Category Archives: philosophy

Robert Sapolsky on free will

UPDATE: In a review in The American Scholar, Michael Shermer gives Sapolsky’s book a very positive review, and also has a few words of his own on free will. Shermer’s assessment: The book is Sapolsky’s magnum opus, not just in length, scope (nearly every aspect of the human condition is considered), and depth (thousands of […]

Compatibilism: a parable

I haven’t posted much on free will lately, and I’m sure that’s fine with the compatibilist readers who think my take on the issue is, as the Brits say, “badly wrong.” I stand by my views, and apparently so does Zack Weinersmith, who published “Compatibilism: a parable” on his SMBC comic site.  (Thanks to several […]

Can science prove things to be false?

We hear this all the time: “Science can’t prove anything to be true, as there’s always a possibility that we’ve made a mistake or that there are other data that we don’t yet know, so all things that science says are “true” are provisional. But science can prove things to be false!” When thinking about […]

Once again: why is it okay to be transgender but not transracial?

You’ve probably heard of the fracas surrounding the publication of a paper by philosophy professor Rebecca Tuvel in the academic organ Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy (I discussed it here; see also here). Her paper was called “In defense of transracialism“, and you can get a copy if you’ve downloaded the free and legal application Unpaywall, which you […]

A reprehensible witch hunt in academia: feminist philosopher equates the defenses of transgenderism and of transracialism—and gets crucified

Gender is widely agreed by the Left to be a social construct, not a biological reality. If that’s the case, why isn’t race? Why was someone like Rachel Dolezal, who was white but claimed to be black, vilified and fired from her job as the Spokane, Washington head of the NAACP, while a man who […]

The TLS on Plantinga and me

I recently published my take on the award of the Templeton Prize to Alvin Plantinga, a “religious philosopher” (read: “theologian”) whose work consists of untenable arguments couched in unreadable prose.  Rupert Shortt, religion editor of the Times Literary Supplement (TLS), writes about it in a short piece, “Alvin Plantinga and the Templeton Prize“. Google adds that Shortt […]

Shermer refutes Prager’s view that you can’t be moral without religion

A while back I put up conservative Dennis Prager’s video (here) claiming that you couldn’t have a justified morality without religion.  And then I briefly refuted that claim, which wasn’t hard because it rested largely on the Divine Command Theory: good and bad are absolutely determined by God’s dictates. The Euthyprho argument, one of the great contributions of […]

“If there’s no God, murder isn’t wrong”: A ridiculous video from Prager University

Reader Kurt sent me this video with the note, “Sending you this for your listening pleasure in the hope you’ll never post anything from the execrable ‘Prager U’” again.” Sorry, Kurt: here it is. In fact, in this video Dennis Prager himself asks the burning question, “How do you know murder is wrong?” Science, he says gives […]

Dan Dennett profiled in The New Yorker

It’s early in the morning in Queenstown, and I have a 7.5-hour bus ride to Fox Glacier ahead of me. All I can do this morning is direct your attention to a (free) New Yorker profile on Dan Dennett and his views on the mind, “Dan Dennett’s Science of the Soul.” I haven’t read it, […]

Aeon: A physicist claims that materialism is dead because it can’t explain consciousness

Quantum mechanics is deeply weird, and I can’t grasp it in the sense of trying to understand how it works using my own experience as a reference. But of course that’s true for physicists as well, and I think it’s what Feynman meant when he said “Nobody understands quantum mechanics” (see the short video below): That is, […]