Libertarianism versus Determinism

‘So, a lot of us figure that our thoughts and actions are free. But, most of us also believe that every effect has a cause, and that everything that happens now, in the present, is the necessary result of events that occurred in the past. This view is known as hard determinism. And [many people would argue that both can be true]; that many of your actions are free, and that the world is governed by cause and effect.

But, it turns out, you can’t rationally hold both views. Because, traditionally, libertarians have defined free actions according to what’s known as the Principle of Alternate Possibilities. That might sound like the plot device for a sci-fi show, but this principle says that an action is free only if the agent – that is, the person doing the thing – could have done otherwise.

So, truly free actions require options. Determinism, by contrast, doesn’t allow options. It holds that every event is caused by a previous event. Which means that an agent can never have done anything other than what they did, and therefore, they are never free.’

– Green. H. (2016, August 15) Determinism vs Free Will: Crash Course Philosophy #24

On Creating Gods

“Man cannot make a worm, yet he will make gods by the dozen.”

– Michel de Montaigne

On Absurdities and Atrocities

“As long as people believe in absurdities, they will continue to commit atrocities.”

– Voltaire

Conversations: Intellectual Integrity

We can argue that it is now a moral necessity for scientists to speak honestly about the conflict between science and religion, but even the National Academy of Sciences has declared the conflict illusory:

At the root of the apparent conflict between some religions and evolution is a misunderstanding of the critical difference between religious and scientific ways of knowing. Religions and science answer different questions about the world. Whether there is a purpose to the universe or a purpose for human existence are not questions for science. Religious and scientific ways of knowing have played, and will continue to play, significant roles in human history…. Science is a way of knowing about the natural world. It is limited to explaining the natural world through natural causes. Science can say nothing about the supernatural. Whether God exists or not is a question about which science is neutral.

This statement is stunning for its lack of candor. Continue reading

On Religious People

“If you could reason with religious people, there would be no religious people.”

– Gregory House

Confucianism and the Golden Rule

‘The so-called Golden Rule, “do as you would be done by”, appears in Confucianism as a negative: “what you do not desire for yourself, do not do to others.” The difference is subtle but crucial: Confucius does not prescribe what to do, only what not to do, emphasizing restraint rather than action. This implies modesty and humility – values traditionally held in high regard in Chinese society, and which for Confucius express our true nature. Fostering these values is a form of loyalty to oneself, and another kind of sincerity.’

– Atkinson. S., Landau. C., Szudek. A., Tomley. S. (et al.) 2011. The Philosophy Book New York, United States: DK Publishing p. 39