Hey, I've come to the conclusion that every person has their own truth. At the same time, the fact that 2+2=4 is quite obviously a truth. But if someone was to say that 2+2=3, and they believed it to be true, it is their own truth. Does that mean, that whatever we might think is true, no matter our conviction, we can never be sure of it's validity. Or maybe that everything is true, which in turn would make nothing true. Or might it be something else entirely?

I've come to the conclusion that you may be confusing "has their own opinion" with "has their own truth." 2 plus two is 4, whether someone believes it's 5 or not. If they believe that it's 5, this is their (very confused) belief , but what in the world do we gain by saying that it's their truth ? If you talk that way, you blur the useful distinction between being right and being wrong. It gets worse. If I take you seriously, then I could respond by saying "well it may be your truth that everybody has their own truth, but it's my truth that they don't. And so if you want me to take you seriously, you've given me a perfect reason not to take you seriously. Of course people have different beliefs. We usually take that to be a matter of people disagreeing. But if you and I genuinely disagree, and aren't just play-acting or using words for fun, we can't both be right. And if either or both of us is wrong, then at least one of us doesn't have the truth of the matter; we have a mistaken ...

Hi, I'm a college freshman taking my first philosophy class. My professor takes points off my essay for grammatical mistakes I made. I disagree with this approach. Isn't the idea the most important, more so for philosophy?

Funny you should ask. It's grading season and I've spent a chunk of my day reading essays by freshmen. Some are pretty well-written; others not so much. I'm with your prof. If I sent a paper full of bad grammar to a philosophy journal, it would either be rejected or, if it was otherwise worth considering, would be sent back for revision. You can think of either of these as the professional equivalent of getting points knocked off. But aside from what happens in the profession, I don't see my role as narrowly as you think I should. Part of the point of my essay assignments is to improve their strictly philosophical skills. But I take it to be part of my job to help students learn to write better essays in general. I don't think that this falls only to the writing teachers in the English department; I don't have that sort of siloed view of a university education. I'd add: experience suggests that ungrammatical prose often goes with careless or even muddled thinking. And it makes it more likely that the...

Are there many philosophers who seriously try to argue that there are no objective moral truths? If so, how would they refute the proposition that "it is always wrong to torture people purely for pleasure." ? Thank you for your consideration!

According to a recent survey of philosophers, a majority —but not a large majority—would tend to agree that there are objective moral truths. But the minority who don't is not small. So yes: there are "many" philosophers who don't believe in objective moral truths. Now these philosophers would say it's not true that it's always wrong to torture people purely for pleasure. Of course, this doesn't mean that they think it's okay to torture. They think that moral claims aren't the sorts of things that can be true. But why? The easiest way to get a feel for this is by appeal to the old chestnut that "is" doesn't imply "ought." No statement of non-moral facts ever entails a moral claim. We might be revolted by what torture amounts to, but "torturing people for pleasure revolts me" doesn't add up to "torturing people for pleasure is wrong"; there's a logical gap between "X revolts me" and "X is wrong." This isn't enough by itself. After all, there's a gap between biological truths and...

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,...

Is there a specific label or name for the rhetorical tool of using a little bit of truth to try and disprove another claim. For example, if Person A says something like "philanthropy is less effective as a means to maximize well-being than if we just taxed everyone more" and in response Person B says "but philanthropy does some good". Even assuming Person B's response is truthful, it seems they are avoiding addressing the true question. I know this is similar to a red herring fallacy, but I was wondering if there is a more precise name (or set of work) looking at the use of a nugget of truth to try and distract from or disprove a larger issue. Thank you.

Philosophers are usually not the right people to ask for fallacy names. Most of us don't remember many of them, and aside from a handful (begging the question, for instance) seldom mention them by name. You mention the red herring fallacy here. That's probably good enough, but it's not any better than just noting that the response misses the point. If A says that taxing would be more effective than philanthropy and B says that philanthropy does some good, all A need say is "I agree: philanthropy does some good, but my point is that it's less effective than simply taxing people." A might be right or might be wrong, but what B says is irrelevant to the claim at issue, since A 's claim is entirely consistent with B 's reply. I notice this a lot on Quora. There's a whole sub-genre of questions in which people people describe a bit of reasoning gone wrong, and then ask for the name of the fallacy. Often the person has already done a good job of saying what's wrong. Sometimes...

Is landlording—understood as “fulfilling on one’s own property the housing needs of, and receiving rent from, another person/party”—a fundamentally unethical practice? I ask because it seems to me, at this point, that a landlord puts at risk the most inelastic needs of human beings, placing them behind more-or-less arbitrary paywalls. Sure, there is no shortage of “ethical landlording” articles/podcasts, and I am willing to do research (look for disconfirmation of the above hunch) myself. But asking philosophers never hurts! Thank you.

If your question was whether there are some unethical landlords, the answer would surely be yes. But you asked if renting living space is a "fundamentally unethical practice." Your implicit argument that it might be is that "at this point" (at which point?) a landlord puts at risk the most inelastic needs of human beings, placing them behind more or less arbitrary paywalls." Let's agree: people need shelter. They also need food. And clothing. And in very many cases, transportation. And medical care. And many other things. And let's agree, at least for present purposes, that a society that doesn't have a reasonable way of providing such things isn't doing what it should. We can even put it more strongly: insofar as we can talk about obligations that a society has, let's agree, at least for present purposes, that societies are obliged to devise reasonable ways for providing these things. The word "reasonable" is covering a lot of territory, but I don't think that will affect the point I'd like to...

