Does love exist, or is it really love, without some amount of selfishness? Put it another way, if you want the best for someone and care about someone, but get no pleasure from simply knowing them, is it 'love', yet something like pity or hypocrisy? Considering that that is how it is, does it anyway apply to all sorts of loving; is mother's love, for example, an exception? Or should we say that though a mother always thinks of her children first, it is also selfish, because by being a mother she is able to express that side of herself?

"Love means never having to say you're sorry." "Love is blind." "Love is patient." "God is love." There are so many definitions of love. Here It seems you've defined love at least as (a) wanting the best for someone and (b) caring for someone. After that you raise the question of whether love requires that one must also ( c) get pleasure simply from knowing the person for whom one cares and for whom one wants the best. In exploring this question you seem to present the following possible argument for thinking that love isn't possible at all, that even calling a + b love is wrong. Here's the argument as I understand it: On the one hand, it seems that getting pleasure from someone else can't be love because it's self-serving. On the other hand, it seems that if one doesn't get pleasure from the person loved it's not really love either, but better described as something like pity. Since one must either get pleasure or not get pleasure from the person one cares for and wants the best for, love must be...

Are there any good, contemporary arguments against materialism?

It depends, of course, upon what you regard as "materialism"--not to mention what you regard as a "good argument." For myself, I think that you might consider that things like relations, sets, patterns, numbers, the self, space and time are not material. You'll also find that much of the controversy about materialism focuses on issues in the philosophy of mind. I'm not sure one can count this as an argument against materialism, but so far as I can tell, reductive materialism hasn't (yet?) succeeded in underming entirely the basis of Descartes's argument that mind is not matter. Here the relevant issue is whether or not mind/mental entities/thoughts/feelings/conciousness possess properties that are adequately explained or defined in terms of matter. If mind/css/etc. possesses properties that have not (yet) been explained or defined in terms of matter, then mind might not be matter. If mind/css/etc. possesses properties that are in fact inconsistent with the properties of matter (for example,...

What arguments are there to support a statement 'the goal of life is to be able to express yourself as entirely and truthfully as possible'?

I'm not familiar with arguments concerned with such a goal, per se. But many philosophers have argued for the importance of something you might regard as related to truthful and complete expression--namely "authenticity." Authenticity might be defined as taking responsibility for what one is and perhaps also affirming it, perhaps affirming it publicly. The use of ‘authenticity’ as a critical term is associated primarily with existentialist philosophers like Jean-Paul Sartre and Simon de Beauvoir. Sartre’s and Beauvoir’s conception however was drawn from the work of phenomenologist Martin Heidegger (who is also, unfortunately, sometimes categorized as an existentialist), especially Sein und Zeit [Being and Time] (1927). Arguments in favor of being authentic seem to reliy on the premise that life is somehow more meaningful when lived authentically. Some philosophers have also made appeal to a kind of aesthetic view of life, such that realizing a beautiful self or treating one's life as a...

Is it possible for science to come to a conclusion regarding the origin of the universe?

It's possible for empirical science to come to conclusions regarding "what" the origin of the universe was like and "when" it occurred. For example, it's possible to determine the age of the universe, it's approximate initial mass, whether or not there was a "big bang," the rate of initial inflation, what the initial consituents of the universe were like, howe they behaved etc. Because, however, empirical science is strictly about the causal order of the universe itself, it's not possible for it to come to conclusions about a source or cause beyond or outside of the universe. Metaphysics sometimes takes a stab at addressing those sorts of issues regarding origins.

Bracketing the various legal issues surrounding restricting certain forms of entertainment and entertainment content to 'children', what are the moral issues? How do we, for example, determine what is 'appropriate' for someone of a certain age to view/hear/experience? What is it about - again for example - swearing that makes it so unattractive and thus renders it undesirable for children's entertainment?

These are very good questions. For myself, I often think people overreact when children are exposed to human sexuality in entertainment, especially when they have so few compunctions about violent entertainment. Much of the question, however, depends upon psychological issues--when can children grasp the emotional, social, and personal consequences of sexua and violentl conduct. Practicallly speaking, I think the principle concern of parents is that children will imitate what they see or seek it out before they 're ready or when it's socially undesireable. The ideas that children have little appreciation of the consequences of various forms of conduct and that they imitate what they see are well grounded, I think. So, I think in order to determine what is appropriate for young people to see we ought to consider four factors: (1) how well children appreciate the meaning and consequences of what they see; (2) how likely they are to imitate it; (3) how much control they have over their impulses and...

