Our panel of 91 professional philosophers has responded to

68
 questions about 
Happiness
1280
 questions about 
Ethics
105
 questions about 
Art
36
 questions about 
Literature
110
 questions about 
Animals
282
 questions about 
Knowledge
27
 questions about 
Gender
34
 questions about 
Music
2
 questions about 
Action
5
 questions about 
Euthanasia
69
 questions about 
Business
89
 questions about 
Law
117
 questions about 
Children
58
 questions about 
Punishment
24
 questions about 
Suicide
81
 questions about 
Identity
218
 questions about 
Education
134
 questions about 
Love
4
 questions about 
Economics
51
 questions about 
War
154
 questions about 
Sex
39
 questions about 
Race
2
 questions about 
Culture
170
 questions about 
Freedom
80
 questions about 
Death
244
 questions about 
Justice
110
 questions about 
Biology
88
 questions about 
Physics
124
 questions about 
Profession
221
 questions about 
Value
77
 questions about 
Emotion
31
 questions about 
Space
43
 questions about 
Color
23
 questions about 
History
392
 questions about 
Religion
287
 questions about 
Language
374
 questions about 
Logic
574
 questions about 
Philosophy
54
 questions about 
Medicine
67
 questions about 
Feminism
75
 questions about 
Perception
32
 questions about 
Sport
151
 questions about 
Existence
58
 questions about 
Abortion
208
 questions about 
Science
70
 questions about 
Truth
284
 questions about 
Mind
75
 questions about 
Beauty
96
 questions about 
Time

Question of the Day

I’m guessing that what you think is that every question has a satisfying answer — an answer that explains what we wanted explained or tells us what we wanted to know. And so my question is: why do you think that?

For the record, I don’t think it’s true, or at least I don’t see any good reason to suppose that it must be true.

Here’s an example. We can send electrons, one at a time, through a certain sort of magnetic field (one oriented “inhomogenously” in a particular direction.) The electron will respond in one of two ways: maximum upward deflection or maximum downward deflection; nothing in between. So suppose a particular electron passes through the field and is deflected upward. You ask why up rather than down.

The most widely-held view among physicists is that there is no answer. The most widely-held view is not that we just don’t know, but that which way the electron went is a matter of pure chance; nothing explains it.

Now this may be wrong, but there are serious reasons for thinking it may be right. It’s not just a matter of “We’ve tried to figure it out and we can’t.” It’s a matter of the deep way that probability is built into quantum mechanics at the very bottom. And whether it’s right or not, it’s a perfectly coherent view. So my answer to the first of your questions is that there’s plenty of room to think some questions just don’t have answers at all.

As for the cow… There may be a good answer, though I’m a philosopher and not a cowologist. But any answer will depend on details of evolutionary history, and it’s entirely possible that some of those details involve pure, random chance & mdash; a stray cosmic ray inducing an unpredictable mutation, for example. So my answer to your first question could have a bearing on your second question: if we push the “why” question back far enough, we may reach a point where answers just run out.

If by "a logical answer" you mean an answer that is logically consistent, then I agree that every well-posed question has a logical answer. Nevertheless, the logically consistent answer to some question will often rely on information from beyond the subject matter of logic. The answer to why a particular cow has four legs will rely on information about the cow's parentage, genetics, embryology, anatomy, or some such. Logic all by itself cannot answer that question.