About Keith Parsons

The Physical Realization of the Mental

Here is a handout for one of my classes. Readers here might find it interesting as well. The class read the "Great Debate" on the Secular Web between Andrew Melnyk and the two Christian philosophers Stewart Goetz and Charles Taliafero. This is my explanation of Melnyk's idea of the physical realization of the mental, which to me is quite plausible.Mind is defined functionally. A Functional Definition is a definition of something not in terms of its constituents, but in terms of what it does. … [Read more...]

You get the Weirdest Things in your Inbox

Here is a message sent to my e-mail. I have no idea why it was sent to me. I sent a reply indicating that this is egregious drivel and blocked the sender from my inbox. I am omitting the name of the sender, not so much to protect his privacy but so as to not give him any publicity.Dear Keith,"I filed a First Amendment lawsuit against Columbia University that is now before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. This lawsuit is analogous to Kitzmiller v. Dover Area … [Read more...]

An Evangelical Philosopher on LGBT Rights

Calm discussions of “hot button” issues are rare, but I am having this opportunity now. Matt Flannagan is a distinguished evangelical philosopher who has written a number notable works, including Did God Really Command Genocide?, with Paul Copan. I have enjoyed a number of very interesting discussions with him on a wide variety of topics, and have always found his comments to be logical, informed, and civil (Getting even one of these three in an Internet discussion is, alas, rarer than it should … [Read more...]

Mike Pence on Gay Rights vs. Religious Freedom

From the site ProCon:http://borngay.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=001365Mike Pence, JD, United States House Representative (R-IN), made the following comments during a Nov. 7, 2007 House floor speech opposing passage of "The Employment Non-Discrimination Act":"Let me be clear that I am not condoning discrimination against people for any reason whatsoever. I believe in civility and decency in society. The problem here is that by extending the reach of federal law to cover … [Read more...]

Sins of Omission: What the Bible does not Say

The Bible was written in ancient times by many authors. Over a thousand years separated the earliest from the most recent writings. Naturally, the Bible reflects the cultural and intellectual milieus of the times and places of its composition. Unless one is theologically committed to the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy, it should not be embarrassing that biblical writings reflect a pre-modern cosmology or that the biblical scale of earth history is off by six orders of magnitude off (4.6 billion … [Read more...]

Soulless

Things have been a bit slow here at SO the past couple of weeks with Jeff and others spending time bashing Donald Trump (an entirely worthwhile enterprise), so I will try to enliven things a bit. Although the notion plays no part in neuroscience, cognitive science, cognitive psychology, or any other of the sciences of the brain and mind—where the regulative assumption has long been that the brain is sufficient for all mental functions—souls still have their defenders. By “soul” I mean a simple, s … [Read more...]

Trumping Enlightenment Values

David Brooks is one of the few conservative pundits that I can read without nausea. He actually knows something and respects those Enlightenment ideals of free and open inquiry. Here is what he has to say about Enlightenment Values:https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/28/opinion/the-enlightenment-project.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-left-region&region=opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region&_r=0As I … [Read more...]

The Harm of Junk “Studies”

As a cat lover, this article from Huffington Post caught my eye:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/cats-mental-illness-toxoplasma_us_58adc06ae4b03d80af714072?The "study" debunked here is just one example of many, many such junk "studies" that come out all the time. This junk science does enormous harm. There are all sorts of ax-grinders that sit in waiting for some purportedly scientific "study" to confirm their obsessions. Then we never hear the end of it, even after the junk has been t … [Read more...]