Stories to help you understand what you believe and why.

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Image for post
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

While we’re trying to decide what’s “right” or “wrong,” or learning how to be better people, we’re usually left with complicated questions.

Philosophers use thought experiments to communicate complicated questions in simple language. When it comes to questions of ethics, thought experiments can be an extremely useful tool.

Thought experiments usually tell a story. The idea is to think through the potential outcomes and what they might mean for the question at issue. You can think of these stories as a trial run…


Wisdom from several historic thinkers

Curly haired woman in a sweater sitting at a train station smoking a cigarette and staring into the camera
Curly haired woman in a sweater sitting at a train station smoking a cigarette and staring into the camera
Photo by Alev Takil on Unsplash

The world of philosophy can be a rough place for women. Philosophers are traditionally white, male, and Western, and most of the philosophy that is traditionally taught comes from that demographic. As a woman who studies philosophy, I have to say, I really wish I had more female philosophers to look up to.

Many of us in the philosophy community are recognizing the need for more diversity in our epistemologies and curriculums. Since I don’t always encounter women philosophers in my classes at school, I’ve been spending some time learning more about them myself.

Here are a few facts about…


How sexual misconduct in schools is condoned and ignored

row of broken school gym lockers
row of broken school gym lockers
Photo by John Doyle on Unsplash

“The buck stopped with no one,” said lawyer Bob Weaver to the Portland Public School Board during an investigation of sexual abuse by school faculty. In 2017, the school board had ordered an investigation into the treatment of Mitch Whitehurst, a teacher who had demonstrated a pattern of misconduct with students.

In his first year as a teacher, Whitehurst’s conduct with students was so noticeably inappropriate that a vice-principal reported it to school police. The next year, there was another complaint about Whitehurst from a student’s mother. Years later, in the late 90s, school police were again notified about Whitehurst…


Dancing on a pole (and dancing in general) does a body good

watercolor painting of pole dancer in an elegant outfit striking a pose on a pole
watercolor painting of pole dancer in an elegant outfit striking a pose on a pole
Image by ArtTower from Pixabay

Pole dancing has become relatively mainstream. In my city alone there are three pole dancing studios where anyone can take a dance class or rent a pole to work out in their spare time. From stay-at-home moms to college kids to competitive athletes, the pole dancing community has spread far beyond its historical roots.

Many exotic dance styles have been created by different cultures at different times in history. Middle eastern style belly dancing, the Brazilian Samba, a myriad of French Polynesian styles, and Moulin Rouge-style burlesque all come…


How Chief Justice Roberts made an incredibly bad call

An umpire, catcher, and batter at a baseball game
An umpire, catcher, and batter at a baseball game
Image by Anne & Saturnino Miranda from Pixabay

During his 2005 senate confirmation hearing, Chief Justice Roberts stated:

“Judges and Justices are servants of the law, not the other way around. Judges are like umpires. Umpires don’t make the rules; they apply them. The role of an umpire and a judge is critical. They make sure everyone plays by the rules. But it is a limited role.”

Chief Justice Roberts’ analogy here is an incredibly poor one.

While it is the role of the judicial branch of government, in theory, to interpret the law rather than to create it; in practice, this interpretation of the law often becomes…


Exploring political biases in our judicial system

statue of Justice, blindfolded and holding scales
statue of Justice, blindfolded and holding scales
Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

Do politics influence the election and selection of judges and the decisions they make in the courtroom?

I certainly think so.

The elections and selections of judges are clearly influenced by politics, and this influence raises serious ethical questions about the fairness of our justice system. The political opinions of the public have a clear causal connection to which judges are elected or selected, as well as a connection to the decisions these judges actually make in court.

Our judicial system rests on the premise that justice is blind, and that judges should be making decisions based on truth and…


How to offer support without making things worse

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Image for post
Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

So something bad happened to someone you care about, and now they are telling you about it. We’ve all been there, but not all of us have “been there” in the best way that we could have been for our friends in need.

When someone starts talking about their trauma, it can be hard to know how to react. You might not know what to say, how to behave, or what they need. You might feel uncomfortable, sad, angry, or confused. If you have your own trauma, you might be reminded of it. …


A guide to deceptive tactics used to influence others

Man sitting on couch with his forehead in his hand, looking upset
Man sitting on couch with his forehead in his hand, looking upset
Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

We are all capable of influencing each other in a variety of ways– both good and bad. Social influence is a powerful tool.

We can influence each other in positive ways, like when someone reminds you to drink water at a concert or to take a deep breath when you’re feeling overwhelmed. We can also influence each other in negative ways, like when your spouse tells you that you’ll never get that promotion you’re after or when your smoker buddy offers you a cigarette when they know that you’ve just quit.

In my opinion, the worst kind of social influence…


Women everywhere stand divided about one of the most important issues facing them today

red neon sign reading “live peep show”
red neon sign reading “live peep show”
Photo by Old Youth

Every day, hundreds of thousands of women trade their time, labor, and safety for money. Every day, the criminalization and stigmatization of their efforts put these women in danger. The legal prohibition of and social aversion to sex work must end now, for the sake of every person involved in the sex industry.

Sex workers are the original feminists

In Juno Mac and Molly Smith’s book, Revolting Prostitutes, the authors recount the role sex workers have played in women’s liberation for centuries.

In 1859, a sex worker writing under the pseudonym “Another Unfortunate” stated in her letter to the Times of London:

I conduct myself prudently…


How women have had their personal narratives manipulated throughout history

ancient Greek statue of a woman’s face in profile
ancient Greek statue of a woman’s face in profile
Image by NIKOS ABLIANITIS from Pixabay

I first came across Xanthippe when I was searching for words that were synonymous with “shrew” or “nag.” Xanthippe, I thought. That’s an interesting word. I decided to look into its origins. Since I study philosophy, I found it kind of strange that I hadn’t encountered the wife of Socrates sooner.

Socrates is probably The West’s best-known philosopher. The image of the ancient Greek thinker comes to mind immediately when most people think of philosophy. Socrates has been taught outright and mentioned peripherally in many of my philosophy classes…

Meredith Kirby

I write about things that matter to me. http://meredithkirby.com

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