Category Archives: mortality

A disproof of objective or “scientifically based” morality

I’ve made this point before, but have revisited it after my recent post on animal suffering and how we shouldn’t ignore it. When thinking about how to judge human versus animal suffering, I realized that there’s no objective way to do this, and that when trying to figure out how to treat animals, we must ultimately […]

“Heaven vs. hospital”: dying 5-year-old given a Hobson’s Choice by Christian parents

Here’s a short but ineffably sad piece at PuffHo about a five-year old girl from Oregon, Juliana Snow, who has a horrible and terminal neurological disease that will end her life her very soon: Juliana Snow has suffered from an incurable neurodegenerative illness called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, or CMT, since birth. [JAC: description of the illness here.] The child can’t […]

A tenet of nonbelief

Matthew Cobb sent me this tw**t that pretty much emphasizes a tenet of atheism: make the most of your life in the here and now, for you ain’t going anywhere after you die. Love the sentiment on this tombstone. #Words2LiveBy — Lindsey Fitzharris (@DrLindseyFitz) October 21, 2015 One of my other favorite anecdotes about our […]

In the end, what really matters?

In my view there is no good death, but some deaths are better than others. B. J. Miller came close, losing both his legs below the knee, as well as his left forearm, in a foolish stunt as a sophomore at Princeton, climbing on top of the famous “Dinky” train and getting electrocuted by the wires. Since then he’s become […]

Oliver Sacks on “filter fish”

Just a note about what may be Oliver Sack’s last published work, or at least the last thing that he wrote that was published most recently. It’s a piece in the New Yorker (free access) called “Filter Fish“. It is of course about the Jewish dish gefilte fish (something I can’t abide, but always call “filter […]

Let’s stop talking about “rights”, or at least don’t assert them as unquestionable givens

Now that I’ve established my philosophy cred, I want to talk about “rights”. These are just some off-the-top-of-my-head thoughts inspired by the video I’ve posted below. There are two ways we can interpret the meaning of the word “rights” as applied to humans or animals: a. Social, political, or legal conventions that help society run the way we’d […]

Regrets of the dying

If you’re a determinist like me, it’s useless to have deathbed regrets about what you didn’t do in the past, for you couldn’t have done otherwise. However, we can, by hearing about others’ regrets, modify our behavior, for neuronal rewiring in the face of experience does not violate determinism. Herewith is a list I found on Facebook, […]

A good man faces his end

There’s little doubt that Jimmy Carter doesn’t have long to live: he has liver cancer, and now four spots of melanoma have metastasized to his brain from an unknown source. The prognosis is, of course, very dire. (See the New York Times article here.) Characteristically, Carter held a press conference yesterday at his eponymous Center to discuss […]

Oliver Sacks on the Sabbath—and his death

As most of you know, Oliver Sacks is in the process of dying. His metastatic cancer began in his eye, and then spread to his liver and now to other places. He doesn’t have long to live, and has documented his decline, and his thoughts on impending mortality, in three pieces in the New York Times. I posted on […]

Dan Dennett: misguided about free will, accurate about Templeton

I was originally going to write in the title that philosopher Dan Dennett was “wrong” about free will, but whether or not humans have “free will” seems to be a matter not of right or wrong, but of semantics—how we define the term. “Compatibilists” like Dennett, who see free will as perfectly consonant with a world in […]


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