I’m reading Terry Pinkard’s “German Philosophy 1760-1860 The Legacy of Idealism”, and on page 113, he writes: “Signing a check, hitting a home run, making an assertion, shopping at a sale are all other examples of normative activities that cannot be captured in a purely physical or “naturalistic description of them.” I’m not getting why hitting a home rim cannot be described as purely physical phenomena. Can somebody explain it to me?

Here's a way that might help. Suppose there are two pieces of paper in front of you. One of them is a genuine $5 bill. The other is a perfect counterfeit. In fact, suppose that it was illicitly created by the very same equipment that created the real bill. The point is that the difference between the real $5 bill and the fake isn't a matter of the physical properties of the piece of paper. A similar point holds for the home run. There are certain things that have to happen physically for something to amount to a home run. But with a little imagination, we can tell a story on which what's "really" going on has nothing to do with baseball. It just looks for all the world like a real baseball game. But to be a home run, the physical events have to be part of an honest-to-Babe-Ruth baseball game. Without the right intentions, rule-following, etc., no set of physical events amounts to a baseball game. There are physical regularities in a baseball game, but some of the most important things have to do...

Do you think genetically stupid people should not have kids since the kids will also be like that and having a child would just be adding misery to it's life since it would never be able to be successful or achieve anything. S/he would spend all their life being inferior to other and it would just be a lifetime of pain.

When I was a young man, I knew someone who was, in the phrase that might have been used at that time, "mildly retarded." He was married. And he understood his condition. And he struck me as a happy man. He certainly wasn't leading a life of misery. In the neighborhood where I now live, there is a young man who is even more intellectually challenged. I doubt that he understands his condition. But he does not strike me as unhappy at all. To be sure, he lives a simple life. And no: he couldn't live on his own. And he also won't have "accomplishments" in the sense you have in mind. But near as I can tell, he's not miserable at all. He's happy. In his case, I don't think marriage is an issue. But the larger point is the important one: intellectual ability and happiness are quite different things. There are sad, miserable geniuses and thriving, happy people whose IQ scores are well below 100. So what I'm saying is that I don't accept the premise of your question.

What's wrong with eating animals? Animals eat animals, so it's natural.

The first point is that "Is it natural?" and "Is it wrong?" aren't the same question. We could spend a lot of time on what it means to call something "natural," but you seem to have something like this in mind: if there are species that do it routinely, then it's natural. If that made things acceptable, then the fact that in some species, the female kills the male after sex would mean that it would be okay for a woman to kill a man after having sex with him. Don't know about you, but I'd say that seems like a pretty good counterexample to the "It's natural, therefore it's okay" idea. As for why eating animals might be wrong, I dare say you've heard many of the reasons that some people find persuasive. Some have to do with the consequences for the animals. Others are of a quite different sort. For example: our meat-eating habits are a significant contributor to global warming. Raising animals for food accounts for just under 15% of greenhouse gases. See https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/04/30...

Is necrophilia morally objectionable? I was under the impression that it wouldn't be, insofar that bodies don't have legitimate interests (e.g., physical or psychological well-being) to be damaged, but a friend pointed out to me that people who are alive now still have wishes regarding what should be done once they are dead. For example, they leave money to their children in their wills, and are able to live contently knowing that this will be honored. If we lived in a society where people's wishes were routinely disregarded after death, then we would have no reason to think that our own wishes would be honored, and we would therefore be distressed by this. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Like my colleague, I agree that you've put your finger on a potential moral problem with necrophilia. However, I have a worry about the rest of his analysis. My colleague writes: "I think the more primordial objection to necrophilia is that most of us see the good of sexual intimacy as the loving union of two persons." I certainly don't disagree that this is a good of sexual intimacy, but aside from the question of whether it's the good, I have a different worry: even if the loving union of two people is the good of sexual intimacy, it wouldn't follow that other forms of sexual activity are morally suspect. The most obvious case is masturbation. I've never seen anything that struck me as a plausible argument that masturbation is wrong. A standard Catholic objection is that all sex acts should be "open to the possibility of procreation," as some Vatican documents put it. My own view is that this is bad as theology, and worse if one doesn't accept theological premises. Another objection is that it...

Dear sir or Madame, I have a question about patents in philosophy. I have had ideas about science and society for quite a while now (like everyone). And I have (I think) created a small philosophy. I was wondering, if I would come op with a complete new philosophy, how one could patent it. For example, Any Rand gets the credit of being the founder of Objectivism, not someone who stole her idea. In the industry and sciences, one can easily patent something, via institutions. But how does this work for a philosophy? Thank you very much and with kind regards,

Einstein gets credit for relativity, but (in spite of his having been a patent clerk) not a patent. Not all innovations are patentable, and in the sciences, philosophy, history... this is a very good thing. If something is patented, then others typically have to pay to use it. That’s not what we want for scientific or philosophical ideas. What you seem more concerned about is credit , and there the answer is usually straightforward. The person who publishes the idea first generally gets credit. What credit means is just that it will be acknowledged by others that the person getting the credit is the originator of the idea. But remember that few ideas are thoroughly original, that sometimes a larger idea can be “in the air,” so to speak, with more than one person coming up with a version, and that even if Jo Blow gets “credit,” that doesn’t mean her contribution will end up being the most important; how others develop the idea may be what ends up mattering most. If you think you have an original...

