Well much depends on what "scientific" is taken to mean (obviously), and there are plenty of philosophers who think that science strongly supports, provides evidence for, theism -- or at least that science is essentially neutral on the question of theism/atheism. But what does seem deniable is that actual scientific research, and its many applications, makes no explicit reference to God -- so that would seem to support the idea that science works in an atheist framework, on the assumption of atheism, and has managed to be pretty darn successful in so doing. That doesn't mean that various scientific results are not consistent with theism (though of course we want to recognize the difference between believing in "God" in general and believing all the numerous details of any particular religion); but it does suggest that atheism and science have a kind of natural fit, in a way in which theism -- especially when entwined with all the details of the particular religions -- does not. IMHO, anyway! ...
How is the death penalty worse than a lifetime of imprisonment? If you kill them it's over and you killed them back case closed but, the have the oppertunity for eternal bliss still based on the final judgement of him, right? Improbable maybe but, a chance non the less. What else?
Lifetime in prison gives the person limited to no freedoms, dependent on their behavior in prison, a life time of guilt, if capable of feeling it or if they do regret the crime, a chance to redeem themselves to the family/friends of the victim, be found not guilty and set free, write a book, make music or do work for the prison.
In both cases they won't be able to hurt the public.
So, it's just the value of existence vs freedom with morals thrown in.
I'm a little unclear on the question -- sounds like you think life in prison is better than death (for the convicted person, anyway), given your list of good things that life in prison allows (but death doesn't). So you already do think the death penalty is worse for the convict than life in prison? Or are you (implicitly) arguing against the death penalty, by arguing that it's not worse than life imprisonment, and therefore there is no reason to apply it to the worst criminals? In any case, one consideration that it's worse for the convict to receive death is simply that very many convicted persons simply don't want the death penalty; lots of people are terrified of being killed, and that terror alone makes the prospect of death seem far worse than life imprisonment. (Of course you might argue that this is an irrational fear, but that then takes you off into all sorts of other issues and directions ....) And if the ultimate concern is whether our society should allow the death penalty,...
Should I care about the starving people in Africa? Am I responsible for feeding them? With all the Christmas charity drives, is it not unfair to ignore the poor right here in my country and instead give money to people in distant country? I feel sorry for them, but I'm not sure about how morally obligated I am to donate my money.
Terrific, and challenging, question, and a very relevant one given all the 'occupy' movements of the past few months -- where many people (young, American, etc.) who are better off than most other people on Earth are demanding to be even better off, rather than demanding to help those who are genuinely worse off! .... Rather than give you my answer, let me refer you to a recent and very provocative and influential (and very readable) book on the subject: Princeton ethicist Peter Singer published, a couple years ago, a book called "THe Life You Can Save," which explores that very question at great length, arguing (in short) that most of us ought to do an awful lot more towards helping even distant others than we actually do .... And once you've read that, you can google 'responses to Singer' and begin exploring the various reasons philosophers offer to suggest that Singer goes too far ... hope that's a start -- ap
Some people say that time only began when the universe began. I think that is because they equate time with movement. I disagree. I think that time is measured by movement but it isn't movement per se. I think that time is that ever present hypothetical or actual possibility of change. I hope that makes sense. What says you philosophers?
At least movement is relatively clear, and in principle perceivable. But what is a "hypothetical or actual possibility of change"? (Are you distinguishing two different kinds of possibility here, one hypothetical, the other actual, or does this phrase somehow refer to one thing?) ... You'd need a rather thorough account of what "possibilities" are, in particular non-actual possibilities, to make this answer be an improvement on the earlier one .... (You might read Augustine's famous treatment of time, where he explores the relationship between time and motion: in his Confessions, ch. 11 .....) hope that's a start! ap
Is it a logical contradiction for something to come from nothing? I've heard that this causal principle is intuitive and something a rational person cannot deny. However, is it metaphysically possible for something to indeed come from nothing? Is that a logical contradiction concerning cause and effect? If we're not strictly talking about cause and effect, is it still possible for something to come from nothing? Is an event always contingent upon a cause?
Great question. I don't have an answer. But some thoughts depend on how you frame things. If by "causation" you have a certain model in mind (e.g. where something is transferred from cause to effect) then it does seem contradictory to say that 'something comes from nothing' -- if that is taken to mean 'nothing causes something to come into being' -- for that seems to require both that something be transferred from cause to effect (by the word 'causes') yet that there be nothing to be transferred (since 'nothing' is said to be THE cause) .... But who is to say that 'causation' should be understood on that model? And even that model would not rule out the metaphysical possibility of something coming from nothing, if what that means is 'something comes into existence uncaused' -- there does not seem to be a contradiction, or at least not an obvious one, in the latter, since no 'causation' is being implied ..... hope that's a useful start! ap
Recently I tried to explain to a friend what interested me about Hume's 'problem of induction.' I told him how if we want to give an argument for the superiority of inductive reasoning (concluding x's are always P, based on observed instances of x's that are P) over, say, anti-inductive reasoning (concluding x's are not always P, based on observed instances of x's that are P) then we would have to give either an inductive argument or else a deductive argument. We cannot give such a deductive argument, I told him, and to give an inductive argument like 'inductive reasoning has led to good results in every observed instance' would be circular.
