Posts tagged right

Confessions of a former Ayn Rand follower

Here’s some fun (if not depressing) reading for your Monday morning.

When, as a self-absorbed college freshman, I first came across the Russian emigre author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, she seemed like the coolest thinker ever – what selfish person doesn’t want to hear that being selfish doesn’t just feel good, but actually is good, too? …

Much to the lament of my philosophy classmates, I was that girl who frequently (and loudly!) argued in favor of Rand’s illogical claims that altruism doesn’t exist; that selfishness is a virtue; and that “rational egoism” is the only right way to live.

Thankfully, I grew out of that phase. Not surprisingly, but a few years of minimum-wage work cleaning up cat faeces, without benefits, and other thankless, unstable odd jobs made me question Objectivism’s foundations and rekindled an earlier interest in anarcho-syndicalism. …

What’s scary is that so many Americans have not grown out of that mentally puerile phase. Instead, this contingent – now largely comprised of Tea Party radicals – remains mired in her pop philosophy.

Keep reading here.

Utilitarianism taken to the extreme

Zach Weiner, in his philosophically focused comic strip Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, has attempted to illustrate what society might eventually look like if it operated on pure utilitarian calculation:

You can read a couple of my previous posts on utilitarianism here and here.

An interview on disgust

Recently the Purdue University newspaper The Exponent sat down with a philosophy professor there, Daniel Kelly, for a brief interview on his forthcoming book "Yuck! The Nature and Moral Significance of Disgust." I’d not previously heard of Kelly’s work, but it looks interesting. Take a look:

1) How did you become interested in the topic of disgust?

Part of what got me interested in philosophy in the first place were questions about what makes people tick, how humans are continuous, but also distinct from other creatures in nature, and (of course) What It All Means. While I was in graduate school, exciting new research was taking place at the intersection of philosophy and the cognitive sciences, specifically in moral psychology. As I looked into that, I saw that some of the most interesting work was exploring the surprising link between disgust and morality. It was a promising area for the type of conceptual contributions a philosopher could make, too, since it seemed that people from different disciplines and perspectives where saying things about the emotion that were equally plausible, but that also looked incompatible with each other.