: a Grand Unified Theory of everything. The hope of many philosophically-inclined scientists and scientifically-enthused philosophers is that this theory will explain the existence and nature of everything there is. Let us call this kind of view ‘physicalism’.

Physicalism is a grand and ambitious project, but there is a thorn in its side: consciousness. The qualities each of us encounters in our conscious experience – the feeling of pain, the sensations of biting into a lemon, what it’s like to see red – stubbornly refuse to be incorporated into the physicalist’s all-encompassing vision of the universe. Consciousness seems to be the one bit of left-over magic that refuses to be physicalised. And it’s all the fault of the zombies.

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Dartmouth researchers discover how and where imagination occurs in human brains

Dartmouth researchers discover how and where imagination occurs in human brains | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
Philosophers and scientists have long puzzled over where human imagination comes from. In other words, what makes humans able to create art, invent tools, think scientifically and perform other incredibly diverse behaviors?
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Why Haven't Humanities Ph.D. Programs Collapsed?

Why Haven't Humanities Ph.D. Programs Collapsed? | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
The job prospects for new Ph.D.'s in fields like history and English are miserable, yet students keep signing up for their shot at the ivory tower. Readers, tell us what you think is going on. 
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How Scholars Hack the World of Academic Publishing Now

How Scholars Hack the World of Academic Publishing Now | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
You can form a cartel. Or you can ignore it all together.

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If you want to understand the modern academy, it wouldn’t hurt to start at “impact factor.”

Every year, the company Thomson Reuters assigns every academic journal an “impact factor.” Impact factors measure, roughly, how often papers published in one journal are cited by other journals. It is an ecological measurement, in other words. You’d recognize the names of journals with the highest impact factors — Nature, Science, etc. — but the world of scholarly journals is enormous, and there’s crowding at the bottom.

Two stories today illustrate the problems with impact factors, and the difficulty of measuring knowledge through any metric.

First, Nature News revealed that a Brazilian citation cartel had been outed by Thomson Reuters. That’s right: a citation cartel.

The Brazilian government measures graduate schools based on the impact factor of the journals that those schools’ students publish in. Brazilian journals, many of which are newer, have low impact factors, so Brazilian graduate students often publish in journals abroad. This makes them and their graduate program look better, but it means the commercial benefit of Brazilian scholarship flows, in part, to non-Brazilian companies.

So editors at a set of Brazilian journals began linking to each others’ journals... a lot. The flurry of cross-citation made every journal appear more influential, and succeeded in raising the journals’ impact factor in 2011. For a moment, the scheme worked.

Until it didn’t.

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Karen Pearlman's comment, September 7, 2013 11:23 PM
The implication here is that applying economic rationalization to research culture seems to lead directly to a) corruption; b)meaningless research activity; c) strife filled worlds for academic researchers whereby value is measured against criteria external to the research concerns; and d) probably lower standards of teaching since this research outputs have more "value" for academic's careers.
Christos Nikolaou's comment, September 8, 2013 4:10 AM
sounds unfortunately true...
Pedro Tavares's curator insight, September 13, 2013 8:59 AM

no coments ....

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The Core of 'Mind and Cosmos'-Thomas Nagel

Why the theory of evolution, if it is to explain the existence of conscious life, must become more than just a physical theory.

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This is a brief statement of positions defended more fully in my book “Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False,” which was published by Oxford University Press last year. Since then the book has attracted a good deal of critical attention, which is not surprising, given the entrenchment of the world view that it attacks. It seemed useful to offer a short summary of the central argument.

The scientific revolution of the 17th century, which has given rise to such extraordinary progress in the understanding of nature, depended on a crucial limiting step at the start: It depended on subtracting from the physical world as an object of study everything mental – consciousness, meaning, intention or purpose. The physical sciences as they have developed since then describe, with the aid of mathematics, the elements of which the material universe is composed, and the laws governing their behavior in space and time.

We ourselves, as physical organisms, are part of that universe, composed of the same basic elements as everything else, and recent advances in molecular biology have greatly increased our understanding of the physical and chemical basis of life. Since our mental lives evidently depend on our existence as physical organisms, especially on the functioning of our central nervous systems, it seems natural to think that the physical sciences can in principle provide the basis for an explanation of the mental aspects of reality as well — that physics can aspire finally to be a theory of everything.

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Could The Universe Give A Toss? | Issue 97 | Philosophy Now

Could The Universe Give A Toss? | Issue 97 | Philosophy Now | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
Raymond Tallis thinks about probability and the frozen world of quantum mechanics.

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When you toss a coin, there are two possible outcomes – heads (H) or tails (T). No outcome should influence its successor: there is no causal pressure exerted by Toss 1 on Toss 2, as there is, say, from the movement of the thumb to the movement of the coin, so the chances of H on a particular occasion are the same irrespective of whether its predecessor was H or T. Improbable sequences – such as 100 straight Hs – do not defy or even bend the laws of mechanics. But if the outcome of Toss 1 does not influence the outcome of Toss 2, such that there is no gathering causal pressure for a T to follow a long run of Hs, why don’t we easily accept that the series H, H, H… could be extended indefinitely? Why would an unbroken sequence of 100 Hs raise our suspicion of a bent or even two-headed coin?

