Category Archives: philosophy

A critique of my views on free will and the humanities by the man formerly known as “Uncle Eric”

Yes, I’ve been forced to de-avuncularize Eric MacDonald—not on the grounds that he goes after me hard in his latest post, but because his criticisms seem to me manifestly false and even a bit unfair. It’s sad to lose an uncle: first it was Karl Giberson, and now Eric.  And there are no candidates waiting […]

Reader help: The argument from the disprovability of non-existence

The last paragraph of this page, clearly from a Harry Potter book, was quoted by Christopher Hitchen’s in his essay collection Arguably.  I’d like to use it, but I need the name of the Harry Potter book and the page number for the quote.  Full reference, please. There are no prizes except the blessing of […]

“You can’t prove a negative”

Before I begin, I emphasize again that I am not a philosopher, having taken just a few philosophy courses in college and done a fair bit of reading thereafter. What I present below are the lucubrations of a scientist grappling with theology. UPDATE: I should have made clear that I’m talking about a theistic God […]

A bit more on free will

Don’t bother saying that this issue comes up too often here. First, that’s a violation of the Roolz. Second, I can’t help myself: the genesis of this post was determined by the laws of physics. And I want to ask one question, similar to one I asked before, but one that’s been reawakened by recent […]

Tania Lombrozo part 2: It can be rational to have faith

Tania Lombrozo, a Templeton-funded associate professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, has been writing on the cosmos & culture science website for National Public Radio. Yesterday I discussed what I saw as her gratuitous call for “respectful dialogue” between believers and nonbelievers, which seemed to me an effort to buttress religion’s undeserved […]

The meaning of life

One of many, of course. From today’s Non Sequitur by Wiley h/t: Steve

Two disparate views of free will

Here are two disparate takes on free will by Susan Blackmore and J. P. Moreland.  What they have in common is that both speakers conceive of “free will” in the same way: as dualistic, libertarian free will (Moreland buys it; Blackmore doesn’t). Now that’s the form of free will—the “ghost-in-the-machine” free will—that many readers here […]

Mathematician says he’s proven free will

Matthew Cobb called my attention to an interview with John Horton Conway in Notices of the American Mathematical Society. Conway is a famous mathematician at Princeton who says he’s proven that free will exists. I haven’t seen his formal treatment of the Free Will Theorem, so I can’t say I can evaluate it—much less understand […]

A strange conception of free will

Just when I think there’s nothing more to be said about free will—after all, we’ve hashed over most of the points here—a new piece comes along with yet another take on the issue. The latest slant, written by Dr. Peter Tse, is either deeply misguided or, less likely, profound in a way I don’t understand. […]

Colin McGinn resigns in wake of sexual harassment charges

Oy vey, you just never know.  According to Leiter Reports (which apparently took the news from the Chronicle of Higher Education, where the story’s behind a paywall), the world-famous philosopher of mind Colin McGinn, who is 63, will resign from the University of Miami at the end of this year in the wake of sexual […]

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