A Problem for Intellectual Pluralism

by Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse Disagreement is a pervasive feature of our ordinary lives. We disagree with family members over what would make for a good Tuesday night dinner, with colleagues over how to solve some thorny problem, and with neighbors over whether the new highway off-ramp is a good or bad…

Deep Disagreements and Argumentative Optimism

by Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse We all have had moments when we feel that those with whom we disagree not only reject the point we are focused on at the moment, but also reject our values, general beliefs, modes of reasoning, and even our hopes. In such circumstances, productive critical conversation seems…

Post-Truth Politics?

by Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse Still reeling from the unexpected outcome of the US presidential election, commentators understandably have begun diagnosing the political and intellectual condition of the country. One assessment that has been gaining traction especially among Left-leaning intellectuals is that, in electing Mr. Trump to the Presidency, the United States…

Pick Up The Pieces

by Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse Early this week, we had prepared a column for today titled “Presidential Debates: What's the Point?,” which discusses the role of presidential debates in American national politics. We argued that the televised spectacles called “debates” served more as alternating campaign commercials than as occasions for reasoned disagreement…

Two Paradoxes of Public Philosophy

by Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse These days there is a nearly constant clamor among academic philosophers for more public philosophy. We've already expressed puzzlement about what public philosophy is and what public philosophers are trying to achieve. It's likely that our puzzlement has been dismissed among public philosophy enthusiasts as nothing more…

The End of the Party

by Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse We have never embraced political conservatism. However, we also think that the conservative tradition in American politics is intellectually formidable. We find the best representatives of that tradition to be rigorous, insightful, and philosophically astute. They are political commentators for whom ideas matter. In their best work…

The Immorality of “The Will to Believe”

by Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse William James's classic essay, “The Will to Believe” purports to be a “justification of faith.” James's argument is driven by an analogy between, on the one hand, the activities of making friends and pursuing love interests and, on the other hand, that of sustaining religious commitment. The…

Criticism and Debate

by Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse When it comes to political questions, reasonable people disagree. Reasonable disagreement persists also in philosophy, religion, and a broad array of interpersonal matters. That's life. And, indeed, we must live; we must make decisions, set plans, and adopt policies that affect, interest, and impact others. Our decisions…

Welders and Philosophers

by Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse At the fourth Republican Presidential Debate, Senator Marco Rubio asserted that the country “needs more welders and less philosophers.” The small corner of the internet where professional philosophers reside promptly was awash with repudiation, criticism, and outrage (for example, here and here). We were, we have to…