Initiation of the Use of Physical Force – November 13, 2013
It is wrong to initiate the use of physical force against another person. It is wrong to approach some random fellow and punch him in the face. But the injunction applies much more broadly. It is an injunction not only against direct physical assault but also against theft, fraud, and breach of contract. Let us see how that can be.
Altruism Can’t Work – October 12, 2013
You could have a system of ethics in which generosity, good will, and benevolence are virtues (at least conditional ones), but altruism—helping others without regard to any personal benefit—cannot be the universal and ultimate standard of good and bad, of right and wrong. Just imagine a circle of altruists.
Selfish Things to Do in Life – September 12, 2013
Surprisingly selfish things to do: Help others worthy of it. Make your world a better place.
It’s For Your Own Good – August 13, 2013
It’s wrong to force your decisions onto someone else. But what about these cases?
The main theme of my research is that the philosophical problem of induction is an artifact of a bad turn taken in the early 19th century, by which induction came to be conceived as a logic of propositional inference that depends on a suppressed uniformity principle. In antiquity and from Bacon to Whewell, induction was instead conceived as a logic of classification.
For several years at Stanford University, I taught a seminar on the history of scientific methods and a seminar on moral foundations of capitalism. In 2011, I taught a course on history of science at Stevens Institute of Technology, and in fall 2012, I taught the capitalism seminar for the Political Theory Project at Brown University. I’m back at Brown this fall teaching a seminar on Ayn Rand.
Board of Advisors, College of Arts and Letters, Stevens Institute of Technology • Occasional referee for HOPOS • Hangouts: HOPOS, Text Encoding Initiative, Digital Medievalist • Consulting, then Contributing, Editor, The Objective Standard, 2007–11 • Founder and Chairman, Anthem Foundation for Objectivist Scholarship, 2001–10 • Board Member, Ayn Rand Institute, 2004–10 • Advisor, John P. McCaskey Foundation
“A great class. One of the best I’ve ever taken and by a wide margin the most thought provoking.” • “By far the most challenging and most rewarding course I’ve taken thus far at Stanford.” • “I’ve never had as much fun doing readings, writing papers and learning as I did in these two courses.” • “I’ve always liked precision of logic but wasn’t aware how it could be applied to morality.” • “It’s one of those classes that changes the way you look at things.”
After spending twenty years in the computer business, I went back to school and got a PhD in history from Stanford. I mostly now research and teach the history of philosophy of science, but I also teach some history of 20th century political philosophy.