What Do Most Philosophers Believe?

by Luke Muehlhauser on December 8, 2009 in General Atheism,Philosophy of Religion 101

school of athens

What do most philosophers believe? Are most philosophers atheists, or theists? Do they lean toward Platonism or nominalism? Do they lean toward externalist or internalist epistemic justification?

David Bourget and David Chalmers have released the results of the largest survey of professional philosophers ever conducted. There were 931 respondents from 99 leading philosophy departments around the world.1

First, here are the editors’ thoughts on the design of the survey and the results. So what are the results? Here are the results most relevant to this blog:

72.8% atheism
14.6% theism
12.5% other

59% compatibilism (usually a rejection of contra-causal free will)
12.2% no free will
13.7% libertarianism
14.9% other

56.3% moral realism
27.7% moral anti-realism
15.8% other

49.8% naturalism
25.8% non-naturalism (but not necessarily supernaturalism)
24.2% other

75% scientific realism
11.6% scientific anti-realism
13.3% other

26.3% B-Theory of time
15.4% A-Theory of time
58.2% other

So, on these issues at least, how do the beliefs of Luke the Common Sense Atheist compare to the current philosophical consensus? As it turns out, I agree with the philosophical consensus in every case.

I’m an atheist, obviously. I’m a compatibilist (I don’t believe in contra-causal free will but obviously we have voluntaristic free will), even though I think the term “compatibilism” is a bit misleading. I’m a moral realist. I’m a naturalist. I’m a scientific realist. I’m not sure whether I accept the B-Theory or something “other,” but mostly I just reject the A-Theory, as the vast majority of philosophers do. (Rejecting the A-Theory of time, by the way, kills the Kalam Cosmological Argument.)

So, for those who think my views are extreme, well… they are extreme for the uneducated masses, but they are totally mainstream in the philosophical community. And I’ll bet if they gave the same survey to the scientific community, the results would be similar.

I don’t think holding a majority view entitles one to ignore the burden of proof. For example, most philosophers are moral realists, but I think moral realism carries the burden of proof.

Still, I’d like to hear from those those who defend libertarian free will or the A-Theory of time or non-naturalism or theism: why do you reject the philosophical consensus?

  1. There were many other faculty, student, and unaffiliated respondents, but my summary below concerns only those 931 leading philosophers that responded. []

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{ 76 comments… read them below or add one }

lukeprog December 8, 2009 at 6:54 pm

Most atheistic areas of specialty:

philosophy of cognitive science
philosophy of mind
decision theory
philosophy of biology
philosophy of language
meta-ethics
philosophy of probability

Philosophy of religion is WAY skewed in the other direction. Over 70% of philosophers of religion are theists, as expected. Every other area of specialty has a majority of atheists, I think.

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Michael Thackray December 8, 2009 at 6:55 pm

thanks for posting this Luke. Hugely interesting stuff.

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Josh December 8, 2009 at 7:32 pm

I reject moral realism because it is stupid =p

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Justfinethanks December 8, 2009 at 7:51 pm

Hey, on the naturalist question, the numbers only add up to 92 percent. Is that a typo or some sort of anomaly inherent in the survey?

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Jeffrey December 8, 2009 at 7:55 pm

What is a non-naturalist atheist? I can think of, say, palm readers, but nothing that I would expect to add up to 23%. Until now, I used atheist and naturalist interchangably, but that seems to be leaving out a *lot* of people.

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ayer December 8, 2009 at 8:46 pm

lukeprog: Philosophy of religion is WAY skewed in the other direction. Over 70% of philosophers of religion are theists, as expected. Every other area of specialty has a majority of atheists, I think.

Actually, as a theist I consider myself to be within the relevant consensus, which is that of philosophers of religion. That is the area of relevant expertise regarding theism/atheism. The view of a decision theorist would be largely irrelevant as to the consensus on theism/atheism, just as the view of a philosopher of religion would be irrelevant in determining the consensus on the questions of decision theory.

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Bill Maher December 8, 2009 at 8:49 pm

Jeffrey: What is a non-naturalist atheist?I can think of, say, palm readers, but nothing that I would expect to add up to 23%.Until now, I used atheist and naturalist interchangably, but that seems to be leaving out a *lot* of people.  

the greatest philosopher, David Icke, is a non-naturalist.

