102 - Fictional Dualism and Social Robots
Philosophical Disquisitions
by John Danaher
1M ago
How should we conceive of social robots? Some sceptics think they are little more than tools and should be treated as such. Some are more bullish on their potential to attain full moral status. Is there some middle ground? In this episode, I talk to Paula Sweeney about this possibility. Paula defends a position she calls 'fictional dualism' about social robots. This allows us to relate to social robots in creative, human-like ways, without necessarily ascribing them moral status or rights. Paula is a philosopher based in the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. She has a background in the phil ..read more
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Debating Meritocracy: Arguments For and Against
Philosophical Disquisitions
by John Danaher
2M ago
Note: This article is, essentially, a set of expanded notes from a class I taught about debating meritocracy. In 1958, Michael Young — now better known as the father of the execrable Toby Young — published The Rise of the Meritocracy. Misunderstood in its own time, the book is a dystopian critique of a meritocratic society. It is set in the future. The year 2034 to be precise (still the future as I write). It is a retrospective history, told from that future, of how meritocracy took root in the UK and how it became a new class system, replacing the old one based on accident of birth. The g ..read more
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101 - Pistols, Pills, Pork and Ploughs: How Technology Changes Morality
Philosophical Disquisitions
by John Danaher
2M ago
It's clear that human social morality has gone through significant changes in the past. But why? What caused these changes? In this episode, I chat to Jeroen Hopster from the University of Utrecht about this topic. We focus, in particular, on a recent paper that Jeroen co-authored with a number of colleagues about four historical episodes of moral change and what we can learn from them. That paper, from which I take the title of this podcast, was called 'Pistols, Pills, Pork and Ploughs' and, as you might imagine, looks at how specific technologies (pistols, pills, pork and ploughs) have pl ..read more
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100 - The Past and Future of Transhumanism
Philosophical Disquisitions
by John Danaher
2M ago
In this episode (which by happenstance is the 100th official episode - although I have released more than that) I chat to Elise Bohan. Elise is a senior research scholar at the Future of Humanity Institute in Oxford University. She has a PhD in macrohistory ("big" history) and has written the first book-length history of the transhumanist movement. She has also, recently, published the book Future Superhuman, which is a guide to transhumanist ideas and arguments. We talk about this book in some detail, and cover some of its more controversial claims. You can download the episode here or list ..read more
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99 - Trusting Untrustworthy Machines and Other Psychological Quirks
Philosophical Disquisitions
by John Danaher
3M ago
In this episode I chat to Matthias Uhl. Matthias is a professor of the social and ethical implications of AI at the Technische Hochschule Ingolstadt. Matthias is a behavioural scientist that has been doing a lot of work on human-AI/Robot interaction. He focuses, in particular, on applying some of the insights and methodologies of behavioural economics to these questions. We talk about three recent studies he and his collaborators have run revealing interesting quirks in how humans relate to AI decision-making systems. In particular, his findings suggesting that people do outsource responsib ..read more
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The Normative Significance of Future Moral Revolutions (New Paper)
Philosophical Disquisitions
by John Danaher
3M ago
Myself and Jeroen Hopster (Utrecht University) have just published a new paper on the normative significance of future moral revolutions. It starts with the idea that social moral belies and practices have changed in the past and are likely to change again in the future. It then asks the question: what significance does this (likely) fact have for our current normative practices. It outlines eight potential responses, drawing on themes and ideas in the existing literature on moral change and the impact of technology on morality. The paper is available open access. Full details below. Title: T ..read more
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Aquinas's Second Way: An Analysis
Philosophical Disquisitions
by John Danaher
3M ago
My first love was philosophy of religion. When I started writing this blog, 90% of the articles were about this topic. Over the years, as my professional interests have moved into the domain of applied ethics, particularly the ethics of technology, my focus on this blog has shifted in sync. But I still read about the philosophy of religion when I get a chance, and I like to return to the topic when I can. So that's what I am going to do in this article. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in 'medieval' or early renaissance philosophy of religion, in particular in cla ..read more
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Ethics of Academia (12) - Olle Häggström
Philosophical Disquisitions
by John Danaher
4M ago
In this episode (the last in this series for the time being) I chat to Olle Häggström. Olle is a professor of mathematical statistics at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. Having spent the first half of his academic life focuses largely on pure mathematical research, Olle has shifted focus in recent years to consider how research can benefit humanity and how some research might be too risky to pursue. We have a detailed conversation about the ethics of research and contrast different ideals of what it means to be a scientist in the modern age. Lots of great food for thought in ..read more
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Ethics of Academia (11) - Jessica Flanigan
Philosophical Disquisitions
by John Danaher
5M ago
In this episode I chat to Jessica Flanigan. Jessica is a Professor of Leadership Ethics at the University of Richmond, where she is also the Richard L Morrill Chair in Ethics & Democratic Values. We talk about the value of philosophical research, whether philosophers should emulate Socrates, and how to create good critical discussions in the classroom. I particularly enjoyed hearing Jessica's ideas about effective teaching and I think everyone can learn something from them. You can download the episode here or listen below. You can also subscribe the podcast on Apple, Spotify ..read more
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Ethics of Academia (10) - Jesse Stommel
Philosophical Disquisitions
by John Danaher
5M ago
Is grading unethical? Coercive and competitive? Should we replace grading with something else? In this podcast I chat to Jesse Stommel, one of the foremost proponents of 'ungrading'. Jesse is a faculty member of the writing program at the University of Denver and is the founder of the Hybrid Pedagogy journal. We talk about the problem with traditional grading systems, the idea of ungrading, and how to create communities of respect in the classroom. You can download the episode here or listen below. You can also subscribe the podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google, Amazon  ..read more
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