All Questions

13
votes
4answers
828 views

What is the practical usefulness of post-modernist sociology à la Foucault, e.g. of the insight that “insanity is merely a label applied by society”?

Foucault says what constitutes insanity is a label determined by society. Whether someone is sane or insane is not a clear, objective fact. I do not disagree. He says this labelling can be dangerous. ...
18
votes
2answers
3k views

What was Kant's view on lies by omission?

I was going to ask this question as a comment in response to @Chad's answer to What would Kant do when two categorical imperatives conflict? Could he ever justify lying?, however I figured it merits ...
0
votes
4answers
269 views

Are the limitations of language proof against the divinity of holy books? [closed]

Many religions like Islam and Hinduism have holy books(the Quran and the Vedas, respectively) which claim some kind of superhuman origin. However, are the limitations of languages then counter to ...
4
votes
8answers
80k views

Who are the most influential living philosophers? [closed]

Who are the most important, widely-read or influential living philosophers still actively working and contributing to the field today? Which thinkers are recognized for doing the most interesting and ...
21
votes
6answers
5k views

Are there any philosophical arguments to disprove or weaken solipsism?

My philosophy professor once told our class: The only people who believe in solipsism are infants and madmen. I was inclined to agree at the time. Yet years later, I have still not encountered any ...
30
votes
8answers
33k views

What would Kant do when two categorical imperatives conflict? Could he ever justify lying?

Suppose a German SS officer knocked on my door, asking me whether I had any Jews. And suppose further that I had two Jews in a secret compartment in the attic that he'd never be able to find. ...
31
votes
11answers
7k views

Where and how can I get started in contemporary philosophy?

We are living in an unprecedented era of philosophical research and development where "big thought" is once again everywhere. And yet I feel like I hear this question so often: Where to begin ...
7
votes
5answers
4k views

How has the philosophy of war changed since Sun Tzu's The Art of War?

The Art of War, an ancient military treatise written by Sun Tzu, is composed of thirteen chapters detailing strategies for war ranging from simply laying plans to the extensive use of fire and spies ...
9
votes
3answers
409 views

Who said they were hiding in the woods?

In my undergraduate days, I remember reading someone occupying roughly a mental and historical space as David Hume (originally my thought was between Hume and Kuhn), and have a vaguely recalled ...
7
votes
2answers
314 views

What kind of things do we actually know about teapots?

This question is not meant to deal with the religious side of the Teapot (or FSM or the Invisible Pink Unicorn), but rather the inherent epistemological claims and their export to other areas of ...
12
votes
3answers
697 views

Did Malebranche believe both the idea in the mind and the movement in the body are caused by God?

My senior thesis explored the notion of action under George Berkeley's system, and one claim I tried to address was that Berkeley contradicts himself when discussing will. In his Philosophical ...
14
votes
6answers
509 views

Do Kierkegaard's non-pseudonymous writings enable one to understand Kierkegaard's philosophy much?

As I read them, Kierkegaard's writings can be split into two groups: the mostly philosophical psuedonymous, and more theological non-pseudonymous works. I have read primarily the pseudonymous works (...
12
votes
9answers
4k views

When can we call an explanation “rational”?

There are a lot of questions involving rational judgment, rational choice, rational explanation, etc... And at the same time, it seems that "being rational" is a guiding principle for a lot of people. ...
71
votes
8answers
10k views

Is Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem a “cheap trick”?

I found a throw-away critique of Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem in an essay about Deconstruction: The basic enterprise of contemporary literary criticism is actually quite simple. It is based on ...
20
votes
5answers
3k views

Is Skepticism the most rational standpoint?

Is Philosophical Skepticism - the one that advocates true knowledge is impossible, the most rational standpoint? I am asking this based on the observation that there are very few things whose ...
8
votes
4answers
5k views

Can you apply reader-response criticism to Voltaire's, “The better is the enemy of the good”?

Voltaire wrote, Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien, which is usually translated as, The better/best/perfect is the enemy of the good. I've always understood this to mean that looking for the best solution ...
8
votes
1answer
251 views

Was the European Left confined in a false dichotomy between capitalism and communism?

