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Read the assigned reading from CHAPTER 7. Then choose ONE of the questions below to answer. Answer the question you chose in a response that is a minimum of 1-2 paragraphs.

Be sure to explain your answers and give reasons for your views. You should cite the textbook and use brief quotations and summaries from the textbook in your response. Do NOT use any other sources besides the textbook. 

  1. According to Aristotle, what emotions should a tragedy evoke? What is the point of evoking them?



“Above all, Vaughn’s text does ,vhac few ochers are able co do, namely, co show chat ph ilosophy actually
matters ,vich respect co ho,v we chink and live in the world. For all its brevity the book 1nanages co run
the gamut of critical topics, and to offer real-world (and often hu1norous) examples of each. He does not
offer the luxury of viewing d ifficult questions fro1n a position of abstracted detachment and safety. Rather,
he hurls readers straight into the teeth of the sconn and allows che1n co feel the raw terror, wonder, and
exhilaration chat rightly belong co the study of philosophy.”
– Daniel Bramer, Holy Family University
“Vaughn has chosen the most important topics in philosophy. His 1nenu cannot be improved upon. With
a beautiful opening chapter on the nature of ph ilosophical chinking and remarkably concise chapters on
the 1nosc engaging issues in philosophy, and with a nice 1nix of classic and conce1nporary philosophers, chis
is a terri fic text. It is visually appealing as well.”
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“Philosophy Here and Now is written in a clear, engaging, and lively style. The author does an excellent
job of explain ing abstract and conceptually intricate material to novices. The book introduces students to
philosophy as a living enterprise, full of intellectual surprises and relevance to everyday hu1nan concerns.”
– Phil ip Robbins, University of Missouri
“I can’t imagine not using Philosophy Here and Now. My experience with the textbook has been completely
posit ive. When students lee you know how much they like reading the text you know you 1nade the right
decision in adopting the book.”
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“This is the best text I have found for my int roductory class. Q uestions and exercises engage the students’
lives di rectly and ask chem co explain their own understanding/beliefs about a matter. The appendix on
writing philosophy papers can easily stand on its o,vn as the most valuable cool I use in my class. I have yet
co find anyth ing at chis price with a comparable content.”
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Lewis Vaughn

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above should be sent to the RighL< Department, Oxford University Press, at the address above. You must not ci rculate this work in any o cher form and you m ust impose this sam e condi tion on any acquirc r. Library of Congress Cataloging-in -Publication Data Names: Vaughn, Lewis} autho r. Title: Philosophy here and now : powerful ideas in everyday li fe I Lewis Vaughn. Description: T H IRD EDITION. J New York : Oxford University Press, 2018. Identifiers: LCCN 2018014409 I IS BN 9780190852344 (pbk.) SubjecLs: LCSH: Philosophy- Textbooks. Classification: LCC 8 031 .V38 2018 I DOC 100-dc23 LC record available ar 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 I Printed by LSC Communications, Inc. Printed in the United States of America • PREFACE XXI CHAPTER 1 PHILOSOPHY AND YOU 1 CHAPTER 2 GOD AND RELIGION 57 CHAPTER 3 MORALITY AND THE MORAL LIFE 135 CHAPTER 4 MIND AND BODY 205 CHAPTER s FREE WILL AND DETERM INISM 240 CHAPTER 6 KNOWLEDGE AND SKEPTICISM 274 CHAPTER 7 AESTHETICS 332 CHAPTER 8 THE JUST SOCIETY 354 CHAPTER 9 THE MEANING OF LIFE 406 APPENDIX A THE TRUTH ABOUT PHILOSOPHY MAJORS 431 APPENDIX B ANSWERS TO EXERCISES 437 APPENDIX c HOW TO WRITE A PHILOSOPHY PAPER 441 NOTES 451 GLOSSARY 457 CREDITS 461 INDEX of MARGINAL QUOTATIONS 463 GENERAL INDEX 465 VII Preface xxi CHAPTER 1 PHILOSOPHY AND YOU l 1.1 PHILOSOPHY: THE QUEST FOR UNDERSTANDING 2 The Good of Philosophy 2 Philosophical Terrain 4 What Do You Believe? Your Philosophical Beliefs 5 Essay/Discussion Questions 7 1.2 SOCRATES AND THE EXAMINED LIFE 8 Philosophers at Work: Plato 9 PLATO: The Republic 10 Philosophers at Work: The Pre-Socratics 12 Essay/Discussion Questions 14 1.3 THINKING PHILOSOPHICALLY 14 Reasons and Arguments 15 Philosophy Lab 16 Philosophers at Work: Phi losophy Takes on Racism 20 Reading Philosophy 27 Philosophers at Work: Hypatia 29 Philosophers at Work: Early Women Philosophers: Themistoclea, Arignote, and Theano 31 Fallacious Reasoning 33 Philosophy Now: Phi losophy in the News 34 Essay/Discussion Questions 40 REVIEW NOTES 40 Writing to Understand: Arguing Your Own Views 42 KEY TERMS 42 ARGUMENT EXERCISES 43 ix x Contents NARRATIVE: Plato, The Trial and Death of Socrates 47 PROBING QUESTIONS SS FOR FURTHER READING SS CHAPTER 2 GOD AND RELIGION 57 2.1 OVERVIEW: COD AND PHILOSOPHY 58 Why Religion Matters 59 Overview: The Philosopher's Quest 59 Philosophy Now: Who Believes in God? 60 What Do You Believe? Hard-Wired for God? 63 Belief and Disbelief 64 Writing to Understand: Critiquing Phi losophical Views 66 2.2 ARGUMENTS FOR THE EXISTENCE OF COD 66 Cosmological Arguments 66 AQUINAS: Summa Theologica 67 Philosophers at Work: St. Thomas Aquinas 68 Philosophy Now: Science and the Uncaused Universe 69 CRAIG: Reasonable Faith 70 Design Arguments 72 PALEY: Natural Theology 72 HUME: Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion 74 Philosophy Now: Do Scientists Reject Religion? 78 Onto logical Arguments 79 ANSELM: Proslogium 79 Philosophy Now: Evolution and Intelligent Design 80 KANT: Critique of Pure Reason 83 Writing to Understand: Critiquing Phi losophical Views 83 2.3 COD AND THE PROBLEM OF EVIL 84 Rowe's Argument f rom Evil 84 ROWE: Philosophy of Religion 84 The Free Will Defense 87 SWINBURNE: Is There a God? 87 The Soul-Making Defense 88 HICK: Evil and the God of Love 88 Writing to Understand: Critiquing Philosophical Views 91 2.4 THEISM AND RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE 92 ST. TERESA OF AVILA: The Life of Teresa of Jesus 92 MACKIE: The Miracle of Theism 93 Philosophy Lab 94 ROWE: Philosophy of Religion 95 Philosophy Now: Proof of the Power of Prayer? 96 SWINBURNE: The Existence of God 97 Writing to Understand: Critiquing Philosophical Views 98 2.5 BELIEF WITHOUT REASON 98 James: Pragmatic Fait h 99 JAMES: "The W ill to Believe" 100 MARTIN: Atheism: A Philosophical Justification 106 Pascal: Betting on God 106 What Do You Believe? Do You Live by Faith? 107 PASCAL: Pensees and Other Writings 107 Writing to Understand: Critiquing Philosophical Views 109 2.6 EASTERN RELIGIONS 109 Buddhism 109 SUMEDHO: Buddha-Nature 112 RAHULA: What the Buddha Taught 112 Philosophy Now: Buddhism and Science 114 H induism 116 Philosophy Now: The Caste System 120 Daoism 123 CHUANG TZU: All Things Are One 123 LAO-TZU: Tao-te ching 124 Writing to Understand: Critiquing Philosophical Views 126 Contents x1 x i i Contents REVIEW NOTES 126 Writing to Understand: Arguing Your Own Views 129 KEY TERMS 129 FICTION: Arthur C. Clarke, "The Star" 131 PROBING QUESTIONS 133 FOR FURTHER READING 134 CHAPTER 3 MORALITY AND THE MORAL LIFE 135 3.1 OVERVIEW: ETHICS AND THE MORAL DOMAIN 136 Eth ics and Morality 136 Moral Theories 139 Philosophy Now: Morality and the Low 141 Philosophy Now: The Morality of Human Cloning 144 Religion and Morality 146 SHAFER-LANDAU: Whatever Happened to Good and Evil? 147 Writing to Understand: Critiquing Philosophical Views 148 3.2 MORAL RELATIVISM 148 Subjective Relativism 149 Cultural Relativism 151 What Do You Believe? Cultural Relativism and Women's Rights 152 Writing to Understand: Critiquing Philosophical Views 155 3.3 MORALITY BASED ON CONSEQUENCES 155 Utilitar ianism 156 MILL: "What Uti litarianism Is" 158 Philosophy Now: Util itarianism and the Death Penalty 160 Philosophy Lab 164 Eth ical Egoism 165 Philosophers at Work: John Stuart Mill 165 Philosophy Now: Torture and the Ticking Bomb Terrorist 166 Writing to Understand: Critiquing Philosophical Views 169 3.4 M ORALITY BASED ON DUTY AND RIGHTS 169 KANT: Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals 170 Writing to Understand: Critiquing Philosophical Views 175 3.5 MORALITY BASED ON CHARACTER 175 ARISTOTLE: Nicomachean Ethics 176 SHAFER-LANDAU: The Fundamentals of Ethics 180 Writing to Understand: Critiquing Philosophical Views 181 3.6 FEMINIST ETHICS AND THE ETHICS OF CARE 181 JAGGAR: "Feminist Ethics" 182 CROSTHWAITE: "Gender and Bioethics" 182 HELD: The Ethics of Care 184 Philosophers at Work: Mary Wollstonecraft 186 BAIER: "The Need for More Than Justice" 188 Writing to Understand: Critiquing Philosophical Views 188 3.7 ALBERT CAMUS: AN EXISTENTIALIST VOICE 188 CAMUS: The Myth of Sisyphus 190 Writing to Understand: Critiquing Philosophical Views 192 3.8 CONFUCIANISM 192 CONFUCIUS: Analects 193 NOSS: A History of the World's Religions 195 Writing to Understand: Critiquing Philosophical Views 195 REVIEW NOTES 196 Writing to Understand: Arguing Your Own Views 198 KEY TERMS 198 FICTION: Ursula K. Le Guin, " The Ones Who Walk Away from Ornelas" 200 PROBING QUESTIONS 203 FOR FURTHER READING 203 Contents xiii xiv Contents CHAPTER 4 MIND AND BODY 205 4.1 OVERVIEW: THE M IND-BODY PROBLEM 206 Writing to Understand: Critiquing Philosophical Views 211 4.2 SUBSTANCE DUALISM 211 DESCARTES: Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason 2 12 SCHICK: Doing Philosophy 212 DESCARTES: Meditations on First Philosophy 213 What Do You Believe? The Immortal Soul 2 14 SEARLE: Mind 216 Writing to Understand: Critiquing Philosophical Views 217 4.3 MIND-BODY IDENTITY 217 SMART: "Sensations and Brain Processes" 217 CHALMERS: The Conscious Mind 2 18 NAGEL: "What Is It Like to Be a Bat?" 220 Writing to Understand: Critiquing Philosophical Views 221 4.4 THE M IND AS SOFTWARE 222 FODOR: "The Mind-Body Problem" 222 BLOCK: "Troubles with Functionalism" 223 What Do You Believe? Al and Human Rights 224 SEARLE: Mind 226 Philosophers at Work: Alan Turing 227 Philosophers at Work: John R. Searle 228 Writing to Understand: Critiquing Philosophical Views 229 Philosophy Now: Al, Ethics, and War 230 4.5 THE MIND AS PROPERTIES 230 CHALMERS: The Conscious Mind 232 Philosophy Lab 233 Writing to Understand: Critiquing Philosophical Views 234 REVIEW NOTES 234 Writing to Understand: Arguing Your Own Views 235 KEY TERMS 236 FICTION: Terry Bisson, "They're Made out of Meat" 237 PROBING QUESTIONS 238 FOR FURTHER READING 238 CHAPTER 5 FREE WILL AND DETERMINISM 240 5.1 OVERVIEW: THE FREE WILL PROBLEM 241 What Do You Believe? Fate 245 Writing to Understand: Critiquing Phi losophical Views 246 5.2 DETERMINISM AND INDETERMINISM 246 D'HOLBACH: "Of the System of Man's Free Agency" 246 Philosophers at Work: Will iam James 248 JAMES: "The Dilemma of Determinism" 249 Writing to Understand: Critiquing Phi losophical Views 250 5.3 COMPATIBILISM 250 LOCKE: An Essay Concerning Human Understanding 251 STACE: Religion and the Modern Mind 251 Philosophy Now: Does Belief in Free Will Matter? 252 ROWE: "Two Concepts of Freedom" 254 Writing to Understand: Critiquing Phi losophical Views 255 5.4 LIBERTARIANISM 255 Philosophy Now: Science and Free Will 256 VAN INWAGEN: An Essay on Free Will 257 Philosophy Lab 258 TAYLOR: Metaphysics 258 Writing to Understand: Critiquing Phi losophical Views 261 5.5 SARTRE'S PROFOUND FREEDOM 261 SARTRE: "Existentialism Is a Humanism" 262 Writing to Understand: Critiquing Phi losophical Views 266 Contents xv xvi Contents REVIEW NOTES 266 Writing to Understand: Arguing Your Own Views 268 KEY TERMS 268 FICTION: Thomas D. Davis, "A Little Omniscience Goes a Long Way" 270 PROBING QUESTIONS 273 FOR FURTHER READING 273 CHAPTER 6 KNOWLEDGE AND SKEPTICISM 274 6.1 OVERVIEW: THE PROBLEM OF KNOWLEDGE 275 What Do You Believe? Cognitive Relativism Undone 277 Writing to Understand: Critiquing Phi losophical Views 280 6.2 THE RATIONALIST ROAD 281 Plato's Rationalism 281 PLATO: Meno 283 Descartes' Doubt 284 DESCARTES: Meditations on First Philosophy 285 Philosophy Now: Living in The Matrix 287 Philosophy Lab 288 Descartes' Certainty 288 DESCARTES: Meditations on First Philosophy 288 Philosophers at Work: Rene Descartes 290 Writing to Understand: Critiquing Phi losophical Views 292 6.3 THE EMPIRICIST TURN 293 Locke 293 LOCKE: An Essay Concerning Human Understanding 293 Berkeley 299 BERKELEY: Of the Principles of Human Knowledge 300 Hume 303 Philosophers at Work: David Hume 304 HUME: An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding 305 Writing to Understand: Crit iquing Philosophical Views 310 6.4 THE KANTIAN COMPROMISE 311 KANT: Critique of Pure Reason 312 Philosophers at Work: Immanuel Kant 313 Philosophy Now: Conceptualizing the World 316 Writing to Understand: Crit iquing Philosophical Views 319 6.5 A FEMINIST PERSPECTIVE ON KNOWLEDGE 319 AINLEY: "Feminist Philosophy" 320 ANTONY: " Embodiment and Epistemology" 320 ANDERSON: "Feminist Epistemology and Philosophy of Science" 321 COLE: Philosophy and Feminist Criticism 321 Writing to Understand: Crit iquing Philosophical Views 325 REVIEW NOTES 325 Writing to Understand: Arguing Your Own Views 328 KEY TERMS 329 FICTION: Lewis Carroll, "Through the Looking-Glass" 330 PROBING QUESTIONS 330 FOR FURTHER READING 331 CHAPTER 7 AESTHETICS 332 7.1 OVERVIEW: PHILOSOPHY OF BEAUTY 333 Writing to Understand: Crit iquing Philosophical Views 333 7.2 WHAT IS ART? 333 Philosophy Now: Is It Art? 334 BELL: Art 335 Writing to Understand: Crit iquing Philosophical Views 335 Philosophy Now: Controversial Ar t 336 Contents xv ii xvii i Contents 7.3 AESTHETIC VALUE 338 Philosophers at Work: Arthur C. Dante 339 Writing to Understand: Critiquing Philosophical Views 340 7.4 PLATO, ARISTOTLE, AND HUME 340 ARISTOTLE: The Poetics 340 Philosophy Lab 341 HUME: Of the Standard of Taste 343 Philosophy Now: Feminist Art 344 Writing to Understand: Critiquing Philosophical Views 348 REVIEW NOTES 349 Writing to Understand: Arguing Your Own Views 350 KEY TERMS 350 FICTION: Edgar Allan Poe, "The Oval Portrait" 351 PROBING QUESTIONS 352 FOR FURTHER READING 352 CHAPTER 8 THE JUST SOCIETY 354 8.1 OVERVIEW: JUSTICE AND POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY 355 What Do You Believe? Polit ica l Views in Flux 358 Writing to Understand: Critiquing Philosophical Views 359 8.2 PLATO'S THEORY: JUSTICE AS MERIT 360 PLATO: The Republic 361 Philosophy Now: Merit or Equality: Who Gets to Live? 363 Writing to Understand: Critiquing Philosophical Views 364 8.3 SOCIAL CONTRACT THEORIES 364 Hobbes 365 Philosophers at Work: Thomas Hobbes 365 HOBBES: Leviathan 366 Locke 370 LOCKE: Second Treatise of Government 371 Rawls 375 Philosophers at Work: John Locke 375 RAWLS: A Theory of justice 376 Writing to Understand: Crit iquing Philosophical Views 378 8.4 SOCIALIST THEORIES 379 Philosophy Lab 380 Philosophy Now: Is the United States a Socialist Country? 381 MARX and ENGELS: Manifesto of the Communist Party 381 Writing to Understand: Crit iquing Philosophical Views 387 8.5 FEMINISM ANO SOCIAL JUSTICE 387 OKIN: Justice, Gender, and the Family 388 MILLER: Political Philosophy 392 Writing to Understand: Crit iquing Philosophical Views 392 REVIEW NOTES 393 Writing to Understand: Arguing Your Own Views 395 KEY TERMS 395 FICTION: William Golding, "Lord of the Flies" 397 PROBING QUESTIONS 405 FOR FURTHER READING 405 CHAPTER 9 THE MEAN ING OF LIFE 406 9.1 OVERVIEW: PHILOSOPHY ANO THE MEAN ING OF LIFE 407 Philosophy Lab 410 9.2 PESSIMISM: LIFE HAS NO MEANING 411 TOLSTOY: My Confession 411 Contents xix xx Contents SCHOPENHAUER: "On the Sufferings of the World" 413 BAGG/NI: What's It All About? 414 Philosophy Now: Nietzsche: Reflections on Meaning 415 9.3 OPTIMISM : LIFE CAN HAVE MEANING 416 Meaning from Above 416 TOLSTOY: My Confession 416 Philosophy Now: Is Religion Necessary for a Meaningful Life? 4 19 BAGG/NI: What's It All About? 420 Meaning from Below 4 21 EDWARDS: The Encyclopedia of Philosophy 421 REVIEW NOTES 426 What Do You Believe? What Can and Cannot Give Life Meaning? 427 Writing to Understand: Arguing Your Own Views 428 FICTION: Voltaire, "The Good Brahmin" 429 PROBING QUESTIONS 430 FOR FURTHER READING 430 Appendix A: The Truth about Philosophy Majors 431 Appendix B: Answers to Exercises 437 Appendix C: How to Write a Philosophy Paper 441 Notes 451 Glossary 457 Credits 461 Index of Marginal Quotations 463 General Index 465 PREFACE ................................... _. ........ _. .... .._ ............ ._ ............................................................... .-................................ _. ........ __. ._ ....................... __. .............. . ............ __. ........ __. .......... ........... ......... ................. .... ..... _. ... . This third edition of Philosophy Here and Now stays true to the aspirations and char- acter of the first and second. From the beginning, the text has been designed to provide an extraordinary amount of encouragement and guidance to students \vho are encountering philosophy for the first (and perhaps last) time. !rs ambitious aim is to get such students to take some big steps tO\vard understand ing, appreciating, and even doing philosophy. Philosophy Here and Now thus tries to do a great deal more than most other texts or readers. To foster a serious understanding of philosophy, it includes solid coverage of critical thinking skills and argument basics as well as guid- ance and practice in reading philosophical works. Studenrs of course can appreciate the point and power of philosophy as they comprehend philosophical \vritings, but their appreciation blossoms when they see ho\v philosophical issues and reasoning play out in contemporary society and how philosophical insights apply to their O\vn lives. So the book's coverage and pedagogical features help students grasp philoso- phy's relevance and t imeliness. Studenrs learn how to do philosophy-to think and write philosophically-\vhen they get encouragement and practice in analyzing and critiquing their own vie\vS and those of the philosophers they study. To this end, Phiwsophy Here and Now emphasizes philosophical writing, reinforced with step- by-step coaching in how to \vrite argumentative essays and supported by multiple opportunities to hone basic skills. In addition to these core elements, Philosophy Here and Now further engages today's learners \Vith abundant illustrations and color graphics; marginal notes, questions, and quotes; profiles of a diverse array of philosophers; and ample repre- sentation of non-Western and nont raditional sources. TOPICS AND READINGS Nine chapters cover the existence of God, morality and the moral life, mind and body, free wi ll and determinism, knowledge and skepticism, aesthetics, political philosophy, and the meaning of life. These topics are explored in read ings from seventy-five traditional and contemporary philosophers integrated into the main text, featuring both indispensable standards and ne\ver selections. The standards include Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Pascal, Anselm, Descartes, Hume, Hobbes, Locke, Berkeley, Kant, d'Holbach, Paley, James, Sartre, Marx, and others. Among t he more recent voices are Searle, Chalmers, Craig, Swinburne, H ick, Mackie, Rowe, Gard- ner, Blum, Dersho\vitz, Rahula, Jaggar, Held, Baier, Nagel, Block, Van l n\vagen, Taylor, D u Sautoy, Ducasse, Cole, Ainley, Rawls, O kin, and Schopenhauer. All these selections are juxtaposed with end-of-chapter pieces of fiction or narrative-stories meant to explore and dramatize the philosophical issues encountered xxi xxii Preface in the chapters. They include some classic stories such as "The Good Brahmin" by Volta ire, "The Ones Who Walk Away from Ornelas" by Ursula Le Guin, and "They're Made Out of Meat" by Terry Bisson, as \veil as lesser-kno\vn fiction by notable writers like Arthur C. Clarke and William Golding. Each story is accompanied by discus- sion/essay questions designed to dra\v out irs philosophical implications. MAIN FEATURES • A comprehensive introductory chapter that lays the groundwork for philo- sophical thinking. Through examples drawn from philosophical literature and everyday life, th is chapter explains clearly the nature and scope of philosophy and ho\v it relates to students' lives. This much, of course, is \vhat any good text in this field should do. But this first chapter also shows how to devise and evalu- ate arguments and guides students in critically thinking, reading, and \vriting about philosophical issues. • Critical thinking questions that correspond to relevant passages in the main text or readings. These questions, located in the margins of the text, invite stu- dents to ponder the implications of the material and to th ink critically about the assumptions and arguments found there. The questions are numbered and highlighted and easily lend themselves to both \vriting assignments and class discussion. The point of their marginal placement is to prompt students to think carefully and analytically as they read. • Four types of text boxes that demonstrate the value and relevance of philoso- phy in the modern world: • "Philosophy Now" -These boxes contain news items and research reports that illustrate ho\v each chapter's philosophical issues permeate everyday life. They demonstrate that philosophical concerns arise continually in science, society, ethics, religion, politics, medicine, and more. Each box ends \vith questions that prompt critical thinking and philosophical reflection. • "What Do You Believe?"-Prompting student engagement and reflec- tion, these boxes explore issues related to the chapter's topics and challenge students' beliefs. • "Philosophers at Work'' -These boxes profi le the lives and work of com- pelling figures in philosophy, past and present, Western and non-Western or nontraditional, men and women. Some feature philosophers from the past \vhose story adds a human and historical dimension to the ideas discussed in the chapter, and some profile contemporary thinkers who are grappling \vith the important issues of the day. The point of these features is, of course, to sho\v that philosophy is very much a living, relevant enterprise. • " Philosophy Lab"-These boxes present simple thought experiments chal- lenging students to think through scenarios that can reveal deeper philo- sophical insights or perspectives. • In-depth coverage of philosophical writing includes step-by-step coaching in argument basics and multiple opportunities to hone critical thinking skills. • "Writing to Understand: Critiquing Philosophical Views" -These boxes appear at the end of each section and consist of essay questions that prompt students to critically examine the strengths and weaknesses of the vie\vS dis- cussed in the sections. • "Writing to Understand: Arguing Your Own Views" - These boxes prompt students to explain and defend thei r O\vn views on the chapter's topics in short essays. • " How to Write a Philosophy Paper" -This appendix offers concise, step- by-step guidance in crafting an effective philosophical essay. • A final chapter on ''The Meaning of Life." This chapter discusses how philoso- phers have clarified and explored the topic of life's meaning. It covers the main philosophical perspectives on the subject and samples the views of philosophers past and present. All these features are supplemented \Vith other elements to make the material even more engaging and accessible: • Marginal quotes. These pithy, compelling quotes from an array of philosophers appear throughout the text, inviting students to join the ongoing conversation of philosophy. • Key Terms, marginal definitions, and end-of-book Glossary. Key Terms in each chapter appear in boldface at their first appearance in a chapter, and mar- ginal definitions help studenrs learn the terms within their immediate context. A list of the chapter's Key Terms appears at the end of each chapter, along \vith the page numbers on which the term and irs definition fi rst appear. Last, a Glossary of those Key Terms and definitions provides an essential reference for students as they review and prepare fo r tesrs as well as draft their own philosophical essays and argumenrs. • Chapter Objectives. This list at the beginning of each chapter helps to scaffold student learning by providing both structure and support for previewing, note taking, and retention of content. • End-of-chapter reviews. Concluding each chapter, this feature revisits the Chapter Objectives, encouraging students to reflect and revie\v. • An index of marginal quotes. This supplemental index helps students locate the words of philosophers that seem especially insightful or inspiring to them. • For Further reading. Located at the end of each chapter, these useful referen ces point students to sources that \viii enhance thei r understanding of chapter issues and argumenrs. • Timeline. Featuring philosophers' lives and important events, this visual learn- ing tool helps students appreciate the historic significance of philosophical ideas by placing them \vithin a larger context. • Charts, tables, and color photos. Appearing throughout the book, these have been selected or created to deepen studen t engagement with and understanding of complex ideas and abstract conceprs. In addition, captions fo r these images include brief, open-ended questions to help studenrs "read" visuals \Vith the same critical attention they learn to bring to written texrs. Preface xx11 1 xxiv Preface NEW TO THIS EDITION • An expanded chapter on aesthetics ( Chapter 7). Jc covers issues relating to the definition of art, objective and subjective standards, femi nist art, controversial artworks, on line art, and the philosophical examination of art by Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Gardner, Ducasse, and Dan to. Several new photos illustrate fem inist art, controversial art, and art that provokes discussion about what art is and isn't. • Expanded coverage in Chapter 9 {The Meaning of Life). In addition to in- cluding readings by Tolstoy, Schopenhauer, Baggini, and Ed\vards {and com- mentary on Niet2Sche), the text now adds four more philosophers who debate the objectivity of meaning in life. Klemke and Lucretius lay out their case for subjectivist meaning, and Wolf and Belshaw argue fo r objectivist meaning. • More history of philosophy in Chapter 1. No\v there's coverage of the pre- Socratics Thales, Empedocles, and Parmenides, as well as four early women phi- losophers: Hypatia, Themistoclea, Arignote, and Theano. • More text boxes adding depth to discussions or demonstrating how philo- sophical thinking can tackle tough contemporary issues. These cover human rights for robots, to rturing terrorists, racism, Buddhism and science, belief in God, and scientists and religion. ANCILLARIES The Oxford University Press Ancillary Resource Center {ARC) { vaughn-philosophy-here-and-no\v) houses a \vealth of instructor resources, includ- ing an Instructor's Manual with sample syllabi, reading summaries, essay/discussion questions, suggested Web links, and a glossary of key terms from the text; a Com- puterized Test Bank \Vith fifty or more multiple-choice and true/false questions per chapter {also available as a traditional "pencil-and-paper" Test Bank in the Instruc- tor's Manual); and PowerPoint lecture outlines. A companion website { contains study materials for students, including level-one and level-nvo practice quizzes with multiple-choice and true/false questions taken from the Test Bank, essay/discussion questions, read- ing summaries, flashcards of key terms from the text, and suggested Web links. All instructor and student resources are also available as cartridges for Learning Management Systems. For more information, please contact your Oxford University Press Sales Representative at 1-800-280-0280. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS A text like th is is not possible \Vithout the help of a lot of talented and consci- entious people. At the top of the list are my fine editors at Oxford University Press-most notably Robert Miller and Meg Botteon, as well as Alyssa Palazzo and Sidney Keen. Throughout the formative stages of this text, many astute re- viewers provided invaluable suggestions and criticisms, and the book is much the better for it. Many thanks to: Kristin Borgwald Miami Dade College Daniel Bramer Holy Family University Jeremy Byrd Tarrant County College Teresa Cantrell University of Louisville Alberto Gonzalez College of the Canyons Aaron Rizzieri Yavapai College Stephen Russell Orr Solano Community College Allen Shonvell Ivy Tech Community College John Shuford Lin.field College Russell S\vanson Florida South Western State College Rabbi Doug Weber Castleton University Steve Wyre Mohave Community College Preface xxv CHAPTER PHILOSOPHY AND YOU CHAPTER OBJECTIVES 1.1 PH ILOSOPHY: THE QUEST FOR UNDERSTANDING • Know the practical and theoretica l benefits of studying philosophy. • Take an inventory of your philosophical beliefs. • Know the four main divisions of philosophy and the kinds of questions they examine. 1.2 SOCRATES ANO THE EXAMINED LIFE • Understand why Socrates declared that "the unexamined life is not worth living." • Explain the Socratic method and how Socrates used it in search of understand ing. • Relate how Socrates showed that Thrasymachus's notion of justice was wrong. • Exp lain how reductio ad absurdum arguments work. 1.3 THINKING PHILOSOPHICALLY • Define argument, statement, conclusion, and premise. • Know the two conditions that must be met for an argument to be good. • Define deductive argument, inductive argument, valid, sound, cogent, strong, and weak. Understand inferences to the best explanat ion and how their strength is evaluated. • Be able to ident ify arguments in the form of modus ponens, modus to/lens, affirming the consequent, and denying the antecedent . • Be able to ident ify arguments in various contexts and tell whether they are valid or invalid, sound or not sound, strong or weak, and cogent or not cogent. • Understand the guidelines for reading and appreciating philosophy. • Be aware of common fallacies and know how to identify them in various contexts . 2 Chapter 1 Philosophy and You Science gives us know· ledge, bur only philosophy can give us wisdo m. -Will Durant 1 Suppose you had a fundamental belief that the mind, or soul, does not survive the death of the body. What other beliefs would this fundamen- tal belief be likely to support? Philosophy should be responsive ro human ex· pcricncc and yet critical of the defective thinking it sometimes encounters. -Martha Nussbaum 1.1 PHILOSOPHY: THE QUEST FOR UNDERSTANDING The title of chis text, Philosophy Here and Now, is meant co emphasize chat philoso- phy is, well, here and now-chat is, relevant and current. This means chat philoso- phy, even with its ancient lineage and seemingly remote concerns, applies co your li fe and your times and your world. Philosophy achieves chis immediacy by being many good things at once: it is enlightening, choughc-provoking, life-changing, liberating, theoretical, and practical. The world is fu ll of scudencs and teachers ,vho can attest co these claims. More importantly, you will find proof of chem in the remainder of chis text-and in the writings of the great philosophers, in your grasping what they say and the reasons they give for saying it, and in your o,vn honest accempcs co apply philosophy co your life. Philosophy is the name chat philosophers have given co both a d iscipline and a process. As a discipline, philosophy is one of the humanities, a field of study out of which several ocher fields have evolved-physics, biology, political science, and many ochers. As a process, philosophy is a penetrating mode of reflection for understanding life's most important truths. This mode is what ,ve may call the philosophical method-the systematic use of critical reasoning co cry co find answers co fundamental questions about reality, morality, and kno,vledge. The method, however, is not a master key used exclusively by professional philosophers co unlock mysteries hidden from common folk. The philosophical method is the birthright of every person, fo r ,ve are all born with the capacity co reason, co ques- tion, co discover. For thousands of years, great minds like Ariscocle, Plato, Confu- cius, Descartes, Aquinas, and Sartre have used it in their search for wisdom, and ,vhac they found has changed countless lives. Bue amateur philosophers like you have also used it-and continue co use it-to achieve life-altering understanding chat ,vould have eluded chem otherwise. The Good of Philosophy Philosophy is not just about ideas; it's about fundamental ideas, chose upon which ocher ideas depend. A fundamental belief logically supporcs ocher bel iefs, and the more beliefs it supporcs the more fundamental it is. Your belief or disbelief in God, for example, might support a hose of ocher beliefs about morality, life after death, heaven, hell, free will, science, evolution, prayer, abortion, miracles, homo- sexuality, and more. Thanks co your upbringing, your culture, your peers, and ocher influences, you already have a head full of fundamental beliefs, some of chem true, some false. Whether true or false, they constitute the framework of your ,vhole belief system, and as such they help you make sense of a wide range of important issues in life-issues concerning what exists and what doesn't, what actions are right or ,vrong (or neither), and ,vhac kinds of things we can kno,v and not kno,v. Funda- mental beliefs, therefore, make up your "philosophy of life," which informs your chinking and guides your actions. Perhaps now you can better appreciate philosophy's greatest practical benefit: it gives us che intellectual wherewithal co improve our lives by improving our Phi losophy: The Quest for Understanding 3 philosophy of life. A faulty philosophy of life-that is, one that comprises a great many false fundamental beliefs-can lead to a misspent or misdirected life, a life less meaningful than it could be. Philosophy is the most powerful instrument we have for evaluating the worth of our fundamental beliefs and for changing them for the better. Through philosophy we exert control over the t rajectory of our lives, making major course corrections by reason and reflection. The Greek philosopher Socrates (469-399 BCE), one of Western civil ization's great intellectual heroes, says, "An unexamined life is not \VOrth living." To examine your life is to scrutinize the core ideas that shape it, and the deepest form of scrutiny is exercised through philosophy. This search for answers goes to the heart of the tradi- tional conception of philosophy as a search for wisdom (the term phiwsophy is derived from Greek words meaning " love of wisdom"). With the attainment of wisdom, we come to understand the true nature of reality and how to apply that understanding to living a good life. Philosophy's chief theoretical benefit is the same one that most other fields of inquiry pursue: understanding for its own sake. Even if philosophy had no pract ical applications at all , it would sti ll hold great value fo r us. We want to know how the world works, what t ruths it hides, just for the sake of knowing. And philoso- Figure 1.1 Socrates (469-399 ace). phy obliges. Astronomers search the sky, physicists study subatomic part icles, and archaeologists search fo r ancient ruins, all the while knowing that what they find may have no practical implications at all . We humans wonder, and that's often all the reason we need to search for ans\vers. As the great philosopher Aristotle says, "For it is owing to thei r wonder that people both no\v begin and at first began to philosophize." For many people, the quest for understand ing through philosophy is a spiri- tual, transformative endeavor, an ennobling pursuit of truths at the core of life. Thus, several philosophers speak of philosophy as something that enriches or nur- tu res the soul or mind. Socrates, speaking to the jurors who condemned him fo r practicing philosophy on the streets of Athens, asked, "Are you not ashamed that, while you take care to acquire as much wealth as possible, with honor and glory as \vell , yet you take no care or thought for understanding or t ruth, or for the best possible state of your soul?" In a similar vein, the Greek philosopher Epicurus (341-270 BCE) said , "Let no young man delay the study of philosophy, and let no old man become \veary of it; for it is never too early nor too late to care fo r the well-being of the soul." And in our own era, the philosopher Walter Kaufmann (1921- 1980) declared, "Philosophy means liberation from the two d imensions of routine, soaring above the well kno\vn, seeing it in ne\v perspectives, arousing wonder and the wish to fly." Along with philosophical inquiry comes freedom. We begin our lives at a partic- ular place and time, steeped in the ideas and values of a particular culture, fed ready- made beliefs that may or may not be true and that \Ve may never think to question. 2 Is it possible to lead a meaningful life w ith· out self-examination? Philosophy is the highest music. -Plato 4 Chapter 1 Philosophy and You If you passively accept such beliefs, then those beliefs are not really yours. If they are not really yours, and you let them guide your choices and actions, then they-not you-are in charge of your life. You thus forfeit your personal freedom. But phi- losophy helps us rise above th is predicament, to transcend the narro,v and obstructed standpoint from which we may vie,v everything. It helps us sift our hand-me-down beliefs in the light of reason, look beyond the prejudices that blind us, and see what's real and true. By using the philosophical method, we may learn that some of our beliefs are on solid ground and some are not. In either case, through philosophy our beliefs become truly and authentically our own. Philosophical Terrain Figure 1.2 Aristotle (384-322 BCE). Philosophy's sphere of interest is vast, encompassing funda- mental beliefs drawn from many places. Philosophical ques- tions can arise anywhere. Part of the reason for th is is that ordinary beliefs that seem to have no connection with philoso- phy can become philosophical in short order. A physiologist may ,vant to know ho,v our brains ,vork, but she ventures into the philosophical arena ,vhen she wonders ,vhether the brain is the same th ing as the mind-a quest ion that science alone To teach how to live w itho ut certainty and ycr without being paralysed by hesitation is perhaps ,he chief thing that philoso· phy, in our age, can do for those who srudy it. -Benrand Russell 3 Has your thin king recent ly led you to reflect on philosophi- cal questions? If so, how did the thought process begin, and what f undamental belief did you end up contemplating? Metaphysics is the study of reality in ,he broadest sense, an inquiry into rhc clcmcnral narurc of rhc universe and the things JO It. cannot answer. A lawyer studies how the death penalty is ad- ministered in Texas, but he does philosophy when he considers whether capital pun- ishment is ever morally permiss ible. A medical scientist wants to kno,v ho,v a human fetus develops, but she finds it d ifficult to avoid the philosophical query of ,vhat the moral status of the fetus is. An astrophysicist studies the Big Bang, the cataclysmic explosion thought to have brought the universe into being-but then asks whether the Big Bang shows that God the universe to exist. On CNN you see the horrors of ,var and famine, but then you find yourself grappling with ,vhether they can be squared with the existence of an all-po,verful, all-knowing, and all-good God. Or you ,vonder ,vhat your moral obligations are to the poor and hungry of the ,vorld. O r you ponder whether government should help people in need or leave them to fend for themselves. We can div ide philosophy's subject matter into four main divisions, each of ,vhich is a branch of inquiry in its o,vn right ,vith many subcategories. Here's a brief rundown of these divis ions and a sampling of the kinds of quest ions that each asks. Metaphysics is the study of reality in the broadest sense, an inquiry into the elemental nature of the universe and the things in it. Though it must take into ac- count the findings of science, metaphysics generally focuses on basic questions that science cannot address. Questions of interest: Does the ,vorld consist only of matter, or is it made up of other basic things, such as ideas or minds? Is there a spiritual, ideal realm that exists beyond the material world? Is the mind the same thing as the body? Phi losophy: The Quest for Understanding 5 WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE? Your Philosophical Beliefs Where do you stand on the fundamencal issues in philosophy? Here is your chance co cake inventory of your vie,vs. After you finish chis course, cake the survey again co see if your perspective has changed or become ,nore nuanced. AnS\ver ,vich chese numbers: 5 = true; 4 = probably crue; 3 = neither probable nor i1nprobable; 2 = probably false; I = false. I. Ac lease so,ne 1noral nonns or principles are objectively true or valid for everyone. 2. Mora l standards are relative co what individuals or cu ltures bel ieve. __ 3. Mind and body consist of nvo fu nda,nencally different kinds of scuff- nonphysical scuff and physica l scuff. __ 4. The 1nind, or soul, can exist ,vichouc che body. __ 5. Our mental scares are nothing bur bra in scares (,n ind scares are identical co bra in scares). 6. No one has free ,vi ii. __ 7. Persons have free will (so,ne of our actions are free). __ 8. Although our actions are determined, they can still be free (free ,viii and decenn inis,n are nor in confl ict). __ 9. The God of crad icional Western religions (an all-knowing, all-po,verful, all-good deity) exists. __ 10. The apparent design of the universe shows char it had an intell igent designer. __ 11. Right actions are chose co,nmanded by God; ,vrong actions are chose forbidden by God. __ 12. God does nor ,nake actions right or ,vrong by commanding chem co be so. __ 13. We can know some th ings about che external world. __ 14. We cannot know anything about che external world. __ 15. The theory of evolution is a beccer explanation of the apparent design of biologica l life chan che theory of "incelligenc design." __ 16. Truth about something depends on what a person or culture believes. __ 17. Libercarianis,n is che correct political theory. __ 18. Welfare liberalis,n is che correct moral theory. __ 19. Meaning in life comes from outside ourselves, fro,n God or so,ne ocher transcendent real ity. __ 20. Meaning in life comes from ,vichin ourselves. __ How are mind and body related? Do people have immortal souls? Do humans have free wi ll, or are our actions determined by forces beyond our control? Can actions be both free and determined? Does God exist? How can both a good God and evil exist simultaneously? What is the nat ure of causality? Can an effect ever precede its cause? What is the nature of time? Is time travel possible? And what, Socrates, is the food of che soul> Surely,
I said, knowledge is the
food of che soul.
– Plato

6 Chapter 1 Philosophy and You
Epistemology is the study
of knowledge.
Axiology is the study
of value, including both
aesthetic value and moral
value. Ethics is the study
of moral value using the
methods of philosophy.
Does the world consist only of matter, or is it made up of other basic th ings, such
as ideas or mind? Is there a spiritual, ideal realm that exists beyond the material
world? Is the mind the same thing as the body? How are mind and body related?
Do people have immortal souls? Do humans have free wi ll, or are our actions
determined by forces beyond our control? Can actions be both free and deter-
mined? Does God exist? How can both a good God and evi l exist simultaneously?
What is the nature of causal ity? Can an effect ever precede its cause? What is the
nature of time? Is time trave l possible?
What is knowledge? What is truth? Is knowledge possible- can we ever know any-
thing? Does knowledge require certainty? What are the sources of knowledge?
Is experience a source of knowledge? Is mysticism or faith a source? Can we gain
knowledge of the empirical world through reason alone? If we have knowledge,
how much do we have? When are we justified in saying that we know something?
Do we have good reasons to believe that the world exists independently of our
minds? Or do our minds constitute reality?
What makes an action right (or wrong)? What th ings are intrinsically good? What
is the good life? What gives life meaning? What makes someone good (or bad)?
What moral principles should guide our actions and choices? Which is the best
moral theory? Is killing ever mora lly permissible? If so, why? Are mora l standards
objective or subjective? Is an action right merely because a culture endorses it?
Does morality depend on God? What makes a society just?
What are the ru les for drawing correct inferences? What are the nature and struc-
ture of deductive arguments? How can propositional or predicate logic be used to
evaluate arguments? Upon what logical principles does reasoning depend? Does
logic describe how the world is- or just how our minds work? Can conclusions
reached through inductive logic be rationally justified?
Epistemology is the study of knowledge. Questions of interest: What is knowl-
edge? What is truth? Is kno\vledge possible-can \Ve ever kno\v anything? Does
knowledge require certainty? What are the sources of kno\vledge? Is experience a
source of knowledge? Is mysticism or faith a source? Can we gain kno\vledge of the
empirical \vorld through reason alone? If \Ve have kno\vledge, how much do \Ve have?
When are we justified in saying that \Ve know something? Do we have good reasons
to believe that the \vorld exists independently of our minds? Or do our minds con-
stitute reality?
Axiology is the study of value, including both aesthetic value and moral value.
The study of moral value is kno\vn as eth ics. Ethics involves inquiries into the nature
of moral judgments, virtues, values, obligations, and theories. Questions of interest:
What makes an action right (or wrong)? What things are intrinsically good? What is
the good life? What gives life meaning? What makes someone good (or bad)? What
moral principles should guide our actions and choices? Which is the best moral

Phi losophy: The Quest for Understanding 7
theory? Is ki lling ever morally permissible? If so, why?
Are moral standards objective or subjective? Is an ac-
t ion right merely because a culture endorses it? Does
morality depend on God? W hat makes a society just?
Logic is the study of correct reasoning. Ques-
tions of interest: W hat are the rules for d rawing cor-
rect inferences? What are the nature and structure of
deductive arguments? How can propositional or pred-
icate logic be used to evaluate argumenrs? Upon what
logical principles does reasoning depend? Does logic
describe ho,v the world is-or just ho,v our minds
work? Can conclusions reached through induct ive
logic be rationally justified?
In addition to these divisions, there are subdivi-
sions of philosophy whose job is to examine critically
the assumptions and principles that underlie other
fields. Thus ,ve have the philosophy of science, the
philosophy of la,v, the philosophy of mathematics,
the philosophy of history, the philosophy of language,
and many others. When those laboring in a discipline
begin questioning irs most basic ideas-ideas that
define irs subject matter and principles of inquiry-
philosophy, the most elemental mode of investigation,
steps 1n.
Figure 1.3 Plat o, point ing upward t oward the h igher realm
of ideas, and Aristotle, gesturing down toward the th ings of
t his earth.
1. What is the philosophical method? W ho can make use of this
approach to important questions? Can only philosophers use it?
H ave you used it? Ho,v?
2. What are some fundamental beliefs that are part of your philosophy of
life? Ho,v do these beliefs influence your life?
3. What is philosophy’s greatest practical benefit? Do you think studying
philosophy could change your life goals or your fundamental beliefs?
Why or why not?
4. How can philosophy enhance your personal freedom? What are some
of your fundamental beliefs that you have never fully examined? What
might be the result of never examining a fundamental belief?
5. Which of the four main divisions of philosophy interests you the
most? W hy? W hat philosophical ques tions listed in this section would
you most ,vant to have ans,vers to?
Logic is the study of
correct reasoning.
There’s a difference
between a philosophy and
a bumper sticker.
– Charles M. Schulz