When a person asserts unequivocably and with strong conviction that it is simply wrong to kill animals for food, and you notice that they are wearing leather, how do you respond?

If you're asking whether there's a tension between what they say and the message implicit in what they wear, the answer, of course, is yes. If you're asking how I would actually respond, that's partly a question of social judgment. If it seemed appropriate in the circumstances, I would probably ask them about this very point: if eating animals is wrong, how can wearing their hides be right? Perhaps they'd have an answer that managed to thread the needle. If so, I'd be interested to hear it.

Hey! This is a question about induction and probability to help settle a debate! If more thing As are observed in Group X than Group Y, and we were to take a subset of Group X and Y, is it not the case that it is more likely, by which I mean it is more probable, than Subset X has more As than Subset Y, all other things being equal? It's POSSIBLE that subset X does not have more than subset Y , but based on what we know from the premise, is it not the case that we would say the probability of Group X having more thing As is higher? Thanks!

As it stands, your question contains some crucial ambiguities. You ask about a case where more As are observed in group X than in group Y, but it's really not clear what "observed" means here. Do you mean that quite literally, more things that are A have been, so to speak, counted in group X? And if so, were the observations random? That is: did each thing in X have an equal chance of being observed? And then there's the question of how large the subsets we take are. I assume you mean them to be equal, but you don't say and it matters a lot. If you do, mean equal size samples, are they random? That matters too. And consider this: suppose group X contains far more objects than Y. Of the 10,000 objects in X, 100 are A. Of the 20 objects in Y, 18 are A. Suppose we take a random sample of 10 from each set. Though I'm not going to work through the details, even though there are far more As in X than in Y, the random sample from Y is likely to contain more As than the same-size random sample from X. ...

If we assume that relativism isn't true, how can we explain the fact that people behave differently?

First, let's ask what relativism means. The usual understanding is that it says what's right and wrong is not universal, but relative to some non-universal reference point—the predominant opinions in one's culture, typically. Your question appears to assume that relativism is the only good explanation for differences in behavior, but it's not clear why we should believe that. After all, many differences in behavior are matters of preference. I prefer to eat chocolate ice cream; you like rum and raisin. Neither of us is wrong, and relativism is neither relevant nor useful in explaining the difference between us. I like swing dancing; you don't. I don't like playing basketball; you do. We'll behave differently on that account. But neither of us is "right" or "wrong," and once again, relativism doesn't provide any additional insight. Wh do our taste in ice cream differ? Why do we prefer different leisure activities? Who knows? The answer is probably a complicated mixture of a lot of things,...

I believe having an evil thought such as killing your neighbor for no reason is morally wrong, but not legally wrong unless you act on it. Why aren't all immoral things also illegal?

Let's stick with criminal law here. One obvious reason why "immoral" doesn't entail "illegal" is that what's legal, what's not, and what the punishments are needs to be clear. In a functioning legal system, it's generally possible to determine in advance whether something is a crime, and in cases where it's not clear, there's a system for settling the matter, with various safeguards and forms of appeal built in. But there are plenty of moral loose ends — matters on which people disagree, sometimes vehemently, about whether something is immoral. We might try restricting things by saying that actions which are clearly immoral should be illegal. Unfortunately, however, that doesn't move the ball as far as it would need to go. When people disagree vehemently about moral matters, one side typically thinks something is clearly immoral and the other side that it clearly isn't. Few of us would want to live in a state where we might be subject to imprisonment because some judge judges that something we...

Can autistic people epistemically love or know of love? Let's say we are to accept this portion of SEP: To distinguish loving from liking via the intuition that the “depth” of love is to be explained in terms of a notion of identification: to love someone is somehow to identify yourself with him, whereas no such notion of identification is involved in liking. As Nussbaum puts it, “The choice between one potential love and another can feel, and be, like a choice of a way of life, a decision to dedicate oneself to these values rather than these” (1990, p. 328); liking clearly does not have this sort of “depth.” But empathy is hard for an autist. It is difficult for them to put themselves in someone’s shoes and imagining their experience(s). Autists cannot feel the perspective of hurt or sad when someone else is in pain. So, how can they love if they can’t identify?

There are, indeed, philosophical issues that go with your question. But I think it's important to address the factual background. The premise of your question is that if someone has autism, she can't, as we say, feel other people's pain, or joy, or... And both from knowing people on the autism spectrum and having read around on the topic, I would say that you're mistaken about that. This link https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/women-autism-spectrum-disorder/202006/can-i-have-empathy-if-i-am-autistic isn't to a scholarly piece, but my sense is that it gets things broadly right. The author is a therapist, and also is on the autism spectrum. Her point is that we need to distinguish between feeling other people's emotions and processing/making sense of cognitively of the incoming information that triggers the feelings. The author puts it in terms of a "time lag": for a person with autism, interpreting cues and making sense of other people's behavior may take longer. But that doesn't mean that people...

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