I produced a number of revision documents for my degree course, and maybe someone will find them useful. This is for A211 Philosophy and the human situation, Book 1, The Self, a discontinued module.
The Public Hating
30 minutes ago
A philosophical audit trail.
BHA Education Campaigner Jay Harman commented, ‘We’re glad the UK Statistics Authority has taken action on what was a clear attempt by the Government to massage the figures in a way that misleadingly presents the 50% cap as a failure. The idea that allowing schools to admit children from only one particular religion is in any way compatible with promoting integration was counter-intuitive to begin with, and it should come as a surprise to no-one that the figures demonstrate this.’
|From Pew polling, 16th September 2016|
...working-class white people, particularly ones without college education - men and women - deserted the party in droves. Rural voters turned out in high numbers, as the Americans who felt overlooked by the establishment and left behind by the coastal elite made their voices heard.
...he was bulletproof.
Mr Trump's pox-on-them-all attitude is likely to have proved his independence and outsider status at a time when much of the American public reviled Washington (although not enough to keep them from re-electing most congressional incumbents running for re-election).
...Mr Trump's sharpest rise in the standings came in the weeks between that first letter and Mr Comey's second, in which he said he had put the investigation back on the shelf.
[He t]rusted his instincts.
The New York tycoon delivered a message of quick-fix solutions that many found appealing.
“We need a businessman,” [a voter] said. “I think a businessman can get things done.”
Toby and Wendy Shaw said they were tired listening to politicians promising to change things. “People are fed up with the lies,” said Mr Shaw. “How many years have we had these politicians? It’s time for someone with a backbone to stand up and do what needs to be done.”
A total of 90 per cent of his supporters listed the economy as being very important to them when it comes to making their choice, according to a recent Pew poll. (!)
Polls have shown that Mr Trump has received strongest support from white male voters without college degrees, and he has targeted communities in states such as Ohio, Iowa, West Virginia and North Carolina. Frequently he has taken his message to former industrial strongholds such as Youngstown, Ohio, that over the past 20 years has witnessed economic devastation and population decline.
“I think he will do the right thing for America,” [a voter] told The Independent. “He is going to knock the hell out of Isis. He says he will build a wall, I believe he will.”
...exit polling from the primaries found that Mr Trump’s voters made about as much as Ted Cruz voters, and significantly more than supporters of either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.
Trump support was correlated with higher, not lower, income...
Lonnie Looney, a former miner said he would be voting for Mr Trump as he believed he was the best chance the community had of returning to its glory days of well-paid work. He said: “Hillary Clinton should be in jail.”
As the media dumped more and more on Trump while turning a blind eye towards Hillary Clinton and her many follies, people identified with Trump and it made them even madder and more determined to poke a stick into the ruling class’ eye, and they did. Power to the people.
...the democratic party cannot talk to the people from where I came from.
...people didn’t resonate with Hillary because at a deeper level they could feel that she can’t be trusted.
[T]he Electoral College picks presidents.
...more voters chose third-party candidates.
Clinton did not fire up the Obama Coalition.
Whites without college degrees have fled to the GOP.
Democrats' cratering with blue-collar white voters.
Rust Belt Brexit.
The Last Stand of the Angry White Man.
The Hillary Problem.
The Depressed Sanders Vote.
The Jesse Ventura Effect.From ITV, 9th November 2016:
Appealing to middle America.
A vote against the establishment.
Trump's ability to survive scandal.
Silent Trump vote.
Celebrity beat organization.
A populist revolt against immigration and trade.
Outsiders against insiders.
America, the divided.
Facebook Actually Won Trump the Presidency.
Donald Trump Won Because of Facebook.
Majority of Americans identified with him.
He won the hearts of Clinton’s rejects.
He fed the ravenous bellies of male and white supremacy.
He symbolised the winds of change.
He had what Clinton didn’t – fervent supporters.
He was the ‘scandal-proof’ monk.
The fault in Clinton’s stars.
...humans IN GENERAL are bad at reasoning and seeing through bullshit, which caused particularly bad consequences this time via Trump fans, who made a choice that (if the human brain were better at reasoning) they would have realized was net bad for their overall goals, which presumably include avoiding nuclear war.