8 Chapter 1 Philosophy and You
The point of philosophy
is to start with something
so simple as not to seem
worrh stating. and to end
with something so para-
doxical that no one will
believe it.
– Bertrand Russell
4 Socrates says that a
good man can never
be harmed. What do
you think he means by
The Socratic method is
a qucstion-and .. answcr
dialogue in which proposi-
tions arc methodically
scrutinized to uncover the
The chicfbcncfir, which
rcsuk< from philosophy, arises in an indirect man .. ncr, and proceeds more from its secret> insensible
inAucncc, than from its
immediate application.
– David Hume
There is no better way to understand and appreciate the philosophical quest for
knowledge than to study the life and work of Socrates, one of philosophy’s greatest
practitioners and the most revered figure in irs history. Socrates wrote no philosophy,
but ,ve know about his thinking and character through his famous pupil Plato, who
portrayed him in several dialogues, or conversations (notably in Euthyphro, Crito,
and Apology). For two and a half millennia Socrates has been inspi ring generations
by his devotion to philosophical inquiry, his relentless search for ,visdom, and his
determination to live according to his o,vn high standards. As mentioned earl ier, he
famously said that “the unexamined life is not worth living,” and he became the best
example of someone living his life by that maxim. Thus, at a time when most phi-
losophy was di rected at cosmological speculations, he turned to critically examining
people’s basic conceprs, common beliefs, and moral thinking.
For Socrates, an unexamined life is a tragedy because it resulrs in grievous harm
to the soul, a person’s true self or essence. The soul is harmed by lack of kno,vledge-
ignorance of one’s o,vn self and of the most important values in life (the good). But
knowledge of these things is a mark of the soul’s excellence. A clear sign that a per-
son has an unhealthy soul is her exclusive pursuit of social status, ,vealth, po,ver,
and pleasure instead of the good of the soul. The good of the soul is attained only
through an uncompromising search for what’s true and real, through the wisdom
to see what is most vital in life. Such insight comes from rational self-examination
and critical questioning of facile assumptions and unsupported beliefs. To get to the
truth, Socrates thought, we must go around the false certitudes of custom, tradition,
and superstition and let reason be our guide. Thus he played the role of philosophi-
cal gadfly, an annoying pest to the people of Athens, prodding them to wake up and
seek the wisdom within their grasp.
We know very little about Socrates’ life. He spent all his days in Athens except
for a term of military service in which he sold iered in the Peloponnesian War. He
,vas married and had three sons. He spent much of his time roaming the streets of
Athens, speaking ,vith anyone who would listen. His habit was to ask people seem-
ingly simple questions about their views on virtue, religion, justice, or the good,
challenging them to think critically about their basic assumptions. This sort of
question-and-answer dialogue in which propositions are methodically scrutinized
to uncover the truth has become known as the Socratic method. Usually when
Socrates used it in conversations, or dialogues, with his fellow Athenians, thei r views
,vould be exposed as false or confused. The main point of the exercise for Socrates,
ho,vever, was not to win arguments but to get closer to the truth. He thought people
,vho pursued this noble aim as he did should not be embarrassed by being sho,vn to
be wrong; they should be delighted to be weaned from a false opinion. Nevertheless,
the Socratic conversations often ended in the humiliation of eminent Athenians.
They were enraged by Socrates, ,vhile many youths gravitated to him.
Eventually Socrates ,vas arrested and charged ,vith disrespecting the gods and
corrupting the youth of the city. He was tried before five hundred jurors, a majority

No philosopher- with che possible exception of
Ariscocle-has had a deeper and more lasting effect
on Western choughr chan Plato (c. 427- 347 BCE). He
,vas born in Athens into an inAuencial ariscocracic fa,nily
and grew up during che perilous years of che Peloponnesian
War, a struggle between Athens and the Peloponnesian scares.
He was a student and admirer of Socrates, who turned Plato’s
Socrates and the Examined Life 9
Figure 1.4 Plato
(c. 427- 347 8C£).
m ind coward philosophy and che pursuit of wisdom. He ,vas horrified by Socrates’
execution in 399 for irnpiery and corruption of Athenian youth, so he left Athens
and traveled ,videly, possibly co Sicily and Egypt. When he returned co Athens, he
founded the Academy, a reaching college regarded as che first university, and devoted
che rest of his life co reaching and writing philosophy. (The Academy endured for
hundreds of years until ic ,vas abolished by che Eastern Roman ernperor Justi nian I.)
The Acade,ny’s ,nose renowned studen t ,vas Ariscocle, who entered the school ar age
seventeen and re,nained for C\venry years.
Plato’s chinking is e,nbodied in his dia logues, nvenry-five of which exist in
cheir co,nplece form. They were ,vrircen during a span of fifty years and have been
divided into three periods: early, middle, and lace. The early dia logues include
Eurhyphro, Apology, Crito, Meno, and Gorgias. These early works portray Socrates
as a brill iant and principled deAarer of his contemporaries’ bogus clai,ns ro knowl-
edge. The midd le dialogues include Phaedo, Republic, and Theneretur; che lace ones
consist of Critias, Pnrmenides, Sophirt, Laws, and ochers.
of whom voted co convict him. H is sentence was death or exile; he chose death by
poison rather than leave his beloved Athens. In his d ialogues Crito and Phaedo, Plato
recounts che events of che trial, including Socrates’ address co che jurors. Socrates is
portrayed as a man of brill iant intellect and unshakeable integrity who would not
compromise his principles, even co escape death.
In one form or another, che Socratic method has been pare of Western e.ducacion
for centuries. le is one of che ways chat philosophy is done, a powerful procedure for
applying critical chinking co many scacemencs chat seem out of reason’s reach. As
Socrates used it, che method typically ,vould go like chis: (1) someone poses a ques-
tion about che meaning of a concept (for example, “What is justice?”); (2) Socrates’
companion gives an answer; (3) Socrates raises questions about che answer, proving
chat che answer is inadequate; (4) co avoid che problems inherent in chis answer, che
companion offers a second ans,ver; (5) seeps (3) and (4) are repeated a number of

10 Chapter 1 Philosophy and You
Figure 1.5 The Death of Socrates by Jacques-Louis David.
times, ultimately revealing that the companion does not kno\v \vhat he thought he
knew. To Socrates, this negative outcome is actually a k ind of progress. False answers
are eliminated, opinions are improved, and perhaps the truth is a little closer than
Let’s watch Socrates in action. Here is his conversation with Thrasymachus, a
teacher eager to demonstrate that Socrates is not as \vise as people say he is. The ques-
tion is “What is justice?” and Thrasymachus insisrs that justice is whatever is in the
interest of the strongest-that is, might makes right.
Plato, The Republic
Listen, then, he [Thrasymachus] said; I proclaim that justice is nothing else than the
interest of the stronger. And now why do you not praise me? But of course you won’t.
Let me first understand you, I [Socrates] replied. Justice, as you say, is the interest
of the stronger. What, Thrasymachus, is the meaning of this? You can not mean to say
that because Polydamas, the pancratiast [an athlete), is stronger than we are, and fi nds
the eating of beef conducive to his bodily strength, that to eat beef is therefore equally
for our good who are weaker than he is , and right and just for us?
That’s abominable of you, Socrates; you take the words in the sense which is most
damaging to the argument.
Not at all , my good sir, I sa id; I am trying to understand them; and I wish that you
would be a little clearer.

Socrates and the Examined Life 11
Well, he said, have you never heard that fo rms of government differ; there are
tyrannies, and there are democracies, and there are aristocracies?
Yes, I know.
And the government is the ruling power in each state?
And the different forms of government make laws democratical, aristocratical,
tyrannical, with a view to their several interests; and these laws, which are made by
them for their own interests, are the j ustice which they deliver to their subjects, and
him who t ransgresses them they punish as a breaker of the law and unjust. And that
is what I mean when I say that in all states there is the same principle of justice, which
is the interest of the government; and as the government must be supposed to have
power, the only reasonable conclusion is, that everywhere there is one principle of
justice, which is the interest of the stronger.
Now I understand you, I said; and whether you are right or not I will try to discover.
But let me remark, that in defining justice you have yourself used the word ” interest”
which you forbade me to use. It is true, however, that in your definition the words “of
the stronger” are added.
A small addition, you must allow, he said.
Great or small, never mind about that: we must first inquire whether what you are
saying is the truth. Now we are both agreed that justice is interest of some sort, but you
go on to say “of the stronger”; about this addition I am not so sure, and must therefore
consider further.
I will; and first tell me, Do you admit that it is just for subjects to obey their rulers?
I do.
But are the ru lers of states absolutely infallible, or are they sometimes liable to err?
To be sure, he replied, they are liable to err.
Then in making their laws they may sometimes make them rightly, and sometimes
When they make them rightly, they make them agreeably to their interest; when
they are mistaken, contrary to their in terest; you admit that?
And the laws which they make must be obeyed by their subjects- and that is what
you call justice?
Then justice, according to your argument, is not only obedience to the interest of
the stronger but the reverse?
What is that you are saying? he asked.
I am only repeating what you are saying, I believe. But let us consider: Have we not
admitted that the rulers may be mistaken about their own interest in what they com-
mand, and also that to obey them is justice? Has not that been admitted?
Then you must also have acknowledged justice not to be for the interest of the
stronger, when the rulers unintentionally command things to be done which are to
their own injury. For if, as you say, just ice is the obedience which the subject renders to
their commands, in that case, 0 wisest of men, is there any escape from the conclusion
that the weaker are commanded to do, not what is for the interest, but what is for the
injury of the stronger?•
Astonishment is chc root
of philosophy.
-Paul Tillich
5 Socrates never seems
adversaria l or combat-
ive in his dialogues.
What effect do you
t hink this approach has
on those who enter
into dialogue with

12 Chapter 1 Philosophy and You
The Pre-Socratics
Philosophy began in ancient Greece in rhe sixth century BCE a,nong thinkers ,vho
broke with age-old tradition co ponder important ,narrers in an entirely novel ,vay.
For centuries, hu,nans had been devising allS\vers co fundamental questions: What
is rhe nature of the world? Whar is ir ,nade of-one kind of scuff or ,nany kinds?
Does rhe ,vorld have an origin or has it always existed? Why is the world rhe ,vay
it is? What ,nakes things happen-gods, magic, or something else? What is rhe
reality behind rhe appearances of reality? Their answers ,vere generally drawn fro,n
1nyrhology and rradirion, from old stories about rhe gods or from hand-me-down
lore and law. But rhe first philosophers-called pre-Socratics because most of the,n
came before Socrates (fifth century BCE)-refused to rake th is parh. It is mosrly
rheir way of seeking answers about the world, rather rhan the answers the,nselves,
char distinguished chem and 1nade chem rhe first philosophers. Once chis philo-
sophical fire was lie, ir spread co lacer thinkers in rhe ancient ,vorld, a period of
about a thousand years, from approximately 600 BCE co around 500 CE. Ir ,vas in
chis era char Western phi losophy first established itself, defined almost all irs main
areas of study, and gave us philosophica l heroes (most notably, Socrates, Plaro, and
Arisrorle) who continue co inAuence our ch inking on imporranr ideas and issues.
So,ne of rhe more notable pre-Socratics:
Thales (c. 625-547 BCE). Accord ing co tradition, Thales ,vas rhe first philoso-
pher. In ancient Greece he and his new ,vay of chinking garnered a great deal of
Figure 1.6 Thales of Miletus (c. 625-547 ace).
respect for an odd reason: he ,vas
said co have predicted rhe solar
eclipse of 585 BCE and co have
derived his prediction ,virhour
appeals to divine or orherworldly
forces. On th is account he has
also been called rhe first scienrisr,
for in chose ri,nes rhere ,vas no
clear distinction between philos-
ophy and science. Thales’ grearesr
conrriburion to both philosophy
and science ,vas his method. He
sec out co look for natural-nor
myth ic-explanations for natu-
ral pheno,nena, and he insisted
char such accounts be as simple
as possible, preferably accounting
for everyth ing by positing a sin-
gle substance or element. This, as
it turns our, is also rhe preferred
approach of ,nodern science.

Empedocks (c. 495- c. 435 BCE). In
rhe ninereenrh century Charles Danvin
propounded rhe theory of biological
evolution, explaining char evolution op-
erates through whar he called “natural
selection.” The basic ourlines of natural
selection, however, didn’t originate ,virh
Darwin. They ,vere first arriculared in
rough fonn rwenry-five centuries ago by
a pre-Socratic philosopher na,ned Em-
pedodes. Using observation and imagi-
nation, Empedocles ,nainrained char
an i,nals were nor created whole by a deiry
and placed on rhe earrh-rhey evolved.
Parmenides (c. 515-450 BCE). Par-
menides ,vas rhe ,nose groundbreaking
and inAuenrial philosopher of rhe pre-
Socrarics. We know lirrle about his life-
nor much more rhan char he lived in Elea
(a Greek colony on rhe southern coast of
Italy) and raughr rhe famous master of par-
adoxes, Zeno. We also kno,v char through
rhe centuries he won rhe arrenrion and ad-
miration of several eminent thinkers, fro,n
Plato co Plutarch co Hegel. Like rhe ocher
pre-Socratics, he conrribured more co rhe
shape of philosophica l inquiry rhan co its
conrenr. Parmenides’ clai,n co fame rests
mosrly on his sysremaric e1nploy1nenr of
deductive argu,nenr. He seems co have
been rhe first thinker outside rhe field of
marhe,narics co reason deductively and
consisrenrly from basic premises co inrer-
esring conclusions. In rhe process, he ce-
mented basic distinctions char have been
essential co philosophica l inquiry co chis
day. For one rhing, he conrrasred reason
and rhe senses. He contended char knowl-
edge of rhe world could be acquired only
through reason, only through a deductive
chain of reasoning such as he himself used.
Figure 1.7 Empedocles
(c. 49x. 435 see).
Socrates and the Examined Life 13
The senses, however, were unreliable. Fig. 1.8 Parmenides (c. 515-450 see).

14 Chapter 1 Philosophy and You
Red11ctio ad abs11rdu111
is an argumcnr form in
which a set of statements
to be proved false is as·
sumed, and absurd or false
statements arc deduced
from the set as a whole}
showing that the original
statement must be false.
Socrates uses his famous question-and-anS\ver approach to prove that Thrasy-
machus’s defin ition of justice is \vrong. In particular, he applies a common form of
argument called redttctio ad absurdu»z. (Other argument forms are discussed in the
following section.) The basic idea behind it is if you assume that a set of statements
is true, and yet you can deduce a false or absurd statement from it, then the original
set of statements as a whole must be false. So, in the preceding d ialogue, Socrates
says in effect, Let’s assume that Thrasymachus is right that justice is whatever is in
the interest of the powerful, and that people are just if they obey the laws made by
the powerful. It is clear, ho\vever, that the powerful sometimes make mistakes and
demand obedience to la\vS that are not in their best interest. So if Thrasymachus’s
definition of justice is correct, then it is right for people to do what is in the interest
of the po\verful, and it is also right to do \vhat is not in the interest of the powerful.
H is idea of justice then leads to a logical contradiction and is therefore false.
1. Could the execution of someone for saying unpopular things happen
in this country? Why or why not? Are there countries in the \vorld
where such things happen regu larly? Is the execution of someone for
his or her offensive speech ever justified? Explain.
2. What do you think Socrates would think about modern consumer
3. Socrates is often regarded as the noblest of the great philosophers.
Is this opinion justified? Why or why not?
4. Write an imaginary Socratic dialogue benveen yourself and a friend .
Imagine that your friend declares, “Everyone lies. No one ever tells the
truth,” and you want to sho\v that those statements are false.
5. Write a Socratic dialogue between two fictional characters. Imagine
that the opening statement is, “C.ourresy to others is always a cynical
attempt to serve your own interests. Respect for people has nothing to
do with courtesy.”
As we have seen, to think philosophically is to bring your po\vers of critical reasoning
to bear on fundamental questions. When you do this, you are usually clarifying the
meaning of concepts, constructing and evaluating philosophical theories, or devis-
ing and evaluating logical arguments. This latter task constitutes the principal labor
of philosophy. Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, and other great thinkers do not
deliver their philosophical insights to us without argument, as if we are automatically
to accept their vie\vS \Vith no questions asked. Philosophers provide reasons for think-
ing their ideas are plausible-that is, they give us arguments. And if we believe what

Thinking Philosophically 15
they say, it should be because there are good reasons for doing so. Like\vise, if we
expect intelligent people co accept our philosophical vie\vS, \Ve must argue our case.
Since the philosophy we read \vill most likely contain arguments, our understand-
ing of the text will hang on our abil ity co identify and understand chose arguments.
Reasons and Arguments
As you might have guessed, the term argument does not refer co heated d isagreemenrs
or emotional squabbles. An argument is a group of statements in \vhich one of chem
is meant co be supported by the others. A statement (or claim) is an assertion chat
something is or is not the case and is therefore the kind of utterance chat is either
true or false. In an argument, the statement being supported is the con clusion , and
the scacemenrs supporting the conclusion are the premises. The premises are meant
co provide reasons for believing chat the conclusion is true. A good argument gives
us good reasons for accepting a conclusion; a bad argument fails co provide good
reasons. In philosophy-and in any ocher kind of rational inqui ry-accepting a
conclusion (statement) \Vithout good reasons is an elementary mistake in reasoning.
Believing a statement without good reasons is a recipe for error; believing a statement
for good reasons increases your chances of uncovering the truth.
When we do philosophy, then, we are likely at some point co be grappling with
argumenrs-we are trying co either (1) devise an argument co support a statement
or (2) evaluate an argument co see if there really are good reasons for accepting irs
Note chat argument in the sense used here is not synony-
mous with pem,asion. An argument provides us with reasons
for accepting a claim; it is an attempted “proof” for an asser-
tion. But persuasion does not necessarily involve giving any
reasons at all for accepting a claim. To persuade is co influence
people’s opinions, \vhich can be accomplished by offering a
good argument but also by misleading with logical fallacies,
exploiting emotions and prejudices, dazzling with rhetori-
cal gimmicks, hiding or distorting the faces, threatening or
coercing people-the list is long. Good arguments prove
something \vhether or not they persuade. Persuasive ploys
can change minds but do not necessarily prove anything.
No\v consider these nvo simple arguments:
Argument 1
It’s wrong to take the life of an innocent person.
Abortion takes the life of an innocent person.
Therefore abortion is wrong.
An a.rgume.nt is a state·
men, coupled wh h o,her
statements that arc meant
to supporr that statement.
A s tatement (claim) is an
asscrrio n that something
is o r is not the case and L~
therefore the kind of urrer-
ancc that is either true or
false. A conclusion is the
sra,emen, being suppon ed.
A premise is a sratcmcnt
supporting the conclusion.
God does not exist. After a ll , most college
students believe that that is the case.
Figure 1.9 Hit ler was a master persuader, relying not
on good arguments but on emotional rhetoric. How
many people today would be persuaded by a contem-
porary politician w ith Hitler’s rhetorical talents?

16 Chapter 1 Philosophy and You
Philosophy asks ,he simple
question, what is it all
-Alfred North \’qhicehead
II I II I II 111111111111 Ill II I II I II I II I II Ill 1111111
Do you live an examined life? The follo,ving srarements express some fundamenral
beliefs-beliefs char countless people have bur may never have thought much abour.
Read each sraremenr and select che ones char you sincerely believe. Then rry ro recall
if you have ever seriously questioned these beliefs. (Passing thoughts and idle revelry
do not counr.) Be honesr. This liule experiment could be very revealing-and help-
ful as you chink abour your life and values.
I. God exists and ,varches over me.
2. God somerimes answers prayers.
3. There is a heaven.
4. I have both a body and an im morral soul.
5. My emotions are not under my control; rhey just happen.
6. It is ,vrong co criticize ocher cultures.
7. It is ,vrong co judge or her people’s acrions.
8. The mora l principles chat I ,vas raised ro bel ieve are the right ones.
9. Political conservatives are wrong about most issues.
10. Political liberals are wrong about most issues.
11. I make free choices; all my decisions are up co me.
12. I can come ro kno,v some things by faith alone.
13. My emotions are my best guide co what is morally right or ,vrong.
14. People are basically bad.
15. People are basically good.
In Argument I, the conclusion is “abortion is wrong,” and it is backed by nvo
premises: “Ir’s ,vrong to take the life of an innocent person” and “Abortion takes the
life of an innocent person.” In Argument 2, the conclusion is “God does not exist,”
,vhich is supported by the premise “After all, most college students believe that that
is the case.” D espite the differences between these nvo passages (differences in con-
tent, the number of premises, and the order of their parts) , they are both arguments
because they exemplify basic argument struc ture: a conclusion supported by at least
one premise.
Though the compo nenrs of an a rgument seem clea r enough, people often fail to
distinguish benveen a rgumenrs and stro ng statemenrs that contain no arg uments at
all. Suppose we change Argument I into this:
Abortion is wrong. I can’ t believe how many people think it’s morally
okay. The world is insane.
Now there is no a rgument, just an expression of exasperat io n or anger. There are
no statements giving us reasons to believe a conclusio n. What we have are some un-
suppo rted assertions that may merely appear to make a case. If we ig no re the distinc-
tion between genuine arguments and nonargumentative material, critical reasoning
is undo ne.

Thinking Philosophically 17
The simplest way co locate an argument is co find its conclusion first, then its
premises. Zeroing in on conclusions and premises can be a lot easier if you keep an
eye out for indicator uJords. Indicator words often tag along \vich arguments and
indicate that a conclusion or premise may be nearby.
Here are a fe\v conclusion indicator \vords:
it follows chat
as a result
\vhich means chat
Here are some premise indicator words:
in view of the fact assuming chat
because since
due co the face that for
inasmuch as given that
Just remember chat indicator words do not guarantee the presence of conclusions
and premises. They are simply telltale signs.
Assuming we can recognize an argument when we see it, ho\v can we cell ifit is a
good one? Fortunately, the general criteria for judging the merirs of an argument are
simple and clear. A good argument-one chat gives us good reasons for believing a
claim-muse have (1) solid logic and (2) true premises. Requirement (1) means chat
the conclusion should follow logically from the premises, chat there muse be a proper
logical connection between the supporting scacemenrs and the statement supported.
Requirement (2) says chat what the premises assert must in fact be the case. An argu-
ment that fails in either respect is a bad argument.
There are two basic kinds of arguments-deductive and inductive-and our
two requirements hold for both of chem, even though the logical connect ions in
each type are distinct. Deductive arguments are incende.d co give logically conclusive
support co t heir conclusions so chat if the premises are true, the conclusion absolutely
must be true. Argument I is a deductive argument and is therefore supposed co be
const ructed so that if the two premises are true, its conclusion cannot possibly be
false. Here it is with irs structure laid bare:
Argument 1
1. It’s wrong to take the life of an innocent person.
2. Abortion takes the li fe of an innocent person.
3. Therefore, abortion is wrong.
Do you see that, given the form or structure of this argument, if the premises
are true, then the conclusion has to be true? It would be very strange-illogical, in
fact-to agree that the two premises are true but that the conclusion is false.
One’s philosophy is not
best expressed in words; it
is expressed in chc cho ices
one makes . .. and the
choices we make arc ultim~
arcly out responsibility.
-£lea.nor Roosevelt
6 Recall some state-
ments that you have
heard or read in which
st rong assert ions were
made but no argument
was presented. Did the
assert ions prove any-
thi ng? What was your
reaction at the t i me?
Were you persuaded or
impressed by them?
A deductive argument is
an argument intended to
give logically conclusive
support to its conclusion.

