December 2015

Truth & Other Fictions

Some people think Aristotle basically had it right when he said, "To say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true". I take it he meant that, for example, if I say this apple is red, what I say is true if this apple actually has the property of being red. If I say this apple is not red, what I say is true if this apple does not have the property of being red. What more is there to say?

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Good, Evil, and the Divine Plan

The question is: if God knows all, is all-powerful, and is benevolent, why did He create a world with suffering, evil and injustice in it? That’s what philosophers call “The Problem of Evil”. It is a problem for religions, like orthodox Christianity, that posit a perfect God. Such a God should be all-powerful or “omnipotent,” and all-knowing or “omniscient”. And he should be benevolent, since being mean and uncaring is an imperfection. But as the quote from Epicurus shows, the problem predates Christian philosophy and theology.

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Two Concepts of Safe Space

Sometimes people want a place where they’ll be free from identity-based insult. But sometimes people want a place where they can talk freely about ideas without having to worry about being declared offensive. It’s legitimate to hope for both kinds of place. Loosely speaking, both can be dubbed “safe spaces.” But immediately a difficulty arises: the two kinds of safe space are often (not always) at cross-purposes.

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Taoism

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Self and Self-Presentation

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Gun violence, advocacy, and the NRA

Suppose that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) funded research which found that individuals who eat meat are more likely to die of heart disease than those who don’t.  (I am making this up; I have no idea whether this is true or not.)  The meat lobby objects and says that the CDC should not be allowed to fund research that advocates against eating meat.

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