Recent Responses

Recent Responses

Response by Allen Stairs on April 2, 2020

No.

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Response by Allen Stairs on April 2, 2020

Some theologians and philosophers would say that religious devotion to anything less than a perfect being amounts to idolatry, and a less-than-omniscient or less than omnibenevolent or less-than-omnipotent being would be less than a perfect being.

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Response by Charles Taliaferro on April 2, 2020

One of the philosophical roots for identifying divine attributes is the idea that God (if there is a God) is maximally excellent or (in language going back to St. Anselm) God is a being greater than which cannot be conceived. Advocates of this way of thinking are sometimes described as advancing perfect being theology. They ask: what would be more excellent a being that knows a great deal or an omniscient being? a being that is very powerful or one that is omnipotent?...more

Response by Stephen Maitzen on April 2, 2020

I doubt that "because" is as finicky as you seem to be suggesting it is. I think it's perfectly true that Fred belongs to the set because he is only 14, and it's perfectly true that Fred belongs to the set because he is less than 15. I'm not familiar with any explanatory concept according to which one of those facts about Fred, but not the other, explains Fred's membership in the set. In any case, I'm confident that "because" does not stand for any such concept.

Response by Charles Taliaferro on April 2, 2020

Perhaps you are very gifted and your mother was humorously commending humility. Maybe you won an award and she did not want you to think you were the best and could therefore retire. In any case, on the matter at hand: if your mother told every (to use your example) artist that there was always somebody better than that artist, then there would indeed have to be infinitely many artists --just as there cannot be a greatest possible number, there could not be a greatest possible artist....more

Response by Peter S. Fosl on March 12, 2020

Like your friend, the German Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant in “On a Supposed Right to Lie from Philanthropy” argued that it's categorically wrong to lie, even to a murderer at the door looking for someone inside. Like you, however, I think he's obviously mistaken. It would to my mind obviously be permissible to lie to Nazis at the door looking for Anne Frank, and similarly lying to slave catchers hunting people who had escaped enslavement....more

Response by Allen Stairs on February 20, 2020

The argument is valid. That's because in logic, we say that an argument is valid if it's impossible for the premises to be true and the conclusion false at the same time. If two statements A and If A then B really are true, then so is B. If both A and If A then B are false (or better, if at least one of them is), then the conclusion might be true or might be false, but the argument is still valid; the conclusion still follows.

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Response by Allen Stairs on February 20, 2020

We have apples and Martian oranges here. Whatever exactly biology means by "species" (and there's a debate about that), it's about what the actual science of biology, with its particular set of concepts, theories and empirical claims, uses the term "species" to mean. And so to imagine the word "human" defined only in terms of psychological and mental properties is to imagine a use of the word "human" that has nothing to do with what biologists mean when they talk about species. Once we get to uploading and matrix-style scenarios, we're not even in the same intellectual universe as biology....more

Response by Stephen Maitzen on February 20, 2020

If there is a paradox here, I don't think it will have anything to do with a conflict in the conditions for set membership. Let's leave aside that there may be sorites-style paradoxes arising from the vagueness of the predicates "young girl" and even "female human." I suspect that those paradoxes can be solved in the "epistemicist" way (see this link).

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Response by Stephen Maitzen on January 23, 2020

It's a good idea to distinguish between epistemic uses of modal language (which have to do with our knowledge) and alethic uses (which have to do with truth independently of our knowledge). When you say, "It is possible that this page is white," you might be wearing tinted glasses and simply admitting that, for all you know, the page that looks amber to you is in fact white (i.e., it looks white to normal observers in normal conditions). That use of "possible" would be epistemic....more