Friday, May 14, 2010

Oderberg on the mainstream media

Courtesy of Professor David Oderberg’s lecture “Appearance and reality: what Plato can teach journalists and the media,” recently given at a seminar on journalism and ethics at Christ Church, University of Oxford.


  1. The reaction to the story? Nothing. Deafening silence. What this points to, in my view, is a complicity by the public in the indifferentism with which things are reported.

    Some topics cannot be reported because they are too "hot." Race and gender are the most obvious example. This subject can only be reported using one template (the subjection of "minorities" by white males), and any other "opinion" or "view" is, by rule, not allowed. If, on the other hand, these views are mentioned, they are subsequently stricken down by shouts of discrimination and racism.

    As the essay points out, the problem is exacerbated by a general lack of critical thinking ability from journalism majors--students that often end up writing for local newspapers. Ours has a staff comprised more and more of Hispanics (simply a reflection of demographics along with the paper's hiring policies), and the level of literateness in local stories is appalling.

    The articles themselves are often simply advertisements for more welfare disguised as news, and designed within a general template: _____(insert favored group) suffers disproportionately due to _____(insert whatever budget cutback is proposed). A picture of an unmarried woman and her pathetic children will often accompany the article. It might be clip art, who can say?

    National stories are usually sourced from the AP, so you know going in what to expect.

    The price of the Sunday edition may be worth the value of the store coupons, but even that is not clear. Subscriptions are down as are profits, and morale in the newsroom is said to be not good.

  2. Hi Professor Feser, have you read Ian J Thompson's book Philosophy of Nature and Quantum Reality?

    The full book seems to be on his site here.

    I have seen people wanting to argue that the spontaneous appearance of virtual particles from quantum vacua or radioactive decay as examples of events without a cause and that such events somehow violate the principle of causality. Dispositional essentialism seems like a robust defense against such notions not?

    Thanks for all the time and effort you put into this blog.

  3. Techne:

    Not to be "that guy," since you asked Dr Feser's response, but I notice you wrote of "the spontaneous appearance of virtual particles from quantum vacua or radioactive decay" as a violation of causality. Now ask yourself (or an interlocutor who uses the scenario to that end):

    Did the appearance of virtual particles come *from* the quantum vacua and/or *from* radioactive decay? I.e., do the particles not still observe the cause-effect paradigm? Or is the claim that the virtual particles, *as effects*, exist *prior to* the vacua and decay states, *as causes*? If the latter is the claim, I see no reason to discuss the particles in conjunction with the vacua and ecay states. Otherwise, doing so discloses a tight causal nexus.

    I think the answer is patent, and not at all so obviously disprobative of causality as some thinkers would like.