If philosophers were paid to answer questions on sites like this one, I think we'd agree that there would be more responses. But do you think the quality of responses would decrease? Is something that one is willing to do for free intrinsically more virtuous than if it is done with a promised reward?

Fascinating question! Perhaps you are right that if we were paid for our responses, there would probably be more responses, but this might not mean that the responses would be better in quality. I have not seen a response yet keeping in mind I have not read all the responses that seemed to me to be done in a cursory manner, or in a way that would be less in quality if the question - response format was conducted professionally. I suggest that there may be no greater value as a rule for the superiority of value when persons act voluntarily or for free or for a promised reward money. Someone might volunteer to help the poor and do so because they have inherited great wealth, whereas another person who does not have such wealth and wants to help the poor may need to be paid if she is going to afford to do the work. Both persons might be equally compassionate and courageous Still, there are cases when it seems that a voluntary act may have greater merit: if someone refuses to be nice unless...

Is any society that uses money in some degree a capitalist society, even the ex-Soviet Union? I hear arguments everyday from others and the media that a free society must necessarily be a capitalist one but I think that is just an illusion because the government, business, and other institutions with power set out all the laws and norms for this unofficial ideology of capitalism to exist, not individuals. Most people in capitalist societies have no other choice but to spend their entire lives accumulating capital instead of doing more important things like being self-sufficient and reading philosophy. I live in a capitalist country that I don't want to be part of, so what should I do? I don't have enough time or power to change or overthrow my country's capitalist system and I don't want to leave to move to another country. Is the only solution to separate myself from society completely just like Thoreau did at Walden Pond and live off the land?

Your questions and observations are fascinating. On the first matter about money and capitalism, the answer seems to be that the bare use of money in a society would not (by itself) make it capitalist, but when you add the qualifier "in some degree" I think one must admit that the boundary between capitalist or free-market economies and those that are not can be vague. So, perhaps a more subtle response should be that insofar as citizens have money (whether this is earned or conferred on the basis of need or some other condition) that they can use to acquire different goods at their discretion (having alternatives they can select) without state coercion then that society has ("in some degree") a free market (or, if you like, it is a society in which capital can or does exchange owners in non-coercive or free trade). But, as long as we are not being too committed to such nuances, a non-captialist society (such as a socialist society) might still be thought of as non-capitalist even if it did allow for...

Hi my name is Victoria! I was searching for some information about "what is the proper object of philosophy?" and couldn't find anything. Hope that I can get help on answering this question on the website. Thank you

"Philosophy" is derived from the Greek for "love" and "wisdom" and it is often rendered as "the love of wisdom." So one reply to your question is that the proper object of philosophical inquiry is whatever is a fitting object of study in the practice of loving wisdom. So, historically, those recognized as "philosophers" have investigated the nature of reality (Ancient Greek philosophy included theories that anticipated the atomic theory of matter and evolution...), human nature, values (including ethics, accounts of beauty and ugliness good and evil), our capacities to know ourselves and the world, reflection on logic, perception, memory, the sacred (is there a God or divine or sacred reality such as the Tao), questions of social values, matters of governance (political philosophy), and so on. Arguably, the quest to live wisely (or in light of loving wisdom) involves seeking insights into a very broad array of topics that are difficult to limit. Sometimes historical events can shape the way...

Dear sir/madam I would really appreciate it if you could help me please with finding the name of some books about early concept of the relation of art and morality. what I mean is after Plato and Aristotle to the time of Kant. Or if it is possible, please give me some names of philosophers during that time and then I'll try to find their books. I want to work on the early relation of them and later show how and why they became some how separate in later years. I guess Kant has the most effect on it but I still need more resources.

I wish you all the best in your research and thinking about art and ethics. Here are some contemporary thinkers you would find engaging: Noel Carroll --his "Moderate Moralism" (originally published in the British Journal of Aesthetics in 1996 is not the "latest" but Carroll is a clear, engaging writer and he references some of the contributors to the issues at hand. Jerrold Levinson has an excellent anthology on aesthetics and ethics, Berys Gaut is another philosopher of interest, and Martha Nussbaum has probably been the most well published contributor seeking to tie moral education together with literature. In terms of early modern work, the "sentimentalists" (those who sought to understand both beauty and goodness) such as Hutchison would be good to investigate. I have a short book "Aesthetics: A Beginner's Guide" that addresses the relationship of ethics, beauty and excellence or the value of art. One reason for thinking that ethics trumps our concept of the autonomy of art (that is,...

I want ask about our trust to others, how we can thoroughly trust to others? How we know that we trust to right people? Why we must trust to others and what impact if we hard to give a trust to others?

The topic of trust is very, very important on all sorts of levels, from everyday exchanges, to contributing to this website, to ordering food at a restaurant, signing a loan to buy a car....In fact, it may be that TRUST of some kind, even if it is the minimal sense of having to trust your own thinking, may play an important role in virtually all our waking hours. I will put to one side whether there is trust in dreams! First consider a few observations about what is trust... At least in English, the word trust may be used widely; I might trust my computer to work, trust that it will not rain when I have to work with the homeless this afternoon as part of a charity project, and so on, but I suggest that its principle use is in terms of persons. In this sense, when you trust someone or something someone has made, you are doing something more than RELYING on the person to be predictable or EXPECTING a persons work to function as it has in the past. Trusting my students or them...

