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Showing posts from June, 2013

Moving the Semantic Goalposts - some theological sleight-of-hand with words

  (apologies for mixed metaphors) This is a chapter from my book Believing Bullshit:How Not To get Sucked Into An Intellectual Black Hole. It may be of use to anyone teaching religious language at A Level (RS or Philosophy). Moving the goalposts The expression “moving the goalposts” refers to a certain disreputable strategy in an argument. Suppose I claim Fred has never been to Brazil. It’s pointed out to me that Fred went to Brazil on his honeymoon. My claim has been shown to be false, but rather than admit this I just switch claims: “Well, he’s never been to Brazil on business .” I have just moved the goalposts. The analogy is with football. It looks like someone’s going to score a goal, but suddenly, at the last moment, the goalposts are moved and the ball misses the target. We’re all familiar with this sort of strategy. I focus here on a certain kind of example. It involves shifting ones meaning . I call it Moving The Semantic Goalposts . Moving The Sema

"Why Study Philosophy?" Day, June 28th Manchester - I'm speaking

'Why study Philosophy?' day Title: Why Study Philosophy Date: June 28th, 2013, 10.15am-4.00pm (followed by optional campus tour) For: Year 12 students from schools and colleges To Book: Please click enter your details in the booking form - please note if you are teacher bringing a group of students please complete the bottom section in addition to your details. This event is completely free to any students wanting to find out more about this fascinating subject. Through a series of interactive talks and workshops, participants will gain hands-on experience of this fascinating area, and there will be plenty of opportunities during the day to put your questions to university teachers of philosophy, students, and even a best-selling philosophy author. Speakers will include: Sean Crawford Angie Hobbs Stephen Law So why indeed study Philosophy? What makes our actions right or wrong? Is it OK to torture one innocent person in order to save the l

Playing drumkit with Heavy Dexters this Friday, Ashmolean Museum

Centre for Inquiry UK event yesterday: Scientism: Can Science Solve Every Mystery?

An event I organized for CFI. A good, educational time was had by all. Here's Christian Peter S. Williams (left) with atheist Peter Atkins. Videos to follow.

We don't have an impartial, truth-seeking BBC. We've got a toothless, neutral BBC

Consider: "Profligate Labour, unlike the financially responsible Tories, amassed a huge debt prior to the financial crisis, which is the major cause of our current economic problems." This thought is everywhere. Tory and Lib Dem spokespeople drop it into their every other conversation on radio and TV. It's been repeated in the Press, on the internet, etc. to the point where it's become a factoid - something everyone just "knows" to be true. However, Labour reduced the national debt by 22%. It inherited a debt of 42% of GDP from the Tories in 1997. By the start of the banking crisis the debt was just 35%. Here 's a Conservative commentator, Ramesh Patel, confirming this. Patel concludes, "The deficit myth is the grossest lie ever enforced upon the people and it has been sold by exploiting people's economic illiteracy". Also remember that David Cameron pledged to match Labour's spending plans (so much for "profligate Labour,

Can Science Solve Every Mystery? - this Saturday June 8th - see some of you there I hope...

Running Order: 11.00-11.40 Peter S Williams 11.40-12.20 Peter Atkins 12.20-1.00 David Papineau 1.00-1.30 lunch 1.30-2.30 panel discussion with Williams, Atkins and Papineau Centre for Inquiry UK and Conway Hall present Can science solve every mystery? A scientist, a philosopher and a Christian discuss. Peter Atkins, David Papineau, Peter S. Williams Can science answer every question? Should scientists show a little humility and acknowledge there are questions that only religion can answer? Are science and religion “non-overlapping magisteria”, as the scientist Stephen Jay Gould claimed, or is science capable of showing that religion is false, as Richard Dawkins believes? And what, exactly, do philosophers do? Presented and chaired by Stephen Law (Philosophy, Heythrop and Provost of CFI UK). Saturday June 8th, 2013 Conway Hall 25 Red Lion Square Holborn London WC1R 4RL £7 (£4 students) Free to friends of CFI UK. Book here or p