public philosophy

public philosophy


Speaking Truth to Power and Civil Disobedience

civil disobedience November 17th, 2018

Civil disobedience is a tried-and-true, potent, and ethical way to make your grievances known. Anything from handing out pamphlets to self-immolation can be considered civil disobedience, but the quintessential method is probably group protest that commits a nominal or minor legal infraction. Common would be disrupting traffic during a march, occupying a building during business hours, and picketing that goes beyond the garden-variety. I am not sure if taking a knee at a sports event during the national anthem truly counts – that might just be innocuous free speech. However, since Trump chooses to demagogue about that, instead of letting things take their natural course, it ends up functioning like civil disobedience because of the magnitude of the disruption it engenders. This blog is about the latest trend in left-wing protesting against the powers that be: harassing conservatives during times when these bad actors aren’t working to feather their own nests and undermine the fabric of our society, but simply eating in a restaurant or some such activity.

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Discrimination, Affirmative Action, & Distributive Justice

discrimination September 1st, 2018

As of this writing, another rights issue has taken the stage: Asian-Americans ability to gain entrance into the most selective private universities. Now, I went to the University of California, Irvine which as high as seventy percent non-white. Diversity is a societal good, and discrimination – not so much. The Asian-American students who are suing for an end to race-based preferences at Harvard University have a point to make, namely, that when it comes to education, the country should be purely a meritocracy. Is it discrimination when private colleges and universities such as Harvard have a quota for the maximum number of Asian-Americans they admit each year? Some considerations around affirmative action, distributive justice, and fairness are considered. Harvard’s history of anti-Semitism must be considered as well.

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Greed: Wall Street’s Financial Fraud

greed October 11th, 2017

This blog is about skepticism toward America’s financial services sector: Wall Street, big banks, hedge funds, etc., as well as the lobbyists, politicians, and professors who collude and conspire with the industry’s many bad actors. I’m talking about capitalism and power run amok. Greed. I just watched Inside Job,  by remarkable filmmaker Charles Ferguson. America has such a complex financial and political landscape, I want to criticize, but it is hard to know where to begin. I will crack my knuckles and give you what I’ve got.

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Philosophical Quotes: The Great Ideas

philosophical quotes July 6th, 2017

If you are looking for philosophical quotes, one excellent exponent is man of letters, Mortimer J. Adler. Though he has since shuffled off of this mortal coil, in his lifetime he was a dedicated and passionate voice for “the great ideas” (he and fellow intellectual Robert Maynard Hutchins pioneered the Great Books of the Western World series). A defender of rationality, rational inquiry, applied philosophy, the search for wisdom, and liberal education, he wrote and taught and was essentially “a public philosopher.” I recently read his book How to Think About The Great Ideas, essentially a snapshot of his general approach found here. In it were conversations in which many interesting philosophical quotes could be found. I will share a few in this blog and direct the interested reader to learn about Adler and public philosophy by seeing what quotations of his are housed in The Wisdom Archive, right here on Values of the Wise.

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