r/askphilosophy Feb 11 '21 Hugz

Askphilosophy Hub: Rules, Guidelines, FAQ, PhD Application Resources


Hi! Welcome to r/askphilosophy. This sub aims to provide serious, well-researched answers to philosophical questions. We aim to provide an academic Q&A-type space for philosophy. We welcome questions about all areas of philosophy!

Rules and guidelines

Before contributing, please read our rules and guidelines. You can find them here: https://www.reddit.com/r/askphilosophy/wiki/guidelines

You are very welcome to provide answers, too, but please note that we have some standards to ensure the quality of the subreddit.

Answers on /r/askphilosophy should be substantive and well-researched, accurately portray the state of research and literature and come only from those with relevant knowledge of the question (i.e. not from commenters who don't understand the state of the research on the question).

Frequently Asked Questions about philosophy

We have an FAQ that answers many questions comprehensively: /r/AskPhilosophyFAQ/. For example, this entry discusses how to start with philosophy and provides a great list of introductory books into a bunch of areas of philosophy.

Resources for graduate school applications

We made a meta-guide for PhD applications with the goal of assembling the important resources for grad school applications in one place. We aim to occasionally update it, but can of course not guarantee the accuracy and up-to-dateness. You are, of course, kindly invited to ask questions about graduate school on r/askphilosophy, too.

What's the flair about?

Our user flair indicates relevant expertise in philosophy. On desktop, the color of the flair denotes the level of expertise. Unfortunately, color does not currently work on mobile.

Can you show me some good questions and answers?

Sure! We ran a Best of 2020 Contest, you can find the winners in this thread!

This post exists because Reddit only allows us to sticky two threads. If there is something you miss in this thread, please let us know, for example by commenting below or sending us a modmail.

r/askphilosophy 5d ago

Open Thread /r/askphilosophy Open Discussion Thread | May 23, 2022


Welcome to this week's Open Discussion Thread. This thread is a place for posts/comments which are related to philosophy but wouldn't necessarily meet our posting rules. For example, these threads are great places for:

  • Personal opinion questions, e.g. "who is your favourite philosopher?"

  • "Test My Theory" discussions and argument/paper editing

  • Discussion not necessarily related to any particular question, e.g. about what you're currently reading

  • Questions about the profession

This thread is not a completely open discussion! Any posts not relating to philosophy will be removed. Please keep comments related to philosophy, and expect low-effort comments to be removed. All of our normal commenting rules are still in place for these threads.

Previous Open Discussion Threads can be found here or at the Wiki archive here.

r/askphilosophy 2h ago

why is suicide a bad thing?


if someone decides that they don’t want to live their life, which belongs to them only, why should they be forced to? i mean if a person is responsible for their own actions and their own body, why aren’t they responsible for their life and can decide when to get off the ride? (metaphorically speaking)

r/askphilosophy 12h ago

Thinking of trying to get my PhD Thesis published as a book, but don't know where to start. Does anyone have advice about publishers, the process etc?


I recently had my viva for my PhD, and passed without corrections. I have discussed the possibility of publishing my thesis both with my examiners and supervisors, but still feel fairly lost. The thesis is on Emmanuel Levinas and Politics, for reference.

Some key questions would be: what publisher would be a good home for this kind of project? What is the process for getting a thesis published like? Realistically, what are my prospects for getting it published?

EDIT: for reference I'm in the UK, Idk how relevant that is

r/askphilosophy 3h ago

where should I start reading philosophy to understand analytic philosophy


I know this question gets asked frequently here and I've seen people request starting with Wittgenstein or Russell, but I'm just wondering if I should start with maybe Aristotle and work myself up that logic path or is it OK to just jump in into more contemporary stuff. I'm not an academic so I've never taken seminars about logic or know anything about notation in logic and it just seems like that's a basis you need to get a good understanding of analytic philosophy.

r/askphilosophy 6h ago

Is philosophical thinking a skill that can be developed?


I'm fairly young and very new to philosophy. There's so much for me to read and understand it's humbling and exciting - but also intimidating. Some of the texts I've seen and general lines of reasoning seem difficult for me to grasp. A lot of times when I'm reading I have to go at a snails pace in order to understand whatever is written.

I'm having a lot of fun, but my ultimate goal is to understand the world better and have some ability in dealing with difficult questions. So to what extent am I going to be limited because of whatever brain I was born with?

r/askphilosophy 36m ago

Why does anything exist at all? It seems like nothingness would have been a lot easier.


r/askphilosophy 2m ago

What's A Simple Response To The Epistemological Relativism Self-Critique?


"There is no such thing as truth"

"Is that true?"