18 Chapter 1 Philosophy and You
Philosophy, when super-
ficially studied, excite.< doubt; when thoroughly explored, it dispels it. -Francis Bacon An inductive argume.nt is an argument intended to give probable support ro its conclusion. Now look at this one: Argument 3 1. All dogs are mammals. 2. Rex is a dog. 3. Therefore, Rex is a mammal. Again, there is no way for the premises to be true while the conclusion is false. The deductive form of the argument guarantees this. So a deductive argument is intended to have this sort of airtight st ructure. If it actually does have th is structure, it is said to be valid. Argument I is deductive because it is intended to provide logically conclusive support to its conclusion. It is valid because, as a matter of fact, it does offer this kind of support. A deductive argu- ment that fails to provide conclusive support to its conclusion is said to be invalid. In such an argument, it is possible for the premises to be true and the conclusion false. Argument 3 is intended to have a de.ductive form, and because it actually does have this form, the argument is also valid. An elementary fact about deductive arguments is that their valid ity (or lack thereof) is a separate issue from the truth of the premises. Validity is a structural matter, depending on how an argument is put together. Truth concerns the nature of the claims made in the premises and conclusion. A deductive argument is sup- posed to be built so that if the premises are true, the conclusion must be true-but in a particular case, the premises might not be true. A valid argument can have true or false premises and a true or false conclusion. (By defin ition, of course, it cannot have true premises and a false conclusion.) In any case, being invalid or having false premises dooms a deductive argument. Inductive arguments are supposed to give probable support to their conclusions. Unlike deductive argumenrs, they are not designe.d to support their conclusions deci- sively. They can establish only that, if their premises are true, their conclusions are probably true (more likely to be true than not). Argument 2 is an inductive argu- ment meant to demonstrate the probable truth that "God does not exist." Like all in- ductive arguments (and unlike deductive ones), it can have true premises and a false conclusion. So it's possible for the sole premise-"After all, most college studenrs bel ieve that that is the case"-to be true while the conclusion is false. If inductive argumenrs succee.d in lending very probable support to their conclu- sions, they are said to be strong. Strong arguments are such that if their premises are true, their conclusions are very probably true. If they fail to provide th is probable support, they are terme.d iueak. Argument 2 is a weak argument because its prem- ise, even if true, does not show that more likely than not God does not exist. What college st udenrs (or any other group) believe about God does not constit ute good evidence for or against God's existence. But consider this inductive argument: Argument 4 1. Eighty-five percent of the students at th is univers ity are Republicans. 2. Sonia is a student at this university. 3. Therefore, Sonia is probably a Republican. Thinking Philosophically 19 This argument is strong. If its premises are true, irs conclusion is likely to be true. If 85 percent of the university's students are Republicans, and Sonia is a university student, she is more likely than not to be a Republican too. When a valid (deductive) argument has true premises, it is a good argument. A good deductive argument is said to be sound. Argument I is valid, but we cannot say whether it is sound until ,ve determine the t ruth of the premises. Argument 3 is valid, and if its premises are true, it is sound. When a st rong (inductive) argument has true premises, it is also a good argument. A good inductive argument is said to be cogent. Argument 2 is ,veak, so there is no way it can be cogent. Argument 4 is st rong, and if irs premises are t rue, it is cogent. Checking the validity or strength of an argument is often a plain, commonsense undertaking. Using our natural reasoning ability, ,ve can examine ho,v the premises are linked to the conclusion and can see quickly whether the conclusion follows from the premises. We are most likely to make an easy job of it when the argumenrs are simple. Many times, ho,vever, we need some help, and help is available in the form of methods and guidel ines for evaluating arguments. Having a fam il iarity with common argument patterns, or forms, is especially useful ,vhen assess ing the validity of deductive argumenrs. We are likely to encoun- ter these forms again and again. Here is a prime example: Argument 5 1. If the surgeon operates, then the patient will be cured. 2 . The surgeon is operating. 3. Therefore, the patient will be cured. This argument form contains a conditional premise-that is, a premise consist- ing of a conditional, or if-then, statement (actually a compound statement composed of nvo constituent statements). Premise 1 is a conditional statement. A conditional statement has two parrs: the part beginning with if (called the antecedent), and the part beginning ,vith then (known as the consequent). So the antecedent of Premise 1 is "If the surgeon operates," and the consequent is "then the patient will be cured." The best ,vay to appreciate the structure of such an argument (or any deductive ar- gument, for that matter) is to t ranslate it into traditional argument symbols in ,vhich each statement is symbolized by a letter. Here is the symbolization for Argument 5: , . If p, then q. 2 . p. 3. Therefore, q. We can see that p represenrs "the surgeon operates," and q represents "the patient wi ll be cured." But notice that we can use this same symbolized argument form to represent countless other arguments-arguments with different statemenrs but hav- ing the same basic structure. It just so happens that the underlying argument form for Argument 5 is extremely common-common enough to have a name, modus ponens (or affirming the anteced- ent). The truly useful fact about modus ponens is that any argument having this form is valid. We can plug any statemenrs we ,vant into the formula and the result will be a valid argument, a circumstance in which if the premises are true, the conclusion must be true. Philosophy is like trying to o~n a safe w ith a com~ bination lock: each linle adjustmen, of the dials seems to achieve nothing, only when everything is in place docs the doo, open. -Ludwig \'7iugenstein 20 Chapter 1 Philosophy and You PH I LOSO PH ERS AT WORK Philosophy Takes on Racism So,ne people have no patience for philosophy's preoccupation ,vith conceptual anal- ysis, fine distinctions, and argument niceties- the fussy murmurings of pedants and bores, they might say. Bue chis attitude underesci,naces the power of philosophical precision and che good work it does on some of che weightiest issues of our rime. Consider the issue of racis,n, a 1nonscrous evil co d ispel from society and often a hard topic co discuss ,vichouc raising voices and elevating blood pressures. What can philosophy possibly say about ch is issue char could be helpful or en lightening? Apparently, a great dea l. The distinguished phi losopher Lawrence Blu,n, au- thor of che book "I'm Nor a Racist But . .. ", dra,vs anencion co che "conceptual in- Aacion" of che terms racist and racism. He and ocher scholars observe char che words are so overused and 1nisapplied chat they are losing their moral po,ver co indict and co sha,ne. Their reckless use causes 1nisunderscanding and resenunent. Blum says: Some feel that the word [racist] is thrown around so much that anything involving "race" that someone does not like is liable to castigation as "racist." ... A local newspaper called certain blacks "racist" for criticizing other blacks who s upported a white over a black candidate for mayor. A whi te girl in Virginia said that it was "racist" for an African American teacher in her school to wear African attire .... Merely mentioning someone's race (or racial designatio n), using the word "Oriental" for Asians without recog- nizing its origins and its capacity for insu lt, or socializing only with members of one's own racial group are called "racist.'" Blum cues through popular confusion about racis,n by offering a plausible definition of che word. All forms of racism, past and present, he says, involve cwo key elements: (I) an anicude or belief char another race is inferior or (2) antipathy (hatred, hoscilicy) coward char race. lnferiorizatio n is linked to historical racist doctrine and racist social systems. Slavery, segregatio n, imperiali sm, aparthe id, and Nazism all treated certain groups as inferior to other groups .... An equally prevalent argument form is modus to/lens (or denying the consequent). For example: Argument 6 1. If the dose is low, the n the healing is slow. 2. The healing is not slow. 3, Therefore, the dose is not low. Thinking Philosophically 21 Though race-based antipathy is less related to the original concept of "racism," today the term unequivocally encompasses racial bigotry, hostility, and hatred. Indeed, the racial bigot is many people's paradigm image of a "racist." . .. Historical systems of racism did of course inevitably involve racial antipathy as well as inferiorization. Hatred of Jews was cen- tral to Nazi philosophy; and it is impossible to understand Ameri- can racism without seeing hostility to blacks and Native Americans as integral to the nexus of attitudes and emotions that shored up slavery and segregation.t If racism ahvays involves either inferiorization or antipathy, as Blu,n argues, then 1nany actions that people call racist actually ,nay be so,neching else. Not every instance of racia l conflict, insensitivity, discomfort, miscommunication, exclusion, injustice, or ignorance should be called "racist." Not all racial incidents are racist incidents . . . . We need a more varied and nuanced moral vocabulary for talking about the domain of race .. . . All forms of racial ills should elicit concern from responsible individuals. If someone displays racial insensitiv- ity, but not racism, people should be able to see that for what it is) Blum is careful co point out chat we can't conclude from this "conceptual inflation" chat racism and inequa lity have been overstated. Indirect or veiled racism, he says, is likely worse chan ,ve ,n ight think. The point here is not chat Blum is right about racism (he may or ,nay not be), but chat ph ilosophica l th inking like chis is powerful and can yield very useful in- sights into real problems. • Lawrence Blum, "I'm Not a Racist B11t . . . :" 7he Moral Quandary of Race {Ithaca, NY: Cornell Universiry Press, 2002), 1- 2. l Blum, 8. I Blum, 9. ···························································································································•••;yl'-. .. ,,. , . If p, then q. 2. Not q. 3. Therefore, not p. Modus tollens is also a valid form, and any argument using this form must also be valid. • 22 Chapter 1 Philosophy and You 7 Before read ing this chapter, would you have found any of the invalid argument forms persuasive? Why or why not? The essence of philosophy is that a man should so live that his happiness shall depend as little as possible on external things. -Epictetus There are a lso common argument forms that are invalid. Here a re two of them: Argument 7 (Affirming the Consequent) 1. If the mind is an immaterial substance, then ESP is rea l. 2. ESP is rea l. 3- Therefore, the mind is an immaterial substance. 1. If p, then q. 2. q. 3- Therefore, p. Argument 8 (Denying the Antecedent) 1. If morality is relative to persons (that is, if moral rightness or wrongness depends on what people believe), then moral disagree- ment between persons would be nearly imposs ible. 2. But morality is not relative to persons. 3- Therefore, moral disagreement between persons is not nearly imposs ible. 1. If p, then q. 2. Not p. 3- Therefore, not q. The advantage of being able to recognize these and other common a rgument forms is that you can use that skill to readily determine the validity of many deduc- tive arguments. You kno\v, for example, that any a rgument having the same form as modus ponens or modus to/lens must be valid, and any argument in one of the com- mon invalid forms must be invalid. Inductive arguments also have distinctive forms, and being fam iliar with the forms can help you evaluate the arguments. In enumerative induction, we arrive at a generalization about an enti re g roup of things after observing just some members of the g roup. C,onsider these: Argument9 Every formatted disk I have bought from the computer store is defective. Therefore, a ll formatted d isks sold at the computer store are probably defective. Argument 10 All the hawks in th is wild li fe sanctuary that I have observed have had red tai ls. Therefore, all the hawks in this sanctuary probably have red tails. Argument 11 Sixty percent of the Bostonians I have interviewed in various parts of the city are pro-choice. Therefore, 60 percent of a ll Bostonians are probably pro·choice. As you can see, enumerative induction has this form: X percent of the observed members of group A have property P. Therefore, X percent of all members of group A probably have property P. Thinking Philosophically 23 The observed members of the group are simply a sample of the entire group. So based on what we know about this sample, \Ve can generalize to all the members. But how do \Ve kno\v \vhether such an argument is strong? Everything depends on the sample. If the sample is large enough and representative enough, \Ve can safely assume that our generalization dra\vn from the sample is probably an accurate reflec- tion of the whole group of members. A sample is represen tative of an entire group only if each member of the group has an equal chance of being in the sample. In general, the larger the sample, the greater the probability that it accur- ately reflects the nature of the group as a \vhole. Often common sense tells us when a sample is too small. VALID AND INVALID ARGUMENT FORMS VALID ARGUMENT FORMS Affirming the Antecedent (Modus Ponens) If p, then q. p . Therefore, q. Example: If Spot barks, a burglar is in the house. Spot is barking. Therefore, a burglar is in t he house. INVALID ARGUMENT FORMS Denying the Consequent (Modus To/lens) If p, then q. Not q. Therefore, not p. Example: If Spot barks, a burglar is in the house. A burglar is not in the house. Therefore, Spot is not barking. Affirming the Consequent Denying the Antecedent If p, then q. If p, then q. q . Not p. Therefore, p. Therefore, not q. Example: Example: If t he cat is on t he mat, she is asleep. If the cat is on the mat, she is asleep. She is asleep. She is not on the mat. Therefore, she is on t he mat. Therefore, she is not asleep. 24 Chapter 1 Philosophy and You We do not kno\v ho\v many formatted disks from the computer store are in the sample mentioned in Argument 9. But if the number is several dozen and the disks \vere bought over a period of weeks or months, the sample is probably sufficiently large and representative. If so, the argument is strong. Like\vise, in Argument 10 \Ve don't kno\v the size of the sample or ho\v it was obtained. But if the sample \vaS taken from all the likely spots in the sanctuary where hawks live, and if several hawks \Vere ob- served in each location, the sample is probably adequate-and the argument is strong. In Argument 11, if the sample consists of a handful of Bostonians intervie\ved on a few street corners, the sample is definitely inadequate and the argument is weak. But if the sample consists of several hundred people, and if every member of the whole group has an equal chance of being included in the sample, then the sample would be good enough to allo\v us to accurately generalize about the whole population. Typically, se- lecting such a sample of a large population is done by professional polling organizations. In the argument form kno\vn as analogical induction (or argument by analogy), \Ve reason in this fashion: T\vO or more th ings are similar in several ways; therefore, they are probably similar in one further \vay. Consider this argument: Argument 12 Humans can walk upright, use simple tools, learn new skill s, and devise deductive arguments. Figure 1.10 How much is a watch like the uni- verse? Everything depends on the relevant simi- larit ies and differences. Chimpanzees can walk upright, use s imple tools, and learn new ski ll s. Therefore, chimpanzees can probably devise deduc- tive arguments. This argument says that because chimpanzees are simi- lar to humans in several respects, they probably are similar to humans in one further respect. Here's an argument by analogy that has become a classic in philosophy: Argument 13 A watch is a complex mechanism with many parts that seem arranged to achieve a specific purpose- a pur- pose chosen by the watch's designer. In s imilar fashion, the universe is a complex mecha- nism with many parts that seem arranged to achieve a specific purpose. Therefore, the universe must also have a des igner. We can represent the form of an argument by analogy in this way: X has properties P1 , P2, P3, plus the property P 4. Y has properties P1, P2, and P3, Therefore, Y probably has property P4. Thinking Philosophically 25 The strength of an analogical induction depends on the relevant similarities be- tween the two things compared. The more relevant similarities there are, the greater the probability that the conclusion is true. In Argument 12, several similarities are But there are some unmentioned diss imilarities. The brain of a chimpanzee is smaller and more primitive than that of a human, a difference that probably inhibirs higher intellectual functions such as logical argument. Argument 12, then, is ,veak. A common response co Argument 13 is chat the argument is weak because although the universe resembles a watch in some ,vays, in ocher ,vays it does not resemble a watch. Specifically, the universe also resembles a living thing. The thi rd type of inductive argument is kno,vn as inference to the best explanation (or abduction), a kind of reasoning chat ,ve all use daily and that is at the heart of scientific investigations. Recall chat an argument gives us reasons for believing that something is the case. An explanation, on the other hand, states how or ivhy some- thing is the case. It attempts co clarify or elucidate, not offer proof. For example: 1 . Megan definitely understood the material, for she could answer every question on the test. 2. Megan understood the materia l because she has a good memory. Sentence 1 is an argument. The conclusion is "Megan definitely understood the material," and the reason (premise) given for believing chat the conclusion is true is "for she could answer every question on the test." Sentence 2, though, is an expla- nation. It does not try co present reasons for believing something; it has nothing co prove. Instead, it tries co sho,v why something is the way it is (why Megan understood the material). Sentence 2 assumes chat Megan understood the material then cries co explain ,vhy. Sud, explanations play a crucial role in inference co the best explanation. In inference co the best explanation, we begin with premises about a phenom- enon or state of affairs co be explained. Then ,ve reason from chose premises co an explanation for chat state of affairs. We try co produce not just any old explanation, but the best explanation among several possibilities. The best explanation is the one most likely to be true. The conclusion of the argument is that the preferred explana- t ion is indee.d probably true. For example: Argument 14 Tariq flunked his philosophy course. The best explanation for his failure is that he didn't read the material. Therefore, he probably didn't read the material. Argument 15 Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the defendant was found with the murder weapon in his hand, blood on his clothes, and the victim's wallet in his pocket. We have an eyewitness putting the defendant at the scene of the crime. The best explanation for all these facts is that the defendant committed the murder. There can be very little doubt- he's gu il ty. The object of studying philosophy is to know one's own mind, not other people's. -Dean Inge 26 Chapter 1 Philosophy and You The true function of phil- osophy is to educate us in the principles of reasoning and not to put an end to fur ther reasoning by the introduction of fixed conclusions. -George Henry Lewes Here's the form of inference to the best explanation: Phenomenon Q. E provides the best explanation for Q. Therefore, it is probable that E is true. In any argument of this pattern, if the explanation given is really the best, then the argument is inductively strong. If the explanation is not the best, the argument is inductively weak. If the premises of the strong argument are t rue, then the argu- ment is cogent. If the argument is cogent, then we have good reason to bel ieve that the conclusion is true. The biggest challenge in using inference to the best explanation is determining ,vhich explanation is the best. Somet imes this feat is easy. If our car has a flat tire, we may quickly uncover the best explanation for such a state of affa irs. If we see a nail sticking out of the flat and there is no obvious evidence of tampering or of any other extraordinary cause (that is, there are no good alternative explanations), we may safely conclude that the best explanation is that a nail punctu red the tire. In more complicated situations, we may need to do ,vhat scientists do to evalu- ate explanations, or theories-use special criteria to sort through the possibilities. Scientists call these standards the criteria of adequacy. Despite this fancy name, these criteria are basically just common sense, standards that you have probably used yourself. One of these criteria is cal led conservatism. This criterion says that, all things being equal, the best explanation or theory is the one that fits best ,vith what is al ready kno,vn or established. For example, if a friend of yours says-in all seriousness-that she can fly to the moon ,vithout using any kind of rocket or spaceship, you probably ,vouldn't bel ieve her (and might even think that she needed psychiatric help). Your rea- sons for doubting her would probably rest on the criterion of conservatism-that ,vhat she says conflicts with everything science knows about spaceflight, human anatomy, aerodynamics, la,vs of nature, and much more. It is logically possible that she really can fly to the moon, but her claim's lack of conservatism (the fact that it conflicts ,vith so much of ,vhat we already know about the ,vorld) casts serious doubt on it. Here is another useful criterion for judging the worth of explanations: simplicity. Other things being equal, the best explanation is the one that is the simplest-that is, the one that rests on the fe,vest assumptions. The theory making the fe,vest assump- tions is less likely to be false because there are fewer ,vays for it to go ,vrong. In the example about the flat tire, one possible (but strange) explanation is that space aliens punctured the tire. You probably ,vouldn't put much credence in this explanation be- cause you ,vould have to assume too many unknown entities and processes-namely, space al iens ,vho have come from who-kno,vs-,vhere using who-knows-what methods to move about and puncture your ti res. The nail-in-the-tire theory is much simpler (it assumes no unknown entities or processes) and is therefore much more likely to be true. When you are carefully reading an argument (whether in an essay or some other context), you ,viii be just as intereste.d in whether the premises are true as in whether the conclusion follows from the premises. If the ,vriter is conscientious, he or she Thinking Philosophically 27 will try to ensure that each premise is either well supported or in no need of sup- port (because the premise is obvious or agreed to by all parties). The needed support will come from the citing of examples, statistics, research, expert opinion, and other kinds of evidence or reasons. This arrangement means that each premise of the pri- mary argument may be a conclusion supported in turn by premises citing evidence or reasons. In any case, you as the reader \vill have to evaluate carefully the truth of all premises and the support behind them. Reading Philosophy Unfortunately, arguments in philosophical essays rarely come neatly labeled so you can find and evaluate them. You have to do that \vork yourself, a task that requ ires careful reading and th inking. The process can be challenging because in the real world, a rgumenrs can be s imple or complex, clearly stated or perplexing, and apparent or hidden. This is true for philosophical essays as well as for any other kind of \vriting that contains arguments. In some philosophical prose, the relationship between the conclusion (or conclusions) and the premises can be complicated, and even good arguments can be surrounded by material irrelevant to the arguments at hand. The remedy for these difficulties is instructive examples and plenty of practice, some of which you can get in this chapter. Let's begin by identifying and analyzing the argument in the following passage. The issue is whether humans have free will or are compelled by forces beyond their control to act as they do (a topic we take up in Chapter 5). The statemenrs are num- bered for ease of reference. (1) The famous trial lawyer Clarence Darrow (1857- 1938) made a name for himself by using the "determinism defense" to get his clients acquitted of serious crimes. (2) The crux of this approach is the idea that humans are not reall y responsible for anything they do because they cannot choose freely- they are "determined," predes- tined, if you will , by nature (or God) to be the way they are. (3) So in a sense, Darrow says, humans are like wind-up toys with no control over any action or decision. (4) They have no free will. (S) Remember that Darrow was a renowned agnostic who was skeptical of all reli - gious claims. (6) But Darrow is wrong about human free wi ll for two reasons. (7) First, in our everyday moral life, our own commonsense experience suggests that sometimes people are free to make moral decisions. (8) We should not abandon what our commonsense ex- perience tells us without good reason- and (9) Darrow has given us no good reason. (10) Second, Darrow's determinism is not con- fi rmed by science, as he claims- but actually conflicts with science. (11) Modern science says that there are many things (at the subatom- ic level of matter) that are not determined at all : (12) they just happen. Indicator words are scarce in this argument, unless you count the words "fi rst" and "second" as signifying premises. But the conclusion is not hard to find; it's 28 Chapter 1 Philosophy and You Statement 6: "Darrow is \vrong about human free \viii for nvo reasons." Locating the conclusion enables us to see that some statements (Statements 1 through 4) are neither conclusion nor premises; they a re just background information on Darrow's views. Most argumentative essays contain some supplemental in- formation like th is. Statement 5 is irrelevant to the argument; Darrow's agnosticism has no logical connection to the premises or conclusion. Statement 12 is just a reword ing of Statement 11. After this elimination process, only the following premises and conclusion (Statement 6) remain: (6) But Darrow is wrong about human free will for two reasons. (7) Fi rst, in our everyday moral life, our own common- sense experience suggests that sometimes people are free to make moral decis ions. Figure 1.11 Clarence Darrow (1857-1938). (8) We should not abandon what our commonsense expe- rience tell s us without good reason. Philosophy is a kind of jo urney, ever learning yet never arriving at the ideal perfection of truth. -Albert Pike (9) Darrow has given us no good reason. (10) Darrow's determinism is not confirmed by science, as he claims- but actually conAicts with science. (11) Modern science says that there are many th ings (at the subatomic level) that are not determined at all. Statements 7 through 11 are the premises. They are all meant to provide support to Statement 6, but thei r support is of unequal weight. Statement 10 gives indepen- dent support to the conclusion without the help of any other premises, so it is an independent premise. We can say the same thing about Statement 11; it too is an independent premise. But notice that Statemenrs 7, 8, and 9 are dependent premises supporting the conclusion. That is, taken separately, they are weak, but together they constitute a plaus ible reason for accepting Statement 6. Statement 10 directly sup- porrs the conclusion and in turn is supported by Premise 11. Now take a look at th is passage: (1) As the Is lamic clerics cling to power in Iran, students there are agita ting for greater freedom and less suppression of views that the clerics d islike. (2) Even though ultimate power in Iran rests with the mu llahs, it is not at a ll certain where the nation is headed. Here's a rad ical suggestion: (3) the Is lamic republic in Iran will fall within the next five years. Why do I say this? (4) Because the majority of Iranians are in favor of democratic reforms, (5) and no regime can stand for very long when citizens are demanding access to the political pro- cess. (6) Also, Iran today is a mirror image of the Soviet Union before it broke apart- there's widespread d issatisfaction and d issent at a time when the regime seems to be trying to hold the people's loyalty. Thinking Philosophically 29 PHILOSOPHERS AT WORK Hypatia Hypacia (c. 370-415) was the greatest philosopher of her day. She lived in che Greek cicy of Alexandria, ,vhich in the fourth century was che incelleccual epicen- ter of che ,vorld, excelling in scientific and philosophical learning. Jc also ,vas the home of the famed Library, which contained thousands of scholarly manuscripts dra,vn fro,n the best thinkers of ancient times, including che works of Pla- Figure 1.12 Hypatia (c. 370-415). to and Ariscocle. In chis rich environment, Hypacia achieved fame as a Neoplaconisc philosophy teacher, an astronomer, and a mathematician. Ac around age C\Vency- five or thirty she became the director of che school of the reno,vned philosopher Plocinus-a very high honor, since women were cradicionally noc appointed co such offices. Another indication of her sterling reputation ,vas chat she was appointed by a Christian govenunenc even though she was known co be a pagan. She caught che works of che "pagan" philosophers such as Plato and Aristocle, and students ca,ne from far-Aung places for che privilege of being her students. She also is thought to have ,vricren three commentaries on noted mache,natical treatises. In 415, she ,vas brutally murdered by a mob of Christian zealots. She ,vas pulled from her chariot, hauled to a church, stripped naked, and skinned alive ,vith oyster shells. (7) Every nation that has taken such a path has imploded within five years. (8) Finally, the o ld Iranian trick of ga ining support for the government by fomenting hatred of America will not work anymore (9) because Iran is now trying to be friends with the United States. The conclusion is Statement 3, and the premises are Statements 4 th rough 9. The fi rst nvo statements are extraneous. Statements 4 and 5 are dependent premises and so are Statements 6 and 7. Statements 8 and 9 constitute an a rgument chat gives sup- port to the passage's main conclusion (Statement 3). Statement 8 is the conclusion; Statement 9, the premise. Notice also that the sentence "Why do I say this?" is not a statement. So remember: When you read a philosophical essay, you are not simply trying to glean some facts from it as you might if you were reading a science text or tech- n ical report. Neither are you follo,ving a storyline as if you were reading a mystery novel (though philosophy papers sometimes contain their share of mysteries). In most cases, you are tracing the steps in an argument, trying to see ,vhat conclusion the ,vriter wants to prove and whether she succee.ds in proving it. Along the way, you 8 Suppose you are presented with written material containing statements and argu- ments that strike you as irreverent or un- orthodox. Would you be able to read such a text with an open mind? Can you recall a case in which you did just that? 30 Chapter 1 Philosophy and You Small amounts of philoso· phy lead to arhcism, but larger amounts bring us back to God. -Francis Bacon II I II I II 111111111111 II I II I II I II I II I II Ill I 111111 may encounter several premises with their accompanying analyses, clarifications, explanations, and examples. You may even run into a whole chain of arguments. In che end, if you have read \veil and che \vricer has \vriccen \veil, you are left not \vich a ne\v sec of data or a story ending, but a realization-maybe even a revelation-that a conclusion is, or is not, worthy of bel ief. The best way co learn how co read philosophy \veil is co read philosophy often. You wi ll probably gee plenty of chances co do chat in your current philosophy course. Having a fe\v rules co guide you in your reading, however, may help shorten che learning curve. As you read, keep che follo\ving in mind. 1. Approach the text with an open mind. If you are studying philosophy for che first time, you are likely-at lease at first-co find a good bit of che material diffi- culc, strange, or exasperating, sometimes all three at once. That's normal. Philosophy is an exploration of che rugged frontiers of our kno\vledge of fundamental th ings, so much of chis new territory is likely co seem daunting or unfamiliar. There's also an excellent chance chat your first visits co this terrain will be vexing, perhaps even infuriating, because you may sometimes disagree \vich what you read. There is no shame in experiencing any of these reactions. They come with che territory. Bue if you are co make any head\vay in philosophy, you need co try your best co counteract these attitudes and feelings. Remember, philosophy at ics best is a fa ir-minded, fearless search for t ruth. Anything chat interferes with this noble quest muse be overcome and case as ide. Avoid making a judgment about an essay's ideas or arguments until you fully un- derstand them and have fairly considered them. Make sure you are not reading with che intent co prove che conclusions false (or true). Be open co che possibil ity that che essay could give you good reasons co change your mind about something. Try co maintain a neutral attitude coward the \vricer, presuming neither that she is right nor wrong, neither sinner nor saint. Don't assume chat everything a renowne.d philosopher says muse be true, and don't presuppose that everything a philosopher you dislike says muse be false. Give the writer the same attention and respect chat you would give a friend who is discussing a serious issue with you. If you are reading che work of a famous philosopher and you find yourself think- ing chat his or her ideas are obviously silly or ridiculous, think again. The odds are good that you are misunderstanding what you read. Jc is wiser co assume chat the cexc offers something of value (even if you disagree with it) and that you need co read more carefully. 2. Read actively and critically. Philosophical reading is incense. Jc cannot be rushed. Jc cannot be cramme.d. Jc cannot be done while your mind is on automatic pilot. Philosophical reading is active reading. Instead of reading just co gee through a piece of writing, you muse cake your time and ask yourself what key terms and passages mean, ho\v che argument is structured, what the central thesis is, \vhere che premises are, how certain key ideas are related, whether che main conclusion conflicts \vich propositions you know are true, even how che material compares with ocher philosophical writing on the same subject. Thinking Philosophically 31 PHILOSOPHERS AT WORK Early Women Philosophers: Themistoclea, Arignote, and Theano Among the pre-Socratics, Pythagoras (c. 550- 500 BCE) is the most fa,nous (he gave us the Pythagorean theorem, a geo,netry-dass staple) and possibly the ,nose influ- ential. He inspired a long line of followers-Pythagoreans-dating fron1 the sixth century BCE ,veil into the ne,v rnillennium. What isn't so ,vell kno,vn is char n1any of these followers were ,vomen, distinguished philosophers in their own right. Here is pare of Mary Ellen Waithe's discussion of three of the,n: The ancient sources indicate that women were active in early Pythagorean societies and may have played a central role in the development of early Pythagorean philosophy. Diogenes Laertius reports that: Aristonexus asserts that Pythagoras derived the greater part of his ethical doctrines from Themistoclea, the priestess of Delphi. Earl y Pythagoreans viewed the cosmos or universe as orderly and harmonious. Everything bears a particular mathematica l relation- ship to everything else. Harmony and order exist when things are in their proper relationship to each other. This relationship can be expressed as a mathematical proportion. One of the "sacred discourses" is attributed to Pythagoras' daughter, Arignote. According to Arignote: The eternal essence of number is the most providential cause of the whole heaven, earth and region in between. Likewise it is the root of the continued existence of the gods and daimones, as well as that of divine men. Arignote's comment is consistent with one attributed to her mother, Theano of Crotona, in that all that exists, all that is rea l can be distinguished from other things through enumeration. The eternal essence of number is a lso directly related to the harmoni - ous coexistence of different things. This harmony can be expressed as a mathematica l relationship. In these two ways, number is the cause of all things .* • Mary Ellen Waithe, "Early Pythagoreans," in A History of\'(fome11 Philosophers (Dordrccht, The Netherlands: Marrinus Nijhoff, 1987), 11- 12. 32 Chapter 1 Philosophy and You Philosophical reading is also critical reading. In critical reading, you ask not just \vhat something means but whether a statement is true and if the reasoning is solid. You ask if the conclusion really follows from the premises, \vhether the premises are true, if the analysis of a term really makes sense, if an argument has been overlooked, if an analogy is weak, whether there are counterexamples to key claims, and \vhether the claims agree with other things you have good reason to believe. 3. Identify the conclusion first, t hen t he premises. When you first begin reading philosophical texts, they may seem to you like dark thickets of proposi- tions into \vhich you may not enter without losing you r way. But your situation is really not that bad. In argumentative \vriting (the kind you are most likely to encounter in philosophy), you can depend on there being, \veil, an argument, a conclusion backed by premises. There could, of course, be several arguments that support the main argument, and the arguments could be complex, but these sets of conclusion-plus-premises wi ll all serve as recognizable guideposts. If you \Vant to penetrate the thicket, then, you must first identify the argument (or arguments). And the key to doing that is to find the conclusion first, then look for the premises. When you find the main conclusion, you thereby identify the main point of the essay, and you then have the number-one clue to the function of all the rest of the text. Once you uncover the point that the writer is trying to prove, finding the supporting premises becomes much easier. And when you isolate the premises, locating the text that explains and amplifies the premises gets easier too. Therefore, the first-and most important-question you can ask about a philosophical essay is, "What claim is the writer trying to prove?" 4. Outline, paraphrase, or summarize the argument. Understanding an essay's argument is so important that testing \vhether you really "get it" is crucial. You can test your grasp of the argument by outlining, paraphrasing, or summarizing it. If you can lay out an argument's premises and conclusion in an outline, or if you can accurately paraphrase or summarize the argument, you probably have a pretty good understanding of it. Very often studenrs who think they comprehend an argu- ment are surprised to see that they cannot devise an adequate outl ine or summary of it. Such failu res suggest that, although outl ining, paraphrasing, or summarizing may seem to some to be unnecessary, they are not-at least not to those who are ne\v to philosophy. 5. Evaluate t he argument and formulate a tentative judgment. When you read philosophy, understanding it is just the first step. You also must do something that many beginners find both difficult and alien: you must make an informed judg- ment about what you read. Simply reiterating what the writer has said wi ll not do. Your judgment is what matters here. Mainly, this judgment is your evaluation of the argument presented by the writer-an assessment of (1) whether the conclusion fol- lo\vS from the premises and (2) whether the premises are true. Only when the answer to both of these questions is yes can you say that the conclusion of the argument is worthy of acceptance. This kind of evaluation is precisely what your instructor expects when she asks you to critique an argumentative essay in philosophy. Thinking Philosophically 33 Fallacious Reasoning You can become more proficient in reading and ,vriting philosophy if you kno,v ho,v to identify fallacies ,vhen you see them. Fallacies are common but bad arguments. They are defective arguments that appear so often in writing and speech that phi- losophers have given them names and offered instructions on how to recognize and avoid them. Many fallacies are not just faile.d arguments-they are also deceptively plaus ible appeals. They can easily appear sound or cogent, misleading the reader. Their poten- t ial for slipperiness is another good reason to study fallacies. The best way to avoid being taken in by them is to study them until you can consistently pick them out of any random selection of prose. Here are some of the more prevalent ones. Straw Man The straw man fallacy is the misrepresentation of a person's views so they can be more easily attacked or dismissed. Let's say you argue that the war in Afghanistan is too costly in lives and money, and your opponent replies th is way: My adversary argues that the war in Afghanistan is much too difficult for the United States, and that we ought to, in effect, cut and run while we can. But why must we take the coward's way out? Thus, your point has been distorted, made to look more extreme or radical than it really is; it is now an easy target. The notion that ,ve ought to "cut and run" or "take the co,vard 's ,vay out" does not fallow from the statement that the war in Afghanistan is too costly. The straw man kind of distortion, of course, proves noth ing, though many people fall for it every day. This fallacy is probably the most common type of fallacious reasoning used in politics. It is also popular in many other kinds of argumentation- including student philosophy papers. Appeal to the Person Closely related to the straw man fallacy is appeal to the person (also known as the ad hominem fallacy). Appeal to the person is the rejecting of a statement on the grounds that it comes from a particular person, not because the statement, or claim, itself is false or dubious. For example: You can safely discard anything that Susan has to say about govern- ment. She's a dyed-in-the-wool socialist. Johnson argues that our current welfare system is defective. But don't listen to him- he's a conservative. Ad hominem arguments often creep into student philosophy papers. Part of the reason is that some appeals to the person are not so obvious. For example: Swinburne's cosmological argument is a serious attempt to show that God is the best explanation for the existence of the universe. A fallacy is a common but bad argument. This is patenrly absurd; but whoever wishes to become a philosopher m ust learn not to be fr ightened by absurdities. -Bercrand Russell The straw man is the fal- lacy of misrepresenting a person's views so they can be more easily attacked or d ismissed. Appeal to the person is the fallacy of rejecting a starcmcnr o n the grounds that it comes from a par~ ticular pe rson, not because the statement, or claim, itself is false o r dubious. 34 Chapter 1 Philosophy and You PH I LOSO PHY NOW Philosophy in the News Very ofcen, behind rhe headlines ,ve see every day rhere lurks a deeper philosophical issue. And when people reAecr on rhe stories, rhey frequendy find themselves pondering fundamen- tal questions and beliefs. Philosophy is hard ro avoid. Here is a sa,npling of possible headlines paired ,virh rhe philosophical questions rhey raise. Tea Parry Rejects Enridemenr and Welfare Progra,ns Man Claims Our-of-Body Experience Residents De,nand Death Penalty for Child Killer Christopher H itchens Book Says "God Is Nor Grear" Japan Tsuna,ni Kills Thousands Scienrisrn Say "Big Bang" Uncaused Attorneys Say Hormones Caused Woman to Kill Stem Cell Research Banned China Says It Muse Be Judged by C hinese Morality Is libertarianism a viable political rheory? Can the mind (soul) exist independendy of rhe body? Is capital punishment ever morally permissible? Does God exist? Does religion do more harm rhan good? Does natural evil show thar there is no God? Is Aquinas's firsr-cause argument doomed? Do we have free will? Are all our actions caused by factors beyond our control? Is rhe fetus a person ,virh full moral righrs fro,n the mo,nent of conception? Is morality relative to cultures? Does "human righrn" apply only to rhe West? Are most perennial debates in politics really about fundamental philosophi- cal issues that are never discussed? Could these issues be resolved if people, in good faith, applied the Socratic method? However, he is a well -known theist, and this fact raises some doubts about the strength of his case. Dennett argues from the materialist standpoint, so he begins with a bias that we need to take into account. Some of the strongest arguments against the death penalty come from a few people who are actually on death row. They obviously have a vested interest in showing that capita l punishment is mor- all y wrong. We therefore are forced to take their arguments- however convincing- with a grain of salt. Thinking Philosophically 35 Figure 1.13 Politics is rife with fallacie-pecially straw man, appeal to the person, and slippery slope. What fallacies in polit ics have you heard or read lately? Each of these argumenrs is defective because it asks us to reject or resist a claim solely because of a person's character, background, or circumstances- things that are generally irrelevant to the truth of claims. A statement must stand or fall on its own merits. The personal characterist ics of the person espous- ing the vie,v do not necessarily have a bearing on its truth. Only if we can sho,v that someone's dubious tra its somehow make the claim dubious are we justi- fied in reject ing the claim because of a person's personal characterist ics. Such a . . ci rcumstance 1s rare. Appeal to Popularity The appeal to popularity (or appeal to the masse.s) is another extremely common fallacy. It is arguing that a claim must be t rue not because it is backed by good rea- sons, but simply because many people believe it. The idea is that, somehow, there is t ruth in numbers. For example: Of course there's a God. Everyone believes that. Seventy percent of Americans believe that the president's tax cuts are good for the economy. So don't try to tell me the tax cuts aren't good for the economy. Most people believe that Jones is guilty, so he's gui lty. In each of these argumenrs, the conclusion is thought to be t rue merely because it is believed by an impressive number of people. The number of people ,vho bel ieve a claim, ho,vever, is irrelevant to the claim's truth. What really matters is how much Appeal to popularity is the fallacy of arguing that a claim must be true not because it is backed by good reasons, but simply because many people bel ieve it. 36 Chapter 1 Philosophy and You Genetic fallacy is the fal lacy of arguing that a statement can be judged true or false based on irs source. There arc mo re things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than arc dream t of in your philosophy. -William Shakespeare Equivocation is rhe fallacy of assigning two different meanings to the same s ignificant word in an argum ent. support che claim has from good reasons. Large groups of people have been-and are-wrong about many things. Many people once believed chat the Earth is flat, mermaids are real, and human sacrifices help crops grow. They were wrong. Remember, however, chat the number of people who accept a claim can be rele- vant co its truth if the people happen co be expercs. T wency professional astronomers ,vho predict an ecl ipse are more reliable than one hundred nonexpercs ,vho swear chat no such eclipse ,vill occur. Genet ic Fallacy A ploy like the appeal co the person is the genetic fallacy-arguing chat a statement can be t rue or false on its source. In an appeal co the person, some- one's character or circumstance is thought co cell the tale. In che genetic fallacy, t he truth of a statement is supposed co depend on origins ocher than an individual- organizacions, political platforms, groups, schools of thought, even exceptional states of mind (like dreams and intuitions). Look: That new military reform idea has gotta be bunk. It comes from a liberal think tank. At the city counci l meeting Hernando sa id that he had a plan to curb the number of car crashes on Highway 19. But you can bet that what- ever it is, it's half-baked- he said the plan came to him when he was stoned on marijuana. The U.S. Senate is considering a proposal to reform affirmative action, but you know their ideas must be ridiculous. What do they know abou t the rights of the disadvantaged? They're a bunch of rich, white guys. Equivocat ion The fallacy of equivocation is assigning two different meanings co the same sig- nificant ,vord in an argument. The ,vord is used in one sense in a premise and in a different sense in another place in the argument. The s,vicch in meaning can deceive che reader and disrupt che argument, rendering it invalid or weaker than it would be ochenvise. Here's a classic example: Only man is rational. No woman is a man. Therefore, no woman is rational. And one ocher: You are a bad writer. If you are a bad writer, then you are a bad boy. Therefore, you are a bad boy. The first argument equivocates on the word man. In the first premise, man means humankind; in the second, male. Thus, the argument seems co prove chat ,vomen Thinking Philosophically 37 are not rational. You can see the trick better if you assign the same meaning to both instances of man. Like th is: Only humans are rational. No woman is a human. Therefore, no woman is rationa l. In the second argument, the equivocal term is bad. In the first premise, bad means incompetent; in the second, immoral. Appeal to Ignoran ce As its name implies, this fallacy tries to prove something by appealing to what ,ve don't kno,v. The appeal to ignorance is arguing that either (1) a claim is true because it hasn't been proven false or (2) a claim is false because it hasn't been proven true. For example: Try as they may, scientists have never been able to disprove the existence of an afterlife. The conclusion to be drawn from th is is that there is in fact an afterlife. Super Green Algae can cure cancer. No scientific study has ever shown that it does not work. No one has ever shown that ESP (extrasensory perception) is real. Therefore, it does not exist. There is no evidence that people on welfare are hardworking and re- sponsible. Therefore, they are not hardworking and responsible. The fi rst two arguments try to prove a claim by pointing out that it hasn't been proven false. The second two t ry to prove that a claim is false because it hasn't been proven true. Both kinds of arguments are bogus because they assume that a lack of evidence proves something. A lack of evidence, however, can prove nothing. Being ignorant of the facts does not enlighten us. Notice that if a lack of evidence could prove something, then you could prove just about anything you wanted. You could reason, for instance, that s ince no one can prove that horses can't fly, horses must be able to fly. Since no one can disprove that you possess supernatural powers, you must possess supernatural powers. False Dilemma In a dilemma, you are to choose between two unattractive possibilities. The fallacy of false dilemma is arguing erroneously that since there are only two alterna- t ives to choose from and one of them is unacceptable, t he other one must be true. C-onsider these: You have to li sten to reason. Ei ther you must sell your car to pay your rent, or your landlord will throw you out on the street. You obviously aren't going to sell your car, so you will be evicted. Appeal to ignorance is the fallacy of arguing that either ( I ) a claim is true because ir hasn'r been proven false or (2) a claim is false because i r has n' r been proven true. False dilemma is rhe fallacy of arguing errone· oudy that since there arc only two alternatives to choose from and one of them is unacceptable, the o ther one must be true. 38 Chapter 1 Philosophy and You Philosophy is at once the most sublime and the most trivial of human pursuit'\. -William James Begging the question is the fallacy of trying to prove a conclusio n by us .. ing chat very same concJu .. s1o n as suppo rr. You have to face the hard facts about the war on drugs. Either we must spend bill ions of dollars to increase military and law enforce- ment operations aga inst drug cartels, or we mus t legal ize all drugs. We obviously are not going to legalize all drugs, so we have to spend bill ions on anti-cartel operations. The fi rst argument says chat there are only two choices co consider: either sell your car or gee evicted, and since you \viii not sell your ca r, you wi ll gee evic ted. This argument is fallacious because (presumably) the first premise is false-there seem co be more than just nvo alternatives here. You could gee a job, borro\v money from a friend, or sell your DVD player and TV. If the argument seems convincing, it is because ocher possibilities are excluded. The second argument asserts chat there are only nvo ways co go: spend bil- lions co attack drug car tels or legalize all drugs. Since we won't legalize all d rugs , \Ve must therefore spend billions co assault the cartels. The first (either/or) prem- ise, however, is fa lse; t here are at lease three ocher options. The bi ll ions could be spent co reduce and prevent drug use, drug producers could be given mon- etary incentives co switch co non-drug businesses, or only some drugs could be legalized. Begging the Q uestion The fallacy of begging the question is crying co prove a conclusion by using that very same conclusion as support. It is arguing in a circle. This way of trying co prove something says, in effect, "X is true because X is true." Few people would fall for chis fallacy in such a simple form, but more subtle kinds can be beguiling. For example, here's the classic instance of begging the question: The Bible says that God exists. The Bible is true because God wrote it. Therefore, God exists. The conclusion here ("God exists") is supported by premises that assume that very conclusion. Here's another one: All citizens have the right to a fair trial because those whom the state is obliged to protect and give consideration are automaticall y due judicial criminal proceedings that are equitable by any reasonable standard. This passage may at first seem like a good argument, but it isn't. It reduces co chis unimpressive assertion: "All citizens have the right co a fair trial because all cit- izens have the right co a fai r trial." The conclusion is "All citizens have the right co a fair trial," but that's more or less what the premise says. The premise-"chose whom the state is obliged co protect and give consideration are automatically due judicial criminal proceedings that are equitable by any reasonable scandard"-is equivalent co "All citizens have the right co a fair trial." Thinking Philosophically 39 When circular reasoning is subtle, it can ensnare even its O\vn creators. The fallacy can easily sneak into an argument if the premise and conclusion say the same thing but say it in different, ways. Slippery Slope The metaphor behind this fallacy suggests the danger of stepping on a dicey incline, losing your footing, and sliding to disaster. The fallacy of slippery slope, then, is a rguing erroneously that a particular action should not be taken because it wi ll lead inevitably to other actions resulting in some dire outcome. The key word here is er- roneously. A slippery slope scenario becomes fallacious \vhen there is no reason to believe that the chain of events predicted wi ll ever happen. For example: This trend toward gay marriage must be stopped. If gay marriage is permitted, then traditional marriage between a man and a woman wi ll be debased and devalued, which will lead to an increase in di- vorces. And higher divorce rates can only harm our children. This argument is fallacious because there are no reasons for believing that gay marriage will ultimately result in the chain of events described. If good reasons could be given, the argument might be salvaged. Composition Sometimes what is true about the parts of a thing is also true of the whole-and sometimes not. The fallacy of composition is arguing erroneously that what can be said of the parts can also be said of the whole. Consider: Each piece of wood that makes up this house is lightweight. There- fore, the whole house is lightweight. Each soldier in the platoon is proficient. Therefore, the platoon as a whole is proficient. The monthly payments on th is car are low. Hence, the cost of the car is low. Just remember, sometimes the \vhole does have the same properties as the parts. If each part of the rocket is made of steel, the whole rocket is made of steel. D ivision If you turn the fallacy of composition upside down, you get the fallacy of division- arguing erroneously that what can be said of the whole can be said of the parts: The house is heavy. Therefore, every part of the house is heavy. The platoon is very effective. Therefore, every member of the platoon is effective. That herd of elephants eats an enormous amount of food each day. Therefore, each elephant in the herd eats an enormous amount of food each day. Slip pery slope is , he fal- lacy of arguing erroneously that a particular action should no, be taken be- cause it will lead inevitably to other actions n:sulting in some dire outcome. Composition is the fallacy of arguing erroneously ,hat whar can be said of the pan s can also be said of the whole. Philosophy should quicken life, no, deaden it. -Susan Glaspell Division is the fallacy of arguing erroneously , hat what can be said of the whole cm be said of the parts. 40 Chapter 1 Philosophy and You ESSAY/ DISCUSSION QUESTIONS SECTION 1.3 1. What is the difference between an argument and an explanation? What is the difference between an argument and a set of accusations? or expressions of outrage? 2. Ho\v is reading philosophy different from, say, reading a physics text or reading a novel? 3. Think about the political commentators you've read or listened to. What fallacies have they been guilty of using? 4. The straw man fallacy is rampant in political debates. Give an example of such a tactic being used by commentators or politicians, or make up an example of your O\vn. 5. Devise an argument in favor of the proposition that people should (or should not) be punished as Socrates was for speaking their minds. Review Notes 1.1 PHILOSOPHY: THE QUEST FOR UNDERSTANDING • Studying philosophy has both practical and theoretical benefits. To some, the pur- suit of kno\vledge through philosophy is a spiritual quest. • Taking an inventory of your philosophical beliefs at the beginning of this course will help you gauge your progress as you study. • The four main divisions of philosophy are metaphysics, epistemology, axiology, and logic. There are also subdivisions of philosophy that examine basic issues found in other fields. 1.2 SOCRATES AND T H E EXAMINED LIFE • For Socrates, an unexamined life is a tragedy because it results in grievous harm to the soul , a person's true self or essence. The soul is harmed by lack of kno\vledge- ignorance of one's own self and of the most important values in life (the good). • The Socratic method is a question-and-answer dialogue in which propositions are methodical ly scrutinized to uncover the truth. Usually when Socrates used it in conversations with his fellow Athenians, thei r views \vould be exposed as false or confused. The main point of the exercise fo r Socrates, however, was not to win arguments, but to get closer to the truth. • Socrates says, in effect, Let's assume that Thrasymachus is right that justice is \vhat- ever is in the interest of the powerful, and that people are just if they obey the laws made by the powerful. But the powerful sometimes make mistakes and demand obedience to laws that are not in their best interest. So if Thrasymachus's definition of justice is correct, then it is right for people to do what is in the interest of the po\verful, and it is also right for them to do what is not in the interest of the po\verful. His idea of justice then leads to a logical contradiction. • The basic idea behind reductio ad absurdum is if you assume that a set of statements is true, and yet you can deduce a false or absurd statement from it, then the original set of statements as a whole must be false. 1.3 THINKING PHILOSOPH ICALLY • An argument is a group of statemenrs in which one of them is meant to be sup- ported by the others. A statement (or claim) is an assertion that something is or is not the case and is therefore the kind of utterance that is either true or false. In an argument, the Statement being supported is the conclusion, and the statements supporting the conclusion are the premises. • A good argument must have (I) solid logic and (2) true premises. Requi rement ( I) means that the conclusion should follo\v logical ly from the premises. Requi re- ment (2) says that what the premises assert must in fact be the case. • A deductive argument is intended to give logically conclusive support to its con- clusion. An inductive argument is intended to give probable support to its con- clusion. A deductive argument with the proper structure is said to be valid; a deductive argument that fails to have this structure is said to be inval id. If induc- tive argumenrs succeed in lending probable support to their conclusions, they are said to be strong. If they fail to provide this probable support, they are termed \veak. When a valid (deductive) argu ment has true premises, it is said to be sound. When a strong (inductive) argument has true premises, it is said to be cogent. In inference to the best explanation, we begin \Vith premises about a phenomenon or state of affai rs to be explained. Then we reason from those premises to an explana- tion for that state of affairs. We try to produce not just any explanation, but the best explanation among several possibilities. The best explanation is the one most like! y to be true. • The guidel ines for reading philosophy are: ( I) Approach the text with an open mind; (2) read actively and critically; (3) identify the conclusion first, then the premises; (4) outline, paraphrase, or summarize the argument; and (5) evaluate the argument and formulate a tentative judgment. Review Notes 41 42 Chapter 1 Philosophy and You WRITING TO UNDERSTAND: ARGUING YOUR OWN VIEWS CHAPTER 1 1. Do you believe, as Thrasymachus did, that might makes right, that morality is not about objective right and wrong but about who has the most po\ver? Devise an argument to support your belief. 2. Choose one of your fundamental beliefs that you have not thought much about and write an argument defending it or rejecting it. 3. Socrates said to his jurors, "Are you not ashamed that, while you take care to acqui re as much wealth as possible, \vith honor and glory as well, yet you take no care or thought for understanding or truth, or for the best possible state of your soul?" Do you agree with this attitude? Why or \vhy not? 4. What is the difference between the way philosophy approaches impor- tant questions and the \vay that religion does? 5. Argue the case for using (or not using) the Socratic method in education. Key Terms appeal to ignorance The fallacy of argu- ing that either ( 1) a claim is true because it hasn't been proven fulse or (2) a claim is fulse because it hasn't been proven true. (37) appeal to popularity The fallacy of arguing that a claim must be true not because it is backed by good reasons, but simply because many people be- lieve it. (35) appeal to the person The fallacy of re- jecting a statement on the grounds that it comes from a particular person, not because the statement, or claim, itsel f is false or dubious. (33) argument A statement coupled with other statements that are me.ant to sup- port that statement. ( 15) axiology The study of value, including both aesthetic value and moral value. (6) begging the question The fallacy of try- ing to prove a conclusion by us ing that very same conclusion as support. (38) composition The fallacy of arguing er- roneously that \vhat can be said of the parts can also be said of the \vhole. (39) conclusion In an argument, the state- ment being supported. (15) deductive argument An argument in- tended to give logically conclusive sup- port to its conclusion. (17) division The fallacy of arguing errone- ously that what can be said of the whole can be said of the parts. (39) epistemology The study of knowledge. (6) equivocation The fallacy of assigning two different meanings to the same sig- nificant word in an argument. (36) ethics (moral philosophy) The study of morality using the methods of philosophy. (6) fullacy A common but bad argument. (33) false dilemma The fallacy of argu ing erroneously that since there are o nly nvo alternatives to choose from, and one of them is unacceptable, the other one must be true. (37) genetic fallacy The fallacy of argu ing that a statement can be judged true o r false based on irs source. (36) inductive argument An argument in- tended to give probable support to irs conclusion. (18) logic The study of correct reasoning. (7) metaphysics The study of reality, an in- quiry into the fundamental nature of the un iverse and the th ings in it. (4) premise In an argument, a statement supporting the conclusion. (15) Argument Exercises (Answers in Appendix B) Exercise 1.1 redttctio ad absttrdtt»i An argument of th is form : If you assume that a set of statements is t rue, and yet you can de- d uce a false o r absurd Statement from it, then the original set of statements as a whole must be false. (14) slippery slope The fallacy of argu- ing erroneously that a particular action should not be taken because it will lead inevitably to other actions resulti ng in some di re outcome. (39) Socratic method Q uestion-and-ans\ver dialogue in which propositions are me- thodical ly to uncover the truth. (8) statement (claim) An assertion that someth ing is or is not the case and is therefore the kind of utterance that is ei- ther t rue o r false. (15) straw man The fallacy of misrepresent- ing a person's views so they can be more easily attacked or dismissed. (33) For each of the passages that follow, indicate whether it constitutes an argument. For each argument, specify both the conclusion and the premises. 1. Faster-than-light t ravel is not possible. It would violate a law of nature. 2 . You have neglected your duty on several occasions, and you have been absent from work too many times. Therefore, you a re not fit to serve in your current capactty. 3. Racial profiling is not an issue for white people, but it is an issue for blacks. 4. The flu epidemic on the East C,oast is real. Government health officials say so. A nd 1 personally have read at least a dozen ne,vs stories that characterize the situatio n as a "flu epidemic." 5. C,ommunism is bunk. Only na"ive, impressionable p inheads believe that stuff. Argument Exercises 43 44 Chapter 1 Philosophy and You 6. Current-day Christians use violence to spread their right-to-life message. These Christians, often referred to as the religious right, are well known for violent demonstrations against Planned Parenthood and other abortion cl in- ics. Doctors and other personnel are threatened with death, clinics have been bombed, there have even been cases of doctors being murdered.-Letter to the editor, Arizona Daily Wildcat 7. I am writing about the cost of concert tickets. I am outraged at how much ticket prices are increasing every year. A few years ago, one could attend a popular concert for a decent price. Now some musicians are asking as much as $200 to $300.-Letter to the editor, Buffalo News 8. Homeland security is a cruel charade for unborn child ren. Some 4,000 per day are ki lled in thei r mother's \vomb by abortion. This American holocaust \vas legalized by the Supreme Court in an exercise of raw judicial power.- Letter to the editor, Buffalo News 9. Witches are real . They are mentioned in the Bible. There are many people today \vho claim to be witches. And historical records reveal that there \vere \Vitches in Salem. 10. Stretched upon the dark silk night, bracelets of city lights glisten brightly. Exercise 1.2 For each passage that follows, list the conclusion and premises. 1. There are those \vho mainta in .. . that even if God is not required as the author of the moral la\v, he is nevertheless required as the enforcer of it, for \Vithout the threat of divine punishment, people wi ll not act morally. But this position is [not plausible]. In the first place, as an empirical hypothesis about the psychology of human beings, it is questionable. There is no un- ambiguous evidence that theists are more moral than nontheists. Not only have psychological studies failed to fi nd a significant correlation between frequency of religious worship and moral conduct, but convicted criminals are much [more] likely to be theists than atheiscs. Second, the threat of divine punishment cannot impose a moral obligation, for might does not make right. Threats extort; they do not create a moral duty.-Free Inquiry, Summer 1997 2. I love Reason [magazine], but [regarding a previous article by Nick Gillespie] I'm wondering if al l the illegal drugs that Nick Gillespie used to take are finally getting to him. He has a right to speak out against President Bush, but \vhen he refers to him as "the millionaire president \vho waited out the Vietnam War in the Texas Air National Guard," it reminds me of the garbage rhetoric that I might see if I \vere reading Ted Rall, or Susan Sontag, or one of the other hate-mongering, America-bashing, leftist whiners. That kind of ad hominem attack is not only disrespectful to a man who is doing a damned good job as commander-in-chief (with approval ratings of more than 80 percent); it detracts from the whole point of the article.-Letter to the editor, Reason, July 2002 3. The fifth way [of proving that God exists) is taken from the governance of the \vorld. We see that things which lack knowledge, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and chis is evident from their acting ahvays, o r nearly always, in the same \vay, so as co obtain che best result. H ence it is p lain chat they achieve their end, not fortuitously, but designedly. Now \vhacever lacks knowledge cannot move cowards an end, unless it be directed by some being endo\ved with knowledge and intelligence; as che a rrow is directed by the archer. There- fore some intelligent being exists by \vhom all natural things are di rected co their end; and chis being we call God.-Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica 4. The fi rst thing chat muse occur co anyone studying mora l subjectivism [the view that the rightness o r \vrongness of an action depends on che beliefs of an individual o r g roup] seriously is chat che view allows che possibility that an action can be both right and not right, or wrong and not wrong, etc. This possibility exists because, as \Ve have seen, the subjectivist claims chat che moral character of an action is determined by individual subjective states; and these states can vary from person co person, even \vhen di rected coward the same action o n che same occasion. H ence one and che same action can evidently be determined co have-simultaneously-radically different moral characters . ... [If] subjectivism ... does generate such contradicto ry conclu- sions, the position is certainly uncenable.-Phillip Montague, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, June 1986 5. A Flo rida judge dismissed a la\vsuit that accused che Vatican of hiding instances of sexual abuse by priests. The suit was thro\vn out because Florida's statute of limitations had run out on the case. I submit that the d ismissal was proper and ethical considering che community stature and functio n of priests and che ben- efits chat accrue co society in the aftermath of che decision. Lee's consider com- munity stature first. The community stature of priests muse always be taken into account in these abuse cases. A priest is not just anybody; he performs a special role in society-namely, co provide spiritual guidance and co remind people that there is both a moral o rder and a divine order in the \vorld. The priest's role is special because it helps co underpin and secure society itself Anything that could undermine this role muse be neutralized as soon as possible. Among those things that can weaken the priestly role a re publicity, public debate, and legal actions. Abuse cases a re better handled in private by those who are keenly a\vare of the importance of a positive public image of priests. And what of che benefits of curtail ing che legal proceedings? The benefits co society of dismissing che legal case outweigh al l the alleged disadvantages of continuing with public hear- ings. The primary benefit is the continued nurturing of che community's fa ith, without \vhich che community would cease co function effectively. Exercise 1.3 In the following passages, identify any fallacies. Some passages may contain more than one fallacy. 1. The New York Times reported that o ne-chi rd of Republican senators have been guilty of Sen ace ethics violations. But you know chat's fa lse-the Times is a notorious liberal rag. Argument Exercises 45 46 Chapter 1 Philosophy and You 2. Geraldo says that st udenrs who cheat on exams should not automatically be expelled from school. But it's ridiculous co insist chat students should never be punished for cheating. 3. My sweater is blue. Therefore, the acorns chat make up the sweater are blue. 4. Kelly says chat many women who live in predominantly Muslim countries are discriminated against. Bue how the heck would she know? She's not a Muslim. 5. The study found that 80 percent of women ,vho cook the d rug daily had no recurrence of breast cancer. But that doesn't mean anything. The study ,vas funded in part by the company chat makes the drug. 6. The only proof capable of being given chat an object is visible, is that people actually see it. The only proof that a sound is audible, is that people hear it: and so of the ocher sources of our experience. In like manner, I apprehend, the sole evidence it is possible co produce chat anything is desirable, is chat people actually desire ic.-John Stuart Mill 7. Gremlins exist, chat's for sure. No scientist has ever proved that they don't exist. 8. The former mayor was convicted of drug possession, and he spent time in jai l. So you can safely ignore anything he has to say about legalizing drugs. 9. I believe chat baby-carrying storks are real creatures. No one has ever proved chat they don't exist. 10. O nly man has morals. No woman is a man. Therefore, no woman has morals. The Trial and Death of Socrates 47 NARRATIV E The Trial and Death of Socrates Plato The ancient Greek philosopher Plato (c. 427- 347 see} is one of the most influential thinkers of Western civilization. He was the student of Socrates, teacher of Aristotle, and timeless inspiration to all who sought wisdom through phi losophy. In this nar- rative, one of his many dialogues, Plato relates Socrates' address to the jury at his famous trial for corrupting Athenian youth and disrespecting the gods. How you, 0 Athenians, have been affected by my ac- cusers, I cannot tel l; but I know that they almost made me forget who I was- so persuasively did they speak; and yet they have hardly uttered a word of truth. But of the many falsehoods told by them, there was one which quite amazed me- I mean when they said that you should be upon your guard and not allow your- selves to be deceived by the force of my eloquence. To say this, when they were certain to be detected as soon as I opened my lips and proved myself to be anything but a great speaker, did indeed appear to me most shameless- unless by the force of eloquence they mean the force of truth; for if such is their meaning, I admit that I am eloquent. But in how different a way from theirs! Well, as I was saying, they have scarcely spoken the truth at all ; but from me you shall hear the whole truth: not, however, delivered after their man- ner in a set oration duly ornamented with words and phrases. No, by heaven! but I shall use the words and arguments which occur to me at the moment; for I am confident in the justice of my cause: at my time of life I ought not to be appearing before you, 0 men of Athens, in the character of a juvenile orator- let no one expect it of me. And I must beg of you to grant me a favo ur: lfl defend myself in my accustomed manner, and you hear me using the words which I have been in the habi t of using in the [market], at the tables of the money-changers, or anywhere else, I would ask you not to be surprised, and not to interrupt me on this account. For I am more than seventy years of age, and appearing now for the first time in a court of law, I am quite a stranger to the language of the place; and therefore I would have you regard me as if I were real ly From Plato, The Apology, in Dialogues of Plato, trans. Benjamin Jowett, Oxford, 1896. a stranger, whom you would excuse if he spoke in his native tongue, and after the fashion of his country: Am I making an unfair request of you? Never mind the manner, which may or may not be good; but think only of the truth of my words, and give heed to that: let the speaker speak truly and the judge decide justly .... Well, then, I must make my defence, and endeavor to clear away in a short time, a slander which has lasted a long time. May I succeed, if to succeed be for my good and yours, or likely to avail me in my cause! The task is not an easy one; I quite understand the nature of it. And so leaving the event with God, in obedience to the law I will now make my defence. I will begin at the beginning, and ask what is the accusation which has given rise to the slander of me, and in fact has encouraged Meletus to prefer this charge against me. Well, what do the slanderers say? They shall be my prosecutors, and I will sum up their words in an affidavit: 'Socrates is an evi l-doer, and a curious person, who searches into things under the earth and in heaven, and he makes the worse appear the better cause; and he teaches the aforesaid doc- trines to others.' Such is the nature of the accusation: it is just what you have yourselves seen in the comedy of Aristophanes, who has introduced a man whom he calls Socrates, going about and saying that he walks in air, and talking a deal of nonsense concerning mat- ters of which I do not pretend to know either much or little- not that I mean to speak disparagingly of any one who is a student of natural philosophy. I should be very sorry if Meletus could bring so grave a charge against me. But the simple truth is, 0 Athenians, that I have nothing to do with physical speculations. Very many of those here present are witnesses to the truth of th is, and to them I appeal. Speak then, you who have heard me, and tell your neighbours whether any of you have ever known me hold forth in few words or in many 48 Chapter 1 Philosophy and You upon such matters .... You hear their answer. And from what they say of th is part of the charge you will be able to judge of the t ruth of the rest. As little foundation is there for the report that I am a teacher, and take money; this accusation has no more truth in it than the other. Although, if a man were really able to instruct mankind, to receive money for giving instruction would, in my opinion, be an hon- our to him. There is Gorgias of Leontium, and Prodicus of Ceos, and Hippias of Elis, who go the round of the cities, and are able to persuade the young men to leave their own citizens by whom they might be taught for nothing, and come to them whom they not only pay, but are thankful if they may be allowed to pay them .... I dare say, Athenians, that some one among you will reply, 'Yes, Socrates, but what is the origin of these accusations which are brought against you; there must have been something strange which you have been doing? All these rumours and this talk about you would never have arisen if you had been like other men: tell us, then, what is the cause of them, for we should be sorry to judge hastily of you.' Now I regard this as a fa ir challenge, and I wil l endeavour to explain to you the reason why I am ca lled wise and have such an evil fame. Please do attend then. And although some of you may think that I am joking, I declare that I will tell you the entire truth. Men of Athens, this reputation of mine has come of a certa in sort of wisdom which I possess. If you ask me what kind of wisdom, I reply, wisdom such as may perhaps be attained by man, for to that extent I am inclined to believe that I am wise; whereas the persons of whom I was speaking have a superhuman wisdom, which I may fa il to describe, because I have it not myself ; and he who says that I have, speaks falsely, and is taking away my character. And here, 0 men of Athens, I must beg you not to interrupt me, even if I seem to say something extravagant. For the word which I wil l speak is not mine. I w ill refer you to a witness who is worthy of credit; that w itness shall be the God of Delphi- he will tell you about my wisdom, if I have any, and of what sort it is. You must have known Chaerephon; he was early a friend of mine, and also a friend of yours, for he shared in the recent exile of the people, and returned with you. Well, Chaerephon, as you know, was very impetuous in all his doings, and he went to Delphi and boldly asked the oracle to tell him whether- as I was saying, I must beg you not to interrupt- he asked the oracle to tell him whether any one was wiser than I was, and the Pythian prophetess answered, that there was no man wiser. Chaerephon is dead himself; but his brother, who is in court, will confi rm the truth of what I am saying. Why do I mention this? Because I am going to ex- plain to you why I have such an evil name. When I heard the answer, I said to myself, What can the god mean? and what is the interpretation of his riddle? for I know that I have no wisdom, small or great. What then can he mean when he says that I am the wisest of men? And yet he is a god, and cannot lie; that would be against his nature. After long consideration, I thought of a method of trying the question. I reflected that if I could only find a man wiser than myself, then I might go to the god with a refutation in my hand. I should say to him, 'Here is a man who is wiser than I am; but you said that I was the wisest.' Accord ingly I went to one who had the reputation of wisdom, and observed him- his name I need not mention; he was a politician whom I selected for examination- and the resu lt was as follows: When I began to talk with him, I could not help thinking that he was not really wise, although he was thought wise by many, and still wiser by himself; and thereupon I tried to explain to him that he thought himself wise, but was not really wise; and the consequence was that he hated me, and his enmity was shared by several who were present and heard me. So I left him, saying to myself, as I wen t away: Well, although I do not suppose that either of us knows anything really beautifu l and good, I am better off than he is- for he knows nothing, and thinks that he knows; I neither know nor think that I know. In this latter particular, then, I seem to have slightly the advantage of him. Then I went to another who had still higher preten- sions to wisdom, and my conclusion was exactly the same. Whereupon I made another enemy of him, and of many others besides him. Then I went to one man af- ter another, being not unconscious of the enmity which I provoked, and I lamented and feared this: But necessity was laid upon me,-the word of God, I thought, ought to be considered first. And I said to myself, Go I must to all who appear to know, and find out the meaning of the oracle. And I swear to you, Athenians, by the dog I swear!- for I must tell you the truth- the result of my mission was just this: I found that the men most in re- pute were all but the most foolish; and that others less esteemed were really wiser and better. I will tell you the ta le of my wanderings and of the "Herculean" labours, as I may call them, which I endured only to find at last the oracle irrefutab le. After the poli ticians, I went to the poets; tragic, dithyrambic, and all sorts. And there, I sa id to myself, you will be instan tly detected; now you will find out that you are more ignorant than they are. Accordingly, I took them some of the most elaborate passages in their own writings, and asked what was the meaning of them- thinking that they would teach me something. Will you believe me? I am almost ashamed to confess the truth, but I must say that there is hardly a person present who would not have talked bet ter about their poetry than they did themselves. Then I knew that not by wisdom do poets write poetry, but by a sort of genius and inspiration; they are like diviners or sooth- sayers who also say many fine things, but do not under- stand the meaning of them. The poets appeared to me to be much in the same case; and I fu rther observed that upon the strength of their poetry they believed themselves to be the wisest of men in other things in which they were not wise. So I departed, conceiving myself to be superior to them for the same reason that I was superior to the politicians. At last I went to the artisans, for I was conscious that I knew nothing at all, as I may say, and I was sure that they knew many fine things; and here I was not mis- taken, for they did know many things of which I was ig- norant, and in this they cer tainly were wiser than I was. But I observed that even the good ar tisans fell in to the same error as the poets;- because they were good workmen they thought that they also knew all sorts of high mat ters, and this defect in them overshadowed their wisdom; and therefore I asked myself on behalf of the oracle, whether I would like to be as I was, nei- ther having their knowledge nor their ignorance, or like them in both; and I made answer to myself and to the oracle that I was better off as I was. This inquisition has led to my having many enemies of the worst and most dangerous kind, and has given occasion also to many ca lumnies. And I am called wise, for my hearers always imagine that I myself possess the wisdom which I find wanting in others: but the tru th is, 0 men of Athens, that God only is wise; and by his answer he intends to show that the wisdom of men is wor th little or nothing; he is not speaking of Socrates, he is only using my name by way of illustrat ion, as if he said, He, 0 men, is the wisest, who, like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth wor th nothing. And so I go about the world, obedient to the god, and search and make enquiry into the wisdom of any one, whether The Tria l and Death of Socrates 49 citizen or stranger, who appears to be wise; and if he is not wise, then in vindication of the oracle I show him that he is not wise; and my occupation quite absorbs me, and I have no time to give either to any public mat- ter of interest or to any concern of my own, but I am in utter pover ty by reason of my devotion to the god. There is another th ing: Young men of the richer classes, who have not much to do, come about me of their own accord; they like to hear the pretenders exam- ined, and they often imitate me, and proceed to exam- ine others; there are plenty of persons, as they quickly discover, who think that they know something, but really know little or nothing; and then those who are examined by them instead of being angry with themselves are an- gry with me: This confounded Socrates, they say, this vil- lainous misleader of youth!- and then if somebody asks them, Why, what evil does he practise or teach? they do not know, and cannot tell ; but in order that they may not appear to be at a loss, they repeat the ready-made charges which are used against all phi losophers about teaching things up in the clouds and under the earth, and having no gods, and making the worse appear the better cause; for they do not like to confess that their pretence of knowledge has been detected- which is the truth; and as they are numerous and ambitious and energetic, and are drawn up in battle array and have persuasive tongues, they have filled your ears with their loud and inveterate calumnies. And this is the reason why my three accusers, Meletus and Anytus and Lycon, have set upon me; Meletus, who has a quarrel with me on behalf of the poets; Anytus, on behalf of the crafts- men and poli ticians; Lycon, on behalf of the rhetoricians: and as I said at the beginning, I cannot expect to get rid of such a mass of calumny all in a moment. And this, Omen of Athens, is the truth and the whole truth; I have concealed noth ing, I have dissembled nothing. And yet, I know that my plainness of speech makes them hate me, and what is their hatred but a proof that I am speak- ing the truth?- Hence has arisen the prejudice against me; and this is the reason ofit, as you will find out either in this or in any fu ture enquiry. I have said enough in my defence against the first class of my accusers; I turn to the second class. They are headed by Meletus, that good man and true lover of his country, as he calls himself. ... He says that I am a doer of evil, and corrupt the youth; but I say, 0 men of Athens, that Meletus is a doer of evi l, in that he pretends to be in earnest when he is only in jest, and is so eager to bring men to trial from a pretended zeal and interest about 50 Chapter 1 Philosophy and You matters in which he really never had the smallest interest. And the truth of this I will endeavour to prove to you. Come hither, Meletus, and let me ask a question of you. You think a great deal about the improvement of youth? Yes, I do. Tell the judges, then, who is their improver; for you must know, as you have taken the pains to discover their corrupter, and are citing and accusing me before them. Speak, then, and tell the judges who their im- prover is.- Observe, Meletus, that you are silent, and have nothing to say. But is not this rather disgraceful, and a very considerable proof of what I was saying, that you have no interest in the matter? Speak up, friend, and tell us who their improver is. The laws. But that, my good sir, is not my meaning. I want to know who the person is, who, in the first place, knows the laws. The judges, Socrates, who are present in court. What, do you mean to say, Meletus, that they are able to instruct and improve youth? Certainly they are. What, all of them, or some only and not others? All of them. By the goddess Here, that is good news! There are plenty of improvers, then. And what do you say of the audience- do they improve them? Yes, they do. And the senators? Yes, the senators improve them. But perhaps the members of the assembly corrupt them?- or do they too improve them? They improve them. Then every Athenian improves and elevates them; all with the exception of myself; and I alone am their corrupter? Is that what you affirm? That is what I stoutly affirm. I am very unfortunate if you are right. But suppose I ask you a question: How about horses? Does one man do them harm and all the world good? Is not the exact op- posite the truth? One man is able to do them good, or at least not many- the trainer of horses, that is to say, does them good, and others who have to do with them rather injure them? Is not that true, Meletus, of horses, or of any other animals? Most assuredly it is; whether you and Any- tus say yes or no. Happy indeed would be the condition of youth if they had one corrupter only, and all the rest of the world were their improvers. But you, Meletus, have sufficiently shown that you never had a thought about the young: your carelessness is seen in your not caring about the very things which you bring against me. And now, Meletus, I will ask you another question- by Zeus I will: Which is better, to live among bad citizens, or among good ones? Answer, friend, I say; the question is one which may be easily answered. Do not the good do their neighbours good, and the bad do them evil? Certainly. And is there any one who would rather be injured than benefited by those who live with him? Answer, my good friend, the law requires you to answer- does any one like to be injured? Certainly not. And when you accuse me of corrupting and dete- riorating the youth, do you allege that I corrupt them intentionally or unintentionally? Intentionally, I say. But you have just admitted that the good do their neighbours good, and evil do them evil. Now, is that a truth which your superior wisdom has recognized thus early in life, and am I, at my age, in such darkness and ignorance as not to know that if a man with whom I have to live is corrupted by me, I am very likely to be harmed by him; and yet I corrupt him, and intention- ally, too- so you say, although neither I nor any other human being is ever likely to be convinced by you. But either I do not corrupt them, or I corrupt them unin- tentionally; and on either view of the case you lie. If my offence is unintentional, the law has no cognizance of unintentional offences: you ought to have taken me privately, and warned and admonished me; for if I had been better advised, I should have left off doing what I only did unintentionally- no doubt I should; but you would have nothing to say to me and refused to teach me. And now you bring me up in this court, which is a place not of instruction, but of punishment. It will be very clear to you, Athenians, as I was saying, that Meletus has no care at all , great or small, about the matter. But still I should like to know, Meletus, in what I am affirmed to corrupt the young. I suppose you mean, as I infer from your indictment, that I teach them not to acknowledge the gods which the state acknowledges, but some other new divinities or spiritual agencies in their stead. These are the lessons by which I corrupt the youth, as you say. Yes, that I say emphatically. Then, by the gods, Meletus, of whom we are speak- ing, tell me and the court, in somewhat plainer terms, what you mean! for I do not as yet understand whether you affirm that I teach other men to acknowledge some gods, and therefore that I do believe in gods, and am not an entire atheist- th is you do not lay to my charge- but only you say that they are not the same gods which the city recognizes- the charge is that they are different gods. O r, do you mean that I am an atheist simply, and a teacher of atheism? I mean the latter- that you are a complete atheist. What an extraordinary statement! Why do you think so, Meletus? Do you mean that I do not believe in the godhead of the sun or moon, like other men? I assure you, judges, that he does not: for he says that the sun is stone, and the moon earth. Friend Meletus, you think that you are accusing Anaxagoras: and you have but a bad opinion of the judges, if you fancy them illi terate to such a degree as not to know that these doctrines are found in the books of Anaxagoras the Clazomenian, which are full of them. And so, forsooth, the youth are said to be taught them by Socrates, when there are not infrequently exhibi- t ions of them at the theatre (price of admission one drachma at the most); and they might pay their money, and laugh at Socrates if he pretends to father these ex- t raordinary views. And so, Meletus, you really think that I do not believe in any god? I swear by Zeus that you believe absolutely in none at all. Nobody will believe you, Meletus, and I am pretty sure that you do not believe yourself. I cannot help thinking, men of Athens, that Meletus is reckless and impudent, and that he has wri tten this indictment in a spirit of mere wantonness and youthfu l bravado. Has he not compounded a riddle, th inking to try me? He said to himself: I shall see whether the wise Socrates will discover my facetious contradiction, or whether I shall be able to deceive him and the rest of them. For he certain ly does appear to me to contradict himself in the indictment as much as if he said that Socrates is guilty of not believing in the gods, and yet of be- lieving them- but this is not like a person who is in earnest. I should like you, 0 men of Athens, to join me in ex- amining what I conceive to be his inconsistency; and do you, Meletus, answer. And I must remind the audience of my request that they would not make a disturbance if I speak in my accustomed manner: Did ever man, Meletus, believe in the existence of human th ings, and not of human beings? ... I wish, men The Tria l and Death of Socrates 51 of Athens, that he would answer, and not be always try- ing to get up an interruption. Did ever any man believe in horsemanship, and not in horses? or in flute-playing, and not flute-p layers? No, my friend; I will answer to you and to the court, as you refuse to answer for your- self. There is no man who ever did. But now please to answer the next question: Can a man believe in spiritua l and divine agencies, and not in spirits or demigods? He cannot. How lucky I am to have extracted that answer, by the assistance of the court! But then you swear in the indictment that I teach and bel ieve in divine or spiri- tual agencies (new or old, no matter for that); at any rate I bel ieve in spiri tual agencies- so you say and swear in the affidavit ; and yet if I believe in divine be- ings, how can I help believing in spiri ts or demigods- must I not? To be sure I must; and therefore I may assume that your silence gives consent. Now what are spirits or demigods? are they not either gods or the sons of gods? Certainly they are. But this is what I call the facetious riddle invented by you: the demigods or spirits are gods, and you say first that I do not believe in gods, and then again that I do believe in gods; that is, if I believe in demigods. For if the demigods are the illegitimate sons of gods, whether by the nymphs or by any other mothers, of whom they are said to be the sons- what human being will ever believe that there are no gods if they are the sons of gods? You might as well affirm the existence of mules, and deny that of horses and asses. Such non- sense, Meletus, could only have been intended by you to make trial of me. You have put this into the indict- ment because you had nothing real of which to accuse me. But no one who has a particle of understanding will ever be convinced by you that the same men can believe in divine and superhuman things, and yet not believe that there are gods and demigods and heroes. I have said enough in answer to the charge of Meletus: any elaborate defence is unnecessary; but I know only too well how many are the enmities which I have incurred, and this is what wi ll be my destruction if I am destroyed- not Meletus, nor yet Anytus, but the envy and detraction of the world, which has been the death of many good men, and will probably be the death of many more; there is no danger of my being the last of them. Some one will say: And are you not ashamed, Socrates, of a course of life which is likely to bring you 52 Chapter 1 Philosophy and You to an untimely end? To him I may fairly answer: There you are mistaken: a man who is good for anything ought not to calcu late the chance of living or dying; he ought only to consider whether in doing anything he is doing right or wrong- acting the part of a good man or of a bad .. . . Strange, indeed, would be my conduct, 0 men of Athens, if I who, when I was ordered by the generals whom you chose to command me at Potidaea and Amphipolis and Delium, remained where they placed me, like any other man, facing death- if now, when, as I conceive and imagine, God orders me to fulfill the phi- losopher's mission of searching into myself and other men, I were to desert my post through fear of death, or any other fear; that would indeed be strange, and I might just ly be arraigned in court for denying the exis- tence of the gods, if I disobeyed the oracle because I was afraid of death, fancying that I was wise when I was not wise. For the fear of death is indeed the pretence of wisdom, and not rea l wisdom, being a pretence of knowing the unknown; and no one knows whether death, which men in their fea r apprehend to be the greatest evil, may not be the greatest good. Is not th is ignorance of a disgraceful sort, the ignorance which is the conceit that man knows what he does not know? And in this respect only I believe myself to differ from men in general, and may perhaps claim to be wiser than they are- that whereas I know but li ttle of the world be- low, I do not suppose that I know: but I do know that injustice and disobedience to a better, whether God or man, is evil and dishonourable, and I will never fear or avoid a possible good rather than a certain evil. And therefore if you let me go now, and are not convinced by Anytus, who said that since I had been prosecuted I must be put to death ... - if you say to me, Socrates, th is time we will not mind Anytus, and you shall be let off, but upon one condition, that you are not to enquire and speculate in this way any more, and that if you are caught doing so again you shall die- if this was the condition on which you let me go, I should reply: Men of Athens, I honour and love you; but I shall obey God rather than you, and while I have li fe and strength I shall never cease from the practice and teaching of phi- losophy, exhorting any one whom I meet and saying to him after my manner: You, my friend- a citizen of the great and mighty and wise city of Athens- are you not ashamed of heaping up the greatest amount of money and honour and reputation, and caring so li ttle about wisdom and truth and the greatest improvement of the soul, which you never regard or heed at all? And if the person with whom I am arguing, says: Yes, but I do care; then I do not leave him or let him go at once; but I proceed to interrogate and examine and cross-examine him, and if I th ink that he has no virtue in him, but only says that he has, I reproach him with undervalu- ing the greater, and overvaluing the less. And I shall re- peat the same words to every one whom I meet, young and old, citizen and alien, but especially to the ci tizens, inasmuch as they are my brethren. For know that th is is the command of God; and I believe that no greater good has ever happened in the state than my service to the God. For I do nothing but go about persuading you all , old and young alike, not to take thought for your persons or your properties, but first and chiefly to care about the greatest improvement of the soul. I tell you that virtue is not given by money, but that from virtue comes money and every other good of man, public as well as private. This is my teaching, and if this is the doctrine which corrupts the youth, I am a mischievous person. But if any one says that this is not my teach- ing, he is speaking an untruth. Wherefore, 0 men of Athens, I say to you, do as Anytus bids or not as Any- tus bids, and either acquit me or not; but whichever you do, understand that I shall never alter my ways, not even if I have to die many times . .. . And now, Athenians, I am not going to argue for my own sake, as you may think, but for yours, that you may not sin against the God by condemning me, who am his gift to you. For if you kill me you will not easily find a successor to me, who, if I may use such a ludicrous figure of speech, am a sort of gadfly, given to the state by God; and the state is a great and noble steed who is tardy in his motions owing to his very size, and requires to be stirred into life. I am that gadfly which God has attached to the state, and all day long and in all places am always fastening upon you, arousing and persuading and reproaching you. You will not easily find another like me, and therefore I would advise you to spare me .... Now do you th ink that I could have remained alive all these years if I had taken part in public affairs, and had always maintained the cause of justice like an hon- est man, and had held it a paramount duty, as it is, to do so? Certainly not, Athenians, nor could any other man. But throughout my whole life, both in private and in public, whenever I have had to take part in pub- lic affairs, you will find I have always been the same and have never yielded unjustly to anyone; no, not to those whom my enemies falsely assert to have been my pupils. But I was never anyone's teacher. I have never withheld myself from anyone, young or old, who was anxious to hear me discuss while I was making my investigation; neither do I discuss for payment, and refuse to discuss without payment. I am ready to ask questions of rich and poor alike, and if any man wishes to answer me, and then listen to what I have to say, he may . . .. I believe in the gods as no one of my accusers be- lieves in them: and to you and to God I commit my cause to be decided as is best for you and for me. [The vote is taken and he is found guilty by 281 votes to 220.) There are many reasons why I am not grieved, O men of Athens, at the vote of condemnation. I ex- pected it, and am only surprised that the votes are so nearly equal; for I had thought that the majority against me would have been far larger; but now, had thirty votes gone over to the other side, I should have been acquitted. And I may say, I think, that I have escaped Meletus. I may say more; for without the assistance of Anytus and Lycon, any one may see that he would not have had a fi fth part of the votes, as the law requires, in which case he would have incurred a fine of a thousand drachmae. And so he proposes death as the penalty. And what shall I propose on my part, 0 men of Athens? Clearly that which is my due. And what is my due? What return shall be made to the man who has never had the wit to be idle during his whole life; but has been careless of what the many care for- wealth, and family interests, and mil itary offices, and speaking in the assembly, and magistracies, and plots, and parties. Reflecting that I was really too honest a man to be a politician and live, I did not go where I could do no good to you or to myself; but where I could do the greatest good pri- vately to every one of you, thither I went, and sought to persuade every man among you that he must look to himself, and seek virtue and wisdom before he looks to his private interests, and look to the state before he looks to the interests of the state; and that this should be the order which he observes in all his actions. What shall be done to such an one? Doubtless some good thing, 0 men of Athens, if he has his reward; and the good should be of a kind suitable to him. What would be a reward suitable to a poor man who is your bene- factor, and who desires leisure that he may instruct you? There can be no reward so fitting as maintenance in the Prytaneum, 0 men of Athens, a reward which The Tria l and Death of Socrates 53 he deserves far more than the ci tizen who has won the prize at O lympia in the horse or chariot race, whether the chariots were drawn by two horses or by many. For I am in want, and he has enough; and he only gives you the appearance of happiness, and I give you the rea lity. And if I am to estimate the penalty fairly, I should say that maintenance in the Prytaneum is the just return. Perhaps you think that I am braving you in what I am saying now, as in what I said before about the tears and prayers. But this is not so. I speak rather because I am convinced that I never intentionally wronged any one, although I cannot convince you- the time has been too short; if there were a law at Athens, as there is in other cities, that a capital cause should not be decided in one day, then I believe that I should have convinced you. But I cannot in a moment refute great slanders; and, as I am convinced that I never wronged another, I will assuredly not wrong myself. I will not say of myself that I deserve any evi l, or propose any penalty. Why should I? Because I am afraid of the penalty of death which Meletus proposes? When I do not know whether death is a good or an evil, why should I propose a penalty which would certain ly be an evi l? Shall I say imprison- ment? And why should I live in prison, and be the slave of the magistrates of the year- of the Eleven? Or shall the penalty be a fine, and imprisonment until the fine is paid? There is the same objection. I should have to lie in prison, for money I have none, and cannot pay. And if I say exi le (and this may possibly be the penalty which you will affix), I must indeed be blinded by the love of life, if I am so irrational as to expect that when you, who are my own citizens, cannot endure my discourses and words, and have found them so grievous and odious that you will have no more of them, others are likely to endure me. No indeed, men of Athens, that is not very likely. And what a life should I lead, at my age, wander- ing from city to city, ever changing my place of exi le, and always being driven out! For I am quite sure that wherever I go, there, as here, the young men will flock to me; and if I drive them away, their elders will drive me out at their request; and if I let them come, their fathers and friends will drive me out for their sakes. Some one will say: Yes, Socrates, but cannot you hold your tongue, and then you may go into a foreign city, and no one will interfere wi th you? Now I have great difficulty in making you understand my answer to this. For if I tell you that to do as you say would be a dis- obedience to the God, and therefore that I cannot hold my tongue, you will not believe that I am serious; and 54 Chapter 1 Philosophy and You if I say again that daily to discourse about virtue, and of those other things about which you hear me examining myself and others, is the greatest good of man, and that the unexamined life is not worth living, you are still less likely to believe me. Yet I say what is true, although a th ing of which it is hard for me to persuade you. Also, I have never been accustomed to think that I deserve to suffer any harm. Had I money I might have estimated the offence at what I was able to pay, and not have been much the worse. But I have none, and therefore I must ask you to proportion the fine to my means. Well, per- haps I could afford a mina, and therefore I propose that penalty: Plato, Crito, Critobulus, and Apollodorus, my friends here, bid me say thir ty minae, and they will be the sureties. Let thirty minae be the penalty; for which sum they will be ample security to you. {2nd vote: The jury decides for the death penalty by a vote of 360 to 141.J Not much time will be gained, 0 Athenians, in re- turn for the evil name which you will get from the de- tractors of the city, who will say that you killed Socrates, a wise man; for they will call me wise, even although I am not wise, when they want to reproach you. If you had waited a little while, your desire would have been fu lfilled in the course of nature. For I am far advanced in years, as you may perceive, and not far from death . ... The difficulty, my friends, is not to avoid death, but to avoid unrighteousness; for that runs faster than death. I am old and move slowly, and the slower runner has overtaken me, and my accusers are keen and quick, and the faster runner, who is unrighteousness, has overtaken them. And now I depart hence condemned by you to suffer the penalty of death- they too go their ways condemned by the truth to suffer the penalty of villainy and wrong; and I must abide by my award- let them abide by theirs. I suppose that these things may be regarded as fated- and I think that they are well. . .. Friends, who would have acquitted me, I would like also to talk with you about the thing which has come to pass, while the magistrates are busy, and before I go to the place at which I must die. Stay then a little, for we may as well ta lk with one another while there is time. You are my friends, and I should like to show you the meaning of this event which has happened to me. O my judges- for you I may tru ly call judges- I should like to tell you of a wonderful circumstance. H itherto the divine faculty of which the internal oracle is the source has constantly been in the habit of opposing me even about triAes, if I was going to make a slip or error in any matter; and now as you see there has come upon me that which may be thought, and is generally believed to be, the last and worst evil. But the oracle made no sign of opposition, either when I was leaving my house in the morning, or when I was on my way to the court, or while I was speaking, at anything which I was going to say; and yet I have often been stopped in the middle of a speech, but now in nothing I either said or did touching the matter in hand has the oracle opposed me. What do I take to be the explanation of this silence? I will tell you. It is an intimation that what has happened to me is a good, and that those of us who think that death is an evil are in error. For the cus- tomary sign would surely have opposed me had I been going to evil and not to good. Let us reflect in another way, and we shall see that there is great reason to hope that death is a good; for one of two things- either death is a state of noth ing- ness and utter unconsciousness, or, as men say, there is a change and migration of the soul from this world to another. Now if you suppose that there is no conscious- ness, but a sleep like the sleep of him who is undisturbed even by dreams, death will be an unspeakable gain. For if a person were to select the night in which his sleep was undisturbed even by dreams, and were to compare with th is the other days and nights of his life, and then were to tell us how many days and nights he had passed in the course of his life better and more pleasantly than this one, I th ink that any man, I will not say a private man, but even the great king will not find many such days or nights, when compared with the others. Now if death be of such a nature, I say that to die is gain; for eternity is then only a single night. But if death is the journey to another place, and there, as men say, all the dead abide, what good, 0 my friends and judges, can be greater than this? If indeed when the pilgrim arrives in the world below, he is delivered from the professors of justice in this world, and finds the true judges who are said to give judgment there, Minos and Rhadamanthus and Aeacus and Triptolemus, and other sons of God who were righteous in their own life, that pilgrimage will be worth making. What would not a man give if he might converse with Orpheus and Musaeus and Hesiod and Homer? Nay, if this be true, let me die again and again. I myself, too, shall have a wonderful interest in there meeting and conversing with Palamedes, and Ajax the son ofTelamon, and any other ancient hero who has suffered death through an unjust judgment; and there will be no small pleasure, as I think, in comparing my own sufferings with theirs. Above all , I shall then be a ble to continue my search into true and false knowledge; as in this world, so also in the next; and I shall find out who is wise, and who pretends to be wise, and is not. What would not a man give, 0 judges, to be able to examine the leader of the great Trojan exped ition; or Odysseus or Sisyphus, or numberless others, men and women too! What infi nite delight would there be in conversing with them and asking them questions! In another world they do not pu t a man to death for asking questions: assur- edly not. For besides being happier than we are, they will be immortal, if what is said is true. Wherefore, 0 judges, be of good cheer about dea th, and know of a certainty, that no evi l can happen to a good man, either in life or after death. He and his are not neglected by the gods; nor has my own approach- ing end happened by mere chance. But I see clearly that the t ime had arrived when it was bette r for me to Probing Questions For Further Reading 55 die and be released from trouble; wherefore the oracle gave no sign. For which reason, also, I am not angry with my condemners, or with my accusers; they have done me no harm, although they did not mean to do me any good; and for this I may gently blame them. Still I have a favour to ask of them. When my sons are grown up, I would ask you, 0 my friends, to punish them; and I would have you trouble them, as I have troubled you, if they seem to care about riches, or anything, more than about virtue; or if they pretend to be something when they are really nothing,-then reprove them, as I have reproved you, for not caring abou t that for which they ought to care, and thinking that they are something when they are really nothing. And if you do this, both I and my sons will have received justice at your hands. The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways- I to die, and you to live. Which is better God only knows. I. Whar does Socrates ,nean by "The unexamined life is nor worth living"? How does chis vie,v relate co Socrates' accivicy as rhe cicy's in rellecrual gadAy? Socrates see,ns ro chink chat many of his jurors lead unexamined lives. Why does he chink chis? 2. Socrates ,vas executed because he deal t in offensive and dangerous ideas. Have there been ochers in history ,vho have also suffered because sociecy thought their ideas ,vere unaccept- able? Is a sociecy ever justified in punishing people for expressing such ideas? 3. Socrates died for his principles. Whar ideas in your life would you be ,villing ro die for? For Further Reading Simon Blackburn, Oxfo,d Dictionary of Phiwsophy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994, 2005). A concise guide to hundreds of philosophy topics, with many of the entries being of substantial length. N icholas Bunnin and E. P. Tsui-James, eds., The Blackwell Companion to Philosophy (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, I 969). A one-volume student reference covering the major divisions of philosophy. Eliot D. Cohen, Phiwsophers at W0rk (Ne,v York: H olt, Rinehart, and W inston, 1989). Reports of how people in d ifferent professions use philosophy. Edward Craig, e.d., Routledge Encycwpedia of Phiwsophy, IO vols. (New York: Routledge, 1998). A fi ne source of information o n a vast number of philosophical topics. 56 Chapter 1 Philosophy and You Ted Honderich, ed., The Oxford Companion to Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford Univer- sity Press, 1995). A good one-volume philosophy reference featuring many excellent articles on philosophical issues. Brooke Moore and Richard Parker, Critical Thinking, 8th e.dition (New York: McGraw-Hill , 2007). A comprehensive and readable treatment of critical chinking skills. Louis P. Pojman and Lewis Vaughn, e.ds., Classics of Philosophy, 3rd edition (Ne,v York: Oxford University Press, 20 IO). The most comprehensive anthology of Western philosophy available. Bertrand Russell , The Problems of Philosophy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1959). A very readable classic work by an eminent philosopher. Focuses mostly on issues in epistemology. Lewis Vaughn, Great Philosophical Arguments: An Introduction to Philosophy (Ne,v York: Oxford University Press, 20 12). A text with readings organized by topic and by the standard arguments chat have occupied thinkers throughout the centuries. 1 , ' ' I CHAPTER 2 GOD AND RELIGION CHAPTER OBJECTIVES 2.1 OVERVIEW: GOD AND PHILOSOPHY • Understand t he importance of relig ious beliefs in the world and how t hey can influence what people t hink, do, and value. • Know how ph ilosophy tries to understand and evaluate relig ious claims. • Give an overview of t he trad itional arguments for the existence of God and object ions to them. • Define theism, atheism, agnosticism, monotheism, polytheism, deism , pantheism, and panentheism. 2.2 ARGUMENTS FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD • Exp lain and evaluate Aquinas's fi rst-cause argument and Craig's Kalam cosmological argument. • Exp lain and evaluate Paley's analogical design argument and the best-explanation design argument. • Exp lain and evaluate Anselm 's ontological argument . 2.3 GOD AND THE PROBLEM OF EVIL • Understand Rowe's argument from evil and some major criticisms of it. • Critically examine the free will defense. • Explain and evaluate Hick's soul-making theodicy. 2.4 THEISM AND RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE • State and evaluate the argument from relig ious experience. • Summarize Swinburne's argument from relig ious experience and assess criticisms of it. • Assess the claim that the argument from relig ious experience fail s because religious experiences are incompatible. 58 Chapter 2 God and Religion 2.5 BELIEF WITHOUT REASON • Summarize and evaluate James's pragmatic argument for believing the religious hypothesis. 2.6 EASTERN RELIGIONS • Explain how Buddhism differs from Western religious traditions. • Explain the natu re and signifi cance of the Vedas, the Upanishads, and the Bhagavad-Gita. • State and evaluate Pascal's wager. • State and explain the Buddha's Four Noble Truths. • Know how the Chuang Tzu characterizes the Dao. • Define samsara, atman, brahmin, and Brahman. • Identi fy the parallels to the Dao in Western philosophy. 2.1 OVERVIEW: GOD AND PHILOSOPHY What does philosophy have to do w ith religion? Throughout h istory they have often been intertwined. At t imes the two have bowed respectfully to each other (although sometimes from a distance), thrown stones at each other's conceptual temples, \vo rked in each other's backyards, and chased w isdom along d ivergent paths that often crossed. For Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, doing philosophy is not merely a search for t ruth; it is a spiritual quest, a journey to h igher, invaluable things. From the Easte rn religious traditions of Buddhism, Hinduism, Confu- cianism, and Daoism come ph ilosophical insights t hat have influenced m ill ions and earned the respect of Western thinkers. To the great philosophers of t he medieval period-Augustine, Boethius, Avicenna, Anselm, Maimonides, Aqui- nas, and others-reason is a g ift from God, and ph ilosophy can reveal h idden knowledge and sacred t ruths. In modern philosophy, f rom Descartes to the pres- ent, ph ilosophers (both religious and secular) examine cla ims about God, immor- tality, good and evil, and ultimate reality. Many contemporary thinkers \vould insist that philosophy, us ing irs own distinctive methods of inquiry, seeks t ruth and, through t ruth, transcendence. What some of the great philosophers have to say about God and rel igion is the subject of this chapter. Of course, being philosophers, they do not simply declare their views to be correct-they a rgue thei r cases. It is then up to us to evaluate their a rgumenrs to see if their claims are \VOrthy of our acceptance. To embrace a vie\v merely because it is comfortable, fam iliar, and emotionally satisfying is to violate the spir it of philosophical inquiry, which asks us to bel ieve for good reasons. God is not what you imagine or what you thin k you understand. If you understand, you have failed. -Augustine 1 Are reasons or arguments relevant to your current religious beliefs? If so, how? If not, do you think your beliefs are nonethe less rationa l? Expla in. Overview: God and Phi losophy 59 Why Religion Matters Belief in God or in a spiritual reality has civil izations and altered history. In che name of che divine, devotees have raised up and laid low mighty empires. They have built temples, creace.d arc, produced sacred cexcs, and crafted ceremony and song. They have bequeathed co che world moral and legal codes, explanations of how che universe works, and conceptual maps sho\ving \vhere ind ividuals belong in a divine plan. From such things, councless mi llions have dra\vn a sense of purpose, meaning, and courage in che face of loss. Bue there is also a dark side of che religious realm. Faith has often engendered moral blindness, intolerance, narro\v-mindedness, and cruelty. With unshakeable confidence in a transcendent po\ver, believers have burned places of \vorship, books, heretics, and unbelievers. In che name of their gods they have trampled on human rights, blocked sci- entific inquiry, oppressed \vomen, waged holy \vars, and infl icted terrorism on innocents. le seems chat ho\vever we tally these lists of good and evil, we muse conclude chat che impact of religion on earth is incalculably large. This face alone is reason enough co examine che claims of religion critically and dispassionately-chat is, philosophically. Religious belief or disbelief moves not just societies, but also individual lives. What- ever your ideas about God and religion, they will surely influence your chinking about some very important matters. Based on these beliefs, you may decide \vhac sore of entities exist in che universe, what claims are true or false, and what things are good or bad. And from such views, your choices flow, and from your choices, your life is made. Overview: The Philosopher's Quest You may already have strong views about che existence of God and about che merics of a specific religious tradition. Where d id chose vie\vS come from? Chances are good chat you bel ieve what you do because you were ra chat \vay, craine.d in a particular faith by your parencs or culcure. If so, you came by your religious beliefs accidentally. Out of che many religions of che \vorld (and che thousands of faith groups), you found yourself in one of chem. And che mere face chat your parents or your society hande.d chose beliefs co you does not mean they are true. The point is not chat che religious vie\vS \Ve inherit are false, but chat blindly accepting chem is a poor \vay co discover che t ruth about chem. To judge che worth of any religious claims, co decide among che many compet- ing assertions, we need che objective seance and critical reasoning of philosophical inquiry. The \vay of che philosopher is not co ask how you came co have a belief, but iuhether the belief is supported by good reasons. She kno\vS chat co judge a religious view from che standpoint of che rel igious trad ition chat spa\vned it is co beg che question and co bias her inquiry from che scare. She strives instead for che philosophical ideal of unbiased evaluation in che cour t of reason. This court has been in session for hundreds of years as philosophers and theolo- gians have debated religious issues, particularly che existence or nonexistence of God. They have put forth a number of argumencs co cry co demonstrate che latter, several of which are discussed in chis chapter and ics readings. The argumencs concern che 2 How has your belief or nonbelief in God influenced the major choices you've made in your life? How has your belief or nonbelief affected your attitude toward science, mor- ality, your educat ion, people who don't share your beliefs, atheists, abort ion, and te rrorist acts? I do not feel obliged to believe that ,he same God who has endowed us w ich sense, reason} and intdlccr has intended us to forgo their USC. -Galileo Galilei 3 Suppose you, like many people, have come by your beliefs about religion acciden- tally (because you were born at a part icular place and t ime). How do you think you should respond to this fact ? Should you (1) st ill assume your be- liefs are true, (2) re ject all your current beliefs, (3) suspend judgment about the beliefs, or (4) evaluate your be- liefs using reason and evidence? 60 Chapter 2 God and Religion PH I LOSO PHY NOW Who Believes in God? According ro many surveys, belief in God, or gods, is ,videspread on rhe planer bur is neither universal nor unchanging. 2007 2014 % of American adults who say Believe in God; absolutely certain 71 o/o 63% Believe in God; fairly certain 17% 20% Pew Research Center, 2014 Belief in God by Level of Education Do not believe in God 5% 9% Believe in God; absolutely certain Believe in God; not too/ not at all certain High school or less 43% Some college 33% College 9% 38% 28% 19% Pew Research Center, 2014 Percentage of people who do not identify with any religion Percentage of people who do not identify with any religion Pew Research Center, 2012 2007 15.3% 2009 16.8% Certainty of God's existence vs. atheism Japan Percentage of people who said they 4 .3% were certain of God's existence Atheist 8.7% Live Science, 1991- 2008 Sweden France 10.2% 15.5% 19.3% 23.3% 2011 18.6% 2012 19.6% Great United Britain States 16.8% 60.6% 18.0% 3.0% Why do you think "absolutely certain" belief in God in the United States declined slightly between 2007 and 2014? Does the fact that the vast major- ity of Americans believe in God provide evidence for God's existence? Why or why not? Why do you think "absolutely certain" belief in God declines the more education a person has? European countries have much lower rates of belief in God (and higher rates of atheism) than the United States does. What conclusions can you draw from this? Overview: God and Phi losophy 61 Figure 2.1 Most people probably acquire their religious beliefs in childhood. Did you come by your current relig ious beliefs that way? If so, do you think you should critically examine them in adulthood? Why or why not? God of the th ree main Western religious traditions-Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. This being is thought to be the creator of the universe, a person (as opposed to an impersonal force or substance, as in some Eastern religions) \vho is a ll-powerful (omnipotent), a ll-kno\ving (omniscient), and all-good (omnibenevolent). To try to prove the existence of this God, many th inkers have advanced cosmological arguments, which reason from the existence of the universe, or cos- mos (or some fundamental feature of it), to the conclusion that God exists. For ex- ample, St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) argues that some th ings in the universe are caused to exist, and that nothing can cause itself to exist or come into being through an infinite series of causes. So there must be a first uncaused cause of everyth ing- and this fi rst uncaused cause is God. Philosophers, of course, aren't the only ones \vho argue this way. Many people- perhaps you are one of them-have thought or said something along these lines: "If God doesn't exist, how d id the universe come into being? Ho\v did we come into being? To say that the \vorld \vasn't caused by anyone or that it was the result of an accident makes no sense. Only a supreme being could have caused it to exist." Phi- losophers have simply given this kind of argument more precision and coherence, as well as more critical scrutiny. Many try to make their case for God through teleological arguments, which rea- son from apparent signs of design or purposeful creation in the \vorld to the existence of a supreme designer. William Paley (1743-1805), an English theologian and moral philosopher, presents a classic version of this approach. Arguing by analogy, he asserrs that a \Vatch is by an intelligent designer; the universe resembles a \Vatch in IClriticism of religious belief., is often considered impolite or even uncon· stitutional (although it isn't). Religion is treated like a senile rdacivc whose bizarre statements arc not to be questioned. -\X'alter Sinnott-Armstrong Cosmological arguments arc arguments that cry m show thar from the fact that rhc universe exists} God exists. Teleological arguments arc arguments that try to show that God must exist because features of the universe show signs of pur· pose or design. 62 Chapter 2 God and Relig ion An ontological argument is an argument that tries to demonstrate God 's exist· ence by logical analysis of the concept of God. I think we must atrack- whcrcvcr we meet it- the no nsensical idea that mu- tually exclusive pro posi- tions about God can both be true. -C. S. lewis An argument from religious experience is an argument of this form: A per.son seems m have ex- perienced God; the experi- e nce m ust have actually been a genuine e ncounter with God; therefore, God probably exists. that it too looks as if it were designed by some intelligent being; therefore, the universe \vas probably also created by an intelligent designer-in ocher words, by God. Some philosophers have case the design argument as an inference co the best explanation. This version begins by pointing co some impressive features of the uni- verse such as the intricate workings of biological systems or the just-so calibration of physical properties chat allo\vS the universe co exist. le then claims chat the best explanation of such amazing faces is chat God designed the universe. God muse be the best explanation for these facts because it seems utterly improbable that they could have just happened without the intervention of a deity. So if God is the best explanation, then God muse exist. Ontological arguments appeal not co empirical facts about the cosmos, but co the concept of God itself. From the definition of God, we prove \vith logic alone that a supreme deity is a reality. St. Anselm (1033-1109) \vas the first to articulate such an argument, and ever since, ocher philosophers have been offering their O\vn versions. He first posies a definition of God as the greatest possible being. This asser- tion, Anselm says, implies chat God muse act ually exist, because ifhe did not exist in reality (and only existed in our minds), he would not be the greatest possible being. (Existing in reality is thought co make something greater than if it exises merely in someone's mind.) Therefore, God exises. Anselm's a rgument is not easy co grasp on a quick reading. To appreciate it, you may need co read it several times and spend some extra time \vich it. Just keep this in mind: There are good reasons why intrigued philosophers have been examining and reexamining Anselm's argument for the past nine hundre.d years. (We \vill take a closer look at the argument lacer in chis chapter.) For Anselm and ochers, the strongest ar- gumenes for God's existence spring from pure reason. But for many people, definitive evidence chat God exises comes from personal experience-from direct a\vareness of what seems co be God's divine presence. People ex- perience something chat they believe is God or is of God, and chis apparent encounter forms the basis of an argument from religious ex- perience. The argument says chat a person seems co have experienced God; the experience muse have actually been a genuine encounter with God; therefore, God probably exists. This way of arguing is essentially an inference co the best explanation. The best explanation of the person's experience is chat God's presence \vas somehow, and if so, God likely exists. Figure 2.2 Some people think the world so wondrous that a d ivine designer must have brought it forth, but others have thought the world so thoroughly f lawed in its design that we might well con- clude that the designer was incompetent. Which view are you more sympathetic to? Philosophers have subjected all the preced- ing arguments co critical examination, ques- tioning both thei r conclusions and the truth of their premises. In the following sections, we Overview: God and Phi losophy 63 will review some of these criticisms as well as reasoned responses to them. For now, it is important to understand that even if the arguments fail to prove their case, that doesn't demonstrate the nonexistence of God. If scientisrs have so far failed to fi nd evidence for life outside our solar system, that doesn't prove that life doesn't exist somewhere out there. The failure of these arguments would sho\v only that they g ive us no good reasons to believe in the traditional God of Western religion. But there is another kind of argument that does purport to establish God's non- existence: the argum ent from evil. You have probably heard this a rgument, or the complaint that inspires it, before. When you have seen people confronted \Vith un- bearable evil- pain, suffering, and injustice-you may have heard them say some- thing like this: "Why did this trage.dy happen? W hy d id God allo\v my mother-a WHAT DO YOU BELi EVE? Hard-Wired for God? An argument from evil is an argument purpo rting to show that since there is unnecessary evil, an all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good God mus, not c:xi ,;:t. Do you bel ieve in God? If so, \vhy? So,n e scientists chink they know why. Here is a recent report on rhe issue: Humans are programmed to bel ieve in God because it gives them a bet- ter chance of surviva l, researchers cla im. A s tudy into the way ch ild ren's bra ins develop suggests that du ring the process of evolution those with re ligious tendencies began to benefit from their beliefs- possibly by work· ing in groups to ensure the future of the ir community. The findings of Bruce Hood, professor of developmental psychology at Bristol University, suggest that magical and supernatural beliefs are hard- wired into our bra ins from birth, and that religions are therefore tapping into a powerful psychological fo rce. His work is supported by other researchers who have found evidence li nking religious feelings and experience to par- ticular regions of the brain. They suggest people are programmed to re- ce ive a feeling of spirituali ty from electrical activity in these areas. The findings challenge atheists such as Richard Dawkins, the author of The God Delusion, who has long argued that re ligious beliefs result from poor education and ch ildhood "indoctrination."- Oaily Mail, September 7, 2009 Suppose it is true that we are all programmed to believe in God. Would t his fact support or undermine the proposition that God exists? If theism has evolutionary advantages, would this fact constitute a good reason for believing in God? Why or why not? 64 Chapter 2 God and Relig ion 4 Think about the four types of argume nts for the existence of God glossed here. At this po int in your readi ng of this chapter, which type do you think makes the strongest case for God? Why? Which do you think makes the weakest? 5 If you were to have a religious experience that seemed to be of God, would your experience be strong evidence for God's existence? Why or why not? Would you be able to disting uish a genu- ine experience of God from a fa lse one-say, instances of wishful thinking, hallucination, or fantasy? If so, how? If not, would this fact change your degree of confidence that the ex- perience was genuine? I don't want a God that would go around ki lling people's little girls. Neither do I want a God who would kill his own son. -Bishop John Spong A theodicy is a defense of the traditional conceptio n of God in light of the existence of evil. A theist L~ someone who believes in God. Theism is belief in , he existence of God. An atheist L\ someone w ho denies God's existence. devout and loving person-to suffer so horribly for so long and then die so young? If there is a God, \vhy does he permit such evils?" Believers in every age have struggled to reconcile the existence of evil with their belief in an all-powerful, all-kno\ving, and all-good God. The argument from evil asserts that these two things cannot be reconciled, and we are therefore forced by reason to abandon our bel ief. Stated more precisely, the argument from evil says t hat if an all-powerful, all- kno\ving, and all-good God existed, unnecessary evil \vould not exist. (Some evil is deemed necessary, as \vhen a child is given a painful injection to save her life, or \vhen a farmer endures months of backbreaking work to assure a good harvest to his family. Unnecessary evil is t hought to have no such excuses for occurring.) An all-powerful and all-kno\ving God would kno\v about, and be able to prevent, evil, and an all-good God \vould want to prevent it. But there is in fact unnecessary evil in the world. Therefore, an all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good God does not exist. Philosophers have tried to answer the argument from evil in a variety of ways. Probably the most d ramatic response is that unnecessary evil exisrs because God cannot or \vi ll not prevent it; that is, he is a finite deity, lacking one or more of the traditional divine attributes. This line, ho\vever, would seem to most people to make God un\vOrthy of worship. Other approaches t ry to defend against the argument from evil while retain- ing all the attributes in the traditional notion of God. These counterarguments are known as theodicies. They admit that evil exisrs but claim that it is necessary evil, required to achieve some greater good. So they deny that unnecessary evil exists in the \vorld, \vhich is the crucial premise in the argument from evi l. The point of a theo- dicy is not to prove that God exisrs, but to show that the argument from evil does not succeed. It tries to demonstrate that there may be good reasons to think that the crucial premise is false-that is, to think that all the evil in the world is necessary. Among the possibilities are that evil is necessary to effect the moral improvement of individuals, to better the human race, to punish humans for sin, or to help people understand the true nature of evil. Perhaps the most promising theodicy is the free will defense. It maintains that evil is a necessary result of humans having free will. God created people with the free.dom to choose between good and evil, but he could not give people free wi ll and at the same time ensure that they \vould never do evil. That's impossible even for God. So the evil produced by humans is a necessary result of thei r enjoying God's gift of free.dom. Belief and Disbelief A \vide spectrum of beliefs regarding the existence of God is possible, and fortu- nately there is some standard terminology to help us sort them out. A person who bel ieves in the existence of God is a theist , and belief in the existence of God is theism . Someone who denies the existence of God is an atheist, and such denial is atheism . A person \vho neither bel ieves nor disbelieves in God is kno\vn as an agnostic. If you are an agnostic, you may think that the evidence for or against Overview: God and Phi losophy 65 Bahai Buddhist Buddhist Christian Christian Confucian Confucian/Daoist Hindu Judaic Judaic Judaic Islamic Sikh Shinto Figure 2.3 There are thousands of religious groups in the world, worshiping thousands of gods in countless ways. Do you believe that one of these groups is the true one? Is one of these gods the right god? theism is inconclusive, that you do not know what is the case. Or you may take the more radical agnostic view that knowledge of the existence or nonexistence of God is impossible. That is, the truth about God is unknowable. Belief in God or the divine can take different forms, and there are terms to reflect that fact. The vie\v taken by many religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, is monotheism, belief in one God. Belief in several gods is polytheism, also prevalent throughout the world. A doctrine that arose among prominent thinkers in France and England in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries is deism, the notion that there is one God who is essentially an "absentee landlord." This God created the universe but put it on autopilot and now ignores it, taking no interest in human affairs. Prominent deists of the past include George Washington, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, and Voltaire. Pantheism is the view that God and the universe are one and the same, a divine Whole. God and the world are basically identical. The great philosopher Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) held this view, and other thinkers, including Albert Einstein (1879-1955), were sympathetic to it. Pantheism is distinct from panentheism, the idea that God is in the universe and the universe is in God. Some thinkers have questioned the basic approach to the God question that most philosophers have taken. They reject the notion that has guided much of tradi- tional philosophical inquiry-the vie\v that rational belief in God requires reasons or evidence. They insist that we may rationally believe in the existence of God even though we have no good reasons for doing so. Others believe that faith and reason Atheism is , he denial of the existence of God. An agnostic L~ someone who neither accepts nor denies God's cxisrcncc. A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing m worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on rhc walls of his cell. -C. S. Lewis 6 Do you think the argument from evi l is a strong argument for the nonexistence of God? Why or why not? If you believe in God, how do you reconcile that belief with the existence of evil? If you don't believe in God, is the argument from evil a factor in your nonbelief? Monotheism is a bel ief in one God. Polytheism is a belief in many gods. D eism is a belief in o ne God who created the world but lefr it unat- tended to run o n its own. Panthe.ism is the view that God and the universe arc one and the same ,hing, a divine \'(!hole. Panentheism is the view that although God and the world arc distinct, rhc world is part of God. 6 6 Chapter 2 God and Relig ion If God lived on earth, people would break his windows. -Jewish Proverb 7 Rabbi Harold Kush - ner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People, a rgues that unnecessary evil exists in the world because God is not able to prevent it. That is, God is finite, a less powerful deity than the traditiona l God. Do you think this is a good explanat ion of unnecessary evil? Why or why not? Would a fin ite God deserve your respect and devot ion? A God that can be under- stood is no God. Who can explain the Infinite in word\? -\Y/. Somerset Maugham Reason in man is rather like God in the world. -1homas Aquinas are incompatible, and that we can legitimately come to kno,v religious truths, in- cluding the existence of God, only th rough a leap of faith. WRITING TO UNDERSTAND: CRITIQUING PHI LOSOPHICAL V IEWS SECTION 2 .1 I. Do you bel ieve in God? If so, can you state reasons for your belief? Do you think your bel ief is rational? Would you bel ieve in God whether or not you had good reasons? Explain your position on these questions. 2. Would you consider yourself an agnostic or atheist? If so, do you have reasons for your lack of bel ief in God? Is your lack of bel ief rational? Do you think that bel ievers are irrational? Explain. 3. What is Will iam Paley's teleological argument? Do you think the analogy between a watch and the universe is strong enough to prove the existence of a designer? 4. What is the argument from evil? Do you think the existence of evil shows that God doesn't exist? Why or why not? 5. Some philosophers and theologians believe that reason is a gift from God and should be used in the search for truth about God. Do you agree? 2.2 ARGUMENTS FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD We can sort the argumenrs for God's existence into two categories: (1) those that appeal to the evidence of experience (,vhat philosophers call a posteriori arguments) and (2) those that appeal to logical relations (called a priori argumenrs). A poste- riori arguments reason from empirical facts about the world to the conclusion that God exisrs. Cosmological, teleological, and religious-experience argumenrs are of this kind. A priori arguments logically derive the conclusion that God exisrs from conceprs of God. Ontological argumenrs take this form. Cosmological Arguments Cosmological arguments can boast a long lineage, having been set out by many theorisrs from Aristotle, Plato, Ghazali, Averroes, Aquinas, and Spinoza to contem- porary philosophers such as Richard Swinburne and William Lane Craig. They all begin ,vith the empirical fact that the universe, or one of its essential properties, exisrs-and end with the conclusion that only God could be responsible for this fact. In his masterpiece Summa Theologica, the Roman Catholic scholar Thomas Aquinas Arguments for the Existence of God 67 offers five "proofs" (his famous "Five Ways") of God 's existence, the first th ree of which are cosmological arguments. This is how Aquinas lays out the first two: Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica The existence of God can be shown in five ways. The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion. It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion. Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another, fo r nothing can be in motion except it is in po- tentiality to that towards which it is in motion; whereas a thing moves inasmuch as it is in actuali ty. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actu- ality. But nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality. Thus that which is actually hot, as fi re, makes wood, which is potentially hot, to be actually hot, and thereby moves and changes it. Now it is not possible that the same thing should be at once in actuality and potentiali ty in the same respect, but only in different respects. For what is actually hot cannot simultaneously be potentially hot; but it is simultaneously potentially cold. It is therefore impossible that in the same respect and in the same way a thing should be both mover and moved, i.e. that it should move itself. Therefore, whatever is in motion must be put in motion by another. If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infi nity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover; seeing that subsequent mov- ers move only inasmuch as they are put in motion by the first mover; as the staff moves only because it is put in motion by the hand. Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a fi rst mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God. The second way is from the nature of the efficient cause. In the world of sense we fi nd there is an order of efficient causes. There is no case known (neither is it, indeed, possible) in which a th ing is found to be the efficient cause of itself; fo r so it would be prior to itself, which is impossible. Now in efficient causes it is not possible to go on to infinity, because in all efficient causes following in order, the first is the cause of the in- termediate cause, and the intermediate is the cause of the ultimate cause, whether the in termediate cause be several, or only one. Now to take away the cause is to take away the effect. Therefore, if there be no first cause among efficient causes, there will be no ultimate, nor any intermedia te cause. But if in efficient causes it is possible to go on to infinity, there will be no first efficient cause, neither will the re be an ultimate effect, nor any intermediate efficient causes; all of which is plainly false. Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God.' Aquinas's argument from motion (his first way) goes like this: It is obvious that some things in the universe are moving (that is, changing), and if they are mov- ing, something else must have cause.d them to move. And this "something else" must also have been moving, set in motion by yet another thing that \vas moving, and this thing set in motion by another moving th ing, and so on. But th is series of things-moving-other-things cannot go on forever, to infinity, because then there 8 Why does Aqu inas think there cannot be an infin ite chain of movers? Do you accept his reasons for this? Can you conceive of a series of movers st retching infin itely into the past? If so, can you detect any cont radictions inherent in your concept ion? 9 Why does Aqu inas insist that there must be a first cause? Does his a rgument show t hat the fi rst cause is in fact God? Does it show, for example, that the fi rst cause could not be an evil demon o r an impersonal fo rce? 68 Chapter 2 God and Relig ion Believe nothing, no matter w here you read it, or w ho said it, no matter if I said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. -The Buddha PH I LOSO PH ERS AT WORK St. Thomas Aquinas Tho,n as Aquinas (1225-1274) was born into a no- ble family in sourbern Italy ro even tually become che greatest philosopher of che medieval period and, co rbis day, che official rbeologian of che Ro,nan Catholic Church. Because his fa,nily had decided char he should be a Figure 2.4 Thomas Aqu inas great church leader, they packed him off before rbe (1225- 1274), the phi losopher who age of six co che Benedictine rnonascery of Mon re fused Aristotle with Christian ity. Cassino for training. Ar fourteen, he was sent co rbe University of Naples for furrber study, and there his life rook ,vhar his fa,nily con- sidered a radical turn. Ar age nvency, he joined che scholarly Dominican order and pursued, not a leadership position in che church, but rbe rarefied life of rbe intellect. Becoming alarmed at Aquinas's change of plans, his fami ly had him kid- napped and locked in che fam ily castle for several ,nonths. When it became clear chat he was not going ro relinqu ish his scholarly a,nbit ions, they released hirn, and he continued his stud ies and his writing at the University of Paris and in Cologne, Ro,ne, Naples, Virerbo, and Orvieco. Aquinas's great concribucion co both philosophy and Christian ity ,vas his fusion of Aristotle's phi losophy with Christian doctrines. In theology he distin- guished between reason and faith, giving each its o,vn domain of inqu iry. Reason can be used co prove che existence of God, he says, bur only ch rough faith can we kno,v such rnysceries as che incarnation and the trin ity. ,vould not be something that all che moving. There muse therefore be an ini- tial mover (a "First Mover"), an extraordinary being that sea reed che universe moving but is not icself by anything else-and chis being we call God . Aquinas's second ,vay is his famous first-cause argument. He maintains chat ev- erything we can observe has a cause, and it is clear chat nothing can cause icsel f. For something co cause itself, it would have co exist prior to itself, which is impossible. Neither can something be caused by an infinite regress of causes-chat is, a series of causes screeching co infinity. In any series of causes, Aquinas says, there muse be a first cause, which causes che second, ,vhich causes the thi rd, and so on. Bue in an infinite series of causes, there ,vould be no first cause and thus no subsequent causes, including causes existing now. So infinite regresses make no sense. Therefore, there muse be a first cause of everything, and chis first cause we call God. (Here Aquinas is not thinking of a first cause of a temporal series of causes, as in a sequence of fall ing dominoes, but of a fi rst cause chat sustains che whole series of causes, like the bottom building block chat holds up all che others in a stack.) Arguments for the Existence of God 69 Against these two arguments, philosophers have lodged several criticisms. One of the strongest takes a im at Aquinas's claim that an infinite regress is not possible. Aquinas thinks that a chain of causes must have a first cause; othenvise there \vould be no subsequent causes in the \vorld. In an infinite regress of causes, he contends, there would be no fi rst cause and therefore no subsequent causes. Critics reply that just because an infinite chain of causes has no first cause, that doesn't mean that the chain of causes has no cause at all: in an infinite chain of causes, every link has a cause. Many philosophers, including David Hume (17 11-1776), see no logical con- t radiction in the idea of an infinite regress. They hold that the universe need not have had a beginning; it may be eternal, without beginning, and without a first cause or a fi rst mover. The universe may have s imply always been. PHILOSOPHY NOW Science and the Uncaused Universe My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself (or herself) in the slight derails we arc able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds. -Albert Einstein The notion chat so,ne events in che universe are entirely uncaused is now \Videly accepted a,nong quantum physicists, the scientists \Vho study the realm of subaco,nic particles (such as electrons, positrons, and quarks). According co quantum physics, subatomic particles fre- quently pop in and out of existence randomly-chat is, they appear and disappear uncaused out of a perfect vacuum. From these findings, some scientists have speculated chat che uni- verse itself ,nay have arisen uncaused. This is how two physicists describe che pheno,nenon: [T]he idea of a First Cause sounds somewhat fishy in light of the modern theory of quantum mechanics. According to the most commonly accepted interpretation of quantum mechanics, individual subatomic particles can behave in unpredictable ways and there are numerous random, uncaused events.- Richard Morris, Achilles in the Quantum World, 1997 [Q]uantum electrodynamics reveals that an electron, positron, and photon occasionally emerge spontaneously in a perfect vacuum. When this hap- pens, the three particles exist for a brief t ime, and then annihilate each other, leaving no trace behind .... The spontaneous, temporary emergence of particles from a vacuum is called a vacuum fluctuation, and it is utterly commonplace in quantum fi eld theory.- Edward Tryon, "Is the Universe a Vacuum Fluctuation?" Nature, Vol. 246, Dec. 1973, pp. 396- 397. Suppose some subatomic events are uncaused. Does this show that the universe is uncaused? What bearing does the phenomenon have on the cosmological arguments of Aquinas and Craig? How might Craig reply to the physicists quoted above? 70 Chapter 2 God and Relig ion 10 Does the Big Bang prove that the uni- verse must have had a beginning? Some scientists have thought that the Big Bang was not the begin- ning of the universe, because the un iverse is "oscillating"-that is, it expands and contracts continua lly in an eternal cycle of a Big Bang fol lowed by periods of expansion then contraction and another Big Bang. There is now reason to think that the universe is not oscillating, but if oscillation were a plau- sible possibility, wou Id this undermine the claim that the universe began to exist? Some claim that the worst problem \Vith Aquinas's a rgumenrs is that at best they prove only that the universe had a first mover o r first cause-but not that the first mover or first cause is God. For a ll the arguments show, the first mover or first cause could be an impersonal substance o r energy, o r several minor deities, or a supreme but evil demon. Perhaps the universe is, as many scientisrs and philosophers allege, simply an eternal, uncaused brute fact. Inspired by recent findings in scientific cosmology (the study of the origin and structure of the universe), some philosophers have been interested in another kind of cosmological argument. Scientific evidence suggests that the universe suddenly came into existence about fourteen billion years ago in an unimaginably massive explosion known as the "Big Bang." Until that moment, the universe that \Ve ex- perience today simply was not. Using th is fact as a starting point, William Lane Craig defends the Ka/am cosmological argument (a name derived from medieval Islamic scholars): William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith In particular, I find the kalam cosmological argument for a temporal first cause of the universe to be one of the most plausible arguments for God 's existence ... . The argu- ment is basically this: both philosophical reasoning and scientific evidence show that the un iverse began to exist. Anyth ing that begins to exist must have a cause that brings it into being. So the universe must have a cause. Philosophical analysis reveals that such a cause must have several of the principle theis tic attributes. Figure 2.5 Was the Big Bang the beginni ng of the universe? Did the Big Bang have a cause? Arguments for the Existence of God 71 The argument may be formulated in th ree s imple steps. 1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause. 2. The un iverse began to exist. 3. Therefore, the universe has a cause. The logic of the argument is va lid and very simple; the argument has the same logical structure as the argument: "All men are morta l; Socrates is a man; the refore, Socrates is mortal." So the question is, are there good reasons to believe that each of the steps is true? I think there are.• Craig chinks che first premise is obviously true: Nothing scares co exist w ithout a cause. Bue many d ispute chis, insisting chat there is no logical reason why che u niverse could not be uncaused. They ask why che notion of an uncaused origina- t ion of things makes no sense while che idea of a god creating things out of noth- ing does. Some argue against Premise 1 on empirical grounds, pointing co findings in quantum physics suggesting chat some events involving subatomic particles a re un- caused. This evidence has prompted theorises co speculate chat che universe itself may be uncaused. Ac che very lease, they say, it proves chat someching's coming into existence uncaused is not impossible. (See che box "Philosophy Now: Science and che Uncaused Universe.") Craig a rgues for Premise 2 ("The universe began co exist") in much che same way chat Aquinas a rgues fo r a first cause: The universe muse have begun co exist because che alternative is an infinite regress of past events, which is impossible. H e maintains chat che very idea of an actual infinity of th ings involves logical contradictions: [W]hat is infinity minus infin ity? Well, mathematically, you get self-contradictory an- swers . .. . [l]nfin ity minus infinity is infinity. But suppose instead you subtract all the numbers grea ter than 2- how many are left? Three. So infinity minus infinity is 3! ... This implies that infinity is just an idea in your mind, not something that exists in rea li ty.3 Many philosophers reject chis understanding of infinity. They agree chat infinity can be perplexing, but they point out chat mathematicians kno\v how co work \vich infinity without inviting contradictions. More co che point, they hold chat there is no logical absurd icy in che notion of a series of even es screeching into an infin ite future. We can easily conceive of chis. Likewise, they say, there is no logical absurd icy in che idea of a series of events continuing into an infin ite past. We can scraighcforwardly conceive of chis as \veil . Craig says chat infinit ies may exist in mathematics (as in che series 0, l , 2, 3, . . . ), but chat they a re merely potential infinities, not actual infinities. Potential infinit ies "approach infinity as a limit, but they never actually gee there . . . . [E)xiscence in che mathematical realm does not imply existence in che real world.'" Ochers reply chat we may not be able co actually count co infinity or measure an infinite number of segments between two poines, but chat does not mean chat che numbers or segmenes a re nonex1scenc. 11 Is it obvious to you, as it is to Craig, that nothing starts to exist without a cause? Do you think that the universe could be uncaused? Why or why not? 12 Can you conceive of a series of events stretching infinitely into the future? Can you conceive of a series of events continuing infinitely into the past? Do you think there is a contradiction lurking in the idea of an infi- nite series of causes? Does the weirdness of infinity in mathematics show that infinities in the empirica l world cannot exist? What we need is not the will m believe, but ,he will to find out. -Bercrand Russell 72 Chapter 2 God and Relig ion Figure 2.6 In his book The Grand Design, world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking declares, "Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist .... It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the Universe going." Is Hawking's view plausible? Why or why not? Design Arguments Teleological, or design, arguments for the existence of God are straightforward, the gist being chat since the world seems co show signs of purposeful des ign, it most likely was purposefully designed-chat is, intentionally made by an intelligent be- ing, which we call God. A popular version takes che form of an argument from analogy and was famously laid down by che eighceench-cencury Anglican clergyman William Paley: William Paley, Natural Theology In crossing a heath, suppose I pitched my foot against a stone, and were asked how the stone came to be there, I might possibly answer that, for anything I knew to the con- trary, it had lain there forever; nor would it, perhaps, be very easy to show the absurdity of this answer. But suppose I found a watch upon the ground, and it should be inquired how the watch happened to be in that place, I should hardly think of the answer which I had given- that, for anything I knew, the watch might have always been there. Yet why should not this answer serve for the watch as well as for the stone? Why is it not as admissible in the second case as in the first? For this reason and for no other; viz., that, when we come to inspect the watch, we perceive (what we could not discover in Arguments for the Existence of God 73 the stone) that its several parts are framed and put together for a purpose, e.g., that they are so formed and adjusted as to produce motion, and that motion so regulated as to point out the hour of the day; that, if the different parts had been differently shaped from what they are, if a diffe rent size from what they are, or placed after any other manner, or in any other order than that in which they are placed, e ither no motion at all would have been carried on in the machine, or none which would have answered the use that is now served by it. To reckon up a few of the plainest of these parts, and of their offices, all tending to one resu lt: We see a cylindrical box containing a coiled elastic spring, which, by its endeavor to relax itself, turns round the box. We nex t ob- serve a fl exib le chain (artificially wrought for the sake of flexure) communicating the action of the spring from the box to the fuse. We then fi nd a series of wheels, the teeth of which catch in, and apply to, each other, conducting the motion from the fuse to the balance, and from the balance to the pointer, and, at the same time, by the size and shape of those wheels, so regulating that motion as to terminate in causing an index, by an equable and measured progression, to pass over a given space in a given time. We take notice that the wheels are made of brass, in order to keep them from rust; the springs of steel, no other metal being so elastic; that over the face of the watch there is placed a glass, a material employed in no other part of the work, but in the room of which, if there had been any other than a transparent substance, the hour could not be seen without opening the case. This mechanism being observed (it requ ires indeed an examination of the instrument, and perhaps some previous knowledge of the subject, to perceive and understand it; but being once, as we have said, observed and under- stood), the infe rence, we think, is inevi tab le, that the watch must have had a maker; that there must have existed, at some time, and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers who formed it fo r the purpose which we find it answer; who comprehended its construction, and designed its use .... Every ind ication of contrivance, every manifesta tion of design, which existed in the watch, exists in the works of nature; wi th the d ifference, on the side of nature, of being greater and more, and that in a degree which exceeds all computation. I mean that the contrivances of nature surpass the contrivances of art, in the complexity, subtlety, and curiosity of the mechanism; and still more, if poss ible, do they go beyond them in number and variety; yet in a multitude of cases, are not less evidently mechanical, not less evidently contrivances, not less evidently accommodated to their end, or suited to their office, than are the most perfect productions of human ingenuity.1 It is obvious, Paley says, that the "several pares [of the watch] are framed and put together for a purpose," \vhich suggests that it had an intelligent designer. Likewise, the un iverse manifescs countless parts, all seemingly formed and arranged to achieve various ends. From this he concludes that the universe also probably has an intel- ligent des igner, but one that surpasses immeasurably the po\ver and understanding of humans. This great designer must be God. Before Paley made h is case in Natural Theology (1802), David Hume (1711- 1776) had launched a famous critique of design arguments in his Dialogues Concern- ing Natural Religion (1779), and it has been echoed and amplified by thinkers ever since. In Dialogues, Hume presents a discussion of the issues among th ree fic tional characters-Demea, the orthodox believer; C leanthes, the theologian; and Philo, the skeptic. Using Philo as h is mouthpiece, Hume assaults the design argument from analogy on nvo broad fronts. H e fi rst contends that the argument fails because the As the poet said, "O nly God can make a tree• - probably because it's so hard to figure out how to get the bark on. -Woody Allen 74 Chapter 2 God and Relig ion 13 Is Hume's argument about reasoning from parts to the whole cor- rect? We certainly can't reason that because the bricks of a house are light in weight, the whole house is light in weight. But can't we legitimately argue that, say, because a bucket of water from a pond is polluted, the whole pond is poll uted? 14 Do you agree with Hume that we can draw no conclusions about the cause of phenomena that are "sing le, individual. without parallel or specific resemblance"? Would contemporary scientists accept Hume's view? 15 Is Hume's sugges- tion that the universe is like a living th ing at least as plausible as the view that it is I ike a machine? Why or why not? Suppose Hume is right. What would the implications be for Pa ley's argument? analogy is \veak, hampered by too fe\v relevant s imilarities and too many d issimi- larities. He then reasons that even if the argument demonstrates that the universe has a designer, the designer may not be the trad it ional God of theism. Here is Philo argu ing the first point: David Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion If we see a house, Cleanthes, we conclude, with the greatest certainty, that it had an arch itect or builder because this is precisely that species of effect which we have expe- rienced to proceed from that species of cause. But surely you will not affirm that the universe bears such a resemblance to a house that we can with the same certa inty infer a similar cause, or that the analogy is here entire and perfect. The dissimilitude is so striking that the utmost you can here pretend to is a guess, a conjecture, a presump- tion concerning a similar cause; and how that precision will be received in the world, I leave you to consider .... But can you think, Cleanthes, that your usual phlegm and philosophy have been pre- served in so wide a step as you have taken when you compared to the universe houses, ships, furniture, machines; and, from their similarity in some circumstances, in ferred a similarity in their causes? Thought, design, intelligence, such as we d iscover in men and other animals, is no more than one of the springs and principles of the universe, as well as heat or cold, attraction or repulsion, and a hund red others which fall under daily ob- servation. It is an active cause by which some particu lar parts of nature, we find, produce alterations on other parts. But can a conclusion, with any propriety, be transferred from parts to the whole? Does not the great disproportion bar all comparison and inference? From observing the growth of a ha ir, can we learn anyth ing concerning the generation of a man? Would the manner of a leaf's blowing, even though perfectly known, afford us any instruction concerning the vegetation of a tree? ... When two species of objects have always been observed to be conjoined together, I can infer, by custom, the existence of one wherever I see the existence of the other; and this I call an argument from experience. But how th is argument can have place where the objects, as in the present case, are single, individual, withou t parallel or specific resemblance, may be difficu lt to explain. And will any man tell me with serious counte- nance that an orderly universe must arise from some thought and art like the human because we have experience of it? To ascerta in this reasoning it were requisite that we had experience of the origin of worlds; and it is not sufficient, surely, that we have seen ships and cities arise from human art and contrivance .... Now, if we survey the un iverse, so far as it falls under our knowledge, it bears a great resemblance to an an imal or organized body, and seems actuated with a like principle of life and motion. A continual circulation of matter in it produces no disorder; a continual waste in every part is incessantly repaired; the closest sympathy is perceived throughout the entire system; and each part or member, in performing its proper offices, operates both to its own preservation and to that of the whole. The world, therefore, I infer, is an animal; and the Deity is the soul of the world, actuating it, and actuated by it.6 Philo asserts that trying to draw a conclusion about the cause of the un iverse based on what \Ve know about the cause of, say, a house is pointless because the dissim ila rit ies Arguments for the Existence of God 75 benveen the two phenomena are enormous. We cannot make any firm inferences about the a rchitect of the universe from \vhat we know about the a rchitects of houses. Further, he says, the intelligence that we observe in mankind is just one of the many forces that produce changes in the world. We therefore have no reason to presume that intelligence is the one th ing that is responsible for the universe as a whole. If we contend that it is, \Ve commit the logical fallacy of arguing from the part to the \vhole: because a part of a system has a particular characteristic, the entire system must have that characteristic too. As Philo purs it, "From observing the growth of a hai r, can we learn anyth ing concerning the generation of a man?" In a similar \vay, he says, we err if \Ve conclude that one event always causes another just because \Ve observe a single instance of such a pairing. We would need to encounter many instances of headaches preceded by a change in the \veather before we could plausibly infer that the latter caused the former. Likewise, we can establish no firm conclusions about the cause of the universe, because \Ve have only a single universe to examine. Finally, Philo tries to undermine the machine-universe analogy by offering what he considers a better comparison. The universe, he argues, is more like a living thing than a machine. In the world, as in living things, there is a continual circulation of matter, damage and waste a re remedied, and each part operates to preserve itself and the \vhole. Living things cre- ate and regulate themselves, unlike machines, which requi re designers and technicians. On the second point-that even if the universe has a designer, he may not be God-Philo has th is to say: Now, Cleanthes, said Philo, with an air of alacrity and triumph, mark the consequences. First, by this method of reasoning you renounce a ll cla im to infin ity in any of the at- tributes of the Deity. For, as the cause ought only to be proportioned to the effect, and the effect, so far as it fall s under our cognizance, is not infinite: What pretensions have we, upon your suppositions, to ascribe that attribute to the Divine Being? You will insist that, by removing him so much from all similarity to human creatures, we give in to the mos t arbitrary hypothesis, and at the same time weaken all proofs of his existence. 16 If there are many imperfections in nat ure, as Hume suggests, would we necessarily be forced to conclude t hat the designer was also imperfect? David Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion Secondly, you have no reason, on your theory, for ascribing perfection to the Deity, even in his fi. nite capacity; o r for supposing him free from every error, mis take, or incoherence in his undertakings. There are many inexplicable difficulties in the works of Nature which if we allow a perfect au thor to be proved a priori, are easily solved, and become only seeming difficulties from the narrow capacity of man, who cannot trace infinite relations. But accord ing to your method of reason ing, these difficulties become all real; and, perhaps, will be insisted on as new in- stances of likeness to human art and contrivance. At least, you must acknowledge that it is impossible for us to tell , from our limited views, whether this system contains any great fau lts or deserves any consider- able praise if compared to other poss ible and even Figure 2. 7 Was the world designed by God w ith humans in mind? If so, some have claimed, God must have erred, because the earth seems more hospitable to insects than to humans. The famous agnostic and tr ial lawyer Clarence Darrow once said, "There are some millions of different species of animals on th is earth, and one-half of these are insects .... If t he land of the earth was made for l ife, it seems as if it was intended for insect life, which can exist almost anywhere." Do you agree? 76 Chapter 2 God and Relig ion 17 Hume suggests that, for a 11 we know, there could have been many designers of the universe instead of one supreme deity. Is it reasonable to suppose that this is a genuine possibility? David H ume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion real systems. Could a peasant, if the Aeneid were read to him, pronounce that poem to be absolutely fau ltless, or even assign to it its proper rank among the productions of human wit, he who had never seen any other production? But were this world ever so perfect a production, it must still remain uncertain whether all the excellences of the work can justly be ascribed to the workman. If we survey a ship, what an exalted idea must we form of the ingenuity of the carpenter who framed so complicated, useful, and beautiful a machine? And what surprise must we feel when we find him a stupid mechanic who imitated others, and copied an art which, through a long succession of ages, after multiplied trials, mistakes, corrections, deliberations, and controversies, had been gradually improving? Many worlds might have been botched and bungled, th roughout an eternity, ere this system was struck out; much labor lost; many fruitless trials made; and a slow but continued improvement carried on during infinite ages in the art of world-making. In such subjects, who can determine where the truth, nay, who can conjecture where the probability lies, amidst a great number of hy- potheses which may be proposed, and a still greater which may be imagined? And what shadow of an argument, continued Philo, can you produce from your hypothesis to prove the unity of the Deity? A great number of men join in building a house or ship, in rearing a city, in framing a commonwealth; why may not several dei- ties combine in contriving and framing a world? This is only so much greater similarity to human affa irs. By sharing the work among several, we may so much further limit the attributes of each, and get rid of that extensive power and knowledge which must be supposed in one deity, and which, according to you, can only serve to weaken the proof of his existence. And if such fool ish, such vicious creatures as man can yet often unite in framing and executing one plan, how much more those deities or demons, whom we may suppose several degrees more perfect? . .. And why not become a perfect anthropomorphite? Why not assert the deity or dei- ties to be corporeal, and to have eyes, a nose, mouth, ears, etc.? Epicurus maintained that no man had ever seen reason but in a human figure; therefore, the gods must have a human figure. And this argument, which is deservedly so much ridiculed by Cicero, becomes, according to you, solid and phi losophical. In a word, C/eanthes, a man who follows your hypothes is is able, perhaps, to as- sert or conjecture the universe sometime arose from something like design. But be- yond that position he cannot ascertain one single ci rcumstance and is left afterwards to fix every point of his theology by the utmost license of fancy and hypothesis. This world , fo r aught he knows, is very fau lty and imperfect, compared to a superior stan- dard, and was only the fi rst rude essay of some infant deity who afterwards abandoned it, ashamed of his lame performance. It is the work only of some dependent, inferior deity, and is the object of derision to his superiors. It is the production of old age and dotage in some superannuated deity; and ever since his death has run on at adven- tures, from the first impulse and active force which it received from him ... .7 Philo declares that if we carefully and consistently apply the kind of reasoning used in the design argument (as Cleanthes would have us do), \Ve would have to accept some uncomfortable conclusions about the nature of the designer. Accord- ing to Cleanthes, \Ve are supposed to judge the nature of the cause by the nature of the effect, and we are to reason from the attributes of human designers to the at- tributes of God. By this logic, Philo says, \Ve \vould have to conclude that God (the cause) may not be infinite, because the universe (the effect) is not infinite. We \vould be forced to admit that God may not be perfect, because the universe is itself not 78 Chapter 2 God and Relig ion PH I LOSOPHY NOW Do Scientists Reject Religion? The answer is yes and no. A 2009 Pew Research Center survey showed that just over half of scientists (51 percent) believe in a deicy or higher po,ver, while belief in God or a higher po,ver among Americans is much higher- 80 ro 95 percent in some surveys. Bur scientists' spiritual and religious beliefs (and disbelief) are diverse and often illuminating. Here's a sampling of rhe views of so,ne of che more eminent and influential figures. Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spiri- tuality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feel ing, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. So are our emotions in the presence of great art or music or litera- ture, or acts of exemplary selfless courage such as those of Mohandas Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.- Carl Sagan (1934- 1996) What I have done is to show that it is possible for the way the universe began to be determined by the laws of science. In that case, it would not be necessary to appeal to God to decide how the universe began. This doesn't prove that there is no God, only that God is not necessary.- Stephen Hawking (1942- 2018) Science is ... a powerful way, indeed to study the natural world. Science is not particu larly effective ... in making commentary about the supernatu- ral world. Both worlds, for me, are quite real and qu ite important. They are investigated in different ways. They coexist. They illuminate each other. - Francis Coll ins (1950- ) I am very astonished that the scientific picture of the real world around me is very deficient. It gives a lot of factual in formation, puts all our experi- ences in a magnificently consistent order, but is ghastly silent about all and sundry that is really near to our heart, that really matters to us. It cannot tell us a word about red and blue, bitter and sweet, physica l pain and physi- cal delight; it knows nothing of beautiful and ugly, good or bad, god and eternity.- Erwin Schrodinger (1887- 1961) I find it as difficult to understand a scientist who does not acknowledge the presence of a superior rationality behind the existence of the universe as it is to comprehend a theologian who would deny the advances of science. - Wernher von Braun (1912- 1977) Why do you chink chat only half of scientists believe in a deity or higher po,ver? Which scientist's belief quoted above is closest co your own view of God and rel igion? Why? Arguments for the Existence of God 79 Ontological Arguments C-osmological and teleological appeals rest ultimately o n the evidence of experience. Ontological a rgumencs rest on logic alone. Logic tells us that some th ings cannot possibly exist-round squares and married bachelors, for example. They cannot ex- ist because they involve logical contradictions. A nd logic tells us that it is (logically) possible that golden mounta ins and flying horses exist (tho ugh they are not actual), fo r they involve no logical contradictions. So isn't it at least plausible that \Vith logic alo ne we could someho\v prove the existence of God? Anselm thought so. H e was the fi rst to articulate a precise statement of an ontological argument, and other thinkers s ince h im have offered their O\vn vers ions. H e reasons that since God by defin ition is the greatest possible being, God must actually exist, because if he did not exist in reality (and merely existed in our m inds), he \vould not be the greatest possible be- ing. Here is the argument in A nselm's own \vords: Anselm, Proslogium And so, Lord, do thou, who dost give understand ing to faith, give me, so far as thou knowest it to be profitable, to understand that thou art as we believe; and that thou art that which we believe. And, indeed, we believe that thou art a being than which noth- ing greater can be conceived. Or is there no such nature, s ince the fool hath said in his heart, there is no God? (Psalms xiv.1). But, at any rate, this very fool, when he hea rs of this being of which I speak- a being than which nothing greater can be conceived- understands what he hears, and what he understands is in his understanding; although he does not understand it to exist. For, it is one thing for an object to be in the understanding, and another to under- stand that the object exists. When a painter first conceives of what he will afterwards perform, he has it in his understanding, but he does not yet understand it to be, because he has not yet performed it. But after he has made the paint- ing, he both has it in his understanding, and he understands that it exists, because he has made it. Hence, even the fool is convinced that something exists in the under- standing, at least, than which nothing greater can be conceived. For, when he hears of this, he understands it. And whatever is understood, exists in the understand ing. And assured ly that, than which nothing greater can be con- ceived, cannot exist in the understand ing alone. For, suppose it exists in the un- derstand ing alone: then it can be conceived to exist in reality; which is greater. 18 Does existence al- ways add greatness to an ent ity? That is, is it always greater to exist t han not to exist? Why or why not ? Therefore, if that, than which nothing greater can be conceived, exists in the understanding alone, the very being, than which nothing greater can be conceived, is one, than which a greater can be conceived. But obviously this is impossible. Hence, there is no doubt that there exists a being, than which nothing greater can be conceived, and it exists both in the understanding and in reality. And it assured ly exists so truly, that it cannot be conceived not to exist. For, it is possible to conceive of a being which cannot be conceived not to ex- ist; and this is greater than one which can be conceived not to exist. Hence, Figure 2.8 St. Anselm (1033-1109), medieval philosopher and theologian and the Archbishop of Canterbury. He held that reason was a friend of faith, not a source of religious skepticism. 80 Chapter 2 God and Relig ion PHILOSOPHY NOW Evolution and Intelligent Design Science maintains char che best explanation for the apparent design of biological life is rhe the- ory of evolution, which says char living things, in all their variery and co,nplexiry, arose ch rough natural processes. Bur some dai,n char life on earth is best explained by the interven- t ion of a supreme intelligence. Michael Behe fainously argues char some biologi- cal systems are so profoundly incricace- so "irreducibly co,nplex"-rhac they could nor have been produced by gradual evo- lutionary changes. Only an intelligent de- signer can account for such complexiry. The consensus among scientists is char evolution operates through ,vhat Danvin called "natura l selection." The basic idea is char offspring of organisms differ physically fro,n their parents in various ,vays, and these differences can be passed on generi- cally co their offspring. If an offspring has an inherited trait (such as sharper vision or a larger brain) char increases its chances of Figure 2.9 Could the human eye- a very complex surviving long enough to reproduce, the in- system- have evolved through natural selection? dividual is more likely co survive and pass Anselm, Proslogium rhe craic on co che next generation. After severa l generations, th is useful trait, or adaptation, spreads throughout a whole population of individuals, differentiating che population from its ancestors. Behe's claim is char it is i1npossible for irreducibly co,nplex systems to be produced through natural selection. He says chat an irreducibly complex system (for example, the eye) is co,nposed of several inter- connected, perfectly marched pares such char if even one part is 1nissing, the sysre,n will nor function. An eye can i1nprove the survival prospects of organis,ns only if it functions, and if that, than which nothing greater can be conceived, can be conceived not to exist, it is not that, than which nothing greater can be conceived. But this is an irreconcilable contradiction. There is, then, so tru ly a being than which nothing greater can be con- ceived to exist, that it cannot even be conceived not to exist; and this being thou art, O Lord, our God. So tru ly, therefore, dost thou exist, 0 Lord, my God, that thou canst not be con- ceived not to exist; and rightly. For, if a mind could conceive of a being better than thee, the creature would rise above the Creator; and this is most absurd. And, indeed, whatever else there is, except thee alone, can be conceived not to exist. To thee alone, therefore, it belongs to exist more truly than all other beings, and hence in a higher Arguments for the Existence of God 81 proper functioning requires char each of irs pares is rhere co do its job. Accord ing to evolu- tion, rhe eye ca,ne abour through slow, incre,nenca l changes. Bur, Behe asks, how can an unfin ished, nonfuncrioning eye improve survival? This shows, he argues, char the eye and all ocher irreducibly complex sysrems ,vere created ,vhole-nor ch rough evolution, bur by so,ne grear inrell igence. But most biologists deny that rhe development of irreducibly complex systems ch rough natura l selection is physically impossible. Behe chinks natural selection requires that a coin- plex sysrem be fonned by gradua l addition of components until a functioning model is achieved. But critics point out char rhe components can be present all along or arise ar dif- ferent t imes, performing tasks that improve various processes. Then, because of a change in the genome, the pares may be put to new uses, fonning an irreducibly complex structure. From the face that biologists generally do not kno,v precisely how each step of such a process happens, ir does nor follow chat the process is impossible or unknowable. Phi lip Kircher th inks that rhe remedy for our ignorance of these marrers is more and betrer re- search, not the presumption of an inrell igenr designer: Even if intelligent designers were right in supposing that the phenomena they indicate couldn't have evolved by natural selection, only a more explicit identification of the causal mechanism that was at work could justify the conclusion that that mechanism is intelligent.- Philip Kitcher, Living With Darwin, 2007 Suppose evolution is t rue and intelligent design t heory is false. Would this mean that there is no supreme being w ho made biological life possible? Can someone consistently believe in both evolution and God? degree than all others. For, whatever else exists does not exist so truly, and hence in a less degree it belongs to it to exist. Why, then, has the fool said in his heart, there is no God (Psalms xiv. ir), since it is so evident, to a rational mind, that thou dost exist in the highest degree of all? Why, except that he is dull and a fool?' 0 Here's che a rgument seated more formally: 1. God, by definition, is the greatest being possible. 2. Suppose che greatest being possible exiscs only in the understanding (in the mind, as a mental object). 82 Chapter 2 God and Relig ion 19 What is the most plausible meaning of "exists in the under- standing alone "? Could it mean that the concept of the greatest being possible is not actually exemplified, that it does not refer to anyth ing exist ing in re- a lity? If so, how would such an interpreta- tion affect Anselm's argument? If God did not exist, i, would be ncccs.sary ,o invent him. -Voltaire I cannot conceive of a God who rcv.oards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of ,he kind that we experi- ence in o urselves. Neither can I nor would I want to conceive of an individual tha, survives his physical death; let feeble souls, from fca, o, absurd ego- ism, cherish such thoughrs. I am satisfied with the mys,cry of the eternity of life and with the aware- ness and a glimpse of the marvelous structure of the existing world} together with the devoted striving to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the Reason ,hat manifests itself in nature. -Albert Einstein 3. Then a greater being than the greatest being possible can be conceived, one existing not just in the understanding, but also in reality (for a being is greater if it exists in reality than if it exiscs only in the understanding). 4. But this yields a contradiction, for a being greater than the greatest being possible is impossible. 5. Therefore, God, the greatest being possible, must exist in reality, not just in the understanding. Many have found fault with this line of reasoning. The fi rst major criticism came from an eleventh-cent ury monk named Gaunilo, who thought that Anselm ,vas try- ing to define God into existence. He maintained that if Anselm's argument were a good piece of reasoning, we could use it to prove the existence of many things that obviously do not exist-for instance, the greatest island possible. We could argue that the greatest island possible must actually exist because if it existed only in the understanding, there could conceivably be an island that is greater, namely, one that exists in reality as ,vell as in the understanding. Anselm replied that his reasoning does not pertain to things like Gaunilo's island, but only to God, the greatest being possible. Others have suggested that Gaunilo's critique fails because his island is not a possibility. To them it seems that for any island thought to be the greatest possible, ,ve can ahvays imagine how it can be greater by enhancing its properties. Such an island could therefore never be the greatest. Critics have rejected both of these suggestions, and some have countered that Anselm's line could prove the existence of absurd things other than a perfect island-like a supremely evil superbeing. In putting forth his argument, Anselm makes nvo assumptions: (I) existence makes something greater (that is, something is greater if it exists in the ,vorld than ifit exists only in the mind as an idea) and (2) existence can be a defining property. Critics have questioned both of these. On the first count, they contend that there is no good reason to think that existence adds to the value of an entity. After all, it is not obvious that it is better for, say, a thoroughly evil being to exist than not to exist. On the second count, they doubt that existence can be any kind of defining property at all. Anselm assumes that one th ing can be greater than another thing even though they have ex- actly the same properties, differing only in that the fi rst thing exists and the second does not. In his view, existence is another defining property-the essential attribute that the one thing has and the other lacks. But is this plausible? Suppose you imagine an incredibly beautiful beach, detailing in your mind its every property (,vhite sand, - Figure 2.10 Could there be such a thing as the greatest possible beach? Arguments for the Existence of God 83 lovely palm trees, blue \Yater, etc.). Then you add one more attribute-actual exis- tence. Does this last step change the defining properties of your beach-or does it simply indicate that the beach with al l irs defining properties is actual? Many philoso- phers, including Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), would choose the latter. As Kant says, Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason "Being'' is obviously not a real predicate [term designating a property]; that is, it is not a concept of something which could be added to the concept of a thing. It is merely the positing of a thing, or of certain determinations, as existing in themselves .... By whatever and by however many predicates we may think a thing- even if we completely determine it- we do not make the least addition to the thing when we further declare that this th ing is." In any case, some detractors think the weakest link in Anselm's chain of reason- ing is Premise 2, the supposition that the greatest being possible exists only in the understanding. This claim gives rise to the contrad iction that a greater being than the greatest being possible can be conceived (one existing in reality) . But they argue that the contrad iction d issolves if we take Premise 2 to mean not that the greatest being possible exisrs in some sense in the mind (the vie\v that Anselm seems to take), but simply that the concept of the greatest being possible does not refer to any actu- ally existing thing. The latter, they insist, is the more reasonable reading of "exisrs only in the understanding," and it does not yield any contradictions about the nat ure of God. With th is reading of Premise 2, Anselm's argument does not go th rough. WRITING TO UNDERSTAND: CRITIQUING PHILOSOPHICAL VIEWS SECTION 2.2 1. What is Aquinas's first-cause argument? Does it prove the existence of the traditional God of theism? Does it prove that the universe had a first cause? 2. What is Craig's cosmological argument? Critique irs two premises. Are they true? Explain why you think they are true (or false). If the argu- ment is sound, what does it prove? Does it prove that God exists? 3. What are the relevant similarities and d ifferences benveen Paley's \Vatch and the universe? Is the \Vatch analogy a good one? 4. Are Hume's criticisms of the design argument cogent? Does he suc- cessfully refute it? 5. Are the assumptions behind Anselm's argument justified? That is, are there good reasons for accepting them? If triangles made a god, they would give him three sides. - Charles de Montesquieu 84 Chapter 2 God and Relig ion M oral evil is evil that comes from human choices and actions and the bad things that ar ise from them. Natural evil is evil that resuk s from the workings of narurc. 2.3 GOD AND THE PROBLEM OF EVIL Some people doubt the existence of God because they bel ieve that the traditional ar- guments for theism fall short and that no other evidence in God's favor seems forth- coming. Others take a stronger stand against theism by setting forth the argument from evi l. They ask, in effect, "If God existS, how can there be so much unnecessa ry evil in the ,vorld? An all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good God might allo,v some evils because they are necessary to bring about some greater good. But much of the ,vorld 's evils seem to be entirely and blatantly gratu itous. So ho,v can ,ve conclude anything other than that there must be no such God?" Philosophers and theologians have generally concerned themselves with nvo types of evil. Moral evil comes from human choices and actions and the bad things that arise from them. Injustice, murder, deceit, theft, and torture are moral evils from which flow pain, suffering, inju ry, loss, and death. Natural evil results from the workings of natu re. From hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, fires, d isease, and drought come vast sums of evil in the form of human and animal suffering. To make thei r case, atheists have usually appealed to both kinds of evil, challenging theistS to explain why a perfectly good and powerful God would allow such horrors. Rowe's Argument from Evil One of the more influential versions of the argument from evil is provided by philo- sopher William L. Rowe, ,vho focuses on evil as " intense human and an imal suffering": Wil liam L. Rowe, Philosophy of Religion Taking human and an imal suffering as a clear instance of evil which occurs with great frequency in our world, the ... problem of evil can be stated in terms of the following argument for atheism. 1. There exist instances of intense suffering which an omnipotent, omniscient being could have prevented without thereby preventing the occurrence of any greater good. 2. An omniscient, wholly good being would prevent the occurrence of any in- tense suffering it could, unless it could not do so without thereby preventing the occurrence of some greater good. Therefore, 3. There does not exist an omnipotent, omniscient, wholly good being. What are we to say about th is argument for atheism, an argument based on the profusion of one sort of evil in the world? The argument is valid; therefore, if we have rational grounds for accepting its premises, to that extent we have rational grounds for accepting atheism. Do we, however, have rational grounds for accepting the premises of th is argument? God and the Problem of Evi l 85 Figure 2.11 Does a fawn's suffering alone in the forest lead to a greater good? Could an omnipotent God obtain th is greater good some other way? The second premise of the argument expresses a belief about what a morally good being would do under certain circumstances. Accord ing to this belief, if a morally good being knew of some intense suffering that was about to occur and he was in a position to prevent its occurrence, he would prevent it unless he could not do so without thereby losing some greater good of which he was aware. This belief (or something very close to it) is, I think, held in common by theists and nontheists. Of course, there may be disagreement about whether something is good, and whether, if it is good, one would be morally just ified in permitting some intense suffering to occur in order to obtain it. Someone might hold, for example, that no good is great enough to justify permitting an innocent ch ild to suffer terribly. To hold such a view, however, is not to deny premise 2 which claims only that if an omniscient, wholly good being permits intense suffering then there must be some greater good (a good which outweighs the suffering in ques- tion) which the good being could not obtain without permitting the intense suffering. So stated, 2 seems to express a belief that accords with our basic moral principles, principles shared by both theists and nontheists. If we are to fau lt th is argument, there- fore, we must find some fault with its first premise. Suppose in some distant forest lightning strikes a dead tree, resulting in a forest fire. In the fire a fawn is trapped, horribly burned, and lies in terrible agony for several days before death relieves its suffering. So far as we can see, the fawn's intense suffer- ing is pointless, leading to no greater good. Could an omnipotent, omniscient being have prevented the fawn's apparently pointless suffering? The answer is obvious, as even the theist will insist. An omnipotent, omniscient being could easily have pre- vented the fawn from being horribly burned, or, given the burning, could have spared the fawn the intense suffering by quickly ending its li fe, rather than allowing the fawn to lie in terrible agony for several days. Since no greater good, so far as we can see, would have been lost had the fawn's intense suffering been prevented, doesn't it appear that premise 1 of the argument is t rue, that there exist instances of intense suffering which an omnipotent, omniscient being could have prevented without thereby preventing the occurrence of any greater good? .. . 20 Do you agree with Rowe that it seems un- likely that all instances of intense human and animal suffering lead to greater goods? And do you think that if all that suffering does lead to greater goods, that "an omnipotent, omniscient being could not have achieved at least some of those goods without permit- t ing the instances of suffering that lead to them"? 86 Chapter 2 God and Relig ion William L. Rowe, Philosophy of Religion The truth is that we are not in a position to prove that 1 is true. We cannot know with certainty that instances of suffering of the sort described in 1 do occur in our world. But it is one thing to know or prove that 1 is true and quite another thing to have rational grounds for believing 1 to be true. We are often in the position where in the light of our experience and knowledge it is rational to believe that a certain statement is true, even though we are not in a position to prove or to know with certainty that the statement is true. In the light of our past experience and knowledge it is, for example, very reason- able to believe that neither Goldwater nor McGovern will ever be elected president, but we are scarcely in the position of knowing with certainty that neither wil l be elected president. So, too, with , , although we cannot know with certainty that it is true, it per- haps can be rationa lly supported, shown to be a rational belief. Consider again the case of the fawn's suffering. There are two distinct questions we need to ra ise: "Does the fawn's suffering lead to some greater good?" and "Is the greater good to which it might lead such that an omnipotent, omniscient being could not obtain it without permitting the fawn's suffering?" It may strike us as unlikely that the answer to the first question is yes. And it may strike us as quite a bit more unlikely that the answer to the second question is yes. But even if we should think it is reason- able to believe that the fawn's suffering leads to a greater good unobtainable without that suffering, we must then ask whether it is reasonable to believe that all the instances of profound, seemingly pointless human and animal suffering lead to greater goods. And, if they should somehow all lead to greater goods, is it reasonable to believe that an omnipotent, omniscient being could not have brought about any of those goods without permitting the instances of suffering which supposedly lead to them? When we consider these more general questions in the light of our experience and knowledge of the variety and profusion of human and animal suffering occurring daily in our world, it seems that the answer must be no. It seems quite unlikely that all the instances of intense human and animal suffering occurring daily in our world lead to greater goods, and even more unlikely that if they all do, an omnipotent, omniscient being could not have achieved at least some of those goods without permitting the instances of suffer- ing that lead to them. In the light of our experience and knowledge of the variety and scale of human and animal suffering in our world, the idea that none of those instances of suffering could have been prevented by an omnipotent being without the loss of a greater good seems an extraordinary, absurd idea, quite beyond our belief. It seems then that although we cannot prove that premise 1 is true, it is, nevertheless, altogether reasonable to believe that 1 is true, that it is a rational belief." Some theisrs reject Premise 1 by appealing to human ignorance. They argue that there could be goods unkno\vn to us that justify the evil we see-goods compre- hended by God but beyond our ken. O r our concept of good may not be God's, for his morality is of a higher, purer kind than ours. In God's eyes, then, \vhat we believe is evil might be good, or what \Ve think is good might be evil. Defenders of Premise 1 reply that we may indeed be una\vare of goods that God discerns, but none of the goods we do know about could ever compensate for life's vast burden of seemingly gratuitous evil. We need not know what God knows to be justified in believing Premise 1. As Rowe says, That things appear to us to be a certain way is itself justification for thinking things are this way. Of course, th is justification may be de- feated. But apart from such defeat, the fact that th ings appear to us God and the Problem of Evi l 87 to be a certain way renders us rationally justifi ed in bel ieving that they are that way.'l And co assert that God's morality is higher than ours, some argue, is co case doubt on all our moral judgments and co render meaningless our terms good and evil. J. L. Mackie observes chat on chis higher-morality vie\v, "When the theist says that God is wholly good he does not mean chat God has anything like the purposes and tendencies chat would count as good in a human being. But then why call him good? Is not chis description misleading?"14 The Free Will Defense To many theists, the best way co counter the argument from evil is co present a theo- dicy, an explanation of why God permits evil. The point is co provide good reasons why evil may be a necessary part of God's creation, thereby showing that the argument from evil fails. Chief among such approaches is the free \viii defense, which is usually offered as an explanation of moral evi l. It says that human free will is an enormous good, so much so chat a universe \vhere humans have free will is better than one \vhere they don't, even if thei r exercise of freedom brings about much evil. Moral evil is the unavoidable byproduct of God's gift of free will. According co Richard S\vinburne, Richard Swinburne, Is There a God? The free-will defence claims that it is a great good that humans have a certain sort of free will which I shall call free and responsible choice, but that, if they do, then neces- sarily there will be the natural possibility of moral evil. ... A God who gives humans such free will necessarily brings about the possibili ty, and puts outside his own control whether or not that evil occurs. It is not logical ly possible- that is, it would be self. contradictory to suppose- that God could give us such free will and yet ensure that we always use it in the right way.'s Here free will may sound like a serious restriction of God's po\ver (a denial of h is omnipotence), but most philosophers, \vhether theist ic or not, have not taken that vie\v. They have interpreted God's omnipotence not as the power co do any- th ing whatsoever, but as the po\ver co do anything chat is logically possible. They have ackno\vledged that God cannot make a square circle or a married bachelor, cause 2 + 2 co equal 5, o r create a triangle with four sides. But logical impossibili- t ies are fundamenta l faces about rea lity and are not thought co sec any restrictions on God's power. Against the free will defense, two main objections have been The first is the contention chat there is no reason why an omnipotent God could not have created free agents \vho ahvays choose the good. As Mackie says, "If God has made men such that in their free choices they sometimes prefer \vhac is good and sometimes what is evil, why could he not have made men such chat they always freely choose the good?"16 Bue What mean and crud things men do for ,he love of God. -Vl. Somerset Maugham 21 Is Mackie correct in saying that an omnipo- tent God could have created people with free will who always choose the good? Is such a state of affairs logically possible? You can say rhat you trust God anyway- that no arguments can undermine your fai th. But that is just a statement describing how stubborn you arc; it has no bearing w hatsoever on the questions of God's goodness. -B. C. Johnson 88 Chapter 2 God and Relig ion many theisrs assert that to ensure people ahvays freely do what is right, God would have to farce them to do so-and forcing people to act freely is logically impossible. The second objection is that even if God could not have made humans so they always freely choose the good, he could have at least made people such that they do less evil than they actually do. In this vie\v, God could have given people bet- ter moral character so their desire to do good would be stronger and their desi re to do evil would be weaker. Such an a lteration in their character would not diminish their capacity to act freely, and even a slight change \vould reduce the amount of evil in the world. Many theists would object to this line, however, charging that such manipulation of character by God would indeed curtail free wil l. God's t inkering with people's psychological makeup would be analogous to controlling a person's behavior through hypnosis or d rugs. The Soul-Making Defense In any case, free wi ll is not the only good that has been offered as a justification for God's perm itting evil. The philosopher John Hick says that the greatest good is "soul-making." In his theodicy, he argues that evil in the form of suffering is necessary to provide humans w ith a world \vhere moral and spiritual progress is pos- sible. Personal growth-soul-making-can take place only when people make free choices in response to the pain and anguish of living. Hick expla ins: John Hick, Evil and the God of Love Instead of regarding man as having been created by God in a finished state, as a finitely perfect being fulfi ll ing the divine intention for our human level of existence, and then falli ng disastrously away from this, the [minority view) sees man as still in process of creation. lrenaeus himself expressed the point in terms of the (exegetically dubious) distinction between the 'image' and the 'likeness' of God referred to in Genesis i.26: 'Then God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.' His view was that man as a personal and mora l being already exists in the image, but has not yet been formed into the fi nite likeness of God. By this 'likeness' lrenaeus means something more than personal existence as such; he means a certain valuable quality of personal life which reflects finitely the divine life. This represents the perfecting of man, the ful- fi lment of God's purpose for humanity, the 'bringing of many sons to glory', the creat- ing of 'children of God' who are 'fellow heirs with Christ' of his glory. And so man, created as a personal being in the image of God, is only the raw mate- rial for a further and more difficult stage of God's creative work. This is the leading of men as relatively free and autonomous persons, through their own dealings with life in the world in which He has placed them, towards that quality of personal existence that is the finite likeness of God . . . . In the light of modern anthropological knowledge some form of two-stage concep- tion of the creation of man has become an almost unavoidable Christian tenet. At the very least we must acknowledge as two d istinguishable stages the fashioning of homo God and the Problem of Evi l 89 sapiens as a product of the long evolutionary process, and his sudden or gradual spiri- tua lization as a ch ild of God. But we may well extend the first stage to include the devel- opment of man as a rational and responsible person capable of personal relationship with the personal Infinite who has created him. This first stage of the creative process was, to our anthropomorphic imaginations, easy for divine omnipotence. By an exer- cise of creative power God caused the physical universe to exist, and in the course of countless ages to bring forth within it organic life, and fina lly to produce out of organic li fe personal li fe; and when man had thus emerged out of the evolution of the forms of organic life, a creature had been made who has the possibility of existing in conscious fellowship with God. But the second stage of the creative process is of a different kind altogether. It cannot be performed by omnipotent power as such. For personal life is essentially free and self-directing. It cannot be perfected by divine fiat, but only through the uncompelled responses and will ing co-operation of human individuals in their ac- tions and reactions in the world in which God has placed them. Men may eventually become the perfected persons whom the New Testament ca lls 'chi ldren of God', but they cannot be created ready-made as th is. The value-judgement that is implici tly being invoked here is that one who has attained to goodness by meeting and eventually mastering temptations, and thus by rightly making responsible choices in concrete situations, is good in a richer and more valuable sense than would be one created ab initio in a state either of innocence or of virtue. In the former case, which is that of the actual moral achievements of man- kind, the individual's goodness has within it the strength of temptations overcome, a stability based upon an accumulation of right choices, and a positive and responsible character that comes from the investment of costly personal effort. I suggest, then, that it is an ethically reasonable judgement, even though in the nature of the case not one that is capable of demonstrative proof, that human goodness slowly buil t up through personal histories of moral effort has a value in the eyes of the Creator which justifies even the long travai l of the soul-making process ... . If, then, God's aim in making the world is 'the bringing of many sons to glory', that aim will naturally determine the kind of world that He has created. Antitheistic writers almost invariably assume a conception of the divine purpose which is contrary to the Christian conception. They assume that the purpose of a loving God must be to create a hedonistic paradise; and therefore to the extent that the world is other than this, it proves to them that God is either not loving enough or not powerful enough to create such a world. They think of God's relation to the earth on the model of a human being building a cage for a pet animal to dwell in. If he is humane he will naturally make his pet's quarters as pleasant and healthfu l as he can. Any respect in which the cage falls short of the veterinarian's ideal, and contains possibilities of accident or disease, is evidence of either limi ted benevolence or limited means, or both. Those who use the problem of evil as an argument against belief in God almost invariably think of the world in this kind of way. David Hume, for example, speaks of an architect who is try- ing to plan a house that is to be as comfortable and convenient as possible. If we find that 'the windows, doors, fi res, passages, stairs, and the whole economy of the build- ing were the source of noise, confusion, fatigue, darkness, and the extremes of heat and cold' we should have no hesitation in blaming the architect. It would be in vain for him to prove that if this or that defect were corrected greater ills would resu lt: 'sti ll you would assert in general, that, if the architect had had skill and good intentions, he might have formed such a plan of the whole, and might have adjusted the parts in such a manner, as would have remedied all or most of these inconveniences'. 22 According to Hick, what is the "soul - making process"? Is it, as he says, of such great va lue that it justifies all the human and animal suffering involved in it? 90 Chapter 2 God and Relig ion John Hick, Evil and the God of Love But if we are right in supposing that God's purpose for man is to lead him from human Bios, or the biological life of man, to that quality of Zoe, or the personal life of eternal worth, which we see in Christ , then the question that we have to ask is not, Is this the kind of world that an all-powerful and in finitely loving being would create as an environment for his human pets? or, Is the architecture of the world the most pleasant and convenient possible? The question that we have to ask is rather, Is this the kind of world that God might make as an environment in which moral beings may be fash- ioned, through their own free insights and responses, into 'children of God'? Such critics as Hume are confusing what heaven ought to be, as an environment for perfected finite beings, with what this world ought to be, as an environment for be- ings who are in process of becoming perfected. For if our general conception of God's purpose is correct the world is not intended to be a paradise, but rather the scene of a history in which human personality may be formed towards the pattern of Christ. Men are not to be thought of on the analogy of animal pets, whose life is to be made as agreeable as possible, but rather on the analogy of human chi ldren, who are to grow to adulthood in an environment whose primary and overriding purpose is not immedi- ate pleasure but the realizing of the most valuable potentia lities of human personality. Needless to say, this characterization of God as the heavenly Father is not a merely random illustration but an analogy that lies at the heart of the Christian faith. Jesus treated the likeness between the attitude of God to man and the attitude of human parents at their best towards their children, as provid ing the most adequate way for us to think about God. And so it is altogether relevant to a Christian understanding of this world to ask, How does the best parental love express itself in its influence upon the environment in which chi ldren are to grow up? I think it is clear that a parent who loves his children, and wants them to become the best human beings that they are capable of becoming, does not treat pleasure as the sole and supreme value. Certainly we seek pleasure for our children, and take great delight in obtaining it for them; but we do not desire for them unalloyed pleasure at the expense of their growth in such even greater values as moral integrity, unselfishness, compassion, courage, humour, reverence for the truth, and per- haps above all the capacity for love. We do not act on the premise that pleasure is the su- preme end of life; and if the development of these other values sometimes clashes with the provision of pleasure, then we are willing to have our ch ildren miss a certain amount of this, rather than fail to come to possess and to be possessed by the finer and more precious qualities that are possible to the human personali ty. A child brought up on the principle that the only or the supreme va lue is pleasure would not be likely to become an ethically mature adult or an attractive or happy personality. And to most parents it seems more important to try to foster quality and strength of character in their children than to fill their lives at all times with the utmost possible degree of pleasure. If, then, there is any true analogy between God's purpose for his human creatures, and the purpose of loving and wise parents for their children, we have to recognize that the presence of pleasure and the absence of pain cannot be the supreme and overriding end for which the world exists. Rather, this world must be a place of soul-making. And its value is to be judged, not primarily by the quantity of pleasure and pain occurring in it at any particular mo- ment, bu t by its fitness for its primary purpose, the purpose of soul-making .... If, then, the evi l in human life finally reveals its nature according as it becomes or fa ils to become a phase in the fu lfilment of God's purpose, we must conclude, so far as the present life is concerned, that there are both good and evi l suffering, and that there are redeemed and unredeemed sinners. Any revision of the verdict must depend upon lengthening the perspective out until it reaches a new and better conclusion. God and the Problem of Evi l 91 If there is any eventual resolutio n of the interplay between good and evil, any decisive bringing of good out of evil , it must lie beyond this world and beyond the enigma of death. Therefore we cannot hope to state a Christian theodicy witho ut taking seriously the doctrine of a life beyond the grave. This doctrine is not, of course, based upon any theory of natural immortality, but upon the hope that beyond death God will resurrect or re-create or reconstitute the human personality in both its inne r and its outer as- pects. The Christian cla im is that the ultimate life of man- after what further scenes of 'soul-making' we do no t know- lies in that Kingdom of God which is depicted in the teaching of Jesus as a state of exultant and blissful happiness, symbolized as a joyous banquet in which all and sund ry, having accepted God's gracious invi tation, rejoice to- gether. And Chris tian theodicy must point forward to that final blessedness, and claim that th is in finite future good will render worthwhile all the pain and trava il and wicked- ness that has occurred on the way to it. Theodicy cannot be content to look to the past, seeking an explanation of evil in its origins, but must look towards the future, expecting a triumphant resolution in the eventual perfect fu lfilment of God's good purpose.'7 Critics have assa iled Hick's view on several fronts, arguing that suffering can warp character as well as build it, that God's allo\ving people to suffer for their own good constitutes morally repugnant paternalism, and that H ick's theodicy has the bizarre implication that our trying to eradicate evil would be \vrong. Rowe's main criticism is that far more evil afflicts people than is required for soul-making: The problem Hick's theodicy leaves us is that it is altogether rea- sonable to believe that some of the evil s that occur could have been prevented witho ut either d iminishing our mora l and spiritual devel- opment or undermining o ur confidence tha t the world operates ac- cording to natural laws.18 WRITING TO UNDERSTAND: CRITIQUING PHILOSOPHICAL VIEWS SECTION 2.3 1. Do you th ink H ick's soul-making theodicy is an adequate response to the argu ment from evil? Explain. 2. Do you believe that Rowe's argument from evil is sound? Do you accept his firs t premise? Why or why not? 3. Consider this view: The evil experienced on this earth is n il when compared to the infin ite and eternal happiness that Christians will ex- perience a fter death. If this assertion is true, does it successfully rebut the argu ment from evil? 4. Some say that \vhat humans m ight consider evil is actually good in the eyes of an omniscient God with infinite wisdom. Evaluate this claim. 5. Do you believe that physical good is impossible without physical evil? That is, is evil necessary for good to exist? Alternatively, is evil needed so we can understand and appreciate the good? Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil. - Isaiah 5:20 (King James Version) 23 Do you think Rowe's criticism of the soul-making theod icy is cogent? Ca n you conceive of a world that has slight ly less suffering than our world has, yet in which plenty of soul-making takes place? 92 Chapter 2 God and Relig ion 24 Can all relig ious ex- periences be expla ined in naturalistic terms? Are the naturalistic ex- planations better than the theistic one? What criteria would you use to decide? God is real since he pro· duces real effects. -William James 2.4 THEISM AND RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE Many people affi rm that thei r belief in God does not rest on the kinds of appeals we have just examined. The cosmological, teleological, and ontological a rgumenrs carry no \veight with them. They believe in God because they have had a religious experi- ence that they think gives them kno\vledge of God's existence. For them, it is this religious experience that justifies thei r theism. Some mainta in that their encounters with the divine involve sensory content- they hear a voice, feel a touch, o r see a light or a face o r a form. Many biblical accounrs-such as St. Paul's encounter on the road to Damascus and Moses' hearing a voice from a burning bush-are like th is. Other people report having no sensations at a ll but nonetheless sensing a d ivine presence. Here is one such description from St. Teresa of Avila: St. Teresa of Avila, The Life of Teresa of Jesus I was at prayer on a festival of the glorious Saint Peter when I saw Christ at my side- or, to put it better, I was conscious of Him, for neither with the eyes of the body nor with those of the soul did I see anything. I thought He was quite close to me and I saw that it was He Who, as I thought, was speaking to me.'9 And here, from William James, is another: [A]II at once I experienced a feeling of being raised above myself, I felt the presence of God- I tell of the thing just as I was conscious of it- as if his goodness and his power were penetrating me altogether. The throb of emotion was so violent that I could barely tell the boys to pass on and not wait for me .... Then, slowly, the ecstasy left my heart; that is, I felt that God had withdrawn the communion which he had granted, and I was able to walk on, but very slowly, so strongly was I still possessed by the interior emotion .... I thi nk it well to add that in this ecstasy of mine God had neither form, color, odor, nor taste; moreover, that the feeli ng of his presence was accompanied with no determinate localization. It was rather as if my personality had been transformed by the presence of a spiritual spirit . ... At bottom the expression most apt to render what I felt is this: God was present, though invis ible; he fell under no one of my senses, yet my consciousness perceived him.'0 Since such occurrences a re thought to justify belief in God, we can dev ise an argument from religious experience that looks like this: 1. Religious experiences occur in \vhich God seems to be sensed. 2. The best explanation for these experiences is that God is indeed sensed (God caused the experience). 3. Therefore, God probably exists. Theism and Religious Experience 93 Premise I is true. Few deny that people have experiences that they take co be of God. Premise 2, however, is not obviously true and is often concesce.d. Some critics reject it on che grounds that naturalistic explanations of religious experiences are as good as, or better than, theistic explanations. J. L. Mackie, for example, points out chat religious experiences are generally indistinguishable from experiences \vich a kno\vn psychological or physical cause. J. L. Mackie, The Miracle of Theism We are all fam iliar with dreams. Waking visions and hallucinations are relatively infre- quent, but still common enough. Many people have occasionally had the impression of hearing words spoken when there have been no such physical sounds in the neighbour- hood. Many religious experiences closely resemble, even in their sequences of contrast- ing phases, the almost universal human experience of being in love. Hysteria, delusions, cycles of mania and depression are known and reasonably well understood psychopathic phenomena in innumerable cases where there is no religious component; but experi- ences which have such components, which count as religious par excellence, share many features with these pathological ones. Experiences of the mystical kind are often induced by certain drugs. Some of the experiences reported by mystics almost irresistibly invite in- terpretation as expressions of violent sexual passion. From a psychological point of view, as [William] James himself makes clear, the phenomena of conversion, 'mind-cure', sensory or motor automatisms (such as hearing voices) , in- spiration, mysticism, and so on lend themselves very readily to being un- derstood in terms of the operation of unconscious or subconscious parts of the mind .... Theologians themselves have long recognized that it is not easy to decide, about particular visions and messages, whether they come from God or from the devil. As James says ... 'No appearances whatever are infallible proofs of grace .... The good dispositions that a vi- sion, a voice, or other apparently heavenly favor leave behind them are the only marks by which we may be sure that they are not possible deceptions of the tempter'. Admittedly these alternatives, God and the devil, would both fall under the broad heading of 'some supernatural source'. But it will be fairly readily admitted today that the experiences initially ascribed to the devil are fully explicable in terms of purely human but subconscious motives; since it is also admitted that those which the theologian would ascribe to God are not intrinsically distinguishable from those which he would in itially ascribe to the devil, it follows that even what he classes as genuinely religious experiences do not intrinsically resist explanation in purely human terms. And this in itself seems fatal to any argument from religious experience to any supernatural conclusions whatever." Seil!, some contend chat a rel igious experience can give us good reasons for believing chat God exists, just as ordinary sense experience can give us good reasons for believing chat a cat is on che mac. Richard S\vinburne takes chis line. He maintains that by applying a basic prin- ciple of rationality (\vhac he calls the "principle of credulity"), we can Figure 2.12 The Bible tells of Paul's con- version to Christianity after being struck bl ind during an encounter w ith God on the road to Damascus. Was it possible for Paul to know that he experienced God instead of, say, a very powerfu l Greek or Roman deity? 94 Chapter 2 God and Religion PHILOSOPHY LAB - Read the rwo sets of statements below. On the left is a list of sensory or perceptual experiences char people have from rime ro rime. There is no question about the re- ality of these experiences; both common sense and science show char they do in face occur. On the right is a list of experiences char religious people often report. Noc everyone agrees char these experiences have a spiritual or religious cause. They sometimes feel a "sense of presence," a psychological stare char engenders a feeling char someone unseen is nearby, even though no one is really there. They sometimes feel certain about an idea or claim even when they are facrually ,vrong. This sense of certainty often arises from strong emotions. They sometimes feel rhac something or someone unseen is touching rhem even when nothing is there- a known psychological or physiological reaction. They sometimes feel che presence of God. They sometimes have a strong feeling of certainty about religious matters. They sometimes have seemingly physical sensations chat suggest chat God is touching chem. Suppose you are religious and you have the experiences listed on the right. How do you distinguish these from the natural occur- rences on the left? Saying that you "just know" does not answer the question. Do you have a special faculty unknown to science that helps you distinguish the two? What exactly allows you to separate the natural phenomena from the genuinely spiritual? Does faith en- able you to tell the difference between the two kinds of events? Is it possible to misidentify your sensations? be justified in believing chat our experience reveals God 's presence. The principle is roughly this: In the absence of reasons co the contrary, if something seems co be present, then it probably is present. When applied co religious experiences, the prin- ciple cells us that "in the absence of special considerations, a ll religious experiences ought co be taken by thei r subjects as genuine, and hence as substantial grou nds for bel ief in the existence of their apparent object-God, Mary, o r Ultimate Reality, or Poseidon." 22 The special considerat ions include doubts about the reliabil ity of the Theism and Religious Experience 95 perception (for example, when the person involved is known to hallucinate or to be under the influence of alcohol o r d rugs) and strong evidence that the object of the perception does not exist. Clearly, to make sense of our o rdinary experience and to acquire true beliefs, we must apply an epistemological rule like Swinburne's principle of credulity. But his principle is faulty, some say, inclining us to believe that an object is present when it isn't. Others doubt that any such principle could ever justify us in bel ieving that a religious experience accurately reveals reality. As W illiam L. Ro,ve says, Will iam L. Rowe, Philosophy of Religion [T]he Principle of Credulity presupposes that we have some understanding of what reasons there might be for questioning our experiences and some way of telling whe- ther or not these reasons are present. Consider aga in our example of your experience which you take to be a perception of a large, coiled snake. Like other physical objects that make up the world we perceive by our five senses, snakes are public objects that are observable by others who satisfy certa in conditions. That is, we can predict that people with good eyesight will see a snake (if one is there) provided there is good light and they look in the right direction. It is because physical objects are subject to such predictions that we can understand what reasons there might be for questioning an experience which seems to be a perception of a snake and can often tell whether such reasons are present. In the case of divine beings, however, matters are quite d ifferent. Presumably, it is entirely up to God whether to revea l his presence to some human be- ing. If God does so, he may or may not d isclose himself to others who are in a similar situation. What this means is that it is quite difficu lt to discover reasons for thinking that someone's ordinary religious experience is delusive. But s ince the Principle of Credulity supposes that we understand what reasons there might be to question an experience, some doubt exists as to whether the principle can be fairly applied to ex- periences whose subjects take them be perceptions of the presence of a d ivine being.'3 By the lights of any adequate principle of rationality, we generally have good reason to doubt the truth of an experience if those ,vho have it disagree about it. That is, we rightfully doubt experiences if they a re not rel iable. Many point to the apparent incompatibil ity of religious experiences as proof that they a re indeed un- reliable. Generally, religious experiences in Western trad itions are of a God who is a divine person separate from the world. But experiences in Eastern trad itions a re often of a d ivine something that is entirely impersonal or identical with the world. Believers may have an experience of God as one being, God as a trinity of persons, God as many, God as emptiness o r noth ingness, or God as an ultimate reality. If someone experiences God as a person and another experiences God as impersonal, how can both of these experiences be true? H o,v can both of them provide a window on reality? Religious experiences tend to arise out of and support specific rel igious traditions-traditions that differ drastically and disagree substantially in their views of spiritual reality. Conflicts among experiences o r traditions that spa,vn experiences seem to cast doubt on the trustworthiness of all alleged encounters with the divine. 25 Why does Rowe doubt that Swinburne's principle of credulity can be successfully applied to religious ex- perience? Do you agree with him? 96 Chapter 2 God and Religion PH I LOSO PHY NOW Proof of the Power of Prayer? Praying for ochers (intercessory prayer) is a com,non practice of millions world,vide, and its efficacy is an article of faith for nu,nerous religious groups. For ,nose, it isn't necessary co prove so,nehow that prayer works; they have faith that it does, and that's that. Bur a few have sought proof through science, hop- ing to uncover evidence that praying for sick people can make them well. A fa,nous 1988 study by cardiologist Randolph Byrd looked at medical cornpl ica- rions in heart patients, some of,vho,n were prayed for and so,ne nor. Those who ,vere prayed for seemed to do bet- ter chan rhe ochers. In 1999, a larger, simi lar study of heart patients found that the prayed-for group had fewer medica l problems than a group nor prayed for. In a Figure 2.13 Can science prove that prayer works? 2001 study of eight hundred heart patients, researchers found no significant effect of intercessory prayer on the patients' health. In 2006, researchers studied eighteen hundred people ,vho had undergone heart surgery and d iscovered char prayer had no effect on their recovery. Unfortunately, most prayer studies have been too Aawed for their results to be taken seri- ously. The upshot is char so far, science has nor shown that intercessory prayer can improve people's health. Many critics (both religious and nonrel igious) think th is kind of research is hopelessly misgu ided. To them, since intercessory prayer is neither well defined nor explained, studying it see,ns like chasing shadows. Son1e ask, Do the effects of prayer depend on the number or the faith of the people praying? If a deity can intervene in human affairs at any rime, how can researchers ever crust study results? How can scientists cake into account che inAuence of prayers fro,n people nor involved in the studies? Do you believe that intercessory prayer works? What are your grounds for believing or not believing? Could science ever prove that prayer has real effects? Theism and Religious Experience 97 Swinburne, ho\vever, thinks othenvise: Richard Swinburne, The Existence of God Now, of course, devotees of different religions describe their religious experiences in the religious vocabulary with which they are fam iliar. But in itself th is does not mean that their d ifferent descriptions are in conflict- God may be known under different names to different cultures (as both Old and New Testaments acknowledge- see Exo- dus 6:2- 3 and Acts l]:23). Likewise a Greek's cla im to have talked to Poseidon is not necessaril y in conflict with a Jew's claim to have talked to the angel who watches over the sea; it is so only if to admit the existence of Poseidon is to commit one to a whole polytheistic theology, and there is no need to suppose that generally it is. Admitted ly, sometimes the giving of one description to the object of religious ex- perience does carry commitment to a doctrine regarded as false by devotees of another religion. Claiming to have experienced the heavenly Christ commits one to a belief in an Incarnation that an orthodox Jew would not admit. But in these cases, if the oppo- nent of the doctrine can produce good grounds for regard ing the doctrine as false, that is reason for the subject of the experience to withdraw his original claim. Among those grounds may be that others have had confl icting experiences and that their experiences are more numerous and better authenticated; but there may be many grounds of other kinds as well. The subject of the religious experience need not in such a case withdraw his original cla im totally; he need only describe it in a less committed way- for ex- ample, claim to have been aware of some supernatural being, not necessarily Dionysus (as originally claimed). The fact that sometimes ... descriptions of the object of a religious experience are in conflict with descriptions of the object of another rel igious experience means only that we have a source of challenge to a particular deta iled claim, not a source of scepticism about a ll claims of rel igious experience.'"' Suppose, then, that religious experiences did not clash in any important way. C-ould \Ve then conclude that such experiences sho\v that God exisrs? Perhaps, but agreement among experiences in itself cannot sho\v that they yield knowledge of the divine, for we know that people can have the same sensory experience that turns out to be illusory (such as seeing a mirage). Skeptics give another reason for denying that harmony among religious experiences attests to d ivine presence: the d ifficulty of recognizing God. They ask, How can you ever be sure that you are perceiving or experiencing God? Can you recognize an all-po\verful, al l-knowing, and all-good being when you encounter it? How can you distinguish such a being from one that is incredibly powerful but finite, or one that is enormously power- ful and knowledgeable but demonic? In any case, ho\v can \Ve use our senses to detect God, since he presumably cannot be sensed? Some say their experiences come \vith a feeling of certainty that God is present. But ho\v can such feelings give us knowledge? Feelings are not a reliable source of kno\vledge, for \Ve can feel certain about many things and still be wrong. Some think we can recognize God th rough a kind of spiritual sixth sense. But unlike our ord inary senses, which have been tested again and again for reliability, no extra sense has been shown to be trusnvorthy. So ho\v can we rely on it? In many areas of unde r .. standing. none so much as in our understanding of God, we bump up against a simplicity so profound that we must assign com- plexities to it to comprc· hcnd it at all. It is mindful of how we paste decals to a sliding glas.s door ro keep from bumping our nose against it. - Robert Brault 98 Chapter 2 God and Religion Theists have tried in various ,vays to answer these questions. O ne frequently heard defense is that the validity of religious experience does not depend on agree- ment or disagreement among various descriptions of it, for the true religious experi- ence cannot be at all. The experience is the same for everyone, but it gives rise to d ifferent descriptions because it is ineffable. It simply is not possible to put into words an encounter ,vith the divine. Perhaps an experience of God is indeed ineffable, but if so then nothing at all can be truthfully asserted about it, including the claim that religious experience can give us knowledge of God 's existence. If nothing can be truthfully stated about something, then any statement about it would be false. So to affirm that ineffable religious experience gives us knowledge of God is to likewise assert something false. WRITING TO UNDERSTAND: CRITIQUING PHILOSOPHICAL V IEWS SECTION 2.4 1. Some argue that the truth of rel igious experiences is corroborated by positive effects in the lives of those who have them-such as leading a morally better life. But consider: People can be inspired to be more virtuous by reading compelling works of fiction, but that doesn't show that the ,vorks are true. If an alleged experience of God inspires some- one to lead a better li fe, is that reason enough to conclude that the experience is indeed of God? 2. What is the best explanation of religious experiences? Evaluate these nvo rival hypotheses: (1) religious experiences are caused by God; (2) religious experiences arise from people's o,vn minds (due to hallucinations, wish- ful thinking, drugs, etc.). Which explanation is better? Why? 3. What is S,vinburne's principle of credulity? W hat is Ro,ve's criticism of it? Do you agree ,vith Rowe? 4. Do disagreemenrs among religious experiences cast doubt on the trust- worthiness of those experiences? Do you agree ,vith Swinburne's view that such disagreemenrs do not necessarily undermine the truth of the experiences? 5. Is it possible for someone to d istinguish between an experience of an omnipotent God and an experience of a being that is extremely power- ful but fi nite? 2.5 BELIEF WITHOUT REASON The point of the arguments we've considered so far is to provide epistemic justification for believing (or not believing) in God-that is, reasons for believing that theism is true (or false). But there are also arguments intended to offer pragmatic justification Bel i et Without Reason 99 for belief.-reasons to think that believing in God offers practical advantages. Many who make pragmatic appeals deny that there can be any rational grounds for theism. They are that the best-made arguments for God's existence are doomed to fail, but that \Ve should believe anyway because belief brings \vith it certain invalu- able benefits. In this way they can maintain that even though the truth of theism is not backed by reasons, belief in God can nevertheless be rational. The best examples of such arguments come from William James (1842-1910), the distinguished American philosopher and psychologist, and Blaise Pascal (1623- 1662), the French philosopher and mathematician who what we no\v call "Pascal's wager." James: Pragmatic Faith C-ontrary to his scientifically minde.d colleagues, James argues that sometimes \Ve may be justified in making a leap of faith to embrace a belief that is entirely unsup- ported by evidence. In the absence of any evidence that could help us decide an is- sue, when we are presented with a t rue choice between opposing beliefs (a "genuine option"), believing on faith may be the rational thing to do. To James, a genuine option is one that is live, forced, and momentous. A live option presents someone with alternatives that he believes could possibly be A forced option is one that is unavoidable because the two possibilities are mutually exclusive, and not deciding is the same as choosing one of the alternatives. (An example from James is, "Either accept this truth or go \Vithout it.") A momentous option is one that really matters, because t he stakes are high, the decision is irreversible, or the choice offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. When we are confronted with a genuine option \Vith
no evidence to go by, James says, \Ve have the right to let our “passional nature”-our
feelings and desires-decide.
James thus repudiates evidentialism, the vie\v that we are justified in believing
something only if it is supported by sufficient evidence. In James’s day, the foremost
champion of evidentialism was W. K. C lifford, \vho declared, “It is \vrong ahvays,
everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.”15 In
other words, it is morally zurong to believe beyond the evidence. Against th is position
James asserts, “Our passional nature not only la\vfully may, but must, decide an op-
tion between propositions, whenever it is a genuine option that cannot by its nature
be decided on intellectual grounds.”26
To James, the decis ion to believe or not to believe in a d ivine reality (the “reli-
gious hypothesis”) is a genuine option that the intellect cannot help us decide. It is
indeed momentous, for ‘\ve are supposed to gain, even no\v, by our belief, and to
lose by our nonbelief, a certain vital good.”17 The skeptic, out of fear of being wrong,
would have us refrain from believing and wait until evidence tilts one way or the
other. But James insists that the wiser choice-and the more advantageous-is to
believe the religious hypothesis, to refuse to forfeit your “sole chance in life of get-
t ing upon the winning side.” Moreover, to discover whether a divine being exists,
we may fi rst have to have faith that it does. Unless we first believe, we may not be
able to confirm the truth through our O\vn experience. One who insists on evidence
Believe ,hat life is worth
living, and your belief will
help crca>
Dershowirz therefore favors a fonn of legalization in which agents of che scare may tor-
ture soineone if they first obtain judicial pennission in che form of”corture ,varrancs” simi lar
co the judicial ,varrancs required for the police co legally rap someone’s phone. Such a warrant
system, he says, ,vould “decrease che amount of physical violence directed against suspects,”
and “che rights of che suspect would be beccer protected ,vich a warrant requiremenc.”t
What is the nonconsequentialist argument against torture mentioned here?
Do you accept the first premise in the consequentialist argument? Do you
believe it could be morally permissible to torture the ticking bomb terrorist?
Why or why not?
• Alan M. Dershowitz, “Tortured Reason ing,” in Torture: A Collection, ed. Sanford Levison (Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 2004), 257.
t Alan M. Dershowirz, “The Case for Torturing the T icking Bomb Terrorist,” in \W,y Terrorism \Vorks:
Understanding the Threat, Responding to the Challenge (New Haven: Yale Un iversity Press, 2002), 61 – 62.
when motivated by self-interest. The argument is based on a simple face about the
moral life: We a re not morally obligated co do the impossible. We have no duty co
make our loved ones live nvo hundred years, because chat is beyond our power. We
have no obligation co ensure chat everyone is healthy, because chat feat is not pos-
s ible. Like,vise, we are not capable of acting a ltruistically, so we have no obligation
co do so. We a re duty bound co do only what we can do-,vhich is co ace purely out
of self-interest.
Critics have rebutted chis argument by rejecting psychological egoism (Prem-
ise 2). They point out chat our experience suggests chat we don’t a lways ace out of
self-interest. We often look out for number one, but we a lso sometimes choose co
inconvenience ourselves, incur ser ious disadvantages, or put ourselves at risk-co
13 Do people always
act out of sel f-interest?
Do you always act out
of self-interest?

