Write for The Philosopher’s Eye!

Image: Gaetan Lee

Are you a philosophy graduate looking for a writing opportunity?

We want to hear from budding writers who are looking for a chance to write about philosophy for a popular blog, and who want to show how the ideas of philosophy can improve our understanding of current affairs.

Do you feel that philosophy has something important to say about the political beliefs of Sarah Palin? Or the slapstick of Charlie Chaplin? Do you think that new technology changes the limits of human potential? Do you want to show why aesthetics is relevant beyond the tedious ‘but-is-it-art‘ questions of the mainstream?

Sex! Drugs! Pop! Violence! Videogames! Hume! We want your take on it.

We can’t pay you per se; we’re looking for people who want to work for the sheer, electric joy of peeling back layers of ambiguity to expose the quivering, naked Truth of It All. As well as the opportunity to write for an international audience, we’ll also create a profile for you on our News Editors page.

Contact us at PHCOeditorial@wiley.com to tell us about your interests and background, and send a sample post of around 300 words. Nominations of others are welcome.

Xbox: The Guardian of Sleep

This soldier is clearly a regular gamer...

Violent computer games desensitise people to violence. This is normally considered a bad thing, but perhaps this is not necessarily so. Soldiers in a warzone face a situation in which they must encounter extreme violence routinely, and a survey has revealed that playing violent computer games might well help soldiers cope with this prolonged exposure to the extreme violence of war. To be more precise, the survey revealed that soldiers who frequently played computer games that involved war and combat experienced fewer violent dreams, and when these dreams did occur they reported feeling lower levels of fear and aggression compared to their non-gaming colleagues. The gaming soldiers reported feeling more able to “fight back against whatever forces were threatening them” in their nightmares.

It’s not difficult to formulate a plausible theory that would go some way towards explaining this data. Certainly, it seems clear that the desensitising effect of playing computer games could be a contributory factor. It’s quite unremarkable that soldiers who frequently encounter war as a game – albeit in the artificial context of a computer game – subsequently find the actual reality of war less threatening when they encounter it in their dreams. They learn to associate war with a game, perhaps as a game, and as a result their natural inclinations of fear and abhorrence are suppressed. But as a philosopher who possesses a passing, though not-insignificant, level of interest in psychoanalysis and the work of Sigmund Freud, I wonder if a more interesting explanation and investigation might be available to us… Continue reading “Xbox: The Guardian of Sleep”

Interview: In the Name of God – The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Ethics and Violence

John Teehan is the author of In the Name of God: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Ethics and Violence, and has published and lectured widely on the impact of evolutionary theories on moral philosophy. In this comprehensive interview, John talks in depth about some of the themes in his book: how our moral minds may have been shaped by evolution, and how such a perspective can inform upon our understanding of religious violence.

Philosopher’s Eye: Why did you decide to write ‘In the Name of God: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Ethics and Violence’?

John Teehan: I’ve always been deeply interested in the study of morality.  Not simply in terms of what we ought to do, how we ought  to live—although those are essential questions—but also in terms of why do  we have the values we have, how do moral traditions develop. This lead me into a study of moral psychology, and in particular evolutionary psychology. If we want to understand how we got where we are today in terms of morality, then trying to understand the origins of moral behaviour seemed to be Continue reading “Interview: In the Name of God – The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Ethics and Violence”

Write for The Philosopher’s Eye

Image: Gaetan Lee

Are you a philosophy graduate looking for a writing opportunity?

We want to hear from budding writers who are looking for a chance to write about philosophy for a popular blog, and who want to show how the ideas of philosophy can improve our understanding of current affairs.

Do you feel that philosophy has something important to say about the political beliefs of Sarah Palin? Or the slapstick of Charlie Chaplin? Do you think that new technology changes the limits of human potential? Do you want to show why aesthetics is relevant beyond the tedious ‘but-is-it-art‘ questions of the mainstream?

Sex! Drugs! Pop! Violence! Videogames! Hume! We want your take on it.

We can’t pay you per se; we’re looking for people who want to work for the sheer, electric joy of peeling back layers of ambiguity to expose the quivering, naked Truth of It All. As well as the opportunity to write for an international audience, we’ll also create a profile for you on our News Editors page.

Contact us at PHCOeditorial@wiley.com to tell us about your interests and background, and send a sample post of around 300 words. Nominations of others are welcome.

What have sex and violence done for us, lately?

Much fretting about violence in video games is rooted in the worry that the games will foster violence in the real world.  (If I shoot enough extra-terrestrials in “Space Invaders,” I might end up shooting extra-terrestrials in real life.)

Earlier this week on the NYT’s Economix blog, David Leonhardt speculated that, in fact, violent video games might be partly responsible for the level or declining rates of violent crime during the current recession.  He cites earlier research suggesting that violent movies reduce violent crime.

Ryan Sanger recently discussed similar dynamics in the realm of pornography:  increased access to porn seems to correlate with reduced frequency of rape.  As Sanger notes, the implications for the debate over simulated child pornography could be especially controversial.

None of the research is anywhere near decisive.  But if it turns out that porn and media violence have positive social consequences, the rubber will meet the road on the issue of government regulation of content.  We’ll be in a situation in which the utilitarian justification of a set of related laws changes its valence.  It’ll be interesting to see the debate unfold.

Related articles:

The Duty to Obey the Law
By David Lefkowitz, UNC Greensboro (October 2006)
Philosophy Compass