Category Archives: philosophy

Peter Singer disinvited from philosophy meeting in Germany for views on euthanasia of sick or deformed newborns

I’m not sure where or when Princeton University philosopher Peter Singer first suggested that it may not be unethical to euthanize newborns if they have a terrible deformity or disease, but that view has caused tremendous controversy.  Apparently, almost all people see the moment of birth as some irrevocable line beyond which “assisted dying” is unethical, both because birth […]

Michael Ruse: Proud to be an accommodationist

It’s been a while since we discussed the philosopher Michael Ruse, but he’s suddenly surfaced in the pages of Zygon, “The Journal of Religion and Science,” with a very strange article called “Why I am an accommodationist and proud of it” (reference and possible free link below). I found this article because Jason Rosenhouse sent it […]

Morality proves God, take #197

I’ve written before about National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins’s claim that “the Moral Law”—that is, the instinctive feelings of right and wrong we experience when, say, we see a drowning child or a cheater—are evidence for God. For, claims Collins, there’s no way to explain such instinctive feelings by evolution or other naturalistic processes. […]

Rebecca Goldstein explains the Enlightenment

All of us have some notion about what the Enlightenment was—probably something like “an emphasis on reason rather than authority.” And that’s largely correct, but let’s have an expert explain it to us. In a piece in this month’s Atlantic, Rebecca Goldstein presents a primer on the Enlightenment as a byproduct of her reviewing (largely […]

Pinker on the Kosher Switch

The Kosher Switch post I put up yesterday, showing how some clever Orthodox Jews can circumvent the regulations not to turn on lights during the Sabbath, got 169 comments—three times more than the much harder-to-write post on the evolution of human altruism. Professor Ceiling Cat wept. Are kosher switches that much more interesting than why […]

Eagleton on Baggini on free will

The philosopher and atheist Julian Baggini has a new book called Freedom Regained: The Possibility of Free Will. As you can probably tell from the title, it’s a compatibilist book, claiming that although all our acts are determined by the laws of physics, we still have a kind of free will.  And it’s reviewed in the April 1 […]

Cat, noms, and and a chinwag with Uncle Dan

Just a reprise of my Good Friday up to 2 p.m.—while my memory is still fresh.  This includes a felid, lunch, and coffee and conversation with Dan Dennett. First, I am staying with old friends, and they have a 13-year-old cat named Garcia. He is is diffident towards strangers, including me, but it let me pet it […]

“Prager University” teaches pure libertarian free will

Here’s a video put out by “Prager University,” a series of online “educational” videos issued under the aegis of Dennis Prager, a conservative and a Jew. His religion is relevant because the video touts a “contracausal” form of free will: the widespread notion that our decisions reflect something beyond the laws of physics—which of course include chemistry […]

Why free-will compatibilists are like creationists

I’m rereading Alex Rosenberg’s The Atheist’s Guide to Reality for purposes that will become clear later. I do like the book, but oy, does it take naturalism to its most extreme! Alex wears the label of “scientism” proudly, and in many ways I agree with him, though he does take evolutionary psychology to unsubstantiated lengths. But he’s […]

Dennett tries to save free will, fails

I’ve long been puzzled by the many writings of “compatibilists”: those philosophers and laypeople who accept physical determinism of our choices and behaviors, but still maintain that we have a kind of “free will.” Such people reject the classical form of free will that’s been so important to many people (especially religious ones)—the kind of “libertarian” free will that […]

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