Recent Responses

Is theology a subset of philosophy? Even if in theory it is, in practice is it treated as a separate discipline? I notice a contradiction in thought in an organized religion and wanted to ask about it, I'm not sure if this is an appropriate forum. Thanks!

I don't think theology is a Allen Stairs October 10, 2019 (changed October 10, 2019) Permalink I don't think theology is a subdiscipline of philosophy, but philosophy of religion is, so you should feel free to ask your question. Log in to post comments Read more

You can't create something out of nothing can you! And yet, here we exist. Is this not the most relevant question we can't answer?

@ Jonathan: If I may, I think Stephen Maitzen October 10, 2019 (changed October 17, 2019) Permalink @ Jonathan: If I may, I think Leibniz's analogy is faulty. The constraints on what counts as a good explanation of why there have been any books at all (or any books bearing a particular title) need not be constraints on what counts as a good explanation of wh... Read more

A full-time graduate student, from what I gather, takes three courses per semester. Looking at syllabi for graduate courses in philosophy shows that, typically, every week a student is required to read around 100 or more pages a week. As I'm sure you're aware, we're not talking uncomplicated reads here, either. I don't think this kind of typical reading-quota per week allows a student to develop a deep understanding of the texts they are reading. And I think it goes against the reasons for studying philosophy at the master's level, one of which I take to be learning the material to the point of being able to teach it (if only to oneself). Part-time study is always available, one might say; but that usually means no funding (which is a no-starter for many). So, what do you think: is the typical reading load for a full-time graduate student in philosophy reasonable given the purposes for studying philosophy at that level? I'd really like to see as many responses from the contributors here as possible, even from those who don't currently teach at the master's level. Thank you so much!

I haven't looked into this, Joe Rachiele October 5, 2019 (changed October 5, 2019) Permalink I haven't looked into this, but suppose you are right about the typical required reading for a full-time MA student in philosophy. I'm not sure that 300 pages per week is an unreasonable demand. If you read a page every three minutes on average, then it should t... Read more

There have been some excellent questions about whether moral claims can be objectively true or not. Isn't there an unspoken presupposition to that argument, however? "Moral claims can only exist in situations where there are beings who are subject to morality present in the first place." or perhaps you can word it better to capture what I am trying to say. In other words, if there were no sentient beings, then the concept of morality could not even exist, as only sentient beings are capable of moral reflection in the first place.

True: only sentient beings Allen Stairs September 19, 2019 (changed September 19, 2019) Permalink True: only sentient beings can think about moral questions, and so moral questions don't arise in a world with no sentient (or better, sapient) beings. Of course, in one sense of "arise," no questions arise unless there are creatures who can ponder the question... Read more

Aside from so-called "moral intuition," what evidence is there for the existence of moral facts?

A preliminary question -- Gordon Marino September 19, 2019 (changed September 19, 2019) Permalink A preliminary question -- what would you consider evidence of moral facts? Log in to post comments

Is disregarding normative claims (epistemic like "you ought to believe true things" or moral like "you ought to donate to Oxfam") with full knowledge and understanding of them irrational? Is rationality grounded in other way than that we just all seem to participate in "rationality project" from the get-go (question of "why be rational" seems to be self-defeating as we look for reasons to be rational..)?

For the first question, let's Joe Rachiele September 16, 2019 (changed September 16, 2019) Permalink For the first question, let's focus on the practical claim. Suppose you judge that, all things considered, you ought to donate to Oxfam today but you experience no motivation to do so. You never form the intention to donate or form a desire to do so. A v... Read more

How do we justify our knowledge of the external world? Knowledge of the external world seems to be fallible in any case if we put the threshold of success at the highest level, namely 100% certainty. But this still raises a question: if we want to avoid complete skepticism, how can we be certain that our knowledge is at least likely to be true? In order to create a probability about the validity of our knowledge of the external world we need to start from perception. The problem is that we can be certain of the existence of perception but not the source of it (the matrix/the real world), and that is essential for the knowledge of the external world. In order to calculate our probability we then need the number of possible events E and the one favourable event F we're looking for: E = 2 possible events are external source or non-external source (matrix, hallucination, dream etc.) F = 1 favourable event i.e. external source P(F) = F/E = 1/2 = 50% It seems to me that both possibilities are equally likely. Why should I believe one over the other? A lot of people answers this question by saying that the simulation hypothesis is too convoluted and not as simple as common sense realism. But Doesn't that depend on the context? For example: If the reality in which I'm simulated there's an infinite amount of simulations the hypothesis would not be that convoluted. If I have no access to the external reality how am I supposed to establish what is convoluted and what is not? My question is: What makes external world realism more plausible?

Setting external world Allen Stairs August 29, 2019 (changed August 29, 2019) Permalink Setting external world skepticism aside for a moment, suppose I'm about to roll a die. Now there are two possibilities: it will come up 1 or it won't. If I reason as you did, I will conclude that the probability is 1/2 that the die will come up 1. Something has gone wro... Read more

Is there any way to escape an endless loop of "why"? Like when I was a kid I constantly asked my parents how something works and then it went to why something works. After they responded then it went to another why that went deeper and so on and so on. Similarily we can endlessly ask 'why' on matters like oughts of with what hand should I hold fork or on which hand should I wear a watch etc. So is there a way to escape it? Something like fact about ourselves comes to mind (i.e. because I want to do so) but that seems trivial or problematic in some areas (morality).

With matters of custom, such Stephen Maitzen August 29, 2019 (changed August 29, 2019) Permalink With matters of etiquette, such as which hand to use for the fork, or matters of personal preference, such as which wrist to use for one's watch, I don't think "Why?" questions are intellectually substantial enough to be worth asking more than once or twice. But... Read more

I still have problems understanding why external world skepticism is a thing in philosophy. I've heard so many hypotheses and they all seem to revolve around the idea that consciousness is a "simulatable". Here's what I don't understand: The keywords are: Consciousness: the state of being aware of and responsive to one's surroundings. Simulation: imitation of something else. Simulation, by definition, is the imitation of something else. The "something else" in this case is consciousness. If it's the imitation of consciousness then it cannot be the real one. How on earth can consciousness not be real? It seems to me that by simulation they are trying to say that there is "illusory simulated consciousness" and "real non-simulated consciousness". How on earth can consciousness be illusory/simulated? A lot of people then say: external world skepticism is skepticism about perception not consciousness. It seems to me that perception and consciousness are more or less the same thing. Consciousness is the general state of being aware of and responsive to one's surroundings. Perception is the specific response to one's surroundings or, in other words, "consciousness of" something specific. I don't understand. Is it possible that skepticism is finally dead?

I think that you and those Stephen Maitzen August 29, 2019 (changed August 29, 2019) Permalink I think that you and those you see as your opponents may simply be talking past each other. You define consciousness so that being conscious logically guarantees being aware of your surroundings. In arguments about external-world skepticism, consciousness has trad... Read more

I am having trouble understanding how the idea of qualia and p-zombies is logically coherent. If philosophical zombies are conceivable, and behave exactly the same as human beings, then zombies would also claim that they possess conscious experience / qualia, even though they do not. Doesn't it then follow that our conviction that we have qualia cannot be DUE to us actually having qualia, since zombies would hold the same conviction? Thanks.

No, it doesn't follow. Stephen Maitzen August 27, 2019 (changed August 27, 2019) Permalink No, it doesn't follow. Compare: If an evil demon were thoroughly deceiving me right now about my surroundings, then my current perceptual experience would -- unbeknownst to me -- be unreliable. But the truth of that conditional doesn't imply that my current percep... Read more