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Michael Huemer on Rationality and Objectivity

Copyright © 2024 by Ari Armstrong
This episode originally was published on April 18, 2021, and reposted here on May 8, 2024.

Self in Society Podcast #24
Spotify Main (with video) | Spotify Podcast | Podcast Page

Philosopher Michael Huemer, author of Knowledge, Reality, and Value, discusses the meaning of rationality and objectivity, explains why the distinction between fact and opinion is more complex than many people presume, and promotes intellectual virtues.

Time Markers
00 Intro
2:03 Justice before the Law (a teaser)
5:29 Introducing Knowledge, Reality, and Value
7:20 Self-publishing an academic work
11:20 Differences between philosophy and natural science
11:49 The Ship of Theseus
16:16 What is rationality?
17:36 In what sense is rational thinking "relative to an observer"?
19:41 Conspiracism as irrational
21:11 Why asking whether we should be rational makes no sense
22:34 Why truth is good for us
22:33 The virtue of rationality (via W. K. Clifford)
26:35 What is an objective fact?
27:36 How is objectivity a virtue and succumbing to bias a vice?
31:33 The difference between objectivity and neutrality
35:28 Being cooperative and charitable in discussion
39:15 Accounting for the messenger when evaluating a message
41:57 Does the popularity of a belief make it more likely to be true?
46:00 Problems with popular media
53:29 Is truth relative?
57:18 What is the difference between fact and opinion?
1:07:09 What is skepticism?
1:09:17 What is foundationalism?
1:14:29 What is the principle of phenomenal conservatism?
1:16:39 What is an intuition?
1:24:04 Wrap-up

Following are Huemer's books:
Justice before the Law
Knowledge, Reality, and Value
Dialogues on Ethical Vegetarianism
The Problem of Political Authority
Paradox Lost
Approaching Infinity
Ethical Intuitionism
Skepticism and the Veil of Perception

Huemer maintains an academic web page as well as a blog.

Previously Huemer and I discussed his book on animal welfare.

I wrote a column about objectivity for Complete Colorado based partly on my interview with Huemer.

Stanford has an article about W. K. Clifford's "The Ethics of Belief."

During the podcast I mention a Colorado legislative effort to teach kids media literacy. I wrote an article about that with relevant links. In this context I mention a publication by the Pew Research Center.

I wrote up a very brief review of Huemer's book for Amazon.

Gage Skidmore took the photo of Huemer used in the podcast image.

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