Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Practical Morality, Part 1

(The first of two parts. Part 2 is here.)

The Social Contract

Where-ever you are right now, take a quick look around. Do a quick survey of all the stuff you can see. Think about the number of things you have around you that other people have made. If you are in your own home, then great, the experiment works even better - the things around you probably belong to you, you make some kind of use of them, and quite possibly your life would be less satisfying without them. Some of these things may even be, if not essential for life, indispensable for a comfortable modern existence.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Dennett Tennis Test

This is a simple little tactic to consider employing next time you find yourself in conversation with somebody who doubts the efficacy of scientific method, particularly anybody who wants to propose any kind of alternative.

You know the sort, I’m sure. The kind of person who says “sure, scientific data argues that acupuncture is total and utter garbage, but maybe acupuncture is one of those things science isn’t equipped to investigate.” Or the kind of person who says “absolutely, you’re right, I have no evidence that my god exists, but frankly I’m offended at your crass insistence that everything has to come down to evidence.” Or “how ridiculous to suggest that science has anything to say about the supernatural.”