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Is it - must there be - possible to track all logical statements back to the fundamental laws of logic ( the law of identity, the law of non-contradiction, etc.) when it comes to "classical logic"? Are all logic derived from these fundamental laws?

The problem here, I think, is Allen Stairs December 5, 2019 (changed December 5, 2019) Permalink The problem here, I think, is that there's no one answer to the question "What are the fundamental laws of logic?" We can do things in different ways, and things which are fundamental on some accountings will be derived on others. Let's assume that there is a de... Read more

A question on luck which an acceptable definition would be ....... success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one's own actions. If I strike a golf ball from a tee and it hits a rock and goes straight in for a hole in one is that “luck”?   How is it deemed so if my intention is to strike the ball in an attempt to get it in the hole? If It happened to hit a rock and go in it would be deemed “lucky” , what if I aimed for the rock hoping for that result is it luck? Using this example would all golf shots be luck bad /good dependent  on the bounce of the ball?  What exactly is luck philosophically speaking? Surely luck exists only if a certain interpretation of quantum mechanics is true?

An interesting question. Allen Stairs November 30, 2019 (changed November 30, 2019) Permalink An interesting question. Let's start with the word "chance." It's part of what you take luck to require, and I take it you'd say something happens by chance only if the facts about the past and the laws of nature didn't entail it. Put another way, on your understa... Read more

I am reading a by book by the great logician Raymond Smullyan. In this book he says that any statement of the form, "All As are Bs" are true if there are no "As". That is, these statements are vacuously true. He gives the following example, "All Unicorns have 5 legs" is true since there are no unicorns. So is "All unicorns have 6 legs", and "All unicorns are purple", etc. But this strikes me as obviously false. For example, "All unicorns have two horns" and "All unicorns are necessarily existing" are false statements. The first is false in virtue of the fact that unicorns are by definition one-horned. The second is false in virtue by the fact that it is impossible for something to be both necessarily existing and nonexistent. Am I missing something here or misreading Smullyan? Or are these counterexamples sufficient in refuting the claim that any statement of the form "All As are Bs" is vacuously true if there are no "As"? For reference the book is, "Logical Labyrinths" from pages 99-101. Thanks for your reply.

I don't know that book in Stephen Maitzen November 28, 2019 (changed December 1, 2019) Permalink I don't know that book in particular, but I can give you a standard explanation that at least makes sense of the view you find puzzling. In Aristotle's logic, any statement of the form "All S are P" implies that at least one S is P, so the statement comes... Read more

Suppose I am closed in a room with an unconscious man who drank too much. It is a hot day and I try to keep the window open, to get some air, but it does not stay so. Case 1: I use this man's body (one of his feet) to prevent the window from getting closed. Case 2: I get sexually aroused and I have sex with this man. In both cases, he does not wake up, and he gets some bruises from my acting, but he comes to know what I did only some days later. Morally speaking, it seems that what I did in Case 1 was a minor offence (if it is an offence at all), but what I did in Case 2 was a serious crime, it was rape. But what difference between the cases justifies these different moral judgments? In both cases I used a man as a tool to advance my interests, I did something that he would probably not want, and I caused him some bruises. The difference, I suppose, is that he would *see* or *feel* that my action in Case 2 was more serious, more offensive. And that "society" would see or feel the same. But, morally speaking, can my action BE more serious or offensive only because other people see it so?

You ask: "morally speaking, Allen Stairs November 21, 2019 (changed November 21, 2019) Permalink You ask: "morally speaking, can my action BE more serious or offensive only because other people see it so? Suppose there was someone weird enough to think that your sleeping man would be indifferent between having his feet used to prop a window open and bei... Read more

It seems unethical to me for the government to provide material support for people in need, for two primary reasons: - for the harm it does to the people being supported - more importantly, because it undermines the moral imperative of people in society. - in the USA, it also appears to be a violation of the First Amendment, which prohibits the establishment of a state religion. Helping people in need is fundamentally a religious directive ("feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house the homeless") I fully support providing material support for people in need, as long as it is done either directly by individuals, or by individuals organizing together in various social organizations (e.g., church, synagogue, local food bank, clothing drive, soup kitchen, etc.) - each of us has a personal moral imperative to help those less fortunate, we cannot simply satisfy this imperative by taking money away from other people by force and then using those funds to provide help. - the people receiving assistance also have a moral imperative to use these funds properly to tend to their own physical needs. Perhaps there are additional moral arguments to help support this thesis?

