This Week in Philosophy 2018–06–10

Scott Douglas Jacobsen
7 min readJun 10, 2018

By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

“Rain and a looming thunder- storm threaten to put the kibosh on our Weekend photoshoot with Chanelle, Lady McCoy, at Soho Farmhouse — and the Loughrea firebrand is having none of it. The vivid pink Libélula dress boasts an elegant boho vibe that perfectly matches our location today.

Raining or not, the 41-year-old mother- of-two is up for doing the photographs outside. A dedication to getting the job done right courses through her veins, but then that’s what I would expect of the newest investor on RTÉ’S Dragons’ Den, whose entrepreneurial questioning style is forensic. Recipient of an All- Ireland Business Champion Award 2018 for outstanding achievements in business leadership — and recently ranked 23 on the list of ’50 Incredible People Shaping Modern Ireland’ — Chanelle is with me at Soho Farmhouse in Oxfordshire: a rural ‘resort’ an hour away from the Berkshire home she shares with her kids and husband of 12 years.

Known as Tony McCoy to the legions of racing fans who cheered him on to an astounding 4,358 winners, he was always listed on race cards under his initials, A.P. — but he is ‘Anthony’ to Chanelle and his family. Two years ago this month, the couple set off for Buckingham Palace with their daughter, Eve (10), and Archie (four). There, the 20-time champion jockey became Sir Anthony, receiving a knighthood for services to horse racing; only the second jockey awarded a knighthood, after Sir Gordon Richards in 1953. The sporting legend from Moneyglass in Co Antrim joked that it was only his close friends that he was going to make call him Sir Anthony.”


“As last year’s Hypatia debate revealed, writing philosophy about being transgender is tricky. There are outstanding debates about which questions actually matter and who is best situated to philosophize about transgender identity, along with pitfalls to avoid — arguably facile comparisons among them. (As you may recall, Hypatia’s editors and associate editorial board split over an essay comparing being transgender to being transracial).

In a new, talked-about series of essays, Kathleen Stock, a professor of philosophy at the University of Sussex, in Britain, brings another set of tricky question to the fore: If there are inherent differences in interests between cisgender women and trans women, why aren’t academics debating them?

“Something is afoot in academic philosophy,” Stock wrote in one essay she published on Medium. “Beyond the academy, there’s a huge and impassioned discussion going on, around the apparent conflict between women-who-are-not-transwomen’s rights and interests, and transwomen’s rights and interests. And yet nearly all academic philosophers — including, surprisingly, feminist philosophers — are ignoring it.””


“For thousands of years, philosophers pondered deep questions, such as whether the mind goes beyond the makeup of our body and allows free will, and whether moral values reflect universal truth similar to the laws of physics. Could we put their proposed answers to the test of modern science? Could we use experimental data to advance our knowledge on these questions?

Historically, psychological or anthropological studies of people addressed the possible illusion of free will (for example, by Dan Wegner in his book The Illusion of Conscious Will) or cultural variations in moral values. But observing a complex system like a human without having its blueprint or without the ability to dissect its constituents and reconstruct them from scratch, is far more challenging than figuring out how the hardware of an iPhone works by just interacting with it.

There are at least three new experimental frontiers that offer prospects for advances:

Artificial intelligence and machine learning. The latest developments in self-learning computer algorithms allow us to envision a future computer system that learns from experience and educates itself about the world like a human. Such a system could interact with the physical world around it through sensors of vision, sound, taste, smell and touch, like a human. It might even reproduce itself using a 3-D printer, in analogy to child birth.”


“Eco-Philosophy is, on the face of it, a curious thing. It’s an idea, or, rather, a way of thinking about things. I was entirely ignorant of the existence of such a subject, until I went to the last of this season’s Café Scientifique meetings in Shanklin, about Eco-Philosophy, given by Tanja Rebel. The only thoughts I had before the meeting went like this: Here’s a word made up of two parts, the first of which is ‘Eco’, which refers to environments, and the second is ‘Philosophy’, which means thinking about things.

But I also had the thought that both of these can be interpreted or understood or used in a least two ways. ‘Eco’ could be used simply to represent the actual study of environments, how they work, how they evolved, and how they would be expected to behave in certain circumstances. But it can also be used in a very different way, as a symbol of resistance to changes in the environment, usually bad changes, and thus it becomes a rallying cry or a term of insult, as in ‘Eco-warrior’, or ’Eco-protester’, and used in probably untrue or unverified ways in advertising, as in ‘Eco-friendly’.

