a tippling philosopher

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Rules of discussion - love this!

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Friday, July 27, 2012, In : Philosophy 

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Are humans getting better?

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Monday, July 23, 2012, In : Philosophy 
Are humans getting better?

Due to our up and coming Tippling Philosopher’s meeting entitled “Are humans getting better?” I thought I would put a piece together to get a few thoughts down. This is an interesting question because it promotes going down all sorts of rabbit-holes. I will try and keep my thoughts tight, however.

First of all, we are not talking about the world, but about humans which keeps things nice and specific. “Are humans getting better?” straight away implies ...
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Philosophy and knowing about as much as possible (and my free will talk)

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Sunday, June 17, 2012, In : Philosophy 

So I gave a speech to the Portsmouth Skeptics in the Pub group on Thursday night and, if I might say so, it went really well.

 

Here is some of the feedback from the events page:

 

“Amazing talk tonight, I'm still attempting to process everything..so many questions :) Thanks Johno Pearce.”

 

“Fascinating talk on free will tonight by Johno Pearce. Who knew philosophers could be so ... enthusiastic?!”

 

Which is great to hear – I’m glad I did not disappoint. However, to be ...


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My talk tonight to the Portsmouth Skeptics

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Wednesday, June 13, 2012, In : Philosophy 
i am pretty excited about tonight's talk on free will to the Portsmouth Skpetics in a Pub group. Hopefully there'll be a good turn out. Free will seems to really be on the agenda at the moment. People are talking about it and it features on programmes such as Horizon, Radio 4 and suchlike. There is certainly an appetite fro the debate.

Here are the details:

http://portsmouth.skepticsinthepub.org/ 

I'll let you know how it goes!

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Craig and The Kalam Cosmological Argument...again

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Wednesday, June 6, 2012, In : Philosophy 

Recently, William Lane Craig has produced a video, based on an essay in a book he and Paul Copan have edited this year “Come Let Us Reason: New Essays in Christian Apologetics” entitled “Terrible objections to the Kalam Cosmological Argument”. I am yet to read the essay, but I must assume it to broadly follow the line of his video of the lecture “Worst objections to the Kalam Cosmological Argument”.

I have a mild obsession with the Kalam Cosmological Argument (KCA) and am poten...

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Craig objecting to Kalam objections

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Sunday, June 3, 2012, In : Philosophy 
As you may have gathered, I object to the Kalam Cosmological Argument. A lot. On my You Tub video about it, a Christian posted something to which i retorted. I then also sent him my extended post rejecting the KCA. He then sent me a video recently taken of Craig refuting objections by internet philosophers of the KCA. 

So far I have only watched 19 minutes of it, but based on those 19 minutes, my opinion is pretty damned low. Craig's problem with the circularity picks on a rather bizarre and i...
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Determinism vs compatibilism: abrogation vs moral responsibility?

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Saturday, May 26, 2012, In : Philosophy 
I have been discussing with someone about moral responsibility with regards to determinism, free will and compatibilism. 

Compatibilists often claim, as per David Hume, that the agent has free will because they are not being physically coerced to do something by another agent. However, a hard determinist such as myself will simply claim that that coercion is internal, and not external. The causal process is what makes an agent do something, and this may take its form in other agents, genetics,...
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Sam Harris defends profiling. and philosophically so do I, but the devil is in the detail...

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Monday, May 7, 2012, In : Philosophy 
Sam Harris, apparently, has recently been defending profiling. Without knowing the detail of what he says and the real context, I thought I'd give my tuppence worth in defending profiling in a basic philosophical way. Here is what I have posted elsewhere:

In really simple terms, profiling should be seen in a consequentialist frame (IF you adhere to moral consequentialism. If not, and you adhere to Kantian Categorical Imperatives, then profiling is likely morally bad in and of itself since peop...


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The Philosophy of Evolution

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Wednesday, May 2, 2012, In : Philosophy 

I was worried recently when I read the phrase “goal-directed evolution” in some philosophy writing. This annoys me since it shows what I consider to be a fundamental misunderstanding of what evolution is and does, and philosophers should know better,


People often think, incorrectly, that genes, or chromosomes, or animals, or evolution as a whole are invested with purpose, with agency. This is patently false. There is no agency in the chemical make-up of genetic material and evolution, ...


