It is said that one should put others before oneself, but isn't this impossible? Consider two people, Mr A and Miss B. If A succeeds in putting B before himself, B can't put A before herself. Hasn't B been forced into being selfcentred by A?

There can be a paradox here: imagine Mr. A vows he will not go through a door unless Miss B goes first, and Miss B vows she will not go through the door unless Mr. B goes first. Sadly, they may be in a fix, unless the two of them fall prey to optical illusions or somehow wrongly come to believe that the other has slipped through the door first and the way is clear for them. But in your case of A and B altruism, I am not sure the problem is arresting: imagine that A gives primacy to B and so goes and prepares lunch for her, whereas B gives primacy to A and prepares lunch for him. In this case, perhaps they both enjoy lunch (especially if they both believe it would be showing respect to the other to eat together --Mr. A might enjoy his lunch out of consideration for Miss B, while Miss. B would enjoy her lunch for the sake of Mr. A). I wonder whether your case might raise a question about the alternatives you have set up. You seem to give us two choices: either put another person first or be self...

Are all moral questions philosophical? Some moral questions depend on factual questions (historical or scientific), but I mean the other ones.

Not an easy question to address. "Moral questions" might refer to questions about a particular act (is it morally permissible for you to buy a cup of coffee when that money might go to Oxfam and save a life) or a general practice or an institution. Moral questions might also include general questions about an overall moral or ethical theory. I suggest that in questioning the moral status of something, it is difficult to avoid some philosophy of values, even if this is not being explicitly invoked or applied. Even when employing historical and scientific methods in addressing the moral status of some state of affairs, some philosophy will be (or so I suggest) at work, even if this principally involves the philosophy of inquiry itself.

During a conversation with my friend about cosmological argument for God, friend told me that cosmological argument is not even true because causal principle is outdated and not needed in modern physics. After the conversation, I searched for that by internet and found out Russell first argued like that and many contemporary philosopher of physics agreed that causality is at least not needed in our fundamental physics. I think if this kinds of argument succeed, then causal principle is undermined and as a result cosmological argument cannot be hold. So my question is, how do proponents of causal principle and cosmological argument answer to that?

I could be wrong, but I believe that few philosophers today would claim that causation (per se) can be eliminated in an adequate description and explanation of the world. Indeed, it would be hard to understand our communicating right now (my intentionally responding to you, using computational mechanisms) without making use of cause-effect relations. There are abundant philosophical treatments of causation ranging from those that appeal to laws of nature, counterfactuals, Humean regularities.... I myself favor the idea that causation is best not understood as fundamentally involving laws of nature; I suggest that what we think of as laws of nature are abstractions that rest on substances (things / particles) that have primitive or basic causal powers and liabilities, but this (like so many things in philosophy) is controversial. There are still defenders of the cosmological argument for theism. You might look at what I think is the excellent entry on the cosmological argument in the free online...

If I'm asked "Do you have an opinion about opinions?" I cannot say "No" because then I would be expressing an opinion about opinions. Therefore isn't it impossible not to have an opinion about opinions?

Clever! This kind of query touches on a topic that some philosophers of mind engage having to do with the topic of what they call "higher order thoughts." Basically, it is one thing to have thoughts and then (supposedly) another matter to have thoughts about thoughts. This sort of thing comes into play when reflecting on nonhuman animals --some concede that some mammals have thoughts (perhaps even knowledge) but they do not have thoughts about thoughts (or knowledge of their knowledge). From this standpoint, it might be possible to have opinions but no opinions about opinions. Higher order thoughts also come into play in theories of action and, more specifically, freedom and responsibility. Theories of consciousness also involve reflection on higher order thoughts. Back to your topic of opinions about opinions: In the case you raise, when a person is asked if they have an opinion about their opinions (or an opinion about opinions in general), there may be a practical implication that the person's...

what is the ontological status of puppets and dummys? i'm think of of ventriloquist dummies and puppets like emu-what kind of existence do they have? what happens to them when they are put away in a box?

Great question. When functioning in a performance, I would think most of us would (rightly) see puppets and dummies as characters that are controlled by ventriloquists and puppeteers and thus not independent, autonomous agents. Their words and actions would be so entirely controlled by another agent that they themselves could only be the objects of praise or blame as part of a narrative or story (a matter of "make-believe" or imagination). I suppose there might be complicated circumstances in which someone controlling the puppets and dummies designates or assigns these characters some alter-ego or the embodiment of thoughts and feelings not shared by the controller, but this might be no more puzzling than what occurs when a novelist invents characters with goals the author does not share. When you ask about "what kind of existence do they have," I suggest that they are probably best seen as in the same category as tools. So, when a hammer or a puppet is put in a box and not being used, they remain...

