The philosophy of protest: Thoreau, King, and Civil Disobedience

The protesters on the street aren't just taking up space, they carry on a well thought out tradition.

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  • Nonviolent protests designed to effect change are a common occurrence around the world, especially today.
  • While they may seem to be a sign of sour grapes or contrarianism, there is a serious philosophical backing to them.
  • Thinkers from Thoreau to Gandhi and King have made the case for civil disobedience as a legitimate route to change.
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Do presidents removed from office still retain honorific titles?

Does a person still get to be "the honorable" if they are tossed out for not being honorable?

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  • The President of the United States is entitled "Mr/Ms. President," "the honorable," and "their Excellency" depending on the context.
  • The first two of these follow a person all of their life, including long after they leave the office that gave it to them.
  • The question of whether an impeached president could still be called "the honorable" is still open, since no precedent exists for it.
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Top-down power: Hierarchies thrive on the internet

The internet was built to resist an Orwellian future. Now it's being weaponized.

  • Research shows hierarchical groups are more likely to use the internet as a platform.
  • This might be counterintuitive, as the original rise of the internet coincided with events like the toppling of top-down structures.
  • Despite the strong belief that the internet is horizontal, these hierarchical systems achieve high levels of online participation.
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Think you're right? How to test yourself in the battle of ideas.

Our opponents' objections to our ideas often contain insight as to how we can better refine them.

  • When we're convinced in the truth of our ideas, we often believe if we just explain it to others that others will immediately come onboard with them. However, what we see in practice is that we need some resistance from others to help refine those ideas. In doing so, we make them more marketable in the marketplace of ideas.
  • When we have debates, we have to not censor our opponents. We have to be confident enough to have discussions with them aimed at getting at the truth.
  • When we prohibit the expression of ideas, we lose the chance to prove our ideas right — we lose the chance to advance their legitimacy in the court of public opinion.
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Open academic culture, more crucial than ever, is in peril

Why campuses are becoming polarized — and what we can do about it.

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  • The narrowing of academic freedom is a major problem for institutions of higher education.
  • Social media, external pressures, and increasingly diverse student bodies — while providing some positives — create more opportunity for misunderstanding and miscommunication.
  • Reaffirming the value of and commitment to open debate ensures a more vibrant academic culture.
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