Let us look a bit closer at the properties of a genuinely random sequence. As we extend the series of tosses, the number of possible patterns increases enormously, but the proportion of those that are significant runs of Hs or Ts are vanishingly small. There is a 1:4 chance of HH (the other possibilities being HT, TH, and TT), but 25 Hs in succession would be expected to occur by chance only once in 33,554,432 throws. The longer any run of Hs or Ts, the less frequently it will occur; so the most likely outcomes will be those in which runs of Hs or Ts are soon broken up. This is how we reconcile the 50/50 chance of getting H on a particular toss, irrespective of what has gone before, with the growing suspicion that appropriately greets a very long series of Hs and the mounting expectation of a T.

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Cognitive Biases in Evaluating Human Life

Cognitive Biases in Evaluating Human Life | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
One of the greatest feats of the human brain is its ability to filter a vast amount of information into a manageable stream of relevant information.

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Aldous Huxley describes this as a ‘reducing valve’ – our brains funnel the enormous amount of information in the environment in whichever way proved to be most adaptive to our ancestors.

This means two things; we have sampled an excruciatingly tiny portion of the buffet of potential experiences our neural hardware is capable of, and we are insensitive to certain environmental information that didn’t confer an adaptive advantage in the ancestral environment. Developing sensitivity to this information is crucial for rational and ethical behaviour in the modern world.

Cognitive biases can lead the most empathic and conscientious people to behave in ways that could appear as sheer callousness.

The source of this seemingly selfish behaviour is not malice or indifference, but more that our brains are not equipped to apprehend reality as it really is. By recognizing our cognitive limitations we can understand why people act in inconsistent and unethical ways and how we can avoid falling into the same trap ourselves.

If people acted in accordance with their espoused egalitarian preferences, they would treat the value of every human life equally. In practice this is not the case. Despite endorsing egalitarian norms studies have shown unconscious cognitive biases can lead to valuation functions that decrease in absolute value as the number of victims increases!

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Why You Should Think Twice Before Shaming Anyone on Social Media | Underwire | Wired.com

Why You Should Think Twice Before Shaming Anyone on Social Media | Underwire | Wired.com | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
Mad at some jerk? Think twice before sending that damning tweet.
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Antonio Damasio: The quest to understand consciousness

http://www.ted.com Every morning we wake up and regain consciousness -- that is a marvelous fact -- but what exactly is it that we regain? Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio uses this simple question to give us a glimpse into how our brains create our sense of self.

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Enhancing Moral Conformity and Enhancing Moral Worth - Online First - Springer

Enhancing Moral Conformity and Enhancing Moral Worth - Online First - Springer | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it

It is plausible that we have moral reasons to become better at conforming to our moral reasons. However, it is not always clear what means to greater moral conformity we should adopt. John Harris has recently argued that we have reason to adopt traditional, deliberative means in preference to means that alter our affective or conative states directly—that is, without engaging our deliberative faculties. One of Harris’ concerns about direct means is that they would produce only a superficial kind of moral improvement. Though they might increase our moral conformity, there is some deeper kind of moral improvement that they would fail to produce, or would produce to a lesser degree than more traditional means. I consider whether this concern might be justified by appeal to the concept of moral worth. I assess three attempts to show that, even where they were equally effective at increasing one’s moral conformity, direct interventions would be less conducive to moral worth than typical deliberative alternatives. Each of these attempts is inspired by Kant’s views on moral worth. Each, I argue, fails.

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Will Commerce Open The Doors To 'Eastern' Philosophy? : NPR

Will Commerce Open The Doors To 'Eastern' Philosophy? : NPR | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it
Is it really possible that the civilizations that grew up in the "other" hemisphere have nothing useful to say about value, the categories of experience or the nature of mind? No. Luckily, we may be on the cusp of a new global era for philosophy.

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Let's play a game. Quickly name three philosophers of any historical era and write them down. If you are really ambitious, name five.

Take your time and think about it. It's OK. I'll wait.

Now look at your names. Were any of the men or women you wrote down born east of Afghanistan? Where any of the names of Indian, Chinese or Japanese origin? If you are like most Westerners (myself included), your list only included Westerners. Odds are your list had guys like Plato, Aristotle and Kant on it (note the rarity of women on the lists too, ). Such geographic provincialism in the tools of our thinking raises some profound issues.

Is it really possible that the civilizations of the "other" hemisphere have nothing useful to say about value, the categories of experience or the nature of mind? If not, what does it mean that the only non-Western philosopher most people can name is the Confucius?

An excellent piece by , laid out the roots of maintaining such a divide between "philosophy" and "non-Western philosophy":

Non-Western philosophy is typically represented in philosophy curricula in a merely token way. Western philosophy is always the unmarked category, the standard in relation to which non-Western philosophy provides a useful contrast.

