Category Archives: philosophy

Pinker on the Kosher Switch

The Kosher Switch post I put up yesterday, showing how some clever Orthodox Jews can circumvent the regulations not to turn on lights during the Sabbath, got 169 comments—three times more than the much harder-to-write post on the evolution of human altruism. Professor Ceiling Cat wept. Are kosher switches that much more interesting than why […]

Eagleton on Baggini on free will

The philosopher and atheist Julian Baggini has a new book called Freedom Regained: The Possibility of Free Will. As you can probably tell from the title, it’s a compatibilist book, claiming that although all our acts are determined by the laws of physics, we still have a kind of free will.  And it’s reviewed in the April 1 […]

Cat, noms, and and a chinwag with Uncle Dan

Just a reprise of my Good Friday up to 2 p.m.—while my memory is still fresh.  This includes a felid, lunch, and coffee and conversation with Dan Dennett. First, I am staying with old friends, and they have a 13-year-old cat named Garcia. He is is diffident towards strangers, including me, but it let me pet it […]

“Prager University” teaches pure libertarian free will

Here’s a video put out by “Prager University,” a series of online “educational” videos issued under the aegis of Dennis Prager, a conservative and a Jew. His religion is relevant because the video touts a “contracausal” form of free will: the widespread notion that our decisions reflect something beyond the laws of physics—which of course include chemistry […]

Why free-will compatibilists are like creationists

I’m rereading Alex Rosenberg’s The Atheist’s Guide to Reality for purposes that will become clear later. I do like the book, but oy, does it take naturalism to its most extreme! Alex wears the label of “scientism” proudly, and in many ways I agree with him, though he does take evolutionary psychology to unsubstantiated lengths. But he’s […]

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 […]

A philosopher asserts that there are “moral facts”, and we’re messing up our kids’ education by not telling them that

One thing that disturbs me about naturalism is the increasingly frequent contention that there are objective moral “facts” or “truths,” which can somehow be discerned scientifically. I don’t agree with that, since at bottom I think that what one sees as “right” or “wrong” ultimately rests on a set of subjective preferences that can’t be […]

Philomena Cunk takes on philosophy

In today’s “Moments of Wonder”, everyone’s favorite Science Presenter, Philomena Cunk, takes on philosophy. In her relentless inquiry about whether we truly exist, Philomena encounters Philosophy Lady: Marianne Talbot, director of philosophy studies at Oxford’s Department of Continuing Education: It’s time to show you what this series is on about. In the video below, Philomena Cunk and her […]

Philosopher Maarten Boudry shows the incompatibility between science and religion—in the pages of NCSE Reports

Although I’m an admirer of the anticreationism work of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), I’m not a fan of their pervasive accommodationism. They not only have a “faith project” designed to show that science and religion are compatible, but their writers and employees regularly defend the view that science and the supernatural are […]

So you don’t think people believe in dualistic free will?

If you don’t think anybody accept dualistic free will, then you’ve forgotten about the huge majority of religious people in the U.S. (and many other places). I’m not saying that the infamous neurosurgeon and creationist Michael Egnor, Friend of the Discovery Institute, has free-will beliefs identical to those of every other faithhead, but he’s clearly […]

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