Recent Responses

Recent Responses

Response by Allen Stairs on October 16, 2021

I’m guessing that what you think is that every question has a satisfying answer — an answer that explains what we wanted explained or tells us what we wanted to know. And so my question is: why do you think that?

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Response by Allen Stairs on October 13, 2021

My understanding is that Buddhism teaches the doctrine of anatta — "no self." This doesn't mean that there aren't people in the ordinary sense. It means that there is no underyling metaphysical substance that amounts to the self. But I'm not aware of anything in Buddhism that would fairly be described as solipsism. So "the internet" got this one wrong (except for the thousands of places where it gets it right.

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Response by Stephen Maitzen on September 30, 2021

The syllogism in question is not valid. Nothing logically guarantees that the set of single girls and the set of sad girls overlap. Even if both sets have members, it does not follow that they have any members in common. Compare: Some polygons are squares. Some polygons are triangles. But it is false that some polygons are square triangles.

Response by Stephen Maitzen on September 30, 2021

If by "a logical answer" you mean an answer that is logically consistent, then I agree that every well-posed question has a logical answer. Nevertheless, the logically consistent answer to some question will often rely on information from beyond the subject matter of logic. The answer to why a particular cow has four legs will rely on information about the cow's parentage, genetics, embryology, anatomy, or some such. Logic all by itself cannot answer that question.

Response by Allen Stairs on August 15, 2021

Here's a way that might help. Suppose there are two pieces of paper in front of you. One of them is a genuine $5 bill. The other is a perfect counterfeit. In fact, suppose that it was illicitly created by the very same equipment that created the real bill. The point is that the difference between the real $5 bill and the fake isn't a matter of the physical properties of the piece of paper.

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Response by Allen Stairs on August 15, 2021

When I was a young man, I knew someone who was, in the phrase that might have been used at that time, "mildly retarded." He was married. And he understood his condition. And he struck me as a happy man. He certainly wasn't leading a life of misery.

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Response by Stephen Maitzen on August 12, 2021

If the woman meant (a) "I can't utter the word no in response to any request from you," then she can't abide by her companion's request (to say "no") without falsifying what she has just said. Still, I agree with you that there's no paradox here. The woman can abide by the request to say "no" by saying "no" in response to it. As far as I can see, the appearance of paradox depends on supposing that the woman meant both (a) and also (b) "I can't deny any request from you." But, as you suggest, she can't have meant both (a) and (b)....more

Response by Jonathan Westphal on July 29, 2021

There is something going on in your interesting question that is other than the distinction between a positive legal justice, and another “social” or perhaps even natural or transcendental justice, behind the positive law. The reason is that it is also possible to say, exactly as you did, that the US legal system has been designed to try to get us justice, we hope, where and when it is to be had and to the extent that it can be had....more

Response by Stephen Maitzen on July 22, 2021

If you go back to that choice point exactly as it was -- with your beliefs, desires, and circumstances being exactly as they were originally -- then why think that you would have made a different choice? We can't make sense of your choosing differently unless we imagine that something is different about that choice point. One might claim that your original choice was indeterministic, so it could have been different even in exactly the same circumstances. But calling a choice "indeterministic" is just to say that, beyond a certain point, we can't make sense of it.

Response by Allen Stairs on July 15, 2021

The first point is that "Is it natural?" and "Is it wrong?" aren't the same question. We could spend a lot of time on what it means to call something "natural," but you seem to have something like this in mind: if there are species that do it routinely, then it's natural. If that made things acceptable, then the fact that in some species, the female kills the male after sex would mean that it would be okay for a woman to kill a man after having sex with him. Don't know about you, but I'd say that seems like a pretty good counterexample to the "It's natural, therefore it's okay" idea.

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