Category Archives: philosophy

A philosophical catfight in the TLS: Dennett vs Papineau

Matthew called my attention to a series of pieces in the Times Literary Supplement (free online) in which materialist philosophers Dan Dennett (Tufts) and David Papineau (King’s College London) battle it out over a number of philosophical issues. It began with a fairly negative review by Papineau of Dan’s newest book, From Bacteria to Bach […]

More outrage from the Right and the religious about infant euthanasia

UPDATE: Reader Pyers called my attention to a thoughtful piece by Melanie Phillips that analyzes the Gard case. She argues that the parents’ hopes may have been kept alive by the vociferous, bullying, and life-at-all-costs American Right: But here’s the really wicked thing about all this. The parents were reinforced in their refusal to accept […]

More outraged Christian and right-wing venues attack the argument for euthanasia of suffering infants (and the arguer)

I didn’t at all expect the outrage emitted by some news sites—all of them either conservative or religious—over my post about the morality of relieving the suffering of terminally ill, terminally deformed, or terminally diseased newborns by euthanizing them. I’m planning on a longer discussion of this issue elsewhere, but you can read a good argument […]

SMBC on dualism and free will

Reader jsp sent me this Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal strip (creator: Zack Weinersmith); it’s on dualism. tri-ism, quadrism, and then the final panel bit’s on free will. The character is clearly based on Dan Dennett (see photo at bottom), but I’m a bit puzzled about the last panel. Given the rest of the strip, is this […]

E. O. Wilson: Science, not religion or philosophy, will tell us the meaning of human existence

Reader Rick called my attention to this 2014 video from E. O. Wilson on “The Big Think” site. The nine-minute talk is apparently based on his then-recent book, The Meaning of Human Existence—the one book of Wilson’s I haven’t read. When you’ll watch the video, you’ll see that Wilson appears firmly in the camp of what […]

Should one be allowed to euthanize severely deformed or doomed newborns?

The question of whether one should be able to euthanize newborns who have horrible conditions or deformities, or are doomed to a life that cannot by any reasonable light afford happiness, has sparked heated debate.  Philosopher Peter Singer has argued that euthanasia is the merciful action in such cases, and I agree with him. If […]

Oy! Rebecca Goldstein versus Professor Ceiling Cat (Emeritus)

I am doubly aggrieved this morning, for even us battle-hardened website bosses can be hurt, especially when it’s by a friend. Or at least I thought philosopher Rebecca Goldstein was a friend, as our relations have always been amiable and I’ve admired her work. So I was hurt when I discovered yesterday, by accident, that […]

Philosophy gone badly wrong

Matthew found this tw**t showing how a little kid solves the famous philosophical Trolley Problem (you should all know what it is). The boy starts off well, but then goes off the rails, so to speak. He needs a lesson from Rebecca Goldstein (see my post later today): What happens when you give a 2 […]

Does philosophy have value for science? A befuddled Bill Nye is unable to answer.

My dislike of the present incarnation of Bill Nye has been obvious on this site. Although I never watched him as “The Science Guy,” and thus am perfectly prepared to believe he was great at interesting kids in science, he’s never recovered from the loss of that show—and the attention it brought him.  Since shedding […]

Readers’ wildlife photos

Today’s post continues the Story of the American Coot (Fulica americana) , a tale in three parts with a lot of cool science. Story and photos are by Bruce Lyon, a biologist at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Part I was posted six days ago, this is Part II, and we’ll have Part III […]