Philosophical Methodology and Semantic Indeterminacy


Two English-speaking anthropologists visit an insular tribe that is purported to have its own unique language. In order to learn the tribal language, one anthropologist joins…

Critical theory serves the dominant elites

Photo by Kedar Gadge on Unsplash

Has anyone thought to ask why politicians, corporations, universities, billionaires, celebrities, and many others in the 1% network, are ?Because they support what keeps them in power. In his 1998 book , the philosopher Richard Rorty predicted that elites would…

The lady doth protest too much

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I found Michelle Goldberg’s New York Times op-ed (‘The Campaign to Cancel Wokeness’, Feb 28, 2021) confusing. She correctly states that some politicians in the United States, France and Britain are trying to legislate against critical race theory being taught in schools, but her…

If they decide to roll with it

The Nuremberg Trials for Nazi war crimes. Photo from the National Archives and Records Administration via Wikimedia (public domain)

It’s trendy these days to call Republicans ‘Fascists’ or even ‘Nazis’, and Democrats have been labeled ‘Socialists’ or ‘Communists’ by rivals for decades. Though some take this name-calling literally, many use it as a rhetorical strategy to paint their opponents in the worst possible light.

This may seem a smart…

Unless you’re a Darwinian.

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I know this has been said before, perhaps more recently by the philosopher Jerry Fodor (though, as often happens with philosophers, there are differing views on what he meant). But I think it can be put more simply. So here goes.

Consider the theory Stuff Happened…

Why Skepticism About Knowledge of the External World Doesn’t Matter Much

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There’s an insurmountable mountain of literature on philosophical skepticism, and I’m short on time and energy. So, to quote Wittgenstein’s preface to the , “If my remarks do not bear a stamp which marks them as mine, —…

How an immortal jellyfish could end evolutionary theory as we know it

Turritopsis dohrnii, the ‘immortal jellyfish’. Image by Dr. Karen J. Osborn via Wikimedia (CC0 1.0)

Almost all organisms grow old (i.e. physically deteriorate over time), a process that eventually results in death. Biologists call this age-related decline ‘senescence’. We know only a few exceptions. …

No one seems to know what they’re good for

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Somebody has to say it. PhD degrees are useless. Bertrand Russell never had one, law professors still don’t need them. Why do we have them?

Reason №1. PhD programs are a source of cheap indentured labor. Graduate students do a lot…

And it’s the same for all of us

Photo from UN Department of Public Information via Wikimedia (public domain)

Some disciplines have a ‘blind spot’, assumptions that go largely unquestioned because they justify the existence of the discipline. For philosophical ethics, that blind spot is the assumption of moral ignorance, that there are circumstances in which we do not know the…

Or the economy will regularly implode

Photo by Egor Myznik on Unsplash

Recently, there have been calls by some economists for a ‘debt jubilee’, which essentially means the cancellation of debts (either by debt forgiveness, acting as if the debt never existed; or third-party redemption, where someone other than the lender or borrower — such as…

Ben Gibran

Ben writes on the theory and social science of communication, and anything else that comes to mind

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