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Hi. I'm having some trouble with a presentation that I'm gonna have in a couple of weeks in my philosophy class. The teacher mentioned that Locke, Rousseau and Voltaire had thoughts that sparked the French Revolution. Are there any other philosophers which thoughts and ideas also had an impact even if they were not as big as a revolution? (Other philosophers like Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Luther and Aquinas). I'm hoping someone could give me any tips and such. Anything helps! Thanks!

In a way, the answer to your Peter S. Fosl March 24, 2018 (changed March 24, 2018) Permalink In a way, the answer to your question is that much of our civilization manifests the impact of philosophers. From our forms of government (Locke, Hegel, Hobbes, Rawls) and economics (Marx and Smith on socialism, free markets), to scientific inquiry (Plato, Aristotle,... Read more

Does the following successfully establish a presumption of strong global atheism? "Define strong global atheism as the view that there is no god. There is a presumption of strong global atheism because theists propose the addition of a supernatural entity (a god) to what is already known to exist (the natural world). That is, theists make an extraordinary claim, and extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. In the absence of such evidence, strong global atheism is warranted."

I'd say no. (By the way, I'm Allen Stairs March 22, 2018 (changed March 27, 2018) Permalink I'd say no. (By the way, I'm not sure what "strong global" adds to "atheism," but let that pass.) The trouble is that the argument begs the question against various forms of theism. To state the most obvious problem, there are plenty of theists who think tha... Read more

What do you think is a satisfactory response to external world skepticism? I'm having a hard time finding one I can accept.

The external-world skeptic Stephen Maitzen March 22, 2018 (changed September 29, 2018) Permalink The external-world skeptic purports to show that I can't know any external-world proposition P. How about this response? 1. Conceptual analysis reveals that knowledge is nothing more than reliably produced true belief, where reliability falls far short of logical... Read more

Most questions I see asked about the death penalty seem to center on whether it is wrong because of the harm it does to the person who is executed. What about the harm done to others by keeping a dangerous sociopath alive? Let's posit that we have a person who is so depraved that a prison sentence is no deterrence; and this person will gleefully cause pain, suffering, even death to prison guards and other inmates whenever he has a chance. Is it reasonable for all these other people to have to be exposed to such danger? Granted this scenario is an extreme case, that prison guards (let alone other prisoners) never anticipated such a danger to themselves when they first signed up for the job.

When people argue for capital Allen Stairs March 15, 2018 (changed March 15, 2018) Permalink When people argue for capital punishment, one of the considerations they sometimes raise is deterrence. We can ask about general deterrence: does the death penalty tend to lower the murder rate? That's not your question. But we can also ask about specific deterrence:... Read more

Is one immoral just by virtue of having immoral thoughts? So for example if Joe really wants to steal from his neighbor, or in his heart he approves of the act of steaing for no reason, but didn't put that into action because he forgot or didn't have the chance. Is joe still "sinning"? He won't be punished for just having such thoughts but I don't see why in this case he is morally any better than an actual thief.

There's a strong case for Allen Stairs March 11, 2018 (changed March 11, 2018) Permalink There's a strong case for saying that Joe really isn't any morally better than an actual thief. It's just fluke luck that separates Joe from Moe, who actually stole the neighbor's wallet a little later that day. Among others, you certainly have Kant on your side; Jo... Read more

It is believed that space is infinite, therefore containing an infinite number of universes. Since there is an infinite number of universes, then there are an infinite amount of Earth's exactly like ours, an infinite number of Earth's with subtle changes, etc. However, if this is true, then there is also an infinite amount of universes in which this is not true, creating a sort of paradox. How would you solve this?

It doesn't seem difficult to Stephen Maitzen March 8, 2018 (changed March 8, 2018) Permalink It doesn't seem difficult to solve, if we're willing to accept more than one universe. Analogy: There are infinitely many numbers that are even, infinitely many numbers that are odd, and infinitely many numbers that are neither even nor odd (because they aren't... Read more

In the Stanford Encyclopedia the predicate "is on Mt. Everest" is given as an example of the sorites paradox applied to a physical object--where does Everest end and another geological formation begin? It seems to me that people who climb Mt. Everest (including Sherpas who live in the area) know that the base camp is where Everest begins. The millimeter objection in the article seems arbitrary. Why not an operational definition of "being on Everest is at or higher than the base camp used to reach the summit"? I have no problem accepting that as fact. Likewise, if I describe something as a "heap", and the person I'm communicating with recognizes it as such, what difference does it make how many units are in it?

The problem simply recurs Stephen Maitzen March 8, 2018 (changed March 9, 2018) Permalink The problem simply recurs with the phrase "at the base camp" in your definition: Which millimeters of terrain belong to the base camp, and which do not? At the limit, nobody knows. But unless there is a sharp cutoff between those millimeters that belong to the base camp... Read more

Is it consistent to oppose the death penalty on moral grounds, and also believe that life in prison is actually worse anyway?

I’m not sure I fully grasp Michael Cholbi February 24, 2018 (changed February 24, 2018) Permalink I’m not sure I fully grasp the motivation behind your question, but here’s a guess as to how you may be reasoning: A punishment can be ethically indefensible if it is too severe, either in its own right (50 years of continuous physical torture, say) or in propor... Read more

Is suicide immoral?

This is a question with a Michael Cholbi February 17, 2018 (changed February 17, 2018) Permalink This is a question with a long and disputed history. My own article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy outlines some of the main moral arguments surrounding the permissibility of suicide: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/suicide/ There's a long of his... Read more

Now it’s true the Eagles won the super bowl. Is the following statement true.?The team had always a winning chance of 100 percent regardless of their preparation , and there was absolutely no power in the world that could have changed the outcome .

Let's focus on one bit of Allen Stairs February 15, 2018 (changed February 15, 2018) Permalink Let's focus on one bit of your question. You ask if this is true:           The team had always a winning chance of 100 percent regardless of their preparation. Now compare that to something more mundane. As I write this, it's 3: 45 here in College Park. The... Read more

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