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211
votes
29answers
41k views

Was mathematics invented or discovered?

What would it mean to say that mathematics was invented and how would this be different from saying mathematics was discovered? Is this even a serious philosophical question or just a meaningless/...
168
votes
16answers
46k views

Is 'guns don't kill people, people kill people' a good argument?

I'm hearing the argument X doesn't do Y people do Y in quite a few guises. For instance in it's original form guns don't kill people; people kill people Presumably, therefore guns are OK cars don't ...
119
votes
22answers
21k views

Why don't fair coin tosses "add up"? Or... is "gambler's fallacy" really valid?

I have always been perplexed by a seeming paradox in probability that I'm sure has some simple, well-known explanation. We say that a "fair coin" or whatever has "no memory." At each toss the odds ...
111
votes
13answers
16k views

Am I morally obligated to pursue a career in medicine?

I am a high school student who has no formal training in philosophy, so I apologize if this question seems naïve. However, it is one that I am currently facing in a life decision, and I would like a ...
106
votes
15answers
44k views

What logical fallacy is "If you don't like it, move!"?

When criticizing government, society or whatever, people often retort, "If you don't like America, why don't you move somewhere else?" What kind of fallacy would this qualify as? At first glance, it ...
105
votes
25answers
44k views

How does one know one is not dreaming?

How does one know one is not dreaming? How could one logically demonstrate to a skeptic that one is "really" there, awake and not just dreaming the entire situation/world around him? Specifically ...
88
votes
31answers
9k views

What would it take in a book to convince a rational person that it had been written by or directly inspired by a god?

Many of the world's religions are based on a book or text that adherents claim to have been written by or directly inspired by a god, perhaps omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent. My question is ...
85
votes
11answers
14k 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 ...
84
votes
20answers
47k 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. ...
75
votes
16answers
19k views

Is it immoral to download music illegally?

I should first point out that the title is more to capture a common occurrence of the broader idea I want to address in this question. It is also somewhat incorrect in that—at least in the US—I'm not ...
75
votes
12answers
19k 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 ...
69
votes
12answers
9k views

How can an uneducated but rational person differentiate between science and religion?

I recently found myself unable to respond to the statement "But the big bang theory is just another creation myth!" during a science vs. religion argument. I found it very difficult to explain the ...
67
votes
6answers
17k views

Logical fallacy: X is bad, Y is worse, thus X is not bad

I have heard this type of argument too many times: You are criticising X using well researched facts and arguments. Your interlocutor, states that Y is much worse with equally well researched facts ...
66
votes
28answers
11k views

Why is there something instead of nothing?

A simple but fundamental question. The "something" means the whole Universe (known and unknown), it could be represented as the reality version of the set of all sets, which is itself debated. It ...
65
votes
26answers
23k views

Why is faith seen as a sign of weakness, instead of an unexplored land/opportunity?

Hope this is the right place to put this question! I am a person of faith (more specific, a Christian) and most of the time people consider me somehow inferior for my belief. I am not antisocial, not ...
63
votes
11answers
15k views

Does human life have innate value over that of other animals?

Does human life have innate value over that of other animals? If so, why? And is it wrong to murder another human, but morally permissible to hunt or fish?
61
votes
21answers
20k views

Is the "omniscient-omnipotent-omnipresent" definition of God consistent?

God is commonly defined as an omniscient (infinite knowledge), omnipotent (unlimited power), omnipresent (present everywhere) entity. Is there any logical inconsistency in this definition? I have ...
58
votes
17answers
23k views

Why is a lion not evil?

One often hears the claim that animals who kill and such, are not in fact evil. The typical example is that of a lion or a tiger that kills a prey. The argument is more or less that the animal acts ...
58
votes
17answers
57k views

In which way does quantum mechanics disprove determinism?

I've heard this pop up in a discussion with my physicist/engineer roommates, but didn't care to ask at the time. Now I'm mighty curious about it. Wikipedia doesn't really seem to say much on this ...
57
votes
19answers
71k views

How will learning about philosophy impact real-life?

Examining the practical, impactful, real-life benefits of getting a degree in philosophy It is often asked, "What is the practical use of philosophy?" or "How will learning about ...
57
votes
11answers
67k views

What is the difference between metaphysics and ontology?

I know that ontology is a sub-field of metaphysics. But I can't see the difference between them. I mean ontology is defined as "The study of being and existence", and metaphysics is defined as "...
56
votes
15answers
26k views

Why does the universe obey scientific laws?

As far as anyone is aware, the universe consistently acts according to predictable laws (and scientific inquiry exists to determine those laws). Is there any metaphysical reason for this? Is such a ...
55
votes
17answers
14k views

Why aren't creationism and natural science on the same intellectual level?

In the infamous creation museum a strategically very shrewd exhibit, where a scientist and a biblical scholar both study the same fossils, is being presented: The sign says “different scientists ...
52
votes
12answers
27k views

Why do they say I am committing a fallacy when I am just insulting someone?

On the internet, one is often accused of committing the so-called 'ad hominem'-fallacy, which, according to Sikipedia, is defined as a fallacious argumentative strategy whereby genuine discussion of ...
51
votes
16answers
39k views

Why is Ayn Rand's Objectivism philosophy dismissed by academics?