168 Chapter 3 Morality and the Moral life
The pursuir of happiness is
a most ridiculous phrase;
if you pursue happiness
you’ll never find it.
-C. r. Snow
He who lives only to
benefi t himself confers on
the world a benefi t when
he d ies.
14 If you devoted your
life solely to the pursuit
of happi ness, would
you ever obtain it? If
you have experienced
moments of happiness,
what was their cause?
Were you trying to
ach ieve happiness, or
did you experience it
because you were pur-
suing something else?
Self-interest is but the sur-
vival of the anim al in us.
Humani ty only begi ns for
man with sclf~surrcndcr.
-Henri Frederic Amyl
help someone else. People rush into burning buildings to save complete strangers.
Mothers starve themselves so their children will have food. Husbands and wives sell
everything they O\vn to pay for their spouse’s urgent medical care.
Ethical egoists are likely to respond to this line by declaring that such experi-
ences are deceptive, for actions that seem purely altruistic are in fact done to achieve
social advantage, to feel personal satisfaction, or to prevent some future calamity.
In fact, for every instance of apparent altru istic behavior, ethical egoists must say
that we are seriously mistaken about the motivation behind it.
This reply may save psychological egoism from refutation, but it does so at a
cost. It means that the theory is untestable. No evidence could ever count against
it; all possible evidence is consistent with it. Psychological egoism is thus completely
uninformative and conceptually \VOrthless, so it cannot be used as a premise in the
argument for ethical egoism.
On the other hand, if we have no preconceptions about which way the evidence
points, and we take it at face value, it seems to count against psychological egoism.
The only evidence we have regarding our motivations for acting is people’s behavior
and their introspective reports about \vhy they behave as they do. And this evi-
dence, though not always reliable, suggests that \Ve sometimes do act selAessly and
A common form of psychological egoism says that people perform actions solely
to obtain satisfaction, happiness, or pleasure-even actions that appear to be altruis-
tic or selAess. But this vie\v of the matter, philosophers insist, is muddled. It is much
more likely that \Ve act to obtain particular th ings, not satisfaction itself, and that
\Ve experience satisfaction as a byproduct of obtaining those things. We don’t seek
satisfaction; we seek certain things that give us satisfaction \vhen \Ve acquire them. If
the th ings themselves were not the object of our desires, it \vould be difficult to see
ho\v we could get any satisfaction from our attaining them.
Of all the arguments put forth against ethical egoism, the one that is probably
most damaging boils down to this: The theory runs afoul of moral common sense.
In judging a moral theory, we have good reason to doubt irs \VOrth ifit conAicts with
\vhat we take to be our plausible moral intuitions. As we have seen, our intuitions
may be mistaken, but we are to accept them at face value unless \Ve have
good reason to mistrust them. Critics maintain that ethical egoism clashes with
moral common sense in two important ways.
First, the theory seems to be inconsistent \Vith our considered moral judgmenrs.
Ethical egoism implies that if secretly murdering and robbing a rich stranger \vould
be in your best interests, then you should do so. The same could be said about your
betraying your best friend, or falsely accusing someone of a serious crime, or burning
do\vn a factory owne.d by your business competitor. All these actions would be con-
demned by our considered moral judgments, but ethical egoism could countenance
them. Commonsense morality says they are wrong; ethical egoism says they may be
right. This objection to the theory is not undercut by the claim that morally \vrong
actions are never in one’s best interests, for we can easily imagine counterexamples
in \vhich immoral acts are to a person’s advantage.

