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Showing posts from March, 2011

Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins event 12th April in Oxford

MAJOR EVENT ANNOUNCEMENT: Tuesday 12 April 2011, 7:30pm (doors open at 7:00pm) Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford WHO SAYS SCIENCE HAS NOTHING TO SAY ABOUT MORALITY? with Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins TICKETS ON SALE FROM 10 a.m. FRIDAY 1 APRIL at BHA website here . In his new book 'The Moral Landscape', neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris challenges the commonly held view that science has nothing to say about moral issues and that religion is the best authority on meaning, values and a good life. For Sam, the goal of 'The Moral Landscape' is to begin a conversation about how moral truth can be understood in terms of science. Richard Dawkins is known for his persistence in demanding a rational and scientific approach to solving life's most fundamental questions wherever and whenever it can be applied. So, can science help us to determine how we should live in the 21st century? Join us as these two pinnacles of rationalist thought discuss how the science of morali

Why philosophy degrees are among the MOST useful. Evidence demolishing myths peddled by philosophy bashers.

Here is an excellent resource on why philosophy degrees make especially smart and successful businessmen and women, lawyers, journalists, etc. (you are actually dramatically better off doing a first degree in philosophy than business administration for a career in business). Some very good answers to "Philosophy? What are you going to do with that ?" question. Go here . Includes GRE test performance (philosophers do staggeringly well - look right), comparative salary information, and various other useful bits of evidence that collectively puncture the peculiar modern myth that philosophy isn't "useful". I previously commented on the GRE scores comparing philosophy students with all other students here . A quote from Fordham: "In addition, as the marketplace becomes more competitive, graduate degrees become more desirable, and that entails a strong performance on the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), the exam most business schools requi

March on Saturday!

It's absolutely vital as many people as possible support the march against cuts on Saturday the 26th March. A big turn out won't be enough to stop the Government but it is necessary: they will be looking at numbers to gauge strength of opposition. If you only attend one march, make it this one. Assemble Victoria Embankment, 11am to march to a rally in Hyde Park. Events See you there, I hope. More details at: Thanks to Chris Horner for his poetic words...


Hear Stephen Law, Nigel Warburton, Chris Horner and Michael Lacewing. Due to last minute cancellations we have several places available at the Heythrop College A Level Philosophy Conference, suitable for those doing A Level Philosophy or Religious Studies incl philosophy, or indeed anyone interested in philosophy! The venue is Heythrop College, Kensington Square, London W8 5HN. It runs from 10.30am to 4pm. Cost is just £12 for students, £15 staff and any one else (free sandwich lunch for staff). I organize the event. Here's the programme. Let me know asap if you want to come. I'll be giving the "evil god" talk. Or email direct to book: A-Level Philosophy Conferences Friday 18 or Friday 25 March 2011 HEYTHROP COLLEGE University of London Kensington Square, London W8 5HN Tel: 020 7795 6600 Fax: 020 7795 4200 E-mail: HEYTHROP COLLEGE University of London 10.30 – 10.50 Registration an

CFI UK tickets now on sale at BHA website


Peter Atkins vs Mary Midgley on whether science has all the answers

Peter Atkins vs Mary Midgley on whether science has all the answers. Available here for a short while. Funnily enough I had exactly this debate with Atkins a couple of weeks ago in Oxford over about 2hrs (part of THINK week). Dawkins sat right in front of me and chipped in too. I believe there will be some sort of recording available shortly... Anyway, Atkins is not the sharpest philosophical pencil in the box, I think (though he's obviously good at chemistry). Strong on assertion but remarkably weak on argument. But Mary Midgley is unfortunately not great either. Midgeley's is a depressingly weedy and waffly defence of philosophy. Her slide from why there's something rather than nothing to the obscure "meaning of life" question plays right into Atkins's hands.

Steven Poole's Review of my VSI Humanism, yesterday's Guardian

It's, er, not entirely flattering! Humanism: A Very Short Introduction, by Stephen Law (Oxford, £7.99) Price-allergic? Perhaps you can instead find meaning in a "humanist funeral", as advertised in this guide to being the kind of slightly smug person who congratulates himself on seeing "the world as it is", unlike religious folk. Evidently, no one has a monopoly on epistemological hubris. Much of this book is low-grade anti-theology, arguing against arguments for the existence of God, which rather tests the opening claim that humanism is not primarily an insistent atheism. A happy, positive story is told about philosophy classes in primary schools, which does sound like an excellent idea. Once so primed, young readers might see something wrong with the author's taking himself to have shown that belief in God is not "reasonable", or his claim that morality is "written into our genes". Law gets testy about the fuzzy gods of modern theo

Private Language Argument paper

My paper on Crispin Wright's take on Wittgenstein's private language argument is online here is anyone is interested. Wright's version is not well-known, decades old, and pretty obscure. But anyway here's my try at refuting it, for what it's worth.

The case of the Christian would-be foster parents

The case of the Christian couple who lost their court case (brought by Christian Legal Centre) over their right to discriminate against homosexuals is interesting. The couple want to foster children, but a condition of being a foster parent is that one not discriminate against homosexuals by e.g. telling children that a gay lifestyle is morally wrong. That's exactly what these prospective parents wanted to do. The reaction of the couple's lawyer is that the verdict represents "intolerance of religious belief". I think that if people believe homosexuality is morally wrong, and believe children should be taught that, then it is their right to lobby parliament, etc to get the law changed (and the rules re foster parents). But the view, not that the law or the rules re fostering themselves be changed, but that certain individuals should be exempt on religious grounds, strikes me as unjustified. This couple were denied the right to foster not on the grounds that they