Is it Maps All the Way Down?

Yesterday, I went to the Dominican House of Studies for a symposium on Creation and Modern Science, and one of the speakers was Edward Feser, author of The Last Superstition (the book that got me started exploring Aquinas and hanging out with the DC Dominicans).  His lecture was on the immaterial nature of thought, and there's one facet of it I'd like to highlight here.Feser was talking about the distinction between concepts and phantasms.  As briefly as possible (i.e. blame me, not Feser, if … [Read more...]

Human-Independent Morality

Adam Lee of Daylight Atheism recently reran an essay he wrote in response to Peter Hitchens ("Atheists Don't Just Want Sex and Drugs").  Specifically, he was taking issue with Peter Hitchens's claim that a moral system that lacked God must lack authority.  Hitchens wrote: For a moral code to be effective, it must be attributed to, and vested in, a nonhuman source. It must be beyond the power of humanity to change it to suit itself. I've gone back and forth on whether I believe that first sen … [Read more...]

Optimized and Arbitrary

This is one of a series of posts about math and morality.  I'll be getting back to the series soon, but I'm currently pausing to answer some of the questions that have been accumulating.In comments on "On What Evidence?" Crowhill and Charles got into a disagreement about human morality and evolution that I exerpt below.Crowhill: Does there have to be some sort of "objective morality" for a dog to know how he's supposed to behave towards other dogs? Isn't it entirely possible that dogs … [Read more...]

On what evidence?

This post is part of a series of responses to the comments on my ongoing series on math and morality.  You can check out previous posts in this series here.So having spent one post answering questions using my sight metaphor, I’m going to move away from it in this round of answers. (Remember, as George Box said, “Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful.”).Eitan said: [M]orality is clearly quite different than EVERYTHING else we know. If there were objective values, they w … [Read more...]

Tangled up in Blue

Thanks so much for all the comments and challenges to yesterday’s post in the Math and Morality series. Rather than reply in the comment thread, I’ll be putting up response posts throughout the day. Please comment to clarify or bring up something I neglected! I’m glad Anonymous linked to Steven Pinker’s NYT article on ”The Moral Instinct” and that J.C. linked to the article on how descriptions of color vary across cultures. Hopefully pairing these two can help me clear up a little … [Read more...]

“From dreams I proceed to facts”

 Reading Flatland changed my lifeThe novella was published in 1884 by Edwin A. Abbott--an English schoolmaster. The novella is narrated by a square living in a two-dimensional world. One night, he is visited by a Sphere, or, rather, from his point of view, a Circle of varying diameter.The Sphere has come to explain to him that there is a dimension he knows nothing about—a dimension along a hereto unknown direction “Upwards, not Northwards.”  To help the Square understand, the Sp … [Read more...]


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