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Paul December 8, 2009 at 8:53 pm

W/ regards to B theory vs A theory of time. I am open to the possibility of B Theory. However, if B theory is true. How does that affect our understanding of quantum mechanics? If quantum mechanics is truly indeterminate (which I leave as an open question) then how can all of time exist simultaneously?

Not sure I worded my question accurately enough but I hope th underlying question comes across.

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Justfinethanks December 8, 2009 at 9:13 pm

Actually, as a theist I consider myself to be within the relevant consensus, which is that of philosophers of religion. That is the area of relevant expertise regarding theism/atheism.

Ok, so just we are sure that you are consistent: On the topic of whether dualism or materialism best makes sense of consciousness and mental experience would you agree that the view of a philosopher of religion, like WL Craig, is irrelevant, while the view of a philosopher of mind, like Dan Dennett, is highly relevant?

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Briang December 8, 2009 at 9:33 pm

Luke,

Can you explain or point to a link on how the KCA requires the A-theory of time?

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ayer December 8, 2009 at 9:38 pm

Justfinethanks: Ok, so just we are sure that you are consistent: On the topic of whether dualism or materialism best makes sense of consciousness and mental experience would you agree that the view of a philosopher of religion, like WL Craig, is irrelevant, while the view of a philosopher of mind, like Dan Dennett, is highly relevant?

Sure, in terms of determining the consensus of philosophers on a particular issue, it is the specialists on that issue that should be determinative (of course, the relevance of a consensus to what is true seems questionable, but that wasn’t really addressed in the original post). Both mind-body dualism and monism have been advocated by orthodox Christians, so Dennett could have theists agreeing with him on that issue.

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ayer December 8, 2009 at 9:42 pm

Briang: Can you explain or point to a link on how the KCA requires the A-theory of time?

On a note related to my last comment, orthodox Christian theists have also been on both sides of the A-theory (Craig) vs. B-theory (Boethius, C.S. Lewis) of time issue, as well as the compatibilism (Calvinists) vs. libertarian free will (Arminians) issue. All of these positions on secondary matters are consistent with “Nicene Creed” Christianity.

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Haukur December 8, 2009 at 9:44 pm

And I’ll bet if they gave the same survey to the scientific community, the results would be similar.

I don’t know. I kind of doubt that the typical biologist or computer scientist or whatever has any opinion on most of these questions. Does the typical member of the scientific community even know what “compatibilism”, “B-Theory of time” or “scientific anti-realism” is? I had to look up some of this stuff now and I bet I’m more interested in philosophy than the typical scientist. And even after briefly reading about different theories of time I don’t feel I have anything like an informed opinion on the matter. As for morality, I don’t even know whether my personal theory of morality should be classified under realism or anti-realism.

I bet everyone has an opinion on the first question, though. Mine is “other”.

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Justfinethanks December 8, 2009 at 9:52 pm

Both mind-body dualism and monism have been advocated by orthodox Christians, so Dennett could have theists agreeing with him on that issue.

Firstly, I was wasn’t aware, and am glad to hear, that there exist Christians who think material monism is compatible with Christianity. That’s one more step Christianity takes up Mount Improbable.

Secondly, I think it is clear that consensus is irrelevant in determining the truth value of anything, but the point I was making is that the “but I’m within the consensus in the relevant field” spin is really weak. If you were going to agree with philosphers within their “relevant field” you would believe that: God exists (according to philosophers of religion), he couldn’t have created the universe (according to philosophers of time), he didn’t design the universe (according to philosophers of science), he didn’t give us souls (according to philosophers of mind), and he isn’t necessary for the existence of objective moral values (according to philosophers of ethics).

In other words, you would believe that god exists, but he might as well not.

So while the theist (like yourself) does indeed find himself in the consensus of a single “relevant field,” in order to believe in a God worth existing, you must disagree with the consensus of every other field.

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Ben December 8, 2009 at 10:00 pm

That’s nice to know. And these aren’t consensuses, they are majorities. Big difference.

