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...

hi. if you be as a student (moral philosophy) in a country like Iran and you wont to wrote thesis (tendency: applied ethics), which issue you choice?

Greetings. I have been to Iran and practiced philosophy there at a conference and two of your universities. I am not clear, however, about the limits on free speech and protected (or prohibited) research projects, if any. If you are a student, I suggest you work up a proposed project in applied ethics --this might involve medical ethics, environmental ethics, military ethics, professional ethics or investigating some area of moral and social life involving the economy (looking into business ethics or into the adequacy of market systems --contrasting free markets with socialist societies, for example), religious practices, matters of gender, family structures, and so on. I would then suggest you contact a professional philosopher at the nearest university to ask her or him about resources and the direction of your work. The American Philosophical Association (of which I am a member) strongly supports uncensored, free inquiry in all parts of the world. Even though the APA would probably be...

can religious be consistent with philosophical ethics?

I am not entirely clear about the question, exactly. If "philosophical ethics"means ethics (either ethical theories or specific ethical positions) that are supported by philosophical theories or reasons, then many such theories and reasons may be consistent with different religious beliefs and practices. For example, Christian philosophers have adopted or worked with utilitarianism (some of the first utilitarians in modern philosophy were theists, pre-dating Jeremy Bentham), Kantians; they have advocated natural law, intuitionism, moral particularism, and so on. You might have in mind, however, ethical positions that are advocated by particular kinds of philosophers such as those who are deeply committed to secularism. In such a case, a Christian philosopher like John Hare (currently at Yale University) who defends a divine command theory of ethics (defended also by C. Stephen Evans, Baylor University) is not at all going to be compatible with the moral theory of non-theists (atheists or agnostics),...

Perhaps someone can help me in framing either my logic or my language here, please? Proposition A: It seems to me that a corporation has no tangible, physical existence: it only exists as an abstract entity because of common agreement. You can point to assets owned by a corporation, or people employed by a corporation, but you cannot point to anything in the world of things and say "that is a corporation." it is totally intangible. Proposition B: a tax ultimately is a claim on something tangible. Originally, men with spears came and took your grain or your goats. Later, men with guns and badges come and take your possessions. Conclusion: it is impossible for a corporation to "pay" a tax: the corporation merely serves as a tax collector, while other people (suppliers, customers, employees, shareholders) actually pay the tax (in the sense of having fewer tangible things in their possession than otherwise). The sales tax is an example: the customer pays part of the tax at the cash register,...

I suggest to you that corporations (as well as nations, colleges, etc) do exists, though they do so in the realm of law and markets in which they can be objects of praise and blame. They do not have "tangible physical existence" in the sense that they are like rocks and rivers, but then lots of things may be said to exist that lack such a status (languages, ideas, feelings). I do share the intuition that may fuel your skepticism, however, and that is that corporations derive their existence from individual human beings, our agreements and practices of recognition, restraint, and respect. One reason for thinking they exist as objects that there are truths about corporations that are not true of the individuals that make them up. My college (St. Olaf College), for example, was established in the 1870s and is in multiple places in the world at the same time (we have students studying around the globe) but no one of us was established in the 1870s or can be entirely in more than one place at once. ...

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