a blog about philosophy in public affairs

Month: January 2023

Confucius’s Mistake, and Plato’s

This year I decided to put some Chinese philosophy on our curriculum, and I’ve been enjoying getting to know that tradition. But there’s something frustrating about classical Chinese political philosophy. It’s the same thing I find so irritating about Plato.

The wisest should rule. This is the core of Plato’s political philosophy. It’s an idea shared by Confucius and indeed most of the classical Chinese tradition. But I think it’s largely meaningless.

The ancient philosophical beard: who wore it better?

Plato presents rule by the wise as the answer to a question of constitutional theory. Who should rule? Ancient Greek thought gives a menu of options such as:

Listening to executive dysfunction

Chatting with an UK psychologist over a pint, I asked if the UK, like my native Finland, currently struggles to accommodate the large number of women coming to the clinic with ADHD symptoms. He confirmed it did, and so does The Guardian, headlining “ADHD services ‘swamped’, say experts as more UK women seek diagnosis”. Likewise, the New York Post declaims how women “are diagnosing themselves with neurodivergent conditions such as ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) after watching trending TikTok videos”.

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disability characterized by differences in sustained attention, impulse control, and motor activity. Not all symptoms need to be present for all patients: symptom presentation can differ among people with ADHD. In the 1980s and 1990s, responses to this heterogeneity have included the advent of concepts such as ADD (attention deficit disorder without hyperactivity) and ADHD ‘subtypes’. However, neither subtypes nor a differential ADD diagnosis are any longer recognized, and it is instead accepted that ADHD presents in many different ways.

Source: social media meme

In the 1980s, ADHD was conceived of mainly as a disorder of motor hyperactivity, as a disorder that only affects children, and that mainly affects boys. However, we now know that for some people with ADHD, their symptoms persist to adulthood, although the symptom presentation may change. We also now understand that ADHD has long been underdiagnosed in girls and women.

The Ethics of Keeping Pets: Why Love is Not Enough

photo of man hugging tan dogPhoto by Eric Ward on Unsplash

I have been thinking about the ethics of keeping sentient animals as pets. As someone who has lived with dogs, cats, rats, mice, gerbils, rabbits, lizards, guinea pigs, and chickens, I have experienced first-hand the joy and companionship that such creatures can bring to our lives and the love that we can have for them. Yet, as a philosopher interested in animal ethics, I am aware of the many moral problems associated with our practice of keeping animals as pets. These problems have led me to reconsider human-animal companionship, and I have come to think that no matter how much we might love the animals we bring into our homes, we cannot justify doing so.

The four-legged therapist: Why getting a pet to improve our mental health may be unethical

Every once in a while, I read news articles about the mental health benefits of owning pets. These articles always leave me feelings uncomfortable. They seem to ignore what appears to be obvious: these benefits are the side-effects of a positive, caring relationship with a member of another species, and getting a pet will not necessarily improve our mental health. One would hardly suggest that someone should make a friend, get married or have a child primarily, or even merely in order to improve their mental health.

Dog looking upset. Text reads After listening to her owner drone on for hours, Ginger Ginger suddenly realised she was NOT cut out to be an emotional support dog after all.

Source: social media meme

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