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How Physics and Neuroscience Dictate Your "Free" Will

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Sunday, April 29, 2012, In : Philosophy 

Physics and neurobiology can help us understand whether we choose our own destiny 



From the Scientific American
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=finding-free-will 


By Christof Koch  | Thursday, April 12, 2012 | 27

 

 

 

In a remote corner of the universe, on a small blue planet gravitating around a humdrum sun in the outer districts of the Milky Way, organisms arose from the primordial mud and ooze in an epic struggle for survival that spanned aeons.

 

Despite all evidenc...


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Epistemologically superb video...

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Saturday, April 28, 2012, In : Philosophy 
This is a great video about epistemology:

 
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Most important questions

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Thursday, April 19, 2012, In : Philosophy 
At our last Tippling Philosophers meeting we threw into the hat the questions that we would most like answered. I compiled them all, and combined a couple (which is why number 6 is missing). What do you think? What questions would you think are the most important questions?

1. What one quality / human characteristic should we want to prioritise in carrying forward out development / evolution?

 

2. What do you think we will carry forward?

 

3. Can God know everything?

 

4. If there is ...


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Another reply to David B. Marshall on faith vs Reason

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Saturday, April 14, 2012, In : Philosophy 
This is my latest reply to the debate going on here:  http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/explaining-faith-so-that-even-david.html 


Basically, so that we may be able to take this discussion further towards a much-needed conclusion, this is what I think faith is:

 

I am going to flesh out what is essentially the dictionary definition so that it is more philosophical and robust. But I am essentially not redefining it too far beyond what is accepted by the majority of the world....


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Faith vs Reason

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Thursday, April 12, 2012, In : Philosophy 
Here is a post of mine which John Loftus at Debunking Christianity posted today. It was part of a larger discussion with David Marshal, a Christian author and blogger. See what you think. 
The post is here: 
http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/explaining-faith-so-that-even-david.html 
And the larger discussion here:
http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/less-evidence-you-havethe-more-faith.html#disqus_thread 

David

Part of the problem is that you are extracting these...


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New speaking engagement booked - a talk on free will

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Tuesday, April 3, 2012, In : Philosophy 
I am really pleased to announce that I have another speaking engagement booked in Portsmouth, to talk to the Portsmouth Skeptics in the Pub about free will.

The Skeptics in a Pub is a growing secular movement around the country, and I must say, I am really looking forward to it!

Here are the details:

"An investigation into whether we have free will or whether I was always going to write this book"

Jonathan Pearce 

When? 
Thursday, June 14 2012 at 7:30PM

Where? 


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Of Human Emotions

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Friday, March 30, 2012, In : Philosophy 

In reading Steven Pinker’s How the Mind Works, which has been a slow burner (both in terms of time taken to read it and time taken to get into the really interesting stuff), I have just started to read about the importance and ontology of emotions. I came to a realisation, explicitly, that emotions are fundamental to our lives. Fundamental by way of giving us the reasons and desire to do all that we do. In fact, without emotion, we wouldn’t get anything done, and would undoubtedly not exi...


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consciousness explained?

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Sunday, March 18, 2012, In : Philosophy 
Here is an excerpt from my first book, Free Will? I have always been interested in consciousness and it remains a fertile battleground for many philosophers:


Consciousness explained?

 

We have touched lightly on naturalism and the soul, so it would be rude, and a little short-sighted, to forget to mention consciousness. Consciousness is another sticky bog that perhaps potentially undermines any concept of determinism. Unlike the soul, we know consciousness, at least in some way (and possibly...


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What gets my goat.

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Friday, February 17, 2012, In : Philosophy 

I was at a place called Monkey Bizness the other day with my two 18 month old twins and my partner. Monkey Bizness is a sort of kids climbing area with ball pits and all sorts. There is a special closed off area with a ball pit for under 2s only. There is a clear sign on the outside of the area and then by the ball pit which says children must be under 2 and cannot be supervised by an older sibling but only an adult.

 

I say this because this place led me to the realisation that I cannot st...


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Great review of my talk on free will to the SHH.

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Sunday, February 5, 2012, In : Philosophy 
Thanks to the South Hampshire Humanists who invited me to speak to them about free will last month. They have reviewed the talk in their recent newsletter:

… we were treated to an excellent exposition of the determinist position from our member Jonathan Pearce, suitably accompanied by slides. He began by reminding us of the three main positions — Libertarian (we own the decisions we make), Determinist (everything we do is determined by past conditions) and Compatibilist (Determinism and Fr...