Morality Based on Duty and Rights 169
Second, ethical egoism appears co conflict \vich an essential element of the moral
life: impartiality. As \Ve saw earlier, morality entails that equals be created equally
unless there is a morally relevant reason co treat chem differencly. Each person’s inter-
ests muse be given equal \veighc. But, by definition, ethical egoism insists chat some
people’s interests should be regarded as more worthy of consideration than chose of
others-specifically, one’s own interests are co be given h igher priority than chose
of anyone else in the \vorld. Discrimination against ochers for no good reason is
required by the theory.
1. How does Mill respond co the charge chat utilitarianism is a pig phil-
osophy? W hat is meant by “Better co be Socrates dissatisfied than a pig
satisfied”? Do you agree with this ordering of values?
2. What is Mill ‘s “proof” of the truth of utilitarianism? Is it a good argu-
ment? Explain.
3. Suppose that by killing one innocent person you could greacly increase
the health and \veil-being of a thousand. Would it be morally permis-
sible co kill chat person? How might a utilitarian decide chis question?
4. Evaluate chis statement: “Everyone is an egoist, for everyone ahvays
tries co do what will bring him or her satisfaction.”
5. Suppose you are an ethical egoist. Can you make your view public?
Can you teach the theory co your child ren? Can you wish that every-
one adopted the theory?
The moral theory of Immanuel Kant is profoundly opposed co consequential ism on
numerous counts. Utilita rians ins ist chat the morality of an action depends entirely
on its effects-whether it maximizes human \veil-being. No action whatsoever is
inherently right or wrong; only irs costs and benefits make it so. Kant wi ll have none
of chis. He maintains chat right actions do not depend on their consequences, the
production of happiness, people’s aims, or their des ires and feelings. Right actions
are those chat are right in themselves because they are consistent with universal moral
ru les from reason, and the actions have moral worth only if we do chem out
of a sense of duty, simply because they are our duty. For Kant, the moral law cannot
be something contingent, changeable, or relative. The moral law is absolute, un-
changeable, and universal, a rock-solid structure builc on eternal reason.
Two rhings fill the mind
with ever new and incrcas ..
ing admiration and awe:
the starry heavens above
and the moral law with in .
-Immanuel Ka.m