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lukeprog December 8, 2009 at 10:41 pm

Oops, I typo-ed the “other” category on naturalism.

Ethical non-naturalism is fairly popular among atheists.

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lukeprog December 8, 2009 at 10:42 pm

Paul,

Yeah, I know what you’re saying. I’ll be covering that in my review of Drescher’s ‘Good and Real.’

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lukeprog December 8, 2009 at 10:45 pm

Briang,

Sure. See my Kalam bibliography and download Craig’s latest paper on it. He mentions that the argument depends on the A-Theory.

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lukeprog December 8, 2009 at 10:46 pm

ayer,

You are correct about theists in history embracing both theories of time and of free will.

BTW, you’re A-theory and libertarian, right?

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lukeprog December 8, 2009 at 10:53 pm

Bill Maher,

Are you talking about this David Icke, the one who believes that “a secret group of reptilian humanoids called the Babylonian Brotherhood created and controls humanity, and that many prominent figures are reptilian, including George W. Bush, Queen Elizabeth II, Kris Kristofferson, and Boxcar Willie”?

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Briang December 8, 2009 at 11:32 pm

Thanks luke. Of course now I’m up too late thinking about theories of time and the kalam argument.

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Robert Gressis December 8, 2009 at 11:54 pm

Non-naturalist atheists are people like Richard Rorty, (arguably) Donald Davidson, John McDowell, and Robert Brandom. They’re all anti-realists. As far as I can tell, anti-realism amounts to the view that we can’t know what is “really” the case, because the notion of what is “really” the case is ill-formed. Consequently, to say that the natural is the only thing that exists could be countered by saying that the natural is just one way of talking, and that there are other, say, psychological ways of talking.

But I’m pretty shaky on all that I just said, honestly.

Another way of being an anti-naturalist atheist is to be an atheist who believes in substance dualism (like W. D. Hart). Some would claim that if you’re a naturalist you can’t be a moral realist (which would make a lot of philosophers inconsistent), or a libertarian about free will, or a believer in abstract objects, or a believer in qualia.

Of course, the main problem is that there’s no good definition of what a naturalist is. So far as I can tell, all it refers to is someone who doesn’t believe in God or souls.

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Robert Gressis December 9, 2009 at 12:00 am

If you were going to agree with philosphers within their “relevant field” you would believe that: God exists (according to philosophers of religion), he couldn’t have created the universe (according to philosophers of time)…”

What’s the contradiction supposed to be between the B-theory and theism?

“he didn’t design the universe (according to philosophers of science)…”

Which view of philosophers of science entails that God didn’t create the universe?

“he didn’t give us souls (according to philosophers of mind)…”

As was mentioned above, this is becoming increasingly standard among Christian philosophers. Lynne Rudder Baker, Kevin Corcoran, Peter van Inwagen, Hud Hudson, and Trenton Merricks are all materialists regarding the philosophy of mind.

“…and he isn’t necessary for the existence of objective moral values (according to philosophers of ethics).”

Again, lots of Christian philosophers have believed this (e.g., Leibniz, Kant), and I would wager that lots of Christian philosophers believe this now, though I must admit that I can’t give any more current names right now! (I suspect Alasdair MacIntyre and Mark Murphy would fall into this category, though.)

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lukeprog December 9, 2009 at 12:40 am

That would be cool if materialism about mind filtered down from Christian philosophers into the public consciousness…

If it’s correct, of course. :)

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Mike Young December 9, 2009 at 1:10 am

I hold that naturalism is incompatible with free will. It leaves no room for it.

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Robert Gressis December 9, 2009 at 1:15 am

Well, Carl Ginet is an atheistic naturalist who is also a libertarian about free will. He doesn’t believe in agent causation, but he does believe in indeterminism, and thinks that’s enough for free will. Mark Balaguer is another libertarian naturalist. See his book, Free Will as an Open Scientific Problem, or many of his papers on his website (here: http://www.calstatela.edu/faculty/mbalagu/).

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lukeprog December 9, 2009 at 1:35 am

It would be interesting for someone to compile a listing of philosophers who hold various positions, and especially various combinations of positions.

