Culture & Literature
Philosophy Now

Philosophy Now October - November 2015

Philosophy Now is a magazine for everyone interested in ideas. It isn't afraid to tackle all the major questions of life, the universe and everything. It tries to corrupt innocent citizens by convincing them that philosophy can be exciting, worthwhile and comprehensible, and also to provide some light and enjoyable reading matter for those already ensnared by the muse, such as philosophy students and academics. It contains articles on all aspects of philosophy, plus book reviews, film reviews, news, cartoons, and the occasional short story.

United Kingdom
Anja Publications Ltd
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$9.20(Incl. tax)
$33.75(Incl. tax)
6 Issues

in this issue

4 min.
liberty & equality

“The finest opportunity ever given to the world was thrown away because the passion for equality made vain the hope for freedom.” (Lord Acton) The most famous motto of the French Revolution was Liberté, égalité, fraternité. Yet the ink was barely dry on their badly printed leaflets and posters before les révolutionnaires began to squabble among themselves about how exactly the three terms should be understood, what order they should have been printed in and whether they were even compatible with each other at all. And those disputes have continued ever since. For the trouble with any moral or political system which is built on more than a single underlying value is that you can get tension between the different things that it values. If you launch a revolution calling for…

1 min.
the univocity of silence

Silence is just silence, it seems. But silence –that lack – does it not come in diverse flavors?The silence of the tower bell differs fromthat of the music teacher’s triangle, no? Sometimes we sense the contrast in subtle tonesgiven off by each – low intensity vibesreflecting our own breath, our own warm presence,or the background notes of some obscure warbler.Other times we are simply bringing to bearour understanding that were each one to ringthere would be contrast: hollow versus tinny. But what, now, of the silence of ears pricked outfor prowlers, versus that of delta-wave slumber,or of biting one’s tongue?‘Noise’ inside such silent ones(hope, fight, flight; low blood pressure; pent up umbrage)explains – indeed, explains away – the contrasts. © MICHAEL ANTHONY ISTVAN JUNIOR 2015 M. A. Istvan Jr. teaches philosophy at Texas State…

7 min.
albert camus (1913–1960)

Albert Camus was born into poverty in Mondovi, Algeria, on November 7, 1913. He was raised as a slum kid by his mother, an illiterate charwoman. The family subsisted in a cramped three-room apartment. His father, a wine-shipping clerk turned army reservist, died of wounds suffered during World War I, thereby exacerbating the family’s economic plight. Such an unpromising start might have stunted the ambitions of a lesser person. Undaunted, Albert Camus transcended his social and economic challenges by way of his relentless drive. Having risen from abject poverty, he once wrote that physical hunger had better instructed him on Marxism than had Marx’s tome Capital. No stranger to physical illness either, he caught tuberculosis in 1930 – a recurrent aliment that might have killed him. And yet by 1936 he…

7 min.

People talk with their smartphones nowadays. Well, I guess they’re talking to their mobiles, and those devices are responding. But what if an electronic device could think, feel and love, as well as respond? The movie Her (2013) explores this question. A man falls in love with his computer’s program, which can learn and evolve, and which apparently has feelings and wants. A person and a computer falling in love seems crazy, especially while the technology still doesn’t support artificial intelligence. But eventually governments may seek to ban such liaisons – or tax them. And while you may never exhibit such feelings for a computer system, now or in the future, maybe one of your family members or friends might just one day tell you they’ve formed such a relationship –…

8 min.
surveillance ethics

We are being watched. As we go about our daily business, closed-circuit televison cameras observe and record our every move. There are over six million CCTV cameras keeping an eye on the public in the UK alone, and public surveillance is at a similar level in all developed countries. In some cities we can expect to be seen by security cameras around three hundred times during a single day. The increasing pervasiveness and sophistication of surveillance technology raises philosophical questions both epistemic (to do with the acquisition of knowledge) and ethical (concerned with living the good life). Surveillance Asymmetry Epistemic considerations preoccupy the CCTV users: governments, law enforcement agencies and businesses. Their desire is to capture specific types of knowledge about us reliably and efficiently. They wish to form justified true beliefs…

7 min.
mill, liberty & euthanasia

People in liberal democracies have various restrictions on their freedom – there are laws against defamation and breaking contracts, for example. But we also have a large degree of freedom compared with people in other societies. Some restrictions of freedom – such as laws against murder and assault – seem reasonable, while others may not. How much individual liberty should people have? Is there a general principle for how freedom should and should not be restricted? John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) had such a principle. His Liberty Principle states that people should be free from restrictions as long as they are not harming others. (Please note that for Mill, and for this article, freedom means no restrictions or coercion from society.) As Mill put it, “The only purpose for which power can…