Romanticizing the past.

For as long as humans have been around, people the world over have faced similar struggles: getting enough to eat, navigating social relationships, dealing with parasites and disease, raising their young. It’s a nice idea to believe that somewhere deep in the past, or still today in a more remote part of the world, there existed or exists a society that has figured it all out; where everyone is healthy and happy and equal, untouched by the difficulties of modern living. But even if violence, inequality, discrimination, and other social problems are universal and part of human nature, that doesn’t mean their prevalence can’t be reduced. They can and recent trends make this abundantly clear. Denying the scope of the problem, pretending that these social issues are uniquely modern or uniquely Western, or the product of agriculture or capitalism, does not help to fix our contemporary social ills. Instead it leaves us more confused about the causes of these problems, and, consequently, less equipped to solve them.


On Bullshit


The world is awash in bullshit. Politicians are unconstrained by facts. Science is conducted by press release. Higher education rewards bullshit over analytic thought. Startup culture elevates bullshit to high art. Advertisers wink conspiratorially and invite us to join them in seeing through all the bullshit — and take advantage of our lowered guard to bombard us with bullshit of the second order.  More here.

As the programmer Alberto Brandolini is reputed to have said: “The amount of energy necessary to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it.” This is the unbearable asymmetry of bullshit I mentioned in my title, and it poses a serious problem for research integrity. Developing a strategy for overcoming it, I suggest, should be a top priority for publication ethics.



And “The Unbearable Asymmetry of Bullshit” – More here.

The Reasoner


Volume 12, Number 6 June 2018

ISSN 1757-05 22

The latest issue of The Reasoner is now freely available for download in pdf
format at []

EDITORIAL / Hykel Hosni

– Preferences, Utility, and Rationality: Game Theory in the Lab /
Pierfrancesco Guarino
– A type of simulation which some experimental evidence suggests we don’t live
in / Samuel Alexander

– Explanation and Understanding, Ghent, 23–25 May 2018 / Dingmar van Eck, Erik
Weber, and Henk de Regt

– Medieval Reasoning / Graziana Ciola
– Mathematical Philosophy / Alexander Reutlinger
– Uncertain Reasoning / Seamus Bradley
– Evidence-Based Medicine / Daniel Auker-Howlett

– Events
– Courses and programmes
– Jobs and Studentships

See [] for previous issues and submission

Call for papers


!!! New Deadline: September 30th, 2018 !!!

The events of the year 2016 have led many critical observers to doubt
the stability and longevity of democracy. Ideally, democracy effectuates
the rule of reason. Debates in elected assemblies and in society as a
whole should serve the process of finding best reasons for political
decisions. However, the mechanisms that currently produce such decisions
are vulnerable to misuse. Arguably, they need to be redesigned in an
attempt to make them “foolproof” – i.e., to design them in a way to make
misuse inherently impossible or to minimize its negative consequences.

Empirical evidence suggests that political agents may generally lack the
required competence for deliberation and debate. Even very intelligent
people systematically tend to focus on information that confirms what
they already believe and dismiss information that contradicts it.
Instead of seeking rational debate, people often cling to forms of
modern tribalism. In addition, modern communication networks are swiftly
replacing traditional print and broadcast news media. This shift
presents deliberative democracy with opportunities but also risks, as
these communication networks neither encourage a balanced exchange of
information nor systematically check its quality.

In view of these developments, the question of the desired relation
between democracy, deliberation, and truth looms large. Moral Philosophy
and Politics invites contributions that seek to articulate this relation
from the viewpoint of philosophy and political science. Suitable
contributions may address such questions as:

  • How, if at all, can we improve public opinion formation?
  • Is deliberation the best way to generate political decisions in modern
  • How can we make democracy more resistant to populism and other forms
    of mass manipulation?   Should politics be allowed (and perhaps even
    obligated) to exert influence on opinion formation in society?
  • Is there a way to methodically and impartially check the quality of
    debate in the public sphere?
  • Are political polarization and “echo chambers” a problem for
    democracy? And, if so, how can we guard against their formation and
  • What ought to be the role of science and the humanities in the
    democratic process?

Papers should be submitted by September 30th, 2018 and should not exceed
8000 words; shorter articles will also be accepted for review.

All submissions will undergo MOPP’s double-blind refereeing process.
Please note that this process is not organized by the guest editors but
by the journal’s founding editors who will also have the final word on
publication decisions.

The journal’s manuscript submission site can accessed here:

Guest editors:
David Lanius (Karlsruhe)
Ioannis Votsis (NCH and LSE)