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John D December 9, 2009 at 1:51 am

Nancey Murphy and Warren Brown recently published a book called “Did my Neurons Make me Do It?” which espouses a form of non-reductive materialism about the mind. As far as I know, both are theists.

http://www.naturalism.org/murphy.htm

http://www.amazon.com/Neurons-Make-Philosophical-Neurobiological-Responsibility/dp/0199568235/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1260352267&sr=8-1

Also, Thomas Hobbes is probably the most famous materialist, monist and theist. Of course, this led many to suggest he was in fact an atheist (Hobbism becoming synonymous with disbelief).

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Beelzebub December 9, 2009 at 2:24 am

Quantum mechanics gave free will libertarianism a certain amount of intellectual respectability. QM is the only rational source of the indeterminacy required for dissimilar action to result from identical precondition. Before the 20th century, libertarianism was the same as supernaturalism.

That said, I’m still a compatiblist, or perhaps a combination of no-free willist and compatiblist. We’re more or less puppets riding the causal chain thrill ride.

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Beelzebub December 9, 2009 at 2:45 am

Question,
Did Sir Jerome go away of his own “free will” after all his clothes were stripped off him and he was left bare, “nekid,” and sobbing — or did you ban him?

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John D December 9, 2009 at 4:40 am

Robert Kane’s The Significance of Free Will is the only serious attempt to use quantum mechanics to support a theory of free will and responsibility that I have read (all others seem more interested in stating the problem of free will in new and exciting ways rather than proposing any solutions). I haven’t read Ginet so maybe he says something interesting.

I also think Kane’s solution is problematic, to say the least. He suggests that there must be indeterminacy in the faculty of practical reason in order for there to be ultimate responsibility (i.e. in order for ‘you’ to be in control). This seems to equate an indeterministic blip with a person. I can’t see how that is a credible basis for moral responsibility.

I wouldn’t consider myself a compatibilist or a hard determinist. I just eschew the whole debate since people talk past each other so often. I prefer to talk about concepts of personhood and associated concepts of responsibility.

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Reginald Selkirk December 9, 2009 at 7:17 am

“Science is what you know, philosophy is what you don’t know.” –
Bertrand Russell

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ayer December 9, 2009 at 7:23 am

lukeprog: ayer,You are correct about theists in history embracing both theories of time and of free will.BTW, you’re A-theory and libertarian, right?  

Yes, I find those positions more persuasive.

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Reginald Selkirk December 9, 2009 at 7:24 am

lukeprog: Philosophy of religion is WAY skewed in the other direction. Over 70% of philosophers of religion are theists, as expected.

What about philosophers of unicornology? Do a majority of them believe in unicorns? What about philosophers of garden fairies?

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ayer December 9, 2009 at 7:28 am

Justfinethanks: In other words, you would believe that god exists, but he might as well not.

So while the theist (like yourself) does indeed find himself in the consensus of a single “relevant field,” in order to believe in a God worth existing, you must disagree with the consensus of every other field.

I agree with Robert Gressis’ response above.

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ayer December 9, 2009 at 7:55 am

Reginald Selkirk: “Science is what you know, philosophy is what you don’t know.” –
Bertrand Russell  

That in itself is a philosophical statement.

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Mingy Jongo December 9, 2009 at 8:00 am

I don’t understand how so many philosophers are moral realists; the idea of objective morality seems unnecessary and mystical to me.

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Charles December 9, 2009 at 8:04 am

Luke: Still, I’d like to hear from those those who defend libertarian free will or the A-Theory of time or non-naturalism or theism: why do you reject the philosophical consensus?  

Not a lot to say here, Luke.

I am not sure how the A- and B-Theories can be reconciled with Special Relativity. At first, my reaction is that neither can. Both theories seem to talk about ‘before’ and ‘after’ as like absolutes, but if Einstein is right, then we know this is not the case.

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Bill Maher December 9, 2009 at 8:13 am

lukeprog: Bill Maher,Are you talking about this David Icke, the one who believes that “a secret group of reptilian humanoids called the Babylonian Brotherhood created and controls humanity, and that many prominent figures are reptilian, including George W. Bush, Queen Elizabeth II, Kris Kristofferson, and Boxcar Willie”?  

yes sir. his philosophy and “timecube” are my favorites.

