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It is often stated that science is not 'value-free'. However, there are certain

It is often stated that science is not 'value-free'. However, there are certain established facts about the physical world, for example, that a water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms, which irrespecitve of the values of observer or the social context in which this is observed, is just that, ie. an observable, indisptuable fact. How then can political or social environments alter or intrude upon such scientific facts whether they be about this planet, biology or whatever scientific enterprise one is studying. Surely, science in this regard is 'value-free'?

Great question; thank you for raising your point. I believe that the when the claim is made that science is not value-free various things may be involved. There might be at least four points to consider.

First, there is the thesis that the very practice of philosophy itself involves values --minimally, given a realist view of truth (which I hold and I think you do too, e.g. water is H20 if true if and only if water is H20)-- a commitment to discovering the truth about various phenomena, being reliable or trust-worthy in recording observations and constructing hypotheses, theories, reporting anomalies given such and such a theory, and so on. Perhaps this is not radical news, for it seems that virtually any social interaction in which we trust each others' reports / testimony, all sorts of values and commitments are relevant. But what might be added are three other points.

Second, the practice of science itself is guided in light of what scientists (or those who support the practice of science) believe to be valuable (or worthy of scientific inquiry).

In addition to that (number three) Thomas Kuhn, a prominent 20th century historian and philosopher of science, famously argued that scientific progress is often suffused with matters of value and subjectivity when individual scientists choose to retain normal science (as practiced in conventional, institutionally entrenched labs, classrooms, institutions, etc) or seek to bring about a scientific revolution (e.g. as we find with Galileo, Newton, Darwin, Einstein...). All this is compatible with realism and your initial point that the atomic structure of water (for example) does not depend upon political or social contexts or the personal subjectivity of observers.

Fourth, perhaps physics and chemistry (which involve the water example) seem straight forward facts as distinct from values, but when we move in the direction of biology, values of various sorts come into play. This might be especially apparent when scientists employ terms like 'health' and 'disease' --whether in terms of organisms or ecosystems. The health of an organism seems the equivalent to the notion that the organism has some good or can be in a (for it) good state. It is also not uncommon for philosophers of science to contend that in the social sciences various concepts are social constructions (e.g. the diagnosis ADHD) and reflect more our values than "the facts."

I hope that is a helpful beginning. The philosophy of science entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is very helpful.

Great question; thank you for raising your point. I believe that the when the claim is made that science is not value-free various things may be involved. There might be at least four points to consider. First, there is the thesis that the very practice of philosophy itself involves values --minimally, given a realist view of truth (which I hold and I think you do too, e.g. water is H20 if true if and only if water is H20)-- a commitment to discovering the truth about various phenomena, being reliable or trust-worthy in recording observations and constructing hypotheses, theories, reporting anomalies given such and such a theory, and so on. Perhaps this is not radical news, for it seems that virtually any social interaction in which we trust each others' reports / testimony, all sorts of values and commitments are relevant. But what might be added are three other points. Second, the practice of science itself is guided in light of what scientists (or those who support the practice of science)...

What's there to gain from romantic relationships, aside from sexual

What's there to gain from romantic relationships, aside from sexual gratification? For it seems as though there is more pain and loss from attempting to find our ideal significant other, than there is actual gain from finding someone adequate enough to fulfill such an unobtainable goal. It seems more worthwhile to culminate our own happiness within ourselves, than to put our happiness at risk, especially given that females (and people in general) who are interested in philosophy seem to be on the decline; and interest in philosophy is a must for any viable partner!

Wonderful to learn that a viable partner for you would have to have an interest in philosophy. If you are super attractive (etc) you might give a lot of people an important motive to develop philosophical interests!

