If someone murders many people, is it fair that they die once for their multiple victims?

I'm not sure that fairness enters into it. Whom would one be treating unfairly by condemning a murderer to just one death? His victims? Once dead, they are not being treated in any way at all; so they're not being treated unfairly relative to the murderer. Perhaps you mean that it would not be right or just for the murderer to die just once. But even if we could kill someone more than once (which we can't), why does justice demand that someone be made the victim of precisely the crime he or she committed against another? If you think of all the crimes people commit against one another, do you find that nothing short of visiting the same wrong against the perpetrator will right the moral balance?

Is it possible for one to possibly know what exists after death? As humans, with a mind that exists solely as physical matter (and a soul, if religion is counted), when we die, how is it possible for this purely physical mind to keep on functioning, and allow us to realize that we are dead? As well, if we have souls, how can an entity created purely of energy (or whatever you think a soul is made of) have senses and detect that it exists, or even think?

If you believe your death spells your total annihilation then your death presents more than a problem of how to acquire knowledge: once you die, there will be no you around to know (or not to know) anything. Indeed, there won't be a you around to undergo non-existence so there won't be anything (for anyone) to know. Non-existence isn't a particular kind of state that presents challenges to our knowledge; your non-existence entails that you are no longer around to be in any state. If you think death is merely the end of your corporeal existence and that your soul survives, then I'm not sure what to say: for, like you, I don't know what souls are or how they acquire knowledge.

If someone was blind since birth, do they see objects/colors when they dream? What do they see when they dream?

You might be interested in reading On Blindness , a book of letters between the philosophers Bryan Magee and Martin Milligan. The first is sighted, the second blind almost from birth. They argue about whether blindness is a limitation and, if it is, what kind it is. Milligan makes many interesting observations about how to describe a blind person's experiences and dreams.

Is it possible for one to be in love with the feeling of being in love, instead of loving the person you believe you're in love with?

A few reactions to your interesting question. We do speak of "lovingthe feeling of X" or "being in love with the feeling of Y", but surelythe sense of "loving" or "being in love with" here must be differentfrom the sense in which one loves one's mother or is in love with one'sspouse. The first seems more or less synonymous with "finding deeplypleasurable", while in the latter cases — well, I don't know exactlywhat we mean in the latter cases (Alan Soble, help!), but I do knowthat we mean something quite different from "finding deeplypleasurable" (which is of course compatible with saying that beingaround someone one's in love with is deeply pleasurable). OK, so giventhat, it's of course quite possible that John is in love with Hilaryand also finds being in that state deeply pleasurable. But that's notyour question. You're imagining a situation where John thinks he's in love with Hilary, but really isn't. People do speak as if theycan be wrong about whether they are in love: "I thought I loved him,but...

Recent research seems to indicate that the religious sense is innate. If that is so, wouldn't it be likely to be true of animals as well?

If having a religious sense is innate in humans (and see here for more discussion on the obscurities of this notion), it doesn't follow that it's innate for non-human animals. Perhaps some song repertoires are innate in birds — but don't ask me to sing them.

How is it possible that one can better their own self consciousness? There is an old Chinese saying: "Who Guards the Guards at the gate?" If the mind seeks to better itself, how can it do so? If the ego is what needs to be bettered, what is in check of the ego itself? Is this not possible, because the ego is what is seeking to be bettered? This seems impossible to me.

Let's say you want to overhaul some aspect of your mental life (e.g., you want to improve your analytical skills, or you want to become more attuned to your surroundings). Is your worry this: that either your whole mind is getting "replaced", in which case there's nothing directing the process of improvement, or only some part of your mind is getting bettered, in which case the improvement is being overseen by an unimproved facet of your mind. Either way, you might worry, there's no guarantee that an improvement will take place: in the first case the process isn't being guided by anything, and in the second it's being guided by an unimproved, possibly mediocre, area of your mental life. I think we're in the second situation, but I'm not sure I'm worried about it. For one thing, it seems we have no options: wholesale cognitive make-overs do not seem possible. (Though in this connection, it's worthwhile thinking about rather large scale transformations that some people do seem to undergo, for...