In the 2004 book "Camus and Sartre: The Story of a Friendship and the Quarrel That Ended It" (link to a brief review/synopsis), the author portrays two of the leading members of the literary class' ...
10
votes
1answer
6k views

What is a straight-forward method for distinguishing pragmatic from utilitarian action or thought?

In common parlance, pragmatic and utilitarian are very similar ways of doing things. In philosophical traditions, Utilitarians and Pragmatists are very different. In terms of understanding an action ...
5
votes
3answers
202 views

Are there any ontological arguments outside the canon of Western philosophy/scholastic theology?

The question pretty much explains itself. I'm interested in instances of ontological arguments (arguments purporting to prove the existence of God/Gods/a God) outside the Western tradition and/or ...
17
votes
1answer
1k views

What philosophical views are there on the problem of boredom?

"I am convinced that boredom is one of the greatest tortures. If I were to imagine Hell, it would be the place where you were continually bored" - Eric Fromm Has there been any ...
13
votes
4answers
991 views

Does the dueling notion of good and evil exist in non-Abrahamic (Eastern) philosophies as it does in the Western tradition?

I am looking for discussions about good and evil in non-Abrahamic philosophies (meaning traditionally Eastern schools of thought, such as those from India and China). The reason being, good and evil ...
17
votes
1answer
6k views

Passages validating Goethe as Nietzsche's Übermensch?

It is believed by some that the closest Nietzsche comes to naming the Übermensch is Goethe. However, in my own readings (which is not comprehensive) I've not found any solid evidence. What is ...
6
votes
3answers
334 views

Resolving weighting conflicts in preference utilitarianism

Assuming we're dealing with the actions of two people based on the preferences of two non overlapping sets of affected people, other than the number of people, which methods are available to resolve ...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

What are the most significant philosophical consequences of instrumentalism?

Are there any significant philosophical consequences to the instrumentalist view of the universe? Does it quickly become a distinction without a difference (perhaps simply inline with pragmatism?), ...
16
votes
3answers
3k views

What are some ways to read Wittgenstein's Tractatus other than resolute/irresolute?

There are, at present, two dominant ways to read Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (TLP). One is called the irresolute reading, the other the resolute reading. The irresolute reading ...
9
votes
3answers
910 views

Does the Scientific Method of research apply to philosophy?

The Scientific Method is essentially the effort to discover causation in perceived correlations of collected data. In other words it hunts for 'recipes' that can be applied to consistently achieve a ...
6
votes
1answer
2k views

Can a person be Psychological Egoist and Ethical Egoist at the same time?

Can a person be Psychological Egoist and Ethical Egoist at the same time? Or those terms are not mutually exclusive and one can be both?
10
votes
2answers
995 views

What's the relevance of falsifiability in regards to logical arguments?

Is it reasonable to classify logical propositions that rely on deduction and are non-falsifiable as being inherently not worthy pursuing or does this just applies to inductive reasoning?
18
votes
5answers
8k views

Was Nietzsche making fun of the military mindset when he said “That which does not kill me, makes me stronger”?

A friend of mine told me that he interpreted this quote as mocking the military mindset, and that it should not be taken as indicative of what Nietzsche actually thought, so I looked it up in context, ...
7
votes
1answer
157 views

Modern research on the subjectivity of sense-impressions, species, and Aristotelian conceptions of the world?

In my research on the Philosophy of Data, I've found some remarkable similarities between some peoples' conceptions of data and the Aristotelian idea of Species, the particles of experience/sense-...
0
votes
2answers
233 views

Resolution of the contradictory definitions of Lawful and Chaotic in Dungeons and Dragons [closed]

Dungeons and dragons has long struggled with actual definitions of its moral abstractions, "Law," "Chaos," "Good," and "Evil" In older games, nine "alignments" were possible, describing a character's ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Useful discussion of Heidegger's “Ready-to-hand” and “present-at-hand” concepts?

Heidegger, as a tangent in his discussion of Daesin, talks about objects/tools which can be either ready-to-hand or present-at-hand. As I find Heidegger painfully unreadable, but his concepts useful, ...
21
votes
6answers
2k views

Are the unexamined lives of others worth examining?

Socrates continually admonished his interlocutors to become more introspective, arguing passionately for self-examination: The unexamined life is not worth living. But an examined life is painful, ...
11
votes
2answers
902 views

How can I effectively apply philosophy to the business world?

