by Nick Barrowman
“Correlation,” as the saying goes, “does not imply causation.” But if you want to understand the statistics that appear everywhere in our daily lives — in sports reporting, in weather forecasts, and of course in politics and medicine — it helps to know just what correlation does imply. Nick Barrowman explains why some disciples of “big data” think causation is passé, and why they’re wrong.
by Ari N. Schulman
Prejudice is the Enlightenment’s most detested foe, the vampire that withers in the light of Reason. But an ambitious new book argues that prejudice, properly understood, is a prerequisite for lucid thinking. In this review, Ari N. Schulman explains why our modern ideal of perfect rationality is irrational.
by Gilbert Meilaender
Unborn children are hidden from our view and totally dependent on us. Yet the debate over abortion usually treats the human community as made up only of free subjects that can enter into mutual dialogue or contractual relations. Gilbert Meilaender reviews a new book that offers a phenomenological critique of the abortion debate.
by Evan Selinger
and Jathan Sadowski
From spell-checkers to self-driving cars, automation technologies can relieve us of difficult or tedious work. But a new book by Nicholas Carr highlights the danger of living life on autopilot. Evan Selinger and Jathan Sadowski discuss the book’s approach, and what its critics missed.
by Ronald W. Dworkin
Modern medicine has mastered the elimination of pain to an impressive degree. But as Ronald W. Dworkin, a practicing anesthesiologist, shows, when science tries to explain pain, it often muddles what we know from experience.
Detail of Venus, Cupid, Folly, and Time (ca. 1546), by Agnolo Bronzino (via Wikimedia)
by Ronald Bailey
Are liberty and the environment simply opposed? Or can liberty and a flourishing natural environment reinforce one another, the good of one encouraging the good of the other? Ronald Bailey explores whether economic activity under a system of liberty can be environmentally sustainable in the long run.
by Gertrude Himmelfarb
The temptation to draw moral lessons from biology is strong today — but it is hardly new. As the historian Gertrude Himmelfarb explains, the nineteenth-century scientist known as “Darwin’s bulldog” argued against those who wanted to apply evolutionary science to mankind.
by Roger Scruton
Leading neuroscientists believe that we need to junk our everyday understanding of the mind, and that much of philosophy needs to go too. In this essay adapted from his new book The Soul of the World, Roger Scruton pokes holes in their confidence and proposes another way of understanding who and what we are.
by Peter Augustine Lawler
Critics of America have often argued that the country is too individualistic and materialistic, doomed to a kind of techno-obsessive liberal nihilism. But, as Peter Lawler explains, the American story is really a tale of constant compromise between our Lockean and Puritan tendencies, accommodating the need for both freedom and community.
Image: The Apostle (Butcher's Run Films, 1997)
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by Mark Blitz
What can the controversial German philosopher Martin Heidegger teach us about technology? Mark Blitz argues that Heidegger’s work provides a challenging and timely (if not unassailable) way to think about the role of technology in modern life.
by John Sexton
In their new book, Genes, Cells and Brains, Hilary and Steven Rose offer valuable critiques of biological reductionism and technological “Prometheanism.” But John Sexton reveals something missing at the center of their leftist bioethics: human nature.
Ari N. Schulman on the news media’s troubled coverage of imitative acts of violence.
by Robert H. Nelson
Economists often try to present their discipline as truly scientific — a value-neutral tool for predicting policy outcomes. But looking to history, Robert H. Nelson shows that economic science cannot be separated from its moral and even religious presuppositions.