Skip to main content

Posts

My Foreword to God and Horrendous Suffering, ed. John Loftus

Recent posts

‘I’m not going to answer a hypothetical question…’

Politicians are, of course, skilled at dodging questions. Here is one of the many tricks in their arsenal. They use it to get themselves off the hook in all sorts of tight spots. A typical example:   Interviewer: Minister, what will you do if the strike goes ahead? Minister: Well, you can’t expect me to answer a hypothetical question.   A hypothetical question is a ‘What if…?’ question. Politicians regularly refuse to answer these sorts of questions on the grounds that they are only obliged to consider what is actually happening. Many people – including, surprisingly, even television and radio interviewers – seem to think it's fair enough if a politician is unwilling to answer a hypothetical question. But actually, the ‘no hypotheticals’ move is usually just a rhetorical trick. It's about time we stopped falling for it. After all, it is part of the politician’s job to consider hypothetical questions , questions such as: ‘What if the global economy takes a nose dive?’ and ‘What

The Pandora's Box Objection to Skeptical Theism (Int. J.Phil Religion 2015)

 (Prepublication draft of paper published in Int. J. Phil Religion (78) 2015) THE PANDORA'S BOX OBJECTION TO SKEPTICAL THEISM   ABSTRACT: Skeptical theism is a leading response to the evidential argument from evil against the existence of God. Skeptical theists attempt to block the inference from the existence of inscrutable evils (evil for which we can think of no God-justifying reason) to gratuitous evils (evils for which there is no God justifying reason) by insisting that given our cognitive limitations, it wouldn't be surprising if there were God-justifying reasons we can't think of. A well-known objection to skeptical theism is that it opens up a skeptical Pandora’s box, generating implausibly wide-ranging forms of skepticism, including skepticism about the external world and past. This paper looks at several responses to this Pandora's box objection, including a popular response devised by Beaudoin and Bergmann. I find that all of the examined

How philosophy can help your business or organisation - two testimonials

Can philosophy and critical thinking benefit your business or organisation? Yes! Here are two testimonials regarding work I've done recently for the Government of Malta and E.On Next: Charles Deguara, Auditor General at National Audit Office (Malta): 'In line with our policy of offering diverse professional development opportunities to our staff, Dr Stephen Law, a well renowned professor in philosophy in international circles , was invited recently by the National Audit Office to conduct a three hour webinar on critical thinking to all its employees...[T]his webinar made us even more aware of the beneficial effect of philosophy especially to facilitate our thinking and reasoning processes. Undoubtedly, as auditors this is extremely important in our work, particularly when it comes to collecting and evaluating audit evidence and eventually to the expression of professional judgement. In actual fact, this webinar’s success exceeded all expectations, as clearly evidenced by the ex

My book The Philosophy Gym: 25 Short Adventures in Thinking

My book The Philosophy Gym: 25 Short Adventures in Thinking! Philip Pullman called it 'a vivid, enlightening introduction to clear thinking.' 'Where did the universe come from? Is time travel possible? Are genetically designed babies morally acceptable? If you have ever asked yourself such questions, then you have already begun to think philosophically. This book is for those who want to take the next step. Teachers - LOTS of stuff in here relevant to the IB Theory of Knowledge, as well as A Level Religious Studies (God, personal identity, meta-ethics, etc.). Includes essays, dialogues. Sometimes irreverent! On amazon.co.uk here . On amazon.com here .

Why do the British public support moderately left-wing policies, but fail to vote Labour?

Centrists, like Blair, who argue Labour must return to centrist policies to have any chance of winning again, have a problem with polling that shows moderately left-leaning Corbyn-style policies (e.g. free university tuition, free childcare, nationalised rail, higher taxes on wealthiest, etc.) were and still are popular. Centrists need to explain that polling away. Of course, they respond by saying ‘But Labour lost in 2017 and 2019! So the policies can’t be popular, can they?’ In addition, Tony Blair is now adding this : ‘In a 3 sec conversation people say they support rail nationalisation, say, but after a 30 sec or 3 minute conversation they’re much less keen.’ An obvious problem with this reply is that, while it explains why people would   drop support for such policies given longer exposure to centrist counter-arguments (assuming that’s true, which I doubt), it obviously doesn’t explain why, when the public haven’t  dropped support for such policies (which they haven't), they

'That May Be True For You, But It's Not True For Me' - Relativism Explained

According to the relativist, people who speak simply of what’s ‘true’ are naïve. ‘Whose truth?’ asks the relativist. ‘No claim is ever true, period. What’s true is always true for someone. It’s true relative to a particular person or culture. There’s no such thing as the absolute truth on any issue. This sort of relativism is certainly popular. For example, many claim that we ought never to condemn cultures with different moral points of view to our own. Differing moral perspectives are all equally valid. Similarly, some claim that while astrology and Feng Shui might be ‘false’ from a Western, scientific viewpoint, they are ‘true’ when viewed from alternative, New Age perspectives. What’s ‘true’ ultimately comes down to ones point of view. This is a chapter adapted from my book The Philosophy Gym . Introduction Let’s begin with a couple of illustrations of how appeals to relativism can creep into everyday conversation. 1. Olaf’s condemnation of female circumcision OLAF