Picking up on another point, though, I am not sure you are right about declining interests in philosophy among females or people in general. At least where I teach (St Olaf College in the USA) philosophical interests among young women and men (straight, gay, as well as among transgender folk) seems on the rise. But more to your point, I wonder if your worry about romantic relationships would work against any serious, non-romantic friendship. You write about having reservations about putting your happiness at risk, but that risk seems to arise in every case when you or I truly love another person with or without eros. I have great (Platonic) love for a couple of friends, Patrick and Jodi, and I realize there is no way for me to do so without risking my enduring great pain and unhappiness. If they are harmed or, worse, killed in an auto accident (our city streets are a mess, so this is not impossible) I would be devastated. They are irreplaceable and it would be impossible for me to love them with emotional invulnerability on my part. I suppose that is your point: why take the risk? But isn't the reply that the alternative is far worse? Imagine living without truly loving other persons as irreplaceable individuals? I suppose, by extension, your position might also come in conflict with you loving yourself. So, I urge you to not give up on romantic or non-romantic deep friendships. Still, I would not be doing my job unless I observed that the position you are taking does have resonance in the history of philosophy, especially in Stoicism. You might find the work of Epictetus (first and second century) of great interest.

Ending on a sort of positive note: there have been (and are) some good romantic relationships between philosophers that might be inspiring --for example the marriage between Elizabeth Anscombe and Peter Geach, and Bob and Marilyn Adams, among others. Yes, there have been tragic romances between philosophers, but I bet for every case of Abelard and Heloise there are at least a hundred cases of Paul and Patricia Churchland

Wonderful to learn that a viable partner for you would have to have an interest in philosophy. If you are super attractive (etc) you might give a lot of people an important motive to develop philosophical interests! Picking up on another point, though, I am not sure you are right about declining interests in philosophy among females or people in general. At least where I teach (St Olaf College in the USA) philosophical interests among young women and men (straight, gay, as well as among transgender folk) seems on the rise. But more to your point, I wonder if your worry about romantic relationships would work against any serious, non-romantic friendship. You write about having reservations about putting your happiness at risk, but that risk seems to arise in every case when you or I truly love another person with or without eros. I have great (Platonic) love for a couple of friends, Patrick and Jodi, and I realize there is no way for me to do so without risking my enduring great pain and...

Lately, I have been feeling as if nothing in life is really worth desiring. As I

Lately, I have been feeling as if nothing in life is really worth desiring. As I was a little alarmed by these nihilistic thoughts, I tried to avoid them. But, in some mystic traditions, this state of "desirelessness" seems to be actively pursued by practitioners. My question is: can my nihilism perhaps have some value, i.e. what is good about the state of not feeling desire?

There are traditions philosophical and religious- that see value in states of living in which we are not ruled by desires but by reason or wisdom or the Dao, and so on. These traditions are rarely 'nihilistic' however when it comes to values, good and bad or evil, seeking enlightenment, and so on. In Christian mystical tradition, for example - e.g. John of the Cross....- there is a fascinating treatment of "the dark night of the soul" in which a person may feel a complete evacuation of desire and meaning, but this is a period or passage from ordinary life to a state of fulfillment "on the other side." The situation you describe prompts me to think you might find some consolation --or recognize something of yourself in ancient Greek cynicism. You might check out the classic Lives of Eminent Philosophers by Diogenes Laertius. While I am far from any alignment with Greek or modern cynicism, Diogenes is a fascinating figure whose indifference to the desires of his contemporaries was in my view radical and of enduring importance.

If you want to consider how cynicism, ancient and modern, can be effectively challenged you might look at Overcoming Cynicism; William James and the Metaphysics of Engagement by Megan Mustain.

There are traditions philosophical and religious- that see value in states of living in which we are not ruled by desires but by reason or wisdom or the Dao, and so on. These traditions are rarely 'nihilistic' however when it comes to values, good and bad or evil, seeking enlightenment, and so on. In Christian mystical tradition, for example - e.g. John of the Cross....- there is a fascinating treatment of "the dark night of the soul" in which a person may feel a complete evacuation of desire and meaning, but this is a period or passage from ordinary life to a state of fulfillment "on the other side." The situation you describe prompts me to think you might find some consolation --or recognize something of yourself in ancient Greek cynicism. You might check out the classic Lives of Eminent Philosophers by Diogenes Laertius. While I am far from any alignment with Greek or modern cynicism, Diogenes is a fascinating figure whose indifference to the desires of his contemporaries was in my view ...

