Category Philosophy

Extrinsic vs Intrinsic Value of Life

Life has value, we would intuitively claim. But what is it about life which gives it its value? Does life have value in and of itself, or is the value derived by things which life can give us, that we can do with it? The first is intrinsic value, that life is inherently meaningful and valuable in and of itself. The second is extrinsic value, where the value is derived from other things which life facilitates.

Computers, Brains and Accountability

I spent a good part of my working life programming computers. I started in the late 60’s, almost fifty years ago. Back then, computers were the size of houses, and the programs were punched on cards. Data storage was on magnetic tape. Processors were slow and memory was small. But in the early 70’s when the microelectronics explosion happened, memories grew from kilobytes to megabytes to gigabytes to terabytes. Processor speed accelerated from kilohertz to megahertz to gigahertz. And of course the cost went down and down and down. Today, most kids carry one around in their pocket.

Dan Davis responds to my Free Will article in Free Inquiry with his own

I recently had an article (“Is Society Accepting That Free Will Is an Illusion?”) in the Free Inquiry magazine published in the US, which was, as far as I can tell, well received. In fact, Tom Clark liked it enough to say and post it at Tom Clark stated:

“Damn good article – the site needed new content and it totally filled the bill. Keep up the good work!”

Burden of Proof

I was asked by a fellow blogger to write something on the burden of proof. We often hear the maxim “the burden of proof falls upon the person making the claim” or something like that. Why is this the case? Does it stand?

Saudi Arabia, Human Rights and Sir Gerald Howarth’s Nonsense

This is a really important topic and piece which I think needs to be understood by many, not least the politicians working on the world stage. In fact, politicians seem these days to lack in philosophical rigour and understanding. Let me show you one such example here. The topic of Saudi Arabia, its history of human rights abuses, and it sitting so ironically on the UN Human Rights Council is one which is hitting the media outlets in the UK presently.

Welsh Government wishes to replace ‘Religious Education’ subject in schools with ‘Religion, Philosophy and Ethics’

This news comes from the British Humanist Association:

Taking questions in the Senedd, the Welsh Minister for Education and Skills, Huw Lewis, has announced that he wants to see a transformation of the way in which Religious Education is taught in Wales. Under the new proposals, and in a significant break from the current system, the subject would be renamed and incorporated into a new ‘Religion, Philosophy and Ethics’ syllabus

(Liberal) Implicit Egotism Fallacy or Bias and Islam (again)

I was talking recently to a fellow liberal who happened to be a Hindu making correctly scathing attacks on UKIP, media bias and misrepresentation and, you guessed it, Islam. Again I was somewhat frustrated that an intelligent and informed guy was getting so much right and yet made one big error. I see it so often and have been involved in debating it here and here that I had to answer my critics here

It’s wrong to kill lions! (Or is it?)

Everyone knows about it. I needn’t really explain the story, but I will.

Dentist from Minnesota pays loads of money to go shoot a lion with a bow in Zimbabwe, after it is lured illegally outside of the national park with bait. Lion gets hit, wonders around in pain, life ebbing, for 40 hours until dentist finds it again, and shoots it in the head with a gun. Lion dies. Man thinks it’s all legal, apparently. The lion was left skinned and beheaded after the hunters trying to destroy the tagged collar Cecil the lion had. Man also faced prison in 2008 after lying to a federal agent about killing a bear.

Evolution, language and the unconcsious: yup, free will again!

John D. Bargh is a psychologist with an interest in matters concerning free will. He edited a superb book on psychology and free will which I would advise anyone to get called Are We Free? From it, this excerpt was interesting, especially given recent conversations defending naturalism with a fellow Tippling Philosopher by email who thinks that human minds are too far removed from the rest of the animal kingdom to be explicable by naturalistic evolution (pp. 145-146):

Did the Universe Begin, and How? (Interview)

I recently had the pleasure of having an interview/conversation on the subject of Big Bang Cosmology and the implications for the universe having an absolute beginning. The question is also wrapped up with theistic claims that a god is a necessary precursor to the universe (or not). Also, some will argue that the Big Bang is just the scientists’ way of avoiding the conclusion that God made everything.

Hiram Crespo: The Epicurean Revival

As the annals of history have it, in the sixth century Emperor Justinian had all the schools of philosophy that competed with Christianity finally closed. This was the last we heard of the Epicurean School, whose tradition had remained culturally vibrant for seven centuries. Epicurus had been among the first to propose the atom—2,300 years ago—the social contract as a foundation for the rule of law, and the possibility of an empirical process of pursuit of happiness: a science of happiness. These progressive schools were oases of tranquility, reason and pleasure known as Gardens, where the ideals of civilized friendship flourished and men, women and even slaves engaged in philosophical discourse as equals.

Moral Facts and Opinions – Ron Murphy

An occasional commenter here, Ron Murphy (ronmurp), linked to one of his pieces in another thread. It’s a really good piece, with some thought-provoking stuff on the is/ought issue in moral philosophy. See what you think and comment as usual below:

Yet another moral philosopher (another religious one) makes a hash of morality. So I wanted to get this down as a summary of my position on how morality is nothing more than opinion elevated to nobility; a common man made special by simply calling him a lord or a bishop.