Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Closing Shop.

Unfortunately, instead of moving, the Consolations is shutting down. I may start posting again in the future, but not right now.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Consolations is Moving!

The Consolations is moving from Blogspot to Wordpress. I'm working on setting up a nifty looking blog over there.

Link: http://consolatione.wordpress.com/

Saturday, March 10, 2007

"Some Food for Thought" - Spencer Lo

1. Ought implies can is essential to moral responsibility.

2. If God predetermined all human actions, no person can act contrary to the way he or she was predetermined to act.

3. God commands humans to act in accordance with his laws, and warns that any deviation from them is punishable by an eternity in hell.

4. Since all humans act contrary to God's laws (no one's perfect), God must have predetermined that no would always act in accordance with his laws. (from 2, 3)

5. Whenever humans act contrary to God's laws, God must have predetermined that they would have deviated from them. (restatement of 4)

6. Humans cannot be expected to act in accordance with God's laws, whenever God predetermined that wouldn't. (from 2)

7. Humans cannot be morally responsible for not acting in accordance with God's laws, when they do not act in accordance with God's laws. (from 1, 5, 7)

8. Therefore, humans do not deserve to spend an eternity in hell.

- Spencer Lo

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

" That Shit Fugazzi' "

Classic Trick Daddy and Bird Man.

And while we're at it, let's throw in some Jibbs.

"Absolute Deontology Refuted" - By, Spencer Lo

An excellent presentation delivered by Spencer Lo, against absolute deontology.
For deontological absolutists, the constraint against doing harm has no threshold point. No matter how much good is at stake, or how horrible the consequences will be, there is never an instance when doing harm to someone is morally permissible. This is not to say, however, that the goodness of outcomes doesn’t matter. Absolutists do recognize the goodness of outcomes as another intrinsic normative factor, one which needs to be taken into account when evaluating an action’s moral status. Thus, they are pluralists in that they consider multiple factors to be intrinsically significant. However, unlike the moderate deontologists, absolutists are not worried about balancing the two factors against each other, or the need for any trade-off calculus. It seems that whenever both factors are present in any situation, the constraint against doing-harm always wins out. In this presentation I present two arguments for rejecting absolute deontology. The first one is an argument against the broad reading of harm. I purport to show that, under the broad reading, absolutism runs into a contradiction, and is thus false. My second argument is an argument against the narrow reading of harm; it tries to demonstrate that, absolutism construed narrowly, has too much work cut out for it to be ever made plausible.

Against the Broad Reading

Consider the following. 99% of the world’s population is going to die from a deadly disease, and the only hope for a cure is to create a serum from Jack’s blood, who is somehow immune to the disease. Jack must give all of his blood in order for the serum to be effective. Consequently, Jack must die if the human race is going to continue existing. Since killing Jack constitutes harming him, absolutists will deny that sacrificing him is morally legitimate. But suppose that Jack doesn’t need to die; let’s say we only need to prick his finger and extract from him a single drop of blood. If pricking Jack’s finger constitutes harm, and assuming that the blood is extracted by force, against Jack’s consent, absolutists will also need to deny the moral legitimacy of this action. The heart of the issue here, it seems, is what counts as harm-doing. Construing the definition of harm can be done either broadly or narrowly. Doing harm, as Shelly Kagan first proposes, is to act in such a way that affects one’s interest adversely, or negatively. On the “broad” reading, any act that leaves a person less well-off then he otherwise would have been is harmful, no matter how small the harm. Causing harm to a person, in this sense, includes several kinds of acts, not limited to those that produce physical or psychological damages directly, or even acts interfering with processes that would have eliminated those damages. The scope of harm, on the broad reading, also includes acts that cause one to lose intrinsic goods, like pleasure, and ones that interfere with obtaining them. If an absolutist embraces the broad reading, several absurdities follow that are simply unacceptable.

For instance, suppose that a firefighter is at home spending quality time with his kids, when he suddenly gets a call for work. A major fire has erupted and a dozen lives are at stake. The fireman must help put out the fire immediately, but, in doing so, he has to deprive his kids of the quality time they would have had, had he stayed home. Although many lives are at stake, a decision to leave the house would interfere with his kids obtaining an intrinsic good – namely, quality time with their father. Suppose, further, that one of them starts to break down and cry, becoming depressed by the fact that her father is leaving. The fireman’s action not only interferes with his child obtaining a good, it directly produces psychological damage. It follows on the broad reading that the fireman must not put out the fire, or any of the firefighters who face similar situations in their homes. The ones who do show up to work now are without sufficient backup. Not only are the lives of those trying to escape the fire at great risk, but the firefighters’ as well, whose safety has been compromised with the absence of their colleagues.

