In praise of boring claims

Leah Libresco is doing a series of posts on Daniel Dennett’s Breaking the Spell. Her two most recent posts (out of three) both seem to make this complaint about Dennett: many of his claims are rather boring (to imperfectly condense the critiques into bumper-sticker form). The first of the two takes aim at this paragraph from Dennett: [Read more...]

On who I voted for, the liberal democratic tradition, and words for bad things

(Alternative title: “Philosophical-political blog post that attempts to combine three blog posts into one.” It’s funny if you get the reference to Spinoza’s Treatise.) [Read more...]

Yes, smart and well-informed people often use words in confused ways

One comment on my recent post on deontology was to express incredulity that a term so many philosophers apply to themselves could lack a coherent definition. I, on the other hand, think that’s the most plausible thing in the world, and I’ve stumbled across a good example of it while doing my research for the [Read More...]

“Deontology” and why our jargon for ethical theories is a mess

I keep meaning to reply to Yvain’s reply to my recent post on abortion, but there’s one preliminary I need to get out of the way first: Yvain asks if I’m  “a deontologist (ie you believe things are wrong not because of their consequences, but because they fit into predetermined Categories of Wrong Things).” [Read more...]

Why abortion really seriously isn’t murder, and you shouldn’t get too excited about identifying logical fallacies

Yvain–a writer who I mostly really like (see his blog)–has a post on LessWrong about what he’s decided to call “the noncentral fallacy,” which nominates as a candidate for “the worst argument in the world. I think the post is about 15% brilliant and 85% disastrously wrong. [Read more...]

The space between charitable and uncharitable

Judging from the reactions to my “Read the dead uncharitably” post, including Leah Libresco’s, I think that post may have suffered from a poor choice of words. When I talk about “uncharitable” reading, all I mean is making no special effort to read charitably. But Leah’s post talks about the problems with reading “antagonistically,” and [Read More...]

Read the dead uncharitably

I have mixed feelings about the so-called “principle of charity,” which Russell Blackford once stated as, “read others on the basis that they are probably saying something that’s not absurd.” On the one hand, people say absurd things often enough that this may not be such a great assumption when it comes to figuring out [Read More...]

An open letter to friends from my hometown

“At first I didn’t think Romney’s comments were any big deal, but then I realized he was talking about me, and so many Americans like me.” Let that quote (which you can find more on here) sink in a bit. [Read more...]

What exactly is metaphysics?

A reader writes: If you had the time, I wanted to request a topic on philosophy as it relates to apologetics.  I’m hoping you could answer: “What exactly is metaphysics? [Read more...]


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