Everything is aired in the bracing dialectic wind

From Rebecca Goldstein’s Plato at the Googleplex:

Plato presents the journey to the light as a largely solitary one, though some unseen person does yank the prisoner out of the cave; but the format of the dialogues (as well as his having founded the Academy) encourages the view that, on the contrary, Plato conceived of philosophy as necessarily gregarious rather than solitary. The exposure of presumptions is best done in company, the more argumentative the better. This is why discussion round the table is so essential. This is why philosophy must be argumentative. It proceeds by way of arguments, and the arguments are argued over. Everything is aired in the bracing dialectic wind stirred by many clashing viewpoints. Only in this way can intuitions that have their source in societal or personal idiosyncrasies be exposed and questioned. [pp 38-9]

Good eh?

Moral decisions

Eric has a post about what various things he writes about have to do with assisted dying.

Well, to put it briefly, as I say in the blog’s banner, I argue for the right-to-die, and against the religious obstruction of that right, so anything which impinges on the issue, even indirectly, is of importance to me. That’s why disputing scientism seems to me to be important, because it implicitly defines away all other forms of inquiry which do not satisfy the canonical rules of scientific inquiry and decision. And that includes morality.

Jon Jermey raises an interesting question in response to Eric.

Eric, once again I think the ball is in your court: what, exactly, is the difference between a moral decision and a plain old ordinary decision? I’ve been asking this of various people for several years now, and I still haven’t got a plausible answer. Here are some of the suggestions that have been put up, and why they don’t work:

“A moral decision is one that affects other people.” — but all my decisions affect other people in some way. [Read more…]

Yes but what should we do about it?

Part 4 of the Heathen’s Progress is out. It’s about how atheists shouldn’t think science is their BFF, because it will stab them in the back sooner or later.

Julian is harsh about Sam Harris’s The Moral Landscape.

What’s worse, however, is when atheists talk of science as though it is the source of all the knowledge and wisdom we need to live. The most egregious recent example of this is Sam Harris’s The Moral Landscape, with its subtitle “How science can determine human values”. It’s hard to imagine a more hyperbolic claim about the power of science… [Read more…]