Recent Responses

Dear philosophers, why should we respect the dead?

Thomas Pogge April 22, 2006 (changed April 22, 2006) Permalink Here are three reasons to consider. First, because they want to be respected. Sure, being dead, they do not want this now. But they did want it when they were alive -- just as you now want to be respected after your death. Imagine you have a certain deeply embarrassing secret that only your best... Read more

Is it better to have a criminal justice system that runs the risk of, in every 100 people being acquitted, that 1 will go on to commit a terrible future crime; or one that runs the risk of, in every 100 people being convicted, there being 1 who was innocent? Sorry about the tortured phrasing of my question...

Thomas Pogge April 21, 2006 (changed April 21, 2006) Permalink Any realistic criminal justice system will make both types of error: T-errors (terrible future crime committed by one wrongly acquitted) and I-errors (innocent person wrongly convicted). It seems morally more appropriate here to compare alternative systems feasible for the same society in terms... Read more

Consider the statement, "There exists at least one true statement." Is a demonstration of the truth of this statement possible, which does not assume the statement's truth? If so, what is that demonstration? If not, does it then follow that certain knowledge - that is, knowledge that is conscious of itself as knowledge - is impossible?

Peter Lipton April 21, 2006 (changed April 21, 2006) Permalink 'All statements are false' is necessarily false, so there is at least one true statement. Log in to post comments

Aristotle began studies at Plato's Academy at the age of 17. I have a few questions. 1) How smart was Plato compared to Aristotle? 2) Who would you say is as intelligent as Plato or Aristotle (preferably someone who is still alive)? 3) I am 17. Who can I go to in order to gain the same education that Aristotle did from Plato? 4) How did Aristotle go about becoming Plato's student? Did he have to pay to be his student in the same way people pay to become a student at a college? I pretty much got myself into philosophy, and upon finding out about the greater of ancient philosophers, I have been wondering how I might be able to gain knowledge compared to that of the aforementioned. Is this possible in today's society? Thank you, Steve

Nicholas D. Smith April 27, 2006 (changed April 27, 2006) Permalink Your questions seem to focus on how smart people were (or are), and thus on how you can become that smart. Maybe you mean something different than I do, when you use the word "smart," but I think the only honest answer one can give to many of your questions is "no one knows, and no one can... Read more

Is understanding a person (what a person does) necessarily interrelated to approving of it, and is approving of it necessarily interrelated to sympathizing with it, and is sympathizing with it necessarily interrelated to identifying oneself with this person? Thanks, Susanne

Lynne Rudder Baker April 21, 2006 (changed April 21, 2006) Permalink Dear Susanne, I think that you have an interesting slippery slope here. In my opinion, we should not start down it at all. We need to try to understand people and the conditions that make them the kind of people that they are. But that need not (and should not) lead to approving much... Read more

Consider the statement, "There exists at least one true statement." Is a demonstration of the truth of this statement possible, which does not assume the statement's truth? If so, what is that demonstration? If not, does it then follow that certain knowledge - that is, knowledge that is conscious of itself as knowledge - is impossible?

Peter Lipton April 21, 2006 (changed April 21, 2006) Permalink 'All statements are false' is necessarily false, so there is at least one true statement. Log in to post comments

Whose opinions are worth more? The Philosophers (the ones who create the philosophies) or the Philosophologists (the ones who study and critique the Philosophers). And which one are you?

Richard Heck April 21, 2006 (changed April 21, 2006) Permalink I don't myself see that there is any real distinction between philosophers and "philosophologists". I've never even encountered the latter term before. It's hard to imagine doing philosophy without reading, understanding, and criticizing it, and I don't honestly know how one could read, understa... Read more

I am stuck on a decision that I hope one of you can help me with. I am graduating in June (2006) and everyone is telling me to go to college. I am currently protesting college - thinking that if I self-teach myself (by reading many books), then I could possibly gain more knowledge than if I am sitting in a classroom with many other students. I am stubborn with this idea. I assume that with a teacher in a classroom full of students, (s)he is teaching the subject, not the people. (I hope that makes sense.) I am not too sure if my thinking is something I should go by, or if I should just grow up and go to college. Any opinion would be great.

Nalini Bhushan April 23, 2006 (changed April 23, 2006) Permalink When college works as it should, it allows you to imagine alternate possible ways of living your life in the "real" world, as you experiment with different disciplines, and are thrust into the orbits of sometimes unlikely people who might serve as mentors and role models. These could be your... Read more

Consider the statement, "There exists at least one true statement." Is a demonstration of the truth of this statement possible, which does not assume the statement's truth? If so, what is that demonstration? If not, does it then follow that certain knowledge - that is, knowledge that is conscious of itself as knowledge - is impossible?

Peter Lipton April 21, 2006 (changed April 21, 2006) Permalink 'All statements are false' is necessarily false, so there is at least one true statement. Log in to post comments

I just picked up the book "What does it all mean? - a very short introduction to philosophy" by Thomas Nagel... In the third chapter - Other Minds - the author brings up the thought that we should assume our consciousness is the only thing that exists. If we make this assumption, then how can we explain this? How can we explain exactly what our thoughts are? Furthermore, how can we explain the fact that other people will assume the same thing (that theirs are the only existing thoughts, and I am some sort of non-existing thought form)? If I assume that I have the only existing thought in my universe, then shouldn't the man who wrote this book - who agrees with the same assumption - have the same assumption: that HIS is the only existing thought ... which should prove that we both exist in relation with the same assumption. (This can get really confusing to me as I am only 17 and don't know too much about philosophy yet, but can you please shed some light...) Steve

Peter Lipton April 20, 2006 (changed April 20, 2006) Permalink You are right. If you and I each assumes that our own thoughts are all the thoughts there are, then we are both wrong. Of course if I am really the only thinker, then my assumption would be correct, but it does not look like I could justify that assumption, since if you were out there too, you... Read more

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