News Bits

by Luke Muehlhauser on September 10, 2010 in News

The writer of the ethics column for Philosophy Now gives up on moral realism because he thinks atheism implies amoralism. Also, the word ‘desirism’ appears, but I don’t know what he means by it.

The fellas at Reasonable Doubts give an excellent introduction to early Buddhism and interview Stephen Batchelor, author of Confession of a Buddhist Atheist.

Philosophy Talk on self-deception.

Roberto Carlos, footballer and expert physicist.

How My Six Year Old Debunked Intelligent Design.

Some examples of Christian logic.

Tim Crane on some differences between science and religion.

Pacific cruise ship on rough seas. It’s like a hurricane indoors!

Scientists study which dance moves best attract human females.

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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

G'DIsraeli September 10, 2010 at 7:01 am

The idea that morals are preferences, is useless.
If morality is dead, something else lives in a society where people care of each others happiness and well-being. Maybe after all we don’t transcend our ‘selfish genes’?

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Eneasz September 10, 2010 at 7:06 am

Soccer fans didn’t know that putting spin on a flying sphere will make it curve? If only they’d watched even one game of baseball…

Not that I can blame them, baseball is boring as hell.

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Jacopo September 10, 2010 at 7:25 am

10,000,000 points for describing Carlos as a ‘footballer’ and not a ‘soccer player’.

Benson is as ever the person to read, this time on the Crane article: http://www.butterfliesandwheels.org/2010/what-about-evidence/

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Jacopo September 10, 2010 at 7:29 am

Also these two links have got the commonsenseatheism URL in front of them for some reason:

“How My Six Year Old Debunked Intelligent Design.

Some examples of Christian logic.”

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lukeprog September 10, 2010 at 8:02 am

Thanks, Jacopo.

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Brian_G September 10, 2010 at 8:16 am

From the website on “Christian Logic” (the link doesn’t work btw):

“Christians contend that since no unclean thing can enter Heaven this means that everyone deserves to be tortured forever in Hell because we have all sinned and all sins are equal in the eyes of God. It is only through believing in the correct version of God with no empirical evidence that one is saved. ”

This is a common misunderstanding that “all sins are the same in God’s eyes.” Of course it’s silly. Steeling a pencil isn’t the same as killing someone. This should be obvious to anyone who think about it. Here’s what the Bible says on the topic:

Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matt 5:19

Jesus answered (him), “You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above. For this reason the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.” John 19:11

the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly. Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more. Luke 12:48

So we have Jesus speaking about “least commandments” someone committing a “greater sin” and that sins done in ignorance will receive a lesser punishment.

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Leomar September 10, 2010 at 8:32 am

Nice. Thanks for the dancing tips.

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Brian_G September 10, 2010 at 8:52 am

Luke,

It seems like the comments are getting posted out of order.

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cl September 10, 2010 at 9:33 am

The writer of the ethics column for Philosophy Now gives up on moral realism because he thinks atheism implies amoralism.

I’m not saying atheists can’t be good people, but I applaud him for taking his belief to its logical conclusion. I would be an error-theorist if I were an atheist, too.

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Joe Navy September 10, 2010 at 10:27 am

Luke,
With stumble and your news bits…I never get bored at work!

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lukeprog September 10, 2010 at 11:28 am

I know. The time thing is screwed up or something! I don’t get it…

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MichaelPJ September 10, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Well, the thing with a Humean view of morality is that it indeed isn’t properly morality. To steal an excellent metaphor I saw elsewhere, it’s like saying that the Tooth Fairy is really people’s mothers, rather than just saying that the Tooth Fairy doesn’t exist. You’re still denying some features that people expect morality to have, you’re just providing an explanation of the ones that remain.

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lukeprog September 10, 2010 at 2:59 pm

Test comment. Commenting is being weird right now.

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lukeprog September 10, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Weird. comments are appearing out of order.

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lukeprog September 10, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Fuck you, comment system! Work!

:)

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Márcio September 10, 2010 at 4:25 pm

There is no right, there is no wrong, there is no truth and everything is relative.

