Editor’s Note: Tal Tsfany’s  2017 young adult novelSophie is the third installment of our Writers Series. Sophie is the story of Syrian refugee Sophie Anwar’s experiences living with her mother in an American town. Now that she has the freedoms that America protects, Sophie reads, works a part-time job, studies, and plans for her future. When she meets Leo Weckl, her work ethic and self-esteem jumpstart him out of his bored adolescent aimlessness.  Not everyone in town is happy with Sophie’s self-determination, however, and when local government officials get involved, Sophie’s life and liberty are threatened. In the excerpt below, Leo accompanies Sophie to the local library, where they get to know each other better. Although young, Sophie and Leo connect on a deep level. They trust each other enough to begin to talk matter-of-factly and affectionately about their best selves and their loftiest ambitions. Sophie reveals her intellectual goals, and Leo reveals a secret talent. Sophie asked a lot of questions and wanted to know everything about me. It felt good to have someone so interested in me, my thoughts, and my feelings. Sophie and I got a little closer every day. From time to time, my bike buddies rode past us, making not-so-funny comments about my being with Sophie all the time, but I didn’t care. Being with Sophie was much more interesting than riding around with them, looking for trouble. “Picking up another physics book?” I asked her...
My topic is environmental philosophy and hazardous wastes. There are lots of benefits to living in a high-tech society—but there are also many risks, including dangerous waste products. How do we handle the risky chemicals that much of our lifestyle depends upon, and, at the same time, keep our human environment safe and beautiful? I want to discuss the disaster at Love Canal, New York. It is, I think, the most famous toxic waste scare in American history. It’s also a case that shaped environmental thinking and activism hugely for two generations now. So what’s the lesson of history here? I want to start with some good news about the Love Canal case. It was in the 1970s, and there have been a number of long-term studies. Fortunately, they have shown there has been no increase in rates of cancer or birth defects among the Love Canal area’s residents. That’s very welcome news, even though there were toxic chemicals released into the environment, hundreds of homeowners and their families were frightened, dislocated, and on top of that, there was a huge loss of property value. Now here is the bad news: the Love Canal case is a classic example of unfortunately bad journalism combined with bad philosophy. Almost five decades...
Three Games That Tech CEOs Play With Protectionism Silicon Valley executives speak truth to power when they tell President Donald Trump to tear down the barriers he is building in the realms of trade and immigration. Unfortunately, the same CEOs have their own walls under construction in the realms of speech and thought. They are like the people playing games in Stevie Wonder’s 1985 hit song, “Part-Time Lover.” They claim to value liberty, but they reveal themselves as part-time lovers of the cause when they defend freedom by day but switch sides at night. The most recent example comes from Facebook on Sunday. After the son of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the social media channel as “thought police” and shared previously blocked content, the company responded with a 24-hour ban. Trump shows the same duplicity, but in reverse. He supports free speech — at least when it favors himself — but not free trade. He condemns content filters and biased search algorithms in the marketplace of ideas, but he uses tariffs and visa restrictions in the marketplace of goods and services. Neutral observers keeping score at home might see two separate debates. But the same underlying principle applies in both cases: Walls hurt trade, regardless if the exchange involves opinions or commercial goods and services. Progress in either realm depends on open channels between buyers and sellers, so consumers can make informed and voluntary decisions about the transactions they...
In Money We Trust?, by Steve Forbes and Elizabeth Ames Reviewed by Marilyn Moore “So you think money is the root of all evil?” That is the question the wealthy, dashing copper magnate Francisco d’Anconia asked at the beginning of his famous “money speech” in Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged. D’Anconia was addressing a roomful of people who seemed confused about the meaning of money. Sixty-two years later, the meaning of money is once again seriously misunderstood, and Steve Forbes, chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media, has stepped in--Francisco d’Anconia-like--to set the record straight. In the new one-hour documentary, In Money We Trust? (2018), which recently aired on Maryland Public Television, Forbes looks at the 2500-year history of money to make the connection between money and human flourishing. The documentary is based on the book Money: How the Destruction of the Dollar Threatens the Global Economy--and What We Can Do About It, co-written by Forbes and Elizabeth Ames. The book was originally published in 2014 and has been updated as a companion to the documentary. I recommend watching the documentary, then reading the book to learn more. Forbes and Ames strip away the layers of misleading connotation and define money...
One of Auguste Comte’s students studied for a while in Germany and attended Hegel’s lectures. Reporting back to Comte about how Hegel’s doctrines compared to Comte’s socialist ones, the student wrote excitedly that “the identity of results exists even in the practical principles, as Hegel is a defender of the governments, that is to say, an enemy of the liberals.”   In the nineteenth century the question of the true meaning of socialism was a live issue among collectivists of all stripes. Kant, Herder, Fichte, and Hegel were dominant mainstream voices. Yet clearly none was a conservative. Conservatives of the nineteenth century favored returning to or re-invigorating feudal institutions. Our four figures, by contrast, all favored significant reforms and a jettisoning of traditional feudalism. Yet none was an Enlightenment liberal. Enlightenment liberals were individualistic, the center of their political and economic gravity tending toward limited governments and free markets. Our four figures, by contrast, voiced themes of strong collectivism in ethics and politics with calls for individuals to sacrifice for society, whether society was defined as the species, the ethnic group, or the state. We find in the case of Kant a call for individuals to be willing to do their duty to sacrifice for the species; we find in the case of Herder a call for individuals to find their identity in their ethnicity; we find in the case of Fichte a call for education to be a process of total...

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