He replied with the question 'why is there no problem of deduction?' He asked why he couldn't give a similar argument that any defense of deductive reasoning (concluding C based on premises that logically entail C) over, say, anti-deductive reasoning (concluding not C based on premises that logically entail C) needs to be either deductive or inductive. A deductive...
Rather than offer a response to this excellent question, let me just refer you to a paper whcih essentially raises and discusses the very same problem: Susan Haack's "A Justification of Deduction," from the journal Mind in 1976 (try vol 85, n. 337 I believe). Also, Lewis Carroll (as in "Alice in Wonderland" has a similar, more fun version of it -- "What the Tortoise said to Achilles" -- also in Mind, in 1895 or so ... Check them out! ap
What is the difference between a word having two meanings and a word that has an "alternative" meaning? For intance, is MOUSE a word that has two meanings (first meaning: "a small rodent of a species found all over the world that has a brown or greyish-brown coat and a long mostly hairless tail"; second meaning: "a hand-held device for working with a computer by controlling a pointer on the screen") or does it have only one meaning ("either a small rodent of ..... or a hand-held device for ....")?
Interesting question. But I'm wondering what rides on the answer. And what is connected to the question. Of course, we begin by wanting to distinguish the meanings of the two relevant clauses you give ("small rodent," v. "hand-held device"). So, separately, you obviously hold that there are two meanings in play. Now in logic it may be true that, strictly speaking, the proposition "P or Q" is a distinct proposition from either of its disjuncts, and can happily count as a "single" proposition -- but we also recognize that it is compositional, composed of parts, so we can think of it as one compound proposition or as a disjunction of two simpler propositions. But these are perfectly consistent with each other, so we can happily accept both -- it is both one compound, and a disjunction of two simpler, proposition(s). No need to choose! Why not just say the same with respect to your example? In any case you can raise the same question even of the component meanings in your example - your 'rodent'...
Let's say I have a machine with a button and a light bulb where the bulb lights up if and only if I press the button. I don't know anything about it's inner workings (gears, computers, God), I only know the "if and only if" connection between button and light. Can I say that by pressing the button I cause the bulb to light up? (I would say yes).
It seems to me that for the causal connection it doesn't matter that I don't know the exact inner workings, or that I don't desire the effect (maybe I press the button just because I enjoy pressing it, or because there is strong social pressure to press it, ...), and that I consider it very unfortunate that the bulb lights up wasting electric energy.
Let's now change the terms: instead of "pressing the button" we insert "having a kid" and instead of "the bulb lights up" we have "the kid dies" (maybe when adult). I think the "if and only if" relationship still holds, and so does the causal connection.
It would seem to me that parents are causally connected to...
Great set of thoughts, here. But maybe one quick mode of response is to remark that much depends on just what you take the word "cause" to mean. You could take it to mean something like this: "x causes y" = "y if and only if x", as you've suggested. Then, granting that both cases above are cases fulfilling the "if and only if", sure, giving birth would count as a cause of the later death. But now two things. (1) Why should "cause" mean precisely that? Wouldn't it be enough if the x reliably yielded the y, even if things other than x could yield the y too? (i.e. couldn't you drop the 'only if' part, so 'x causes y' would mean 'if x, then, y', even if it might also be true (say) that 'if z, then y'?) Going this route would preserve your intuition that both cases above are cases of causation, but focus on whether your particular definition is the best one. (2) Perhaps more importantly, though, one might examine the 'pragmatics' of causation -- how people actually use the word, different from how...
Is religion the true enemy of freedom in a democratic society since it teaches us that we have to think a certain way or is science since it teaches us that nobody is truly free but a product of deterministic forces?
Or another mode of reply: First suppose that science DOES suggest determinism. How would anything be different in our lives? Wouldn't democratic processes work precisely the same way as they have been? (After all, our behavior has been deterministic all along, so why would discovering/proving/merely believing that it is deterministic change anything?) Or since 'freedom' seems to be the larger concern for you, again, what would be different? All the cases where we've held people responsible for their behaviors, we still would hold them, wouldn't we? we'd still lock up bad people, teach our children to be good, etc.... So it isn't clear to me why scientific results would threaten anything, really. Ditto for religion: if we think religions are in the business of generating true claims about the world, then, where they succeed, we should be happy to endorse their claims (assuming we want the truth). Whichever dogmatic religions you're thinking of ARE dogmatic because they believe they have the truth...
how big a factor is the translation when trying to understand philosophical works written in another language which we do not understand?
For example, in the translation I read of Das Kapital, Marx talked about "the means of production" which seemed like an awkward and confusing term. Then one day the "aha" light bulb went off, and i realized that this term meant "technology" and suddenly his whole theory of dialectical materialism made great sense to me.
Good question -- and the answer (clearly) is "very big"! .... Or at least it can be ... It's hard enough to interpret a philosopher (get clear on just what his/her claims and arguments are) when you share a language, and when you're in the same time period -- and at least with our contemporaries we can always just call them up and ask 'what the heck did you mean with this sentence?' ... But every translation is definitely itself an interpretation, so when you read important texts in translation you are, at best, getting the translator's interpretation of the original text, which may or may not be very close to the original in meaning and in connotation -- and this problem only gets more severe as the temporal distance grows (eg translating ancient greek into 21st century english) and is made worse between certain pairs of languages (eg greek to english is more distant than, say, french to english) ..... So the best thing you can do, for any texts that truly matter to you philosophically, is learn the...