Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Stealing and murder

Here is an interesting ethical question. Suppose Smith knows for sure that if he steals $1.000,000, Jones will not murder Williams. But if he does not steal $1,000,000, then Jones will not murder Williams. If he steals, of course he's a thief, but if he doesn't steal, does that mean he's an accessory before the fact to murder? See what trouble you get into when you ask questions like this to a philosopher?

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Why is there no law requiring paid medical leave for pregnancy?

Why is there no law requiring paid medical leave for pregnancy? 
The reason is that Americans believe in capitalism, and they at least one of the major parties is highly resistant to doing anything that exercises control over businesses. In the 1990s we actually had to pass a law to require businesses to provide UNPAID medical leave to employees, and most Republicans voted no on the Family and Medical Leave Act. But of course, they also want to discourage women from getting abortions. Go figure. 

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

If there is no God, is free will possible?

But what if God doesn’t exist? Does that mean we have free will? Well, a lot of people who don’t believe in God think that, instead of having a soul distinct from our bodies, we have instead simply a body which is a conglomeration of physical  particles. And what physical particles do, they say, isn’t determined by anyone’s will, it is determined by the laws of physics. Given the laws of physics and the positions of the atoms, some people think everything is predictable from there. There are theories in physics which have gotten away from this kind of determinism at the physical level, but if the universe is only the matter in it, then a person’s choice cannot be the final determiner of what they do.  
If materialism is true, libertarian free will is excluded, and I maintain that compatibilist free will is highly problematic given materialism, since it relies on the idea on the idea of acting for a reason, but in the final analysis, if materialism is true, that never happens. The physical state of the world,  not the reason, determines what we do.