Contemporary philosophical musings and their various relatives.
A primary object should be the education of our youth in the science of government. In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important? And what duty more pressing than communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country?
This lines up nicely with my prescription to emphasize teaching philosophy and economics to our young. These are precisely the areas of knowledge one would want to navigate a democracy with any monitary system (but especially any form of capitalism).
The media lies. They don’t necessarily intend to lie, but this is a consequence of having an agenda and of lacking scientific or philosophic rigor. For this reason, I do have a modicum of sympathy for those shouting “fake news”. It can be challenging to tease out the truth from the well-intentioned messages journalists pass around.
Take a look at this article discussing an important aspect of understanding statistics which you will some times see presented by the media:
The Doomsday Argument has a very dramatic name. Even it’s sometimes alternate name, the Carter catastrophe (after its first proponent), is dramatically tragic. However, this tragedy is falsely earned.
The short version is that, statistically speaking, there is a likely end to our species around 1.2 trillion humans born (you and I are about the 100 billionth humans born). This is of course some distance off into the future, but it is an end nonetheless.
It is easy to see why this would seem like a tragedy to the namers and contemplaters of this argument: The end of the human species!
There are some pessimistic, even cynical, folks who would cheer this tragic end. Sad little monkeys.
But fear not intrepid reader, this is not necessarily the tragic end it at first glance appears.
Evolution. Marvelous machinations. If the end of homo sapiens falls somewhere in the next 1.1 trillion members, we can also imagine that homo exim will arise during that period. Nothing lives forever, but so many things do create viable offspring.
If any of this turns out to be true, then the Argument is correct in predicting the end of our species, but it is laughably wrong in its assessment of that outcome. Let’s just hope we evolve into something more interesting than Morlocks.
I once had an on-line conversation concerning the Trolley Problem where my interlocutor made an attempt to leap through the horns of the dilemma. His stance was simply that doing nothing, not getting involved, was the most moral position because he could wash his hands of any deaths which resulted. Let us leave aside the moral problem of refusing to get involved (I’m looking at you, eye-witnesses who won’t talk to the police) and test a slightly different version of the problem.
I present for you a version of the Trolley Problem with narrowed horns.
You are walking along the sidewalk when a distinct ka-chunk sounds and you are stopped in your tracks as a monitor comes to life to reveal the following situation.
You have actuated a plate in the sidewalk which has aimed an approaching train at a group of, say, five persons, who will all be killed if the train reaches them. If you step off of the plate on which you are now standing you divert the train back to the former track where it will in fact kill one person.
What is your decision?
This modified version of the problem can be further modified in all the usual ways the former Trolley Problem has been modified (number of persons, status of persons, &c) for testing further moral nuance. I trust though that this version will eliminate at least one avenue of attempted escape for those who would rather not contemplate the epically tragic and thus flee between the horns of this dilemma.