Album Notes

Midnights combines the strongest elements of all previous Eras and mixes into a coherent and consistent album about the end of early adulthood and the impossible demands of gendered expectations. 

Lavender Haze

Lyrics (Here)

 I'm damned if I do give a damn what people say 

No deal The 1950s shit they want from me 

I just wanna stay in that lavender haze

Related Readings:

 Brake, Elizabeth (2010). Minimal marriage: What political liberalism implies for marriage law. Ethics 120 (2):302-337. (here)


 Brake argues that existing legal approaches to marriage and other adult caring relationships are illiberal. In part, Brake criticizes these institutions on the grounds that  "many of these entitlements appear to reflect an assumption of a “traditional” single breadwinner model, in which one spouse depends on the other for health insurance and income." Instead, Brake rejects the 1950's shit people seem to want from relationships, and defends an account of "minimal marriage." Brake writes, 

"Minimal marriage does not require that individuals exchange marital rights reciprocally and in complete bundles: it allows their disaggregation to support the numerous relationships, or adult care networks, which people may have. Minimal marriage would allow a person to exchange all her marital rights reciprocally with one other person or distribute them through her adult care network." 

On this view, people needn't choose between "a one-night or a wife" but would, ideally, have access to a range of legally recognized relationship-oriented benefits that were more closely tied to the distinctive rationales behind the existing bundle of marriage-related benefits. 


Lyrics (Here)

Did you hear my covert narcissism 

I disguise as altruism 

Like some kind of congressman? (A tale as old as time) 

I wake up screaming from dreaming 

One day, I'll watch as you're leaving 

And life will lose all its meaning (For the last time)

Related Readings:

Annas, Julia. "Plato and Aristotle on friendship and altruism." Mind 86, no. 344 (1977): 532-554. (link


Fun fact: there's a lot of political psychology about how men in politics are in it for themselves and women in politics are in it for common good related reasons.

Snow on the Beach

Lyrics (Here)

And it's fine to fake it 'til you make it 'Til you do, 'til it's true

Related Readings:

J. David Velleman, "Motivation by Ideal," Philosophical Explorations 5 (2002) (link)


Is all autonomous agency just faking it till you make it?

You're On Your Own Kid

Lyrics (Here)

I looked around in a blood-soaked gown 

And I saw something they can't take away 

'Cause there were pages turned with the bridges burned 

Everything you lose is a step you take 

So, make the friendship bracelets, take the moment and taste it 

You've got no reason to be afraid

Related Readings:

Clark, Samuel (2018). Narrative, Self-Realization, and the Shape of a Life. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 21 (2):371-385. (link)


Is it better if your life has the structure of a good story? 

Midnight Rain

Lyrics (Here)

He wanted it comfortable, 

I wanted that pain 

He wanted a bride, 

I was making my own name 

Chasing that fame, 

He stayed the same

Related Readings:

Chambers, Clare (2017). Against Marriage: An Egalitarian Defense of the Marriage-Free State. Oxford University Press. (here)


To what extent is heterosexual marriage conceptually linked to the gendered division of labor and women's exclusion from the workforce? 


Lyrics (Here)

Did you ever have someone kiss you in a crowded room 

And every single one of your friends was makin' fun of you 

But fifteen seconds later, thеy were clappin' too? 

Then what did you do?

Related Readings:

Lisa Feldman Barrett, How Emotions are Made (Mariner, 2018) (link)


Barrett proposes an exercise: Think of an experience with a distinctive phenomenology, for which you have no single conceptual label.  Examples: the feeling when you leave your hometown for the last time; the feeling when you see someone across the room and can tell that they're having the same thought as you, etc.  The idea is that your concepts limit your capacity for experience; expanding your concepts also enlarges your range of feelings.  Is Taylor's "just a question" also a good question?

Vigilante Sh*t

Lyrics (Here)

Ladies always rise above 

Ladies know what people want 

Someone sweet and kind and fun 

The lady simply had enough

Related Readings:

Amia Srinivasan, "The Aptness of Anger," The Journal of Political Philosophy 26:2 (2018) (link)


If fitting but non-instrumentally valuable anger can be a good idea, can affective vigilantism also be a good idea?


Lyrics (Here)

And when I meet the band 

They ask, "Do you have a man?" 

I could still say, "I don't remember"

Related Readings:

Jenkins, Carrie. "The rules of flirtation." The Philosophers' Magazine 36 (2006): 37-40. (here)


Reading 1: Taylor's reply ironically plays on the media's attention to her relationships.  "You tell me, do I have a man?  What are they even saying now about me?  I don't remember." 

Reading 2: Taylor retains the fame and status to effectively parry the suggestion that relational facts about her are relevant at all.  She can still say she doesn't remember because her pop stardom doesn't depend on trifling gossip.


Lyrics (Here)

It only feels this raw right now 

Lost in the labyrinth of my mind

Related Readings:

Sturgeon, Nicholas L. (1974). Altruism, solipsism, and the objectivity of reasons. Philosophical Review 83 (3):374-402. (here)


Can a kind of self-absorption be rationally justified, while still avoiding accusations of solipsism? 