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New video on naturalism vs supernaturalism

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Wednesday, February 1, 2012, In : Philosophy 

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One of my favourite analogies.

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Tuesday, January 31, 2012, In : Philosophy 
I love this analogy for the intuitive brilliance and common sense that it makes. It exposes the explanatory weakness of supernaturalism and illustrates that it has been on the retreat ever since the new boy Science hit town. It can be found in many of Richard Carrier's writings, for example here. See what you think.




The cause of lightning was once thought to be God's wrath, but turned out to be the unintelligent outcome of mindless natural forces. We once thought an intelligent being must have...
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Philpapers as an awesome resource for philosophical opinion

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Monday, January 23, 2012, In : Philosophy 
For those of you who don't know, philpapers is a resource I refer to a lot because it is so damned useful and interesting. Wiki:

PhilPapers is an international, interactive academic database of journal articles for professionals and students in philosophy. It is maintained as a combined project of the Centre for Consciousness at the Australian National University (ANU), Canberra and the Institute of Philosophy in the School of Advanced Study at the University of London.

As of 2012, the site ...


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My first public talk (on free will)

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Monday, January 23, 2012, In : Philosophy 
On Sunday, I was lucky enough to have been invited by the South Hampshire Humanists (SHH) to do a talk on free will in Southampton. This was my first public speaking engagement in the world of philosophy and I was both nervous and excited. There was an assembled audience of only 20 people which was nice and intimate. I talked for about 45 minutes and then did a Q and A session afterwards.

Back some months ago I turned up to the SHH drinks in a nearby pub - a social to discuss pertinent subject...
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Natural oughts? Is there such a thing as natural?

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Sunday, January 15, 2012, In : Philosophy 

I was wondering today, as I lay there with one of my twins in my arms, as to whether oughts can be derived from a natural pre-programmed’ behaviour. For example, if an evolved characteristic, such as aggressiveness in males (I am generalising here, of course) or to want to eat meat, or, if it could be proven, that it were ‘natural’ to be heterosexual was inherent in a human, are we then obliged in some way to act in accordance with that ‘natural’ inclination?

 

Or, indeed, is it ...


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Plummeting Probabilities

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Sunday, December 18, 2011, In : Philosophy 
Quite often, theists posit arguments, but when they are met with difficulties, they necessitate extra premises. This is the case in Glenn Peoples' Moral argument, as pointed out by Stephen Law on his blog.

Here is what he had to say about what this does for the likelihood of the argument then being true:

Glenn Peoples' blog has been interesting me lately. He has just out up his version of a moral argument for the existence of God.

Glenn argues, as does Craig:

If there's no God, there are no obje...
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Free will as an illusion; illusions as commonplace

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Friday, December 16, 2011, In : Philosophy 
When people claim things like free will is an illusion, as i do, then critics often hit back with "Why expect something so obvious to be false? Why not accept it on face value as you do most everything else int eh world?" etc. etc. This is an appeal to intuition as being a form of (reliable) knowledge.

The issue here is that many, many things in our world are not as they seem. Our interpretation of reality is exactly that an interpretation - and there is no guaranteeing its accuracy. Let me re...
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Oughts and moral philosophy

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Monday, December 12, 2011, In : Philosophy 

If a theist or God declares that I ought to do something, say A (such that it is good and I would get to heaven, but which is supposedly intrin, out of intrinsic duty, then this scenario seems to render that divinely inspired ought as meaningless:

 

If I want to go to hell, then in what sense of the word can it be said that I ought to do A? The duty to do good is circular so that I cannot say I ought to do good in order to do good, since this is tautologous. I ought to put oil in the car so...


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The more stupid you are, the more happy you are likely to be, no?

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Monday, December 5, 2011, In : Philosophy 


This raises an interesting philosophical point which was raised in a recent New Scientist article:

Don't get smart: The curse of knowledge
Richard Fisher
New Scientist
30 July 2011 pp 39-41

Knowing less can make you a better teacher, a more perceptive student and a happier person overall. It could even make you richer.

 

HEY, you, stop reading right now. This magazine might be bad for you. Put it down, kick your feet up and do something mindless instead.

 

Still here? Perhaps it would change ...