I would like to know if duty implies value. If I have the duty to take care of

I would like to know if duty implies value. If I have the duty to take care of my daughter, does that imply that it is better that I take care of her than that I don't? If two people promise each other to meet that evening, is it then better (at least, according to their promises) that they meet? If I have the duty to join my country's army, is it better that I do than that I don't? Thank you.

Great questions. Many philosophers recognize that we have multiple duties which sometimes conflict. And they also recognize different degrees of complexity that come with duties. So, in a parent-daughter relationship, it is widely acknowledged that a parent does have a duty to take care of her and thus, it is recognized that, other things being equal, it is better to care for her than not but some of the following circumstances can come into play: imagine that there are great social and political forces that would make it fatal if the parent comes forward to acknowledge that he or she is the parent. Or imagine that the parent was abusive and for example a daughter is utterly estranged from a father she never wishes to see again. And sometimes duties such as those you mention can present us with cases when one duty might be served by following another duty. So, your duty to care for your daughter might be satisfied by your joining an army: imagine that your city is under aggressive military attack and the best way to take care of your daughter or the best way you can contribute to her survival and safety is to join in the military defense of your city.

I hope you will not think this reply is too frustrating but, in many cases of assessing duties philosophers add an "all things considered" condition. So, you are right in thinking that if we have a duty to keep promises, then keeping them is better than not keeping them. This would be true or it is true in most, ordinary conditions. But that is not what most philosophers think when it comes to promises that are made to carry out unjust acts. `Making vows or oaths or promises can be binding, but when these are undertaken to carry out wicked acts, most philosophers have held they are not binding. In fact, making a vow or oath or promise to do something unjust may well make the action even worse. I suggest that if you wrong me by stealing my money, your act is wrong, but it would be less of a grave wrong if the act was thoughtless and impulsive, versus the same amount of money was taken but you did so to fulfill a vow or oath or a promise you made, let us imagine, to members of your gang that you would commit the robbery. I believe the latter would be more of a grave wrong as it would stem from a considered, deliberate, intentional act whereas the thoughtless wrong might indicate weakness of will but not reflect a deep matter of character and commitment. The inability of our duty to keep promises to trump our ordinary duties comes out in considering the first case you mention in your question. Imagine a parent in a state of emotional confusion and despair promises not to take care of her child. When the parent recovers her sane state of mind, imagine she reasons: I now see that I do have a duty to care for my child, but because I promised not to, I have a duty to ignore my duties as a parent.

One of the great philosophers who sought to rank our duties in the 20th century was W.D. Ross. You can track some of his work through the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Great questions. Many philosophers recognize that we have multiple duties which sometimes conflict. And they also recognize different degrees of complexity that come with duties. So, in a parent-daughter relationship, it is widely acknowledged that a parent does have a duty to take care of her and thus, it is recognized that, other things being equal, it is better to care for her than not but some of the following circumstances can come into play: imagine that there are great social and political forces that would make it fatal if the parent comes forward to acknowledge that he or she is the parent. Or imagine that the parent was abusive and for example a daughter is utterly estranged from a father she never wishes to see again. And sometimes duties such as those you mention can present us with cases when one duty might be served by following another duty. So, your duty to care for your daughter might be satisfied by your joining an army: imagine that your city is under aggressive military attack and...

If philosophers were paid to answer questions on sites like this one, I think we

If philosophers were paid to answer questions on sites like this one, I think we'd agree that there would be more responses. But do you think the quality of responses would decrease? Is something that one is willing to do for free intrinsically more virtuous than if it is done with a promised reward?

