From Philosophy

Individualism as Illness and Antidote in Guinier’s The Tyranny of the Majority

In The Tyranny of the Majority, Lani Guinier lays a foundation for bottom-up empowerment in electoral and legislative systems. Rigid adherence to winner-take-all majority rule contorts and rips at the seams of an intrinsically organic and fluid structure. That is, humans comprise the body politic; not only is forcing amorphous interests, identities, and experiences into a rectilinear mold absurd, it is dangerous and oppressive, especially for historically marginalized minorities. Implicit in the majority’s electoral strategy is wholesale attachment to individualism that reigns over group- and community-based interests. Righting the wrongs of the current “I win, you lose” system requires a…

Gradational Functionalism and Qualia

The homunculi-headed robot, a thought experiment in philosophy of mind, constitutes a system that is in fact a mind capable of experiencing qualitative states, or “qualia”. (1) I will discuss the arguments put forward by Ned Block (1978), viz. the Absent Qualia Argument in regards to functionalism. (2) Playing the role of the functionalist, I will argue that the causal roles the homunculi occupy in a system and those occupied by the firing of neurons in a brain offer no substantial differentiation by which to accept Block’s prima facie counter-example argument. Providing another counter-example to Block’s counter-example, I argue that…

Epistemology of Empathy in Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy

In Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson lays bare the inherent error in judgment that plagues the criminal justice system. Blinded by slavery’s legacy, prosecutors, lawyers, and judges seek colorblind principles of “justice” and “freedom” at the cost of any true sense of the words. Racism, like a cancer, spreads to every corner of the nation’s formal framework, weighing heavily on its collective consciousness. Stevenson shows that black and poor people now experience inordinate pain and suffering amidst slavery’s newest form, mass incarceration. An increasing number of children, women, and men live and die in cages, while many Americans buy into “get…