theory + practice = solutions

Dear Global Circle,

What *exactly* can . . .

a) an undergraduate student
b) a student applying for postgraduate qualification
c) a student in the middle of postgraduate qualification
d) a faculty member
e) a fully-fledged Professor

. . . do to make step-by-step progress today?


Allan McKenna

P.s. feel free to change and improve this question set in any way. It is just a beginning.

(Copied here as a blog post with permission of the original author.)

The Ten Most Consequential New Ideas?

The Ten Most Consequential New Ideas?    

Please note:  I’ve shifted the order of two posts, and I’ve renamed this one to ‘The Ten Most Consequential New Ideas?’ from ‘Intricate Nuanced Demure Ideas’.  But never-mind the administrative details.  Here we go …

This post involves a request to readers, one that will hopefully get us thinking and help each of us consider the present state of affairs in concrete terms.

The request is this:  Please identify one or more of what you believe to be the ten most consequential new findings or ideas to come out of—that is, result from—academic philosophy in the last fifty years.

The point here is not to attempt to rank-order them or to attempt any sort of consensus, both of which aims would likely be impossible and perhaps meaningless anyhow.  Instead, the point is merely to prompt each of us to think about the matter, to identify to each other some of the most consequential findings and ideas in our various opinions, to allow us all to reflect on the results, and to see what discussion might ensue, and what we might learn.

To begin the process, and as an example, I’ll suggest the so-called veil of ignorance, from John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice (1971).  Although I’m not an historian of ideas, it’s my understanding that the essence of this idea was not entirely new, but nevertheless Rawls propelled it to center stage and, I expect, elaborated and improved upon it.  Too, I can’t personally point to a major concrete instance in which a recent application of the idea “changed the world”;  goodness knows that, in theory anyhow, there are many applications of it that could substantially improve the world, if someone could figure out a way to actually motivate society at large to embrace such good ideas.  However, at least in my case, I do find myself occasionally using the idea to try to explain to someone how we should try to address certain problems in society by using it.  (To my knowledge, nobody has ever taken me up on the proposal, unless it somehow served their own immediate interests to do so, given the place in society they already knowingly occupied.)  That said, it seems to me that this idea is, or at least is potentially, a highly consequential idea, and worth listing.

In any case, in the interest of fairly assessing the state of philosophy today, at least in one important sense, will others please continue the list?  Thanks in advance for your participation!

The Ten Most Consequential New Findings or Ideas to

Result From Academic Philosophy in the Last Fifty Years





Be Well,



Questions Queue

I propose this as a place Global Circle members pose questions they believe are vitally important, will serve to provide insight, and are within the scope of the Global Circle. Members are encouraged to contribute answers, pointers to existing resources that provide partial answers, refinements of the questions, and related questions. Links to answers being developed are included. Members are also encouraged to indicate the urgency and importance they attribute to the question. Please offer your comments via reply to this post. I’ll update this list as comments are received.

Here is the current list of questions:

    1. What is the aim and purpose of the Global Circle? How is the Global Circle differentiated from other groups of philosophers, other discussion groups, and other organizations working on global problems? In a paragraph or two, how do you describe the aim and purpose you would ideally like to see?
    2. Imagine the world as you would like it to be; as you believe it ultimately can be. Please describe this world. What makes that world good? What makes that world better than other concepts of desirable future worlds? What is of value in life, and how is it to be realized? What stages do you foresee the world transforming through to attain that wise world.
    3. What is the most pervasive obstacle slowing progress toward that wise world?
    4. What matters most?
    5. What educational curriculum best prepares people to live wisely?
    6. What is the most important action that can be taken to increase progress toward the wise world we envision?
    7. What are the grand challenges the world now faces?
    8. How can government effectiveness best be assessed? How can government effectiveness best be improved?
    9. How can bureaucracies learn to make wiser decisions?
    10. How can the general populace become wiser?
    11. How can we best assess the level of wisdom of an individual, a group, an organization, an institution, a nation or the world? Where is wisdom coming to life?
    12. What unfounded assumptions do we allow to go unchallenged? Which ones are most consequential?
    13. What forces, if any, work to align legal justice with moral justice?