Title Excerpt Author Date Total Comments Recent Comment
Free Speech Absolutism: “Sunlight is the Best Disinfectant”   Just a week after the horrors in France, it seems clear that many of us have much to learn. France is punishing comedians for expressing points of view with which the government disagrees, and Pope Francis is defending the notion that speech which criticises religion should not be allowed . This is sad… David R. Koepsell 01/15/15 5 01/19/15
Why I’m Kirk Cameron’s Worst Nightmare   Apologies to my friend Tom Flynn, the Anti-Claus, but my family and I are a worse threat to Kirk Cameron’s and Bill O’Reilly’s overblown fears of Christmas Future than Tom is. My wife and I are second generation atheists who grew up never having had any religious or supernatural… David R. Koepsell 12/23/14 2 12/29/14
Social Justice and Humanism: Embracing Pluralism in Value Theory There is some disagreement as to whether “we” as humanists ought to take stands regarding social justice, as a group, with some vocal opponents correctly pointing out that atheism provides no basis for making moral judgments. Indeed, even humanism provides no one, solid, scientific basis for making moral judgments. It… David R. Koepsell 12/08/14 2 12/12/14
On Fads and Funding in Science The current model for funding of “Research and Development” (R&D) descends largely from the experience of the Second World War and its successful employment of “big science” through the Manhattan Project. Building from that success, the current National Science Foundation and eventually the National Institutes of Health began to account… David R. Koepsell 12/04/14 0
On Philosophy, Science, and Fiction Much of my humanistic self was built by a steady diet of stories, specifically through massive consumption of science fiction as a child. I credit my parents who had a large library of sci-fi paperbacks, including especially Asimov, Clarke, and Bradbury, my favorites at an early age and still. I… David R. Koepsell 11/13/14 2 11/16/14
Civility, Tone, and Emotions in Debates Lately, there has been a great deal of internet banter and vociferous debate about the ways that people make their arguments online by using terms of derision, and generally acting in ways that seem to some of us to be uncivil or downright mean. Whether it is among the “new… David R. Koepsell 10/28/14 3 11/04/14
After Work: the good life and post-industrial society Since the beginning of industrialized society, we have grown used to a certain form of life, a more rigid structure of day divided into work, family, and if we’re lucky, a bit of play. Industrialization and the growth of capitalism changed the way we had lived significantly, altering the typical… David R. Koepsell 10/14/14 3 10/18/14
Ideas, not Idols When various philosophical movements become too closely connected with particular personas, the results can be disastrous for fruitful areas of inquiry. Recently, Martin Heidegger’s “black notebooks” have been released, and the New York Times just published an excellent review which renews questions regarding his student Hannah Arendt’s view that we should separate… David R. Koepsell 09/29/14 3 10/07/14
Skepticism is a Humble Project, Not a Bold Stance Twenty one years ago this week I walked into my very first teaching assignment: full responsibility for the undergraduate course “Critical Thinking.” I was barely older than my students, just 24 years old, a graduate student in Philosophy in my second year of studies. Down the hall from my student… David R. Koepsell 09/02/14 1 09/11/14
Oh, the Humanity! The existentialists recognized that “existence precedes essence” and moved past the method employed by philosophers for eons: namely, the attempt to describe essences as though they could somehow be divorced from ourselves. At its worst, this tendency leads to a sort of Platonic idealism where nothing is real except essences.… David R. Koepsell 08/01/14 6 08/05/14
Science is not a Crime Recently, a Colombian masters student named Diego Gomez became the target of criminal charges. His crime: putting an academic article he did not author online at a site called Scribd. This case brings to mind the tragic death of Aaron Swartz last year. Swartz downloaded tens of thousands of academic articles from behind an… David R. Koepsell 07/25/14 2 07/25/14
In Defense of Academic Philosophy Ten years ago, when I was Executive Director for Secular Humanism at the Center for Inquiry, I was also involved with classroom teaching on a regular basis, though I was not a full time “academic.” Indeed, like many, I believed that academia was too cloistered, too uninvolved in matters of… David R. Koepsell 07/15/14 0
Has American Secularism Succeeded or Failed? I have, over the past 10 years, lived in radically different places governed by differing forms of secularism. In the U.S., where I grew up, secularism is purportedly enshrined in the Constitution—emanating from the First Amendment guarantee regarding the non-establishment of a state religion. Yet as we know, the U.S.… David R. Koepsell 07/09/14 12 07/12/14