Friday, 16 May 2014

Animal Rights: Group seeks 'personhood' for 4 chimps in NY

Group seeks 'personhood' for 4 chimps in NY  

"Once we prove that chimpanzees are autonomous, that should be sufficient for them to gain legal personhood and at least have their fundamental interests protected by human rights," Wise said.
If the lawsuits succeed, similar ones could eventually be filed on behalf of other species considered autonomous, such as gorillas, orangutans, whales, dolphins and elephants, Wise said.

Deconstructing God

Deconstructing God -

The particular beliefs are more local, more stabilized, more codified,
while this underlying faith and hope in life is more restless,
open-ended, disturbing, inchoate, unpredictable, destabilizing, less
 If you cease to ‘believe’ in a particular religious creed, you have
merely changed your mind. But if you lose ‘faith,’ a way of life,
everything is lost.
 Derrida calls this a “religion without religion.”
--  John D. Caputo, a professor of religion and humanities at Syracuse
University and the author of “The Prayers and Tears of Jacques Derrida:
Religion Without Religion.”

The Case for 'Soft Atheism': A Godless Religion

The Case for 'Soft Atheism' -

If the devout Christian had been brought up in a completely different
environment — among aboriginal Australians or in a Hindu community, say —
that person would believe radically different doctrines, and, moreover,
come to believe them in a completely parallel fashion. On what basis, then, can you distinguish the profound truth of your doctrines from the misguided ideas of alternative traditions?
 It is possible to reject all religious doctrines as false without dismissing religion itself as noxious rubbish.

Refined religion sees the fundamental religious attitude not as belief
in a doctrine but as a commitment to promoting the most enduring values.
That commitment is typically embedded in social movements — the
faithful come together to engage in rites, to explore ideas and ideals
with one another and to work cooperatively for ameliorating the
conditions of human life.

Most important, this positive secular humanism focuses directly on the
needs of others, treating people as valuable without supposing that the
value derives from some allegedly higher source. The supposed
“transcendent” toward which the world’s religions gesture is both a
distraction and a detour.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

What is History: Facts or Social Constructions

Do not fear historical interpretations - Columnist - New Straits Times:

Everywhere, historians and non-historians alike distort history. Therefore, it is important for all citizens to develop a mastery of historical literacy.

One aspect of historical literacy is to use history and its theories as tools of thought. The authentic search for knowledge empowers ordinary citizens to be clear in their thinking and not gullible in the use of history as indoctrination and propaganda.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

In Praise of Idleness

"I think that there is far too much work done in the world, that immense harm is caused by the belief that work is virtuous.

I want to say, in all seriousness, that a great deal of harm is being done in the modern world by belief in the virtuousness of work, and that the road to happiness and prosperity lies in an organized diminution of work. " observes Russell.

"The morality of work is the morality of slaves, and the modern world has no need of slavery," he adds.

"I remember hearing an old Duchess say: 'What do the poor want with holidays? They ought to work.'  People nowadays are less frank, but the sentiment persists, and is the source of much of our economic confusion."

Without the need to work, there's more time for leisure, for doing what we really enjoy.

 Read In Praise Of Idleness by Bertrand Russell

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Why Should We Worship God: An Argument Against God's Existence

There is a wide consensus among theists that it is obligatory for us to worship God. For example, Richard Swinburne writes, ‘Worship is obligatory – it is the proper response of respect by man to his creator.’ (Richard Swinburne (1981). Faith and Reason, Oxford, Clarendon Press)

Although worship has a pivotal place in religious thought and practice, philosophers of religion have had remarkably little to say about it.

In this paper we examine some of the many questions surrounding the notion of worship, focusing on the claim that human beings have obligations to worship God. We explore a number of attempts to ground our supposed duty to worship God, and argue that each is problematic.

We conclude by examining the implications of this result, and suggest that it might be taken to provide an argument against God’s existence, since theists generally regard it is a necessary truth that we ought to worship God.

Read Grounds for Worship and I Can't Make You Worship Me

An Immortal Life Would Be Unbearably Boring

If we can prolong life endlessly, it would not be desirable.

An immortal life would have satisfied all its desires and achieved its goals. There is nothing left to do, but boredom.

Bernard Williams in "The Makropulos Case: Reflections on the Tedium of Immortality" in Problems of the Self, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973, pp.82-100,  argued that immortal individuals would be utterly bored with unchanging desires.

Read Bernard Williams article "The Makropulos Case"

A Reply to Bernard Williams argument.

Anscombe: Without God There is No Need To Speak Of Absolute Shoulds

Topic for #88: G.E.M. Anscombe on Ethical Judgment and Action |

Anscombe says that we only think in terms of moral laws and obligations because Christianity was dominant in our culture for so long.
It is as if the notion “criminal” were to remain when
criminal law and criminal courts had been abolished and forgotten. A Hume discovering this situation might conclude that there was a special sentiment, expressed by “criminal,” which alone gave the word its sense.
So Hume discovered the situation which the notion “obligation” survived, and the notion “ought” was invested with that peculiar for having which it is said to be used in a “moral” sense, but in which the belief in divine law had long since been abandoned: for it was
substantially given up among Protestants at the time of the Reformation. The situation, if I am right, was the interesting one of the survival of a concept outside the framework of thought that made it a really intelligible one.
 Anscombe thinks that we also need to distinguish again between the intended (you are responsible for whether you do the unethical deed or not) and the merely foreseen (you are not responsible for this foreseen event that you do not intend).

G E M Anscombe on Moral Philosophy