Skip to main content

more tickets

more sam harris richard dawkins tickets available but be v quick... more harris dawkins tickets available now if you are quick.....


Anonymous said…

I was recently listening to a podcast of a lecture by Slavoj Zizek. He said that Sam Harris presents an argument justifying torture in one of his books.

I'll defend anyone's right to argue for things I don't agree with. But if Harris is really in favour of torturing people, I'm amazed other liberal atheists haven't pulled him up on this.

Do you know anything about this?
Stephen Law said…
Untrue, I believe. Alister McGrath made same accusation against Harris in a talk I had with him and I said I would be surprised if it was true. Atheist Missionary pointed out here it isn't true (and sent me Sam's book to confirm).
Timothy Rowe said…
As I recall, his argument goes like this: Say the world was going to end, and that could only stopped by torturing someone. Would it be permissible from a moral point of view to torture someone, if doing so would cancel the world's impending doom?

Then you can apply that to a case where someone knows where the terrorist bombs are planted, and torture is the only way of getting that information.

His argument turns on torture not being valued as an absolute wrong, and hence being capable of being surpassed in its importance by other considerations (like the preservation of the world).

/at least, that's what I recall his argument as having been...

Popular posts from this blog


(Published in Faith and Philosophy 2011. Volume 28, Issue 2, April 2011. Stephen Law. Pages 129-151) EVIDENCE, MIRACLES AND THE EXISTENCE OF JESUS Stephen Law Abstract The vast majority of Biblical historians believe there is evidence sufficient to place Jesus’ existence beyond reasonable doubt. Many believe the New Testament documents alone suffice firmly to establish Jesus as an actual, historical figure. I question these views. In particular, I argue (i) that the three most popular criteria by which various non-miraculous New Testament claims made about Jesus are supposedly corroborated are not sufficient, either singly or jointly, to place his existence beyond reasonable doubt, and (ii) that a prima facie plausible principle concerning how evidence should be assessed – a principle I call the contamination principle – entails that, given the large proportion of uncorroborated miracle claims made about Jesus in the New Testament documents, we should, in the absence of indepen

What is Humanism?

What is Humanism? “Humanism” is a word that has had and continues to have a number of meanings. The focus here is on kind of atheistic world-view espoused by those who organize and campaign under that banner in the UK and abroad. We should acknowledge that there remain other uses of term. In one of the loosest senses of the expression, a “Humanist” is someone whose world-view gives special importance to human concerns, values and dignity. If that is what a Humanist is, then of course most of us qualify as Humanists, including many religious theists. But the fact remains that, around the world, those who organize under the label “Humanism” tend to sign up to a narrower, atheistic view. What does Humanism, understood in this narrower way, involve? The boundaries of the concept remain somewhat vague and ambiguous. However, most of those who organize under the banner of Humanism would accept the following minimal seven-point characterization of their world-view.

Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism refuted

Here's my central criticism of Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN). It's novel and was published in Analysis last year. Here's the gist. Plantinga argues that if naturalism and evolution are true, then semantic epiphenomenalism is very probably true - that's to say, the content of our beliefs does not causally impinge on our behaviour. And if semantic properties such as having such-and-such content or being true cannot causally impinge on behaviour, then they cannot be selected for by unguided evolution. Plantinga's argument requires, crucially, that there be no conceptual links between belief content and behaviour of a sort that it's actually very plausible to suppose exist (note that to suppose there are such conceptual links is not necessarily to suppose that content can be exhaustively captured in terms of behaviour or functional role, etc. in the way logical behaviourists or functionalists suppose). It turns o