Do philosophers generally reject that philosophical reasoning relies on axioms? The way I've always thought that philosophy worked is that philosophers have a certain set of tools (deduction, laws of thought, [basic sources of knowledge](https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/epistemology/#SourKnowJust)) which they use to come to reasoned answers to questions. Most importantly, these tools are taken as axiomatic. That is, they are seen as starting points from which all reasoning must proceed. To question these axioms wouldn't be possible. However, I've recently seen an attitude that has puzzled me. Many philosophers state that very rarely does reasoning in philosophy rely on axioms. Axioms are things to be avoided and go against the spirit of philosophy. What am I misunderstanding here? If philosophers don't take their tools of reasoning as axiomatic, how do they go about doing philosophy? More importantly, if philosophical reasoning is so pervasive that it questions its own tools, from what framework does...

I'm a bit puzzled about where you got the impression that philosophy works this way, Looking at the work of Spinoza, perhaps, might give this impression, but who else? Certainly not Plato. Certainly not Aristotle. Not Descartes, Locke, Hume, Kant, Russell, not a single philosopher active in the last 50 years that I can think of. The description you quote from your philosophy student acquaintance is pretty reasonable. I'm not quite so happy with the last part—that philosophers determine general principles and rules from their intuitions. The role of intuition in philosophy is much more complicated and also much more controversial than this allows for. There is no one method that philosophers use. Philosophers worry about consistency and inconsistency. They look for counterexamples and try to avoid them in their own work. They may begin with "intuitions," but they try to develop those intuitions into more precise, well-articulated theses, and they count it as a plus for their view if it covers a range...

I am not a mind-independent moral realist. When I have a child, I am concerned that teaching them that certain actions are "good" or "bad" will instill an erroneous concept of objective moral realism that might have harmful consequences to their happiness in later life (for example not taking actions that will make them happy because they think they are somehow "wrong"). On the other hand, I am also concerned that explaining why not to take certain actions solely because of the possible social consequences (e.g. "if you are caught stealing then you may go to prison") will not instill a strong enough framework in their mind to prevent them from committing crimes or otherwise taking actions that could harm them. It can be difficult, for example, to predict the possible risks associated with certain actions when you are a child. So it is easier to teach that the action is "wrong" rather than explain the possible consequences, their liklihood and their impact. What do you recommend? Should I teach my...

I recommend that you don't think about it this way. Is mind-independent moral realism true? Geez. I don't know. (And, by the way, neither do you.) But here's some stuff I feel quite comfortable saying. I want my kids to be empathetic. I want them to give a damn about how their actions affect other people. I want them to take seriously the idea that if they wouldn't be willing to put up with being treated in some way or other, then they'd better have a very good reason, and not just a selfish one, for treating other people that way. I want my kids to treat others decently. I want them to be honest. I want them to be fair. I want them not to be jerks. Do I want all that because I'm convinced that mind independent moral realism is true? Nope. I want all that because I can't imagine not caring about such things. They seem right to me, and the fact that something called "mind independent moral realism" might not be true seems to me an awfully thin reason for turning my back on my considered judgment that...

Any two sets have different conditions for membership, so if object O is in set S because it's blue or green, then being blue or green cannot be the reason why any other object is in any other set. If so, how can there exist a set of green objects?

Suppose S is the set of all things that are blue or green. Then my mug is in S because it's green and therefore satisfies "x is blue or x is green," and my pen is in the set S because it's blue and therefore satisfies "x is blue or x is green." Now it's true: satisfying "x is blue or x is green" picks out only one set: the set of all things that satisfy "x is blue or x is green." But the condition "x is green" is a different condition, and so is "x is blue." However: when you say "being blue or green cannot be the reason why any other object is in any other set," there's an ambiguity. That could be read as "being blue cannot be the reason why an object is in any other set and being green cannot be the reason why an object is in any other set." In that case, however, it's false. Being green, and hence satisfying "x is green" puts my mug in the set G of all green things, and in the set S of all things that are either green or blue—that satisfy "x is green or x is blue." These two sets are not the...

Does low self esteem really exist as mental chemical dysfunction or is it just that i'm smart enough to know how stupid i am, stay my real place and not engage in something beyond my reach no matter how others may react or judge ?

If I really believed that you really believed that these are the only two alternatives, then I'd probably believe that you're stupid. But I don't believe any such thing. I'd be willing to bet a tidy sum that if someone else asked you the very same question, you wouldn't have any trouble pointing out a whole bunch of alternatives that they're overlooking. Since I don't know anything about your circumstances, I wouldn't presume to guess which alternative best fits your circumstances. But I do think the idea that there's a "real place" for each of us is something to be suspicious of, and I'm also pretty skeptical that even self-aware people are always reliable about what they're capable of. Of course, if you've already grasped the second horn of your dilemma (false dilemma though it is), my reaction won't count. In spite of this, I'd suggest that one kind of reaction it's often wise to ignore is the one that tries to shame you into not trying things. The approval of people who react like that isn't...

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