:: The End Times archive (

go hack yourself published 01/11/2013

Perhaps our machines of tomorrow will come with porn filters embedded in the code that we cannot remove; perhaps with code in the browsers that mark off portions of the Net as forbidden territory, perhaps our reading devices will not let us read certain books, perhaps our smartphones will not let us call certain numbers, perhaps prosthetic devices will not function in ‘no-go zones’, perhaps the self-driving cars of tomorrow will not let us drive faster than a certain speed; the control possibilities are endless. The more technologized we become and the more control we hand over to those who can change the innards of the machines, the less free we are.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Samir Chopra.

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forgiveness, blame, reasons… published 25/10/2013

The ability to satisfy moral demands must be learned, and the psychological resources needed for it must be gained. Often enough, that process goes wrong. Tragically, many people reach adulthood too insensitive, too touchy, too competitive, or too self-absorbed to be able to show other people the respect and regard that is (nonetheless) owed to them. So, these unfortunate souls are destined to do wrong—they lack the psychological resources required to consistently show others respect.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Pamela Hieronymi.

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Philosophy and aesthetics published 18/10/2013

Philosophy begins with what everybody more or less knows. And yet of course an insightful philosopher gives you an entirely new conception of the world that it would be perverse not to call understanding. There’s a reason Goethe said that reading Kant was “like stepping into a brightly-lighted room.” So perhaps the standing crisis for philosophers is not over whether Kant says something and does something; the crisis arises when you try to explain that accomplishment in terms of knowledge gained.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Nickolas Pappas.

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idealism and critical theory published 11/10/2013

It is a commonplace that Adorno rejects ‘low art’, but that is not accurate. He does say rather disparaging things about folk and popular music that seem now more an extrusion of antecedent theorizing than well-informed and fair assessment. What Adorno rejects really has nothing to do with ‘low’ and ‘high’ categories of art as such; he rejects art that can no longer operate at the avant-garde of refined subjectivity, which can no longer exhibit and prompt new forms of imagination… I don’t buy the Arendt-Bell-Fukayama line that ideology is over and done with, that socialism and anarchism are rendered obsolete by the dominance of liberal capitalism, Aristotelian ‘common sense’, or a combination of the two. That canard is just a Cold War repetition of the older and more philosophically substantive dispute between Karl Mannheim and Lukács back in the 1930s. Horkheimer has an early essay on that dispute, which is in my estimation definitive. What is true is that no one has shown a way out of capitalism thus far, but that is not counsel for utter despair.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Fred Rush.

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epistemic forces and perception published 07/10/2013

I argue that there’s a continuum between imagination and belief: some imaginations are belief like in that we take what is imagined to be true. Accepting that there is such a continuum has consequences for how to think about the modularity of the mind. I argue also that imaginations always interact with beliefs to yield actions and affective responses.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Susanna Schellenberg.

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Kierkegaardian published 04/10/2013

I interpret the notion of ‘loving a stranger’ in the sense of ‘agape’ – the intentional attempt to promote well being. Nussbaum herself has a response to her own point – drawing on the Stoics she suggests that we might imagine ourselves to be in the middle of concentric circles. In the inner circle are our friends and family. We might gradually draw in those who are originally far away from us, by, for example, calling a stranger ‘sister’ or ‘cousin’. We cannot, of course, encompass everyone in the world, but we might at least include a few more in our circles than many of us do at the moment.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Alison Assiter.

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a kill bill philosopher published 27/09/2013

I was struck by the number of smart people who picked up weird beliefs in the dojo; engineers who believe in ki or even “touchless knockouts”, university students who tell newcomers that “strength isn’t important in fighting” and over and over again people who overestimate the efficacy of years of fine-grained study in response to real world aggression. The martial arts is full of middle class professionals who hope/believe that training twice a week for two years makes them safe. They’re not stupid people, but … but humans are weird about violence.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Gillian Russell.

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Phenomenology Never Goes Out Of date published 20/09/2013

In Keith Payne’s chilling experiment, when primed with pictures of black men, subjects more often misclassify a tool (pliers, wrench, or a drill) as a gun, compared with subjects who are primed with pictures of white men. So we know that whatever state of mind the black prime puts you in, it leads to those errors of classification. But the experiment doesn’t speak to the underlying psychological mechanisms. (This is true of most experiments that reveal the cognitive manifestations of racism).

Contining the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Susanna Siegel.

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modality and metaphysics published 13/09/2013

Far from making death less bad, permanentism excludes one way of trying to remove its sting: the argument that being dead is no misfortune because nothing has the property of being dead. That argument depends on the temporaryist assumption that the dead are literally nothing (an assumption that also makes our ability to pick out and refer to particular dead people quite problematic). Permanentists may find some other way of consoling themselves for their mortality, but not that way.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Timothy Williamson.

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Law as a leap of faith published 06/09/2013

Laws made on moral pretences are shamefully common in contemporary democracies, where vote-seeking politicians pander to what they know to be the obnoxious views of their electorate, e.g by demonising asylum-seekers or welfare benefit claimants. In the UK right now there is a lot of this going on under the fake-moral guise of ‘fairness’. There are vulnerable people being legislated into destitution by ruthless liars.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews John Gardner.

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