Another example is if you were wearing a pair of pants that you borrowed from your neighbor. These pants aren’t expensive, but since your neighbor designed and made them himself, it would devastate him if you got them dirty. Now, suppose you’re walking a bit more carelessly than usual, and this resulted in you causing someone to trip and fall into some muddy water. Since the water is shallow, the person is knocked unconscious by the force of the impact, and most of his face is submerged under water. You can easily pull him up, and thus save him, but doing so will muddy your neighbor’s pants. Despite knowing that this is the only way to save him, your neighbor would not approve, and develop lots of anxiety if you step into the water. It seems you’d have a moral obligation not to save the drowning man, since intervening causes your neighbor harm. But it’s also equally true that by not acting, you prevent an intrinsic bad from being eliminated – namely, the death of the drowning person, which you would have caused. No matter what course of action you take in this situation, you either cause your neighbor anxiety by saving the person, or you prevent an intrinsic bad from being eliminated by doing nothing. In either case, under the broad reading, you violate a constraint against harm. The same dilemma applies also to the previous fireman case, where all possible options available to the fireman will result in violating the harm-constraint. These examples show that under the broad reading, doing the right thing is impossible, or that what’s right is also, at the same time, wrong. Since having a contradictory normative theory is unacceptable, the absolutist must reject the broad reading in favor of a narrower one.

Against the Narrow Reading

The narrow reading tries to either exclude certain acts from the category of harm altogether, or consider certain kinds of harms as morally relevant, while not others. Consider the drowning-person case once again. It is obvious that doing nothing harms the drowning person, since the act of not intervening makes the person less well-off than he would have been, had you intervened. Thus, the absolutist must not reject the act of non-intervention from the category of harm, nor label it as morally irrelevant. In other words, “doing nothing” cannot be an option; the absolutist must revise his theory so as to make intervention obligatory. The only alternative is to improve on how we see the act of dirtying your neighbor’s pants. We can see the act as either a completely harmless one, in which case no one’s well-being is worse off because of it, or see it as a harmful one that isn’t morally relevant. The absolutist, I think, cannot say that dirtying the pants is harmless, since the act causes your neighbor to undergo psychological stress. Had there been no drowning person, it would have been clearly wrong to willingly step into the mud; besides disrespecting your neighbor’s wishes, you cause the lowering of his well-being by making him upset. The best the absolutist can say is that the harm done isn’t a morally relevant factor. He would have to say this because, if the action were morally relevant, we can only explain the act of intervention in terms of one factor – namely, the bad consequences - outweighing the other. It would be to say that inflicting harm so as to prevent a greater harm from occurring is what justifies the action. But this would mean that absolutism is false.

To remain consistent, absolutism has to deny that harming the neighbor matters, particularly by making a distinction between different kinds of harms. There is the harm to the drowning person, which you’d be responsible for, if you don’t act, and the harm to the neighbor if you do act. The latter harm, the absolutist must say, isn’t relevant because there is an important difference between the harm done to the drowning person and the harm done to your neighbor. Thus, the challenge for the absolutist is to articulate what this difference is.

But this challenge, I think, is quite difficult, if not impossible, since the number of available moves is very limited. The absolutist would have to articulate (1) the difference between the two harms, (2) why this difference is morally relevant, and most importantly (3) how is it that the irrelevant harm becomes relevant when the drowning person isn’t in the scenario. The main difficulty is explaining (3). The consequences of dirtying your neighbor’s pants explain the constraint against stepping into the water, when there is no drowning person. But when other facts are added, the constraint factor completely disappears. It is not simply out-weighed by the presence of the drowning person; the constraint against harming your neighbor is fully negated. What could explain the fact that this harm’s appearance in one scenario is morally significant, but completely irrelevant in the other? The absolutist might respond that it is the context which determines the morally relevant factors in any given situation. For instance, throwing a dart at a dart-board is not morally relevant if no one is in front of you, but it is if someone is in the way. Thus, the absolutist might say that this shows that what is morally relevant in one situation has no moral relevancy in the other.

