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Showing posts from June, 2020

Am I Normal?

When people ask 'Am I normal?' they're often looking for reassurance. What they mean is: am I normal, or do I have some kind of problem that needs addressing? For example, they may ask: is it normal to feel this miserable, to struggle as much as I do to spell correctly, to be as interested - or disinterested - in sex as I am? It can be reassuring to hear that you're normal - that you're not diseased, for example. However, sometimes that you're not normal is what you want to hear - you'd much prefer to learn that you have some sort of medical, learning, or other condition. For example, discovering that the difficulties they have with are not normal and that they have dyslexia can be a huge relief to someone who has been struggling with reading and writing. There's now the possibility of expert help, of acknowledgement of this particular disability when it comes to exam-taking, and so on. Those diagnosed with dyslexia can be reassured that they're

Racist and bigoted tropes

  Consider what we might call the ‘trope’ criterion of bigotry:   if there’s a negative attribute associated with an ethnic/racial/sexual traditionally stigmatized minority (e.g. they’re greedy, terrorists, bad drivers, over-emotional, violent, conniving, sexist, etc.) and a person maintains that someone of that ethnicity/race/sex has that negative attribute, then that person is a bigot.   Of course we have a moral duty to be self-reflective and carefully monitor what we say about the members of such traditionally stigmatised minorities. It's very easy to slip into adopting toxic cliches and stereotypes about women, or gay people, or black people, or Jews, or Muslims, etc. without realising we have done so. Those who are justifiably sympathetic to the view that we have this moral duty to monitor ourselves and others and to avoid adopting poisonous stereotypes may well be drawn to the trope criterion of bigotry.   However, it's easy to see that,


NATURALISM VS. THEISM IS A FALSE DILEMMA (This is prepublication draft of my contribution to the next issue of THINK , which focuses on naturalism.)   Often, when theists attempt to make a case for theism, they contrast their theism with what they call 'naturalism'. Atheists, they insist, sign up to a 'naturalistic world view'. Indeed, it's because atheists sign up to a naturalistic worldview that they reject theism (naturalism is, if you like, the ideological engine that draws people into atheism). And they argue that naturalism, while widespread, has fatal flaws. We should, therefore, embrace theism.   This way of making a case for theism, while popular among religious apologists, is flawed. It is a classic example of the fallacy of false dilemma . Our options are not restricted to just theism or naturalism.   Many assume that naturalism entails atheism. They assume that if there's only th