The songs on Folkore are all like the philosophy papers that don't get published anymore. They are ambitious, sweeping, and a little bit raw and unpolished. They are songs about the meaning of life, and why questions about meaning matter from the perspective of the person asking these questions.
When you are young, they assume you know nothing
Hannan, Sarah. "Why childhood is bad for children." Journal of Applied Philosophy 35 (2018): 11-28.. (link)
Commentary: The Tomlin and Hannan readings represent two contrasting philosophical views of childhood and maturity (see the related entry for Betty)
The Last Great American Dynasty
Who knows, if I never showed up, what could've been
There goes the loudest woman this town has ever seen
I had a marvelous time ruining everything
Huber, Jakob, and Fabio Wolkenstein. "Gentrification and occupancy rights." Politics, Philosophy & Economics 17, no. 4 (2018): 378-397. (link)
Antonia Peacocke, "How Literature Expands Your Imagination" Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 103:2 (2021) (link)
Peacocke: "Literature can direct your attention to previously unnoticed phenomenal properties of your own past experience." Does Taylor gain insight on her own experience by considering Rebecca? (See also, "This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things."
I'm not your problem anymore
So who am I offending now?
Simpson, Robert Mark. "Regulating offense, nurturing offense." Politics, Philosophy & Economics 17, no. 3 (2018): 235-256.. (link)
Simpson argues that the norms for offense depend on the context. Often, people claim an entitlement to be offended in virtue of a relationship or in virtue of their identity, but that claim is unwarranted. In these cases, the claim of offense is a way of exerting dominance or control over someone who isn't liable to be treated in that way.
My Tears Ricochet
And when you can't sleep at night (You hear my stolen lullabies)
Cwik, Bryan (2014). Labor as the Basis for Intellectual Property Rights. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 17 (4):681-695. (link)
"There is thus an important connection between control over one’s labor (as a distinctly human, intentional, rational activity) and the capacity to control and order one’s life according to one’s own goals, values, and identity. Decisions about how and under what circumstances to use one’s productive capacities are among the most significant decisions one can make; laboring, and acquiring productive capacities at all, involves decisions about how to use one’s time and energy, what to do with one’s life, what one values the most, and what ends are most worthwhile"
I want you to know
I'm a mirrorball
I'll show you every version of yourself tonight
Kelly, Thomas, and Sarah McGrath. "Is reflective equilibrium enough?." Philosophical perspectives 24 (2010): 325-359.. (link)
Basically, reflective equilibrium just shows you whatever you started with but in a different way, like Taylor, like a mirrorball.
Passed down like folk songs
The love lasts so long
Levy, Neil, and Mark Alfano. "Knowledge from vice: Deeply social epistemology." Mind 129, no. 515 (2020): 887-915. (link)
Levy and Alfano write,
"Cumulative culture is developed, passed on, and maintained within a community. The practices, norms, and institutions that make cumulative culture possible are, we argue, at odds with most contemporary accounts of knowledge and its generation, which are too committed to individualism about cognitive agency."
Back when we were still changin' for the better
Wanting was enough
For me, it was enough
To live for the hope of it all
Cancel plans just in case you'd call
And say, "Meet me behind the mall"
Jeffrey, Anne & Mehari, Krista (forthcoming). The Primacy of Hope in Human Flourishing. The Monist.. (link)
Jeffery and Mehari write,
"Imagine you live next door to a very famous singer. You would love to be friends with her. But you are convinced she would never deign to be friends with the likes of you. You do things that endear her to you, both because you are generally a considerate neighbor and because of your subconscious desire to be friends with her. You find yourself offering to water her plants when she is away, lending her a cup of sugar, helping her with home repairs, clearing your schedule and sitting on her front porch to exchange stories of the day’s weal and woes. After a while, you do become friends in fact. You regularly enjoy the goods of this friendship, but because of your disbelief you refuse to believe you are really friends. Are you enjoying the good of friendship in a way that constitutes your flourishing?"
Taylor-- meet us behind the mall!
This is Me Trying
They told me all of my cages were mental
So I got wasted like all my potential
Velleman, J. David (1996). The Possibility of Practical Reason. Ethics 106 (4):694-726.. (link)
" The ancient thesis [that action constitutively aims at the good] goes wrong, I think, in treating the constitutive aim of action as something shared or jointly promoted by all of an agent's other ends-in-view, as if it were an ultimate or all-encompassing end."
