103

Your reasoning would be sound if you picked any random human who ever lived and checked whether they would be alive today. This chance would indeed be rather low. (Because today's world population is far higher than ever in the past, the chance is not quite as astronomically low as one might think.) However, we are not looking at any random human who ever ...


96

If you shake the box, it rattles. If you measure its weight before you put in the pencil and after, it will have increased by exactly the weight of the pencil. That's how you know the pencil still exists in there. And if you really want to explore the basic meaning of "existence": how and why do you know the pencil exists before you put it into the box? ...


67

I’m having a tough time explaining why the pencil ceases to exist once you close the box. Because you're trying to explain something which is wrong physically and wrong philosophically. Your friends are correct. The issue is that you have no proof of its presence or absence once you close the box. That does not mean it ceases to exist. It just means ...


51

The assumption that the pencil continues to exist - even when the box is closed - is the most simple hypothesis which explains all relevant observations. E.g., the observation that the pencil exists when opening the box, as @Mauro ALLEGRANZA explains.


42

Shuffle a standard deck of 52 playing cards and look at the arrangement you end up with. Assuming your sorting was completely random the probability of you getting that exact arrangement is about 1 in 8 x 10 ^ 67. What an incredible coincidence! Well not really - you had to end up with one of the possible arrangements and they are all improbable, so an ...


27

You are assuming that existence is a phenomenon that can undergo sudden state changes. Or in simpler words: That things can cease to exist and came (back) into existence instantly and without observable side effects. As Carl Sagan said: “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” Your claim has no supporting evidence. No such sudden stage changes ...


25

To make the argument valid, you'd need to say something like: Human life is intrinsically valuable. A human life begins at conception. To destroy anything intrinsically valuable is always wrong. Since abortion is the destruction of something that counts as "a human life" by (2), then by 1 and 3 it will follow that it is wrong. Secular arguments against ...


22

If you place a pencil in an opaque box and close the box, does the pencil exist? This is a Metaphysical question to which we do not know the correct answer. But here are some philosophical views Idealism : The pencil does not exist when no one is watching The mind is what creates matter, if something is not created by any mind (i.e : inside an opaque ...


16

If you make the supposition that no thing inside the universe could generate the universe and that every thing that exists is inside the universe than the direct conclusion is that the universe was not generated by a thing, which is similar to saying that it was generated by nothing. The difficulty here is that you have to ask yourself what you mean by "...


13

To expand upon Mauro's excellent response: "Nothing" isn't a name of a thing that doesn't exist. Words like "nothing" "something" "everything" "most things" and so on don't refer to objects the way that proper names like "Shane" do. Rather these words, called quantifiers, show how many objects are being referred to by other expressions. So "nothing exists" ...


12

That's a nice question, but I don't think things can "have" front and back. A chair is just an object with its geometry and configuration. Front and back are concepts defined by us for matters of pure perspective. They are not some kind of property of the chair. In the course of our existence on earth we found it necessary to distinguish between some ...


12

A proposition is objective if its truth value is independent of the person uttering it. A fact is objective in the same way. For morality to be objective, moral propositions such as "Killing is bad","Stealing is bad", etc... need to be true independently of the person who is stating them. Moral statements are basically statements of value. Some value ...


11

It's not entirely clear to me where you're having difficulty but I will attempt to go over the thought experiment and provide some clarity. Note that this experiment depends on monism (e.g. physicalism) unless the teletransporter can copy "non-substance" as well. So the assumption is that everything that makes you you is based on the physical location of ...


11

This isn't one unified theory, but a strain of thought that has reoccurred many times and in many different forms in the world of philosophy. Some of the most notable versions are found in Plato, who viewed the ordinary material world as a imperfect copy or reflection of a more true Reality composed of ideal elements (perhaps most memorably explained in the ...


11

I think Shane captures the basic structure of the standard secular arguments, but there are a few more that can be offered -- some of which run contrary to the usual political divisions at least in the American sphere. Regarding your initial formulation, there are a few gaps that I don't really get: Human existence is inherently good. A human exists at ...


11

Actually the whole business of living other than the animalic part, is denying death. So the idealism you are seeking by not denying death is itself a denial of death. [I] The human animal is the only animal that knows it is going to die. (Sartre) As a result we fear death but not necessarily consciously: If this fear [of death] were as constantly ...


10

You're reading Descartes out of context; he doesn't just say "cogito ergo sum" and go home, he says it in the course of an argument. I'm not going to rehearse all of the steps of the argument here-- the Meditations on First Philosophy are readily available, and easy to read-- but in broad strokes, he's asking: what do we know indubitably? Is there any kind ...


10

I believe it is impossible. I recommend you read (if you haven't already) Descartes' meditations where he famously concludes I think therefore I am - http://www.sacred-texts.com/phi/desc/med.txt: Archimedes, in order that he might draw the terrestrial globe out of its place, and transport it elsewhere, demanded only that one point should be fixed and ...


10

This is an interesting question, there are several ways of looking at it. Here are two: Alexis Meinong looked at it from the point of view of intentionality. Intentionality is the fact that any thought we have has to be about something. We don't just think, we think about people, objects, events, conversations etc. Because our thoughts always have to have ...


10

Simplicity is a criterion for theory or explanation selection. It can clash with other criteria such as explanatory reach. Also there is no agreement on the nature of simplicity. Intuitively, I suppose, it denotes ontological parsimony or theoretical elegance - notions which themselves stand in need of clarification. The question asks 'how they know'. ...


10

First, your premises are inconsistent: your second premise implies that turtles do not see other turtles, or themselves, yet, according to the first premise, they see everything. So, taking y=x, we can deduce both ∀xSxx and ∀x¬Sxx. After that you can deduce whatever you want directly using the law of explosion, contradiction implies anything. If you fix ...


9

Under some assumptions about cosmology, you will exist an infinite number of times in the future as a Boltzmann brain. Indeed you could right now be a Boltzmann brain. This requires that the probability that you will exist spontaneously from random wavefunction collapse is greater than zero, will remain greater than zero, and time is infinite. This also ...


9

I actually would not say that One of the oldest questions is "What is the meaning of life?" It is true that people have been asking for a long time how they fit in and what they should do, but it is only recently that people have understood the question in personal and existential terms. More classical questions are: "what does it mean to be a good ...


9

The first time I recall encountering this argument was in Alan Moore’s Watchmen, where the probability of what you describe is likened to “events with odds so astronomical they’re effectively impossible, like oxygen spontaneously becoming gold”. I find the argument similar to the gambler’s fallacy. An example: In a fair coin toss, the probability of ...


9

Interesting question; I've been pondering/researching the topic of escapism recently. To answer your first question, willful ignorance can certainly be a form of escapism, in the broad sense of the term - keeping in mind that "escapism" is rather loosely defined. If escapism has a more precise philosophical definition that I'm not aware of, then you can ...


8

Every surface has a "front and back" locally. One way to answer the question "why?" is to prove that a plane in R^3 separates R^3 into two components (compare with the situation of a line in R^3). More interesting is the question of whether surfaces have a global front and back. Non orientable surfaces like the Möbius strip, for instance, have only one ...


8

What is a variable ? A variable is a "syntactical" object: it lives in formalized languages. In the formalized language of logic and mathematics, it "works" like a pronoun. When we have a propositional function like "x is a red" or "x is odd" we have a statement like "it is red" or "it is odd". What is the meaning of the statement "it is red" ? It ...


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