Philosophy Wed, 01 Mar 17 14:56:24 -0500 Philosophy en-CA Equivocation Sat, 02 Mar 2013 18:46:31 -0500 Simon 69@/forum/discussions
Equivocation ("to call by the same name") is classified as an informal logical fallacy. It is the misleading use of a term with more than one meaning or sense (by glossing over which meaning is intended at a particular time). It generally occurs with polysemic words (words with multiple meanings).

I am increasingly convinced that most of the problems in the "evolution debate" are caused by people mixing up the word evolution with the meaning of terms such as social Darwinism, humanism, scientism, naturalism, atheism etc.

Furthermore this problem is not confined to the word evolution. Fairly recently a number of us discovered the need to distinguish between the words Christian, faith, religion, belief, theology and scripture as we were all pretty much agreeing, but using different words to mean the same thing.

So far from being a side issue, I think semantics is vitally important to ensure everyone is understanding each other, and thus we should all attempt to try and define terms before we get into too much of a fight.
Charlatan Thu, 03 May 2012 09:49:09 -0400 Simon 48@/forum/discussions
noun a person who pretends or claims to have more knowledge or skill than he or she possesses; quack.

So in having various science/faith discussions I keep on coming across people who use some sort of argument from authority to justify their strange views. "I have a PhD in xxx therefore if I say pigs fly then they fly!". Perhaps the people I have in mind most are the Intelligent Design lot who spout the utmost nonsense under an attempted veneer of academic respectability. But if I want to call these people charlatans, how can I justify it? I've had a crack at some criteria of what a charlatan is not:

To be taken seriously you need:

1) An academic qualification from a respectable secular university.
2) A position of authority within secular society.
3) A respect of, and knowledge for, the literature.
4) No attempt to talk authoritatively about subjects you have no training in.
5) Willingness to engage robustly and appropriately without an "everyones out to get me" attitude.

I think YECs fall down on almost all of these (although one or two meet criteria 1 &2). IDers are normally OK on 1 & 2, occasionally manage 3 & 4, but never manage 5. Whilst new atheists are probably strong on 1 & 2, ropey on 3 & 5, but never manage 4.

Me, of course, I'm perfect!
For mentalsymmetry Fri, 13 Apr 2012 09:33:16 -0400 cisadmin 46@/forum/discussions Transferred from the introduction category:

1) I checked through the research of all the profs in philosophy of mind at UBC. Nothing in common with what I am doing. 

2) From what I understand, I'm an not sure that continental philosophy would be any better. (Though I am willing to be corrected.) The problem 
is that my topic is philosophy but my method is not. In other words, I  am looking at philosophy in order to find clues about how the mind 
functions. For instance, when Kant  says that the mind imposes a 
structure of space and time upon events, then I interpret that in terms 
of cognitive modules: There is a cognitive module that does spatial 
processing and a cognitive module that does sequential processing.

3) My knowledge of neurology is quite good (better than my philosophy). I
went through 200 books and a few thousand papers in order to learn 
neurology back in the 80s and I have been keeping up reasonably well 
with the imaging stuff. Here is a summary I put together about a year ago. And, yes, I do know the main differences between human, monkey, and rat brains. 

4) As for my methodology, I discuss that in the introduction to my book,
including the matter of extrapolating from neurology. You can read that
for free by just clicking on the cover of the book at And, 
please don't tell me that what I have done is impossible without looking
at what I have done. 


Infanticide article in JME Fri, 02 Mar 2012 19:33:55 -0500 Simon 38@/forum/discussions

and for the actual article (might need a subscription):

It's seems the ludicrous American polemics machine has jumped all over this in the way they have with the evolution discussion and turned a perfectly respectable and useful discussion into rants, over reactions and death threats! Because "Abortion" is seen as a right vs left, republican vs democrats issue the most vocal of Americans are unable to think straight in favour of manning their ramparts and firing volleys into each other.

For those of us on the more sensible side of the fence, the article is nothing new and, if anything, is more about what constitutes a person. Indeed if "personhood" (in the sense of being self-determining) is viewed as what make people valuable, it is entirely logical not to distinguish between a foetus and a new-born (or indeed a few month old baby, the mentally disabled etc.). However very few people hold the faculty of self-determination as the unique or valuable quality of people. As a result although the argument about infanticide is logical, the premises are flawed and thus it doesn't stand up to scrutiny. 

