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Is there any general concern among academic philosophers that Richard Dawkins'

Is there any general concern among academic philosophers that Richard Dawkins' amateurish treatment of philosophy in 'The God Delusion' might be giving the false impression to the general public that complex debates in the philosophy of religion can be knocked down in a few pages of popular writing? Surely this is highly misleading, and obscures deep debates in academic philosophy.

Or even after a difficult day doing theoretical cosmology, to judge from what physicist Lawrence Krauss says about his new book, A Universe from Nothing, in an online interview with Sam Harris. Choice quotations:

"Modern science...has changed completely our conception of the very words 'something' and 'nothing'. Empirical discoveries continue to tell us that the Universe is the way it is, whether we like it or not, and 'something' and 'nothing' are physical concepts and therefore are properly the domain of science, not theology or philosophy."

"[D]o we have any physical reason to believe that such nothing was ever the case? Absolutely, because we are talking about our universe, and that doesn’t preclude our universe arising from precisely nothing, embedded in a perhaps infinite space, or infinite collection of spaces, or spaces-to-be" (my italics).

Those assertions are so confused it's hard to know where to begin. Even fellow physicists have lambasted Krauss for talking out of his hat.

Yes, and not only Dawkins. but lots of scientists think wrongly that they have solved longstanding philosophical issues with their theories. I suppose the difference between a scientific theory and a philosophical theory is not that easy to grasp, especially after a difficult day looking at a test tube or doing nasty things to laboratory animals, but it is important nonetheless.

Should the first amendment cover the right to advocate violence? If a person

Should the first amendment cover the right to advocate violence? If a person honestly believes that assassinating the president is justified shouldn't that person have the right to express their opinion? I'm a little uncomfortable with the idea that the government should restrict that or ANY kind of political speech. I think that all political speech should be permitted perhaps especially ideas that radically oppose the current state of affairs and I can't think of a more fundamental way of opposing the system than the idea of a violent overthrow of the government or an administration and one which specifies explicitly what that would entail.

I remember in the 1960's there were many political philosophers who argued that the state tolerated opposition provided that it was ultimately not going to threaten the status quo. When liberals complimented their society for its freedom those opposed to them would say that the freedom only extended as far as allowing non-revolutionary change. In fact the latter sometimes suggested that the toleration of opposition was repressive, since it directed what would otherwise be radical demands for change into something more amenable to social cohesion.

Whatever one thinks of such a theory, the idea that people should be free to say absolutely anything at all has recently been challenged by the Charlie Hebdo events, and in many countries there is legislation forbidding people from saying things that are held to be offensive by others since that might lead to violence. Are we not entitled to demand a level of respect for other people and their beliefs? If I have a Jewish neighbor and I greet him each morning by calling him a fat Jewish pig, am I expressing a view which should be protected or am I being needlessly offensive? Perhaps this should not count as political speech, but if I abuse through speech or print the government in Turkey a recent law would punish me, and that seems to be going too far. A problem with encouraging violence is that it threatens to undermine the possibility of people living together amicably in any sort of society.

There used to be a saying in England that in a free society you can do anything you like so long as it does not frighten the horses. As you suggest, this implies tolerance for what is unlikely to upset the existing system, but those opposed to you would see violence as something that not only overthrows a particular government and sets up the conditions to continue to do this, to the detriment of society at large. Hence there might be grounds for disallowing it.

I remember in the 1960's there were many political philosophers who argued that the state tolerated opposition provided that it was ultimately not going to threaten the status quo. When liberals complimented their society for its freedom those opposed to them would say that the freedom only extended as far as allowing non-revolutionary change. In fact the latter sometimes suggested that the toleration of opposition was repressive, since it directed what would otherwise be radical demands for change into something more amenable to social cohesion. Whatever one thinks of such a theory, the idea that people should be free to say absolutely anything at all has recently been challenged by the Charlie Hebdo events, and in many countries there is legislation forbidding people from saying things that are held to be offensive by others since that might lead to violence. Are we not entitled to demand a level of respect for other people and their beliefs? If I have a Jewish neighbor and I greet him each...

Some philosophers hold views that assert A, and some others, nonetheless called

Some philosophers hold views that assert A, and some others, nonetheless called philosophers, the contrary of A. Then isn´t that not just all about the domain of opinion? Some of them well argumented, wise and logically consistent, while others are less so. So can we just say when people think, reflect about things, then they are doing philosophy? Or please tell me the difference that distinguishes one person thinking from one making philosophy. Because if so I feel like that the field "philosophy" is a passepartout word and therefore not really useful or worthy of beeing discipline, it´s just what everyone does in greater or lesser depth (thinking)...and I think I´m wrong.

