July 28, 2009

Correlation, Causation, and Salvation

The New Testament uses a number of criteria to identify the 'saved' (in this post, I won't be concerned with what exactly 'saved' means, though I will be assuming, somewhat controversially, that its meaning is more or less consistent). For instance, the saved are identified as: Those who 'bear fruit' (Matt. 7:16-20), where this seems to involve undergoing some kind of general change of character (Gal. 5:22-25). Those who perform particular good or loving deeds (Matt. 7:21, 1 John 1:6, 2:3-6), especially care for the poor (Matt. 25:31-46). Those who abstain from particular evil or hateful deeds (1 John 2:9-11)....
Continue reading "Correlation, Causation, and Salvation"

July 22, 2009

The Master Zombie Argument

Berkeley's so-called 'Master Argument' and Chalmers' 'Zombie Argument' are two famous arguments that turn on the relationship between conceivability and possibility. I have been thinking for some time about an amusing (and perhaps somewhat troubling) way of putting the two together. First, let me give simplified versions of the two arguments. The Master Argument (MA): (MA1) Whatever is conceived is conceived by some mind. (MA2) Whatever is conceived by a mind is in that mind. Therefore, (MA3) Nothing can be conceived that is not in a mind. (MA4) Whatever is inconceivable is impossible. Therefore, (MA5) It is impossible for anything...
Continue reading "The Master Zombie Argument"

July 19, 2009

Why Libertarians Should Support a Carbon Tax

When people list reasons for having a strong central government, one of the reasons they most frequently give is the need for environmental protections. Air and water pollution frequently effect huge numbers of people across large geographic areas (in the case of greenhouse gasses, the entire world) and so, it is thought, we must have a strong central government that can regulate emissions and such. A typical libertarian response to the 'what about the environment?' question is to argue that there should be unlimited civil liability for environmental damage. The current system isn't working particularly well and, libertarians are always...
Continue reading "Why Libertarians Should Support a Carbon Tax"

July 13, 2009

"Kant's 'Bad' Examples"

I have posted another paper to my workbench, entitled "Kant's 'Bad' Examples". This is the paper I was working on when we were discussing Kant on sexuality (follow-ups here, here, and here). Many contemporary 'Kantian' ethicists ignore or even malign Kant's applied ethics. I argue that this is misguided: when Kant's theory is properly understood, it can be shown that many of his supposedly objectionable conclusions are well supported by it. I consider five of Kant's applications and argue that each of them can be supported by means of his theory of personality and the role it plays...
Continue reading ""Kant's 'Bad' Examples""

July 8, 2009

United Breaks Guitars (and Telescopes)

Apparently United Airlines was responsible for recklessly destroying a very expensive guitar belonging to a band called Sons of Maxwell. After determining that it was not possible to reason with United's bureaucracy, the band decided to retaliate by producing a series of music videos about their experience. The first video is here. Lauren and I had a very similar experience with a telescope on our honeymoon. As it turns out, in order for United to investigate whether they might possibly be responsible for damage to a piece of luggage (a process which, we were told, takes about a year) you...
Continue reading "United Breaks Guitars (and Telescopes)"

July 7, 2009

Community Standards of Decency

May communities (justly) set standards of decency? In the recent Philosophers' Carnival, Russell Blackford of Metamagician and the Hellfire Club (a blog with which I am not familiar) argues that they may not. Blackford argues from not-quite-libertarian principles (he allows some limited degree of paternalism) to the conclusion that neither burkas nor nudity should be banned in public. What I want to do here is to show that, on the libertarian picture, either having or not having community standards of decency creates a problem, and try to chart a way forward from there. Libertarians (and, indeed, all proponents of liberal democracy)...
Continue reading "Community Standards of Decency"

Philosophers' Carnival 93

Philosophers' Carnival 93 is now up at Philosophy, etc. with a link to my recently posted Aristotle paper.
Continue reading "Philosophers' Carnival 93"

July 6, 2009

Quote of the Day: The Praying Agnostic

There is no reason why someone who is in doubt about the existence of God should not pray for help and guidance on this topic as in other matters. Some find something comic in the idea of an agnostic praying to a God whose existence he doubts. It is surely no more unreasonable than the act of a man adrift in the ocean, trapped in a cave, or stranded on a mountainside, who cries for help though he may never be heard or fires a signal which may never be seen.      - Anthony Kenny, The God of the Philosophers,...
Continue reading "Quote of the Day: The Praying Agnostic"