Thursday, January 30, 2020

Any real convictions?

Does anyone doubt that Trump would support abortion on demand, open borders, and socialism if it benefited him personally to do so?

The simplest explanation for everything Trump does is in terms of his ego. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Are morals objective?

The question is whether, if you are asking whether something is right or wrong, whether claims about that can be correct or incorrect. It is true that everyone has their own views about what is moral and what is not. But people have their own views about things like whether there was really a moon landing, or about whether vaccines should be avoided because they cause autism, or whether Trump withheld aid to Ukraine because he was trying to obtain and advantage against Biden in  his re-election campaign. Nevertheless, i think we would all agree that some has to be right about these claims, and someone has to be mistaken. The same is true about the question of whether an omnipotent being actually exists. Some very reasonable and intelligent people take opposite positions on this question, but I think most of us would say that either there is one or there isn't. 
But what about questions of what is right or wrong. This can include vexed questions about whether abortion is justified, and under what circumstances, whether we ought to have the death penalty or not, whether animals have rights which give  us a reason to stop eating meat, whether premarital sex, or  homosexual sex, or extramarital sex is wrong, etc. But is also a moral question as to whether it is acceptable, was the case in America before the civil war, to bring people over to our country and keep them as slaves, or whether it is acceptable to allow discrimination in the area of restaurants or housing, or whether is acceptable to use sexual harassment as a way of maintaining male domination in the workplace, or indeed whether it is acceptable to invite someone over for dinner, shove them in the oven, and cook them as dinner. Unless moral objectivity is true, then all of these concerns are simply relative to individual preference of societal preference. 

Monday, January 20, 2020

How would you answer someone who questions the heart of ethics?

 According to the BBC guide to ethics, "At the heart of ethics is a concern about something or someone other than ourselves and our own desires and self-interest. Ethics is concerned with other people's interests, with the interests of society, with God's interests, with "ultimate goods", and so on. So when a person 'thinks ethically' they are giving at least some thought to something beyond themselves." But someone might question why we ought to give any consideration to anything beyond ourselves. How would you reply to someone who raises that question about ethics? 

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Explaining reasoning away

People rightly fear that we will interpose a God-explanation where a scientific explanation might be provided which would provide us with more prediction and control over the event in question. But in reasoning, if we interpose nonrational explanations to account for our reasoning, we are in fact explaining reasoning away. If we say that I believe in evolution because of the evidence, but then the explanation I provide for coming to hold this belief is a bunch of irrational neurons blindly following the laws of physics or acting on blind and brute quantum-mechanical chance, I am saying that in the last analysis I didn't really come to believe that evolution is true because there is good evidence that evolution is true. I cannot really say "I followed the evidence, and those creationists didn't." Both of our beliefs were caused in the same irrational way.

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Need to impeach

The Democrats want impeachment, but the Republicans need it.

Thursday, January 02, 2020

The paradox of Dawkins' title

The title of one of Richard Dawkins’ books is entitled The Blind Watchmaker, but its subtitle is How the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a World Without Design. The subtitle, it seems to me, makes a paradoxical claim. On the one hand, it maintains we ought to draw the conclusion that the world lacks design. On the other hand, the subtitle suggests that he has reached this conclusion through examining the evidence of evolution, but examining the evidence is a process designed to discover the truth. In fact, Dawkins is fond of contrasting his own methods for reaching conclusions with methods based on faith, which to his mind involve a lack of design. But if the world really is without design, how is this possible? Of course, it could turn out that the paradox is resolvable. But the attempt to ban teleology from the bioverse, but then to insist that one’s own convictions are justified because a kind of teleological explanation can be given for these convictions, is a fact that, at the very least stands in need of explanation.