News and Events
Past EventsApril 23, 2021Most philosophers acknowledge ways of overcoming blame, even blame directed at a culpable offender, that does not count as forgiving. Sometimes continuing to blame a friend for their offensive comment just isn’t worth it, so we let go instead. However, despite being a common and widely recognized experience, no one has offered a positive account of letting go. Instead, it tends to be characterized negatively and superficially, usually in order to delineate the boundaries of forgiveness. This paper gives a more complete and systematic account of this important practice. We argue that the basic distinction between forgiving and letting go of blame follows from distinctions that most philosophers already accept. We then develop a positive account in terms of the reasons one has to let go rather than forgive and show that letting go is as valuable a part of our shared moral lives as forgiveness.April 16, 2021Since the beginning of the pandemic, models have played a larger role in guiding human affairs than perhaps ever in history. Simple models have been used to predict the “herd immunity threshold” for COVID-19. More complex models have been used to predict the natural course of the disease and project the impact of various candidate interventions. Causal modeling has been used to infer the (counterfactual) effects of past interventions. Some of the decisions that have been guided by these models have been disastrous. The brazen character of some of the inferences that have been drawn and widely publicized will likely diminish the future credibility of science in an increasingly politically fractured world. Why has this happened? How can we do better in the future?March 26, 2021
There has been much recent discussion of monuments. Such discussions focus primarily on artefactual monuments. Interestingly, however, the first entity designated as a U.S. national monument was a naturalentity: Devil’s Tower. I seek to provide a philosophical analysis of this, and other, natural entities that are designated as monuments. I argue that many of them are genuine monuments but that, in virtue of being so, are subject to three concerns: first, they treat natural entities inappropriately; second, they give rise to a problematic form of ecotourism; and third, they invite a particular kind of political controversy. Forming a contrast, I then argue that designated wilderness areas are a sort of countermonument and that, in virtue of how they differ from monuments, avoid the three previous worries. In this way, my discussion provides a philosophical diagnosis of how The Antiquities Act and The Wilderness Act differ in their approach to the natural environment.