Fascinating question! Perhaps you are right that if we were paid for our responses, there would probably be more responses, but this might not mean that the responses would be better in quality. I have not seen a response yet keeping in mind I have not read all the responses that seemed to me to be done in a cursory manner, or in a way that would be less in quality if the question - response format was conducted professionally. I suggest that there may be no greater value as a rule for the superiority of value when persons act voluntarily or for free or for a promised reward money. Someone might volunteer to help the poor and do so because they have inherited great wealth, whereas another person who does not have such wealth and wants to help the poor may need to be paid if she is going to afford to do the work. Both persons might be equally compassionate and courageous Still, there are cases when it seems that a voluntary act may have greater merit: if someone refuses to be nice unless they are paid, that would seem to pale against almost any voluntary nice / generous action. Also, on speculating about how philosophers might respond on this site if they were paid, a number of factors might come into play. Imagine that for every response that a philosopher makes, the payment would go directly to assist refugees in Africa. Of course, the amount might matter too. In the case of what would seem a trivial amount among reasonably well off persons say, middle class in USA or Europe being paid 25 cents USD might seem absurd, but then again it is sobering to realize that in some parts of the world that 25 cents would be both needed and put to good use.

If you are willing to pay me to write more in the way of donating the equivalent of $100 to Oxfam I doubt that it is in my power to respond with a better reply, but I would be willing to put two or three hours more in seeking out different aspects of your excellent question.

Fascinating question! Perhaps you are right that if we were paid for our responses, there would probably be more responses, but this might not mean that the responses would be better in quality. I have not seen a response yet keeping in mind I have not read all the responses that seemed to me to be done in a cursory manner, or in a way that would be less in quality if the question - response format was conducted professionally. I suggest that there may be no greater value as a rule for the superiority of value when persons act voluntarily or for free or for a promised reward money. Someone might volunteer to help the poor and do so because they have inherited great wealth, whereas another person who does not have such wealth and wants to help the poor may need to be paid if she is going to afford to do the work. Both persons might be equally compassionate and courageous Still, there are cases when it seems that a voluntary act may have greater merit: if someone refuses to be nice unless...

Is judging a person by their intelligence analogous to racism? A person can't

Is judging a person by their intelligence analogous to racism? A person can't help the genetics that determines their intellectual capacity and the belief in the superiority of intelligent people seems to arguably be a basis for social inequalities.

Great question!

Some preliminary thoughts: Racism seems to involve treating a group of persons who share an ethnic identity with derision, disrespect, and partial disadvantage. Accounts of racism today are controversial, but I propose that a comprehensive account of racism should involve both action as well as attitudes. What you write suggests that one reason why racism is inappropriate / unjust / wrong, is that persons cannot help being a certain ethnicity. I suggest, however, that racism would be wrong whether or not one could voluntarily adopt or abandon a race or ethnicity. If I converted to Judaism and, in the eyes of the world I became Jewish, anti-semitism would still be wrong even though I could have remained a Christian. In a related way, I suggest it would still be wrong to discriminate against homosexuals whether or not a person can choose whether to be homosexual or not.

It should be added as a side point that the very category of "race" is vexing. Some think of race as a social construct. If that is true, then (paradoxically) it could turn out that races do not exist as real things / categories, but racists do. This might be analogous to the idea that while it turns out that there are no witches (persons with supernatural powers to cast spells etc) but there have been witch-hunters.

On to intelligence: I suspect that some kinds of preferential treatment of persons based on intelligence would seem like racism. The following examples seem unjust: a policy in which only highly intelligent people have a right not to be tortured, but less intelligent people may be tortured for any reason whatever; a policy in which intelligent people can enslave those less intelligent, etceteras. But sometimes discrimination in which intelligence is a factor seems fair and prudent. Wouldn't you want intelligent persons to be pilots, surgeons, sailers, etc, rather than persons who are not intelligent --here I mean intelligent in the sense of mastering the relevant skills? Presumably, too, for a university to accept students on the basis of intelligence (including the capacity to learn) seems reasonable, right?

But you may be on to a very interesting worry. Some persons may be very vain and assume that they are superior to others on the grounds of some kind of measure of intelligence, when they are utterly inferior when it comes to matters of compassion, caring for others, generosity, courage, humility, poetic and artistic expressiveness, and so on. I suggest that someone we might call intelligent could turn out to be merely clever, but that is different from recognizing that someone is wise.