Lyrics (Here)

And I keep my side of the street clean 

You wouldn't know what I mean

Related Readings: 


In contrast to the classical Indian conception of Karma, Goodman describes and defends a conception of Karma, which is probabilistic, rather than deterministic. On this view,  good action is rewarded within the timeline of a single life, meaning that Taylor and her enemies are both more likely to experience Karma within their own lives. 

On the other hand, Carpenter argues that traditional understandings of Karma are incompatible with moral instruction in the Buddhist tradition, which advises acceptance, loving-kindness, and letting go of old grudges (cf. Daylight

Sweet Nothing

Lyrics (Here)

On the way home 

I wrote a poem 

You say, "What a mind" 

This happens all the time

Related Readings:

Alfred Archer and Catherine M. Robb, "Being a Celebrity: Alienation, Integrity, and the Uncanny," Journal of the American Philosophical Association (2022) (link)


Are the lines above a compliment?  Is there something disconcerting about them?


Lyrics (Here)

No one wanted to play with me as a little kid 

So I've been scheming like a criminal ever since 

To make them love me and make it seem effortless 

This is the first time I've felt the need to confess 

And I swear 

I'm only cryptic and Machiavellian 

'Cause I care

Related Readings:

Marsili, Neri. "Lying, speech acts, and commitment." Synthese 199, no. 1-2 (2021): 3245-3269. (here)


Is the bridge in this song strategic or sincere? 

The Great War

Lyrics (Here)

And maybe it's the past that's talking 

Screaming from the crypt 

Telling me to punish you for things you never did 

So I justified it

Related Readings:

McMahan, Jeff. "Climate change, war, and the non-identity problem." Journal of Moral Philosophy 18, no. 3 (2020): 211-238. (here


Is it appropriate to blame previous generations for today's hardships, if none of us would exist today if not for their actions in the past? 

Bigger than the Whole Sky

Lyrics (Here)

You were bigger than the whole sky 

You were more than just a short time 

And I've got a lot to pine about 

I've got a lot to live without 

I'm never gonna meet 

What could've been, would've been 

What should've been you

Related Readings:

Harman, Elizabeth. "Creation ethics: The moral status of early fetuses and the ethics of abortion." Philosophy & Public Affairs 28, no. 4 (1999): 310-324. (here)


"It might be objected that we cannot really love something, such as an early fetus, that we know so little about. I do claim that we can love early fetuses; I claim that this is very common. While our love for early fetuses cannot reach the depth and complexity of our love for persons, it is real love directed at a particular individual. The couple knows that there is a living being in the womb of the pregnant woman, and they have attitudes toward that being.  They are not merely anticipating loving their  future child. The fact that  the fetus is itself the beginning of  their child is reason to love it now." (Harman 315)


Lyrics (Here)

No, I didn't see the news '

Cause we were somewhere else

Related Readings:

Freiman, Christopher. Why It's Ok to Ignore Politics. Routledge, 2020. (link


Is it morally good to ignore politics and to focus on relationships? 

High Infidelity 

Lyrics (Here)

You know there's many different ways that you can kill the one you love 

The slowest way is never loving them enough

Related Readings:

Liao, S. Matthew. "The idea of a duty to love." J. Value Inquiry 40 (2006) (here)


I like to think this is the couple from Tolerate it, one year later. 


Lyrics (Here)

But it's been two-thousand one-hundred ninety days of our love blackout

Related Readings:

Lewis, David. "Humean supervenience debugged." Mind 103, no. 412 (1994): 473-490. (link


Chance is the glitch... 

Would’ve, Should’ve, Could’ve

Lyrics (Here)

All I used to do was pray 

Would've, could've, should've 

If you'd never looked my way

I would've stayed on my knees 

And I damn sure never would've danced with the devil

Related Readings:

Arroyo, Christopher. "Natural Goodness, Sex, and the Perverted Faculty Argument." Philosophy 97, no. 1 (2022): 115-142. (here)


This song is the spiritual prequel to False God. 

Dear Reader

Lyrics (Here)

Dear reader, burn all the files 

Desert all your past lives 

And if you don't recognize yourself 

That means you did it right

Related Readings:

Doody, Ryan. "If There Are No Diachronic Norms of Rationality, Why Does It Seem Like There Are?." Res Philosophica 96, no. 2 (2019): 141-173. (link


"Our intuitions about the rationality of someone’s diachronic behavior, then, might not merely track whether her behavior is sensible from her perspective, but also the extent to which it would be easy to predict her behavior." (Doody, p. 167) 


Lyrics (Here)

"How'd we end up on the floor, anyway?" you say 

"Your roommate's cheap-ass screw-top rosé, that's how"

Related Readings:

Gert, Joshua (2010). Color constancy and the color/value analogy. Ethics 121 (1):58-87. (link)


What is it about memory that deepens red into maroon?  

Discussion Questions