...a lot of people in the US seem to be affected by amathia, an ancient Greek word best translated as “un-wisdom.”.
Donald Trump sailed into the White House on an ocean of lies.
I still believe that education has the potential to change our species into rational animals, but I fear that so long as the blind are leading the blind in our colleges and universities, we will continue to face the threat of racist, sexist, bullies and idiots becoming elected to powerful positions where they can continue to shit on all of us.
The American voters essentially said – you can lie to us. You can sell us whatever fiction you think we want to hear, and we will reward you for it. In fact, we will help you spread those lies. They will become our truth.
Throughout the Bible interracial marriage is discouraged.
In the book of Ezra, the Israelites repented of their abandonment of God. As part of this repentance they pledged to end their interracial marriages according to God's will:
“We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the peoples around us. But in spite of this, there is still hope for Israel. Now let us make a covenant before our God to send away all these women and their children, in accordance with the counsel of my lord and of those who fear the commands of our God. Let it be done according to the Law. Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it.” (Ezra 10)
A similar experience is recorded in Nehemiah 13:
“Moreover, in those days I saw men of Judah who had married women from Ashdod, Ammon and Moab. Half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod or the language of one of the other peoples, and did not know how to speak the language of Judah. I rebuked them and called curses down on them. I beat some of the men and pulled out their hair. I made them take an oath in God’s name and said: ‘You are not to give your daughters in marriage to their sons, nor are you to take their daughters in marriage for your sons or for yourselves.’”
Other prohibitions against interracial marriage can be found in Exodus 34:12-16, Joshua 23:12, and Deuteronomy 7:3: “Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons...”
Research has repeatedly demonstrated that interracial marriages end in divorce more often than same-race marriages. For marriages involving a White female and Black male the divorce rate is 200% higher than if the White female had married a White male.I'm sure, however, that most Christians would not give any credence to these views and arguments. The views expressed on homosexual sexual acts in Swinburne's talk were discriminatory in the same way, in the sense that Swinburne identifies a group of people by virtue of an attribute that has no intrinsic moral implications (sexual orientation), and treats the group differently because of that attribute (discourages them from acting on that attribute). Swinburne thinks that this discrimination in the treatment of homosexuals is fair, and, in fact, good; I do not. The notes for his speech are here (but note that this link seems to be working at some times but not others), and there is a video here.
As we all know, traditional Christian teaching on many moral issues, but in particular on sex, family, and life is regarded by all non-religious and some religious believers as totally and evidently mistaken.Pretty much every non-religious organisation that comments on such things would confirm that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality per se. The WHO Bluebook says 'Sexual orientation alone is not to be regarded as a disorder', and nowhere does it say that there is anything wrong with homosexual sexual acts per se. A recent WHO policy document, noting the ruling of a previous bluebook, says:
Although ICD-6 classified homosexuality as a sexual deviation that was presumed to reflect an underlying personality disorder, subsequent research did not support this view....and continued:
Over the last half century, several classification systems, including the ICD, have gradually removed diagnoses that once defined homosexuality per se as a mental disorder. These changes reflect both emerging human rights standards and the lack of empirical evidence supporting the pathologization and medicalization of variations in sexual orientation expression.So, to confirm Swinburne's impression: yes, authorities agree there is nothing wrong with same-sex attraction, or same sex sexual acts, contra Christian teaching. You would hope that these rulings should drive the ethics of Christians, particularly a theologian who prides himself on his natural theology.
The Catholic ‘natural law’ tradition has sought to show that [divorce, fornication, homosexual sexual acts, contraception] are 'disordered' or 'unnatural' actions, and for that reason wrong. The best contemporary statement of this tradition known to me is Alexander Pruss’s book One Body. Pruss argues that bodily organs have ‘functions’ and they ‘strive’ or ‘try’ to ‘fulfil’ their functions. For example, Pruss argues, the penis has the function in intercourse of omitting (sic) semen into a vagina which it strives to do; and to prevent it from doing this is unnatural and so wrong. It seems to me that to ‘strive’ or ‘try’ is an intentional action which only intentional agents can do; and that even if I am mistaken about this, it still doesn’t follow that it would be morally wrong to do what is unnatural.Quite. But he still wants to defend the traditional view that these things are immoral, so he has to make an argument to this effect. For background, he doesn't think that homosexual sexual acts are intrinsically immoral (bad in themselves), but extrinsically immoral. He says:
God, like any other benefactor such as parents or the state, has reasons also to command humans to do actions which would not otherwise be obligatory. These reasons include (A) coordinating imperfectly obligatory actions so as to ensure the realization of a good overall goal. This may involve telling different humans to do different actions...God may tell all Christians to worship together each week on a Sunday rather than on a Thursday, in order to ensure that the Christian community worship together.The idea here is, I think, that there are practices that will encourage good outcomes, and, further, that this practice of doing certain things, or refraining from certain things, will encourage actions over and above our normal obligations ('supererogatory'), and that is virtuous.
