Suggested readings, #106

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

Coronavirus: do we have a moral duty not to get sick? Yes, we do. (The Conversation)

An ontology of evil. Evolutionary biology, data science, and why evil is a bigger problem than many like to admit. (Medium)

What’s it like to go mad? Meet the man who found out. Psychosis gave Dutch linguist Wouter Kusters an insight into mental illness. See if you can make much sense of it, because I couldn’t. (Irish Times)

What does it mean to be a living thing? Review of what looks like a very good by science journalist Carl Zimmer. (New York Times)

The radiant inner life of a robot. Kazuo Ishiguro returns to masters and servants with a story of love between a machine and the girl she belongs to. Another book review, this time of a philosophically laden sci-fi book that I’ll probably put on the list for my regular . (The Atlantic)

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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.

5 thoughts on “Suggested readings, #106”

  1. Re “The Ontology of Evil,” the author focuses on the suffering and death of humans, but he also casts his net wider and discusses suffering and death in the evolution of life. But why does he ignore so much nonhuman suffering and death? I am referring to the five major extinctions which have punctuated earth history, in which ~98% of all life went extinction? Just to take the last one, the meteorite that stuck the earth 66 million years ago caused suffering and death on a global scale.

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  2. On Avoiding getting sick, my impulse is to question the words moral and duty but I won’t. I think we should follow best practices to avoid becoming infected and transmitting the virus to others, others who will then be less likely to pass it on or get sick themselves, and together making it less likely that those at risk of complications will get sick, and also less likely the greater community will become a breading ground for more deadly variations of the virus.

    Evil !?? :)

    On Wouter Kusters and going mad, I can’t make much sense of it either.

    On What does it mean to be a living thing? I get easily impatient with questions like that, on the one hand I think we can easily arrive at an agreement on a working definition for life (if that’s useful), and on the other hand I’m still trying to sort out what exactly is being asked and how that might relate to other questions like those on sentience, being, and topics in last weeks reading Where science and miracles meet.

    On Kazuo Ishiguro’s book, I haven’t had a chance to read it yet. In the mean time I added your Book club to my feed.

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