Category Archives: philosophy

Sam Harris vs. Dan Dennett on free will

A while back Dan Dennett published a long critique of Sam Harris’s book Free Will, a book that I liked a lot. Like me, Sam is a determinist and an incompatibilist; that is, we see our determinism as incompatible with the kind of free will that many people espouse: a “ghost in the machine” libertarian […]

Grayling weighs in on the new A-level philosophy curriculum

Yesterday I posted about the proposed changes in the UK’s A-level philosophy courses, in which a lot of good secular philosophy was going to be replaced by a curriculum that included two coequal areas: epistemology and religious studies. I also noted that I’d ask Anthony Grayling (who was given Massimo Pigliucci’s seal of approval as […]

Oy vey: UK schools replace secular philosophy courses with religious ones

I tend to hold Jews to a higher standard than Christians, probably because of my quasi-Jewish upbringing and the general impression that Jews are on average smarter than members of other faiths (I don’t know that for sure, but they are certainly overrepresented in academic and among Nobel Laureates). And thus I get especially upset […]

Two bloggers argue that the only morality that makes sense is based on the Christian God

Reader Dean called my attention to an article on a site called Saints & Skeptics? :“Meaning, morality, and Jerry Coyne’s world.” It’s a critique, à la Ross Douthat, on the coherence of secular morality—or at least what J. Coyne sees as “moral.” I prefer to avoid using the term “moral behavior,” for it implies “moral […]

Skeptic asks Deepak how to distinguish real truth from that garnered by “other ways of knowing”

In 2010, skeptic and manga artist Sara Mayhew got a chance to ask Deepak Chopra a question after his ABC News debate with Sam Harris and Michael Shermer. The topic of the debate was “Does God have a future?“, and Chopra teamed with philosopher Jean Houston. (Thanks to a reader for pointing out this video.) […]

Daniel Dennett to talk on free will in NYC, with free lunch!

Although I’d claim that compatibilism is a free lunch, readers of 3 Quarks Daily can actually hear Dan defend compatibilism and get a free lunch by replying in the comments section of the website here.  The talk is in New York City on November 23: Free Exclusive Invitation For 3 Quarks Readers to Attend a […]

A reader asks a question about free will

Well, perhaps Ben Goren, who asked this question, is better described as a “fixture” than a reader. But in the latest free will post, he made a comment that deserves some discussion: I, too, would very much appreciate an answer to this question. It would seem obvious that there is no fundamental difference between what […]

Bertrand Russell on why the term “agnostic” is for show

Reader Dom sent me a Bertrand Russell quote from what appears to be a very short essay, “Am I An Atheist Or An Agnostic?” (1947) As a philosopher, if I were speaking to a purely philosophic audience I should say that I ought to describe myself as an Agnostic, because I do not think that […]

Questions for compatibilists

A long time ago, everyone thought bachelors were unmarried and that it was wrong for a married man, but not a bachelor, to have sex with multiple people.  Then a philosopher got the bright idea of redefining “bachelor” to include “those married men who didn’t have much sex with their wives.”  That redefinition allowed some […]

A critique of my views on free will and the humanities by the man formerly known as “Uncle Eric”

Yes, I’ve been forced to de-avuncularize Eric MacDonald—not on the grounds that he goes after me hard in his latest post, but because his criticisms seem to me manifestly false and even a bit unfair. It’s sad to lose an uncle: first it was Karl Giberson, and now Eric.  And there are no candidates waiting […]

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