Having homosexual orientation is a disability – for a homosexual cannot beget children through a loving act with a person to whom they have a unique lifelong commitment.Without refinement, this looks like a definition of disability that is going to be too wide; that is, it is going to include people who would not normally be considered disabled, such as the infertile, older people, those with a low sex drive, unattractive people, and even Catholic priests and nuns (priests and nuns are people with a clerical leaning, and that leaning means they 'cannot beget children through a loving act with a person to whom they have a unique lifelong commitment'. Should society therefore discourage the young from developing leanings to serve Christ?).
P1 Homosexuals are “unable to enter into a loving relationship in which the love is asHe thinks the words 'as such' are doing a lot of work here, but I confess I don't see it. There is no doubt that homosexuals are quite capable of entering 'into a loving relationship in which the love is as such procreative', since a non-sexual procreative act can be inspired by love, and in any case sexual procreative acts can be performed lovingly without feeling lust for the partner.
I’m going to assume , despite the effects (sic) of many to show that the Bible and various theologians all meant something different by (what seems to many of us to be) apparent condemnations of such acts, that some such passages as I Corinthians 6:9-10 and Romans 1:24-27 and the continuing weight of subsequent tradition does condemn such acts.I see no more reason to think that these appeals to scripture have any more value than the appeals to scripture against interracial marriage.
Where, after all, do we ever find before the twentieth century any explicit approval of such acts by any theologian orthodox in other respects?That, sadly, is more a condemnation of theologian orthodoxy than homosexuality; as a proponent of evidence-based thinking, Swinburne should really recognise that the opinion of the medical establishment outweighs the views of mere theologians. He chooses to demur on the evidence:
And, as I read the much disputed evidence available on line about whether children nurtured by homosexual parents flourish as well as other children, the balance of that evidence seems to me to indicate that children whose nurturing parents are also their male and female biological parents in a happy marriage flourish better than all other children.Recall that the racist said above:
Research has repeatedly demonstrated that interracial marriages end in divorce more often than same-race marriages. For marriages involving a White female and Black male the divorce rate is 200% higher than if the White female had married a White male.Even if these assertions were true (and that is very debatable), it would not be a reason to condemn same-sex marriage or mixed race marriages. This sort of evidence is very prone to confounding variables; most obviously with race and sexual orientation, the centuries of prejudice that forms the societal backdrop to mixed race and same sex marriages. But, more importantly, we have been given no more reason to think that we should analyse such statistics by orientation or race than we should analyse them by, say, religious belief. If the statistics showed that the children of protestant evangelicals flourish less than those of Catholics, would that be a reason to conclude that protestant evangelical sexual acts are a bad thing? No, of course not, and likewise for same-sex sexual acts.
