How should philosophers live in the political world (also known simply as the world)? In many respects, this question explicitly animates the Vim. The question is implicit in everything philosophers, as philosophers, do. So let’s do what philosophers do: make what is implicit explicit. I mean this in two ways. First, I want to prompt… Continue reading What Philosophy Owes Society
A version of this article first appeared on Quartz. In her 1951 book The Origins of Totalitarianism, in the section on propaganda, Hannah Arendt discusses a concept she calls “infallible prediction”: The chief qualification of a mass leader has become unending infallibility; he can never admit an error. The assumption of infallibility, moreover, is based… Continue reading Do We Want Our Predictions to Fail?
Pundits have developed a repertoire of cliches surrounding Trump voters, in large part motivated by the desire not to stereotype them as racist ignorant hicks. Before recoiling from such weighty generalizations, it is worth noting how terms like ‘racist’ and ‘ignorant’ work. Two people can hold many diverging views and yet both be accurately described… Continue reading The Myth of “Economic Anxiety”
A version of this article first appeared on Quartz The people Donald Trump has in mind as ‘true Americans’ are suffering from a collective normalcy bias. We are constantly told to keep faith in the decency of the American people (at least a sufficiently large number of them) while simultaneously we ponder how we, citizens… Continue reading A New Report on the Banality of Evil
In these unprecedented times a variety of weighty and scary political science terms are swirling around the internet: totalitarianism, authoritarianism, autocracy, despotism, tyranny, and fascism. Only recently has it become important for everyone to know what they mean. What exactly is an autocracy? And what is the difference between totalitarianism and authoritarianism? Or between despotism… Continue reading A Political Science Primer for Understanding Bad Types of Government
In the immediate wake of the election, a lively blame game broke out, most visibly among progressives. Whose fault is Trump? Our next president’s base is white people, so let’s blame the white people. People of color didn’t support Clinton like they did Obama. So let’s blame people of color. There were the third-party voters… Continue reading Why there was Only One Morally Acceptable Option in this Election
It is tempting to think that repealing or undermining Obamacare will result in a massive backlash against Republican legislators. When people start dying from lack of medical care, Republican legislators will start losing elections. Right? The assumption is rooted in progressives’ inner sense of justice or democratic karma. Even Biden dared Republicans to repeal, illustrating… Continue reading It is Wrong to Think Republicans Will Pay a Political Price for Undermining Obamacare