This analogy, however, fails for several reasons. The issue here is what makes throwing the dart permissible in one scenario, and not in the other. We would naturally appeal to the fact that throwing it can hurt someone if he or she is in the way. When no one’s in the way, and assuming that the dart belongs to you, and that you won’t damage anyone’s property, there is no fact of the matter that could make it wrong for you to throw the dart. The factor that would make it wrong to throw the dart – namely, hurting someone – is not present in both situations. In the drowning person case, what makes it permissible to step into the water is that there is only one factor determining the moral status of the situation – the constraint against harm. This factor is present in both situations: both in the drowning person case, and when the drowning person isn’t there. In one case, there is a constraint against harming the drowning person, and in the other, a constraint against harming your neighbor. Thus, it isn’t like the dart-cases, where the constraint factor appears in one scenario but not in the other; the constraint appears in both scenarios. To articulate the difference, then, the absolutist has to show why the harm done to your neighbor becomes morally irrelevant when there is a drowning-person. The harm clearly exists, so the absolutist has to label it as a harm of a different kind – different in ontology from the harm done to the drowning person. But the absolutist cannot deprive that factor of moral force entirely, since it is clearly relevant when no drowning person is present.

The theory he must come up with is one that classifies harms into different categories, which are to be arranged in a hierarchy of importance. Using the drowning-person case, the absolutist, for instance, could label the harm done to the neighbor as an N-type harm, and the harm done to the drowning person is as a D-type, where D-type harms negate the moral force of N-type ones when both are present. But when they are not both present, N-type harms will retain their moral force. A theory like this can explain why you ought to save the drowning person, even when you will harm your neighbor, and why harming your neighbor is a morally relevant factor when there is no drowning person.

Any plausible absolutist theory, I think, will have to look something like this. It would have to group harms into different kinds, specify which kinds negate the morally relevancy of others kinds, and why, and be precise with the way the groupings and specifications are expressed. Going back to the first case, the one where Jack is the key to humanity’s survival, the absolutist might say that killing Jack is a Q-type harm, which is very high on the harm scale. Now, suppose that Darien is responsible for creating this disease which will wipe out 99% of the world’s population. Although the disease hasn’t taken effect yet, it has already infected people, and is lying dormant. The disease won’t manifest itself for another 20 years, so Darien hasn’t technically harmed anyone now, at the moment. If he can remove the disease before it becomes active, we would say that, although Darien was morally wrong to do what he did, he wasn’t wrong because he harmed anyone. What he did was wrong because of something else. Therefore, Darien still has a chance to prevent himself from violating the constraint against harming 99% of the world’s population. Let’s call the harm to those people a V-type harm. Suppose Darien regrets what he did and now wants to prevent the harm from happening. If Darien can make a serum without harming anyone, he ought to because there is a constraint against killing 99% of the world’s population. But it turns out that killing Jack is the only way to make the serum. If killing Jack is morally impermissible, and the harm done to him is a Q-type harm, then this would mean that the constraint to wipe out humanity is negated. The absolutist has to explain why Q-type harms are more important than V-type ones. But suppose Darien only needed to rip off Jack’s arm. Clearly, the kind of harm done to Jack is different than the kind done to him, if he’s killed. If it’s still morally impermissible to harm Jack, the absolutist needs to explain why two different kinds of harms can have equal importance. We can decrease the level of harm done to Jack and ask the absolutist, each and every time, if harming him is permitted. Eventually, we would come to a point where the absolutist is forced to say what the precise difference is between two kinds of harms. Suppose all Darien needs to do is to cause Jack to become upset, in the same way that your neighbor becomes upset when you dirty his pants. If harming your neighbor is permissible in order to save the drowning person, it seems that harming Jack in the same way, in order to save most of humanity, must also be permissible. There must be an upper limit, then, to the type of harm that Darien is permitted to inflict on Jack before inflicting more harm on him is impermissible. The absolutist must show what this upper limit is, and how the type of harm at the upper limit boundary is relevantly different from the type of harm just right above that. Because precision is required, it seems highly implausible that any absolutist theory can fully articulate and justify this difference. - Spencer Lo

