About Stephen Law

“But is it Art?!” Family resemblance concepts’ (Wittgenstein) explained simply (from my The Philosophy Gym)

9. But is it Art? From my book The Philosophy Gym: 25 Short Adventures in Thinking. I mean they’d gone and fucking installed the work without me even being here. That’s just not on. This is my bed. If someone else installs it, it’s just dirty linen. If I do it, it’s art. Tracey Emin (artist), Evening Standard, 12/9/00. Today it seems almost anything can be classified as a work of art: Damien Hirst’s pickled shark or Tracey Emin’s unmade bed, for example. But what is art … [Read more...]

Secular Humanism: why it’s a strategic mistake to define as requiring naturalism

What does secular humanism (or, as we say in the UK, humanism) involve? In Humanism: A Very Short Introduction (OUP 2011) I suggest that most of those who sign up to secular humanism sign up to following: … [Read more...]

Erik Wielenberg’s argument re sceptical theism defended and developed – forthcoming in Religious Studies

(revised 9 April 2014) Sceptical theism and a lying God – Wielenberg’s argument defended and developed   Stephen Law Department of Philosophy, Heythrop College, University of London, Kensington Square, London W5 8HX UK s.law@heythrop.ac.uk     Abstract: Sceptical theists attempt to block the evidential argument from evil by arguing that a key premise of that argument – that gratuitous evil exists – cannot reasonably be maintained. They argue that, for all we know, our knowledge of reasons … [Read more...]

Playing The Mystery Card (incl. McGrath vs Dawkins) from my book Believing Bullshit

 PLAYING THE MYSTERY CARD   Suppose critics point out that not only do you have little in the way of argument to support your particular belief system, there also seems to be powerful evidence against it. If you want, nevertheless, to convince both yourself and others that your beliefs are not nearly as ridiculous as your critics suggest, what might you do?   Perhaps Play The Mystery Card. As we will see, this sort of strategy is particularly popular when it comes to defending b … [Read more...]

Philosophy and religion in Schools

Religion and philosophy in schools (from Hand and Winstanley, Philosophy in Schools, Continuum 2008))   Is philosophy in schools a good idea? The extent to which early exposure to a little philosophical thinking is of educational benefit is, of course, largely an empirical question. As a philosopher, that sort of empirical study is not my area of expertise. But of course there is also a philosophical dimension to this question. As a philosopher, conceptual clarification and the analysis … [Read more...]

TV interview in Tehran

I was at a philosophy of religion conference in Tehran, Iran last week - invited as an atheist to speak to and engage with assembled philosophers, cleric. etc.I appeared briefly on TV - unfortunately the bit of the interview they chose to broadcast was misleading as they cut the "but"...Go here: I was at a philosophy of religion conference in Tehran, Iran last week - invited as an atheist to speak to and engage with assembled philosophers, cleric. etc.I appeared briefly on TV - … [Read more...]

What is humanism?

  What is Humanism?   “Humanism” is a word that has had and continues to have a number of meanings. The focus here is on kind of atheistic world-view espoused by those who organize and campaign under that banner in the UK and abroad.   We should acknowledge that there remain other uses of term. In one of the loosest senses of the expression, a “Humanist” is someone whose world-view gives special importance to human concerns, values and dignity. If that is what a Humanist is, then of co … [Read more...]

Wielenberg’s Divine Lies, and McBrayer and Swenson’s response – my comments for feedback

  Skeptical Theism and Divine Deception: The McBrayer/Swenson response to Wielenberg   1. Skeptical Theism   Evidential arguments from evil often[i] take something like the following form:   If God exists, gratuitous evil does not exist. Gratuitous evil exists. Therefore, God does not exist   Gratuitous evil is evil for which there is no God-justifying reason. Why suppose gratuitous evil exists? Well, we observe great evils for which we can identify no God-justifying reason. Thu … [Read more...]


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