Dec 14, 2021

Callicles and Thrasymachus are the two great exemplars in philosophy of contemptuous challenge to conventional morality. Both are characters in Platonic dialogues, in the Gorgias and Book I of the Republic respectively; both denounce the virtue of justice, dikaiosunê, as an artificial brake on self-interest, a fraud to be seen through by intelligent people. Together, Thrasymachus and Callicles have fallen into the folk mythology of moral philosophy as ‘the immoralist’ (or ‘amoralist’). These are perhaps not quite the right words, but it is useful to have a label for their common challenge—more generally, for the figure who demands a good reason to abide by moral constraints, and denies, implicitly or explicitly, that this demand can be met.[1] Because of this shared agenda, and because Socrates’ refutation of Callicles can be read as an unsatisfying rehearsal for the Republic, it is tempting to assume that the two share a single philosophical position. But in fact Callicles and Thrasymachus are by no means interchangeable; and the differences between them are important both for the interpretation of Plato and philosophically, for our understanding of the varieties of immoralism and the motivations behind it. This article discusses both the common challenge presented by these two figures and the features which separate them, treating them strictly as players in Plato’s philosophical dramas. (Thrasymachus was a real person, a famous diplomat and orator of whose real views we know only a little; of Callicles we know nothing, and he may even be Plato’s invention.)[2] It will also compare them to a third Platonic version of the immoralist challenge, the one presented by Glaucon and Adeimantus in Republic Book II, and to the writings of sophist Antiphon—the best-known real-life counterpart of all three Platonic views, and perhaps their historical original. Certain aspects of Plato’s own arguments against immoralism will also be discussed, insofar as they help to clarify what Callicles and Thrasymachus themselves have to say.

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Sep 22, 2021

“Zombie intuitions” explores a methodologically inconvenient phenomenon: In philosophical thought experiments, as in ordinary discourse, our understanding of verbal case descriptions is enriched by automatic comprehension inferences. Such inferences have us routinely infer what else is also true of the cases described. The paper considers how such routine inferences from polysemous words can generate ‘zombie intuitions’: intuitions that are ‘killed’ (defeated) by contextual information but kept cognitively alive by the psycholinguistic phenomenon of linguistic salience bias.

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Sep 13, 2021

Consciousness as used here, refers to the private, subjective experience of being aware of our perceptions, thoughts, feelings, actions, memories (psychological contents) including the intimate experience of a unified self with the capacity to generate and control actions and psychological contents. This compelling, intuitive consciousness-centric account has, and continues to shape folk and scientific accounts of psychology and human behavior. Over the last 30 years, research from the cognitive neurosciences has challenged this intuitive social construct account when providing a neurocognitive architecture for a human psychology. Growing evidence suggests that the executive functions typically attributed to the experience of consciousness are carried out competently, backstage and outside subjective awareness by a myriad of fast, efficient non-conscious brain systems. While it remains unclear how and where the experience of consciousness is generated in the brain, we suggested that the traditional intuitive explanation that consciousness is causally efficacious is wrong-headed when providing a cognitive neuroscientific account of human psychology. Notwithstanding the compelling 1st-person experience (inside view) that convinces us that subjective awareness is the mental curator of our actions and thoughts, we argue that the best framework for building a scientific account is to be consistent with the biophysical causal dependency of prior neural processes. From a 3rd person perspective, (outside view), we propose that subjective awareness lacking causal influence, is (no more) than our experience of being aware, our awareness of our psychological content, knowing that we are aware, and the belief that that such experiences are evidence of an agentive capacity shared by others. While the human mind can be described as comprising both conscious and nonconscious aspects, both ultimately depend on neural process in the brain. In arguing for the counter-intuitive epiphenomenal perspective, we suggest that a scientific approach considers all mental aspects of mind including consciousness in terms of their underlying, preceding (causal) biological changes, in the realization that most brain processes are not accompanied by any discernible change in subjective awareness.

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Sep 8, 2021

All of us experience freedom. When you choose a drink from the menu, you experience this choice as an act of free will. And when you consent to, say, being filmed for a documentary, you do it out of freedom to choose whether or not you want to be in that documentary. Such basic categories as “choice” or “consent”, but also “responsibility” or “guilt” presuppose at least some amount of freedom to act. But what if you’re told that freedom is but an illusion?

Aug 29, 2021

Philosophy is born of the marriage of two Greek words, philos- and sophia. Philos is one of Ancient Greek’s many words for love, while sophia is the Greek word for wisdom. And so at its root, philosophy was originally (and for some of us — perennially) about the love of wisdom. In his work Recapture the Rapture, Jamie Wheal identifies two strands of wisdom that pave the way to every living philosophy: ecstasis and catharsis.

