Category Archives: morality

Moral, religious and free-will fictionalism: how dangerous are they?

At its philosophy website The Stone, the New York Times finally published an article that sparked my interest, though of course I don’t completely agree with it. It’s called “How to live a lie,” and it’s by William Irwin, a philosopher at King’s College in Pennsylvania. By “living a lie,” Irwin refers to three forms of “fictionalism”: […]

A sad end to a woodpecker

by Matthew Cobb A great spotted woodpecker's final resting place, a rather sad find on a my morning walk. — Miles Richardson (@findingnature) October 30, 2015 This macabre photo illustrates how birds are able to sleep while they roost – their claws are adapted to grasp when the muscles are relaxed. So even though […]

The disutility of utilitarianism

From Zach Weinersmith’s strip SMBC, via Matthew Cobb: Matthew is of course a Brit, and his email of this link to me was headed “Ouch!” But of course one problem with this argument is that by voicing your own views on morality, you might improve society. That, after all, is the reason why civil rights, […]

Michael Shermer’s “review” of Faith versus Fact

I put “review” in quotes above, because Michael Shermer’s precis of Faith versus Fact in the latest Scientific American isn’t really a review at all, but a further plumping for his claim that—as Sam Harris also espouses—science can hand us objective moral truths. (See Shermer’s new book, The Moral Arc, for a fuller exposition.) The full Sci Am piece is behind […]

Michael Ruse: Proud to be an accommodationist

It’s been a while since we discussed the philosopher Michael Ruse, but he’s suddenly surfaced in the pages of Zygon, “The Journal of Religion and Science,” with a very strange article called “Why I am an accommodationist and proud of it” (reference and possible free link below). I found this article because Jason Rosenhouse sent it […]

Morality proves God, take #197

I’ve written before about National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins’s claim that “the Moral Law”—that is, the instinctive feelings of right and wrong we experience when, say, we see a drowning child or a cheater—are evidence for God. For, claims Collins, there’s no way to explain such instinctive feelings by evolution or other naturalistic processes. […]

Once more with feeling: final thoughts on Ireland’s Marriage Equality referendum #MarRef

by Grania Spingies Terry Pratchett once wrote: “Words have power, and one of the things they are able to do is get out of someone’s mouth before the speaker has the chance to stop them.” Pratchett was right, of course. I don’t think the Vatican can help it much, for Terminal Foot-In-Mouth Disease seems to […]

Australian Jehovah’s Witness (and her fetus) die after mother refuses blood transfusion

Now here’s a conundrum: at what stage of life does a fetus acquire the “right” to be free from having its health controlled by the religious beliefs of its parents? According to yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald, a 28-year-old woman in Australia was discovered to have leukemia when she was seven months pregnant. She was also a […]

Dennett tries to save free will, fails

I’ve long been puzzled by the many writings of “compatibilists”: those philosophers and laypeople who accept physical determinism of our choices and behaviors, but still maintain that we have a kind of “free will.” Such people reject the classical form of free will that’s been so important to many people (especially religious ones)—the kind of “libertarian” free will that […]

Brain-damaged man executed for murder—but all criminals are “brain damaged”

Last night the state of Missouri executed by lethal injection the convicted murderer Cecil Clayton. Clayton, however, was brain-damaged, and in a way that probably contributed to his crime. The situation is described by The Guardian: The state of Missouri executed its oldest death row inmate on Tuesday – a man who was mentally impaired from a […]


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 37,032 other followers