Wednesday, November 30, 2016


Study questions are at the tab above.
The final is on Tuesday Dec 13, 11:30 - 2:30. 
We will finish talking about Nozick on Monday and also review.
I'll have extra office hours next week--Thursday and Friday 1-3.

More Inequality Videos

The Wealth Gap (John Oliver)

Wealth Inequality in America

Sunday, November 27, 2016


Our final topic is economic inequality.  Is economic inequality something to worry about? Is equality ideal?  We will be looking at three different answers (Frankfurt, Rawls, Nozick).  But first we'll get some background.



(1)  How much economic inequality is there in the US?

Inequality for All (movie)

Watch 0-21 and then 45-49.

(2) How does economic inequality in the US compare to the economic inequality within other countries?
2014 Gini Index World Map, income inequality distribution by country per World Bank
WIKIPEDIA.  The map shows the Gini Index (in %) of income worldwide, according to latest published data by World Bank in July 2014. Data Source: Table 2.9 of World Development Indicators: Distribution of income or consumption The World Bank (2014) Gini index is a measure of income inequality. A nation where every individual's income is equal would have a gini index of 0. A nation where one individual gets all income, while everyone else gets nothing would have a gini index of 100. Higher gini index for a nation means more income difference between its people. The average of Gini index scores in this map is about 40. All countries color coded in green have gini index scores less than 40, while those in shades of red have gini index above 40.

(3) How does GDP per capita vary between countries?

GDP per capita (nominal) 2015


Harry Frankfurt, "Equality as a Moral Ideal"

Economic Egalitarianism:  "the doctrine that it is desirable for everyone to have the same amounts of income and of wealth (for short, 'money')." (p. 1027)

The Doctrine of Sufficiency: "what is important from the point of view of morality is not that everyone should have the same but that each should have enough. If everyone had enough, it would be of no moral consequence whether some had more than others." (p. 1028)

He argues that Economic Egalitarianism is not only false but harmful.  He argues for the Doctrine of Sufficiency.


Why does Frankfurt think Economic Egalitarianism is harmful?

Frankfurt tries to show that Economic Egalitarianism is false by rebutting various arguments for it.

  1. Fraternity argument: with more equality, there is more brotherly/sisterly love.  Frankfurt's rebuttal:____________
  2. Diminishing utility argument: redistributing wealth more equally increases aggregate happiness because a poorer person gets more benefit from $1 than a richer person.  Frankfurt's rebuttal:___________
Can you think of any better arguments for Economic Egalitarianism?  Why does it matter for wealth to be fairly equally distributed?  Does it matter?


The Doctrine of Sufficiency--when is enough enough?  
  1. Having enough doesn't mean having an amount such that any more would be too much.
  2. Having enough does mean being contented, so that having more money doesn't "arouse ... any particularly eager or restless concern." (p. 1033)  

Monday, November 21, 2016


We'll read some passages from Nietzsche today and try to imagine a Nietzschean Hermes crew.  See post from Nov. 18.

Our final topic is economic inequality.  When is it unjust?  When is it just?  We will be looking at three different answers (Frankfurt, Rawls, Nozick).  But first, just how much economic inequality is there in the US?

Inequality for All (movie)

Watch 0-21 and then 45-49.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Philosophy Department Statement on Civility and Decency

Solidarity at Baylor -- read the inspiring story here.
We in the philosophy department have been very disturbed by recent divisive and racist incidents at SMU. Let's be a campus where we respect and support each other, regardless of our differences!  I enthusiastically support the statement below.  -- Professor Kazez


His life

Some of the main ideas in these passages--

  1. Nietzsche challenges traditional morality, but proposes a new set of values--so he's not a complete amoralist.
  2. At different stages, a society esteems different virtues--think of the virtues of the explorers who came to the Americas.
  3. Master morality vs. Slave morality.  Not a racial distinction.  Master morality is superior, but not for everyone.  Slave morality is inferior.
  4. Master morality is powerful, overflowing, exuberant
  5. Slave morality is meek, driven by pity, egalitarian, kind
We'll read some passages--annotated reading is here.

Who would Nietzsche admire?  Who would he disapprove of?
Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Kanye West, Bill Gates, the crew of the Hermes, Mark Watney in the Martian, Oprah Winfrey, Bob Dylan, Beyonce, Thomas Jefferson, himself.... 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Take more philosophy!


Like logic?
PHIL 1301 Elementary Logic
PHIL 3312 Introduction to Philosophy of Language

Like philosophy of mind?
PHIL 3316 Minds, Brains, and Robotics
PHIL 3317 Philosophy of Perception

Like history of philosophy?
PHIL 3370 History of Modern Philosophy

Like philosophy of religion?
PHIL 5599 Problems in the Philosophy of Religion

Like ethics and political philosophy?
PHIL 1316 Contemporary Moral Problems
PHIL 1319 Technology, Society, and Value
PHIL 3377 Animal Rights
PHIL 3372 Liberty
PHIL 3373 Philosophy of Criminal Law


Why study philosophy? (brochure)
Major and minor requirements
Minor in ethics
Philosophy department website

Friday, November 11, 2016


  • Final draft deadline was changed to Sunday, 11:59 pm
  • Also bring a hard copy on Monday
  • We are talking about ethics, starting on Monday.  We'll have a movie quiz on Monday. The movie is The Martian.
  • My office hours today will be 2-4.  Come talk to me if you're having trouble writing the paper.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Papers/The Problem of Evil

  • Drafts are due by 11:59 tonight.
  • Final version is due at Canvas by 11:59 Friday night.  Bring a hard copy to class on Friday or Monday.
  • Do you have questions about the paper?
  • Today we will talk about the problem of evil.
  • Let's start with a little comedy.  

Friday, November 4, 2016


  • Paper is due in a week.
  • I've added one more topic--on the fine tuning argument.
  • Read the instructions very carefully!
  • Get started early!  At the very least, pick a topic NOW and start thinking about it.
  • Best way for me to look at rough drafts is if you give me a hard copy (by Monday).  I can also look at rough drafts at Canvas. I've created a rough draft "assignment" (without credit).  Deadline for uploading drafts is Wed Nov 9 at 11:59 pm.
  • Today we'll continue using the "God" pdf above.  We'll be discussing the fine tuning argument.
  • We'll probably have to talk about Pascal's Wager Monday.  Here's a great article about it recently published by Prof. Fisher (who was my "substitute" in October).  Highly recommended!