Investigating Karl Popper’s critique of totalitarianism

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Totalitarianism, as the word is commonly used, refers to a form of government in which individual rights and freedoms are sacrificed on the altar of the whole (the community…

A Contemporary Debate in Philosophy of Science

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What is an explanation? To be more precise, what is a scientific explanation? A lot has been written about the matter and, as is the case of most philosophical problems, the question has so far remained more or less unsettled.

According to one contemporary and widely received view explanation is about tracking objective dependency relations. In other words, an explanation shows the things on which the thing to be explained depends on. I know that is a bit of a mouthful but it basically says that if X explains Y, then the Y depends on X. Explanation “illuminates” this relationship…

Should we reconsider the role of honor in ethics?

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Whatever stance we take in our contemporary moral philosophy, it seems honor is conceived as an obsolete concept. Intellectuals in Western liberal democracies often discuss honor as if it was a remote and primitive thing.

For example, James Bowman has written a book-length “history” on honor in which he presents it as a primitive warrior spirit-like mentality which is characterized by:

“Bravery, indomitability and the readiness to avenge insults or injuries for men, and as chastity for women.”

Honor is regularly brought up in this kind of narrow context. We tend to discuss honor killings or other forms of violence…

Examining an unpopular point of view.

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States worldwide have declared that they acknowledge the 18th Article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The article states that:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

Many states have sought to enforce this human right with different legal, political, and administrative tools. Yet, there seems to be a fundamental controversy underlying all such attempts to enforce the 18th…

Long read

Investigating Erich Fromm’s critique of totalitarianism.

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The rise of the 20th century totalitarian regimes in the West was a peculiar phenomenon. The human rights movement and the first wave of democratization were among the great trends of the early 20th century. Nevertheless, it beggars belief that these celebrated emancipatory trends did not prevent the totalitarian movements from gaining enormous popularity.

One could almost argue that the progress of freedom in terms of basic liberties during the early 20th century was quite paradoxical. Erich Fromm, a German-born social psychologist and philosopher, was among the earliest to give notice to this seemingly paradoxical phenomenon.

Unlike many of his…

A Cautious Critique of Social Media and Democracy

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When I publish this story on Medium, who will see it? On whose feed will my story appear? Well, I am quite as clueless as you are.

Once this story is published, I have basically handed it over to Medium’s algorithm which decides what to do with it and how to distribute it. The algorithm will take many ifs-and-thens into account before it decides on whom’s feed it will make this story visible.

More importantly, the logic behind those ifs-and-thens is a business secret — an admirable one, I should add — but that is nothing new. Every big social…

Investigating Hannah Arendt’s critique of totalitarianism.

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Hannah Arendt was one of the prominent political theorists of the 20th-century. She is celebrated for her original thinking and theorizing style, which is particularly apparent in her work on totalitarianism.

After Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, she was, as a Jew, compelled to flee Germany. Roughly two decades later, she published her major work The Origins of Totalitarianism in 1951, which illustrates quite well her original style. In a word, the book is a curious mixture of philosophy, history, and sociology.

Nevertheless, Arendt’s objective in Origins was rather simple. She argued that totalitarianism was a modern phenomenon —…

A theoretical outline of peace and violence.

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“Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures” — John F. Kennedy

In his speech in the United Nations' general assembly in 1963, United States president John F. Kennedy addressed the obstacles of peace that the cold war had created. Though the cold war has ended decades ago and become mostly a subject of political history, peace, on the other hand, still remains a present-day topic of politics. This leaves us with the question of what is peace and why is it so hard to attain?

To tackle…

A deep ecologist’s view on conservation

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Over two decades ago, UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) called for a scientific assessment of the relationship humans have with the environment. As a result, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment was published in 2005. One of its central claims was that human well-being is necessarily dependent on what scientists began to call “ecosystem services”. In short, the scientific community behind the Assessment claimed that:

“Ecosystem services are the benefits people obtain from ecosystems. These include provisioning services such as food, water, timber, and fiber; regulating services that affect climate, floods, disease, wastes, and water quality; cultural services that provide recreational, aesthetic…

Isaiah Berlin on value pluralism.

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We value different things to different degrees. The values we hold constitute our moral compasses. While your values might point to the North, mine might point to the South. You might value equality to a greater degree while I might not.

There is a conflict of a moral sort. But can the conflict be settled? Can we say that your values are better than mine, that they are more rational and that should I be rational, I would choose those values too?

That is a big question and it is a question that has dominated much of the Western moral…

J.J. Karvinen

🇫🇮 || MA graduate on philosophy from University of Helsinki ||

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