Saturday, March 27, 2021

The Catholic Church, Dawkins, and the sexual abuse of minors

 The Catholic Church clearly teaches that sexual abuse of children is a grave sin. They may have failed to penalize and remove offenders the way they should have and failed to protect their parishioners as they should have, but they do teach that this is very wrong. Atheist Richard Dawkins, on the other hand, has said that being molested as a child was not such a big deal

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Does universal causation entail determinism?

 If you mean by a cause something that contributes to the occurrence of an event, then the statement "every event has a cause" does NOT entail determinism. This is why I object strongly to the textbook's definition of determinism, when the text says that if every event has a cause, then determinism is true. Now you can define a cause as a guarantor of a subsequent event, and if you do that, you can go from universal causation to determinism. But only if you do that. 

This is the textbook, if anyone is interested. 

Monday, March 22, 2021

Dawkins on science informing morality

 He seems to think anti-abortionists are misguided absolutists. 


Saturday, March 20, 2021

America first?

 It's hard to argue against the idea that you should care for you own family before others, although this goes against utilitarianism. What interests me are the people who say we should care for Americans before we spend any money trying to help people in foreign countries. Is that just national prejudice, or is there a reason for saying "America first?" 

Friday, March 19, 2021

How can you argue for universal human dignity without religious premises--if you are facing a skeptic on the issue?

Are there any "tribal" or "status"  limits to who deserves to be treated as a real human being. Cultures develop strong rules for how you treat someone, but there are all sorts of limits on who gets treated as a real person. Human inequality was thought to be a basic fact of existence. Good citizens of Greece and Rome treated boys of low birth as sexual objects, and dumped them when they were no longer desirable. Christianity played a role in changing this, in that Christians saw every person as someone for whom Christ died, so would it really make sense to believe that Christ died for human garbage? But Christians have not absorbed this message consistently, as some of them owned slaves and treated them like human garbage. We've become convinced, in theory, that every human being is worth of respect, in society as a whole, but if someone needed to be persuaded that all humans deserve respect and there is no human garbage, I am not sure how you'd argue it without religious premises. 

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Is scientism self-refuting?

"Whatever knowledge is attainable, must be attained by scientific methods; and what science cannot discover, mankind cannot know."

― Bertrand Russell, Religion and Science

Isn't this self-refuting? Unless of course you can devise a scientific experiment that can test the claim, that "Whatever knowledge is attainable must be attained by scientific methods; and what science cannot discover, mankind cannot know." 

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

Relativism vs. Objectivism

 If one person says "McDonald's hamburgers are tasty" and another person says "No, they taste awful," arguably the statements have a "for me" clause implied, which makes them not really contradictory (I like them, you don't, where's the contradiction). Moral relativists think that moral statements are statements about what an individual, or a society , prefers. And if you see it that way, the contradiction evaporates and the Law of Noncontradiction does not apply. 

Moral objectivists think that there is a real right and wrong that our moral judgments can either match or fail to match. The law of noncontradiction does apply. 


Thursday, March 04, 2021

On what it is to be a skeptical inquirer: Not enough evidence, or a mind not open enough?

Here is an argument from an essay in psychology on psychic phenomenon. 

We did not examine the data for psi, to the consternation of the parapsychologist who was one of the reviewers. Our reason was simple: The data are irrelevant. We used a classic, rhetorical device, adynaton, a form of hyperbole so extreme it is, in effect, impossible. Ours was “pigs cannot fly”— hence data that show they can are the result of flawed methodology, weak controls, inappropriate data analysis, or fraud. (Reber & Alcock, 2019b, p. 8)

Reber, A. S., & Alcock, J. E. (2019b). Why parapsychological claims cannot be true. Skeptical Inquirer, 43(4), 8–10. 

 I once wrote this in a paper on Hume on miracles. 

Bertrand Russell was reportedly once asked what he would say to God if he were to find himself confronted by the Almighty about why he had not believed in God's existence. He said that he would tell God "Not enough evidence, God, not enough evidence!"[1] But perhaps, if God failed to give Russell enough evidence, it was not God's fault. We are inclined to suppose that God could satisfy Russell by performing a spectacular miracle for Russell's benefit. But if the reasoning in David Hume's epistemological argument against belief in miracles [2] is correct, then no matter how hard God tries, God cannot give Russell an evidentially justified belief in Himself by performing miracles. According to Hume, no matter what miracles God performs, it is always more reasonable to believe that the event in question has a natural cause and is not miraculous. Hence, if Russell needs a miracle to believe reasonably in God, then Russell is out of luck. Russell cannot complain about God's failure to provide evidence, since none would be sufficient. But God cannot complain about Russell's failure to believe.