What is Wrong with Inclusive Language

One has to make adjustments in one’s writing if one wants to avoid sexist language. Such a sentence is an example of the clunkiness that often comes about with the adjustment. I have heard numerous philosophers (and people in other fields) complain about the awkwardness of the ‘inclusive language’ convention—instead of ‘he’, saying 'one', ‘he/she’… Continue reading What is Wrong with Inclusive Language

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What Philosophy Owes Society III: a New Public Philosophy

Philosophy has special civic obligations. Many philosophers agree with this, either explicitly or deep in their souls. Many philosophers became philosophers for precisely these sorts of reasons. There is a variety of ways to meet these obligations, but perhaps the most obvious and most important way is through public philosophy: stepping outside of the academy… Continue reading What Philosophy Owes Society III: a New Public Philosophy

What Philosophy Owes Society II: Anti-intellectualism

It is an axiom among intellectuals that America is an anti-intellectual culture. And among the so-called anti-intellectuals, the idea is part and parcel of the ‘coastal elitism’ or “cosmopolitan bias” that, as another axiom goes, so many people despise. We never think hard about whether it is in fact true that American culture is anti-intellectual.… Continue reading What Philosophy Owes Society II: Anti-intellectualism

What Philosophy Owes Society I

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 I

The Socratic Method and Conversational Violence

In “A Guide for Talking to Trump Supporters,” beloved Vimmer Zach says that using the Socratic Method is a particularly useful strategy for engaging Trump supporters. The idea is that through critical questioning, we can bring Trump supporters to realize flaws in their reasons for supporting Trump. Sometimes, however, as these conversations practically play out,… Continue reading The Socratic Method and Conversational Violence

Do We Want Our Predictions to Fail?

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?

How to Apologize for a Lie

Most of us agree that lying is, at least generally speaking, morally wrong.  We all have our reasons.  Some of us think that lying is not conducive to human well-being.  Others of us think that, when we lie, we are using people merely to serve our own ends.  And still others of us say it… Continue reading How to Apologize for a Lie