It has never been a popular subject
Philosophy is also one of those slippery words. It really involves thinking about anything or everything, and its origins come from Greek, meaning ‘love of wisdom’. But it’s also used in other ways, as in ‘My Personal Philosophy’, and that can be used to add spurious weight to frankly dodgy beliefs and attempts towards social engineering, or worse. Nowadays, Philosophy usually has a reputation as one of those things that put you to sleep, and is seen as boring, hard to understand, and completely irrelevant. People generally think this lack of interest is all because of ‘dumbing down’, but it has never been a popular subject, and most people have never had any exposure to philosophy itself, so they haven’t had the opportunity to think about it.”


“Washington D.C., Jun 10, 2018 / 05:00 am (CNA).- A Thomistic philosopher, an evolutionary biologist, and a Harvard astronomy professor walk into a bar. Well, not a bar.

But they did walk into a Washington, D.C. symposium this week, at which graduate students, professors, religious sisters, and other curious Catholics discussed highly technical scientific questions over bourbon and pecan pie, late into the night.

The three-day conference, co-sponsored by the Thomistic Institute and the Society of Catholic Scientists, brought together nearly 70 professors and graduate students from Princeton, Harvard, Yale, MIT, the University of Chicago, and other universities across the country to examine the intersection of faith and science.

“The typical contemporary view assumes that there is going to be some deep tension between faith and science. From our perspective that’s an illusion. There is not really a conflict there, but it does require you to work carefully through some of these issues,” said Fr. Dominic Legge, OP, the Thomistic Institute’s director.”


(Updated September 28, 2016)

Scott Douglas Jacobsen founded In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He authored/co-authored some e-books, free or low-cost. If you want to contact Scott:, Scott.Jacobsen@TrustedClothes.Com, Scott@ConatusNews.Com,, Scott@Karmik.Ca.

He is a Moral Courage Webmaster and Outreach Specialist (Fall, 2016) at the UCI Interdisciplinary Center for the Scientific Study of Ethics and Morality (Ethics Center), Interview Columnist for Conatus News, Writer and Executive Administrator for Trusted Clothes, Interview Columnist for Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), Councillor for the Athabasca University Student Union, Member of the Learning Analytics Research Group, writer for The Voice Magazine, Your Political Party of BC, ProBC, Marijuana Party of Canada, Fresh Start Recovery Centre, Harvest House Ministries, and Little Footprints Big Steps International Development Organization, Editor and Proofreader for Alfred Yi Zhang Photography, Community Journalist/Blogger for Gordon Neighbourhood House, Member-at-Large, Member of the Outreach Committee, the Finance & Fundraising Committee, and the Special Projects & Political Advocacy Committee, and Writer for Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Member of the Lifespan Cognition Psychology Lab and IMAGe Psychology Lab, Collaborator with Dr. Farhad Dastur in creation of the CriticalThinkingWiki, Board Member, and Foundation Volunteer Committee Member for the Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation, and Independent Landscaper.

He was a Francisco Ayala Scholar at the UCI Ethics Center, Member of the Psychometric Society Graduate Student Committee, Special Advisor and Writer for ECOSOC at NWMUN, Writer for TransplantFirstAcademy and ProActive Path, Member of AT-CURA Psychology Lab, Contributor for a student policy review, Vice President of Outreach for the Almas Jiwani Foundation, worked with Manahel Thabet on numerous initiatives, Student Member of the Ad–Hoc Executive Compensation Review Committee for the Athabasca University Student Union, Volunteer and Writer for British Columbia Psychological Association, Community Member of the KPU Choir (even performed with them alongside the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra), Delegate at Harvard World MUN, NWMUN, UBC MUN, and Long Beach Intercollegiate MUN, and Writer and Member of the Communications Committee for The PIPE UP Network.

He published in American Enterprise Institute, Annaborgia, Conatus News, Earth Skin & Eden, Fresh Start Recovery Centre, Gordon Neighbourhood House, Huffington Post, In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, Jolly Dragons, Kwantlen Polytechnic University Psychology Department, La Petite Mort, Learning Analytics Research Group, Lifespan Cognition Psychology Lab, Lost in Samara, Marijuana Party of Canada, MomMandy, Noesis: The Journal of the Mega Society, Piece of Mind, Production Mode, Synapse, TeenFinancial, The Peak, The Ubyssey, The Voice Magazine, Transformative Dialogues, Treasure Box Kids, Trusted Clothes.



Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight Publishing. Jacobsen supports science and human rights. Website: