Recent Responses

Do you believe that freedom is just being able to do what one wants without constraint? If so, why and how?

Peter Lipton October 7, 2005 (changed October 7, 2005) Permalink Sean Greenberg rightly says that the absence of physical constraint does not guarantee freedom. Moreover, as Harry Frankfurt has plausibly claimed, absence of physical constraint isn't even necessary for free will, though it is necessary for freedom. If I start out with free will, you don't... Read more

Could there ever be any logical basis for the thought: "I am untrustworthy"?

Nicholas D. Smith October 6, 2005 (changed October 6, 2005) Permalink I assume your worry is not about whether you are untrustworthy in some areas, or in some sorts of enterprises. As Peter Lipton says, if you are dishonest as a general rule, then plainly you can know that about yourself. And all of us have excellent reason to think that we are not good a... Read more

I am a physician taking care of a woman with bad asthma who requires admission to the hospital. She happens to be six months pregnant, which is clinically relevant because low oxygen levels in the blood will affect the fetus. I inform her that if she refuses treatment, her unborn child will suffer oxygen deprivation, and will likely be mentally retarded. She says that "God will take care of us, I'm going home."

The situation that you Jyl Gentzler October 6, 2005 (changed April 5, 2016) Permalink The situation that you describes raises all sorts of interestingphilosophical questions,y, I’m not surewhich to address. I'll assume for the sake of this discussion that you’re not wondering whether yourpatient could possibly be right about God’s intentions. So, let’sassum... Read more

Why does the Universe need to have a beginning (or an end)? I am trying to understand why so many scientists believe in the Big Bang theory and why more people don't believe that the Universe has just always existed.

Alexander George October 6, 2005 (changed October 6, 2005) Permalink I think most scientists would reject an assumption in your question — that they believe the Universe needs to be one way or the other. Theories in science do not say how matters must be, they describe how they are.As to why scientists think the Universe does have a beginning, well,presuma... Read more

In an expanding universe, are we getting closer together or farther apart?

Alan Soble October 9, 2005 (changed October 9, 2005) Permalink Nor we do we need a weatherperson to tell which way the wind blows. Log in to post comments

I recently heard about mathematical paradoxes and I have a perhaps strange question: It seems to me that the goal is to figure out what the fundamental problem is, i.e. what gives rise to the paradox, so we can perhaps rewrite the axioms so that the problems disappear. But why not just say: "Well, paradoxes arise when you talk about sets that contain every set, so let's avoid talk about sets that contain empty sets." (Kind of like saying that bad things happen when you divide something with zero, so don't do it!)

Richard Heck October 6, 2005 (changed October 6, 2005) Permalink Let me add one other thing. I thought the first thing you said was aboslutely right: "the goal is to figure out what the fundamental problem is, i.e. what gives rise to the paradox". The reason is that it is supposed that our being led to paradox in the case of, say, sets or truth or vagueness... Read more

Is it true today what I will do tomorrow?

Alexander George October 5, 2005 (changed October 5, 2005) Permalink If on Tuesday you play chess, then if you had said on Monday "Tomorrow I will play chess" you would have said something true. It's easy to think that the truth of that future tense statement as uttered on Monday constrains what you can do on Tuesday; that is, it's easy to think that the c... Read more

Why do bad things happen to people who are good or try to be good? Is being good all your life ultimately boring and thus having bad things happen adds "spice," i.e., challenges to our lives? Tests our mettle? Or is it simply "karma"? What goes around comes around? Be careful what you wish for because you may get it. Sow the wind reap the whirlwind, etc. Are people, basically, good? Why does it always seem that the "bad" person prospers while the "good" person suffers? Where is the justice in this? Is goodness something that you just acknowledge within yourself when you know you have done your very best at an activity? Is this your reward for being "good"? Thank you. Bill

Alexander George October 5, 2005 (changed October 5, 2005) Permalink You express some thoughts that many people often have (including me).You expressed them in a way that makes no reference to God, but formillennia the natural way of putting one of your questions was to askwhy God — an all knowing, all powerful, all good being — would allowmisery to befall... Read more

Is it ethical for me to take a shortcut that involves leaving an expressway a few miles before an overcrowded bridge and taking local roads only to re-enter the expressway just before the bridge. I have observed that much of the slowdown at this bridge is caused by merging traffic coming from this shortcut.

Alan Soble October 4, 2005 (changed October 4, 2005) Permalink The expressions "Free Rider" and "Easy Rider" both fit nicely with this cute example. I'm not convinced (yet) that it is not a moral question. When I refrain from making that automotive move--or when I give in to temptation, and do it--I feel my moral sense at work. I'm a cheater, or I rose abov... Read more

Is it ethical for me to take a shortcut that involves leaving an expressway a few miles before an overcrowded bridge and taking local roads only to re-enter the expressway just before the bridge. I have observed that much of the slowdown at this bridge is caused by merging traffic coming from this shortcut.

Alan Soble October 4, 2005 (changed October 4, 2005) Permalink The expressions "Free Rider" and "Easy Rider" both fit nicely with this cute example. I'm not convinced (yet) that it is not a moral question. When I refrain from making that automotive move--or when I give in to temptation, and do it--I feel my moral sense at work. I'm a cheater, or I rose abov... Read more

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