170 Chapter 3 Morality and the Moral life
15 What does Kant
mean by his assertion
that morality cannot
have an empirical
basis? Is he right about
16 What is Kant ‘s argu-
ment for his view that
nothing can be good
without qualification
except a good will? Is
his argument sound?
Here is Kant on the subject:
Immanuel Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals
As my concern here is with moral philosophy, I limit the question suggested to th is:
Whether it is not of the utmost necessi ty to construct a pure moral philosophy, per-
fectly cleared of everything which is only empirical, and which belongs to anthropol-
ogy? For that such a philosophy must be possible is evident from the common idea of
duty and of the moral laws. Everyone must admit that if a law is to have moral force,
i.e., to be the basis of an obligation, it must carry with it absolute necessity; that, for
example, the precept, “Thou shall not lie,” is not va lid for men alone, as if other ratio-
nal beings had no need to observe it; and so with all the other moral laws properly so
called; that, therefore, the basis of obligation must not be sought in the nature of man,
or in the circumstances in the world in which he is placed, but a priori simply in the con-
ception of pure reason; and although any other precept which is founded on principles
of mere experience may be in certa in respects universal, yet in as far as it rests even
in the least degree on an empirical basis, perhaps only as to a motive, such a precept,
while it may be a practical ru le, can never be called a moral law ….
Nothing can possibly be conceived in the world, or even out of i t, which can be
called good, without quali fication, except a Good Will. Intelligence, wit, judgment, and
the other talents of the mind, however they may be named, or courage, resolution, per-
severance, as qualities of temperament, are undoubtedly good and desirable in many
respects; but these gifts of nature may also become extremely bad and mischievous if
the will which is to make use of them, and which, therefore, constitutes what is called
character, is not good. It is the same with the gifts of fortune. Power, riches, honour,
even health, and the general well-being and contentment with one’s conditions which
is ca lled happiness, inspire pride, and, often presumption, if there is not a good will
to correct the influence of these on the mind, and with this also to rectify the whole
principle of acting, and adapt it to its end. The sight of a being who is not adorned with
a single feature of a pure and good will , enjoying unbroken prosperity, can never give
pleasure to an impartial rational spectator. Thus a good will appears to constitute the
indispensable condition even of being worthy of happiness.
There are even some quali ties which are of service to this good will itself, and
may faci litate its action, yet which have no intrinsic unconditional value, but always
presuppose a good will, and this qualifies the esteem that we justly have for them, and
does not permit us to regard them as absolutely good. Moderation in the affections
and passions, self-control, and calm deliberation are not only good in many respects,
but even seem to constitute part of the intrinsic worth of the person; but they are far
from deserving to be called good without qualification, although they have been so
unconditionally praised by the ancients. For without the principles of a good will , they
may become extremely bad; and the coolness of a villain not only makes him far more
dangerous, but also directly makes him more abominable in our eyes than he would
have been without it.
A good will is good not because of what it performs or effects, not by its aptness
for the attainment of some proposed end, but simply by virtue of the volition, that is,
it is good in itself, and considered by itself to be esteemed much higher than all that
can be brought about by it in favour of any incl ination, nay, even of the sum-total of