Great question! Some preliminary thoughts: Racism seems to involve treating a group of persons who share an ethnic identity with derision, disrespect, and partial disadvantage. Accounts of racism today are controversial, but I propose that a comprehensive account of racism should involve both action as well as attitudes. What you write suggests that one reason why racism is inappropriate / unjust / wrong, is that persons cannot help being a certain ethnicity. I suggest, however, that racism would be wrong whether or not one could voluntarily adopt or abandon a race or ethnicity. If I converted to Judaism and, in the eyes of the world I became Jewish, anti-semitism would still be wrong even though I could have remained a Christian. In a related way, I suggest it would still be wrong to discriminate against homosexuals whether or not a person can choose whether to be homosexual or not. It should be added as a side point that the very category of "race" is vexing. Some think of race as a...

I would like to have some non-theistic response from you about the value of life

I would like to have some non-theistic response from you about the value of life. (I don't know if people asking about the "meaning of life" are asking what I want to ask, but I'll try to be specific.) One thing is the value of other people's lives. I am not concerned about this: I'm pretty sure that homicide is a terrible crime even in the cases I will mention next. A different thing is the value of one's own life (the value of life for the person living it). Of course, many people have good, rewarding, happy lives. Such lives are very valuable. But many other people have no such lives. I would like you to consider two cases. The first case is that of very ill and depressed people, continuously and permanently suffering with their illnesses, or that of incarcerated people, tortured from time to time, without any hope of getting out of their suffering: I mean people who will commit suicide if they have the courage and the chance to. I think that those lives have no value and that, for instance, if we...

From an entirely secular point of view, plus some simple ethical assumptions that seem quite convincing (suffering illness, incarceration...are bad), plus a strong principle of respecting persons' choices (imagine the persons suffering would take their own lives if they could or they are actually asking others to assist them in committing suicide) it seems one can recognize cases when life has ceased to be of value to those suffering and one may well be sympathetic with providing (for example) a way that the prisoner could, if he chose, take his own life (imagine being able to get the prisoner a pill that would bring about an instantaneous, painless death, hence putting an end to the torture). BUT, even in such cases it may be that simply BEING ALIVE is a good, whether or not this is welcomed or valued by the person who is alive. It is hard to think of a compelling argument that life itself is and should be valued, quite apart from suffering and so on. Speaking personally, whether or not I am suffering, I find the bare fact of life itself an awesome good. And yet, in the absence of this kind of experience of value, it is hard to conjure up the experience in others. Perhaps, though, three further points can be made:

First, there is some evidence that persons who are under such desperate conditions often do not seek to end their lives. Apparently, we have a tendency to value life even amid horrible catastrophes. Victor Frankel has written on this.

Second, in real life, we rarely know with certainty that there will be or can be no rescue, some deliverance from depression and suffering. I suppose we might here come close to looking for a religious reply to your question(s) but one may be thoroughly secular and yet hope for a better end.

Third, you might be putting us on a slippery slope. So, if we accept your first case, why not go with your second case? One reason not to is that you are winding up viewing large numbers of people having lives not worth living. This may not be bad if it motivates you to try to change the conditions of the unhappy people, but if you and others are of the opinion that such cases are pretty hopeless, I would think this would lead you to find the existence of these people a matter of regret. Imagine you are one of the unhappy people you describe in the second case and you meet a philosopher on a train. After you tell him your story, the philosopher looks sad, but he also wants to make things better and he tells you: "To be perfectly honest, if what you tell me is true, I am sad that you came into existence; your life is pointless and without value. Still, I think I can help. When the train goes through the next tunnel if you stick your head out the window and...."

OK, very grim thought experiment, but I introduce it to urge you to think that life itself may be of value. And I have not once mentioned theism. Ah, but I suppose I just did. If you are interested in theistic responses to such matters you might look at Stewart Goetz's The Purpose of Life. There are also lots of non-theistic religious responses to consider, e.g. Buddhism.