Monday, March 05, 2007

Evidential Arguments from Evil and the G. E. Moore Shift

David Wood has been updating his blog on the argument from evil (AE) pretty frequently. One of his main counter-arguments to AE is the G. E. Moore shift [1]. For instance, in one of his latest posts, David writes the following:
[...] As far as the Argument from Evil goes, atheists actually need a lot more than objective moral values to get the argument off the ground. For instance, they need suffering, but for suffering there has to be humans and animals (or something similar), and human and animals are incredibly complex organisms. This complexity points to design, not to atheism. Atheists also need some sort of world where all this suffering is taking place, and any world will serve as the foundation for the Cosmological Argument. But there can’t be just any old world; the suffering we see around us requires a finely-tuned world. Otherwise humans and animals couldn’t survive. This, of course, is the idea behind the Argument from Fine-Tuning. Beyond this, atheists need minds to recognize the evil and formulate the argument, and this is part of the Argument from Consciousness. They also need a concept of God, because they’re claiming that this concept doesn’t apply to anything that actually exists. And our concept of God is used in various forms of the Ontological Argument.
Given David's consistent use of the shift, I have a question for him. If theistic arguments were shown to be deficient - from cosmological arguments, to design arguments, to moral arguments, etc. - would David feel that AE is sufficient to make atheism more probable than not? In other words, if the shift were not available to David, would atheism more likely become an intellectually preferred option?

If David answers this question in the affirmative, then we'll have a better grasp on exactly where David is coming from in his overall approach to philosophy of religion questions. If he answers in the negative, then I have a follow-up question: What predictions does theism make that we could potentially falsify? If David answers my prior question in the negative, it does not seem as if suffering is something that can falsify theism. Hopefully David can produce some examples of phenomena that we should observe if theism is true, that are not at all compatible with atheism.


[1] David uses the shift in various forms. For instance, in his debate with John Loftus, Wood's use of the shift is standard. However, in the post quoted above, he is using the shift in quite a different way, not merely emphasizing that there is more than ample evidence for the existence of God to overcome skeptical conclusions from evil, but also that the AE itself rests on assumptions that entail an implicit incoherence in the argument.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Answering 16 Questions for Atheists.

A couple of weeks ago, when Paul Manata posted his answers to all eighty-nine questions about theism written up by Reggie Finley and the Rational Response Squad, the bloggers over at Christian Skepticism came up with a set of questions of their own for atheists to answer. In a previous blog entry, I said that once they were finished coming up with questions, I would answer them. Since it now looks like they’re finished, I’m dedicating this post to their questions.

Keep in mind while reading this that atheists are not committed to accepting whatever answers I give here. There are plenty of atheists who would disagree with me on my answer to every single question of the CS list. So what I’m offering is merely my own take, as only one individual non-theist, and I don’t pretend to represent anyone else when I answer the CS questions. For an alternative list of answers that differs somewhat from mine, you can check out Jim Lippard’s response here.

#1. Why is there something rather than nothing?

There is something rather than nothing because ‘nothingness’ is a metaphysical impossibility of sorts. Bede Rundle and Adolf Grunbaum have done a good job treating this issue. Rundle, in his [plainly titled] book, “Why There is Something Rather than Nothing”, gives arguments for why there must always have been something or other existing infinitely into the past. Grunbaum likewise argues that questions such as these are rather nonsensical in his [pretty long] paper, “The Poverty of Theistic Cosmology”. For those who are skeptical that there can be actualized infinites, Graham Oppy’s book on the topic, “Philosophical Perspectives on Infinity”, is an excellent book to purchase and study carefully.

Also, Jim Still wrote an excellent paper on Wittgenstein’s point of view about questions of this sort, entitled, “The Mental Discomfort of ‘Why?’”. In his conclusion, Still writes,

I have argued that it is misguided to attempt to answer literally questions that we pose from the mystical feeling that the world should exist. Wittgenstein realizes that the mental discomfort of "Why?" is not satiated by the appeal to a supernatural being; therefore, it is incorrect to view Wittgenstein as holding a traditional view of God. The person who asks "why is there something rather than nothing?" is expressing an attitude toward the brute fact of existence. The believer is not asking how a thing came to be, but expressing the mystical feeling that a thing is. We need only see how the limiting question "Why?" lingers long after the cosmological proof is employed to see that this is so. No matter what terminus the proof finally settles upon, "Why?" continues to push itself beyond the limits of language. There can be no answer from reason to the problem of life.

#2. How do you know that you exist (without being circular)?

I agree with Lippard’s response, here. I think that Descartes’ cogito argument is sufficient for this, and Chalmers has recast this line of argument in his own terms with a discussion of “direct phenomenal experience” of certain of our beliefs that constitute epistemic justification.

