Category Archive: Philosophy

Sep 10 2013

Can we rehabilitate post-modernism, please?

I’m about to alienate even more knee-jerk skeptics (and good riddance!) by saying something incredibly daring: post-modernism isn’t so bad. Skeptics ought to embrace it. It’s sad that so few do: Mano Singham seems to be the rare one. I think maybe because he actually understands it. Many scientists hate what they think of as …

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Aug 08 2013

Repudiating scientism, rather than surrendering to it

When I heard that Steven Pinker had written a new piece decrying the accusations of scientism, I was anxious to read it. “Scientism” is a blunt instrument that gets swung in my direction often enough; I consider it entirely inappropriate in almost every case I hear it used. Here’s the thing: when I say that …

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Aug 01 2013

This is the kind of thing that gives philosophy a bad name

In the NY Times Opinionator, Gary Gutting indulges in a little public philosophical masturbation: did Zeus exist? And he concludes that we can’t decide that he didn’t. On reflection, then, I’m inclined to say that an atheistic denial of Zeus is ungrounded. There is no current evidence of his present existence, but to deny that …

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Apr 08 2013

Head and heart, atheists

Talk about sucking all the motivation out of me…I was all primed to write today about this Islamophobia nonsense that is still going around. It seems to be the latest bogus argument against atheism: why, atheists are just all bigots who hate Muslims, the complainers say, instead of actually addressing the fact that religion a) …

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Mar 24 2013

I am not alone!

I guess I’m not the only one bemused by the recent weird backlash among some scientists against philosophy. Michael Krämer also defends philosophy. So then, should we physicists listen to philosophers? An emphatic "No!", if philosophers want to impose their preconceptions of how science should be done. I do not subscribe to Feyerabend’s provocative claim …

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Mar 23 2013

We need a sociologist of science…or a philosopher


There’s another paper out debunking the ENCODE consortium’s absurd interpretation of their data. ENCODE, you may recall, published a rather controversial paper in which they claimed to have found that 80% of the human genome was ‘functional’ — for an extraordinarily loose definition of function — and further revealed that several of the project leaders …

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Mar 14 2013

A quote from Ed Abbey, who died 24 years ago today

The geologic approach is certainly primary and fundamental, underlying the attitude and outlook that best support all others, including the insights of poetry and the wisdom of religion. Just as the earth itself forms the indispensable ground for the only kind of life we know, providing the sole sustenance of our minds and bodies, so …

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Feb 26 2013

I can defend both Lawrence Krauss and philosophy!

Philosophers are still grumbling about Lawrence Krauss, who openly dissed philosophy (word to the philosophers reading this: he recanted, so you can put down the thumbscrews and hot irons for now). This is one of those areas where I’m very much a middle-of-the-road person: I am not a philosopher, at least I’m definitely not as …

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Jun 13 2012

I can only read Plantinga for the lulz

In a review of a new book by Alvin Plantinga, Christopher Tollefsen claims that Plantinga, “one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries”, has “systematically dismantled…the claims of the new atheists”. I think we can take that about as seriously as his assessment of Crazy Alvin’s status as a philosopher. …

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Apr 27 2012

A Krauss concession

Lawrence Krauss annoyed quite a few people with his jokes about the uselessness of philosophy in recent talks. He has now published an apology — he actually has a qualified dislike of certain kinds of philosophy, that which ignores empirical evidence, but otherwise appreciates the views of many other philosophers. So, to those philosophers I …

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