From an entirely secular point of view, plus some simple ethical assumptions that seem quite convincing (suffering illness, incarceration...are bad), plus a strong principle of respecting persons' choices (imagine the persons suffering would take their own lives if they could or they are actually asking others to assist them in committing suicide) it seems one can recognize cases when life has ceased to be of value to those suffering and one may well be sympathetic with providing (for example) a way that the prisoner could, if he chose, take his own life (imagine being able to get the prisoner a pill that would bring about an instantaneous, painless death, hence putting an end to the torture). BUT, even in such cases it may be that simply BEING ALIVE is a good, whether or not this is welcomed or valued by the person who is alive. It is hard to think of a compelling argument that life itself is and should be valued, quite apart from suffering and so on. Speaking personally, whether or not I am...

I know that many philosophers might scoff upon being asked some variation of

I know that many philosophers might scoff upon being asked some variation of "What is the meaning of life or living" but isn't it about the most relevant question one can ask in relation to philosophy and its relationship with humankind? It seems this is studied very little or at all by philosophers in academia. As a follow-up, do philosophers either in the continental or analytic tradition place any value in the metaphysical writings of yogis or mystics from India; isn't it at least worth investigating?

It would be unbecoming of a philosopher to scoff at the question rather than engage it in some way, and philosophers do engage it. Another book to investigate is the third edition of The Meaning of Life: A Reader, edited by Klemke and Cahn. In his article "The Absurd" (widely anthologized, including in Klemke and Cahn), Nagel makes a tantalizingly brief suggestion that many who seek the meaning of life are seeking something flatly impossible: a life purpose so significant, so clearly ultimate, that it would make no sense to question it. Take happiness, for example. We can't simply define it as "the ultimate goal of life," because that would be a circular definition in this context. So we can question it as a goal: Is it the same as pleasure, or is it more like lasting satisfaction? Is it tied to virtue or not? Whichever answers we give to those questions invite the further sensible question "If that's what happiness is, then why is it the ultimate goal?" In this short magazine article, I follow up Nagel's suggestion in the context of traditional theism. [By the way, Chapter 1o of Nagel's introductory book What Does It All Mean? (1987) is entitled "The Meaning of Life," but it's barely seven short pages. More likely Prof. Pessin meant to refer to Nagel's "The Absurd" in his comment above.]

Thank you for this inquiry. Actually, philosophers have returned to the question of the meaning of life after a sort of sabbatical in the 1980s and 1990s. The latest is The Purpose of Life by Stewart Goetz published by Continuum. He thinks that most philosophers have agreed about the meaning of life, at least as far as human beings are concerned. The meaning (or true, desirable end) of life is happiness. Philosophers, according to Goetz, have disagreed about what does or should make one happy or the ultimate end of living a life of happiness, but agree in the abstract on the importance of happiness. I think there is some truth to this. Interestingly, Goetz is a Christian theist, so he ultimately weaves together his view of life's meaning with a whole philosophy of the cosmos, which he understands in teleological (purposive) terms as opposed to a matter of blind mechanism. Other recent contributors on the meaning of life include Thomas Nagel, who has written eloquently on the mystery of the cosmos...

Throughout life, we all have fantasies, from childhood fantasies of being rock

Throughout life, we all have fantasies, from childhood fantasies of being rock star/doctors/astronauts, to "adult" fantasies of wealth, fame and power. These "adult fantasies", including, but not limited to, images of wealth, power, lust, power, status, and/or self-actualization, are seemingly very common. Do you think these fantasies are more beneficial, allowing us to aspire for greater goals in life and being driven to attain them, or dangerous, filling us with envious glowers of lust with little determination to fulfill them?