#3. Where does human self-consciousness come from?

Consciousness is supervenient upon the brain. A few good books I’ve recently read in the philosophy of mind include Kim’s introductory “Philosophy of Mind”, Kim’s “Physicalism, or Something Near Enough”, and Levine’s “Purple Haze: The Puzzle of Consciousness”. I think reading these three books will give you a good perspective on where a lot of physicalists about the mind are coming from.

#4. How do you know that your senses are reliable (without being circular)?

With this question I disagree with Lippard. I do not think it is possible to give a non-circular justification for believing that our senses are reliable. I think this is true for theists and atheists alike. I also think that this has interesting implications for how we should construe evidentialist theories of epistemic justification, for those who are internalists.

[EDIT] Lippard has since clarified that we don't actually disagree with one another on this issue. Instead, Lippard feels that we are not precluded from understanding in some sense the reliability of our senses through the use of science. I agree with him here.

#5. What is truth?

‘Truth’ is a property of propositions, just in case those propositions correspond to reality. They are ‘true’ if they correspond and ‘false’ if they do not.

#6. What is the cause of everything?

There is no one cause of everything. Besides this, there are also examples of causeless events in quantum mechanics. So while causation may be something we think is very important in our everyday lives, there are in fact places where it simply doesn’t apply.

#7. What is the purpose of mankind?

There is no such thing as cosmic purpose, but there is certainly such a thing as individual purpose. Some atheists like to use the phrase, “There is no meaning to life, but there is meaning in life”, and I’m perfectly content with that.

#8. How do we determine right from wrong? Is there such a standard? Where does it come from? The State? DNA?

I’m personally inclined to think that there is an objective standard of right and wrong, but not at all in the sense that requires there to be intrinsic values. So you might only call me a quasi-moral realist if you would insist that objective standards imply that there are intrinsic values. I think that the desires of sentient beings are the objects of ethical evaluation, and from our recognition of this we go on to construct rules by which we live in order to avoid thwarting the desires of others. So while a form of consequentialism is true, we nevertheless go about our ethical lives in a quasi-deontological fashion due to the fact that we’ve extrapolated moral principles that we can live by, in order to successfully avoid thwarting the desires of other beings. You might call this theory ‘Desire Rule Consequentialism’. For the closest description of this theory in print, I would highly recommend that you purchase Richard Fyfe’s recently published book, “A Better Place”. In terms of the essentials, my ideas are almost identical to his.

#9. What is the difference, from an atheistic standpoint, between love and hate? Aren't these merely emotional responses triggered by certain stimuli? Why is one better than the other?

I think we all understand that “love” and “hate” are emotions triggered by certain stimuli. We all act in accord with this belief in our day-to-day lives, and we recognize this in basic psychology and in neuroscience. As to why one is better than another, this question should be more specific. I think it’s a matter of extreme controversy whether or not we should experience or maintain an emotion of love in different circumstances. I think there are good arguments for this idea and against it. But, in general, love is ‘better’ than hate for two reasons – (1) reasons pertaining to your individual benefit over the long run (those who are loving people will live happier lives than those who are not very loving); and (2) reasons derived from the ethical theory that I described as an answer to question #8.

#10. How do you explain transcendent truth? I.e. Even folks that have never heard of the Bible (like tribe people in deep jungles) knowing that stealing, murder, adultry etc. is wrong.

By ‘transcendent truth’, I’m understanding this person as saying that there are examples of innate, non-instinctual knowledge. I do not think that there is any such thing. I think that the vast majority of our moral education is an empirical endeavour, where we gradually come to understand the consequences of various sorts of action that we can partake in, in our everyday lives. I disagree with some evolutionary psychologists who might be inclined to say that we have inherent notions of right and wrong when it comes to things like stealing, adultery, etc. It is only when we come to understand the consequences of these actions through our experiences that we can recognize that these are morally wrong actions to take.

#11. Isn't implicit, weak or negative atheism (ala George Smith, David Eller & Michael Martin) just another form of agnosticism? If the atheist critiques theism without justification, then isn't he/she believing in atheism with something other than rational thought? And as soon as the atheist provides any kind of rational justification for his/her critique of theism, hasn't he/she just moved into explicit, strong or positive atheism? And if so, doesn't he/she then need to worry about some burden of proof for his/her belief in a lack of belief?

