Tag: Philosophy

What Is Freedom? Teaching Kids Philosophy in a Pandemic

“We don’t really need going to school,” Ella Wagar, a 10-year-old from Seattle, told her online peers during a recent Zoom session. “What we really do need are friends. If you don’t have friends, it sucks; you play alone, you eat alone.” The children were exploring the difference between needs and wants in light of […]

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Should We Be More Pessimistic?

In dark times, dark thoughts have a certain appeal. Our eyes adjust. We want to know how deep the shadows go, and what sort of thing awaits beyond light’s comforting boundary. Recently, that boundary has seemed to be receding. Darkness is hard to escape. In the United States, more than 116,000 people and counting have […]

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Uber researchers investigate whether AI can behave ethically

Can AI behave ethically? That’s the intractable question researchers at Uber set out to answer in a preprint paper published on Arxiv.org. In it, they propose an approach that translates insights from moral philosophy to the field of reinforcement learning. AI agents act under moral uncertainty over the course of several experiments, highlighting how such […]

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Hospitals Are Having to Ration Essential Care. Can They Do It Fairly?

Recent reports make clear that American hospitals have already had to ration lifesaving treatment for Covid-19 patients. Initially, the fear was that ventilators would be in short supply. For now, there seems to be enough. But some hospitals are short on dialysis machines as well as the staff members and supplies to run them. It’s […]

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The Life of a Philosopher for Whom Life Was the Main Question

Early in life, the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard was bestowed the nickname gaflen, or “fork,” for his talent at detecting weakness in others — and his taste for prodding at it. Recently, that gaflen, that proud gadfly of the church, “the doctor of dread,” the father of existentialism, has emerged as a curious figure of […]

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How Do You Explain Henry Kissinger?

THE INEVITABILITY OF TRAGEDYHenry Kissinger and His WorldBy Barry Gewen When the nefarious Cardinal Richelieu died in 1642, Pope Urban VIII is said to have declared: “If there is a God, the Cardinal de Richelieu will have much to answer for. If not … well, he had a successful life.” Henry Kissinger likes that anecdote. […]

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Does the Coronavirus Pandemic Have a Purpose?

Nature doesn’t care about you. That may seem harsh, but strictly speaking, nature doesn’t care about anyone or anything, except passing genes into the next generation. We know this if we’ve studied evolution. It was Darwin’s great achievement to explain the adaptation of organisms without appeal to God’s design or mystical idealism. Darwinian evolution is […]

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Are We Really Facing the Coronavirus Together?

.inequality-seriestext { font-size: 18px; font-family: nyt-imperial; font-style: italic; line-height: 1.5; text-align: center; border-top: 1px solid #ddd; border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd; padding: 25px 15px; max-width: 600px; margin: 0 auto; box-sizing: border-box; margin-bottom: 25px; } .inequality-seriestext a:link, .inequality-seriestext a:visited { color: #326891; text-decoration: underline; } This article is part of “The America We Need,” a Times Opinion […]

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Confronting the Coronavirus, Our Fear, Our Trembling, Our Strength

We’re scared. We’re on edge, unable to concentrate. We can’t find focus. Our minds flit and float around flealike from one update to the next. We follow the news, because we feel we should. And then we wish we hadn’t, because it’s terrifying and sad. Daytime naps seem involuntary and fitful. Sleep will often not […]

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Susan Fowler: Why I Fought for Justice at Uber

On Feb. 18, 2017 — three years ago almost to the day — I sat at my kitchen table, my laptop open, my mind racing. In the two months since I’d quit my job as an entry-level software engineer at Uber, I’d tried to forget what I’d experienced and witnessed there, but it was impossible. […]

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