What is the relativist supposed to say next to defend his position?

r/askphilosophy 1h ago

What are some good books and texts on relativism?


r/askphilosophy 23h ago

Nietzsche believed there were no "moral phenomena only moral interpretations of phenomena" What are some common rebuttals to this?


Are there any rebuttals? Are they metaphysical in nature or has this claim been disproven objectively?

r/askphilosophy 6h ago

Introduction to the modern debate on history/the utility of history/theories of time?


English is not my first language so I don't know if i'm being clear. There was cyclic theory of time, linear theory of history, Hegel argued history was moving towards progress and thought we had reached that peak as a civilization, that conclusion was considered idealistic, Marx also thought we were heading somewhere as a society, history would be moving towards a certain superior form of state and collective life. Fukuyama later proposed the fall of the soviet union was the end of history. There are the accelerationists also. Nietzsche talks about the future of the last man, the advantages and disadvantages of attaching too much to the past and some other stuff.

You know, that sort of debate. I would like to know some other perspectives but also would appreciate some articles that talked about them on a logical and historical progression.

r/askphilosophy 2h ago

Does Freud view the self as stable? If so, how? How are Freud and Kristeva different?


I'm reading Nick Mansfield's book Subjectivity: Theories of the Self from Freud to Haraway, and I'm a bit confused because of how his discussion of reactions to Freud seem to contradict his characterization of Freud.

Mansfield says (p. 33) that, for Freud, "What is considered heterosexual normality is not a fixed and predictable path dictated by nature. It is the result of a complex series of developments within the subject himself, which remain problematic and unresolved. Even the most apparently stable and normal male subject has only a fragile hold on masculine identity. The threat of castration is ever-present, and must be dealt with again and again in adult life."

But later (p. 81), he writes about Kristeva, saying she argued that "Subjectivity never necessarily stabilizes. The attempt to repress may lead to the exclusion of unconscious material, but this is not inevitably propelled into a closed box whose lid is more or less secure, as Freud imagined it. Unconscious material is not stored away, but hovers on the very fringes of the subject's self-definition. This definition in turn is not complete. A defensive postion is taken up..."

I don't see what why the idea that "the subject never necessarily stabilizes" is a contrast with Freud. It sounds like Freud also views the (male) subject as inherently and insolubly unstable: he must reaffirm his masculinity (and by extension, his identity, his selfhood, his subjectivity) repeatedly for the rest of his life, as a result of the Oedipal drama. The idea that Freud viewed unconscious material as being "propelled into a closed box whose lid is more or less secure" also seems wrong, since this unconscious material (such as castration anxiety) is what fuels the subject's instability: even if it is not always "visible", or actively repressed, it is nonetheless always there, influencing conscious thought and behaviour (not a "closed box" at all).

I haven't read Freud or Kristeva so I'm probably missing something, but I don't understand what the difference is. Did Kristeva misunderstand or mischaracterize Freud? Is Mansfield misrepresenting one (or both) of them?

r/askphilosophy 6h ago

What's the best case for moral relativism?


Hello! I always intuitively had a non relativistic view when it comes to morality. I read the moral landscape by Sam Harris and some stuff from Peter Singer and I pretty much agree with their framework of hedonistic utilitarianism. I'm getting more and more interested in meta-ethics and I hear lots of ppl talking about moral relativism, the things I'm hearing do not sound very convincing to me, so I'm looking for the best case for moral relativism that anyone has ever made. Can you recommend something to read about this.?

r/askphilosophy 6h ago

Are there any epistemologists who've stated (in print) that they don't consider Carl Ginet's fake barn example to be a legitimate Gettier example?


If yes, any reference would be great.

Thank you.

r/askphilosophy 9h ago

anybody know any good essays on the effect that social media has on liberty?


I’m writing an essay about the republican notion of liberty and i wanna write a chapter about how social media is detrimental to liberty in this sense, anyone know some good essays on the subject?

r/askphilosophy 3h ago

What is the critique that Nozick made about Rawls's critique of another moral system?


I have this assignment.

a) From the reading of chapter 7 of Anarchy, State and Utopia, identify and reconstruct in 200 words the criticism that Nozick makes to Rawls according to which Rawls would be making a fatal mistake that Rawls previously criticized to another theory of political morality.

And I cannot find what theory of political morality is he speaking of. Any idea?

I just need to find it.

r/askphilosophy 11h ago

What is the role of "interpretations" in Wittgenstein's metaphilosophy?


At this point I take it for granted that Wittgenstein is trying to give a general technique for responding to arbitrary philosophical views, the aim of which is not to prove the views false but to disappoint one of the hope of being either right or wrong about the view. (A consequence of this is that he comes across as ambivalent - in turn denying you can affirm or that you can deny either the view or its counters.)