I fell sorry when people believe in this.

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Garren September 10, 2010 at 3:28 pm

Sounds like he has switched from a Kantian view of morality to a Humean view, except that he still insists only Kantian morality is properly-so-called morality.

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Charles September 10, 2010 at 4:30 pm

Who said truth is relative?

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lukeprog September 10, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Okay, I upgraded WordPress. Let’s see if Comments work now.

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lukeprog September 10, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Looks like maybe they are.

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Justfinethanks September 10, 2010 at 5:14 pm

I would be an error-theorist if I were an atheist, too.

If morals couldn’t exist on atheism, I also would be an error theorist, even if I were a theist. Because honestly, I have yet to hear a sensible critique of non-theistic moral systems that couldn’t equally apply to theistic moral systems.

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TaiChi September 10, 2010 at 5:30 pm

Thanks for the pointer to Marks’ column. I particularly liked his distinction between ethics and morality: not so much for accuracy, but for the fact that such a distinction is needed – that there are no moral truths yet leaves open the possibility of a personal code which one lives by, predicated on the kind of character one strives to be.

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mojo.rhythm September 10, 2010 at 6:22 pm

Justfinethanks,

Ditto. Btw, don’t take Cl’s bait; she’s obviously fishing.

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JS Allen September 10, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Liquid dance, baby!

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James Onen September 11, 2010 at 1:32 am

Ditto. Btw, don’t take Cl’s bait; she’s obviously fishing.

cl is a she ?

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cl September 11, 2010 at 11:33 am

mojo.rhythym,

Btw, don’t take Cl’s bait; she’s obviously fishing.

There’s no “bait” to take. I spoke my mind. I appreciate you extending the benefit of the doubt.

Justfinethanks,

…I also would be an error theorist, even if I were a theist. Because honestly, I have yet to hear a sensible critique of non-theistic moral systems that couldn’t equally apply to theistic moral systems.

It would be foolish to be an error-theorist given an omniscient, omnibenevolent God. I’ve not heard any critique that can challenge the claim, “A morality prescribed by an omniscient, omnibenevolent God is the best possible morality,” where “best” means something like “rooted in knowledge and fact.” All atheists can do is take cheap shots at that claim.

James Onen,

cl is a she ?

Hermes started that rumor.

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G'DIsraeli September 11, 2010 at 11:51 am

Gender and Sex, new book, article published yesterday…Any body interested?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/sep/10/gender-gap-myth-cordelia-fine

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Silver Bullet September 12, 2010 at 10:36 am

That cruise ship video was unbelievable. The site had a link to another incredible video of a plane avoiding a disastrous landing. Watch this:

http://www.break.com/index/german-plane-nearly-crashes-during-landing.html

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Garren September 13, 2010 at 1:00 am

@MichaelPJ

Why should ALL the features people might expect from morality — or anything else — be required to affirm that the thing we were referring to is still the thing we were referring to…even if we must adjust our understanding of its properties on examination? It would be like a teen telling her parents she’s an Atheist now because she reject Christian fundamentalism and believes in a personal creator of the world who didn’t inspire a holy book.

Specifically, I deny motivation internalism in ethics, but still believe most people do, in fact, have some motivation to be moral. As David Brink asks:

“Does the practical character of morality require that moral obligations necessarily give rise to reasons for action, or just that they typically do? Won’t moral considerations still play an important practical role even if they do not provide every agent on every occasion with reason for action?” (Page 57 of Moral Realism and the Foundations of Ethics)

http://books.google.com/books?id=viUm7tVhAnIC&lpg=PP1&pg=PA57#v=onepage&q&f=false

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Bill Snedden September 13, 2010 at 7:56 am

cl: “I’ve not heard any critique that can challenge the claim, “A morality prescribed by an omniscient, omnibenevolent God is the best possible morality,” where “best” means something like “rooted in knowledge and fact.”

