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Benjamin O'Donnell's Avatar Joined almost 4 years ago
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Go to: Atheism IS Increasing at the Expense of Theism!

Benjamin O'Donnell's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by Benjamin O'Donnell

Atheists don't need to have our own children; we have yours. ;-)

Wed, 30 May 2012 22:39:22 UTC | #944648

Go to: Who Says Science has Nothing to Say About Morality?

Benjamin O'Donnell's Avatar Jump to comment 13 by Benjamin O'Donnell

Comment 12 by reebus :

Comment 11 by RDfan :

So, Sam is basically saying this: in the same way that medicine, the science of the body, shows us what is good and bad for our bodies, neuroscience, the science of the mind, will be able to provide advice on what is good and bad for our minds, right?

No I think doing that is called the Naturalistic fallacy.

I think its more about discovering the nature of the mind and how it can be compromised so we can be aware of those weaknesses and quirks so we don't ourselves become compromised by them.

Actually, I think part of Sam's argument is that the so-called "naturalistic fallacy" is not a fallacy at all - or at least that some arguments that have been widely condemned as committing the naturalistic fallacy (including by GE Moore, the originator of the term) don't.

I think there are two parts of Sam's argument that his Hume-ean critics miss or downplay.

First, the analogy with medicine. "Health" is at least as vague and protean a concept as Sam's "wellbeing". Yet we use health and various proxy measures of it as the basis of modern medicine. No one suggests that the vagueness of the concept of "health" means that science has nothing to say about medicine, or that science can't determine medical values. If medicine is a science (an applied science) then so can ethics be.

And that phrase "medial values" leads us to the second aspect of Sam's recent work - his emphasis on the intimate connection between facts and values - even in science. Sam says we can't get at facts without holding certain values - and here Sam comes perilously close to sounding like a post-modernist, but in the other direction. This is the part I need to think about some more.

I'm reminded of a talk or essay promoted on Pharyngula a few years ago by Sarah Watson or Jen McCreight or one of the other cool younger sciencey gnus. It was about the intimate connection between science and human rights and, IIRC, seemed to be making the similar point that the scientific method is a kind of ethics.

Also seems to tie in somehow with William Clifford's 19th century essay "The Ethics of Belief".

I need to find time to think this through...

Thu, 05 May 2011 02:30:28 UTC | #623199

Go to: Guardian Review: Faith Schools Menace?

Benjamin O'Donnell's Avatar Jump to comment 3 by Benjamin O'Donnell

Richard, while you have been (understandably) reticent in publicly discussing the break-up of your marriage to Juliet's mother, it doesn't take very much research to turn up that (a) you and she separated early; (b) you didn't see much of Juliet while she was growing up; and (c) this was far from being your choice. Given those easily discoverable facts, this reviewer was being a colossally insensitive prat. You have my sympathies.

Thu, 19 Aug 2010 07:43:40 UTC | #502265

Go to: Tom Sutcliffe's Review: Faith Schools Menace?

Benjamin O'Donnell's Avatar Jump to comment 1 by Benjamin O'Donnell

A pretty positive review, all things considered.

Thu, 19 Aug 2010 06:13:28 UTC | #502248

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