I do not have much experience with philosophy, but am interested in debating. Can you recommend any good and thorough introductory texts to both formal debating and philosophical argumentation? Thank you.

I'd recommend these: 1. The Philosopher's Toolkit (Fosl & Baggini) 2. How to Think about Weird Things (Schick & Vaughan) 3. A Rulebook for Arguments (Anthony Westin) 4. The Art of Deception (Nick Capaldi) 5. Nonsense (Gula) 6. Crimes against Reason (Whyte)

All major religions have miracles in their sacred texts, presumably to prove their divine origins. Don't these alleged miracles cancel each other out, and can this be extrapolated to religions as a whole?

I remember once posing the following question to a class I was teaching: if we take the religions of the world, isn't it true that at most one can be right and that perhaps none are right? Every single student in the class answered in the negative, holding that all can be right. When I pointed out that such an option would violate the principle of non-contradiction in the sense that it would mean that both X is true and X is not true (where X is a religious doctrine, for example that Jesus is God). To my amazement, every student was comfortable with tossing out the principle of non-contradiction. At the time I figured that the event showed that people are more interested in moral and political practices of tolerance and even simple manners than with logic. But I later thought to myself that my students might be onto something about the curious way "truth" plays out in religious discourses. There may be a sense in which it's wrong to use ideas of truth and falsehood as they appear in the sciences,...

Can someone please explain to me the difference between induction and deduction? I think I get it, but merely reading it in books is not enough!!! Thanks!

In deduction, the move from premises to conclusions is such that if the premises are true, then the conclusion must also be true. For example, take the following argument: 1. Elvis Presley lives in a secret location in Idaho. 2. All people who live in secret locations in Idaho are miserable. 3. Therefore Elvis Presley is miserable. If the two premises are true, then it must be true that Elvis is miserable. Note, however, that if Elvis doesn’t exist any longer, then the conclusion need not be true either. But IF 1 and 2 are true, then so is 3. Unlike deductive inferences, induction involves an inference where the conclusion follows from the premises not with certainty but only with probability. Often, induction involves reasoning from a limited number of observations to wider, probable generalisations. Reasoning this way is commonly called "inductive generalization." It’s a kind of inference that usually involves reasoning from past regularities to future regularities. One...

Sometimes people seem to think pacifism is passive-ism, and that to interject or intervene in some way in a potentially violent scenario, is of itself violent, or likely to bring violence on oneself. I call myself a trainee pacifist (and have done for nearly 30 years) because I don't have the answers to what pacifists should do in these situations. Any ideas? thanks

Well, in some ways it's a matter of definition. One might plausibly, I think, distinguish between pacifism and non-violence as a positive form of political struggle (though I think in practice most pacifists haven't made this distinction and the line is often blurry). Pacificism by this account would be negatively defined as the refusal to engage in violent acts, turning the other cheek as it were, without any attempt to provoke violence. Non-violence struggle often includes pacifism but would also involve the positive objective of trying to achieve some political end, perhaps by eliciting a violent response. Those engaged in non-violent struggle, however, aren't always pacifists. They simply think that non-violent techniques are in the relevant contexts the most effective techniques. Some involved in the Palestinian struggle, for example the ISM, use non-violent tactics but aren't pacifists where being a pacifist is defined as holding to the principle that one should never be violent. ...

I have been going through Marx's "Communist Manifesto" and "Capital" and they seem to be contradicting all base communist beliefs within each government seen in today's society. Is there any basis to this, and if so, why do we speak of Marx as being the "Father of Communism"?

This is a provocative question. I wish you had been more specific in what you consider the "base communist beliefs" to be and how they manifest themselves in "each government." Might there be some consistency with regard to things like (1) the social or collective (as opposed to private) control of the means of production and distrubution as well as (2) production and distribution directed by need and social choice rather than profit and the chaos of markets? On the other hand, I think you're right that much of what goes and has gone by the name of communism and socialism deviate quite a bit from Marx and Engels's theories. But, of course, modern market capitalism differs quite a bit from the sort of thing described by Adam Smith.

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