A “benevolent dictator” is still a dictator. That’s not a “cheap shot”, it’s a fact. God’s whim is no more “right” given his superior knowledge than mine would be compared to an adult with Down’s Syndrome. Euthyphro put paid to this worthless argument several centuries ago.

The idea that atheism logically implies amoralism has been similarly refuted by numerous philosophers, numerous times, in a multitude of different ways. If this is your opinion, it speaks a great ignorance of the field of meta-ethics.

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cl September 13, 2010 at 9:53 am

bill snedden,

A “benevolent dictator” is still a dictator. That’s not a “cheap shot”, it’s a fact. God’s whim is no more “right” given his superior knowledge than mine would be compared to an adult with Down’s Syndrome. Euthyphro put paid to this worthless argument several centuries ago.

Your critique did not challenge the claim. You simply a) introduced the irrelevant bit about the dictator; b) provided an inaccurate analogy that relies on a contradiction; and, c) voiced your confidence in the Euthyphro dilemma.

The idea that atheism logically implies amoralism has been similarly refuted by numerous philosophers, numerous times, in a multitude of different ways. If this is your opinion, it speaks a great ignorance of the field of meta-ethics.

Again, your criticism does not challenge the claim. You’ve simply paved the way for odd amalgamation of the argument from authority and the argument from popularity, followed by a mild jab that seems to indicate your own certainty on the matter. That one or more philosophers think differently than I on some issue is no valid criticism at all. That you insinuate ignorance because I think differently is presumptuous.

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cl September 13, 2010 at 9:54 am

Rats – sorry about the lack of capitalization on your name. I usually take great pains to get people’s names correct.

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Bill Snedden September 13, 2010 at 2:41 pm

cl:

Your critique did not challenge the claim. You simply a) introduced the irrelevant bit about the dictator; b) provided an inaccurate analogy that relies on a contradiction; and, c) voiced your confidence in the Euthyphro dilemma.

Ummm..yes, it did:
1) unless you’re prepared to argue that the “best possible morality” is one which necessarily involves a dictator, the “irrelevant bit” was not at all irrelevant. Good luck with that.

2) The analogy was not at all inaccurate. The point was that while God’s alleged “omniscience” (the “omnibenevolent” bit is circular, so I disregarded it) may put him in a better position to discern what is morally right (as indeed I would be vis a vis an adult with Down’s syndrome), it provides no more of a basis upon which to ground morality (as indeed neither does it for me).

3)with good reason. Ethics is one of my main areas of interest and I’ve spent more than 20 years thinking and reading about it. In that time I have yet to come across a cogent response to Euthyphro that doesn’t come down squarely on one horn or the other. Anyone claiming that “god” is the source of morality must deal with it somehow.

You’ve simply paved the way for odd amalgamation of the argument from authority and the argument from popularity, followed by a mild jab that seems to indicate your own certainty on the matter.

Please pardon the “jab”; this claim (that atheism somehow necessarily implies anything other than a non-belief in a deity) is a pet peeve of mine…

That one or more philosophers think differently than I on some issue is no valid criticism at all. That you insinuate ignorance because I think differently is presumptuous.

Actually, I phrased that last paragraph rather poorly. Here’s what I actually meant by that:

You wrote, “I’ve not heard any critique that can challenge the claim…”. It is a fact that a multitude of philosophers over several centuries have spilled quite a lot of ink doing exactly what you claim you’ve never heard. My “insinuation” of ignorance is not presumptuous; it’s directly implied by your own words.

Whether or not those challenges are successful is entirely beside the point. It’s not that they “think differently”, it’s that numerous arguments have been presented none of which you’ve apparently seen. In other words, you are ignorant of those challenges. For someone making a meta-ethical claim in this forum, that should be a serious concern.

IOW, it’s not your opinion itself that implies ignorance, but your statement regarding how you hold that opinion. And note also that “ignorant” does not equal “stupid”, at least not in my book.

Rats – sorry about the lack of capitalization on your name. I usually take great pains to get people’s names correct.

No worries. At least you spelled it correctly…that’s more than I could say for most. ;)

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