The evidence seems to me to indicate clearly that genes and environment (nature and nurture) both play a role in determining sexual orientation; and also that this orientation is sometimes to a considerable extent reversible.Sadly for Swinburne's case, this is unsupported by the evidence. If sexual orientation can be conditioned in some way, then presumably heterosexuality could be conditioned away too? In fact, that's entailed by Swinburne's view that homosexual practice causes homosexuality. Many of us experience orientation differently, however, as something intrinsic to our identity, not a 'here today, gone tomorrow' preference - I can't imagine my heterosexuality being conditioned away, and I suspect those of a homosexual tendency can't imagine their orientation being conditioned away either. Philosopher Rob Hughes points out on the Leiter Report:
Swinburne's assertion is at odds with the evidence that a person's future sexual orientation is determined before school age and possibly much earlier. He provides no evidence for his assertion that sexual experimentation influences orientation, either in his 2007 book Revelation, or in his 2008 reply to critics, or in the text of his recent talk.He notes the problem with the scant evidence Swinburne cites for his view, and quotes the apology from Alan Chambers after the closure of the 'ex-gay' organisation Exodus International. Hughes says:
After the 2013 closure of the leading "ex-gay" organization, Exodus International, no informed person can seriously entertain the suggestion that "reparative therapy" works.Hughes concludes:
In 2016, it is intellectually and morally irresponsible to assert without evidence that sexual experimentation causes homosexuality or that people can change their sexual orientations through "reparative therapy".The WHO policy document quoted before cites this document on the pointlessness, and bankruptcy, of homosexual 'cures':
Health professionals who offer “reparative therapies” align themselves with social prejudices and reflect a stark ignorance in matters of sexuality and sexual health. Contrary to what many people believe or assume, there is no reason – with the exception of the stigma resulting from those very prejudices – why homosexual persons should be unable to enjoy a full and satisfying life. The task of health professionals is to not cause harm and to offer support to patients to alleviate their complaints and problems, not to make these more severe. A therapist who classifies non-heterosexual patients as “deviant” not only offends them but also contributes to the aggravation of their problems.
“Reparative” or “conversion therapies” have no medical indication and represent a severe threat to the health and human rights of the affected persons. They constitute unjustifiable practices that should be denounced and subject to adequate sanctions and penalties.So given this overwhelming consensus among the relevant authorities, why doesn't Swinburne defer to them? In Swinburne's response to Pleitz, he only claims that his view is 'plausible', given the evidence, but it is clear that it is not. He is far too well informed to be ignorant of this literature.
Swinburne’s argument against homosexuality is a clear-cut case of homophobia (section 4). The criticism of the premises of Swinburne’s argument shows that some premises are wrong and badly argued for and that there is an equivocation which renders the argument invalid (section 2). If Swinburne’s conclusion gained wider acceptance in the contemporary Western societies, this probably would lead to grave consequences for homosexuals (section 3). Thus, there is an extreme imbalance between Swinburne’s brief argument and the great harm that the endorsement of its conclusion would probably lead to. I conclude that Swinburne in his argument against homosexuality has moved beyond the limits of scientific philosophy, and into the realm of homophobia.Christian response
If Christian philosophers face censure within the Society of Christian Philosophers for articulating a dispassionate philosophical critique of homosexuality, then where can they express those views?...and many, often thoughtful, commentators agree with him. I think, rather, that if Christian philosophers should expect no censure when discussing their views amongst other Christian philosophers then that discipline would have stagnated, signalling an end to normal debate on such matters among thoughtful Christians. Rea's comment is not the severest censure, in any case, and pales against the censure delivered to homosexuals by Swinburne in his talk. Imagine being a practising gay Christian in the audience listening to the professor blithely describing her having a homosexual orientation as a 'disability', and that she should be 'cured'.
The fault lies not in Trump, but in a tax code that allows rich individuals and corporations to get away with paying almost nothing. And that is wrong, for of course all citizens have a duty to share in the burden of running the government, and of funding schools, roads, and other infrastructure.
But if you are outraged at Trump’s zero tax bill, then save your rancor for the government and its tax laws, not at him.Well, the question was: did Trump do anything wrong? Not: did Trump do anything illegal? So in that respect the answer, in Coyne's own words (since "all citizens have a duty to share in the burden of running the government, and of funding schools, roads, and other infrastructure"), is: yes, Donald Trump did do something wrong if the 'duty' here is moral, not legal, which I take it to be (and if he exploited the tax laws to substantially reduce his tax bill).
Everyone tries to minimize their tax burden, including me, using the legal provisions in the tax code. Seriously, how many of you refuse, for instance, to take your legal mortgage-interest or dependent deductions because you want to pay more than you have to to the government? If you do take legal deductions, you have no business criticizing Trump on this account.I don't think this argument takes into account the sort of arrangements that might be open to the mega-wealthy, like Trump. Of course I will make use of mortgage tax relief and expense deductions where I can, and try to minimise my tax bill, but I'm never likely, at my rate of income, to reduce my percentage tax take to much less than 30-40% overall. The mega-wealthy aren't suspected of making drastic cuts in their tax bills by such run-of-the-mill tax exemptions, but with the use of vehicles like trust funds and overseas schemes. The suggestion is that they can reduce their percentage tax bill to a fraction of 40%, whilst sticking to the letter of the law.