Someone deliberately advances a fallacious argument in an attempt to advance a cause she considers just. For example, she may treat contraries as if they are contradictories and thus commit a fallacy of false alternatives. Are there any living philosophers who defend the use of "noble fallacies" or "noble fallacious arguments" (and is there a better term for this kind of thing)? And are there any contemporary philosophers who criticize or condemn the practice, including when it is practiced by people who are on "their side" regarding social and political issues?

Fascinating inquiry! I do not recall articles or books explicitly on when it is good to commit fallacies, but you might find of interest the literature on the ethics of lying. There is a great deal of philosophical work on when, if ever, it is permissible to lie, and this probably would include work on when it is permissible to deliberately engage in fallacious resigning. One primary candidate for justified deception involves paternalism in extreme cases, e.g. in a medical crisis when a parent has only five minutes to live and she asks you whether her children survived an accident, and you know that her five children were killed, is it permissible to lie by claiming, for example, you are not sure? Or, to make the case more in line with your question, would it be permissible for you to not disclose the truth about her children if it could only be done by you equivocating or begging the question or committing the fallacy of the undistributed middle? For terrific work on the ethics of lying with...

Woods cut from trees have certain physical properties that a reductionist might claim are expressions of atomic or sub-atomic phenomena (mostly empty space, though we experience wood as hard). Since the tree is alive can reductionism account for the role of organic life in organizing or directing (e.g., cell division) those physical properties? I think that a physicist cannot fully explain the macroscopic properties of wood (e.g., hard) by material reduction without recourse to life sciences that are beyond his/her realm of study. What I am proposing is that reductionism fails via category error when applied to life or consciousness.

I think you raise a great point. This is an area that is much debated, so my response should not be considered the official philosophical position. I think the direction of your thinking is sound. If we are to limit ourselves to the world as described and explained in an ideal physics, there is quite a lot of reality that seems to go missing. Actually, the very practice of physics seems to involve a great deal of phenomena (scientists making observations, constructing theories, exercising reason, and so on) that may not fit in very well with the picture of nature produced by physics (or a philosophy that gives primacy or exclusive authority to physics). Anyway, back to your point, I think you are right that to address living creatures and plants requires the life sciences (minimally). And we will need more to describe and explain events such as you and I writing and reading, and so on (psychological descriptions and explanations...). Of special interest to some, perhaps many philosophers is...
Art

A friend of mine thinks that we can define art as 'a statement of creativity'. I'm not sure I agree with him but am struggling with working out what a 'statement' is. Has any philosopher written about this question? Is it possible to define a statement?

You and your friend are on to a great topic that has a long and important history. The term art is derived from the Latin term for a principled way of making thing or in Greek from the term techne ... from this standpoint in the ancient world the term art would be shorthand for a work of art ore that which is produced through principled activity ... In the ancient world, art was understood to involve imitation a painting of a horse should in some way offer us an image that imitates what it would be like to see a horse. As time moved on, we started to think of works of art as not imitations but as expressions of feelings or ideas. Your friend is on to something important: some works of art are intended to be and actually are making statements and to do so with creativity. One of the two most famous, well known paintings in the world are Michaelangelos ceiling painting of the creation. One may see this as both a work of creativity and expressing a doctrine ...

Hello there. Some contemporary philosophers say that Aquinas' arguments for the existence of God are good arguments (eg John Haldane), whilst others think they are no good. Lots and lots of philosophers and philosophy books seem to not understand the arguments properly (I can remember being taught the arguments in the philosophy department of one of the most prominent universities in my country where, looking back, with hindsight I am pretty sure the teacher did not understand the arguments well at all). So who to believe?? Any suggestions would be interesting! Thank you in advance.

I go on to recommend some other texts below and address the topic of philosophical disagreements and consensus, but first a comment on Stephen Maitzen's observation about not being under any obligation to believe either side in a dispute over theistic arguments. I am not disagreeing with Stephen on this, but I do wonder about the general point of when one might be obligated to come to terms (oneself) in believing one side or another in a philosophical debate.... Here is a suggestion: Let's say you have been appointed the task of establishing a university in a developing nation in which there are different religious communities (Christian and Islamic or Hindu and Buddhist, for example). You have enough funds to establish sound programs in engineering, the sciences, languages...and now you are considering how much to devote to a philosophy department and, perhaps more specifically, you must decide whether that department or a religion department should include scholars who are well trained and are...

If intelligent people incur a moral obligation to society, can the same argument be made for other forms of (for lack of a better word) power? For instance, being beautiful gives you social influence to wield: on this line of thought, would beautiful people have an obligation too?

Interesting! I suggest that one needs more of a foundation or framework to infer from someone having intelligence or some other talent, ability or good (such as beauty) to the conclusion that one has certain obligations to one's society. There are foundations or frameworks to consider: in a case where a person comes to have some good like intelligence through the sacrificial contributions of others (imagine one's family and community pool together resources to pay for your medical education and you have the medical skills and intelligence due to others), a person may have a debt of gratitude (of some kind) to benefit those who helped one. Or an intelligent person may have an obligation to contribute to her or his community if she has volunteered or promised to do so or perhaps everyone in a community has agreed to donate their time and talent to the good of group as a whole. In the last case, perhaps someone who is intelligent or talented at building roads might have an obligation to offer to build...

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