Morality Based on Duty and Rights 171
all inclinations. Even if it should happen that, owing to special disfavour of fortune, or
the niggardly provision of a step-motherly nature, this will should wholly lack power to
accomplish its purpose, if with its greatest efforts it should yet achieve nothing, and
there should remain only the good will (not, to be sure, a mere wish, but the summon-
ing of all means in our power), then, like a jewel, it would still shine by its own light,
as a th ing which has its whole value in itself. Its usefulness or fru itlessness can neither
add to nor take away anything from this value. It would be, as it were, only the setting
to enable us to handle it the more conveniently in common commerce, or to attract to
it the attention of those who are not yet connoisseurs, but not to recommend it to true
connoisseurs, or to determine its va lue . . .. s
In Kant’s system, all our moral duties are expressed in the form of categorical im-
peratives. An imperative is a command to do something; it is categorical if it applies
without exception and \Vithout regard for particular needs or purposes. A categori-
cal imperative says, “Do this-regardless.” In contrast, a hypothetical imperative is a
command to do something if \Ve want to achieve particular aims, as in “If you want
good pay, work hard.” The moral la\v, then, rests on absolute directives that do not
depend on the contingencies of desire or utility.
Kant says that through reason and reflection \Ve can derive our duties from a
single moral principle, \vhat he calls the categorical imperative. He formu lates
it in different ways, the first one being: “I am never to act orher\vise than so that
I could also will that my maxim should become a universal law.”6 For Kant, our ac-
tions have logical implications-they imply general rules, or maxims, of conduct.
If you tell a lie for financial gain, you are in effect acting according to a maxim like
“Jr’s okay to lie to someone when doing so benefits you financia lly.” The question is
whether the maxim corresponding to an action is a legitimate moral law. To find
out, \Ve must ask if we could consistently will that the maxim
become a universal law applicable to everyone-that is, if ev-
eryone could consistently act on the maxim and we would be
willing to have them do so. If we could do this, then the action
described by the maxim is morally permissible; if not, it is pro-
h ibited. Thus, moral laws embody t\VO characteristics thought
to be essential to morality itself: universality and impartiality.

> –
All that any of us has ro do
in this world is his simple
-H. C. Trumbull
The categorical imperative
is Kant’s fundamental
moral principle, which he
formulares as (I) ” I am
never m act otherwise than
so that I could also will that
11ty maxim should become a
universal law”; and (2) “So
act as to treat humani ty,
whether in th ine own
person o r in that of any
o ther, in every case as an
end withal, never as a
means o nly.”
Do not do unto others as
you would rhey should do
unto you. Their tastes may
not be the same.
-George Bernard Shaw
i:::, •
‘ c::: –
…. —-
‘ ‘
To sho\v us how to apply this formulation of the categori-
cal imperative to a specific situation, Kant uses the example of
a lying promise. Suppose you need to borrow money from a
friend, but you kno\v you could never pay her back. So, to get
the loan, you decide to lie, falsely promising to repay the money.
To find out if such a lying promise is morally permissible, Kant
would have you ask if you could consistently will the maxim of
your action to become a universal la\v, to ask, in effect, “What
would happen if everyone did this?” The maxim is “Whenever
you need to borrow money you cannot pay back, make a lying
promise to repay.” So what would happen if everyone in need of
a loan acted in accordance with this maxim? People \vould make
Figure 3.11 An old canceled German stamp
w ith Kant’s image.

172 Chapter 3 Morality and the Moral life
17 In Kant’s view,
is lying to someone
to spare her feelings
morally permissible?
Do you think it is
Immanuel Kant,
Groundwork of the
Mela physic of Morals
18 In these passages,
does Kant make clear
how we are supposed
to apply his principle of
respect for persons? For
example, how exactly
do you show respect
for a person who is ter-
minally ill and in great
pain who begs you to
help him end his life?
lying promises to obtain loans, but everyone would a lso know that such promises
\vere worthless, and the custom of loaning money on promises would disappear. So
\villing the maxim to be a universal law involves a contradiction: If everyone made
lying promises, promise-making itself would be no more; you cannot consistently
\viii the maxim to become a un iversal la\v. Therefore, your duty is clear: Making a
lying promise to borro\v money is morally wrong.
Kant’s first formulation of the categorical imperative yields several other impor-
tant duties. He a rgues that there is an absolute moral prohibition against killing the
innocent, lying, committing suicide, and failing to help others \vhen feas ible.
Perhaps the most reno\vned formulation of the categorical imperative is the prin-
cip le of respect for persons (a formulation d istinct from the first one, though Kant
thought them equivalent). As he expresses it, “So act as to treat humanity, whether
in thine O\vn person or in that of any other, in every case as an end withal, never as
a means only.”7 People must never be treated as if they were mere instruments for
ach ieving some further end, for people a re ends in themselves, possessors of ultimate
inherent worth. People have ultimate value because they are the ultimate source of
value for other things. They besto\v value; they do not have it bestowed upon them. So
\Ve should treat both ourselves and other persons with the respect that all inherently
valuable beings deserve .
. . . Now I say: man and genera lly any rational being exists as an end in himself, not
merely as a means to be arbitrarily used by this or that will, but in all his actions, whether
they concern himself or other rational beings, must be always regarded at the same
time as an end. All objects of the inclinations have only a conditional worth; for if the
incl inations and the wants founded on them d id not exist, then their object would be
without value. But the inclinations themselves being sources of want are so far from
having an absolute worth for which they should be desired, that, on the contrary, it
must be the universa l wish of every rational being to be wholly free from them. Thus
the worth of any object which is to be acquired by our action is always conditional.
Beings whose existence depends not on our will but on nature’s, have nevertheless,
if they are non rational beings, only a relative value as means, and are therefore called
things; rational beings, on the contrary, are called persons, because their very nature
points them out as ends in themselves, that is as something which must not be used
merely as means, and so far therefore restricts freedom of action (and is an object of
respect). These, therefore, are not merely subjective ends whose existence has a worth
for us as an effect of our action, but objective ends, that is things whose existence is an
end in itself: an end moreover for which no other can be substituted , which they should
subserve merely as means, for otherwise noth ing whatever would possess absolute
worth; but if all worth were conditioned and therefore contingent, then there would be
no supreme practical principle of reason whatever.
If then there is a supreme practical princip le or, in respect of the human will , a
categorical imperative, it must be one which, being drawn from the conception of
that which is necessari ly an end for everyone because it is an end in itself. constitutes
an objective principle of will, and can therefore serve as a universal practical Jaw. The
foundation of th is principle is: rational nature exists as an end in itself Man necessa rily
conceives his own existence as being so: so far then this is a subjective principle of hu-
man actions. But every other rational being regards its existence s imilarly, just on the

Morality Based on Duty and Rights 173
same rational principle that holds for me: so that it is at the same time an objective
principle, from which as a supreme practical law all laws of the will must be capable
of being deduced. Accordingly the practical imperative will be as follows: So act as to
treat humanity, whether in thine own person or in that of any other, in every case as an end
withal, never as a means only . . .. a
According co Kane, the inherent worth of persons derives from their nature as
autonomous, rational beings capable of directing their own lives, determining their
own ends, and decreeing their own rules by which co live. Thus, the inherent value
of persons does not depend in any ,vay on thei r social status, wealth, talent, race, or
culture. Moreover, inherent value is something that all persons possess equally. Each
person deserves the same measure of respect as any ocher.
Kane explains chat ,ve treat people merely as a means instead of an end-in-
chemselves if ,ve disregard these characteristics of person hood-if we thwart people’s
freely chosen actions by coercing chem, undermine their rational decision-making
by lying co them, or discount their equality by d iscriminating against them.
Notice chat chis formulation of the categorical imperative does not actually pro-
hibit creating a person as a means but forbids creating a person simply, or merely, as
a means-as nothing but a means. Kane recognizes chat in daily life we often muse
use people co achieve our various ends. To buy milk we use the cashier; co find books
we use the librarian; co gee well ,ve use the doctor. Bue because their actions are freely
chosen and ,ve do not undermine their status as persons, we do not use chem solely
as instruments of our will.
Kane’s principle of respect for persons captures what seems co most people an
essential part of morality itself-the notion that some things muse not be done co a
person even if they increase the well-being of ochers. People have certain rights, and
these rights cannot be merely for the sake of an overall increase in util ity.
We tend co chink chat there is something terribly wrong wit h jailing an innocent
person just because her imprisonment ,vould make a lot of ocher people very happy,
or with seizing a person’s possessions and giving them co the poor co maximize
overall happiness, or with enslaving a race of people so the rest of the ,vorld can have
a higher standard of living. Over the principle of respect for persons, Kancians and
util itarians part company. Utilitarians reject the concept of rights, or they define
rights in terms of utility. Kancians see respect for rights as central co the moral life.
Kane’s theory, however, does have its detractors. Many philosophers argue chat
it is not consistent with our considered moral judgmenrs. A major cause of the
problem, they say, is Kane’s ins istence that ,ve have absolute (or “perfect”) ducies-
obligacions chat muse be honored ,vichouc exception. Thus, in Kantian ethics, we
have an absolute duty not co lie or co break a promise or co kill the innocent , come
what may. Imagine chat a band of ki llers wanes co murder an innocent man who has
taken refuge in your house, and the killers come co your door and ask you point-
blank if he is in your house. To say no is co lie; co answer truthfully is co guarantee
the man’s death. What should you do? In a case like chis, says Kane, you muse do
your duty-you muse cell the truth, though murder ,vi ii be the result and a lie would
save a life. Bue in chis case such devotion co moral absolutes seems completely askew,
History is a voice forever
sounding across the
centuries the laws of right
and wrong. Opinions
airer, manners change,
creeds rise and fall, but the
moral law is written on the
tablets of eternity.
-James A. Froude
19 Is Kant’s view
clearly superior to utili-
tarianism? Or is ut ili-
tarianism the superior
one? Or does each
theory offer something
of value that should be
part of any adequate
system of morality?
Do not be too moral. You
may cheat yourself out of
much life. Aim above mor ..
aliry. Be not simply good;
be good for something.
-Henry David 1horeau

174 Chapter 3 Morality and the Moral life
Figure 3.12 Imagine that in 1944 you own the house where the young Anne Frank and her
family are h id ing from the Nazis, and the Nazis ask you if anyone lives there. You can lie and save
Anne and her family from death in a concentration camp, or you can tell the truth and doom
them. Kant would have you tell the t ruth no matter what. Is he right? (In 1944 in t he Nether·
lands, the authorities did in fact d iscover the hid ing place of Anne and the ot her members of her
family. They were all shipped off to concentration camps; only Anne’s father survived.)
for saving an innocent life seems far more important morally than blindly obeying a
rule. Moral common sense suggests that sometimes the consequences of our actions
do matter more than adherence to the letter of the law, even if the law is generally
\VOrthy of our respect and obedience.
Some have thought that Kant’s theory can yield implausible results for another
reason. Recall that the first formulation of the categorical imperative says that an
action is permissible if persons could consistently act on the relevant maxim, and
\Ve \vould be willing to have them do so. This requirement seems to make sense if
the maxim in question is something like “Do not kill the innocent” or “Treat equals
equally.” But \vhat if the maxim is “Enslave all Christians” or “Kill all Ethiopians”?
We could-without contradiction-will either one of these precepts to become a
universal law. And if \Ve \vere so inclined, \Ve could be \vi lling for everyone to act
accordingly, even if we ourselves were Christians or Ethiopians. So, by Kantian
lights, these actions could very well be morally permiss ible, and their permissibil-
ity \vould depend on \vhether someone was willing to have them apply universally.
Critics conclude that because the first formulation of the categorical imperative
seems to sanction such obviously immoral acrs, the theory is deeply fla\ve.d. Defend-
ers of Kant’s theory, on the other hand, view the problems as reparable and have
proposed revisions.
This apparent arbitrariness in the first formulation can significantly lessen the
theory’s usefulness. The categorical imperative is supposed to help us discern moral

Morality Based on Character 175
d irectives that are rational, universal, and objective. But if it is subjective in the way
just described, irs helpfulness as a guide for living morally is dubious. There may be
remedies for this difficulty, but Kant’s theory in irs original form seems problematic.
I. Is Kantian ethics too rigid because it fails to take consequences into
account? Or is Kant correct that consequences are irrelevant? Explain.
2. Is it possible to universalize any of the following maxims-and if so,
does that fact raise doubts about Kant’s theory? (1) All senile people
(including me, if I should become senile) should be executed by the
state; (2) Anyone \vho is not a Christian (including me) should be
killed; (3) Anyone (including me) \vho damages my car should be shot.
3. Is Kant right not to make any exceptions in applying categorical
imperatives? Are there times when an exception should be made? For
example, would you lie to save an innocent person’s life?
4. Suppose two people save a friend from dro\vning. The first person acts
only because she thinks it is her duty. The second person acts out of
sincere compassion for his friend. Is Kant right that the first person
\vould be morally superior to the second? W hy or why not?
5. Kant seems to assume that our moral duties cannot confl ict. Is he right?
The moral theories just discussed are theories of obligation. They mainly are con-
cerned with providing an ans\ver to this question: What should we do?That is, what
is our moral duty? What actions are we morally obligated to perform or not perform?
These theories therefore emphasize knowing and doing what’s right, and their chief
guide to these aims is moral principles or directives.
Virtue ethics, ho\vever, is a different kind of moral theory altogether. It focuses
not on duty, but on the development of virtuous character-not on what to do, but
on what to be. According to virtue ethics, character is the key to the moral life, for it
is from a virtuous character that moral conduct and values natural ly arise. Virtues are
ingrained dispositions to act by standards of excellence, so having the proper virtues
leads as a matter of course to right actions properly motivated. The central task in mo-
rality, then, is not knowing and applying principles, but being and becoming a good
person, someone possessing the virtues that define moral excellence. In vi rtue ethics,
someone determines right action not by consulting rules, but by asking what a truly
virtuous person would do or whether an action would accord with the relevant virtues.
Virtue ethics is a moral
theory that focuses on the
dcvdopmcnt of v irtuo us
With virtue you can’t be
enti rely poor; w ithout
virtue you can’t really be
-Chinese Proverb

176 Chapter 3 Morality and the Mora l life
20 To Aristotle, is
happiness subjective
{something only in
one’s mind) or objec-
tive (someth ing that
has characteristics
regard less of how one
Virtue ethicists have a ready answer to the age-old question, Why be moral? We
should strive to be moral-to be virtuous persons-because developing virtues is the
key to living a good life. Virtues help us fare better in life; they enable us to attain
\vhat is truly valuable. Thus, virtues are both the traits that make us good persons
and the dispositions that enable us to live good lives.
Aristotle (384-322 BCE) is the primary inspiration for contemporary versions
of virtue ethics. For h im, as for many modern virtue ethicists, the highest goal of
humanity is the good life, o r “human flou rishing” (\vhat he calls eudaimonia, or hap-
piness), and developing virtues is the way to ach ieve such a rich and satisfying life.
The good life is the virtuous life.
Aristotle defends this vie\v in his masterpiece on morality, Nicomachean Ethics
(named after h is son N icomachus):
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics
Every art and every inqu iry, and s imilarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at
some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which
all things aim …. If, then, there is some end of the things we do, which we desire for
its own sake (everything else being desired for the sake of this) , and if we do not choose
everything for the sake of something e lse (for at that rate the process would go on to
infinity, so that our des ire would be empty and vain), clearly this must be the good and
the chief good. Will not the knowledge of it, then, have a great influence on life? Shall
we not, like archers who have a mark to a im at, be more likely to hit upon what we
should? If so, we must try, in outli ne at least, to determine what it is . . ..
Now we call that which is in itself worthy of pursuit more complete than that which
is worthy of pursu it for the sake of something else, and that which is never desirable
for the sake of something else more complete than the things that are desirable both in
themselves and for the sake of that other th ing, and therefore we call complete without
qua li fication that which is always des irable in itself and never for the sake of something
Now such a thing happiness, above a ll else, is held to be; for this we choose a lways
for itself and never for the sake of something else, but honour, pleasure, reason , and
every excellence we choose indeed for themselves (for if nothing resulted from them
we should still choose each of them), but we choose them also for the sake of happi-
ness, judging that through them we sha ll be happy. Happiness, on the other hand, no
one chooses for the sake of these, nor, in general, for anyth ing other than itself . . ..
Happiness, then, is something complete and self-sufficient, and is the end of
action . .. .
Presumably, however, to say that happiness is the chief good seems a platitude,
and a clearer account of what it is is still desired. This might perhaps be given, if we
could first ascerta in the function of man. For just as for a flute-player, a sculptor, or
any artist, and, in general, for all things that have a function or activity, the good and
the “well” is thought to reside in the function, so would it seem to be for man, if he
has a function. Have the carpenter, then, and the tanner certa in functions or activities,
and has man none? Is he naturally functionless? Or as eye, hand, foot, and in general
each of the parts evidently has a function, may one lay it down that man s imi larly has a

Morality Based on Character 177
function apart from all these? What then can this be? Life seems to be common even to
plants, but we are seeking what is peculiar to man. Let us exclude, therefore, the life of
nutrition and growth. Next there would be a li fe of perception, but it also seems to be
common even to the horse, the ox, and every animal. There remains, then, an active life
of the element that has a rational principle …. Now if the function of man is an activity
of soul in accordance with, or not without, rational principle, and if we say a so-and-so
and a good so-and-so have a function which is the same in kind, e.g. a lyre-player and
a good lyre-player, and so without qualification in all cases, eminence in respect of
excellence being added to the function (for the function of a lyre-player is to play the
lyre, and that of a good lyre-player is to do so well): if this is the case, and we state the
function of man to be a certain kind of life, and this to be an activity or actions of the
soul implying a rational principle, and the function of a good man to be the good and
noble performance of these, and if any action is well performed when it is performed in
accordance with the appropriate excellence: if th is is the case, human good turns out
to be activity of soul in conformity with excellence . . ..
In everything that is continuous and divisible it is possible to take more, less, or
an equal amount, and that either in terms of the thing itself or relatively to us; and the
equal is an intermediate between excess and defect. By the intermediate in the object I
mean that which is equidistant from each of the extremes, which is one and the same
for all men; by the intermediate relatively to us that which is neither too much nor too
li ttle-and th is is not one, nor the same for all. .. .
Thus a master of any art avoids excess and defect, but seeks the intermediate and
chooses this- the intermediate not in the object but relatively to us.
If it is thus, then, that every art does its work well- by looking to the intermediate
and judging its works by this standard (so that we often say of good works of art that it
is not possible either to take away or to add anything, implying that excess and defect
destroy the goodness of works of art, while the mean preserves it; and good artists, as
we say, look to this in their work), and if, further, excellence is more exact and better
than any art, as nature also is, then it must have the quality of aiming at the intermedi-
ate. I mean moral excellence; for it is this that is concerned with passions and actions,
and in these there is excess, defect, and the intermediate. For instance, both fear and
confidence and appetite and anger and pity and in general pleasure and pain may be
felt both too much and too little, and in both cases not well; but to feel them at the
right times, with reference to the right objects, towards the right people, with the right
aim, and in the right way, is what is both in termediate and best, and this is character-
istic of excellence. Simi larly with regard to actions also there is excess, defect, and the
intermediate. Now excellence is concerned with passions and actions, in which excess
is a form of failure, and so is defect, while the intermediate is praised and is a form of
success; and both these things are characteristics of excellence. Therefore excellence is
a kind of mean, since it aims at what is intermediate ….
We must, however, not only make this general statement, but also apply it to the
individual facts …. With regard to feelings of fear and confidence courage is the mean;
of the people who exceed, he who exceeds in fearlessness has no name (many of the
states have no name), whi le the man who exceeds in confidence is rash, and he who
exceeds in fear and falls short in confidence is a coward. With regard to pleasures and
pains- not all of them, and not so much with regard to the pains- the mean is tem-
perance, the excess self-indulgence. Persons deficient with regard to the pleasures are
not often found; hence such persons also have received no name. But let us call them
” insensible.”9
21 What does Aristotle
mean by “human good
turns out to be activity
of soul in conformity
with excellence”?
22 Is Aristotle’s notion
of virtue (the mean
between two extremes)
coherent? Can all
virtues be considered a
We arc nor concerned to
know whar goodness is,
but how we arc to become
good men, for this alone
gives the study (of ethics)
its practical value.

178 Chapter 3 Morality and the Moral life
It has been my experience
that folks who have no
vices have very few vi rtucs.
-Abraham Lincoln
23 Do statements
about virtues really
give us adequate guid-
ance in deciding what
actions to perform ?
Figure 3.13 Raphael’s renowned painting The School of Athens shows an array of great moral
exemplars, including Ari stotle (center, in blue robe), Plato (conversing with Arist otle), Socrates,
Epicurus, Hypatia, and Pythagoras. Who is your moral exemplar?
Aristotle argues chat che good life is one of happiness-a li fe not merely of plea-
sure, but of optimal well-being. Happiness is the one thing chat is good in itself and
not, like wealth or power, just instrumentally good (good as a means co something
else). Happiness is about doing what is inherently valuable, which means fulfi lling
che function unique co human beings: acting through reason. To excel in the use of
reason in all of life’s endeavors is co possess che virtues in full, and the virtues are the
key co a flourishing, happy life. For Aristotle, a virtue is che midpoint (the “golden
mean”) between che extremes of excess and deficit, and the extremes are the vices.
Courage, for example, is the virtue chat comes midway benveen the vices of CO\vard-
ice (coo much fea r) and rashness (coo liccle fear).
Unlike theories of obligation, virtue ethics asks us co do much more than just
observe minimal moral rules-it insists chat we aspire to moral excellence, chat we
cultivate che virtues chat wi ll make us better persons. In chis sense, virtue ethics is
goal-directed, not rule-guided. The moral virtues-benevolence, honesty, loyalty,
compassion, fairness, and the like-are ideals chat we muse ever strive co atta in. By
the lighrs of both Aristotle and modern virt ue ethicists, character is not static. We
can become more virtuous by reflect ing on our lives and chose of ochers, practicing
virtuous behavior, or imitating moral exemplars such as Gandhi, Buddha, Jesus,
Muhammad, Hypacia, and Socrates. We can-and should-be better than we are.
To the virtue ethicist, possessing the right virtues means having the proper mo-
tivations chat nat urally accompany chose virtues. To ace morally, we muse ace from
virtue, and acting from virtue means acting with che appropriate motives. Jc is not

Morality Based on Character 179
enough to do right; we must do right for the right motivating reasons. If \Ve save a
drowning friend, \Ve should do so out of genuine feel ings of compassion, kindness,
or loyalty-not merely because of the prodding of moral rules or social expectations.
In contrast, some moral theories (notably Kant’s) maintain that acting morally is
solely a matter of acting for duty’s sake-performing an action simply because duty
requires it. Virtuous motives are irrelevant; we act morally if \Ve do our duty regard-
less of our motivations. But this notion seems to many to offer a barren picture of
the moral life. Surely, they say, motivations for acting are often relevant to our evalu-
ations of people’s character and actions. The friend we save from drowning \vould
probably be appalled if \Ve declared that we her out of duty, even though \Ve
did not really care whether she lived or d ied. Many moral philosophers agree that
motivations are indeed important considerations in moral judgments, and they have
incorporated virtues into their theories of obligation.
Little \Yonder, then, that virtue ethics has been lauded for emphasizing what
duty-based theories neglect. Many theorists say it deserves a great deal of credit for
containing a more plausible conception of motivation in moral conduct, for doing a
better job of explaining the role of virtue in the moral life, and for focusing on the
goal of living a good life.
But philosophers have also virtue ethics of harboring defects that limit
irs usefulness. For one th ing, some critics argue that the theory doesn’t give us nearly
enough help in deciding \vhat to do. They say, for example, that a woman may possess
all the right virtues-and still not kno\v whether to try in vitro fertil ization, or help an
illegal immigrant hide from the authorities, or be tested for a genetic defect.
On the contrary, virtue ethicists contend, the theory gives much more guidance
to moral decision-making than critics assume. Embedded in statemenrs about vir-
tues and vices are d irectives about performing or refraining from certain actions. As
the virtue ethicist Rosalind Hursthouse says, “[A) great deal of specific action guid-
ance could be found in rules employing the virtue and vice terms (‘v-rules’) such as
‘Do what is honest/charitable; do not do \vhat is dishonest /uncharitable.”‘ 10
A related d ifficulty is that virtue ethics seems to be hobbled by conflicts that arise
among vi rtues. Suppose you see a coworker, a good friend, steal money from your com-
pany. You know that he desperately needs money to pay for medicine for his daughter,
and you are sure that if his theft is discovered, he will be fired and likely prosecuted.
Your employer asks you point-blank if your friend is guilty of theft, and your answer
will determine his fate. Should you tell the truth or lie? To tell the truth is to be honest
yet d isloyal (to your friend); to lie is to be dishonest yet loyal. Vi rtue ethics expects you
to be both honest and loyal, but you cannot be both in th is situation-and the theory
gives very little guidance in resolving the conflict.
But, the virtue ethicist says, every theory is confronted with such conflicts. Duty-
based theories must deal \Vith confl icrs among rules or principles, but the existence
of such clashes does not show the theories to be defective beyond repair.
Another kind of confl ict appears when virtuous people-those moral exemplars
after \vhom we are to model ourselves-disagree about the correct action in the
same circumstances. Virtue ethics says that right actions are those that virtuous
people would do. But even moral exemplars sometimes differ on \vhat to do in the
Vices arc sometimes only
virtues carried to excess!
-Charles Dickens

180 Chapter 3 Morality and the Moral life
same situation. When that happens, how are we to decide which model of virtue
\Ve are to follo\v? Even more worrisome is that such a difference of opinion among
moral exemplars seems to reveal a logical contradiction \vith in the theory. If in the
same situation one virtuous person would perform a particu lar action while an-
other virtuous person \vould not perform it, then the same behavior would seem to
be simultaneously right and wrong. After all, right actions are by definition what
moral exemplars do. But if virtuous people \vould do different things in the same
circumstances, the action would appear to be both permissible and not permissible.
Detractors say that the possibility of such contradictions casts serious doubt on the
coherence of the theory. If so, it’s open to virtue ethicists to somehow modify the
theory to avoid the problem.
As critics see it, the most serious weakness in virtue ethics is that it cannot help
us decide what to do because it focuses exclusively on virtues and leaves notions of
duty out of account. We can see the difficulty by fi rst noting that the theory claims
both that right actions are those done by virtuous persons and that virtuous persons
are those who do right actions. If we ask what is the right thing to do, the answer is
that it is \vhatever the virtuous person does. And if \Ve ask who the virtuous person
is, the answer is that she’s the one who does right actions. But th is is circular reason-
ing. If virtue is defined in terms of action, we cannot then define action in terms of
virtue. The result, theorists say, is that virtue ethics cannot tell us which actions are
right or \vrong. To avoid such circular reasoning, \Ve have to introduce some inde-
pendent moral standards of conduct.
Russ Shafer-Landau thinks this problem is similar to the one faced by the divine
command theory (Section 3.1):
Russ Shafer-Landau, The Fundamentals of Ethics
Virtue ethics and the divine command theory share a basic structure. And they share a
basic weakness. We can see this by posing a familiar dilemma. Virtuous people either
have, or don’t have, good reasons for their actions. (1) If they lack good reasons, then
their actions are arbitrary, and can’t possibly serve as the standard of mora lity. (2) If
they do have good reasons to support their actions, then these reasons, and not the
actions themselves, determine what is right and wrong.
The second option is the better one. We must suppose that virtuous people act on
good reasons, or else they wouldn’t really be virtuous. Consider again the immorality of
rape, and the many reasons why it is wrong. A virtuous person is one who is aware of
these reasons and takes them to heart. Rape is not wrong because good people oppose
it. They oppose it because it is wrong.
This approach preserves the integrity, the wisdom, and the goodness of the virtu-
ous person. But there is naturall y a cost. And it is steep. The cost is that the virtue ethi-
cist’s account of right action is directly threatened. That account tell s us that acts are
mora lly right just because all virtuous people would perform them in the circumstances,
and wrong just because such people would refra in. But as we have seen, the choices of
virtuous people do not make actions right or wrong.”

Feminist Ethics and the Ethics of Care 181
I. Aristotle argues that because every action aims at some end, there
must be an end to which all actions aim. Is this a good argument?
Why or why not?
2. Is virtue ethics sufficiently action guid ing? Explain.
3. Do you think that morality is a matter of both duty and vir tues?
Why or why not?
4. What are the advantages and disadvantages of virtue ethics? Could
virtue ethics be integrated into a duty-based theory like Kant’s to
produce a more plausible theory? If so, how \vould you merge
the two?
5. Can virtue ethics be used to guide your actions? If so, how?
In recent decades, an important development has challenged the traditional theo-
ries and concepts of moral philosophy: the rise of feminist ethics. Feminist ethics
is an approach to morality aimed at advancing \vomen’s interesrs, underscoring
their distinctive experiences and characteristics, and advancing the obvious truth
that women and men are morally equal. It is defined by a d istinctive focus on
these issues, rather than by a set of doctrines or common ideology among femi-
nisrs, many of whom may disagree on the nature of feminist ethics or on particular
moral issues.
Feminist ethics generally downplays the role of moral principles and tradi-
t ional ethical concepts, insisting instead that moral reflection must take into ac-
count the social realities-the relevant social practices, relationships, institutions,
and power arrangements. Many feminists think that the familiar principles of
Western ethics-autonomy, utility, freedom, equality, and the like-are too broad
and abstract to help us make moral judgments about specific persons who are
enmeshed in concrete social situations. It is not enough, for example, to respect
a woman’s decision to have an abortion if she is too poor to have one, or if her
culture is so oppressive (or oppressed) as to make abortion impossible to obtain,
or if social conditioning leads her to believe that she has no choice or her views
don’t count. Theoretical autonomy does not mean much if it is so t horoughly un-
dermined in rea lity.
Many feminist \vriters maintain that the values and virtues inherent in most
t raditional moral theories reflect a typically masculine perspective-and thus offer
a one-sided (or wrong-sided) view of the moral life. What’s needed, they say, is a
moral outlook that takes into account values and experiences that usually have been
Feminist ethics is an ap ..
proach to morality aimed
at advanci ng women’s
intcrr:sts, underscoring
their distinctive experi-
ences and characteristics,
and advancing the obvious
truth that women and men
arc morally equal.
All virtue is sum med up in
dealing justly.
24 Is there such a thing
as “the fema le perspec-
t ive”? That is, do all
women have the same
basic outlook or style
of reasoning?

182 Chapter 3 Morality and the Moral life
Ethics of care is a moral
perspective chat empha-
sizes the unique demands
of specific situarions and
the virtues and feelings
that arc central m close
personal relationships.
identified with women. According to Alison Jaggar, a feminist philosopher, femi-
nists claim that trad itional ethics favors the
Alison Jaggar, ” Feminist Ethics”
supposedly masculine or male-associated values of independence, autonomy, intellect,
will , wariness, hiera rchy, domination, culture, transcendence, product, asceticism, war
and death over the supposedly feminine or female-associated values of interdependence,
community, connection, sharing, emotion, body, trust, absence of hierarchy, nature, im-
manence, process, joy, peace and li fe.’2
Some proponents of feminist ethics a lso reject the trad itional concept of the
moral agent. Jan C rosthwaite says that the old notion is that of “abstract ind ividuals
as fundamentally autonomous agents, a,vare of their own preferences and values,
and motivated by rational self-interest (though not necessarily selfish).”13 But, she
says, many feminists
Jan Crosthwaite, “Gender and Bioethics”
present a richer conception of persons as historically and cultura lly located, socially
related and essentially embodied. Individuals are located in and formed by specific
relationships (chosen and unchosen) and ties of affection and respons ibility .. . . Such
a conception of socially embedded selves refocuses th inking about autonomy, shifting
the emphasis from independent self-determ ination towards ideals of integrity within
relatedness …. Respecting au tonomy becomes less a matter of protecting individua ls
from “coercive” influences than one of positive empowerment, recognizing people’s
interdependence and supporting individua ls’ development of their own understanding
of their situation and options.’•
Many of these themes run th rough the et h ics of care, a moral perspective
that a rose out of feminist concerns and grew to challenge core elemenrs of most
other moral theories. Generally, those theories emphasize abstract principles, gen-
eral duties, individual rights, justice, utility, impartial judgments, and delibera-
tive reasoning. But the ethics of care shifrs the focus to the unique demands of
specific situations and to the virtues and feelings that are central to close personal
relationships-empathy, compassion, love, sympathy, and fidelity. The heart of
the moral life is feeling for and caring for those ,vith whom you have a special,
. . .
1nttmate connection.

Feminist Ethics and the Ethics of Care 183
Early on, the ethics of care dre\v inspi ra-
t ion from the notion that men and \vomen have
d ramatically different styles of moral decision-
making, with men seizing on principles, duties,
and righrs, and women homing in on personal
relationships, caring, and empathy. This differ-
ence was highlighted in research done by psy-
chologist Carol Gilligan and published in her
1982 book In a Different Voice. 15 Typically, men
recognize an ethic of justice and rights, she says,
and \vomen are guided by an ethic of compas-
sion and care. In her view, the latter is as legiti-
mate as the former, and both have their place
in ethics.
Other research has suggested that the d iffer-
ences between men and women in styles of moral
thinking may not be as great as Gilligan suggesrs.
But the credibility of the empirical claim does not
affect the larger insight that t he research seems
to some writers to suggest: Caring is an essential
part of morality, and the most influential theories
have not fully taken it into account.
These points get support along several lines.
First, virtue ethics reminds us that virtues are
part of the moral life. If caring is viewed as a
Figure 3.14 Virginia Held, feminist, author, and distinguished
professor of philosophy at City University of New York Graduate
virtue-in the form of compassion, empathy, or kindness-then caring too must be
an element of morality. A moral theory then would be deficient if it made no room
for care.
Moreover, many argue that unlike the ethics of care, most moral theories push
the principle of impartiality too far. Recall that impartiality in morality requires
us to consider everyone as equal, counting everyone’s interesrs the same. The prin-
ciple applies \videly, especially in matters of public justice, but less so in personal
relationships of love, fam ily, friendship, and the like. We seem to have special obli-
gations (partiality) to close friends, family members, and others we care for, duties
that \Ve do not have to strangers or to universal humanity.
Most moral theories emphasize duties and downplay the role of emotions, at-
t itudes, and motivations. Kant, for example, \vould have us do our duty for duty’s
sake, \vhatever our feelings. For him, to be a morally good parent, we need only act
from duty. But taking care of our children as a matter of moral obligation alone
seems an empty exercise. Surely, being a morally good parent also involves having
feelings of love and attitudes of caring. The ethics of care eagerly takes these emo-
tional elements into account.
The crhics of care confirms
the prioriry that we nacur~
ally give to our family and
friends, and so it seems a
more plausible conception.
– James Rachels

184 Chapter 3 Morality and the Moral life
25 Does Held suggest
a way to decide which
emotions to heed and
which to ignore? If
the eth ics of ca re can-
not help us sort out
our emotions, should
we consider it a bad
A man’s ethical behavior
should be based effccti vcly
on sympathy, education,
and social relationships; no
religious basis is necessary.
Man would indeed be in
a poor way if he had to
be restrained by fear of
punishmenr and hope of
reward after death.
-Albert Einstein
II I II I 11111111111111111 Ill II I II I II 111 Ill 1111111
The feminist philosopher Virgin ia Held offers this synopsis of the main elements
of the ethics of care:
Vi rginia Held, The Ethics of Care
I think one can discern among various versions of the ethics of care a number of major
Fi rst, the central focus of the ethics of care is on the compelling moral salience of
attending to and meeting the needs of the particular others for whom we take respons i-
bility. Caring for one’s child, for instance, may well and defensibly be at the forefront of
a person’s moral concerns. The ethics of care recognizes that human beings are depen-
dent for many years of their lives, that the moral claim of those dependent on us for the
care they need is pressing, and that there are highly important moral aspects in develop-
ing the relations of caring that enable human beings to live and progress. All persons
need care for at least their early years. Prospects for human progress and flourishing
hinge fundamentally on the care that those needing it receive, and the ethics of care
stresses the moral force of the responsibili ty to respond to the needs of the dependent.
Many persons will become ill and dependent for some periods of their later lives, includ-
ing in frail old age, and some who are permanently disabled will need care the whole
of their lives. Mora li ties built on the image of the independent, autonomous, rational
individual largely overlook the reali ty of human dependence and the morality for which
it call s. The ethics of care attends to this central concern of human li fe and delineates
the moral values involved. It refuses to relegate care to a realm “outside morality.” …
Second, in the epistemological process of trying to understand what morality
would recommend and what it would be morally best for us to do and to be, the ethics
of care va lues emotion rather than rejects it. Not all emotion is valued, of course, but in
contrast with the dominant rationalist approaches, such emotions as sympathy, empa-
thy, sensitivity, and responsiveness are seen as the kind of moral emotions that need to
be cultivated not only to help in the implementation of the dictates of reason but to bet-
ter ascertain what morality recommends. Even anger may be a component of the moral
indignation that should be felt when people are treated unjustly or inhumanely, and it
may contribute to (rather than interfere with) an appropriate interpretation of the moral
wrong. This is not to say that raw emotion can be a guide to morality; feelings need to
be reflected on and educated. But from the care perspective, moral inquiries that rely
entirely on reason and rationalistic deductions or calculations are seen as deficient ….
Third, the ethics of care rejects the view of the dominant moral theories that the
more abstract the reasoning about a moral problem the better because the more li kely
to avoid bias and arbitrariness, the more nearly to achieve impartiality. The ethics of
care respects rather than removes itself from the claims of particular others with whom
we share actual relationships. It ca ll s in to question the universalistic and abstract rules
of the dominant theories. When the latter consider such actual relations as between a
parent and child, if they say anything about them at all , they may see them as permit-
ted and cultivating them a preference that a person may have. Or they may recognize
a universal obligation for all parents to care for their ch ildren. But they do not permit
actual relations ever to take priority over the requirements of impartiali ty . . ..
To most advocates of the ethics of care, the compell ing moral claim of the par-
ticular other may be valid even when it conflicts with the requirement usually made by

