Law

Is there a philosophical point of view to the use of of marijuana? How would a philosopher think about smoking marijuana?

interesting question -- but why would a philosopher think any differently on this subject than anyone else? are you asking whether pot smoking should be legal? then it's a public health issue, a privacy issue, etc., and then lots of experts can weigh in from all sorts of perspectives (with partly philosophical positions, but not necessarily 'professional philosophers'' philosophical positions ...) are you asking whether it's good to smoke pot? does a good life include it? then we do get to standard philosophical questions, but then there wouldn't be "a" philosopher's way of thinking about it, there would be the usual debates about different conceptions of ethics. of course, no doubt, some people become philosophers partly as a result of their pot-smoking experiences, which no doubt would subsequently inform their philosophial opinions -- about many things, including about pot smoking. anyway, this may not have been particularly useful, but perhaps it's a start! ... best, ap

Should people have an expectation of privacy with regards to things they do in public? For instance, do I have the right to expect that conversations I hold in public places are not recorded, or that my shopping trips are not be tracked then and posted online?

Good questions. But it's hard to imagine that we have (or 'should' have) rights as specific as these except in the sense that we reach some sort of societal consensus about them -- so I might rephrase the question as 'would we have a better society overall if we granted such rights than if we don't?' Since (in my initial thoughts on answering the question so phrased) we have almost no way of enforcing such rules, and we now live in the age of everyone recording everything, and since there are at least some benefits to being in this age, and since younger folks in particular are growing up without anything like the expectation of privacy older folks once were used to, we may as well give up on such rights -- and reserve the right to privacy to private places (where it's already hard enough to enforce, given e veryone's interconnectedness etc.) .... hope that's useful! ap

Good questions. But it's hard to imagine that we have (or 'should' have) rights as specific as these except in the sense that we reach some sort of societal consensus about them -- so I might rephrase the question as 'would we have a better society overall if we granted such rights than if we don't?' Since (in my initial thoughts on answering the question so phrased) we have almost no way of enforcing such rules, and we now live in the age of everyone recording everything, and since there are at least some benefits to being in this age, and since younger folks in particular are growing up without anything like the expectation of privacy older folks once were used to, we may as well give up on such rights -- and reserve the right to privacy to private places (where it's already hard enough to enforce, given e veryone's interconnectedness etc.) .... hope that's useful! ap

When we say that porn is not appropriate for children aren't we implicitly or covertly saying that porn is not appropriate for anyone?

Not sure why one might think that. We often, easily, and legitimately (I think) distinguish what's appropriate for children v. for adults, so what would be out of place in this case? Obviously we'd have to define/explain what we mean by 'appropriate' here -- and that could vary case by case, context by context -- but it seems to me the burden of proof would be on the person who holds we shouldn't make such a distinction .... So why do you think so? ap

My question regards the existence and location of non-material entities. An idea exists? color exists? When we open our brain, all we see is neurons/cells, etc. Using a scientific aproach, we can say that color, sound, taste (etc) don't have physical existence - that is well known. If all we can see is neurons connecting, where these kind of entities exist/happen?. By a scientific point of view all entities must have matter and have a location, or not? I'm particulary interested in the location is space of those entities I mentioned. Someone could say ''The are non-material entities'' and the problem would be solved. Also, I'm assuming things that probably no scientist agrees. I don't hope a conclusive answer, I just want some ideas.

Great question. But one other possibility is that some form of materialism is true: these 'non-material' things might simply be identical to various brain states. So, for example, it's not so much that 'red' (say) is identified with some pattern of neural firing -- but 'perceiving red' may well be, in which case 'perceiving red' would be located wherever those brain cells are. And what are 'ideas', beyond the events of our 'thinking' of them? If nothing, then 'thinking of an idea i' would just be identified with a certain pattern of firing, and located where those neurons are ... Now WHETHER such a materialism is viable or not -- well, that's a vexed and difficult question. And if you are inclined to dispute it (and there are good reasons to do so), then in a way you've taken away the force of your own question -- if you do believe that colors, ideas, thoughts, etc. are NOT to be identified with neural patterns, then you automatically believe in the existence of non-physical things -- in which...

Everyday, people set out to make the world a better place. And every now and then, people actually do something that DOES make the world a better place. Sometimes it's on a large scale, sometimes it's on a small scale, but it's still an improvement nonetheless. And I don't think anybody really TRIES to make the world a worse place. I think sometimes they do, but it's not intentional. Do you think that someday, everybody will have fixed everything once wrong with the world, there will be no more improvements necessary, and the world could be the perfect place, almost like a utopia?

Nice (and fun!) question. First "almost like" a utopia? That sounds pretty utopic ... Of course part of the problem -- perhaps the biggest part of the problem -- is that not everyone agrees on what a good or perfect world would look like, so that actions that some take to improve the world would be countered by others who have a different conception of the good world ... Maybe,then, rather than imagine the utopia to be something static, a fixed destination -- after all, isn't 'change' the only constant thing? -- we should imagine it to be dynamic, an ongoing changing equilibrium of sorts -- so there could be an ongoing flux and flow, of movements forward and back (by different people's different metrics),e tc.? .... (On that view, nothing quite stops the idea that this very universe might be the 'good' or 'perfect' one -- yes it's got plenty of individually lousy elements, but the ongoing effort to counter those lousy things, even by all the different people with their different metrics, might be just the...

Does the principle of increased entropy support or challenge the Cosmological argument? I am getting mixed messages and am unsure which if any are valid.