Is mathematics independent of science? And, vice versa.

Mathematics investigates number systems some of whose properties arecritical for measurement. And without measurement, we wouldn't be ableto provide our scientific theories with sharp reality checks.Furthermore, those theories are themselves shot through with extremelysophisticated mathematics; most central claims of the advanced sciencescannot even be stated without a generous helping of mathematics. Manyhave been amazed that mathematics, often developed independently ofempirical research, turns out to be so useful, indeed necessary, forscience. But whatever one's explanation, it's a fact that it has. Mathematics,by contrast, appears independent of science in important respects. It's true thatmathematical inquiry was often initially prompted by scientific inquiryinto the natural world. But what inspires mathematics is one thing, andwhat it owes its justification to is something else entirely. Mostmathematicians will tell you that the only ground for accepting amathematical claim is that someone has...

Other than the fact that it's in our nature to know and be curious, why is it that time after time, after every question is answered we still as human beings are not satisfied and as so it seems will never be satisfied, and want to know more. Doesn't that give rise to the notion that the answers are out there, but we can't "understand" them. And if so, then why can't we understand them, if we are given the capability to question?

Some have thought that if we have the capacity to formulate an intelligible question, then it's likewise in our capacity to find an answer. (Maybe not in practice; maybe we'll blow ourselves up before we arrive at the answer. But in principle we could find it.) W.V. Quine has suggested this (see Question 230 ). By contrast, others believe that our cognitive make-up is such that necessarily some truths will remain forever beyond our reach. Noam Chomsky has suggested this view. Along these lines, some have argued that philosophical perennials (e.g., about the nature of free will) are precisely examples of questions that are intelligible to us but that will also forever elude us on account of our mind's structure. It's in virtue of our mind's having the rich structure that it does that we have learned as much as we have; but that very same structure also brings into being systemic limits to our knowledge. It is difficult to know how to resolve this question. Those who are impressed by Chomsky...

I've been wondering a long time about this and I can't come up with an answer. Hopefully you can help me. What is the point of government?

The short answer that many political philosophers (such as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, John Rawls) have offered is that we are all far better off in a civil society structured by basic institutions (legal, economic, political) that constitute the government than we would be if we were left on our own. Hobbes and Locke called the condition in which man does not live under a government the State of Nature. Both believed that living in the State of Nature was far more uncomfortable and dangerous than living under a government. In fact, Hobbes famously wrote (in his Leviathan ) that life in the State of Nature would be "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short".

In my world history class, we dedicated some time to learning about the Boxer Rebellion in China, which took place in the 19th century. My teacher had mentioned that the Boxers believed they had magical powers, and that bullets would not injure them. Bullets did indeed injure them, but my teacher said they withstood more bullets than usual, because of their belief. I'm not sure if that is true, but I was wondering if a mind over matter type of thing is possible. Perhaps it's linked to what the Redcoats did in the Revolutionary War, how they wore red so that when they were hit, they wouldn't have noticed the blood and could have lived longer. I have an illness of some sort, where I can harm myself depending on my state of mind. It really does sound like something in a sci-fi movie, it's unbelievable. There's been many times where I would feel some sort of pain somewhere, and associate it with an illness I learned about in health class, or somewhere. The more I learned about the illness, the more symptoms I...

There's nothing mysterious about "mind over matter", is there? When you had second thoughts last night and eventually decided you wanted your grilled black bean burger with cheese and therefore called after the waitress with "Could you make that with cheese, please?" -- well, that was "mind over matter". You had the desire for cheese (mind), decided to do something about it (mind), believed that you could do something about it by calling after the waitress (mind), and then found yourself with vocal chords, diaphragm, tongue, etc. appropriately engaged (matter). Or at least, there's nothing uncommon about it. Philosophers are divided about how mysterious they find it; and those who don't find it mysterious are divided about why it's not mysterious. But once you wrap your mind around the mind's ability to cause behavior, the cases you point to are small potatoes. The hard part is understanding how events in your mind can cause your actions. That sometimes those effects are quite spectacular,...