What can our kids teach us about philosophy? with Prof. Scott Hershovitz

An interview with the author of "Nasty, Brutish, and Short: Adventures in Philosophy with My Kids."

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Great science is about asking great questions, not simply finding their answers. One of the hardest things about doing science is questioning the inherited conventional wisdom, rethinking what we thinking we know to find new answers. We forget how biased we are by what we’ve been told, what we assume to be true. 

But children don’t carry those assumptions. It’s a fact that I’m reminded of every single day as a new father. Indeed, one of the greatest joys of being a father is engaging my daughter’s growing, developing brain. If you define intelligence as the ability to assimilate and manipulate information, it’s clear that my daughter is the smartest person in our family — she’s constantly assimilating new knowledge in the process of discovering the world. 

It’s also clear that because she’s unburdened by assumptions of how the world works, she asks really smart, foundational questions about it. They consistently force me to engage the world anew, and I rarely leave a conversation without a fresh insight that I wouldn’t have had without her interlocution.  

My guest today, Prof. Scott Hershovitz is an attorney and philosopher and a professor of law at the University of Michigan. He’s written an incredible new book about this: “Nasty, Brutish, and Short: Adventures in Philosophy with Kids” which takes our kids seriously as the intelligent, thoughtful thinkers they really are. We talked about what it means to take kids seriously as thinkers, the unique insights he’s gained from his kids, and what our kids can teach us about how we interact with our society.