Category Archives: philosophy

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 […]

An unenlightening disquisition on consciousness

Several readers sent me Galen Strawson’s new piece in the New York Times‘s philosophy section, “The Stone.” In his op-ed, “Consciousness isn’t a mystery. It’s matter“, respected philosopher of mind Strawson makes three contentions. I find the most important two to be uncontroversial, while the third is puzzling. The basic premise is that consciousness is […]

I have landed. . .

. . . in Portland that is, where I’m in the capable hands of philosopher Peter Boghossian at Portland State University, host for half of my visit. We’ve already dined at one of the famous “food trucks” (stalls, really) that fill this food-loving city, and had a great Thai lunch. The evidence is below. Portland is, […]

Maarten Boudry on the nature of religious beliefs

Over at 3 Quarks Daily, a site I find of extremely variable quality, there’s a decent post up today (PCC[E] said self-aggrandizingly). It’s by my philosophy colleague Maarten Boudry, whose help and collaboration gave me Philosophy Cred, and it’s called “Disbelief in Belief.” Boudry’s piece is a concise, popular exposition of the paper that Boudry and […]

Proof that I have philosophy cred

Maarten Boudy and I wrote two papers for Philosophical Psychology. The first was a critique of a paper by philosopher Neil van Leeuwen, who argued that religious beliefs weren’t at all like “real” beliefs, but more often had a status as “fictional imaginings.” We took issue with that. Van Leeuwen then criticized us, and we […]

Is there “a meaning to life” for nonbelievers?

When I was talking about FvF with Dan Barker on Saturday, someone stood up during the Q&A session and asked a question that I’ve often heard: “If you don’t believe in God, how can you possibly find meaning in life?” This is perhaps the most common criticism of atheism, though of course it doesn’t bear […]

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