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Rationally Speaking: Hanna Arendt: the movie, the philosopher

Rationally Speaking: Hanna Arendt: the movie, the philosopher | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it

I recently saw Hannah Arendt, a rare movie whose protagonist is a philosopher. And an exceedingly well done movie, it is. I was lucky enough to go to the US premier of it, held at Film Forum in New York, and which was attended by the director, Margarethe von Trotta, the leading actress, Barbara Sukowa, the screenwriter, Pamela Katz, and the main supporting actress, Janet McTeer. This sort of thing is a major reason I love living in New York.

The movie centers around a crucial period of Arendt’s career, when she covered the trial of former nazi officer Adolph Eichmann in Jerusalem, on behalf of the New Yorker magazine. The result was a series of five articles that were then collected in a highly influential book, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. Yes, you’ve heard the phrase before, and that’s where it comes from.

Arendt was already famous at the time, a leading faculty member at the New School in New York, and the author of The Origins of Totalitarianism, which is why the notoriously picky New Yorker immediately accepted her offer to cover the Eichmann trial. Little did they know about the fury and heated controversy that Arendt’s writing would soon generate, a controversy that alienated her from some of her closest friends and family members, though it also made her the talk of the town and the idol of her students.

As I said, the movie is well worth watching because of the superb screenwriting, directing and acting, and von Trotta stressed — during the q&a following the first screening — that it is based on a painstaking analysis of the available documents, including letters from Arendt to her friends and family. Indeed, Arendt doesn’t come across as an unquestionable hero in the film. She was a complex woman and superb intellectual, embodying plenty of contradictions (she was the lover of famous philosopher, and nazi sympathizer, Martin Heidegger), and who had suffered personally at the hands of the nazis (she fled Germany, was interned in a camp in France, escaped and moved to the US).

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Studies may have overestimated our generosity

Studies may have overestimated our generosity | Philosophy everywhere everywhen | Scoop.it

Many past stud­ies may have over­es­ti­mated hu­man gen­eros­ity, if a new piece of re­search is any clue.

The study recre­ated a game of­ten used in lab­o­r­a­to­ry ex­pe­ri­ments to as­sess peo­ple’s will­ing­ness to give away mon­ey, or their al­tru­ism.

Par­ti­ci­pants are typ­ic­ally granted an­o­nym­ity. But the new study was de­signed to af­ford an as­sur­ance of an­o­nym­ity even more be­liev­a­ble than usu­al. It was set up so that par­ti­ci­pants would be un­aware any ex­pe­ri­ment was even hap­pen­ing—or that any de­ci­sion would even be counted, let alone watched.

Un­der this seem­ingly great­er lev­el of se­cre­cy, the lev­el of giv­ing plunged to ze­ro.

The find­ings sug­gest that the lev­els of al­tru­ism recorded in pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ments may be “sub­stanti­ally in­flat­ed,” wrote the re­search­ers, Jef­frey Wink­ing and Nich­o­las Mizer of Tex­as A&M Uni­vers­ity.

The results are pub­lished in the Ju­ly is­sue of the jour­nal Evo­lution and Hu­man Be­havior.

The findings, they added, high­light the idea that “an­o­nym­ity” and “se­cre­cy” can be dif­fer­ent things, be­cause any vis­i­ble ex­pe­ri­men­tal situa­t­ion can threat­en a par­ti­ci­pant with “very sub­tle cues” that the free­dom from pry­ing eyes is not ab­so­lute.

The al­tru­ism game, known as the Dic­ta­tor Game, along with many vari­ants, is rou­tine fare in psy­chol­o­gy and eco­nom­ics ex­pe­ri­ments. Usu­ally par­ti­ci­pants are giv­en some mon­ey, along with in­struc­tions that they may share some of it with an un­known, ran­domly as­signed part­ner if they wish. An­o­nym­ity is of­ten, though not al­ways, prom­ised.

In the new ver­sion, peo­ple wait­ing for bus­es near Las Ve­gas casi­nos were ap­proached by an ap­par­ently ran­dom strang­er. This per­son would of­fer some free ca­si­no chips, con­vert­i­ble to mon­ey, say­ing he did­n’t have time to cash them in. In some cases, this strang­er would al­so sug­gest that the re­cip­i­ent could share the chips with a sec­ond strang­er, who was stand­ing some dis­tance away with his back turned, chat­ting in­to a cell phone. Both strang­ers were really ac­tors. 

The chip-giver would then leave, and the sec­ond strang­er would put down his phone and come to the bus stop. The chip re­cip­i­ent’s next move was then se­cretly not­ed.

In the stand­ard Dic­ta­tor Game, the over­all av­er­age dona­t­ion based on past stud­ies is 28 per­cent of the to­tal, with nearly two-thirds of peo­ple of­fering at least some­thing, Wink­ing and Mizer wrote.

But in their “real-life” re-enactment of the game, no one gave a thing.

One pos­si­ble rea­son might have been re­luc­tance to in­i­ti­ate a con­versa­t­ion with a strang­er, the re­search­ers spec­u­lat­ed. How­ev­er, two par­ti­ci­pants did start a con­versa­t­ion with the cell phone guy—just to re­late their stroke of good luck.

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