How Language Arts Teachers Will Save Democracy

Democracy literally means rule by the people. Yet in practice, democracy means that the important decisions within a society are made through public discussions, often among elected representatives. To play a productive role in political discussions, you need a set of skills that do not come naturally, which is why they have traditionally been taught in school. Unfortunately, our public schools in the United States are failing to teach these skills. Many people want to blame the students, the parents, or the teachers for this failure. Yet as I explain in Not Trivial: How Studying the Traditional Liberal Arts Can Set You Free, the public schools have been set up for failure, by policies made at a high level.

Continue reading “How Language Arts Teachers Will Save Democracy”

To Be Civil, You Must Learn Logic

We, the people of the United States, seem to have reached consensus about one important thing: 95 percent of us believe that incivility is a serious problem in the United States. Most of us feel that the problem has gotten worse in recent years. Many people want to blame the Internet, but the real problem is in our schools. They are failing to teach us how to have productive political conversations.

Continue reading “To Be Civil, You Must Learn Logic”

Is Donald Trump a Narcissist?

During the recent Presidential campaign, many people have asked, “Is Donald Trump a narcissist?” Many people have suggested that he qualifies for a psychiatric diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder. However, American psychiatrists cannot weigh in on this issue. They are not supposed to offer diagnoses of people whom they have not formally evaluated. Yet even if psychiatrists could render an opinion about Trump, they cannot give him a diagnosis of a personality disorder unless his behavior is unacceptable to the people of his culture.

Continue reading “Is Donald Trump a Narcissist?”

What’s the difference between natural law and a law of nature?

Natural law is a legal philosophy that deals with questions of how human beings ought to behave and how they should treat each other. In contrast, scientists use laws of nature describe how living and nonliving things in the universe actually do behave. In other words, the difference is between the legal and ethical concept of should do as opposed to a scientific concept of does. This difference is really a difference in the mood of the verb to do.

Continue reading “What’s the difference between natural law and a law of nature?”