There are disagreements in many areas of thought, not just philosophy, and historians, physicists, classicists and so on all argue with each other much of the time. The people who work in these areas are all thinking, but philosophers are generally thinking about thinking itself, and not directed at a particular subject matter, which distinguishes the discipline from others. So they are not all doing philosophy at all.

There are disagreements in many areas of thought, not just philosophy, and historians, physicists, classicists and so on all argue with each other much of the time. The people who work in these areas are all thinking, but philosophers are generally thinking about thinking itself, and not directed at a particular subject matter, which distinguishes the discipline from others. So they are not all doing philosophy at all.

i loved a guy since one year..i felt he was my life and god.i was so true to him

i loved a guy since one year..i felt he was my life and god.i was so true to him and so he was.we were physically close.we had many dreams about our future,kids,etc.but an unexpected incident happened.his father came to know about our affair.he was completely against our marriage.he threatened his son that he would send him out of the house forever and never talk to him in his life time.we had no choice, but to break. all my dreams were shattered.if i remain unmarried in my life, i would suffer from lonliness, so , i decided to marry the guy shown by my parents(arranged marriage, as i am an Indian girl). Now the problem is, i am guilt struck , i feel that i am cheating the guy whom i am going to marry.i wont reveal to him about my past affair. He marries me with trust onn me and my family.but, i don’t deserve his trust.i feel that moving closely with a man other than my husband as a sin, but everything was unexpected. I believed strongly that i would marry the person i loved, hence i was close to him...

It is not unusual for there to be conflicts in life, and for us to have obligations to different people which cannot be reconciled. In that sort of situation you should expect whatever decision you take is going to leave you with regrets and doubts about whether you have done the right thing. I understand how guilt can arise here, and how inevitable such feelings are, but what is left out of your account is what would make you happy. You do have a duty to listen to the concerns of other people but many philosophers would say that you also have a duty to yourself to be happy. You might want to think seriously how in this situation your happiness is going to find a place, since it seems to me that the desire to be a martyr is likely to satisfy no-one in the long run.

It is not unusual for there to be conflicts in life, and for us to have obligations to different people which cannot be reconciled. In that sort of situation you should expect whatever decision you take is going to leave you with regrets and doubts about whether you have done the right thing. I understand how guilt can arise here, and how inevitable such feelings are, but what is left out of your account is what would make you happy. You do have a duty to listen to the concerns of other people but many philosophers would say that you also have a duty to yourself to be happy. You might want to think seriously how in this situation your happiness is going to find a place, since it seems to me that the desire to be a martyr is likely to satisfy no-one in the long run.

Commentators on the Holocaust often refer to the oft cited justification "just

War
Commentators on the Holocaust often refer to the oft cited justification "just following orders" as a paltry excuse. But given that "just following orders" can often mean that a person must choose to follow orders or face legal consequences or death isn't that a pretty good excuse? We generally don't judge a person who is acting under duress in the same way as someone who isn't. Maybe when commentators reference this phrase they are only citing the most egregious cases where it was used, but I can't help but feel that these commentators are glossing over the moral complexity involved in cases where a person is said to be "following orders".

It is certainly true that moral philosophers recognize that people who are in receipt of orders are operating under duress, and this may play some part in excusing their behavior. The fact that one is under duress does not necessarily excuse everything that is done, though. The evidence of what happened in the Holocaust suggests that people who did not want to carry out the various atrocities that went on did not suffer as a consequence. In fact, most of the participants were enthusiastic and profited directly from their cruel conduct.

Even where this is not the case, many would refuse to do something immoral even if the consequences are serious for the agent. Utilitarians might contemplate the balance between the pains and pleasures involved, but from the point of view of deontologists there are many situations where the fact that the agent will suffer if he or she does something evil would be irrelevant to the issue of whether they should do it or otherwise. If it is wrong you do not do it regardless of the consequences, order or no order.

It is certainly true that moral philosophers recognize that people who are in receipt of orders are operating under duress, and this may play some part in excusing their behavior. The fact that one is under duress does not necessarily excuse everything that is done, though. The evidence of what happened in the Holocaust suggests that people who did not want to carry out the various atrocities that went on did not suffer as a consequence. In fact, most of the participants were enthusiastic and profited directly from their cruel conduct. Even where this is not the case, many would refuse to do something immoral even if the consequences are serious for the agent. Utilitarians might contemplate the balance between the pains and pleasures involved, but from the point of view of deontologists there are many situations where the fact that the agent will suffer if he or she does something evil would be irrelevant to the issue of whether they should do it or otherwise. If it is wrong you do not do it...