This is a question in response to this other one that I asked. I didn't really get a satisfactory answer, mostly because it seems like Rand's work is largely ignored by academics. The highest voted ...
50
votes
27answers
43k views

How can one not believe in god as the root cause of the universe?

How can you lack belief in the existence of god? I define god here as prime cause. As the world is a sum of collections of events, causally linked to the past through time, then there must be a ...
50
votes
14answers
12k views

What is the moral difference between abortion and infanticide?

Many people accept abortion on the grounds that foetuses aren't persons, and that personhood is what defines the right to life. I've always been intrigued about what defines personhood; obviously ...
50
votes
15answers
25k 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 ...
48
votes
15answers
23k views

Is there an alternative to the scientific method?

Intro The scientific method is a key process of how we acquire knowledge and may shape our understanding of the world. If I am not mistaken, this method has been defined several times during our ...
48
votes
6answers
20k 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....
46
votes
17answers
16k views

What are the ethical problems with flipping a coin to decide in the trolley problem?

My understanding is that John M. Taurek suggests that, in the trolley problem we should flip a coin when deciding between saving 5 lives versus 1 life (assuming we do not know any of these people). He ...
46
votes
15answers
14k views

Is Mathematics always correct?

It seems Mathematical theories/Laws/Formulas are the least questioned in all of the sciences. Is mathematics that good at being closest to the laws of universe, or is it just a logical tool of our own ...
46
votes
10answers
13k views

Why do I accept some inconsequential claims as "obviously true" without evidence? E.g. "Most people don't like to be hit on the head with a hammer."

There are certain claims that I accept as obviously true without (much) evidence. For example: Most people don't like to be hit on the head with a hammer. Donald Trump ate dinner some time last week....
46
votes
4answers
13k views

Did Russell understand Gödel's incompleteness theorems?

Russell was active in philosophy (although no longer in math) for many years after the Gödel's 1931 publication. Gödel's paper were not obscure, and Russell would have been aware of their effect on ...
45
votes
13answers
16k views

Do numbers exist independently from observers?

Do numbers have an objective existence? If life had not evolved on planet earth would there be numbers or are numbers an invention of human minds? Are there any relevant works that discuss this? (I ...
44
votes
6answers
14k views

Is there a term for the belief that "if it's legal, it's moral"?

Sometimes I hear arguments that seem to appeal to the fact that something is morally permissible because it is legally permitted. For example: Abortion is moral because it's legally permitted. ...
43
votes
9answers
3k views

What basis do we have for certainty in current scientific theories?

Given there is much past scientific belief that we now know NOT to be true, what basis do we have for the seemingly increasing certainty in our scientific beliefs held today being true? On the one ...
43
votes
10answers
13k views

What is the difference between free-will and randomness and or non-determinism?

In relation to the question "What are the necessary conditions for an action to be regarded as a free choice?", it came up that one way to insure the possibility of free-will was to have more than one ...
42
votes
10answers
14k views

What fallacy in Pascal's Wager allows replacing God with the devil?

I wanted to know the name of the fallacy or fallacies the Pascal's Wager in the sense that it can be applied to motivate one's belief in many things. A similar argument to the original Wager can be ...
42
votes
16answers
16k views

Does a negative claimant have a burden of proof?

I have often heard it said that the burden of proof is on the positive claimant but not on the one making a negative claim. A person claiming, "God exists" has a burden of proof but not a person ...
42
votes
16answers
12k views

How to get started with philosophy without getting overwhelmed quickly?

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to find how to get started with philosophy but I can’t. It seems that getting started with computer programming is nothing in comparison - with computer programming it’...
40
votes
12answers
13k views

What are the ethics of having children today?

Please receive this question as having come from a young person who wants to have children, but given the state of affairs (climate change, growing costs of living and wealth inequality, "technology", ...
40
votes
10answers
10k views

Fallacy by Sherlock Holmes 'Eliminate the impossible, and what remains must be the truth'

In The Sign of Four, Holmes asks Watson: "How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?" This may be ...
40
votes
7answers
87k 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 ...
39
votes
19answers
9k views

How can one rebut the argument that atheism is inherently immoral?

It not uncommon to see religious people arguing that without the moral center of a religious text, true ethics are impossible. The reasoning goes that, without a fixed moral center, atheists are ...
39
votes
12answers
6k views

What should philosophers know about math and natural sciences?

My question is whether a lack of knowledge about formal mathematics or theoretical science in general would have an impact on a philosopher's ability to think and make judgments. Why should a ...
39
votes
9answers
5k views

Does happiness motivate every action?

Pascal wrote: All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the ...
38
votes
16answers
15k views

Should I respect other people's religions?

My point of view is that there is no reason to believe any god exists without evidence. So I find religions a very irrational idea and I mostly heard people saying We have to respect other ...
38
votes
13answers
16k views

Is circular reasoning always a fallacy?

Suppose the following dialogue: ... "I accept only one notion of land property. Namely, 'I am doing my stuff here, therefore I am here". "But this means," he responded, "you ...
38
votes
14answers
10k views

Is faith necessary for man to survive / why is existentialism valued if it is unsubstantiated?

I'd like to point out that I have basically no knowledgeable background in philosophy, but this question has been troubling me as of late, and I need an informed take on this. I was watching a video ...

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