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Paul December 9, 2009 at 8:14 am

Beelzebub: Quantum mechanics gave free will libertarianism a certain amount of intellectual respectability.

It doesn’t do any such thing. Since the person has no control over it and thus the person does not will it freely (or otherwise). What it would do is introduce pure randomness.

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Jeff H December 9, 2009 at 10:16 am

Can anyone tell me why someone would choose A-theory over B-theory of time, or vice versa? I looked over the Wikipedia articles on both, but they were pretty unhelpful. They describe them, but don’t give any reasons for one over the other…any help?

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Robert Gressis December 9, 2009 at 10:37 am

I’m no expert on this, but I gather that the dialectic goes as follows:

1. Most people think time is real.
2. The intuitive way of thinking of time is as passing–thus, there is an ontological difference among the past, the present, and the future.
3. Therefore, most people intuitively support the A-theory.

However, the A-theory seems to conflict with special relativity. Because of that, some people are moved to accept the B-theory.

If you think that time is real, and you think your intuition of time’s really passing can be saved, then you’ll be an A-theorist. However, if you think time is real and you don’t think your intuition of its real passage can be salvaged, then you’ll become a B-theorist.

But see this article for more:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/time/#TheBThe

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Paul December 9, 2009 at 10:45 am

Jeff H: Can anyone tell me why someone would choose A-theory over B-theory of time, or vice versa

I started typing up a different response but ultimately decided to go with the following.

I think (not sure) that one argument for A theory is how we experience time; uni-directionally.

As for B theory – if time were just another spatial dimension (bidirectional) certainly B theory would be more correct. Would you agree?

Does time have any special property that leads us to think it should not be treated similar to the spatial dimensions – even if we are only able to experience it on direction.

Visualize a world of two spatial dimensions and 1 temporal dimension. Does that help visualize the argument for B theory?

I personally am sympathetic to B theory of time. However, as I previously posted if QM is truly indeterministic/random I don’t know how to resolve the dilemma.

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Conversational Atheist December 9, 2009 at 10:55 am

Hey Luke — turns out that I agree w/ the leading philosophers consensus on the topics you list as well.

My hunch is that if you gave this to the scientific community, though, they would give similar results except for the moral realist position, which I think might flip on moral realism.

Of course, this is just a hunch based on my interactions with physicists (mostly) and since it’s an empirical question, we can test it to find out.

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Robert Gressis December 9, 2009 at 12:08 pm

I don’t see what the problem is supposed to be for indeterminism vis-a-vis the B-theory of time. The B-theory is a theory about the ontological status of times; indeterminism is a theory that certain events lack causes. What’s the contradiction supposed to be?

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Bill Maher December 9, 2009 at 1:24 pm

Robert Gressis: I don’t see what the problem is supposed to be for indeterminism vis-a-vis the B-theory of time. The B-theory is a theory about the ontological status of times; indeterminism is a theory that certain events lack causes. What’s the contradiction supposed to be?  

the problem is they are both slaves to the oneness of evil and time is actually cubic. If you can not see that, then you are enslaved too.

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Jason Finney December 9, 2009 at 1:31 pm

Hi Luke,

I don’t see the point of this exercise. All baseball players could be said to prefer fastballs too, but that says nothing about their batting average. Your study is one of quantity, not quality. Why should we be concerned with quantity? We shouldn’t. Hence this exercise is a waste of time.

I think a great exercise would be to list the beliefs of the philosophers who are the most respected, most challenging to refute, most oft cited, and whose beliefs have actually contributed to the advancement of man. Before you get even a quarter of the way through I am certain you will find a trend that will not bode well with your godless proposition.

Just a few thoughts.

Sincerely,

Jason

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Reginald Selkirk December 9, 2009 at 1:38 pm

Jason Finney: I don’t see the point of this exercise. All baseball players could be said to prefer fastballs too, but that says nothing about their batting average. Your study is one of quantity, not quality. Why should we be concerned with quantity? We shouldn’t. Hence this exercise is a waste of time.