Is it fair to label childhood religious indoctrination as abuse ? at the moment

Is it fair to label childhood religious indoctrination as abuse ? at the moment in any given society it's seen as the norm , I often wonder will future generations look back in astonishment at this practice .

I agree with my co-panelist that it's hard to peg this as abuse. But I'd like to focus on a somewhat different issue: the word "indoctrination" is being used to mean an illegitimate way of inculcating beliefs. That's fine, and isn't my issue. But the notion of "religious indoctrination" is left unexamined. And so I want to know what counts.

In particular, suppose someone brings their children up in a religious tradition: introduces them to the texts and doctrines, participates in the rituals, makes clear that s/he is an adherent, and so on. If indoctrination counts as something bad, is this automatically a case of indoctrination? Surely it depends on the details. Suppose that the religious tradition has admirable moral precepts. Suppose it encourages thoughtful reflection. Suppose it doesn't threaten non-adherents with hellfire and brimstone. There really are such traditions; I know many people who belong to them. The tradition may well include metaphysical claims that you think are just wrong. But is that the criterion for indoctrination? If so, it's hard for me to see how it warrants the label "child abuse."

And for that matter, why pick on religion? How about ethical views? When my children were young, I certainly hoped that they would come to share at least the more dearly-held of my ethical views. Near as I can tell, they largely did. Was that indoctrination? Was it child abuse? If it might be, where do the lines lie?

We influence our children in lots of ways. It's not unlikely that if my children had been brought up in a different sort of household, they'd think differently than I do about some things I care about. Some of these things are eminently debatable; some reasonable people would say that the views my children learned from me are wrong. But without a lot more analysis, the word "indoctrination" doesn't get us very far, and without a great deal more analysis, the accusation of "abuse" is even less helpful.

There's another problem with invoking the notion of abuse here. If we label a child-rearing practice abusive, this suggests that we ought to do something about it$mdash;perhaps that the State itself should step in. I don't know about you, but I'm not confident that the State would draw the lines wisely.

So to sum up: maybe some cases of bringing a child up in a tradition count as indoctrination, but it's not plausible that all do. And maybe some of those cases count as abuse. But we'd need to think hard about what we mean when we invoke that word. And even if we decide there's a sense in which some cases of religious upbringing count as abuse, we need to think really hard if we want to take that as a license for any sort of intervention.

I don't think so, since it is really difficult to indoctrinate anyone in anything, if by that one means that it is very hard to change your mind on the issue later on. As we know, children brought up to be religious often abandon the religion and vice versa. Religious parents may say that bringing their children up within their faith gives them an appropriate background to decide when they are older what attitude to take to the religion. Obviously the parents hope it will be a committed attitude. Should they not though just do nothing with the children and allow them when older to decide on what if any religion to pursue? The trouble with this is that a religion is more than just a set of doctrines, it is a way of life, and children need to experience this before they can make an informed decision. It is a bit like learning a language. It is useful to be brought up within a language community, and when one is an adult you can decide if you want to continue using that language, or perhaps would it be...

Just what is exploitation? Is it not unequal agreements between two parties in

Just what is exploitation? Is it not unequal agreements between two parties in which one has a higher status than the other in which the lower of the parties agrees to a social or legal contract merely for the possibility of future equality or future hypothetical greater status? Is not the unequal ability of one person to capitalize on another the very definition of exploitation and why is it so bad? In other words, does social Darwinism dictate our lives whether we like it or know it or not?

I am sure you are right that the strong tend to prevail over the weak, if that is what you mean by social Darwinism.But that does not mean it is justified. If parties need to come to an agreement then they should freely choose what is in that agreement, and any imbalance of power is likely as you say to interfere with this. It is not necessarily bad since what the stronger party wants to do may be in the best interests of everyone, or it may be the most just action overall. On the other hand, it is likely to be whatever the stronger party thinks is in its interests, and that is unlikely to be fair. That is what is wrong with exploitation.

I am sure you are right that the strong tend to prevail over the weak, if that is what you mean by social Darwinism.But that does not mean it is justified. If parties need to come to an agreement then they should freely choose what is in that agreement, and any imbalance of power is likely as you say to interfere with this. It is not necessarily bad since what the stronger party wants to do may be in the best interests of everyone, or it may be the most just action overall. On the other hand, it is likely to be whatever the stronger party thinks is in its interests, and that is unlikely to be fair. That is what is wrong with exploitation.