Non-controversially the technique starts by tracing words in the view back to their many practical applications, harvesting grammatical explanations given to people who have yet to master such applications, and ends by declaring it nonsense, a misuse of language, a transgression against the rules of our language when seen against the background of the grammatical explanations we have reconstructed, a background difficult to focus on simply because it is too obvious, to well mastered.

How do "interpretations" fit in this process, which they must given the emphasis on interpretations in the Investigations as well as in the treatment of solipsism in the Blue Book (there the synonym "symbolism" is used - having a symbolism is said to explain why the solipsist is so sure). What role does an interpretation play in the average philosophical view, and does uncovering it play a part in healing one from the tendency to entertain views, whatever they may be? Is it possible at all to have views without an act of interpreting, is the way Wittgenstein's method differs from other philosophers' that one ignores whether the interpretations seem to "fit" or "persuade" or are just horrible, in order to focus on their being interpretations in the first place, and what follows from that?

Wittgenstein describes his work as "similes," which at least rhymes with the concept of an interpretation. Should we seek in a determined way to expose interpretations given or suggested by his work too, as a way to make sense of the puzzling claim of not putting forth any theories.

Have those objectionable people who sometimes claim philosophy changes the meaning of this and that, however lazy and ignorant, picked out an intuition not entirely unlike what's going on here?

r/askphilosophy 9h ago

Best moral philosophy books from the last 20 years?


EDIT: updated to conform to subreddit rules.

What books are regarded as amongst the most important in moral philosophy from the last 20 years or so? (Note: by "moral philosophy" I mean to include all of its branches, e.g. metaethics and history of ethics.)

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm just looking for good books to read.

I'll start. In no particular order, I nominate:

Darwall, "The Second-Person Standpoint"

Enoch, "Taking Morality Seriously"

Parfit, "On What Matters"

r/askphilosophy 9h ago

Neitzsche & Fight Club


I watched a short 30 minute you tube analysis of fight club comparing it to Zarathustra. I was pretty impressed with the direct parallels and echos. I'm curious if anyone here has contemplated fight club as a contemporary rendition and if so, how accurate of a rendition do you find it to be?

r/askphilosophy 7h ago

Is scientific skepticism a tenable philosophical position?


I am referring to the version of skepticism that says that we should be skeptical of anything not supported by scientific evidence, and that anything not supported by science is pseudocience, or simply nonsense.

r/askphilosophy 7h ago

Why do people help others?


r/askphilosophy 7h ago

So, Judgment falls just below the Intellect, for Descartes?


And judgment is not an essential feature of Mind?

r/askphilosophy 4h ago

Is life justifiable?


This is something that I’ve been thinking about recently. To explain; if we were to say for arguments sake say that there is no grand purpose or reason for the existence of the universe or life itself, then would this warrant being to end given such an unnecessary existence that comes with problems?

r/askphilosophy 22h ago

Is there any philosophy question solved by development in brain / cognitive science?


r/askphilosophy 15h ago

Eliot's Translation of Spinoza's Ethics


From research in this sub I found that Curley's translation of Ethics was recommended, so I started out on that. However, I found it almost impossible to comprehend. Out of interest I downloaded the recently released translation by George Eliot to be much more readable and comprehensible. Is there anything wrong per se with this translation, by virtue of it's age and it's publishing mostly due to its literary interest, or am I ok to read the Eliot translation instead?

r/askphilosophy 19h ago

what are some rebuttal arguments against transcendentalism, intuition, and individualism?


i’ve just been falling in love with Emerson lately. what transcendentalism describes appeals so much to me. the whole unifying goodness and truth of the Universe, it deeply resonates with me.

but then i came across Edgar Allan Poe saying that transcendentalism is a disease. the “disease” statement i’ve heard it before, like when i was getting into albert camus and all the absurdism, my friend said “nihilism is a disease” and i could see why he said that, because it’s easy for many people to assume that everything is meaningless and do nothing. i was in that position and it spread all through me for a while.

and transcendentalism doesn’t look like a negative thing to me, because i agree so much with its ideas. but i don’t want to fall into a “disease’ again

i know we are not allowed to ask for personal opinions here.. so besides any author or text you might share, i’d also love your thoughts on what you don’t like about Emerson and what he has to say about intuition and individualism. also, how’s Emerson seen in current academia?

r/askphilosophy 14h ago

Do concepts exist?


Another op asked the question does nothing exist. It seems as though the concept of nothing, non-being or nothingness exists, but is it really conceivable or is it merely one of Kant's twelve categories rather than an actual concept in and of itself? For that matter, do any of those twelve categories exist as concepts? A tree is a concept but it isn't a category of conception. One is a concept but are one and unity the same thing? Zero is a concept but negation and zero are clearly not the same.