I think a great exercise would be to list the beliefs of the philosophers who are the most respected, most challenging to refute, most oft cited, and whose beliefs have actually contributed to the advancement of man

So instead of looking at how many philosophers believe X, you want to look at how many philosophers most respect X, and most often cite X. Could you explain the big advancement in that?

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Paul December 9, 2009 at 3:18 pm

Robert Gressis: I don’t see what the problem is supposed to be for indeterminism vis-a-vis the B-theory of time. The B-theory is a theory about the ontological status of times; indeterminism is a theory that certain events lack causes. What’s the contradiction supposed to be?

I think this is directed at me.

As you describe it I would agree with you. How I was interpreting it; however, was a step further – perhaps w/o justification – that because it is uncaused when or if something happens is also indeterminate. B theory would negate that, I think.

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Robert Gressis December 9, 2009 at 4:59 pm

Yes, Paul, I was responding to you.

I can see why you would think indeterminism entails that when something happens is indeterminate, but I’m not sure what it means to say that the timing of when something happens is indeterminate.

You could mean that there’s no particular moment at which an indeterministic event occurs, but rather that its occurrence could be said to belong somewhat to moment 1, somewhat to moment 2, etc. But B-theory wouldn’t have a problem with that–its occurrence would just be a smear across part of the big block that is time.

You could mean that its indeterminacy means it is impossible for anyone to predict when it’s going to happen. But of course, the impossibility of knowing the future is compatible with the future’s existing as much as the present’s existing.

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ildi December 9, 2009 at 6:18 pm

Does the typical member of the scientific community even know what “compatibilism”, “B-Theory of time” or “scientific anti-realism” is?

As a token representative of the scientific community, I vote “no.” I would also expand on the Bertrand Russell quote and say that philosophy was how people amused themselves before the scientific method was invented.

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Paul December 9, 2009 at 7:00 pm

obert –

I am not disagreeing w/ anything you said. If I may and clarify something I said. When I wrote the following “if something happens is also indeterminate”

Instead of the word “indeterminate” I think the word “chance” would have been a better and more accurate choice of what I meant. As in an event may or may not happen at any event in spacetime.

If say an indeterminate event occured at point t1 in the time axis of space time. Now say, for sake of argument, you could move back in the time axis and replay point t1 again – would the same event happen? Is this consistent w/ quantum mechanics. It may be. If so, then my acceptabace of B theory of time would go beyond the tentative.

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Jeff H December 9, 2009 at 8:58 pm

Thanks for your explanations, Robert and Paul. I still don’t fully understand what the big deal about A-theory and B-theory is (who cares if an event is in the “past” or simply “earlier than today”?), but I suppose it’s relevant in some philosophical context.

Unfortunately, if making a well-reasoned decision on the matter means delving into the matter of relativity, I suppose I’ll have to remain a time-theory agnostic for the time being. I think have more pressing issues at the moment…lol

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Robert Gressis December 9, 2009 at 10:15 pm

“If say an indeterminate event occured at point t1 in the time axis of space time. Now say, for sake of argument, you could move back in the time axis and replay point t1 again – would the same event happen? Is this consistent w/ quantum mechanics. It may be. If so, then my acceptabace of B theory of time would go beyond the tentative.”

I’m not entirely sure what it means to rewind time and have events replay again, but assuming that that’s possible–i.e., assuming there is another possible world that has all the same events up to time t1–then if there are really chance events, the two worlds could diverge at t1.

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lukeprog December 10, 2009 at 12:23 am

I’ll be discussing this somewhat in my review of Drescher’s Good and Real, too. Drescher endorses the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.

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Reginald Selkirk December 10, 2009 at 5:15 am

I have an impractical proposal for improving the usefulness of such a poll. I would like to know the pollees response to a number of other questions, such as what is the age of the Earth and are humans related through common descent to other life forms on the planet. I would feel justified in disregarding in toto the responses of any philosopher who did not accept the scientific answers to those questions.

In favor: if a philosopher is unable to accept scientific results to questions which are amenable to empirical investigation, then his/her judgement is suspect, and it would be unwise to trust their judgment on less firm ground. This is a person who is able to elevate their opinions over reality.

Against: obviously, linking the responses to various question would challenge the anonymity of the poll. There might be a very small number of people who would give a particular combination of answers.