"Everything in moderation" is a common view. But then moderation should be in moderation. If so, isn't moderation not fully moderate, and thus is partly immoderate?

Wonderful question. In Ancient Greco-Roman philosophy there was debate and disagreement about such a matter: some philosophers thought moderation in terms of appetites should be strict and without exception, whereas others thought the occasional immoderate indulgence was reasonable (for some, a person might on occasion over consume wine while still having living a life dedicated to the love of wisdom). One way to address the paradox you raise is to distinguish levels of moderation, thus restricting the "everything" in the injunction "Everything in moderation." So, if one alters the original claim to (for example) 'a person who loves wisdom should exercise moderation in satisfying their appetites and first-order desires (e.g. avoiding gluttony),' one avoids the idea that one should only be moderate in following this dictum. The kind of paradox you raise comes up in other areas. For example, if we consider a dictum that 'persons should be tolerant,' does this dictum require persons to be tolerant...

Is there anything wrong with the inheritance of wealth?

My own view is that there is nothing wrong, per se (in itself) with the inheritance of wealth. Assuming that a person has gained wealth through just means (or no injustice) it seems that it should be within that person's (moral / legal) rights to make another person (a child, for example) the benefactor of such wealth. This right seems to me to be part of the right of persons to give gifts to those they choose. Cases in which the giving and receiving of inherited wealth seem to involve special factors such as: the giver acquired the wealth unjustly; the receiver of the wealth did something unjust (such as murder his gift-giving aunt in order to benefit from her will); the state may have an interest in limiting the amount of inheritance a person or family may control in order to prevent a harmful oligarchy or in order to not allow a handful of families to have monopolizing, dynastic power. You might look at Robert Nozick's Anarchy, State, and Utopia on the transfer of property.

Are institutions only the matter of sociology? Don't philosophers have something to say about them?

Philosophers do, indeed, reflect on the nature of institutions on all sorts of levels. We ask questions about the very status of institutions themselves --what are institutions and are they just or unjust, grounded upon conventions or grounded in natural law? Some philosophers treat the idea of an institution very broadly to include language and any number of rule governed practices (in some contexts one may think of friendship as an institution insofar as it involves a broad array of expectations). In a broad sense, a huge number of the entries in the free online Stanford Encyclopedia of philosophy will give you an overview of philosophical work on institutions from examining different accounts of property ownership to the criminal justice system.

do you have to be religiously or spiritually suited to the person you love to gain their trust and respect? being an atheist, what are my moral obligations to this man who holds high regard to religion and spirituality?

Interesting. I suppose that if "spiritually" is understood very broadly to mean something like having reverence, care, respect, an appreciation for some things being sacred like promise-keeping, honesty or respecting the integrity of others, then perhaps spirituality of this general sort might be essential (by definition) for trusting and respectful relationships. On religion: some religious traditions (or traditions within the traditions, e.g. orthodox Judaism as opposed to liberal or reform Judaism) discourage practitioners / "believers" to marry outside "the faith" or the practice or the tradition, but "mixed marriages" (and thus relationships) seem more common. On atheism: "Atheism" may be variously defined; minimally it might mean either someone who makes the positive judgement that there is no God or someone who simply does not believe there is a God. The difference is subtle and may make no practical difference, but the former "atheist" goes on record (so to speak) in affirming there is no...

Can the existence of god be proven?

These days, there are very few substantial claims (God exists, there are objectively true ethical values, utilitarianism is superior to Kantian ethics, everything is physical, etc) that philosophers would claim to be able to prove (or disprove). We instead refer to there being good or bad reasons or arguments for various positions, sometimes ranking these reasons and arguments as persuasive / cogent / even compelling versus unpersuasive / weak/ confused, etc.... It would be very hard to come up with a percentage of philosophers living today (or throughout history) who have thought that there are strong reasons for recognizing the reality of God; such a task would also need to take seriously the different concepts of God that philosophers have explored and affirmed. I am a theist (believe God exists) and believe that there are good grounds for theism, while at the same time recognizing that there are good reasons for atheism, agnosticism, and embracing different concepts of the divine. For a good...

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