You offer two reasons (though Allen Stairs November 7, 2019 (changed November 7, 2019) Permalink You offer two reasons (though really it's three.) The first is that if the government helps people (provides material support, in your phrase), it harms those people. Is this true? It's quite possibly true sometimes,. But is it true by and large? You haven't of... Read more

Recently I asked if theology were a branch of philosophy, and was encouraged by Dr. Stairs to ask my question. If we are told in Christian (Catholic at least) faith that God is the only One True God and we should not pray to any other God except Her/Him/It, then how come (in some branches) we can pray to saints or to Mary, and not be committing idolatry? One answer I've heard is that we do not "pray" to them so much as we ask them to intercede for us on our behalf....I don't know though, that sounds forced.

Great response. I would add Charles Taliaferro October 31, 2019 (changed October 31, 2019) Permalink Great response. I would add that since the 17th century, theology as a discipline has largely been seen as distinct from philosophy. Theology, though, historically and today, has drawn from philosophy and philosophers (throughout its history) have addressed r... Read more

There is an argument as to whether achievement is intrinsically valuable that interests me. I feel as though it is not, but am having a hard time coming up with good arguments to defend my view. I just feel as though in completing a terrible act, even if it was your goal, one is in no way benefitted. Could you help explain some of the arguments here? Thanks!

I think you've answered your Allen Stairs October 26, 2019 (changed October 26, 2019) Permalink There are two sorts of issues here. Let's start with the one that I think underlies your discomfort. The fact that something is my goal may matter to me, but that doesn't make it intrinsically valuable. Indeed, it might be intrinsically horrid. If someone's... Read more

Can a depiction or a representation of something be considered the something itself? For instance, can a picture of a unicorn actually be considered a unicorn? Is there a need to specify certain definitions in one's head in order for this to be argued? Like must I specifically define that if I want to see a unicorn I must specify I need one that must be living right in front of me and be able to perform the natural processes something that is living would, or could it be assumed to that if I want to see a real unicorn someone could show me a picture of one or a stuffed animal and it still be a valid response?

There could be a picture of Jonathan Westphal October 24, 2019 (changed October 24, 2019) Permalink There could be a picture of an X that is itself an X. For example, there could be a minimalist picture of a square that is itself a square. The picture could even be titled in such a way that it is or is meant to be a picture of itself, so that this square is... Read more

I've been having a moral conflict about whether I should serve in the military or not and I came to the conclusion that it would be immoral for me to serve. But then I thought to myself, if I think it's immoral to serve I'm basically saying that anyone with the choice to not serve shouldn't serve, and if everyone who has the choice to not serve does that the military will collapse and since the country has no defenses a war will likely ensue that would cause many more deaths than if people had served. So does that falsify my claim that it is immoral to serve in the military?

You've given an apparently Allen Stairs October 24, 2019 (changed October 24, 2019) Permalink You've given an apparently powerful reason for thinking that it's morally acceptable to have a military to defend the nation: lives will be saved. You've implicitly cast this in terms of defense. That is, you've implicitly offered a justification for having an... Read more

Recently I asked if theology were a branch of philosophy, and was encouraged by Dr. Stairs to ask my question. If we are told in Christian (Catholic at least) faith that God is the only One True God and we should not pray to any other God except Her/Him/It, then how come (in some branches) we can pray to saints or to Mary, and not be committing idolatry? One answer I've heard is that we do not "pray" to them so much as we ask them to intercede for us on our behalf....I don't know though, that sounds forced.

Great response. I would add Charles Taliaferro October 31, 2019 (changed October 31, 2019) Permalink Great response. I would add that since the 17th century, theology as a discipline has largely been seen as distinct from philosophy. Theology, though, historically and today, has drawn from philosophy and philosophers (throughout its history) have addressed r... Read more

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