Recent Responses

Recent Responses

Response by Allen Stairs on August 15, 2021

Here's a way that might help. Suppose there are two pieces of paper in front of you. One of them is a genuine $5 bill. The other is a perfect counterfeit. In fact, suppose that it was illicitly created by the very same equipment that created the real bill. The point is that the difference between the real $5 bill and the fake isn't a matter of the physical properties of the piece of paper.

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Response by Allen Stairs on August 15, 2021

When I was a young man, I knew someone who was, in the phrase that might have been used at that time, "mildly retarded." He was married. And he understood his condition. And he struck me as a happy man. He certainly wasn't leading a life of misery.

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Response by Stephen Maitzen on August 12, 2021

If the woman meant (a) "I can't utter the word no in response to any request from you," then she can't abide by her companion's request (to say "no") without falsifying what she has just said. Still, I agree with you that there's no paradox here. The woman can abide by the request to say "no" by saying "no" in response to it. As far as I can see, the appearance of paradox depends on supposing that the woman meant both (a) and also (b) "I can't deny any request from you." But, as you suggest, she can't have meant both (a) and (b)....more

Response by Jonathan Westphal on July 29, 2021

There is something going on in your interesting question that is other than the distinction between a positive legal justice, and another “social” or perhaps even natural or transcendental justice, behind the positive law. The reason is that it is also possible to say, exactly as you did, that the US legal system has been designed to try to get us justice, we hope, where and when it is to be had and to the extent that it can be had....more

Response by Stephen Maitzen on July 22, 2021

If you go back to that choice point exactly as it was -- with your beliefs, desires, and circumstances being exactly as they were originally -- then why think that you would have made a different choice? We can't make sense of your choosing differently unless we imagine that something is different about that choice point. One might claim that your original choice was indeterministic, so it could have been different even in exactly the same circumstances. But calling a choice "indeterministic" is just to say that, beyond a certain point, we can't make sense of it.

Response by Allen Stairs on July 15, 2021

The first point is that "Is it natural?" and "Is it wrong?" aren't the same question. We could spend a lot of time on what it means to call something "natural," but you seem to have something like this in mind: if there are species that do it routinely, then it's natural. If that made things acceptable, then the fact that in some species, the female kills the male after sex would mean that it would be okay for a woman to kill a man after having sex with him. Don't know about you, but I'd say that seems like a pretty good counterexample to the "It's natural, therefore it's okay" idea.

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Response by Stephen Maitzen on July 15, 2021

If a paradox resulted whenever one thing had more than one name, then these paradoxes wouldn't be restricted to sets. The names 'Samuel Clemens' and 'Mark Twain' would generate a paradox by referring to the same person. But, of course, there's no paradox here. Everything true of the person named 'Samuel Clemens' is true of the person named 'Mark Twain'. Mark Twain was born in Missouri, and Samuel Clemens wrote The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn....more

Response by Allen Stairs on June 17, 2021

Like my colleague, I agree that you've put your finger on a potential moral problem with necrophilia. However, I have a worry about the rest of his analysis....more

Response by Charles Taliaferro on June 12, 2021

Indeed, I think that one objection to necrophelia would, indeed, be that this might involve the violation of the wishes of the one who has died, but of course we can imagine a case in which a person's dying wish is that someone sexually use their body after they have died. I think the more primordial objection to necrophelia is that most of us see the good of sexual intimacy as the loving union of two persons. After death, most of us think that the dead body is a corpse and no longer a person....more

Response by Allen Stairs on May 28, 2021

Einstein gets credit for relativity, but (in spite of his having been a patent clerk) not a patent. Not all innovations are patentable, and in the sciences, philosophy, history... this is a very good thing. If something is patented, then others typically have to pay to use it. That’s not what we want for scientific or philosophical ideas.

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