Aug 27, 2021

Is it right to kill another being for food? Welcome back to part 6 of our series on the ending of life. Today, we are exploring the moral permissibility of the killing of another being for food. Generally, when we discuss killing for food, we talk only about the killing of fish, birds or other animals for meat. Yet this is misguided. As the Janist’s, Manicheans and others knew, plants are also living beings. Sure, they are alien to us and other mammals, but nevertheless, “because plants are able to respire, metabolise, reproduce, and die, they are living” (Arumugam, 2014; Tobias, 1991) beings too. In addition to these core functions, biologists have discovered that plants can effectively sense and respond to the world around them in a way analogous to the senses of sight, smell and hearing (Gabbatiss, 2017). This agency or ability to actively influence the world around them means that we cannot ignore plants in discussing the taking of life. Thus, when we discuss killing for food, we are talking about killing any living being, plant, insect, or animal.

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Aug 27, 2021

Susan Wilson sets up the Strawson-Evans discussion with an account of what we want when we ask ‘what is truth?’ One thing we want is an explanation of how we can apply the same word—’true’—to many different kinds of statements. As she puts it: “We want to show how all true statements resemble each other and how they differ”. Frank Ramsey had an answer to this question, an answer which Strawson reaches for in this gem of an exchange.

Strawson opens with something Ramsey is famous for having said “some 50 years ago”: “‘is true’ and ‘p’, if not identical, are equivalent” (Ramsey NP: 118). This has led many philosophers to take Ramsey to be a founder of the redundancy theory of truth, in which the concept of truth is superfluous and can be eliminated. But Strawson, unlike those other philosophers, sees that Ramsey went on to say that, while this formula shows there is no serious problem about the general nature of truth, there are serious and interesting problems “in the vicinity” about the nature of assertion and belief. The locus classicus of Ramsey’s insight is the 1926 “Facts and Propositions”, but the above expression of it is from a 1921 paper the 18 year old undergraduate read to the Moral Sciences Club titled “The Nature of Propositions”. Strawson’s 50 years is now 100 and we still stand to learn from what Ramsey said.

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Aug 24, 2021

Somewhere along the crooked scar of the eastern front, during those acrid summer months of the Brusilov Offensive in 1916, when the Russian Empire pierced into the lines of the Central Powers and perhaps more than one million men would be killed from June to September, a howitzer commander stationed with the Austrian 7th Army would pen gnomic observations in a notebook, having written a year before that the “facts of the world are not the end of the matter.” Among the richest men in Europe, the 27-year-old had the option to defer military service, and yet an ascetic impulse compelled Ludwig Wittgenstein into the army, even though he lacked any patriotism for the Austro-Hungarian cause. Only five years before his trench ruminations would coalesce into 1921’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, and the idiosyncratic contours of Wittgenstein’s thinking were already obvious, scribbling away as incendiary explosions echoed across the Polish countryside and mustard gas wafted over fields of corpses. “When my conscience upsets my equilibrium, then I am not in agreement with something. But is this? Is it the world?” he writes. Wittgenstein is celebrated and detested for this aphoristic quality, with pronouncements offered as if directly from the Sibylline grove. “Philosophy,” Wittgenstein argued in the posthumously published Culture and Value, “ought really to be written only as poetic composition.” In keeping with its author’s sentiment, I’d claim that the Tractatus is less the greatest philosophical work of the 20th century than it is one of the most immaculate volumes of modernist poetry written in the past hundred years.

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Aug 13, 2021

To understand this article, suicide must be viewed through the lens of the moral neutrality of the act of killing in Codist philosophy. The act of killing either a person or an animal is neither right nor wrong in and of itself. Instead, it is the consequences of acting or not acting that make it morally right or wrong. To this end using we use the Moral Decision-Making Framework to examine the likely consequences of each choice, looking to see if the outcomes will be positive, negative or neutral to us and our families (RP1’s), and if the consequences will be harmful to our communities. No differentiation is made between killing another being or killing oneself in this moral code. Rather, in each case, a negative outcome for either our families (RP1’s) or our communities is only allowed if it is essential to avoid a worse outcome.

Suicide is a hard subject to discuss. Most of us have lost friends or family members who, propelled by despair, have taken their own lives. When thinking, writing or talking about this subject, it is impossible to not think of them. To see any statement that is critical of their choice as a judgement of their character or as a repudiation of the pain that they ‘selfishly’ inflicted on those close to them. However, in forming a complete judgement of when the ending of a life is morally justified, we cannot turn away from this subject. We must, despite the pain of revisiting this most painful of subjects, be courageous and proceed. Asking, is suicide ever morally justified?

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Jul 24, 2021

Diogenes of Sinope was a contemporary of Plato and Alexander the Great. He was famous for his radical philosophy that discarded status, possessions and the learning of books to get at the vital marrow of philosophy — the good life.

Diogenes was famous for living his philosophy in all its simplicity and coarseness. He didn’t care for the intellectual search for truth but the living of it. For Diogenes this meant living in an urn in the Athenian marketplace; it meant sometimes walking barefoot in the snow and, of course occasionally masturbating in public.

In this article, we will explore the living philosophy of the eternally fascinating and endlessly entertaining Cynic Diogenes.

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Created on Jun 17, 2020
By @gurlic