Monday, August 31, 2020

A quote from C. S. Lewis and contemporary political debate

 Probably people in political debate today are going to be saying and thinking this a lot, once stated by C. S. Lewis. "How many times does a man need to say something before he is safe from the accusation of having said exactly the opposite?"

Lewis goes on to say something few in political debate would ever say:
(I am not for a moment imputing dishonesty to Dr Pittenger; we all know too well how difficult it is to grasp or retain the substance of a hook one finds antipathetic.)

The prove it game

You can undermine any belief just by demanding proof. Then, when proof is provided, demand proof for the proof. And then proof for the proof for the proof. And then proof for the proof for the proof for the proof. And then proof for the proof for the proof for the proof for the proof. And so on ad infinitum. 

Is atheism a religion?

Although it isn’t an organized religion like Judaism, Christianity, or Islam, atheism is a religious worldview. With assurance rooted in faith (rather than in proven fact), the theist says “I believe in god(s)/God,” while the atheist with equal confidence says “I don’t believe in god(s)/God.”

Atheism is a religious worldview because it claims to know something fundamental about reality that hasn’t been—or can’t be—proven. Like theists, atheists operate out of a foundational faith or belief that shapes their perceiving, thinking, and living in the world.


On argument

 When you have an argument, you have an arguer's point of view and the audience's point of view.  The arguer is convinced of the conclusion, the audience is presumed to be not convinced, otherwise no argument would be needed. The adequacy of an argument is determined by the question of whether the argument provides something that the audience ought to believe (assuming the audience is being rational). An argument can be convincing without being a logically good argument.  However, a logically good argument ought to be convincing, even if it is not. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Do Unemployment Benefits Disincentivize Work?

 No, says this discussion. 

These claims remind me the line from the theme song for "All in the Family.""Didn't have no welfare state. Everybody pulled his weight." 

And it is one of the most difficult aspects of conservatism for me to buy. 

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

A civil debate on abortion

The debate about abortion consists of the pro-life person screaming ABORTION IS MURDER as loud as possible, while the pro-choice person screams A WOMAN HAS THE RIGHT TO DO AS SHE PLEASES WITH HER OWN BODY as loud as possible. Whoever screams the loudest wins. 

 Just kidding (I hope). 

Does murder mean homicide without sufficient moral justification, or does it mean something more than that? If you can argue that abortions are homicides and that they are not justifiable homicides, is that all you mean when you say that abortion is murder? Or is something else needed?

The pro-life debater in this debate thinks it's a mistake to say that abortion is murder. The pro-choice debater thinks that there are a significant number of abortions that are morally unjustified. See this discussion.

Monday, August 03, 2020

Does universal causation entail determinism?

In order to universal causation to entail determinism, "cause" has to mean a set of circumstances and causes which, taken together make it so that no other event could have occurred. However, the word "cause" is ambiguous, and does not always mean that, given the cause the effect is inevitable. For example, we can say that smoking causes cancer without implying that there is some law guaranteeing that every instance of smoking will result in cancer. Some chain smokers, as we all know, live to 100 cancer-free.

The case against soft determinism

The main arguments against soft determinism are there. 1) There is insufficient reason to believe that determinism of any sort is true with respect to human actions. 2) If soft determinism is true you are being praised or blamed for actions that, in the final analysis, are the result of circumstances beyond your control.


Assume, for example that there is a God. Suppose God creates you in such a way that he guarantees that, on 8/3.2020, you commit the crime of murder. Suppose the day after that, you die. You meet God at the last judgment, and God tells you that you are going to have to spend eternity in hell because you are a murderer. But God, you  reply, given the way you created me, I could not have avoided committing the murder. What are you damning me for something you made me do. Can God reasonably say “You wanted to do it, so it really is your fault, not mine.”

Sunday, August 02, 2020

Soft Determinism: The key difference

The key difference between soft determinism and the other views is the definition of freedom. For them, freedom means being able to carry out your will. But, you will is just as strictly determined on soft determinism as it is on hard determinism. The question is, if your will is determined by past causes, but you can carry out your will, do you have an excuse if you act wrongly. You did what you wanted to do, but, given the past, you could not have done otherwise from what you did.