Why should movies get the science right? I have long heard that some/many sci-fi movies get the science wrong and I just sit there thinking -"well what's wrong with that?". I've managed construct a few bad reasons as to why they should get it right, but most of these are somewhere along the lines of: 'it might mislead people'. Your help will be much appreciated.

I don't think there's any general injunction about getting the science right, but sometimes getting it wrong can be a distraction. One example that's been discussed by various critics comes from Lord of the Flies . Piggy's glasses are used to focus sunlight and start a fire. But Piggy is nearsighted; his lenses would be concave rather than convex and couldn't be used to start a fire. (Thanks to John Holliday for this example, which he discusses in his dissertation.) Many readers won't realize the problem, but the glasses and Piggy's nearsightedness aren't just an incidental plot element. This is the sort of detail that Golding could have gotten right and once you know that it's wrong, you may never be able to read those scenes in the same way. Needless to say, this doesn't show that getting the science right always matters. It surely doesn't. It's also plausible that these things will be matters of degree. The more esoteric the bit of science, and the less central to the story, the less it's likely to...

Is not the very concept of religion toxic to humanity? Never before has any species encountered a larger source of hate, bigotry and ultimate and utter lack of ethical direction. Surely such notions of fairies in the clouds ought not be taken seriously in a current day society, especially when such deluded notions can be used to promote acts such as crusades, act against contraception and promote the sexual abuse of children.

I have a feeling you aren't asking if the concept of religion is toxic; you're asking if religion is toxic. But I was a bit puzzled by this: "Never before has any species encountered a larger source of hate, bigotry and ultimate and utter lack of ethical direction." After all, bigotry and ethical direction or the lack thereof don't apply to any non-human species that I know of. But let that pass. I gather you're not a fan of religion. The issue, however, seems to be whether religion is worse than, say, nationalism, tribalism, racism, sexism, homophobia, warped ideology, and general human bloody-mindedness. I suppose that's an empirical question, and God knows that there's a lot of evil that's been done in the name of all these things. But it's at least a somewhat mixed bag, isn't it? For it's a matter of plain fact, that very good things have been done in the name of religion, along with the very bad, and some of the noblest ideals I can think of have deep religious roots. (Buddhist notions...

Can a painting be *false* by not depicting reality? Suppose that some painter paints something that really happened, but adds or subtracts details that do not correspond to reality. Or suppose that the painter not only does that, but adds a title that makes it cleat that the painting to the real event. Or think about "photoshopped" photos. The reason why I am asking this is that I often read on the internet that (only?) sentences and "propositions" can be true or false, and a painting is not a sentence nor a proposition.

A nice question. Suppose a painter paints a scene with a person in it. Apart from very special circumstances, we wouldn't take this to be a matter of the painter telling us that the event really happened and the person depicted was really there. It might be that a real person is depicted who really was in the place pictured. But that's not how paintings are ordinarily intended, and it's not how they're ordinarily understood. Calling the painting false because what it asks us to imagine never really happened would be a bit like saying that the Sherlock Holmes stories are false because there was never any such person as Sherlock Holmes. Of course, a painter could use a painting as a way of conveying information intended to be factual. I take that to be the point of your example. And in many cases, some aspects of paintings are intended in just that way. Suppose a portrait depicts a blue-eyed person as having brown eyes. Depending on the larger story, this might be a genuine inaccuracy in the...

Hello, My question is: what makes a swear-word/curse/cuss offensive? I submitted to a friend that in order for a word to be offensive three criteria have to be filled. 1) The speaker must utter the word with the intention to offend. 2) The speaker and hearer must both be aware of the background context of the word as an offensive word. 3) The hearer must hear the word and react; taking offence The justification for this is that a word is just a sound and that many languages use sounds that in another language are curses. It is irrational to take offence to a sound if the speaker is ignorant of it's vulgar connotations. Without a shared contextual understanding of a word's history as offensive, a speaker seeking to offend through uttering a word (without using other signs of contempt or emphasis) is just making a sound to the hearer which has no offensive connotations to them. The hearer upon hearing the word reacts, consciously or unconsciously actively taking offence. A person intending to offend...

I'd suggest that we need to keep three things separate: 1) whether the word is offensive, 2) whether offense was intended, and 3) whether the hearer was offended. All eight possibilities are real. To take the most relevant, a word might be offensive, and yet the person using it might not have intended to offend and the hearer might not be offended. For example: suppose someone who's not a native speaker uses a deeply racist term to refer to someone. The speaker is not at all a racist and would be deeply mortified if she knew how the word is normally used. She intended no offense. But that's because she didn't know that the word is an offensive word. The person she was speaking to, meanwhile, is a racist. The speaker doesn't know that; she's just met him. He's not offended, but only because of is racism. On the contrary: he thinks he's met a kindred spirit. There's no mystery here. The word is offensive because of its history, its usual meaning, and the way people typically respond to it. ...

