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With the media hyping and perhaps overhyping the coronavirus epidemic that has broken out in China, I decided to check in with someone on the scene: Spencer Case. Spencer is a young philosopher currently on a postdoc fellowship at Wuhan University, observing the eerie scene from his 17th floor apartment building. He was out to a busy local market yesterday, where he snapped the picture below, noting that people seemed to be buying produce and concluding that everyone must have ample stocks of rice and beans on hand. But the streets are empty and the town is rife with rumors.
Spencer brings an unusual background to this story as well as academic philosophy. He served in the army and did tours of duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan before entering the Ph.D program in philosophy at the University of Colorado at Boulder, which is where I met him during my time there several years back. He’s also a serious swing dancer. He writes frequently for Quillette and belongs to Heterodox Academy. Our conversation here ranges beyond just the corona virus to talk about his experience in the Middle East and his work on “moral realism” in philosophy. (You can check out one of his papers on the self-defeat of normative error theorists here.)
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