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Paul December 10, 2009 at 8:29 am

lukeprog: I’ll be discussing this somewhat in my review of Drescher’s Good and Real, too. Drescher endorses the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.  

Luke
I look forward to this.

Robert – thanks for the discussion

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danielg December 11, 2009 at 12:41 am

But which came first for you and many of these philosophers – the rejection of the Cosmological argument or
- the rejection of the B theory of time.

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The enlightenment is dead and the philosophers killed it. December 11, 2009 at 5:29 am

Isn’t philosophy dead? Isn’t it a bunch of over educated intellectuals gazing at their navels omitting all the things from real life that does not fit in with their worldview? Philosophy only appeals to other philosophers and their disciples.It has not had anything interesting to say for over a century. The great uneducated masses don’t understand philosophy because they are not interested in it as it has no value to their lives. Modern philosphy is no different from any other hobby an amusing diversion from reality much like soap operas only more dull. I have never heard a bigger oxymoron than moral realism a modern philosopher would not know what is real if it bit him on the ass.

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Leo XIII December 11, 2009 at 7:00 am

Reginald Selkirk: I have an impractical proposal for improving the usefulness of such a poll. I would like to know the pollees response to a number of other questions, such as what is the age of the Earth and are humans related through common descent to other life forms on the planet.   

Do you really think that any philosophy professor is a creationist? I don’t know of anybody working in phil. of religion who doesn’t accept evolution or an old earth.

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Jeff H December 11, 2009 at 7:57 am

Isn’t philosophy dead?

No.

Philosophy is pretty removed from the general public, but philosophical ideas have a way of trickling down into the “uneducated masses” over time. So it still has an effect on their lives, even if they don’t realize it.

And as far as whether it has “anything interesting to say”…well…interest is a matter of taste. If you don’t find it interesting, fine…go watch American Idol and let the grown-ups talk.

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Penneyworth December 11, 2009 at 8:31 am

Luke, what choice did you make regarding the trolley problem? Did desirism influence your choice?

I’m shocked by how many philosophers chose “switch” in light of the “transplant” version of the trolley problem.

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Reginald Selkirk December 11, 2009 at 9:18 am

Jeff H: And as far as whether it has “anything interesting to say”…well…interest is a matter of taste. If you don’t find it interesting, fine…go watch American Idol and let the grown-ups talk.

Plantinga states that naturalism is incompatible with evolution. Craig thinks every argument for the existence of God is convincing, and spends hundreds of pages propping up medieval arguments, and you want to classify these folks as “grown-ups”? I do not object to condescension in itself, but it needs to be earned. If you think philosophy is an adult pursuit, make a good case for it.

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The enlightenment is dead and the philosophers killed it. December 11, 2009 at 12:27 pm

JeffH
Good comeback. Shows how much you understand humanity. I have never seen American Idol or even Pop Idol as it is known here in Britain yet do you not wonder why people watch these shows over reading Nietzche? As sad as it sounds they find it inspiring and human – now to me this is not a reflection on their education, as you would have it, but the lack of anything inspiring or true coming from philosophy. After Nietzche went gaga philosophy fell into the abyss that is existensialism and has not had anything coherent to say since. I suggest you read Platos Cave and stop looking at the shadows on the wall

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lukeprog December 11, 2009 at 12:49 pm

I don’t know. For me it was the rejection of the A theory of time. I still don’t know what I think about the cosmological arguments. I’ve retreated from having much of an opinion on them. I think the arguments against an infinite past are sound.

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lukeprog December 11, 2009 at 12:57 pm

A good example of highly influential philosophy is Marx, Bentham, and Rawls. Not to mention Plato and Aristotle…

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Jeff H December 11, 2009 at 4:24 pm

Reginald Selkirk:
Plantinga states that naturalism is incompatible with evolution. Craig thinks every argument for the existence of God is convincing, and spends hundreds of pages propping up medieval arguments, and you want to classify these folks as “grown-ups”? I do not object to condescension in itself, but it needs to be earned. If you think philosophy is an adult pursuit, make a good case for it.  