Take the words for what they are
A dwindling, mercurial high
A drug that only worked
The first few hundred times
Earp, Brian D. "Love and other drugs." Philosophy Now 91 (2012): 14-17. (link)
I like to think of this as the spiritual companion song to "Tolerate it"
And isn't it just so pretty to think
All along there was some
Tying you to me?
Shabo, Seth (2012). Where Love and Resentment Meet: Strawson's Intrapersonal Defense of Compatibilism. Philosophical Review 121 (1):95-124.. (link)
Elizabeth Camp, "Metaphor and that Certain 'Je Ne Sais Quoi,'" Philosophical Studies 129 (2006): 1-25 (link)
Shabo argues that we cannot make sense of love while also accepting the truth of determinism. Invisible string is a challenge to this thesis, suggesting that the truth of determinism may enhance the significance of love, whereas Shabo suggests that we need to turn our attention away from the truth of determinism when we interact with people we love.
Camp says that metaphors can sometimes allow speakers to communicate content that would be unavailable for expression in literal terms.
Every time you call me crazy, I get more crazy
What about that?
Abramson, Kate (2014). Turning up the lights on gaslighting. Philosophical Perspectives 28 (1):1-30.. (link)
Look at the plot of the gaslighting movie-- doesn't that case seem like it's kind of a bad example for the broader phenomenon we now use that word for?!
And some things you just can't speak about
Whitman, Jeffrey (2008). Moral Luck and the Professions. Business and Professional Ethics Journal 27 (1-4):35-54. (link)
Brännmark, Johan. "Moral disunitarianism." The Philosophical Quarterly 66, no. 264 (2016): 481-499. (link)
Here Swift draws an analogy between the moral risk of military service and medicine. Both professions carry a great deal of moral risk, and people in both fields can suffer moral injury when they find themselves in morally unlucky circumstances. People in these fields may have distinctive moral insight into more general moral questions, or they may require a distinctive professional ethic for their distinctive role.
I'm only seventeen, I don't know anything
Tomlin, Patrick. "Saplings or caterpillars? Trying to understand children's wellbeing." Journal of Applied Philosophy 35 (2018): 29-46.. (link)
Rachel Fraser, "Narrative Testimony," Philosophical Studies 178 (2021) (link)
The Tomlin and Hannan readings represent two contrasting philosophical views of childhood and maturity (see the related entry for Cardigan)
Fraser suggests we are more open to testimony when it takes the form of a narrative point of view we can take on. Does the telling of the story in Cardigan/August/Betty help us see the different characters in the daylight?
I talk shit with my friends, it's like I'm wasting your honor
Robinson, Brian (2016). Character, Caricature, and Gossip. The Monist 99 (2):198-211.. (link)
"If gossiping is wrong, then spreading false gossip should be even worse. Yet, not only can one gossip well, in some cases false gossip is virtuous. It teaches by making people into moral exemplars and anti-exemplars. Virtuous false gossip, however, must only exaggerate—not invent—character traits to create a caricature of a person."
You knew the hero died so what's the movie for?
Shapshay, Sandra & Wagschal, Steven (2014). Contemporary Cinematic Tragedy and the 'Silver-Lining' Genre. British Journal of Aesthetics 54 (2):161-174.. (link)
Shapshay and Wagschal write,
"Whereas, melodrama traffics in stable moral categories—we typically see clearly virtuous victims and clearly vicious villains—and offers reassurance that virtue will prevail or will at least be revealed to everyone attending as, indeed, normatively superior. Tragedy, by contrast, does not offer such a clear moral landscape. Tragic protagonists while sympathetic are generally flawed and complicit in their reversal; and there is no reassurance offered to spectators that goodness will triumph because of the fortitude of individuals. In many cases, tragedy suggests just the opposite: individuals will be crushed by sticking to their principles, no matter how noble" (174)
A red rose grew up out of ice frozen ground
With no one around to tweet it
Slote, Michael A. "The rationality of aesthetic value judgments." The Journal of Philosophy 68, no. 22 (1971): 821-839.. (link)
What is the aesthetic value of the rose if no one was around to tweet it? Is aesthetic value independent of people's attitudes?
To what extent is artistic ambition compatible with commercial ambition?