A great question, and not easily answered! The English Romantic poet and philosopher Samuel Coleridge drew a sharp distinction between fantasy and imagination in which the first is relatively feckless and futile (and your examples would fit under what Coleridge would classify as fantasy), whereas imagination is more constructive and is employed to think about the meaning of life, God, the good, and our relationships and responsibilities to one another, and the life. I believe the Cambridge University philosopher Douglas Hedley defends position like that. I tend to take a somewhat more relaxed view. While clearly fantasies can be horribly self-absorbed, even cruel, surely (I suggest) our lives would be poorer without some fantasies --a child fantasizing about becoming an astronaut or an adult fantasizing about being a great diplomat who both gets Hamas to recognize that the state of Israel to exist and insures that the Korean peninsular is nuclear free. Sometimes the entertaining of outright fantasies (what if Tom Cruise asked me to marry me?) can even tell you things about yourself that you weren't fully aware of (I would say no, because, come to think of it, Scientology is too weird).

A great question, and not easily answered! The English Romantic poet and philosopher Samuel Coleridge drew a sharp distinction between fantasy and imagination in which the first is relatively feckless and futile (and your examples would fit under what Coleridge would classify as fantasy), whereas imagination is more constructive and is employed to think about the meaning of life, God, the good, and our relationships and responsibilities to one another, and the life. I believe the Cambridge University philosopher Douglas Hedley defends position like that. I tend to take a somewhat more relaxed view. While clearly fantasies can be horribly self-absorbed, even cruel, surely (I suggest) our lives would be poorer without some fantasies --a child fantasizing about becoming an astronaut or an adult fantasizing about being a great diplomat who both gets Hamas to recognize that the state of Israel to exist and insures that the Korean peninsular is nuclear free. Sometimes the entertaining of outright...

I am not sure that this question should be posted to you, philosophers. But I

I am not sure that this question should be posted to you, philosophers. But I think philosophy has been talking about everything in life. Anyway, my question is : Do we have to has a fix principles and values that never be changed? I mean, we almost consider changing is a positive thing, and everything we believe in must be criticized and examined and consequently, changed ... if so, is it reasonable for people to Struggle for their principles If they believe that this principle may be changed anytime? Does the fact of “change” eliminates the value of”principle”? Thank you

Thank you for this inquiry! You raise a complex matter. Some philosophers have gone through changes, sometimes quite radical: we sometimes refer to the pre-critical Kant and then to Kant after the Critique of Pure Reason, Wittgenstein changed his mind in such a significant way that we refer to the early and the later Wittgenstein, same with Heidegger. I am not sure that we can say (in the abstract) that change is itself a good or value: there is a famous philosopher of mind, Frank Jackson, who first introduced a brilliant argument against materialism, but then changed him mind and concluded the argument failed. Personally, I think the first argument works, and the "latter Frank Jackson" is mistaken. As I noted, it is very hard to claim that either constancy or change (in the abstract) is good or bad, but perhaps it may be concluded that the tradition of philosophy and the current philosophical community is enriched by both philosophers who change their mind with great frequency (Bertrand Russell comes to mind; he held so many positions that one could not refer to an early and late Russell, but a multi-faceted Russell) and those whose work from youth through maturity and until death has been very stable (Roderick Chisholm certainly changed his mind on a number of issues, but overall there were constant themes throughout his brilliant career, e.g. non-materialistic views of the person and intentionality, foundationalism in epistemology, Platonist in metaphysics, a moral realist, and so on). I think we need both our Russells and Chisholms to have a healthy philosophical community.

Thank you for this inquiry! You raise a complex matter. Some philosophers have gone through changes, sometimes quite radical: we sometimes refer to the pre-critical Kant and then to Kant after the Critique of Pure Reason, Wittgenstein changed his mind in such a significant way that we refer to the early and the later Wittgenstein, same with Heidegger. I am not sure that we can say (in the abstract) that change is itself a good or value: there is a famous philosopher of mind, Frank Jackson, who first introduced a brilliant argument against materialism, but then changed him mind and concluded the argument failed. Personally, I think the first argument works, and the "latter Frank Jackson" is mistaken. As I noted, it is very hard to claim that either constancy or change (in the abstract) is good or bad, but perhaps it may be concluded that the tradition of philosophy and the current philosophical community is enriched by both philosophers who change their mind with great frequency (Bertrand Russell...

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