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An inventor creates a life-saving drug for disease X, which has no other cure. Worldwide, death by disease X among white people has been eliminated because of his drug; however, the death rate remains at pre-drug levels among non-whites because he has contractually restricted its sale and use to white people. For non-whites who die from disease X, is this inventor a causal factor in their death? My friend and I have debated this. I argue YES. The actions the inventor has taken to restrict the sale of his drug demonstrate intent with full knowledge of the consequences of the actions he has taken. I think his actions are not only causal, but in a world where this medicine is readily available everywhere, he becomes the primary cause of death. My friend argues NO. The inventor has done nothing with respect to non-whites. There is no causal relationship. Pulling a man from a burning building saves a life, but not doing so doesn't cause a death. Where I see actions that cause harm, my friend sees something passive, akin to passing a beggar on the street while talking with a friend on the way to lunch. He agrees that if the inventor ended this sales policy that lives would be saved, but insists he isn't causing anything.

As you've described the case, Allen Stairs August 1, 2019 (changed August 1, 2019) Permalink As you've described the case, there's something the inventor could do that would save lives. There's also a dispute about how to analyze the notion of a cause. Some would say (your friend apparently is in this camp) that absences—in the case, not doing something... Read more

I was in conversation with a friend about the problem of evil when gave examples of human evil on innocents that God could have prevented, he said the act is evil on our morality but not on God's morality. He knows omniscience so he the act might not be evil for him for the reasons we don't know. Does this even make sense? When our morality is so different than God, when we say good, the word good could mean very different when applied to God? What would we even mean when God is perfectly good? Any responses to the argument?

Great questions and concerns. Charles Taliaferro August 1, 2019 (changed August 1, 2019) Permalink Great questions and concerns. For most philosophical theists (those who affirm the existence of God) "good" and "evil" need to be used with the same sense / meaning in terms of humans and God. For you to be compassionate and God to be compassionate and to be c... Read more

I am just starting to study philosophy and I am not understanding the claim that all knowlege comes from science. Could you please give me some practical examples?

The reason you feel you don't Allen Stairs July 29, 2019 (changed July 29, 2019) Permalink The reason you feel you don't understand the claim is because it's nonsense. I know that there are three pillows on the bed behind me, but no science was committed in finding that out. I just turned around, looked and counted. I know that I had dinner with friend... Read more

I have recently heard that, according to physics, you can never actually touch anything. This seems clearly false and I feel it should be refuted with philosophy (if not physics). Can you comment on this? p.s. See for example which seems to claim that, according to physics, you can never actually touch anything

According to the internet, Allen Stairs July 25, 2019 (changed July 25, 2019) Permalink According to the internet, the sun rose at 6:02 this morning in Washington. I was awake and when I got around to opening the blinds I could see that the sky was blue. The sheets on the bed are blue too, though not the same blue. They're a few years old and I like the way... Read more

Recently I read a comment on an online debating site where someone stated “ Every deductive statement regarding the real world relies on induction” to me that does not sound correct am I missing something?

One reason it doesn't sound Stephen Maitzen July 25, 2019 (changed July 25, 2019) Permalink One reason it doesn't sound right to me is that I don't know what could be meant by a "deductive statement." I know what a deductive argument is, but it always contains more than one token statement. Did the site say, instead, "every declarative statement" (i.e.,... Read more

My friends and I have gotten into an argument over whether or not there is/are opposites to a circle. Both sides have some valid points, but the main idea is whether or not there are opposite shapes.

I can't think of any ordinary Stephen Maitzen April 29, 2019 (changed May 8, 2019) Permalink I can't think of any ordinary sense of "opposite" that allows for the existence of opposite shapes (i.e., closed plane figures). But you and your friends could invent a technical sense of "opposite" that allows for opposite shapes. Maybe the opposite of a shape... Read more

Could necessary truths like "red is a color" turn out to be wrong?

Not if they really are Stephen Maitzen April 28, 2019 (changed April 28, 2019) Permalink Not if they really are necessary truths. By definition, any necessary truth couldn't possibly have been false. It takes some care to state propositions in such a way that they really are necessarily true. For instance, Red is a color asserts the existence of something --... Read more

I have a strong conviction. It's about free will. I don't think we have it. Here goes: 1. We don't choose our preferences. - I can't say we do, looking into myself and others I've talked to... Which ofcourse makes my basis for this assertion quite limited. So how is it? Do we choose our preferences? 2. We can't make choices outside of our preferences. - Looking into myself and my choices, they're always dictated by my preferences. No matter how banale or how life changing the choice was. I chose as I preferred to choose. (I call it choice even if I don't believe there ever was a choice per se, because there are options at hand, objectively speaking.) Conclusion: We don't have free will. We can't choose any other way than we in fact choose. Does this hold up as it stands? Thanks in advance.

Your comment runs together Stephen Maitzen April 28, 2019 (changed April 30, 2019) Permalink Your comment runs together two things that ought to be kept distinct: (1) Can we choose our preferences? (2) Could we have chosen otherwise than we in fact chose? I'll take them up in turn. I'm not a psychologist, but I take it as common knowledge that we do have s... Read more

I am seeing a married man that had already started his divorce proceedings before we had our affair. His wife is a friend of mine and approves of our relationship because she still wants her husband around for advice and help but she is seeing other men and in fact has a stable relationship with one. I care for this man deeply and he has said he "loves me". From the beginning my guilt about being with a "married man" has haunted me from a religious point of view. I can't get around it. Now we are both in stressful situations where he is going to court (more than once because we are in Mexico and it takes a long time) and I am selling my house with a major issue with the closing. Since we have started to argue, I just want to break it up until his divorce goes through and my closing to get some breathing room. At this point, I don't even want to be with him. We were going to live together after I sold my house and feel this is a bad idea under the circumstances. In fact I feel my soul has been compromised and you cannot say I am a die hard Christian who has been a good person in my life. Many times I have done wrong in my life but this one thing I feel is unforgivable. You can tell me to go to a minister but I know that will not help.

According to many (but Charles Taliaferro March 15, 2019 (changed March 15, 2019) Permalink According to many (but perhaps not all) Christians and many secular philosophers (and persons of other faiths) marriage is fundamentally based on the vows that persons make to each other. So, for many Christians in the west, the church does not actually marry two pers... Read more

Hello philosophers in a recent debate I was involved in a theist stated “For morality to be objective, moral propositions such as "Killing is bad","Stealing is bad", etc... need to be true independently of the person who is stating them. “ I countered “That is the way this position is normally put but a problem arises as in if there are objective moral facts how would we know this to be the fact? To know something is an objective moral fact only needs an agent to know this , how can a moral fact be known independent of a human mind to decide?” Is my position logically sound or are there problems with my reply?

I think your counterargument Allen Stairs March 14, 2019 (changed March 14, 2019) Permalink I think your counterargument is conflating issues that need to be kept distinct. Your interlocutor ((I'll call him or her your friend) said, correctly, that if morality is objective, the truth of moral claims doesn't depend on the person who makes them. That seems fin... Read more