Is horny an emotion or a feeling

Depends on what you mean, doesn't it? But even after we sort that out, the answer may still be that it depends. A headache is a feeling but not an emotion—at least, not as most people use the word. Anxiety, at least a good deal of the time, is also a feeling rather than an emotion, but it can go either way. A free-floating, undirected anxiety is a feeling. But it doesn't seem too strange to say that anxiety about something specific counts as an emotion. So maybe we could say that emotions are feelings with objects. At the end of the day, that won't do. Still, it gets at something. We tend to save the word "emotion" for states that are about something, or have some sort of content other than just raw feels. But that's pretty clearly not enough. That slice of apple-rhubarb pie in front of me may fill me with a very focussed feeling of hunger. But that feeling doesn't count as an emotion. What's missing? The answer, perhaps surprisingly, is reason. Emotions can be justified and they can respond...

I recently read that the majority of philosophers are moral realists. I either do not understand moral realism or, if I do understand it, I don't buy it. Below I describe how I view the ideas of 'right' and 'wrong.' Is my understanding incompatible with moral realism? And how would you critique my understanding? Also if you want to give a version of moral realism that is easy to understand that would be greatly appreciated. Let’s say that I find test taking difficult. I declare: test taking is difficult. This statement is relational in nature. I am saying that because of various elements of my personal makeup the action of taking a test is difficult for me. It would be incorrect of me to say that test taking was objectively difficult. Some, as a result of various differing elements of their personal makeup, may find test taking easy. It is hypothetically possible to enumerate all of the events in my life as a child and the specific neuroanatomical structures that cause test taking to be difficult for me...

Let's start with "test taking is difficult." There's a difference between "test taking is difficult for me" and "test taking is difficult." If what I mean is just that I personally find test taking difficult, then simply saying "test taking is difficult" is a recipe for being misunderstood. Now of course if I say something is hard, I'm usually not saying it's hard for literally everyone. I mean, roughly, that it's hard for most people. That's fine, but it can be true —whether or not the task is hard for me personally. This gives us our first point: if a statement doesn't seem just to be about the speaker, then don't read it that way unless there's a good reason to. Now let's turn to moral statements. When people say that punching a child in the face is wrong, they don't just mean something about themselves. In fact, most people, including most philosophers, would reject that reading out of hand. If I say "it's wrong to punch a child in the face" and you say "what you really mean is that you have...

What insight can babies in scientific experiments provide philosophy? If we really are born with blank slates, how does that explain why many babies will choose to look and gesture at the side by side photo of the model instead of the photo of the grandma? I really think philosophy will answer this alone instead of neuroscience.

I don't have a clear fix on the question, but insofar as I do, I don't see how philosophy alone could answer it. You seem to be saying that there's a real-world, repeatable phenomenon: babies in certain situations behave this way rather than that . That may be true—is true, far as I know. But if it's true, there's nothing a priori about it; the opposite behavior is perfectly conceivable and might have been true for all we could have said in advance. I don't see how philosophical analysis could tell us why things turned out one way rather than another. At least as I and many of my colleagues understand philosophy, it doesn't have any special access to contingent facts. A philosopher might come up with a hypothesis, but insofar as the hypothesis is about an empirical matter, it will call for the usual sort of empirical investigation that empirical claims call for. As for blank slates, philosophy can't tell us by itself whether we're born with blank slates as minds, but as a matter of fact, there...

Do philosophers ever assume anything in books or journals (not including thought experiments) and wouldn't that be completely contrary to the intent of philosophy?

If by "assume," you mean "accept without argument," then the answer is yes to the first part of your question and no to the second. Yes: philosophers assume all sorts of things. They usually assume that there is a world out there and that there are people who at least potentially can read and respond to their arguments. They very often take for granted all sorts of facts, scientific and garden-variety: that there are trees; that people sometimes do things deliberately; that water is made of H2O; that the 4-color conjecture has been successfully proven. No: this isn't contrary to the intent of philosophy. Except on very eccentric views, philosophy is not the enterprise of doubting everything that can be doubted and accepting only what can be proved from indubitable premises. That may have been Descartes' project, but it's been almost no one else's. In fact, most philosophers would say that this project is deeply flawed. Philosophy, like the Odyssey begins in the middle of things. Want to think...

Can every philosophical word or term listed in peer-reviewed philosophy dictionaries be explained with a real-life example? If not, how can we know that it's not just BS?

A not-really-relevant aside: most philosophers don't own philosophical dictionaries, but let that pass. Here's a non-philosophical word: unicorn. It's easy to explain what it means, but there aren't any real-life examples. Whether a term can be clearly explained and whether there are actual examples are quite different questions. If it's controversial whether something exists then a philosopher shouldn't pretend otherwise, but the question of whether something exists (God, for instance) might be an interesting one. And sometimes the best way to understand a notion is a philosophical question. The notion of free will is like that. In that case, there's no one meaning for the term, but it's possible to have a perfectly reasonable discussion of what might count as free will and why some answers might be better than others. In fact that sort of discussion comes up in many disciplines. Philosophers are unusual in that they're trained to notice this kind of unclarity and to reason about it carefully.

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