Does the fact that there are bad scientists illegitimize the whole field of science? Does the fact that there are crazy historians invalidate all work done in that area? I classify philosophy as an adult pursuit because of its use of reason and logic to come to rational conclusions. Just because some people choose not to follow that process, says nothing about the field as a whole.

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Jeff H December 11, 2009 at 4:32 pm

Shows how much you understand humanity. I have never seen American Idol or even Pop Idol as it is known here in Britain yet do you not wonder why people watch these shows over reading Nietzche? As sad as it sounds they find it inspiring and human – now to me this is not a reflection on their education, as you would have it, but the lack of anything inspiring or true coming from philosophy.

Well, isn’t that special? Glad to know that you are oh so perceptive on these matters. Because this couldn’t be a complex thing like cultural influences, could it? No, it’s got to be philosophy.

After Nietzche went gaga philosophy fell into the abyss that is existensialism and has not had anything coherent to say since. I suggest you read Platos Cave and stop looking at the shadows on the wall  

Oh fuck you, Summa. I have read Plato’s Cave. Plato is one of my favourite philosophers and The Republic (in which the cave allegory is found) is sitting on my shelf beside me right now. Why don’t you stop being such a condescending ass and start contributing something useful yourself. Until then, stop criticizing philosophy, whatever its current state.

And just for kicks, can I ask you why the hell you’re on a blog that deals primarily with philosophy if you’re so sure that nothing good has come out of philosophy since existentialism? Like seriously, man.

I guess I should just stop feeding the trolls. My bad.

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Reginald Selkirk December 12, 2009 at 10:46 am

Jeff H: Does the fact that there are bad scientists illegitimize the whole field of science?

No, but then I could name good scientists, show their work, duplicate their experiments, etc. Meanwhile, while I have pointed out some shoddiness in modern philosophy, you haven’t named any good modern philosophers, or shown any worthwhile modern philosophy. You just want to take all that for granted.

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Brett Bavar December 13, 2009 at 2:35 pm

Seems to me like you’re either naturalist or non-naturalist (just like you’re either theist or non-theist). How can nearly 25% of people be “other”?

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lukeprog December 13, 2009 at 8:27 pm

Brett,

Much of the “other” is “I don’t feel qualified to answer this question.”

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Joel Duggins January 10, 2010 at 5:27 pm

Luke, I think you should have noted (and noted with some emphasis) that this is *only* a modern survey. You do not match the consensus of most philosophers, you are instead conformed to most philosophers who remain alive today. Does that make sense?

I also feel, that for the sake of justice and truth, it should be noted that in that particular post, Jeff H passed far beyond feeding the trolls and was, in fact, engaged in a form of troll cannibalism in which he was a troll engaged in feeding other trolls at his own expense.
But that’s just my personal take on things…

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DoAtheistsExist? March 1, 2010 at 11:47 am

Interesting.

But was there a point you were trying to make here, Luke?

I don’t the consensus necessarily has much- if any- bearing on truth. The general consensus has been wrong through the majority of time in the past and I think that each view needs to judged on its own merits.

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Zeb March 7, 2010 at 8:46 pm

Joel Duggins: Luke, I think you should have noted (and noted with some emphasis) that this is *only* a modern survey. You do not match the consensus of most philosophers, you are instead conformed to most philosophers who remain alive today. (Quote)

That might be a good point, along with the question of whether you think the “leading philosohpy departments in the world” offers a biased selection, either by disincluding religious universities or by those leading departments (or academic culture generally) disencouraging theist philosophers from joining their ranks. Maybe religious schools tend to have weaker philosophy departmetns, or maybe theist philosophy students tend not to be weaker intellects who don’t qualify for leading departmetns, or maybe intense study of philosophy by brilliant minds tends to weed out theism. But maybe there is a pretty strong bias at this point in history.

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Morgan-LynnGriggs Lamberth April 11, 2010 at 5:06 pm

Hrow many of our atheist philosophers are ignostics.
Caneades, the first ignostic, eviscerarted theism eons ago : we are his foot note! Hume advanced the arguments.

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Morgan-LynnGriggs Lamberth April 11, 2010 at 5:15 pm

Theodorus.Tumbir
Rationalist. BlogSpot
These blog are for serious inquirers.
Carneades.Bloggers

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