The is/ought problem, or dichotomy, is the idea from David Hume that one cannot get an ought (prescription) from an is (description) – one cannot determine how one ought to behave given just a description of the world. Sam Harris, in his book “The Moral Landscape” disagrees with this, arguing that values/ethics can be derived from science. Is Harris correct or misguided?
I just watched Bo Burnham’s new special on Netflix called “Inside” and thought, true to what Bo says in the special, I ought to add my two cents.
It’s almost proverbial that it is difficult to win an argument. That is, if we take successfully changing the opponent’s mind as the condition for victory. Most arguments end up with all parties involved becoming frustrated that their opponent is incapable of agreeing with them. Worse, both parties are often just as likely to become even more convinced of the beliefs they held when the argument began.
When it comes to changing our minds about some issue, the is/ought dichotomy once again comes into play. The former is the question: what conditions actually obtain when a given person changes their mind? The latter is the question: what conditions ought to obtain for a given person to change their mind?
Recently, the evolutionary biologist and outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins stirred up controversy with a tweet wondering about the differences between transgender identity and so-called trans-racial identity a la Rachel Dolezal. This upset people for many reasons, but one of them is his word choice: saying that transgender people “choose” to identify as the gender opposite to the sex they were not born with. The backlash resulted in Dawkins having his 1996 Humanist of the Year award revoked by the American Humanist Association, which caused its own controversy.
I recently read the article on FiveThirtyEight by Hakeem Jefferson and Koji Takahashi titled How The Politics Of White Liberals And White Conservatives Are Shaped By Whiteness. According to the article, and everything else in recent years on the topic of racism and ‘whiteness’, what I have to say will be motivated only by my racism, but hey, I thought I’d take a wack at it, anyway.
When an artist does something heinous (or, at least, is accused of something heinous), can we separate the artist from their art? This conundrum has become more salient in the Me Too era, where many people in film, TV, music, comedy, influencer, and other forms of entertainment and content creation are called out for their bad behavior. There doesn’t seem to be any readily available answers, but that doesn’t mean these aren’t important questions to ask.
When considering the religious aspect of the fanatical MAGA mob and their QAnon conspiracies, I can’t help but be reminded by Kierkegaard‘s leap of faith. Just as Abraham was told to do something heinous in the name of God, and despite the fact that nobody would understand why Abraham had done it, he must still do it.
The article written by Michael Lind titled “The Five Crises of the American Regime” attempts to diagnose the underlying causes of the United States’ current situation – that of increasingly polarized politics and the anger and grievances of the polity. It is a great article, and I recommend reading the whole thing. Here, though, I want to discuss five other crises that are contributing to the decline and fall of the American Empire.
Something tells me the storming of the capitol building wasn’t so much a putsch attempt as just a release of pent-up anger – more Storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789 and less the takeover of the Winter Palace on October 25, 1917. However, we all know what the Storming of the Bastille eventually led to.
Schizoid Personality Disorder isn’t a well-known personality disorder. This is likely because most people who have it, true to the nature of the personality disorder, are not ones to be very public about it, and often don’t even really view it as negatively impacting their lives (so long as people just leave them alone). I’ve been diagnosed with Schizoid Personality Disorder. It negatively impacts me insofar as, in (attempting to) be an author, I’m extremely bad at marketing myself. Here I’m going to just sort of stream-of-consciousness write about Schizoid Personality Disorder – or, at least, my experience with it.
Discover the science behind the Coronavirus (aka COVID-19 aka SARS-CoV-2) in these videos.
A series of videos explaining quantum mechanics, using math but with more emphasis on intuition than you will find in most textbooks. If you think you’re an idiot when it comes to learning these tough subjects, you might benefit by learning from me, a fellow idiot.
(Videos listed in reverse order of how they should be watched).