Featured Content

Recent Essays

  • Damn It! Politeness is a Virtue
    Nobody seems to give a damn about politeness. Until, that is, they are treated rudely, ignored, made to feel ignorant or displaced, or pushed aside in a queue. Then, suddenly, we see all too clearly how much we appreciate polite society. Those moments do not translate into the world of ideas, where “polite society” is a… Read more: Damn It! Politeness is a Virtue
  • Is Love a Virtue?
    Virtue theories are the only strand of modern ethical thinking that makes much sense in light of cognitive science. Utilitarian calculus becomes a funhouse of infinite regress in a world where experience changes both who we are and what we value. It didn’t take cognitive science to cast doubt on Kant’s strange metaphysics of freedom… Read more: Is Love a Virtue?
  • Utopia: Its the People You’re With
    People are the essence of what makes a community and it’s hard to imagine anything could be more important. If we don’t like the people, we won’t like the community. If we do, we will. It really is that simple. But deciding what kind of people you’d want in your utopia turns out to be trickier than you might think.
  • Thinking About Utopia
    We are all trapped in time and place to certain kinds of life. We spend most of our big-picture energy thinking about the kind of life that’s best for us, given the world we live in. And so we should. But every now and then, a group of people decide to wipe the slate clean… Read more: Thinking About Utopia
  • How to Live: Montaigne and the Role of Exemplars
    Sarah Bakewell’s How To Live or A Life of Montaigne may have a Frankenstein title, but the title perfectly represents what the book is trying to do. It is very much a biography of Montaigne. But it’s a biography organized around a series of life lessons drawn from his Essays and his life. Combining biography and practical philosophy makes… Read more: How to Live: Montaigne and the Role of Exemplars
  • Learning How To Think vs. Learning To Think For Yourself
    Is a college a place to learn how to think or a place where you learn to think for yourself? Caitlan Flanagan argues that colleges telling their students they’ll learn how to think are being lied to – and all they get is what to think. She’s right. And she’s wrong. TW2BR explains why.
  • In Defense of Bourgeois Values
    “The term “bourgeois” has almost always been — been one of contempt. Yet it is precisely the — the bourgeoisie which is responsible for — well, for nearly everything good which has happened in our civilization over the past four centuries.” Charlie Black — Metropolitan Nothing is more important to living a good life than… Read more: In Defense of Bourgeois Values
  • Democracy and the Good Life: The Politicization of the Self
    Modern political ideologies are nothing more (nor less) than lifestyle brands built to capture votes in the democratic marketplace. They are the shallow, intellectually incoherent two-buck chuck of the political world: sweet, deeply addictive, and very cheap to acquire. These ideologies have already exacted a terrible toll on our democracy and they may or may… Read more: Democracy and the Good Life: The Politicization of the Self
  • Democracy and the Good Life: Saving Democracy from Ideology
    In my past four posts, I argued that democracy (like capitalism) has significant benefits if you’re trying to build an ethical life, but that many of those benefits are squandered due to the exploitation of political marketplaces and the growth of what I’ve called Consumer Packaged Ideology. In the economic sphere, we are marketed to by… Read more: Democracy and the Good Life: Saving Democracy from Ideology
  • Parfit and the Philosophical Life
    Reasons and Persons may be the most extraordinary book I have ever read. Yet the why behind that statement isn’t easy to articulate. It isn’t the best book of philosophy I’ve read. It’s an important and influential book, but not on the level of something like A Theory of Justice. It’s a grind to read. It broke a lot of new ground in philosophy, yet while it’s too soon to have an historical verdict, I think those new directions mostly pointed to dead ends. Nor is personally that meaningful since, unfortunately, I happen to disagree with almost everything in it. Yet when you read Reasons and Persons you get an extraordinary sense that it was written by a profound, remarkably inventive, and unusual mind.

Read More