Last week, we had several posts (“Wanted: Non-Philosophers To Do Philosophy”, On The Goals Of Introductory Philosophy Courses, and On The Various Disciplines’ Resources For Engaging The Enduring Questions) discussing the NEH grant for novel courses on the “enduring questions” and what it said about perception of philosophy in the academy.  Brian Leiter draws attention to a comment from a philosopher who was on the NEH’s review panel and who thinks philosophers have reason to be “worried.”  Here was the… Read more

Good for the Episcopals: Progressives in the Episcopal Church were on the verge of claiming another victory Wednesday as leaders endorsed the creation of blessing liturgies for same-sex unions one day after they ended a de facto ban on the ordination of gay bishops. They pointed to language in the measure that invites “theological reflection” from throughout the wider communion. The Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion. “I hope it will help us to be more… Read more

This is a fascinating study on how we make value judgments subliminally and possibly irrationally—when people didn’t know they were detecting an odor, they mistakenly attributed a sense of foulness to people shown to them on a screen.  When they did know they were detecting an odor, they didn’t let the odor affect how they judged the people. When the volunteers didn’t detect the odor at all, they rated faces as significantly more likeable when they smelled the pleasant lemon… Read more

Johann Hari on the rise of open gay parenting in the UK and the research indicating no averse effects for children: The children of gay couples are desperately and passionately wanted. They are, by definition, planned, with parents who have to go to a great deal of hassle and heart-searching before they are created. Compare that the number of kids idly conceived in a five-minute shag at a bus stop. But obviously, every parent wants the best for their child… Read more

Eric Schwitzgebel makes an interesting case that in some cases believing and desiring may be the same thing, or at least close enough to each other as to be inseparable from each other: In the usual taxonomy of mental states (usual, that is, among contemporary analytic philosophers of mind) belief is one thing, desire quite another. They play very different roles in the economy of the mind: Desires determine our goals, and beliefs determine the perceived means to achieve them,… Read more

This story out of Iran is nightmarish and devastating to read: He said he had been a highly regarded member of the force, and had so “impressed my superiors” that, at 18, “I was given the ‘honor’ to temporarily marry young girls before they were sentenced to death.” In the Islamic Republic it is illegal to execute a young woman, regardless of her crime, if she is a virgin, he explained. Therefore a “wedding” ceremony is conducted the night before… Read more

David Boies sums up the case he and Ted Olson are making in favor of a constitutional right to gay marriage: Countries as Catholic as Spain, as different as Sweden and South Africa, and as near as Canada have embraced gay and lesbian marriage without any noticeable effect — except the increase in human happiness and social stability that comes from permitting people to marry for love. Several states — including Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont –… Read more

This research suggests so: Those couples who had lived together before making a commitment to marriage (e.g., before getting engaged) reported significantly lower quality marriages and a greater potential for divorce than those who didn’t live together at all, or those who lived together only after getting engaged.The researchers’ findings remained significant even when they controlled for other potentially explaining variables, such as length of the marriage, religiousness, and education levels. The researchers also did not find any significant differences… Read more

The perfect gift for the psychopathic child who has everything: Read more

Clive Crook wanted more from Sotomayor and thinks she got off easy on the most crucial questions: It seemed to me she did not so much clarify the liberal-sounding speeches and remarks (“wise Latina woman” and so on) that have so preoccupied her critics as simply retract them. And both sides let her do it. In my mind, these serial disavowals kept raising the question: well, what does she actually believe?Again and again when substantive issues were posed, her answer… Read more

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