Category Archives: philosophy

Dawkins and Krauss on free will

One thing that’s distressed me a bit is the unwillingness of my Big Name Atheist Friends to speak frankly about free will. When asked, as Richard Dawkins was below, what they think of it, they often mumble or deflect the question. Richard’s answer here is the same one he gave when I asked him the […]

My alma mater jumps the shark

It was bad enough that an ACLU talk on free speech at The College of William and Mary (my school, class of 1971) was just shouted down by members of Black Lives Matter, and the College President made pious mutterings about free speech but does nothing. (He hasn’t yet answered my letter.) But that injury […]

A philosopher tries to rescue free will by claiming that individuals exercise “choice” according to their “beliefs, desires,and intentions”

Although I’m suffering from jet lag, I’ll treat you today to a post on free will and “compatibilism”. Yes, I can hear the groans of distress as I write this, but my advice to you is the same as my advice to those who complain about Milo Yiannopoulos lecturing at Berkeley: if you don’t want […]

Is religion good even if it’s not true?: A deceptive piece in the Daily Beast

Reader Saul called my attention to a Daily Beast article called “Can you be good without God?” (subtitle: “New research raises questions about whether people can be truly good or truly bad without religion”) by Brandon Withrow, who teaches religious studies at the University of Findlay. I call the article “deceptive” in the sense that both the […]

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 […]