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William Lane Craig and the Kalam Cosmological Argument

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Friday, December 2, 2011, In : Philosophy 

 

During William Lane Craig’s recent Reasonable Faith tour to the UK where he debated philosophers such as Stephen Law and Peter Millican, Craig received a vast amount of publicity for having Dawkins refuse to debate him. However, what was more important to me was either a severe case of philosophical amnesia, or Craig has dropped the Kalam Cosmological Argument, which has been a standard part of his three / four / five pronged attack for decades. Why, I wonder. Well, let me explain.

 

 ...


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New essay about the soul and how it must be deterministic

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Tuesday, November 29, 2011, In : Philosophy 
I've recently written a new essay which I have posted here in the essay section of the website. Please read it and see what you think. Post any comments to it here. Here is the abstract to the essay:

Abstract: This essay sets out to dispel the myth that the soul can be the originator for free will. I will start the essay by establishing the Cartesian idea of what the body is and showing that Descartes and modern biology indicate that the body is a biological machine. After indicating how Desca...
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The Human Soul: A simple category error.

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Saturday, November 5, 2011, In : Philosophy 

Atlanta Atheism Examiner

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Millican used my (!) argument against the KCA in his debate against Craig.

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Tuesday, November 1, 2011, In : Philosophy 
This, from the review by Wintery Knight, shows the refutation to the KCA that I have been banging on about for a year or so is being used against Craig in debate. Finally. Well done Peter Millican.

"1. There is no evidence that whatever begins to exist requires a cause. All the evidence we have of things beginning to exist are when something is created from rearrangements of other things that already existed.

The closest analog we have to something coming into being from nothing is quantum part...


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Jedward - evidence for determinism

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Saturday, October 29, 2011, In : Philosophy 


 

 

I am going to use an unlikely tool to show the philosophical veracity of determinism – the belief that we have no free will. The evidence I am going to bring to the stand is / are Jedward. For those who don’t know them, they were X-Factor sensations from Ireland – identical twins who are so similar you just can’t tell them apart. And they do EVERYTHING together.

 

So, let’s look at free will. I do not want to get into the intricacies of free will here (you can read my book...


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Uncaused God vs Uncaused Universe

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Wednesday, October 5, 2011, In : Philosophy 
A really important point made here in the context of debating William Lane Craig:

"Additionally he has to posit that the most complex state of being possible, God, was uncaused whilst the simplest possible state, empty space, had to have been caused by god."
 
 This, as a wider point, is a really concise and acute way of putting across the idea that an eternally existing universe is no more, and even somewhat less, improbable than an eternally existing God. I like it.

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The Rooney Rule and Positive Discrimination

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Monday, September 19, 2011, In : Philosophy 

Recently, the PFA (Professional Footballers’ Association) has been toying with the idea of employing the Rooney Rule when shortlisting and interviewing candidates for managerial positions in football clubs in England. The rule demands that clubs must interview at least one black person for manager when recruiting.  This rule was rolled out to NFL clubs in the States in 2003 and has since been reformed to include ethnic minorities there. I would like to look at this from a philosophical poin...


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New essay on Hume and Induction

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Tuesday, July 19, 2011, In : Philosophy 
I have written a new essay on Hume's approach to inductive reasoning. Have a read here and let me know what you think by commenting on this blog post.
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Do animals have souls?

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Saturday, May 14, 2011, In : Philosophy 
I was in the garden today and found a dead blackbird chick on the lawn. It was a sad sight, most probably falling out of the nest and not surviving. This made me think about the notion of life, what it is, how easy it is to lose, and whether, if souls exist, you could argue that animals don't have them. 

Let me be clear, I do not believe in the notion of a soul, unless (as many do without realising it) define a soul as consciousness. I look at this bird, and got a real sense of the loss of lif...
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New essay about vegetarianism

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Friday, April 15, 2011, In : Philosophy 
I've just finished rushing off an essay about vegetarianism and veganism. This was in response to my partner's daughter who has just decided to become a vegan. This inspired me to think about the philosophical implications of such a decision.

The essay can be found here. Please feel free to comment on it by posting comments to this post.

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Objective ideas don't exist.

Posted by Jonathan Pearce on Tuesday, April 12, 2011, In : Philosophy 

I am a conceptualist who does not believe in objective existence. The burden of proof would be on Craig to prove objective existence. Without this, his whole argument of objective morality falls apart. This is why he needs to debate a good philosopher who would take him to task on his foundational assumptions.

 

There is no such thing as objective morality, because any idea is subjective. Abstract ideas do not and cannot exist objectively.

 

It is anthropocentric. Imagine a more intellige...


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