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

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On Dismissing Gods


“When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

– Steven H. Roberts

On Obedience


“Morality is doing what is right, no matter what you are told. Religion is doing what you are told, no matter what is right.”

– Henry Louis Mencken

Psychology and Materialism


We know from research that materialism tends to be associated with treating others in more competitive, manipulative and selfish ways, as well as with being less empathetic […].

[M]aterialism is associated with lower levels of well-being, less pro-social interpersonal behaviour, more ecologically destructive behaviour, and worse academic outcomes. It also is associated with more spending problems and debt […].

We found that the more highly people endorsed materialistic values, the more they experienced unpleasant emotions, depression and anxiety, the more they reported physical health problems, such as stomachaches and headaches, and the less they experienced pleasant emotions and felt satisfied with their lives.


This article is based on excerpts from an interview with Tim Kasser, published December 16, 2014 on apa.org. Tim Kasser, PhD, is a professor of psychology at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, specializing in materialism and well-being. Special thanks to vox.com.

On Internet Campaigns


“That’s the thing about internet campaigns isn’t it? Campaigns used to be: you had to get out and make a poster, a banner, get out in the rain. Now, you just ‘click’…”

– Bill Bailey

Sequacious [Adj.]


Lacking independence or originality of thought.

The Emotional Factor


‘As I said before, I do not think that the real reason why people accept religion has anything to do with argumentation. They accept religion on emotional grounds. One is often told that it is a very wrong thing to attack religion, because religion makes men virtuous. So I am told; I have not noticed it. You know, of course, the parody of that argument in Samuel Butler’s book, Erewhon Revisited. You will remember that in Erewhon there is a certain Higgs who arrives in a remote country, and after spending some time there he escapes from that country in a balloon. Twenty years later he comes back to that country and finds a new religion in which he is worshiped under the name of the “Sun Child,” and it is said that he ascended into heaven. He finds that the Feast of the Ascension is about to be celebrated, and he hears Professors Hanky and Panky say to each other that they never set eyes on the man Higgs, and they hope they never will; but they are the high priests of the religion of the Sun Child. He is very indignant, and he comes up to them, and he says, “I am going to expose all this humbug and tell the people of Erewhon that it was only I, the man Higgs, and I went up in a balloon.” He was told, “You must not do that, because all the morals of this country are bound round this myth, and if they once know that you did not ascend into Heaven they will all become wicked”; and so he is persuaded of that and he goes quietly away.

That is the idea — that we should all be wicked if we did not hold to the Christian religion. It seems to me that the people who have held to it have been for the most part extremely wicked. You find this curious fact, that the more intense has been the religion of any period and the more profound has been the dogmatic belief, the greater has been the cruelty and the worse has been the state of affairs. In the so-called ages of faith, when men really did believe the Christian religion in all its completeness, there was the Inquisition, with all its tortures; there were millions of unfortunate women burned as witches; and there was every kind of cruelty practiced upon all sorts of people in the name of religion.

You find as you look around the world that every single bit of progress in humane feeling, every improvement in the criminal law, every step toward the diminution of war, every step toward better treatment of the colored races, or every mitigation of slavery, every moral progress that there has been in the world, has been consistently opposed by the organized churches of the world. I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world.’

– Denonn. L.E., Egner. R.E. Ed. 1961. The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell London, United Kingdom: George Allen & Unwin (1962) p. 595


Bertrand Russell delivered the lecture Why I am not a Christian (of which this is an excerpt) on March 6, 1927 to the National Secular Society, South London Branch, at Battersea Town Hall.

Questions: Forbidden Knowledge?


Question: Are there questions that we should not ask? (That is to say, is there knowledge that we should not pursue?)


From secrets of state to the secrets of nature, from the mystery of the other to the mysteries of the self, we ceaselessly confront and probe the limits of our knowledge, ever aware that our attempts to extend its grasp can empower us or possibly even destroy us. The dangers—and the allure—of our inquiry into the hidden and the forbidden remain an enduring theme in drama and in novels, in philosophy and in science, in religious thought and in poetry, in music and in film. The concern that there should be limits to knowledge and to the power it brings us has been a shadow haunting our aspiration to know and to control all, an anxiety often explored through the figure of the seeker of knowledge–whether Eve or Oedipus, Faustus or Frankenstein, the philosopher who questions our conventions and our convictions, or the detective who uncovers too much. (Dangerous Questions, Forbidden Knowledge. 2010-2011. University of British Columbia.)

See other: Philosophical Questions