Examining such arguments is precisely the purpose of academics and journals so articles like this should be applauded. This pathetic outcry is a painful indictment of quite how little some people understand the process of carefully examining arguments and goes a long way to showing perhaps how little those making the outcry have actually thought through their own position (and yes I am mostly blaming American politics for this!).

(rant over)
Especially for David - Soul's & Bodies Tue, 20 Mar 2012 09:31:08 -0400 Simon 42@/forum/discussions David's post clipped from the "What is the root of creationists' objections" thread for being off-topic:

Exchemist, you seem to think that humans evolved from animals. Only the bodies of humans evolved, not their souls. Humans are embodied spirits, and the human soul is spiritual. There is no point in discussing theology or the existence of God with someone who --I can't think of a nice way of saying this -- doesn't grasp this.

Catholic doctrine is what is taught, believed, and professed by Catholics. The phrase in the Apostle's Creed, "I believe in the Catholic Church.." means believing that infants inherit original sin through sexual generation from their parents. When baptized, infants get sanctifying grace which makes them like God and gets them into heaven. I went to a Catholic college and was never taught or read that Adam and Eve possessed sanctifying grace and were not subject to death until they sinned. I think it is just theological speculation to explain the need to be baptized. Doubting original sin sounds like you don't believe in the sacrament of baptism. ]]>
The Mind-Body Problem Sun, 11 Dec 2011 15:20:37 -0500 davidmihjn 31@/forum/discussions
When animals have nothing to do, they go to sleep. Humans will ask questions about observing, understanding, knowing, and doing itself. These questions constitute the mind-body problem. The following quote is from a textbook used by 65% of biology majors in the U.S. The author has a blind spot about the mind-body problem because he only understands two theories or solutions: materialism and dualism. There is hardly any evidence for either of these bright ideas. The solution judged to be true by rational people, the one backed by the evidence, is that there is no solution. It is a mystery. This is the quote:

"And certain properties of the human brain distinguish our species from all other animals. The human brain is, after all, the only known collection of matter that tries to understand itself. To most biologists, the brain and the mind are one and the same; understand how the brain is organized and how it works, and we’ll understand such mindful functions as abstract thought and feelings. Some philosophers are less comfortable with this mechanistic view of mind, finding Descartes’ concept of a mind-body duality more attractive. ( Neil Campbell, Biology, 4th edition, p. 776 )"]]>
Philosophy Now Thu, 17 Nov 2011 15:48:26 -0500 Simon 17@/forum/discussions
Dear Editor: I particularly enjoyed Carl Murray’s ‘The Dead German Philosopher’s Club’ in your last issue, especially as it reminded me of Wittgenstein’s claim that the “philosophical problems that exercise us are examples of language going on holiday.” On reading it I realised exactly what had been worrying me about the second half of an earlier piece in the same issue by John Holroyd, where he was discussing the question ‘Is religious faith a matter of blind faith?’ Thanks to my online subscription, I copied the text of this article into a word processor and used the search and replace function to change all the occurrences of the word ‘faith’ into the word ‘belief’. As I had suspected, the meaning of the argument did not seem to change, confirming my suspicion that the author is guilty of an equivocation. As I argued in Issue 85 Letters, the word ‘faith’ is notoriously misused. Although I am sympathetic to the general thrust of John Holroyd’s argument – and acknowledge that he does discuss Terry Eagleton’s more sophisticated definition of faith – the article does a poor job of distinguishing between faith proper and the rhetorical characterisation of faith as ‘a belief I do not agree with’. In fact, rather than being a type of belief, faith is the jump from argument to conviction based upon ‘good enough’ evidence. Faith is therefore not the belief in itself, but rather the process of settling on – or becoming convinced by – a certain belief. As such, ‘blind faith’ is an example of an epistemological error, not a metaphysical one. For this reason although I remain sympathetic to John Holroyd’s overall contention that many people’s religious faith is an example of ‘blind faith’, at the same time I maintain that no matter how common this may be, any argument that uses this observation to dispute the existence of God is merely an ad hominem attack on believers. John Holroyd is not the first to get himself tied in a knot over this issue.]]>