Religion, they will tell us, is a matter not of affirming creeds, but of a personal relationship to God. The religious man may tell us that he knows that he at any rate has such a relationship, and that he knows what he means when he says that he has this relationship; on these points he ‘cannot be mistaken’. (The Coherence of Theism, p.6)Philipse examines perhaps the most well-known defence of this sort of position, Alvin Plantinga's Reformed Objection, in Chapters 3 and 4.
Paul seems to deny that Jesus was resurrected with his earthly or physical body, arguing that he was raised with a new, spiritual and heavenly body (sooma pneumatikon), since ‘flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God’. (p.5)Paul's words 'sooma pneumatikon' and 'flesh and blood' allows for multiple interpretations; see this discussion by William Lane Craig, which includes this quote from Robert Gundry:
The soma denotes the physical body, roughly synonymous with 'flesh' in the neutral sense. It forms that part of man in and through which he lives and acts in the world. It becomes the base of operations for sin in the unbeliever, for the Holy Spirit in the believer.And 'flesh and blood' is considered synonymous with 'frail human nature'! Craig concludes that 'we have seen that Paul's evidence serves to confirm the gospels' narratives of Jesus's bodily resurrection'. So clearly he sees no contradiction here, and one might expect similar analysis from apologists on other claimed contradictions.
|Mooch and friend|
Anybody who insists that pain and its attendant effects are not very bad for the creature even when the pain is not conscious pain seems to me to be looking for an excuse not to bother with what is plainly a significant case of suffering. There is no sound empirical reason nor any or valid theoretical reason to count pain as suffering only if the pain is conscious. This is simply a matter of defining suffering away by stipulation.In a new Question of the Week entitled Animal Consciousness Once More, Craig again dismisses animal pain. Joshua, having examined the Cambridge Declaration of Consciousness, is concerned that this puts animals on the same footing (before God) as humans:
If animals do have the same states of consciousness as we do, that animals have the same value and importance, biologically speaking, than us.The Cambridge Declaration says, amongst other things:
...the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Non-human animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates.In his reply, Craig says this:
...there is no evidence that animals other than the higher primates have a consciousness of self that enables them to think I myself am in pain. That has huge implications for the problem of animal suffering and so-called natural evil. For even though animals may have an awareness of pain (are conscious), they are not aware that they themselves are in pain (are not self-conscious) and so do not suffer as we do.He draws the distinction between awareness and self-awareness, which I think is an important distinction, but one that does not mean we can discount awareness. The curious thing about this answer is that Craig concedes that higher primates have a consciousness of self, so presumably he thinks that chimpanzees etc are moral agents, and he already has a significant problem to address.
Lacking God as a foundation for objective moral values and duties, the naturalist must find something in animals themselves to warrant their ethical treatment. That will be their awareness of pain. ... This naturalistic attempt to ground ethical treatment of animals is doomed to failure, however, since not all animals are sentient--not to speak of rainforests and oceans! A sound environmental ethic, including the ethical treatment of animals, will be grounded in the creation mandate given by God to man to steward the Earth as God’s good gift.(Note that Craig even bizarrely suggests that rainforests and oceans don't deserve any ethical consideration under naturalism, because naturalists can only ground morality in awareness of pain. Even if they did (and other considerations can be brought in), clearly rainforests (if we're just talking about the wood) and oceans (if we're just talking about the water) wouldn't deserve any ethical consideration per se, but since they are the very environment of many forms of life that can feel pain, they obviously would deserve ethical consideration. Conversely it seems obvious that his morality, if grounded in God's mandate, is arbitrary. If God has imposed a moral duty on us to look after rainforests and oceans as we should look after humans, then will Craig save a tree before a person? Perhaps God has instructed him to protect humans before trees; but is he really committed to a morality that is simply dictated by God? Well, of course, he is!)