Suggested readings, #4

Here are some interesting articles I’ve come across recently, for your consideration:

David Brooks thinks our culture tells us five crucial lies. He may be onto something. (New York Times)

A critical but friendly commentary on Lee Smolin’s new book: Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution. In case you wanted more about the current mess in fundamental physics. (NPR)

Epictetus and the problem of philosophical progress. (3 Quarks Daily)

Socrates’ philosophy shows why moral posturing on social media is so darn annoying. (QZ)

A long and somewhat rambling article on why bioethicists are not doing enough to stem the new eugenics. Several good points, a recurring bad argument. See if you can spot it. (New Atlantis)

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Massimo is the K.D. Irani Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York. He blogs at and He is the author of How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life.

9 thoughts on “Suggested readings, #4”

  1. I disagree with Adam Frank’s critique of Smolin’s version of quantum realism. It’s only “hard” if you reject a realist interpretation of quantum mechanics from the start.


  2. Massimo, I grokked down to the end of the New Atlantis piece. I don’t know if this:

    The community of professional bioethicists may find such laws ill-advised or extreme, but given their morally frivolous record, there is little reason to trust them to provide meaningful oversight for these technologies

    Is your recurring bad argument, but it IS a bad argument. Many bioethicists that I’ve read (Caplan popped immediately to mind) certainly don’t have morally frivolous records.


    1. Socratic, good point about Caplan. I was thinking of the author’s frequent use of the “yuck” argument. He never does explain what, exactly, is objectionable in the views he finds objectionable.


  3. Ahh, got it on that, on the “yuck” argument. And, while you say informal fallacies aren’t necessarily all that some crack them up to be, nonetheless … a classical fallacy of appeal to emotions!

    Were you referring to the one I posted back as nonetheless interesting? The idea behind it is is … that environmentalism does itself have a race problem. I’ve never denied that. But, the anti-Instagramming of poppy tramplers and others that the SJW folks called out, and others, NONE of them linked any of this to race. I’ve subscribed to High Country News semi-regularly for 15-plus years, and this is likely a breaking point for me.

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