Good question, and undoubtedly others are better equipped to give better or deeper answers. But I'll take a quick stab. First, there are at least several different categories of Cosmological Arguments, but I'm guessing you have in mind those involving design of some sort -- increasing entropy seems to suggest the cosmos tends toward disorder, which seems to undermine the notion that there is any sort of (intrinsic) or ultimate ordering. But now, with respect to design, what's to refute the idea that the increasing disorder is PART of the design, part of its aim? (the general problem with design arguments is that no one is ever very clear on just what the purported point of God creating the universe is .... But presumably introducing human beings to contemplate the universe (and God) is part of it, and why couldn't a cosmos with increasing entropy be something good for human beings to contemplate?) ... As far as other forms of Cosmological Args go, by my understanding they tend to involve...

Good question, and undoubtedly others are better equipped to give better or deeper answers. But I'll take a quick stab. First, there are at least several different categories of Cosmological Arguments, but I'm guessing you have in mind those involving design of some sort -- increasing entropy seems to suggest the cosmos tends toward disorder, which seems to undermine the notion that there is any sort of (intrinsic) or ultimate ordering. But now, with respect to design, what's to refute the idea that the increasing disorder is PART of the design, part of its aim? (the general problem with design arguments is that no one is ever very clear on just what the purported point of God creating the universe is .... But presumably introducing human beings to contemplate the universe (and God) is part of it, and why couldn't a cosmos with increasing entropy be something good for human beings to contemplate?) ... As far as other forms of Cosmological Args go, by my understanding they tend to involve...

Is it hypocritical for prostitution to be legal but pimping to be illegal?

Hm, I think you mean "inconsistent" rather than "hypocritical" here ... but anyway -- but one quick "no" answer might be generated by this line of thought: if by "non-pimping prostitution" you have in mind the idea of an adult individual freely choosing to sell himself/herself for sex, then basic libertarian principles seem to support it. That is, whatever your view of the morality of doing that is, if we accept the idea that adults should be free to make their own choices etc., one might see nothing wrong about prostitution and argue that it shouldn't be illegal. But if by "pimping" you have in mind the stereotypic situation of one person controlling or manipulating another - the pimp controls and compels the prostitute -- then that clearly would be objectionable on basic libertarian grounds, so one could argue for its illegality .... (A third case might be this: a prostitute and a pimp enter into some free business arrangement --- no compulsion etc. -- so in that case perhaps both should be legal .......

Does democracy necessarily assume that the voters are rational and educated? I was always of the opinion that democracy was the best system because there is no way in non-democratic systems to ensure that the state is acting in the best interests of the people. Is this a compelling argument or is there a better counterargument? Do the arguments that "voters are irrational" or "voters are unduly influenced by the media" really defeat democracy? Is it better to have a well-intentioned non-democratic state look after the interests of the people?

Wonderful question, deserving of complicated book-length responses .... As (I think) Churchill said, democracy is a terrible form of government, but even so it's less terrible than every other possible form ... A few disorganized thoughts. I suppose some might hold that "ideal" forms of democracy would exist where voters are rational, educated, etc. (and historically various democracies have tried to restrict franchisement to those who fit various conditions -- such as having property, being literate, etc.). Of course, those forms of democracy tend to be seen these ways as involving those in power propagating their power and suppressing those below them ... Even if you're okay with restricting the vote in some such way, democracy is messy -- even very educated, rational people disagree. (Ask three professional philosophers, get four opinions ...) So I suppose that if the goal of government is to act "in the best interests of the people," what you would most like would be very wise, autocratic rulers --...

If God exists, is there any proof that he involves himself in human affairs? It seems most if not all debate in contemporary philosophy centers around whether a deist God exists.

Great question, but just a short answer to start. By "involvement" you probably have in mind something like "miracles" (say, violations of the law of nature). But questions of "miraculousness" are VERY hard to prove, and so (I'm guessing) discussion of their occurrence is probably mostly limited to those who already are believers -- it's only AFTER you believe God exists that you're likely to treat some event as a miracle. (After all there is much we don't know or understand about the world, so the mere fact that something unusual or unlikely occurs is not very good evidence that a miracle has occurred, and thus itself not good evidence that God exists.) But you should also be aware that there is a long tradition of thinking of God's "involvement" in different ways. For example, it has traditionally been argued that God "continuously creates" the world -- see Descartes, Malebranche eg -- that God's activity is necessary to keep the world in existence, even while there is also good reason to...

Ethically, what is the difference between a sex object and a sex symbol when talking about a person? Why is the latter term considered less degrading and even beneficial? Is a symbol merely a representation of an object or actually an extension of one?

This is a great question I hadn't thought of. One response perhaps is to acknowledge how it reflects the fundamental ambiguity our society has toward ALL matters sexual. Sexuality is both good and bad, in various ways/senses, at least for many. Profoundly religious people of a certain sort might not agree, but then they would not be so likely to see the distinction you raise between object/symbol above -- both would be equivalent and equally bad. But for others, who DO see your distinction, we can admit that being sexually attractive is something we desire and thus, in a sense, approve of; a sex symbol is someone who represents an ideal of sexual attractiveness that we all would love to instantiate ourselves, so a "sex symbol" is good, all else equal. But of course human beings are MORE than physical, sexual animals -- there are other aspects to ourselves that we value -- and insofar as we treat or think of someone as MERELY a sexual 'object' we are failing to value those other features...

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