In my graduate experiences, especially in the philosophy of technology, I saw that far too much philosophy is designed to be consumed by other philosophers. As a pragmatist, I am always interested in ...
7
votes
1answer
175 views

Current research on experimental philosophy and the philosophy of technology?

X-Phi, the practice of performing philosophy based on experimental measures from the "real world" tends to concern itself with moral philosophy testing. As I'm finishing up my thesis on the philosophy ...
37
votes
7answers
60k views

What did David Hume mean when he said that “reason is a slave to the passions”?

I don't understand the meaning of this oft-quoted quotation of Hume's in On Reason, namely his saying that "reason is a slave to the passions." What exactly does he mean by that ? Is it simply that ...
46
votes
6answers
17k views

What are the major branches of philosophy?

What are the major branches of philosophy? (For instance, as a first-order approximation, mathematics can be sub-divided into three main categories at the first level: Analysis, Algebra, and Geometry....
2
votes
3answers
191 views

What is the main argument behind not using the “mutually interbreeding kinds” definition of species in the “species problem”?

Or in other words, why is the species problem a problem? The "mutually interbreeding kinds" definition seems natural enough; in fact, it's as ancient as the Bible, as shown by Leviticus 19:19 You ...
12
votes
7answers
34k views

What are prominent attacks of Rawls' “veil of ignorance” argument? Which liberal philosophers have advanced it?

In John Rawls' A Theory of Justice, he argues that morally, society should be constructed politically as if we were all behind a veil of ignorance; that is, the rules and precepts of society should be ...
0
votes
2answers
393 views

Is pain needed in order to appreciate pleasure?

When good things become common in my life, I wonder if I truly still appreciate them as much as I did in the beginning. This makes me wonder if good things can only be appreciated in relation to their ...
11
votes
5answers
3k views

Arguments for/against tolerance against intolerance?

What arguments speak for/against tolerance towards intolerance? Can someone be called fully tolerant, if they don't tolerate intolerance? Hence, does tolerance exist in a pure form? On the other ...
21
votes
8answers
2k views

Does the existence of psychopaths pose a problem for moral realists who argue we have a moral intuition?

Psychopathy is not universally agreed upon in psychology, but among some there is a consensus that psychopathy is highly heritable, and that psychopaths are lacking in conscience and empathy. ...
19
votes
6answers
719 views

Which signs indicate consciousness in other beings?

There are arguments confirming and denying that animals have consciousness. Some arguments say that not even all humans have consciousness, e.g. small babies. Which observable signs do exist that ...
23
votes
2answers
22k views

How does Nietzsche define and characterize “freedom” throughout his works?

My basic question concerns the meaning of freedom in Nietzsche's work. Nietzsche suggests that, in reality, a will can never be absolutely "free" or "unfree"—rather, any particular will is going ...
11
votes
2answers
244 views

How has neuroscience characterized classic Benthamite utilitiarian reasoning in situations like the trolley problem?

With regards to the famous trolley problem, I know that neuroscientists have largely found people believe it is morally wrong to flip the switch to kill one man in order to save five strangers. I ...
15
votes
9answers
394 views

Is 'equality' ultimately grounded in empirical observation?

Let's say I invent a concept X in my own imaginings. The only property it has is X-ness; it is defined as 'that which is represented by X'. I have just defined that to be the case. It seems to me, ...
45
votes
12answers
18k views

Does Pascal's Wager contain any logical flaws or fallacies?

Blaise Pascal's famous wager was that even if the existence of God cannot be determined through reason, a rational person should wager as though God exists, because living life accordingly has ...
61
votes
11answers
13k views

Can you prove anything in philosophy?

I don't understand philosophy very well, and so I am wondering whether you can "prove" anything in philosophy. It always seems you can go a layer down, and find another question, almost endlessly ...
71
votes
19answers
30k views

Could 'cogito ergo sum' possibly be false?

I've heard it postulated by some people that "we can't truly know anything". While that does seem to apply to the vast majority of things, I can't see how 'cogito ergo sum' can possibly be false. ...
-1
votes
1answer
3k views

A reference for understanding current trends in epistemology [closed]

I'm having trouble understanding all the various theories of epistemology and how they relate, and which are considered current. Is there a good resource or reference to understand the current state ...

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