I just had a long argument with several atheists about this. I think that all of these terms – “weak atheism”, “strong atheism”, “positive atheism”, “negative atheism”, and so forth, are simply ridiculous. Apart from stipulation, defining atheism in any other way besides “the view that there is no God” is a misuse of language. So I would not equate atheism with agnosticism in any sense, like other atheists have tried to do. If you’d like to check out the argument I had with the other atheists, you can see here.

#12. If you honestly do not believe there is a God, why do you ask so many questions about a God you don't believe exists?

This all depends on the atheist. For instance, nowadays, I couldn’t care less about the philosophy of religion. I continue to discuss it only because I have friends who have a continued interest in the subject. I would prefer to talk about other topics in philosophy and the natural sciences. However, there was a time when I was extremely active and enthusiastic about arguing against theism. Why?

There are several reasons why some atheists are enthusiastic about criticizing religious beliefs. Some atheists are convinced that religion is harmful. When it comes to certain theological beliefs (e.g. with Islamic extremists and Christian anti-gay, anti-atheist, anti-church-state separationism, anti-science beliefs), I agree with them. Other atheists are simply convinced that religion is one great big lie that hinders people from living intellectually fulfilling lives, and they feel that it’d be better if we put a stop to it. Finally, there are plenty of atheists who used to be believers themselves, and so their experiences with their religious beliefs have had a profound impact on their lives, which would naturally explain their continued interest in the issue.

#13. If you really don't believe God exists what does it matter to you, how He should choose to punish those who don't believe?

So this is a question about the Problem of Hell. The answer is simple – the argument that atheists put forward about Hell is purely hypothetical. If God exists, and if God sends people to Hell, then this is either incoherent or morally reprehensible. So there’s no genuine fear among atheists that there really is a being who is sending people to an eternal toaster oven, or place of pain, or a depressive place of separation from the divine (whatever you believe Hell is). Simply, atheists are arguing that there is an internal problem with the theological beliefs of many theists.

#14. If you really believe God doesn't exist, then there is no worry of punishment for you anyway, so why get upset just because someone else believes you're going to a place they believe exists?

I think everything I said when I answered question #12 applies here. I don’t get upset -- I could care less what other people believe about the after-life. I have better things to worry about. What I do get upset about are people who actively work toward dominionism, or toward putting pseudo-science into the classroom, or toward unfairly indoctrinating people through fear tactics, or actively working against equal rights for homosexuals. That makes me angry. These are injustices against tens of thousands of people in our country. It is an injustice against children’s education and their psychological development when you instill beliefs in them through the use of methods that encourage fear and negative self-image. I have plenty of good friends who have missed out on the richness of their younger lives because of the negative effects that indoctrination had on them. So, do you want to believe in God? Fine. I don’t care. This is supposed to be a free country and so I support your right to believe whatever you want to. But it shouldn’t be a great mystery to you why some people will get upset when extremist believers actively campaign to discriminate against people, take away from the quality of life, and damage children’s psychological development. That’s what I’m against. And I’d like to think that plenty of believers will agree with me on this.

#15. How about "life from no life?"

There’s a good show that NOVA did on this. In fact, one scientist said that it’s gotten “too easy” to produce life from non-living materials. There are laboratory scientists who do this for a living. If you’re asking the historical question about how life first actually got here, then as far as I understand, no scientist knows that for sure, even though we’ve made plenty of progress (e.g. the Urey-Miller experiment, and many subsequent experiments like it). But the NOVA program demonstrates that it is certainly not impossible in principle for life to arise from non-living material.

#16. "How can atheists speak definitively, authoritatively, or otherwise on the metaphysical (and spiritual)which is beyond their experience?"

I don’t think we can speak definitively about much of anything. But we can certainly be highly confident about a lot of things, and I think its possible to achieve certainty about a few basic beliefs. But I don’t think that the theist-atheist debate is something that goes on beyond our experience. I think that theism makes certain predictions about the way the world will be, and we can test that by simply taking a look around us. I think that a competitor explanation -- naturalism, is the superior between the two. The predictions made by a naturalistic metaphysic seem to fit our observations about the world better than what we would expect given a theistic metaphysic.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

David Papineau on "Naturalism"

Stanford Encyclopedia article. Link.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Classic Co&Cam

One of the best bands out there. During the summer, cruising across the east coast, we listened to this song and others for hours and hours.