Category Archives: philosophy

Sean Carroll on free will

Yes, I know some of you are thinking “Oh, no—not another post on free will!” Well, if you’re one of those, you know what to do: just don’t read any further. I write about what interests me; and the free will debate, which is a rare nexus of of science, religion, and philosophy, is interesting. Plus […]

Proof that the scriptures are man-made and don’t convey God’s word

When you read this I’ll be over—or, if something goes wrong, in—the Atlantic. If all goes well, Grania will have done the Hili dialogue; please her a hand for repeatedly filling in for me when I’m traveling. I woke up about 2 a.m. in the Warsaw airport hotel and this idea suddenly popped into my head. […]

Gary Gutting discovers the obvious: religion can cause violence

“We may find it hard to believe that religious beliefs could motivate murders and insist that extreme violence is always due to mental instability or political fanaticism. But the logic (and the history) of religions tells against this view.”  –Gary Gutting, having an epiphany The Stone, the New York Times‘s philosophy column, is remarkably undistinguished, […]

Misconceptions about determinism, illustrated

Over at the website Evolving Perspectives, reader Pliny the in between has a new cartoon called “Nuts and bolts of crime and punishment“. It illustrates one of the many misconceptions people have about science-based determinism and its rejection of libertarian free will: that under determinism is useless to try to change anything since everything is […]

ID advocates mock determinism, insist on libertarian free will and human exceptionalism

The boys over at the Discovery Institute (DI) spend a lot of time mocking me online, but I rarely pay attention. And when I do, I’m sort of flattered, and for two reasons: they think that what I write here is important enough to attack, and because when those creationist mushbrains go after me, I know I’m doing […]

At last: a rational thinker at “The Stone”

Over the years I’ve repeatedly documented the wooly thinking, religious apologetics, and general mushbrain-y analysis at “The Stone”, a philosophy blog at the New York Times. But very rarely the editors will deign to let a rationalist or—horrors!—an atheist have a column. And today it’s Duke University philosopher Alex Rosenberg, who is about the most “militant” atheist—and […]

John Searle on the persistent philosophical problem of free will

You don’t get much more respected as an academic than John Searle, a philosopher of mind and language who’s been teaching at Berkeley for 56 years. I’ve read some of his stuff, which I generally like, and admire him for still being an active, non-retired professor at 83. He must love his job! When Sam […]

Two guys walk into a bar. . . and discuss free will

Yes, that happened. During the TED Summit in Banff, Canada, Sam Harris managed to waylay Dan Dennett into a recorded discussion of their differences about free will. As you might recall, Sam published a short book on free will, with the eponymous title, and Dan went after Sam in a rather ascerbic way. (Dan is a […]

Is this the worst popular philosophy piece ever? A philosopher argues that science is no more reliable than philosophy at finding truth

When I read the title of this New York Times piece in The Stone philosophy section, “There is no scientific method,” I thought at first it would be about Paul Feyerabend’s contention that, in science, “anything goes.” I discuss this in Faith versus Fact, agreeing that the classic presentation of “The Scientific Method” in the classroom […]

The Atlantic: Free will is an illusion, but we need to keep that illusion

Yes, I know I’m writing about two Atlantic pieces in one day, but so be it: such are the laws of physics. The second piece, much better than the article on FGM, is an essay by Stephen Cave, “There’s no such thing as free will but we’re better off believing it anyway.” I’ll try to be […]

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