I just can't get my head around what Kant means by "transcendental" in the term

I just can't get my head around what Kant means by "transcendental" in the term "transcendental idealism". Can you help? Also, Kant CAN"T be serious suggesting that we create space and time! If I create it, how did YOU get in my space-time and I in yours? After all, we're talking to, and recognizing each other. (Not sure I'm even understanding this really). Also, idealism seems, as Popper says somewhere, very anthropomorhic. We think we are so special, so crucial to reality. My, we are quite full of ourselves.---Baffled.

Transcendental idealism does not mean that we create our own ideas, but that we can only apply them to our experience. That is, we can only know they apply to our experience, since what counts as objective knowledge is defined in terms of them. We cannot say whether those ideas extend anywhere beyond our experience, that would be transcendent realism, and transcendental idealism is far less ambitious. It just claims that what we call an object has to be characterized by particular categories of thought and those categories can only be used by us to describe experience, nothing else.

It is anthropomorphic in the sense that the rules of what counts as an object for human beings is indeed limited to human beings. We are not crucial to reality, but what we call reality has to be based on our ideas of it. It is in fact a very restrictive and limited principle. We cannot say whether what we call objects really exist outside of our approach to the world, since our ideas stop at experience. Not a lot to be smug about there, I think.

Transcendental idealism does not mean that we create our own ideas, but that we can only apply them to our experience. That is, we can only know they apply to our experience, since what counts as objective knowledge is defined in terms of them. We cannot say whether those ideas extend anywhere beyond our experience, that would be transcendent realism, and transcendental idealism is far less ambitious. It just claims that what we call an object has to be characterized by particular categories of thought and those categories can only be used by us to describe experience, nothing else. It is anthropomorphic in the sense that the rules of what counts as an object for human beings is indeed limited to human beings. We are not crucial to reality, but what we call reality has to be based on our ideas of it. It is in fact a very restrictive and limited principle. We cannot say whether what we call objects really exist outside of our approach to the world, since our ideas stop at experience. Not a lot to be...

Would you consider a 16 year old an adult, i.e. a rational agent who is capable

Would you consider a 16 year old an adult, i.e. a rational agent who is capable of of making decisions on their own? To what extent can you hold a 16 year old, or similarly aged person, accountable for their actions?

There are plenty of rational and responsible young people and just as many adults who clearly are not capable of making their own decisions. States have to posit an age when certain activities can be legally carried out because they use generalizations about how most people are at those ages, but these are just generalizations. Whatever the law says, we should judge individuals case by case where rational action is at issue.

There are plenty of rational and responsible young people and just as many adults who clearly are not capable of making their own decisions. States have to posit an age when certain activities can be legally carried out because they use generalizations about how most people are at those ages, but these are just generalizations. Whatever the law says, we should judge individuals case by case where rational action is at issue.

Do people have something like a right to have children? What would be the basis

Do people have something like a right to have children? What would be the basis or justification for such a right?

It might be argued that people who want to have children and cannot then fail to live the lives they choose for themselves, and since other things being equal children are generally taken to be a good thing, their efforts should be supported. After all, we are naturally designed to have children, as members of a species that reproduces, but not everyone can have children at all, or not without complicated procedures. Whether this should count as a right is an interesting question.

It is a bit like the right not to have children, where otherwise one would. It is often argued that if having a child is not something welcomed by someone who is pregnant then they have the right to discontinue the pregnancy by removing the fetus.

There are two interesting aspects of rights language here. If someone has a right to something, then someone else, like the state, has the duty to support them in exercising that right. The other pertinent remark is that rights language has tended to replace the idea that one should just put up with the way things are, whether an unwanted child is on the way or if one cannot get pregnant.

It might be argued that people who want to have children and cannot then fail to live the lives they choose for themselves, and since other things being equal children are generally taken to be a good thing, their efforts should be supported. After all, we are naturally designed to have children, as members of a species that reproduces, but not everyone can have children at all, or not without complicated procedures. Whether this should count as a right is an interesting question. It is a bit like the right not to have children, where otherwise one would. It is often argued that if having a child is not something welcomed by someone who is pregnant then they have the right to discontinue the pregnancy by removing the fetus. There are two interesting aspects of rights language here. If someone has a right to something, then someone else, like the state, has the duty to support them in exercising that right. The other pertinent remark is that rights language has tended to replace the idea that one...

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