Suggested readings, #92

Here it is, a rundown of interesting articles I’ve come across recently, to consider for your weekend readings:

Testing positivism. “The Murder of Professor Schlick” brilliantly illuminates an ambitious movement in philosophy. (Standpoint Magazine)

Best time to reopen? Economists are just guessing. Their mathematical skills are formidable, but toss out the dicey assumptions and things get squishy. (Bloomberg)

Philosophy: a history of failure? (3 Quarks Daily) Yet another attempt to show that philosophy has failed. Repeatedly. For a different view, see here.

Why I changed my mind about organics. And why you probably should too. (Medium)

What people actually say before they die. Insights into the little-studied realm of last words. (Atlantic) Scientifically a bit questionable, but interesting food for thought.

The problem of now. The injunction to immerse yourself in the present might be psychologically potent, but is it metaphysically meaningful? (Aeon) A good example of a philosopher who engages in good quality logic chopping, thereby missing the forest for the trees.

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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.

7 thoughts on “Suggested readings, #92”

  1. Given most economics outside of the best of modern behavioral economics is still pseudoscience is more reason not to listen to economists on “reopening,” isn’t it?

    Agree on focusing on sustainable farming, not organics.

    On “famous last words”? Beyond history rewriting many of these, just like famous non-last words, a lot of it is bunk for other reasons, in my opinion. Can’t remember where, but just before Christmas, I read a piece nothing that a very common end-of-life symptom is reduced lung function, hence hypoxia. Result? “Last words” that sound both pithy and erudite are actually just short because they have to be and may not at all be erudite, but rather, muddied and muddled due to sufficient decreases in brain oxygen.

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  2. 1. I gave up complaining about economics, something common among progressives. Economics is simply not going to go away (including modeling, how can you know whether deficits matter without Keynesian macro-concepts). There are people in the field who are cynical and well aware of these problems and work hard to gather mountains of evidence for their ideas. A small minority, but enough to read out there to keep us for a life time.

    2. I think if you’re making a claim that philosophy or any field is a failure, you have to lay out a standard for what you mean by that. That they didn’t arrive at the truth, or that they faltered even as historical developments to inspire better ideas? And there are plenty of minority positions out there in historical philosophy, even if they weren’t popular at the time.

    3. This is a helpful website for all things agriculture by the way (Socratic, you might be interested in this too):

    4. I lean towards B-theory of time, but it’s still a matter of debate

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    1. Saphsin, agreed on all points, but criticism of standard economics and its assumptions must continue, it’s the only way forward. And it has brought changes, in the form of behavioral economics.


    2. I know of this, I’m just saying there are those who do this both “and” try hard to provide an alternative. I met too many people who just talk badly of economics and stop there.

      Also, behavioral economics is only one sub-field pertaining to micro issues, in which there is also good and bad work. The problems don’t stop there, Economics is much more broad.

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  3. The science of economics is far from perfect, but to call it “guessing” is wildly incorrect. All sciences are imperfect. For example, the “real” scientists who have been so sure that lockdowns work and demanding that we just listen to them or else we’re…what, Luddites, morons, anti-science, racist, putting money before lives, and on and on, are, now that the actual studies are being published, having to eat their words (although they never actually will, the conceit of science is real). Even questioning them has been enough to get you banned from youtube, facebook, and twitter, and yet they’ve been wrong over and over throughout the past year (but, you know, it’s ok to let Dorsey and Zuckerberg decide what is acceptable speech).

    I just did an interesting thing: I googled “new study shows lockdowns work” and then “new study shows lockdowns don’t work” and I get essentially the same result…study after study showing that they don’t work as intended. If THAT is true, then we should have been listening to the economists all along.

    Recent studies have shown that voluntary measures work just as well:

    The new variants of the virus are not stopped by locking down:

    Death rates are not reduced by lockdowns:

    Women, even in developed nations, are turning to prostitution to make ends meet:

    If that is true in the UK, can you imagine what effect the dramatic decline in world GDP is having in the poorest countries? And then there are the children:

    And there are many others. Of course, not all “real” scientists have been proclaiming the necessity of lockdowns, such as those from the WHO who have been telling us for months to please stop:

    So, before “real” scientists spend too much time criticizing those who analyze economic data to draw their conclusions, they should probably look in the mirror at how they have handed COVID-related issues, and how they have maligned anyone who dared doubt their supreme authority. The economists have been right, the lockdowns have had devastating effects on economic activity that will reverberate around the world for years, mostly hurting the most vulnerable poor of the world (who were the least affected by COVID).

    Just like terrorists attacks and bees, the virus has tricked us into hurting ourselves more than it ever could.



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