What is goodness? What is truth? What is beauty? What is justice? What’s for lunch? One of these questions is plainly less than deeply philosophical, but sometimes clearheaded thinking about everyday matters is exactly what we need, and exactly what philosophical reflection can offer us.
This issue’s forum is devoted to acting in uncertainty – if your life is anything like mine, you’ll find this of considerable relevance. I know what to do if I’m standing next to a lever and able to divert a runaway trolley, saving five people but killing one. If I woke up in someone else’s body, I think I could make a case for getting my stuff back. If I find myself back-to-back in bed with an unconscious violinist plugged into my circulatory system, I have a prepared statement in mind. If I had the ring of Gyges and could render myself invisible and get away with absolutely anything, I think I know what I’d do (some light pilfering but nothing serious). But the vast majority of the time it’s not so clear cut.
Most of a life is spent not in thought experiments, but awash in uncertainty and ignorance. This issue’s forum is devoted to reflection on acting when we’re not at all sure what to do. There are real live questions here, questions which are sometimes both ordinary and philosophical – but none of it is humdrum. There are life and death matters here too. According to at least one contributor, acting in uncertainty is the philosophical issue of our times. According to another, a rule connecting individuals who take risks to the harms their risks bring is exactly what is needed in a culture prone to property bubbles and stock market crashes.
But don’t worry. It’s not all life and death and taxes. Alongside our usual, excellent mix of news, opinion, columns and reviews, you’ll find an argument for the satisfying claim that theists, agnostics and atheists are all wrong; reflection on the imagination and aesthetic engagement; thoughts about the meaning of life and morality; a close reading of Berkeley on intuition and awareness; ideas about what it really means to be human; a discussion of the limits of empathy; and the following excellent question: if we had greater thinking power, would we find the world more or less puzzling?
My guess is more, but don’t let that sway you.