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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE (2012), HUMANITY ENHANCED (2014), and THE MYSTERY OF MORAL AUTHORITY (2016).

Friday, June 24, 2016

A Tale of Two Tribes (on tribalism, morality, the role of philosophy, the meaning of liberalism, and the problem of free will)

Hey folks, I did a long interview with Steven Gonder from the Mediasplainers podcast. We talked about moral-political tribalism, the role of philsophy as an academic discipline or profession, left-wing authoritarians (and the cultural Left's retreat from values that it once prized such as science and reason, freedom of thought and discussion, and sexual liberation); the meaning of liberalism (and why I think left-wing authoritarians should not be referred to as liberals); the concept of "objective morality" (which led to some debate and confusion about the meaning of the word "objective"); and the ongoing issue of whether human beings have free will (whatever "free will" even means!).

A recurrent theme was the slipperiness of language, and I emphasized toward the end the way that ordinary language can be complex in its literal semantic content but even more so in what it pragmatically, non-literally conveys. Tiresome and alienating as it may be for some, philosophers are rightly committed to analysing the vagueness, ambiguity, and frequent incoherence of the language of ordinary people when they talk about large issues that cause them anxiety: issues such as whether or not human beings have free will.

I can never bear to listen to the sound of my own voice in these sorts of recorded discussions, but there's no reason why you can't check it out.

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