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I have a question about Verificationism. As I understand it Verificationists criticise theists whose beliefs aren't verifiable. How would they respond to the following scenarios; (1) A theist determines her belief based on a single coin toss. It came up heads this verifying her belief in God. She went into the test accepting it could come out either way and saying she would genuinely disbelieve if it came out tails and genuinely believe if it came out heads. (2) She repeats this process every morning. And thus ends up some days believing others not. Or, something different; (3) A particular believer believes Christ will return in 10, 000 years. Thus his belief is meaningful and verifiable, one needs only wait a very long time. Would they say he should remain in a suspension of belief? I have heard of the theory of eschatological verification, did verificationists disregard this too? On what grounds?

Verificationists typically say that for a claim to be meaningful it must be empirically testable. Tossing a coin might test claims about gravity, mechanics, or the symmetry of the coin, but it does not test an unrelated claim. It is probably meaningful to believe that Christ will return in 10,000 years (so long as we're specific about what "Christ" and "return" mean) but that does not mean it is plausible. In thinking about what is rational to believe we need to consider both meaningfulness and plausibility.

How compatible is a double major between philosophy and one of the natural sciences?

I think that a double philosophy/science major is a terrific idea (disclosure, I did something like that myself as an undergraduate). It lets you enjoy philosophy without giving up science, keeping your options open for when you graduate. Whether or not (and how) you can do it will depend on your institution.

Is structural discrimination a core belief of feminism? I find the claim that women are through all times and societies worse off than men (like in the question posted on on January 23, 2015; ) an assumption that is ideologically biased and needs further investigation. "Worse off" contains difference in preferences (having to go to war, economically being responsible for a family, being statistically more prone to a violent death). Doesn´t the problem lie more in being tied to a predefined role to which each sex is tied, each one with its pro and contra, with variation across times and societies? thank you!

It is not a core belief of feminism that women are through all times and societies worse off than men. It is core to feminism that sex and gender matter, and that they often shape power relations in a society. There are pluses and minuses to being dominant and to being subordinate. And indeed, feminists challenge the idea of predefined roles on the grounds that they limit freedom of choice, not only for women but for men also. It is probably a core belief of most feminists that discrimination CAN be structural, that is, it can be produced by the institutions of society rather than any particular individual. This is a belief about the operation of social power and is shared by many social theorists, not specific to feminism.

I recently heard it claimed that objectivity in science requires direct measurement of all variables of interest, because we can only validate an indirect measure, or estimate, of some variable by comparing it to direct measurement; without such calibration, a proxy measure is empirically meaningless. I think the latter claim is false (and hence, so is the first). Suppose that in some empirical situation we have reason to believe there is a natural quantity X, the value of which we cannot measured directly, but we have some proxy measure Y which we hypothesise is proportional to X. We also find that the value of Y correlate with directly measurable variables A, B and C, which are believed, on sound theoretical grounds (i.e., parsimoniously consistent with all relevant evidence), to be determined by X. I think this would justify taking Y to be a useful estimate of X, absent evidence to the contrary. I suspect that there are many examples of this kind of reasoning in many different areas of science. I...

Your specific argument in terms of X, Y, A, B, C doesn't quite work. I don't know what it means to say that "the value of Y correlates with directly measureable variables A, B, C" I think that your overall point is fine. Our measurement of many scientific quantities e.g. Avogadro's number, Planck's constant is indirect, and calculated from direct measurements. That does not mean that these measurements are infallible--both direct and indirect measurements can be erroneous. It is also worth worrying a bit about what is meant by a "direct" measurement: does it have to be something we can see unaided, or can it be something we can "see" or "detect" through an instrument? There may be no important distinction between direct and indirect measurement.

Do philosophers always embrace rationalism? Why not irrationalism? What's so bad about my voting for a political candidate based on how attractive his wife is?

Philosophers are generally speaking fans of reason and rationality, but there are exceptions, e.g. David Hume, who wrote that reason is a "slave to the passions." There is also, often, unclarity about what the reasonable or rational thing to do is. In response to your final question: voting for a political candidate based on the attractiveness of his wife is inadvisable. If human flourishing in the future depends on who is elected, then voting in this way undermines your own interests, not to mention the interests of others.

Which branches of philosophy are more likely to be made redundant due to advances in science, and which ones are more likely to endure despite major advances in science? Joe W.

If we could answer your question, we would be able to predict the future direction of science. But science is full of surprises. Moreover, what gets called "science" (or math or logic) and what gets called "philosophy" is to some degree arbitrary. I don't think disciplinary boundaries are very important. What I do think is important is the questions themselves. So why not ask the questions and not worry about whether they are "science" or "philosophy"?

It is commonly believed that what falls under the domain of science is what is "objective". I put "objective" in quotation marks for the following reasons: everything we perceive is not immune to our circumstances, for example, the school we went, the home we grew up in, our interests and beliefs, what book we read recently, who our friends are... (I could go on and on), secondly, we perceive everything through our mind, or consciousness, which is widely considered subjective. So here is my question: How can we consider something that we perceive to be objective, if we perceive it through something that is, if not completely, in many ways, subjective? (The quote from the Woody Allen movie "Love and Death" comes to mind: Subjectivity is objective. If it is, then how? Or is it objectivity that is subjective? Or neither?)

You are right that science is often described as an "objective" pursuit. But the word "objective" has multiple meanings. It could mean independent of the specific characteristics of particular individuals, or independent of the general characteristics of human minds more generally. It could mean "standardized"; it could mean "reasonable"; it could mean "true." The kind of paradoxes about objectivity that you are thinking about typically result (in my opinion) from unclarity or equivocation on the word "objective." Best to pick a specific meaning and stick with it, or (my preference) avoid the use of the term altogether. Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison's 2007 book "Objectivity" describes the historical emergence of our ideas about objectivity.

Hi, If there are truly random events in the Universe like Quantum Mechancis seems to suggest then even if we had a computer that knew everything about the Universe at t1 then it would stil fail to preidct every event at t2. Then, why are there are not buildings collapsing randomly due to some atoms popping in and out of existence?

It is possible that a well constructed building could collapse. But the probability, from quantum mechanics, is exceedingly low. So low that you have never seen or heard about a well constructed building collapsing randomly. Perhaps it has, somewhere in the universe.

The ancient Greek philosophical schools taught comprehensive philosophies of life. For them, the whole point of doing philosophy was to determine how to live well. Why do contemporary philosophers not publish philosophies of life? Has the point of doing philosophy changed? If so, why?

Some contemporary philosophers do publish philosophies of life. For example, Paul Thagard's "The Brain and the Meaning of Life" (Princeton, 2010)and Robert Nozick, "The Examined Life" (1990). I suggest that you look at the article on the meaning of life in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. There is a good bibliography at the end of the article. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/life-meaning/

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