Feminist Ethics and the Ethics of Care 185
moral theories that moral judgments be universalizeable, and this is of fundamental
moral importance.
Dominant moral theories tend to interpret moral problems as if they were confl icts
between egoistic individual interests on the one hand, and universal moral principles on
the other. The extremes of”selfish individual” and “humanity” are recognized, but what
lies between these is often overlooked. The ethics of care, in contrast, focuses especially
on the area between these extremes. Those who conscientiously care for others are not
seeki ng primarily to further their own individual interests; their interests are intertwined
with the persons they care for. Neither are they acting for the sake of all others or hu-
manity in general; they seek instead to preserve or promote an actual human relation
between themselves and particular others. Persons in caring relations are acting for self-
and-other together. Their characteristic stance is ne ither egoistic nor altruistic; these are
the options in a conflictual situation, but the well-being of a caring relation involves the
cooperative well-being of those in the relation and the well-being of the relation itself. . . .
A fourth characteristic of the ethics of care is that like much feminist thought in
many areas, it reconceptualizes traditional notions about the public and the private. The
traditional view, built into the dominant moral theories, is that the household is a priva te
sphere beyond politics into which government, based on consent, should not intrude ….
Dominant moral theories have seen “public” life as relevant to morality whi le miss-
ing the moral significance of the “private” domains of fami ly and friendship. Thus the
dominant theories have assumed that morality should be sought for unrelated, inde-
pendent, and mutuall y indifferent individuals assumed to be equal. They have posited
an abstract, fu lly rational “agent as such” from which to construct morali ty, while miss-
ing the moral issues that arise between interconnected persons in the contexts of family,
friendship, and social groups. In the context of the fami ly, it is typical for relations to be
between persons with highly unequal power who did not choose the ties and obligations
in which they find themselves enmeshed. For instance, no child can choose her parents
yet she may well have obligations to care for them. Relations of this kind are standardly
noncontractual, and conceptualizing them as contractual would often undermine or
at least obscure the trust on which their worth depends. The ethics of care addresses
rather than neglects moral issues aris ing in relations among the unequal and depen-
dent, relations that are often laden with emotion and involuntary, and then notices how
often these attributes apply not only in the household but in the wider society as well. . . .
A fifth characteristic of the ethics of care is the conception of persons with which
it begins . . .. The ethics of care usually works with a conception of persons as rela-
tional, rather than as the self-sufficient independent ind ividuals of the dominant moral
theories. ‘6
Many philosophers, including some who favor traditional theories, think the eth-
ics of care is surely right about certain aspects of the moral life. Caring, they say,
is indeed a vital part of morality. Sometimes the most important factor in moral
decision-making is not justice, utility, or righrs, but compassionate consideration.
Impartiality is a basic requirement of morality, an ideal that guides us to fairness and
justice and away from prejudice and inequality. But it often does not apply in our
relationships ,vith friends and loved ones, for to those close to us we may have special
obligations that we do not have to,vard others. And, contrary to Kant, feelings do
matter. They can alert us to important moral issues and give us a deeper understand-
ing of morality’s point and purpose. True, reason must hold the reins of our emotions,
but there can be no denying that emotions have a legitimate place in the moral life.
I reject the notion of
universal caring- that is,
caring for everyone-on
the grounds that it is
impossible to actualize
and leads us to substitute
abstract problem solving
and mere talk for genuine
– Ne) Noddings

186 Chapter 3 Morality and the Moral life
Mary Wollstonecraft
Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-
1797) ,vas a political radical,
a social critic with a strong
egalitarian bent, a distin-
guished novelist, and one of
the great forebears of fem i-
nise thought. What she wrote
then about WOJnen’s rights
and ,vomen’s situation in so-
ciery is still relevant coday-
and still considered radical by
,nany. By law and by cusco,n,
1niddle-dass English women
in her day ,vere thought co be
subordinate to 1nen in count-
less ,vays. They lived under
the ,veight of a damaging
presumption: W0mm exist for
the sake of mm. Wo,nen were
denied properry o,vnership,
Fig. 3.15 Mary Wollstonecraft (1759- 1797). expected co defer to men in
important ,naccers, barred
from almost all professions,
excluded from voting and govern,nenc poses, deprived of higher education, and
judged by different 1noral standards than those applied to men. Fe,v societies in che
rest of che ,vorld created women any beccer.
Wollstonecraft studied the conditions chat women found themselves in, and
she read ,vhat prominent 1nen had co say about the character, duties, and education
of ,vOJnen. Thus much of her literary output ,vas in response co che views of che
famous Edmund Burke, who ,vroce in support of aristocratic rights and privileges,
and co Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who considered ,vo,nen inferior to men.
Her greatest works are A Vindication of the Rights of Men (1790) and A Vindica-
tion of the Rights of Woman (1792). In che laccer, she envisions a society of e.quals
freed from the tyranny of unreason and spurious authority. Such a society requires
che full develop1nent of the moral and rational faculties of both 1nen and women.
For coo long, she says, ,vomen have had their powers of reason obstructed by men

Feminist Eth ics and the Ethics of Care 187
,vho believe char reason is the do,nain of ,nales and ,vho define women in ,vays
that serve men. Men have ensured chat women are uneducated, molded by male
expectations, judged by appearances instead of incellecc, and obl iged to submit to
the preferences of men instead of the dictates of reason. As Wollsconecrafc puts it:
I have turned over various books written on the subject of educa-
t ion, and patiently observed the conduct of parents and the man-
agement of schools; but what has been the result?- a profound
conviction that the neglected education of my fellow-creatures is
the grand source of the misery I deplore; and that women, in par-
t icu lar, are rendered weak and wretched by a variety of concurring
causes, originating from one hasty conclusion. The conduct and
manners of women, in fact, evidently prove that their minds are
not in a hea lthy state; for, like the flowers which are planted in too
rich a soil , strength and usefu lness are sacrificed to beauty; and
the flaunting leaves, after having pleased a fastidious eye, fade,
disregarded on the sta lk, long before the season when they ought
to have arrived at maturity.- One cause of this barren blooming I
attribute to a false system of education, gathered from the books
written on this subject by men who, considering females rather as
women than human creatures, have been more anxious to make
them alluring mistresses than affectionate wives and rational
mothers; and the understanding of the sex has been so bubbled
[deluded] by this specious homage, that the civilized women of the
present century, with a few exceptions, are only anxious to inspire
love, when they ought to cherish a nobler ambition, and by their
abilities and virtues exact respect.*
Wollsconecrafc argues that hu,nan icy’s true happiness and ultimate perfection
lie in the develop,nenc of reason, virtue, and knowledge. Yet in women, these hu-
man capacities have been deliberately stunted, and che resu lt is a deform icy of che
soul char society muse correct. If women have souls just as men do, they can- and
should- aspire co possess these sa,ne qual ities and in the sa,ne measure.
• Mary Wollst onecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of \'(/0111011, ed. Deidre Shauna Lynch
(New York: W.W. Norton, 2009), 8- 9.
‘ . •:

188 Chapter 3 Morality and the Moral life
To these concessions many moral philosophers would add a cautionary note: The
ethics of care is not the whole of morality, and to view it that ,vay is a mistake. To
decide on the right action, we often cannot avoid applying the concepts of justice
and rights. Sometimes impartiality is the best (or only) policy, ,vithout which our
moral decisions would be misguided, even tragic. And abstract principles or rules,
though un,vieldy in many cases, may be essential to reconciling confl icting obliga-
. .
ttons or 1ntu1t1ons.
So should plausible moral theories try to accommodate both an ethic of obliga-
tion and an ethic of care? Many theorists, including several writing from a femin ist
perspective, th ink so. Annette Baier, for example, says:
Annette C. Baier, “The Need for More Than Justice”
The best moral theory has to be a cooperative product of women and men, has to ha r-
monize justice and care. The morality it theorizes about is after all for all persons, fo r
men and for women, and will need their combined insights. As Gill igan said, what we
need now is a “marriage” of the old male and the newly articulated female insights.’7
1. Is it possible to combine Kant’s theory with the ethics of care? If so, how?
2. Do you think there are innate differences benveen men and women in
the ways they think about morality or moral issues? Are there cultur-
ally ingrained differences in moral thinking?
3. Do you think it possible to arrive at plausible moral judgments based
entirely on emotion and personal experience? Explain.
4. What features of the ethics of care do you find plausible? Are there any
important elements missing? If so, what elements?
5. What role do you think emotions play in the moral li fe and moral
Long before the ethics of care and feminist ethics began to strongly challenge tradi-
tional moral theories, an even more influential and revolutionary moral outlook arose
in post-World War II Europe. This vie,v came to be known as existentialism, a per-
spective that quickly spread throughout the intellectual world and is still compelling

Albert Camus: An Existentialist Voice 189
to many thoughtful people in the nventy-first century. Several noted thinkers have
been ident ified as existentialist, including Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980), S0ren Ki-
erkegaard (1813-1855), Albert Camus (1913-1960), Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-
1900), and Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986). These and other existentialist writers
differ dramatically on some major issues (for example, some are atheists, like Sartre,
Camus, and Nietzsche; and some, like Kierkegaard, are Christians). But most of
them also address common themes that are characteristic of existentialism, ,vhich
itself is difficult to straightforwardly define.
Unlike deontological and consequentialist theories, existentialism does not offer
ru les or principles to guide moral action. Instead it provides a broad analysis of the
ind ividual’s predicament in an uncaring universe and explains ho,v to find meaning
in such a forlorn world. Thus, a central existentialist theme is that our existence is
absurd: There is an unbearable conflict between our need for meaning and purpose
in life and the meaningless, indifferent universe. Our situation is impossible, and
there is no higher po,ver or governing principle to help us make sense of it. There is
just us and the cold, silent universe, ,vhich cares nothing about our needs and de-
sires. Moreover, our condition is terminal; our death is guaranteed. So ,ve must live
an absurd existence, and at the last we get no answers, just an ending. What makes
this predicament even more intolerable is brought out by another theme-existence
precedes essence. The traditional view is that we come into existence with an essence,
a human nature, that is in a sense already set before ,ve come into the world. And we
have no say in this; what we are as ind ividuals is predetermined. But existentialists
argue that reality is the other ,vay around. We first come into existence, and then ,ve
define ourselves (establish our essence) through the choices ,ve make. It is we who are
totally responsible for what ,ve become. We are totally responsible because ,ve have
absolute freedom to do as we ,viii. We are radically and painfully free to choose what
we ,viii be and how ,ve will respond to the absurdity of living. As Sartre says, “We
are condemned to be free.” The responsibility of self-definition rests heavily upon us.
To many, the weight is terrifying. But those who accept their responsibility and free-
dom, who recognize that they alone are the ultimate designers of their lives, ,vho are
brave enough to make the best of an absurd existence-they are living authentically.
Those ,vho allow society, religion, history, mass culture, or their own fear to define
them are living inauthentically.
In his famous essay “The Myth of Sisyphus,” Camus dramatizes the absurdity
of human existence by liken ing it to that of the mythical Sisyphus, ,vho is fo rced
by the gods to repeat a pointless task for all eternity: to push a boulder to t he top
of a mountain only to have it tumble do,vn again to the bottom. Yet Sisyphus
fi nds meaning in th is seemingly meaningless burden by courageously embracing
it and refusing to be over,vhelmed by despai r. The implicat ion fo r humans is that
we too can live meaningfully and bravely by accepting our freedom and shaping
our own lives through free choices. To Camus, Sisyphus is a hero because he
accepts his fate and valiantly pushes on anyway. Likewise, humans too can be
heroic by carrying on with life even though it has no inherent meaning and will
soon be over.

190 Chapter 3 Morality and the Moral life
26 Does Camus’s
perspective leave open
the possibil ity of mora l
relativism? If we have
absolute freedom of
choice, does that mean
we can make any moral
choice at all? Does
Camus set any limits on
moral decisions?
Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus
The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly roll ing a rock to the top of a moun-
tain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some
reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor.
If one believes Homer, Sisyphus was the wisest and most prudent of mortals. Ac-
cording to another tradition, however, he was disposed to practice the profession of high-
wayman. I see no contradiction in this. Opinions differ as to the reasons why he became
the futile laborer of the underworld. To begin with, he is accused of a certain levity in re-
gard to the gods. He stole their secrets. fEgina, the daughter of )Esopus, was carried off by
Jupiter. The father was shocked by that disappearance and complained to Sisyphus. He,
who knew of the abduction, offered to tell about it on condition that )Esopus would give
water to the citadel of Corinth. To the celestial thunderbolts he preferred the benediction
of water. He was punished for this in the underworld. Homer tells us also that Sisyphus
had put Death in chains. Pluto could not endure the sight of his deserted, silent empire.
He dispatched the god of war, who liberated Death from the hands of her conqueror.
It is said also that Sisyphus, being near to death, rashly wanted to test his wife’s love.
He ordered her to cast his unburied body into the middle of the public square. Sisyphus
woke up in the underworld. And there, annoyed by an obedience so contrary to human
love, he obtained from Pluto permission to return to earth in order to chastise his wife.
But when he had seen again the face of this world, enjoyed water and sun, warm stones
and the sea, he no longer wanted to go back to the infernal darkness. Recalls, signs of
anger, warnings were of no avai l. Many years more he lived facing the curve of the gulf,
the sparkling sea, and the smiles of earth. A decree of the gods was necessary. Mercury
came and seized the impudent man by the collar and, snatching him from his joys, led
him forcibly back to the underworld, where his rock was ready for him.
You have already grasped that Sisyphus is the absurd hero. He is, as much through
his passions as through his torture. His scorn of the gods, his hatred of death, and his
passion for life won him that unspeakable penalty in which the whole being is exerted
toward accomplishing nothing. This is the price that must be paid for the passions of
this earth. Nothing is told us about Sisyphus in the underworld. Myths are made for
the imagination to breathe life into them. As for th is myth, one sees merely the whole
effort of a body straining to raise the huge stone, to roll it and push it up a slope a
hundred times over; one sees the face screwed up, the cheek tight agains t the stone,
the shoulder bracing the clay-covered mass, the foot wedging it, the fresh start with
arms outstretched, the wholly human security of two earth-clotted hands. At the very
end of his long effort measured by skyless space and time without depth, the purpose
is achieved. Then Sisyphus watches the stone rush down in a few moments toward tha t
lower world whence he wi ll have to push it up again towards the summit. He goes back
down to the plain.
It is during that return, that pause, that Sisyphus interests me. A face that toils so
close to stones is already stone itself! I see that man going back down with a heavy yet
measured step toward tha t torment of which he will never know the end. That hour like
a breathing-space which returns as surely as his suffering, that is the hour of conscious-
ness. At each of those moments when he leaves the heights and gradually sinks toward
the lairs of the gods, he is superior to his fate. He is stronger than his rock.

Albert Camus: An Existentialist Voice 191
If this myth is tragic, that is because its hero is conscious. Where would his torture
be, indeed, if at every step the hope of succeeding upheld him? The workman of today
works every day in his life at the same tasks, and this fate is no less absurd. But it is tragic
only at the rare moments when it becomes conscious. Sisyphus, proletarian of the gods,
powerless and rebellious, knows the whole extent of his wretched condition: it is what he
thinks of during his descent. The lucidity that was to constitute his torture at the same
time crowns his victory. There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn.
If the descent is thus sometimes performed in sorrow, it can also take place in joy.
This word is not too much. Again I fancy Sisyphus returning toward his rock, and the
sorrow was in the beginning. When the images of earth cl ing too tightly to memory,
when the call of happiness becomes too insistent, it happens that melancholy rises in
man’s heart: this is the rock’s victory, this is the rock itself. The boundless grief is too
heavy to bear. These are our nights of Gethsemane. But crushing truths perish from
being acknowledged. Thus, CEdipus at the outset obeys fate without knowing it. But
from the moment he knows, his tragedy begins. Yet at the same moment, blind and
desperate, he realizes that the only bond linking him to the world is the cool hand of
a girl. Then a tremendous remark rings out: “Despite so many ordeals, my advanced
age and the nobili ty of my soul make me conclude that all is well.” Sophocles’ CEdipus,
like Dostoevsky’s Kirilov, thus gives the recipe for the absurd victory. Ancient wisdom
confirms modern heroism.
O ne does not discover the absurd without being tempted to write a manual of hap-
piness. “What! by such narrow ways- ?” There is but one world, however. Happiness
and the absurd are two sons of the same earth. They are inseparable. It would be a mis-
take to say that happiness necessarily springs from the absurd discovery. It happens as
well that the feeling of the absurd springs from happiness. “I conclude that all is well,”
says CEdipus, and that remark is sacred. It echoes in the wild and limited universe of
man. It teaches that all is not, has not been, exhausted. It drives out of this world a
god who had come into it with dissatisfaction and a preference for futile sufferings. It
makes of fate a human matter, which must be settled among men.
All Sisyphus’ silent joy is conta ined therein. H is fate belongs to him. His rock is
his thing. Likewise, the absurd man when he contemplates his torment, silences all
the idols. In the universe suddenly restored to its silence, the myriad wondering little
voices of the earth rise up. Unconscious, secret calls, invitations from all the faces, they
are the necessary reverse and price of victory. There is no sun without shadow, and it is
essential to know the night. The absurd man says yes and his effort will henceforth be
unceasing. If there is a personal fate, there is no higher destiny, or at least there is but
one which he concludes is inevitable and despicable. For the rest, he knows himself
to be the master of his days. At that subtle moment when man glances backward over
his li fe, Sisyphus return ing toward his rock, in that slight pivoting he contemplates that
series of unrelated actions which becomes his fate, created by him, combined under
his memory’s eye and soon sealed by his death. Thus, convinced of the wholly human
origin of all that is human, a blind man eager to see who knows that the night has no
end, he is still on the go. The rock is still rolling.
I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! One always finds one’s burden again.
But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He
too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him
neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night-fi lled
mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fi ll
a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy. ‘8

192 Chapter 3 Morality and the Moral life
1. What are some of the main themes of existentialism? Are they an
accurate depiction of the human predicament? Why or \vhy not?
2. Can li fe have meaning even if there is no God? Support your anS\ver.
3. Are we absolutely free to live our lives according to our own prefer-
ences? Are we “condemned to be free”? Explain.
4. Ho\v does the myth of Sisyphus dramatize the absurdity of the human
condition? Do you agree \vith Camus’s assessment of human existence?
5. According to Camus, how can life be lived meaningfully in a mean-
ingless world? Can your life be lived meaningfully? If so, how?
Confucianism is a school of thought that arose out of ancient China and, along \vith
Daoism, has been a dominant philosophical system there for hundreds of years. Its
effect on Chinese and East Asian life, culture, and government has been enormous-
comparable to the influence of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam in the West. Until
the early nventieth century, C-onfucian virtues and training were requi red of anyone
entering Chinese civil service, and even now under Communist rule China holds to
ics Confucian roocs in everyday life. Elsewhere in the East (especially in Korea, Japan,
and Vietnam), C-onfucian ethics and ideals have remodeled society, provid ing moral
underpinning and guidance to social relationships at all levels.
Figure 3.16 Confucius (551~ 79 ea).
Part of the appeal of Confucianism is that in times of ideological con-
fusion it has offered plausible answers to essential philosophical questions:
What kind of person should I be? What kind of society is best? What are
my moral obligations to my family, those who rule, and the rest of hu-
manity? In the twenty-first century, mi llions of people are attracted to the
answers supplied by this two-thousand-year-old tradition.
Many of the elemencs of Confucianism were part of Chinese culture
long before Confucius arrived on the scene. In fact, he claimed merely
to transmit the wisdom of the anciencs to new generations, but what he
transmitted plus what he added became the distinctive Confucian world-
view. From early Chinese civilization came the C-onfucian emphas is on
rituals and their correct performance; the veneration of ancestors; social
and cosmic harmony; virtuous behavior and ideals; and the \viii of Heaven
(or Tian), the ultimate power and organizing principle in the universe.
Into this mix of characteristically Eastern ideas and practices there
appeared in 551 BCE the renowned thinker \Ve call C-onfucius (the Western-
ized spelling), othenvise known as K’ung Ch ‘iu or as K’ung Fu-tzu (Master
K’ung). According to legend and very sketchy information about his life,

he \vas born to a poor family in the tiny Chinese state of Lu. He served briefly at
age fifty in the Lu government as police commissioner, and during the next thirteen
years he visited other Chinese states trying to persuade their rulers to implement his
philosophy of \vise government. One leader after another turned him down. He spent
the rest of his life teaching his philosophy and contributing to the Confucian \vorks
known as the Five Classics. He died in 479 BCE \Vithout his ideas having achieved wide
acceptance. Only later did his vie\vS become a major influence.
C-onfucianism, especially later forms of it, has ahvays some rel igious
or d ivine aspecrs. C-onfucius himself believed in the supreme deity Heaven, assert-
ing that we should align ourselves with its \vill. But in general he veered away from
the supernatural bel iefs of the past, for his main interest was teaching a humanistic
doctrine centered on social relationships. H is aim was the creation of harmony and
virtue in the world-specifically in individuals, in the \vay they interacted with one
another, and in how they were treated by the state. He sa\v his teachings as a remedy
for the social d isorder, corruption, and inhumanity existing all a round him, from
the lowest levels of society to the highest.
ln Confucianism, the ideal world is generated through the practice of Ii and ren. Li
has several meanings, including ritual, etiquette, principle, and propriety, but its essence
is conscientious behavior and right action. To follow Ii is to conduct yourself in your
dealings with others according to moral and customary norms, and to act in this \vay is
to contribute to social stability and harmony. Ren is about social vi rtues; it encompasses
benevolence, sympathy, kindness, generosity, respect for others, and human-heartedness.
At its core is the imperative to \vork for the common good and to recognize the essential
worth of others regardless of their social Status. The expression of these virtues is governed
by the notion of reciprocity (shu), what has been called Confucius’s (negative) golden
rule: “Never do to others what you \vould not like them to do to you.” (The Christian
golden rule is stated positively: “Do unto others as you \vould have them do unto you.”)
C-onfucius urges people not merely to try to live according to Ii and ren but to
excel at such a life, to become a “superior person” (a junzi), a noble. C-ontrary to his-
tory and custom, Confucius’s idea of nobility has nothing to do with noble blood;
true nobility, he says, comes from noble virtues and \visdom, and these anyone can
acquire. He refers to a man who embodies th is kind of nobility as a gentleman. We
get a glimpse of the gentleman in the Analects, the main Confucian text:
Confucius, Analects
Tzu-kung asked about the true gentleman. The Master [Confucius] said, He does not
preach what he practises till he has practised what he preaches . …
The Master said, A gentleman can see a question from all s ides without bias. The
small man is biased and can see a question only from one side.
The Master said, the Ways of the true gentleman are three. I myself have met with
success in none of them. For he that is really Good is never unhappy, he that is really
wise is never perplexed, he that is really brave is never afraid. Tzu-kung said, That,
Master, is your own Way!
Confucianism 193
By three methods we may
learn w isdom: First, by
rc.Acctio n, w hich is no ..
blcst; second, by imitation,
which is eas iest; and third,
by experience, which is the
27 Consider the
Confucian emphasis on
the noble or superior
person. Do you think
striving to become such
a person is a laudable
goa l? Would it de-
crease or increase the
enjoyment of life?
Li In early Confucianism,
ritual, etiquette, principle,
and propriety; conscicn ..
tious behavior and right
Ren The essential Confu-
cian virtues, including
benevolence, sympathy,
kindness, generosity,
respect for o the rs, and
human .. hcarrcdncss.
To be wealthy and honored
in an unjust society L\ a

194 Chapter 3 Morality and the Moral life
Ar fifteen I scr my heart
upon learning.
Ar rhirry, I had planted my
feet firm upon the ground.
Ar forry, I no longer suf-
fered from perplexities.
Ar fifty, I knew whar were
the biddings of Heaven.
Ar sixry, I heard them with
docile car.
Ar seventy, I could follow
the dictates of my own
heart; for what I desired
no longer overstepped rhc
boundaries of right.
28 Is the Confucian
prescription for har-
mony li kely to be fully
implemented in West-
ern countries? That is,
could there ever be a
democratic, capitalist,
consumer society
that was also strictly
The noble-minded arc
calm and steady. Lirtlc
people arc forever fussing
and frcrting.
Confucius, Analects
Tzu-kung asked about the qualities of a true gentleman. The Master said, He
cultivates in himself the capacity to be di ligent in his tasks …. The Master said, He
cultivates in himself the capacity to ease the lot of other people …. The Master said,
He cultivates in himself the capacity to ease the lot of the whole populace.•9
So living by Ii and ren requires self-cultivation and action-learning the moral
norms, understanding the vi rtues, and acting to apply these to the real world. Being
a superior person, then, demands kno\vledge and judgment as well as devotion to the
noblest values and virtues.
In Confucianism, individuals are not like atoms: They are not discrete, iso-
lated units of stuff defined only by \vhat they’re made of. Individuals are part of
a complex lattice of social relationships that must be taken into account. So in
Confucian ethics, ren tells us what virtues apply to social relationships generally,
and the text called the “Five Relat ionships” details the most important connec-
tions and the specific duties and virtues associated with particular relationships.
These relationships are bet\veen parent and child, elder brother and younger
brother, husband and wife, elder and junior, and ruler and subject. Harmony
\viii pervade society, says Confucius, \vhen (1) parents provide fo r their children,
and children respect and obey their parents and care for them in their old age;
(2) elder brothers look after younger brothers, and the younger show deference
to the elder; (3) husbands support and protect wives, and wives obey husbands
and tend to children and the household; (4) elders sho\v consideration for the
younger, and the younger respect and heed elders; and (5) ru lers care for and
protect subjects, and subjects are loyal to rulers.
The relationship on \vhich all others are based is that of parent and child, or, as
Confucius would have it, father and son. The son O\ves the father respect, obedi-
ence, and support-an obligation that Confucianism calls “filial piety.” The central
feature of this relationship is that it is hierarchical. Father and son are not equal part-
ners; the son is subordinate. The other four relationships are also hierarchical, with
the wife subordinate to the husband, the younger brother to the older, the junior to
the elder, and the subject to the ruler. And as in fi lial piety, the subordinates have
a duty of obedience and respect, and the superiors are obligated to treat the subor-
dinates with kindness and authority, as a father would. C-onfucius believes that if
everyone conscientiously assumes his or her proper role, harmony, happiness, and
goodness wi ll reign in the land.
Confucius, Analects
On fi lial piety, Confucius had this to say:
Meng I Tzu asked about the treatment of parents. The Master said, Never dis-
obey! When Ch’ ih was driving his carriage for him, the Master said, Meng asked me
about the treatment of parents and I said, Never disobey! Fan Ch’ ih said, In what
sense did you mean it? The Master said, While they are alive, serve them according
to ritual. When they die, bury them according to ritual and sacrifice to them according
to ritual. …

Tzu-yu asked about the trea tment of parents. The Master said, “Filial sons” nowa-
days are people who see to it that their parents get enough to eat. But even dogs and
ho rses are cared for to that extent. If there is no feeling of respect, wherein lies the
The virtue of filial p iety is sti ll a strong force in China today, as this schola r
John B. Noss, A History of the World’s Religions
In China, loyalty to the fam ily has been one’s first loyalty. No lad in China ever comes of
age, in the Western sense. It is still true that his whole service is expected to be devoted
to the family unti l death, and he is expected to obey his fathe r and, when his father
d ies, his e ldest brother, wi th a perfect compliance. This has meant in the past that ev-
ery father has a great and grave responsibili ty to fulfill toward his fam ily. He must seek
to produce virtue in his sons by being himself the best example of it. The fact that the
present communist government speaks of making itself “father and elde r brother” and
claims for itself the first loyalty of every citizen has not totally inva lidated the personal
virtue of fi lial piety in the context of fam il y life.”
Today the influence of the Confucian virtue of filial p iety helps co explain \vhy
there is in much of Asia a g reater emphasis on meeting obligatio ns co family, com-
munity, and state than on ensuring individual r ights and personal freedom.
1. What a re Ii and ren? How would society change if everyone acted
according co these two virtues?
2. If you ahvays strived co become a superior person, would your life be
better than it is now or worse?
3. Confucianism downplays ind ividual liberty and emphasizes the im-
portance of yielding co the group in many matters. Is chis an attractive
aspect of Confucianism? W hy or why not?
4. Does Confucianism fit easily \vich a Western society chat has a strong
respect for individual righrs? Expla in.
5. Would you prefer to live in a strict Confucian culture rather than the
culcure you live in now? Why or why not?
Confucianism 195

196 Chapter 3 Morality and the Moral life
Review Notes
• Ethics, or moral philosophy, is the study of morality using the methods of philoso-
phy, and morality consists of our beliefs about right and wrong actions and good
and bad persons or character. Morality has to do with our moral judgments, prin-
ciples, values, and theories; ethics is the careful, philosophical examination of these.
• Morality is a normative enterprise \vith a distinctive set of properties: overriding-
ness, impartiality, universal ity, and reasonableness.
• A moral theory explains not \vhy one event causes another, but why an action is
right or \vrong or why a person or a person’s character is good or bad. Some theories
are consequentialist (like utilitarianism and ethical egoism), and some theories are
deontological (like Kant’s theory) .
• We can evaluate the worth of moral theories by applying the moral criteria of
adequacy-<:onsistency \vith our considered moral judgments, consis tency \Vith the faces of the moral li fe, and resourcefulness in moral problem-solving. • The doctrine that right and wrong are constituted by God's will is known as the divine command theory. It raises the specter of the Euthyphro dilemma and implies that the doctrine is guilty of arbitrariness. 3.2 MORAL RELATIVISM • Moral objectivism is the view that at least some moral norms or principles are objectively valid or true fo r everyone. Moral relativism says that moral standards are not objective but are relative to \vhat individuals or cultures believe. Moral rela- tivism pertaining to individuals is known as subjective relativism, more precisely stated as the view that right actions are those sanctioned by a person. Moral relativ- ism regarding cultures is called cultu ral relativism, the view that right actions are those sanctioned by one's culture. Both forms of relativism face serious difficulties. 3.3 MORALITY BASED ON CONSEQUENCES • Utilitarianism judges the morality of conduct by a single standard, the principle of utility-right actions are those that result in greater overall \veil-being (or util- ity) fo r the people involved than any other possible actions. The theory has many attractive features but also some problems, the most serious being that it seems to conflict with our considered moral judgments. • Ethical egoism says that right actions are those that maximize one's own well-being. It is thought to be supported by the empirical theory cal led psychological egoism. Both theories have been subjected to intense criticism. 3.4 MORALITY BASED ON DUTY AND RIGHTS • Kant's theory says that right actions are those that are right in themselves because they are consistent with universal moral rules derived from reason, and the actions have moral \vorth only if we do them out of a sense of duty. Kant's central moral tenet is the categorical imperative. Like utilitarianism, the theory has been accused of flying in the face of our considered moral judgmenrs. 3.5 MORALITY BASED ON CHARACTER • Virtue ethics focuses not on duty but on the development of virtuous character-not on \vhat to do but on \vhat to be. According to virtue ethics, character is the key to the moral life, for it is from a virtuous character that moral conduct and values naturally arise. 3.6 FEM INIST ETHICS AND THE ETHICS OF CARE • The ethics of care is a moral perspective that arose out of femin ist concerns and grew to challenge core elements of most other moral theories. This approach shifts the focus from abstract principles and rules to the unique demands of specific situ- ations and to the virtues and feeli ngs that are central to close personal relationships. The heart of the moral life is feeli ng fo r and caring for those with whom you have a special, intimate connection. 3.7 ALBERT CAMUS: AN EXISTENTIALIST VOICE • Several themes are prominent in existential ism, including the absurdity of human existence, the idea that existence precedes essence, and the beliefs that we are to- tal ly responsible for how we live our lives and we are radically and painfully free to choose what we will be and how we will respond to the absurdity of living. 3.8 CONFUCIANISM • Confucianism is a school of thought that arose out of ancient China and, along \vith Daoism, has been a dominant philosophical system there for hundreds of years. !rs effect on Chinese and East Asian li fe, culture, and government has been enormous- comparable to the influence of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam in the West. • Confucius veered away from the supernatural beliefs of the past, for his main inter- est \vas teaching a humanistic doctrine centered on social relationships. His aim \vas the creation of harmony and vi rtue in the world-speci fically in individuals, in the way they interact with one another, and in how they are treated by the state. Review Notes 197 198 Chapter 3 Morality and the Moral life Key Terms • Li has several meanings, including ritual, etiquette, principle, and propriety, but its essence is conscientious behavior and right action. To follow li is co conduce yourself in your dealings \vich ochers according co moral and customary norms. Ren is about social virtues; it encompasses benevolence, sympathy, kindness, generosity, respect for ochers, and human-heartedness. Ac its core is che imperative co work for the common good and co recognize che essential worth of ochers regardless of their social status. WRITING TO UNDERSTAND: ARGUING YOUR OWN VIEWS CHAPTER 3 1. According co Kane, right actions do not depend on consequences. He says, for example, chat celling a lie is \vrong even if it will save some- one's life. Bue many people think that in this case not lying is wrong, because it's more important co preserve life than co blindly follo\v a moral rule. Do you agree with this assessment or \vich Kane? Give reasons for your answer. 2. Does it make sense co use utilitarian reasoning in decid ing how co fight a war? Ho\v might a deoncologisc and a utilitarian differ in decid- ing on che morality of dropping the A-bomb on Hiroshima during World War II? Which approach seems more plausible? Why? 3. Is Aristotle's ethics sufficiently action guiding? Does it help us make decisions? If \Ve ask \vhac we should do in situation X, Aristotle would seem co say, "Do what che virtuous person would do." Bue if I ask how I am co recognize the virtuous person, he would seem co say, "He is one who acts justly." Is there something circular about chis reasoning? Does virtue ethics need supplementation from other ethical sys tems, or can it solve chis problem? 4. Is it plausible chat we have duties only co chose we care about? Don't \Ve have duties co some people we don't care about? Don't we have obliga- tions co deal justly with others and respect thei r rights, even if they are not pare of our family or community? Give reasons for your answers. 5. What is your O\vn vie\v of what makes actions right or wrong? What reasons support chis position? act-utilitarianism The idea chat the rightness of ac- tions depends solely on che overall well-being pro- duced by individual actions. (156) categorical imperative Kant's fundamental moral principle, which he formulates as (1) "I am never to ace ochenvise than so that I could also ivill that my maxim should become a universal law"; and (2) "So ace as co treat humanity, \vhether in thine O\vn person or Analects Confucian text contain ing the conversations of Confuci us and his follo\vers. (193) in that of any other, in every case as an end withal, never as a means only." (17 1) consequentialist theory A moral theory in \vhich the rightness of actions depends solely on their conse- quences or results. (140) cultural relativism The view that right actions are those endorsed by one's culture. (149) deontological (nonconsequentialist) theory A moral theory in which the rightness of actions is determined not solely by their consequences, but partly or enti rely by their intrinsic nature. (140) divine command theory The doctrine chat God is che creator of morality. ( 146) ethical egoism The vie\v chat right actions are chose that further one's O\vn best interests. (140) ethics (moral philosophy) The study of morality us- ing the methods of philosophy. (136) ethics of care A moral perspective that emphasizes che unique demands of specific situations and the virtues and feelings that are central co dose personal relation- ships. (142, 182) feminist ethics An approach co morality aimed at ad- vancing women's interests, underscoring thei r distinc- tive experiences and characteristics, and advancing che obvious truth that women and men are morally equal. (181) Kant's theory The theory that right actions are chose that accord with the categorical imperative. (14 1) Ii In early Confucianism, ritual, etiquette, princi- ple, and propriety; conscientious behavior and right action. ( 193) Key Terms 199 moral absolutism The belief that objective moral principles al low no exceptions or must be applied the same way in al l cases and cultures. ( 148) moral objectivism The view that there are moral standards that are true or correct for everyone. (148) moral relativism The view that moral standards do not have independent status but are relative to \vhat individuals or cultures believe. (149) moral theory A theory chat explains why an action is right or wrong or why a person or a person's character is good or bad. (139) morality Beliefs about right and wrong actions and good and bad persons or character. ( 136) psychological egoism The theory that people always act out of self-interest. ( 166) ren The essential Confucian virtues, including be- nevolence, sympathy, kindness, generosity, respect for others, and human-heartedness. (193) rule-utilitarianism The doctrine that a right action is one that conforms to a rule that, if follo\ve.d con- siscencly, \vould create for everyone involved che most beneficial balance of well-being over suffering. (156) subjective relativism The view that right actions are those endorsed by an individual. (149) utilitarianism The view that right actions are those that result in che most beneficial balance of good over bad consequences for everyone involved. (140) virtue ethics A moral theory chat focuses on the de- velopment of virtuous character. (142, 175) 200 Chapter 3 Morality and the Moral life FICTIO N The Ones Who Walk Away from Ornelas Ursula K. Le Guin Born in 1929, Ursula K. Le Guin is an award-winning author of several genres, most notably realistic fiction, science fiction, and fantasy. Her best-known works include the six Books of Earthsea, the science fiction masterpiece The Left Hand of Darkness, and the novels The Dispossessed and Always Coming Home. With a clamor of bells that set the swallows soaring, the Festival of Summer came to the city Ornelas, bright- towered by the sea. The rigging of the boats in harbor sparkled with Aags. In the streets between houses with red roofs and painted walls, between old moss-grown gardens and under avenues of trees, past great parks and public buildings, processions moved. Some were decorous: old people in long stiff robes of mauve and grey, grave master work-men, quiet, merry women car- rying their babies and chatting as they walked. In other streets the music beat faster, a shimmering of gong and tambourine, and the people went dancing, the pro- cession was a dance. Children dodged in and out, their high calls rising like the swallows' crossing Aights over the music and the singing. All the processions wound towards the north side of the city, where on the great water-meadow called the Green Fields boys and girls, naked in the bright air, with mud-stained feet and an- kles and long, lithe arms, exercised their restive horses before the race. The horses wore no gear at all but a hal- ter without bit. Their manes were braided with stream- ers of silver, gold, and green. They Aared their nostrils and pranced and boasted to one another; they were vastly excited, the horse being the only animal who has adopted our ceremonies as his own. Far off to the north and west the mountains stood up half encircl ing Ornelas on her bay. The air of morning was so clear that the snow still crowning the Eighteen Peaks burned with white-gold fire across the miles of sunlit air, under the dark blue of the sky. There was just enough wind to make the banners that marked the racecourse snap and Autter now and then. In the silence of the broad green meadows one could hear the music winding through the city streets, farther and nearer and ever Copyright© 1973 by Ursula K. le Guin Fi rst appeared in "New Dimension 3'' in 1973, and then in THE WIND'S TWELVE QUARTERS, published by HarperCollins in 1975. Reprinted by permission of Curtis Brown, Ltd. approaching, a cheerful faint sweetness of the air that from time to time trembled and gathered together and broke out into the great joyous clanging of the bells. Joyous! How is one to tell about joy? How describe the citizens of Ornelas? They were not simple folk, you see, though they were happy. But we do not say the words of cheer much any more. All smi les have become archaic. Given a description such as this one tends to make certa in as- sumptions. Given a description such as this one tends to look next for the King, mounted on a splendid stal- lion and surrounded by his noble knights, or perhaps in a golden litter borne by great-muscled slaves. But there was no king. They did not use swords, or keep slaves. They were not barbarians. I do not know the rules and laws of their society, but I suspect that they were singu- larly few. As they did without monarchy and slavery, so they also got on without the stock exchange, the adver- tisement, the secret police, and the bomb. Yet I repeat that these were not simple folk, not dulcet shepherds, noble savages, bland utopians. They were not less com- plex than us. The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of consider- ing happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evi l and the terrible boredom of pain. If you can't lick 'em, join 'em. lfit hurts, repeat it. But to praise despair is to con- demn delight, to embrace violence is to lose hold of everything else. We have almost lost hold; we can no longer describe a happy man, nor make any celebration of joy. How can I tell you about the people of Ornelas? They were not naive and happy children- though their children were, in fact, happy. They were mature, intell i- gent, passionate adults whose lives were not wretched. O miracle! but I wish I could describe it better. I wish I could convince you. Ornelas sounds in my words like a city in a fairy ta le, long ago and far away, once upon a time. Perhaps it would be best if you imagined it as your own fancy bids, assuming it will rise to the occasion, for certainly I cannot suit you all. For instance, how about technology? I think that there would be no cars or he- licopters in and above the streets; th is follows from the fact that the people of O rnelas are happy people. Happiness is based on a just discrimination of what is necessary, what is neither necessary nor destruc- t ive, and what is destructive. In the middle category, however- that of the unnecessary but undestructive, that of comfort, luxury, exuberance, etc.- they could perfectly well have central heating, subway trains, washing machines, and all kinds of marvelous devices not yet invented here, fl oating light-sources, fuelless power, a cure for the common cold. Or they could have none of that: it doesn't matter. As you like it. I incline to think that people from towns up and down the coast have been coming in to Ornelas during the last days before the Festival on very fast little trains and double- decked trams, and that the train station of Ornelas is actually the handsomest building in town, though plainer than the magnificent Farmers' Market. But even granted trains, I fear that Ornelas so far strikes some of you as goody-goody. Smiles, bells, parades, horses, blah. If so, please add an orgy. If an orgy would help, don't hesitate. Let us not, however, have temples from which issue beautifu l nude priests and priestesses al- ready half in ecstasy and ready to copulate with any man or woman, lover or stranger, who desires union with the deep godhead of the blood, although that was my first idea. But really it would be better not to have any temples in Ornelas- at least, not manned temples. Rel igion yes, clergy no. Surely the beautifu l nudes can just wander about, offering themselves like divine scuf- fl es to the hunger of the needy and the rapture of the fl esh. Let them join the processions. Let tambourines be struck above the copulations, and the glory of desire be proclaimed upon the gongs, and (a not unimport- ant point) let the offspring of these delightful rituals be beloved and looked after by all. One th ing I know there is none ofin Ornelas is guilt. But what else should there be? I thought at first there were no drugs, but that is pu- ritanical. For those who like it, the fa int insistent sweet- ness of drooz may perfume the ways of the city, drooz which first brings a great lightness and bril liance to the mind and limbs, and then after some hours a dreamy languor, and wonderful visions at last of the very arcana and inmost secrets of the Universe, as well as exciting the pleasure of sex beyond all belief; and it is not habit- forming. For more modest tastes I th ink there ought to be beer. What else, what else belongs in the joyous city? The Ones Who Walk Away from Ornelas 201 The sense of victory, surely, the celebration of courage. But as we did without clergy, let us do without soldiers. The joy built upon successful slaughter is not the right kind of joy; it will not do; it is fearful and it is trivial. A boundless and generous contentment, a magnani- mous triumph felt not against some outer enemy but in communion with the finest and fairest in the souls of all men everywhere and the splendor of the world's summer: this is what swells the hearts of the people of Ornelas, and the victory they celebrate is that of life. I really don't think many of them need to take drooz. Most of the processions have reached the Green Fields by now. A marvelous smell of cooking goes forth from the red and blue tents of the provisioners. The faces of small children are amiably sticky; in the benign grey beard of a man a couple of crumbs of rich pastry are entangled. The youths and girls have mounted their horses and are beginning to group around the starting line of the course. An old woman, small, fat, and laugh- ing, is passing out flowers from a basket, and tall young men wear her flowers in their sh ining hair. A child of nine or ten sits at the edge of the crowd, alone, play- ing on a wooden flute. People pause to listen, and they smile, but they do not speak to him, for he never ceases playing and never sees them, his dark eyes wholly rapt in the sweet, thin magic of the tune. He fin ishes, and slowly lowers his hands holding the wooden flute. As if that little private silence were the signal, all at once a trumpet sounds from the pavilion near the start- ing line: imperious, melancholy, piercing. The horses rear on their slender legs, and some of them neigh in answer. Sober-faced, the young riders stroke the horses' necks and soothe them, whispering, "Quiet, quiet, there my beauty, my hope .. . . " They begin to form in rank along the starting line. The crowds along the racecourse are like a field of grass and flowers in the wind. The Festival of Summer has begun. Do you believe? Do you accept the festival, the city, the joy? No? Then let me describe one more th ing. In a basement under one of the beautiful public buildings of Ornelas, or perhaps in the cellar of one of its spacious private homes, there is a room. It has one locked door, and no window. A li ttle light seeps in dustily between cracks in the boards, secondhand from a cobwebbed window somewhere across the cellar. In one corner of the li ttle room a couple of mops, with stiff, clotted, foul-smell ing heads, stand near a rusty bucket. The floor is dirt, a li ttle damp to the touch, as cellar dirt usually is. The room is about three paces long 202 Chapter 3 Morality and the Moral life and two wide: a mere broom closet or disused tool room. In the room a child is sitting. It could be a boy or a girl. It looks about six, but actually is nearly ten. It is feeble-minded. Perhaps it was born defective, or per- haps it has become imbecile through fear, malnutrition, and neglect. It picks its nose and occasionally fumbles vaguely with its toes or genitals, as it sits hunched in the corner farthest from the bucket and the two mops. It is afraid of the mops. It finds them horrible. It shuts its eyes, but it knows the mops are still standing there; and the door is locked; and nobody will come. The door is always locked; and nobody ever comes, except that sometimes- the child has no understanding of time or interval- sometimes the door rattles terribly and opens, and a person, or several people, are there. One of them may come in and kick the child to make it stand up. The others never come close, but peer in at it with frightened, disgusted eyes. The food bowl and the wa- ter jug are hastily filled, the door is locked, the eyes dis- appear. The people at the door never say anything, but the child, who has not always lived in the tool room, and can remember sunlight and its mother's voice, sometimes speaks. "I will be good," it says. "Please let me out. I will be good!" They never answer. The child used to scream for help at night, and cry a good deal, but now it only makes a kind of whining, "eh-haa, eh- haa," and it speaks less and less often. It is so thin there are no calves to its legs; its belly protrudes; it lives on a ha lf-bowl of cornmeal and grease a day. It is naked. Its buttocks and thighs are a mass of festered sores, as it sits in its own excrement continually. They all know it is there, all the people of Ornelas. Some of them have come to see it, others are content merely to know it is there. They all know tha t it has to be there. Some of them understand why, and some do not, but they all understand that their happiness, the beauty of their city, the tenderness of their friend- ships, the health of their children, the wisdom of their scholars, the skil l of their makers, even the abundance of their harvest and the kindly weathers of their skies, depend wholly on this child's abominable misery. This is usually explained to children when they are between eight and twelve, whenever they seem capa- ble of understanding; and most of those who come to see the child are young people, though often enough an adult comes, or comes back, to see the child. No matter how well the matter has been explained to them, these young spectators are always shocked and sickened at the sight. They feel disgust, which they had thought themselves superior to. They feel anger, outrage, impotence, despite all the explanations. They would like to do something for the child. But there is nothing they can do. If the child were brought up into the sunlight out of tha t vile place, if it were cleaned and fed and comforted, that would be a good thing, indeed; but if it were done, in that day and hour all the pros- perity and beauty and delight of Ornelas would wither and be destroyed. Those are the terms. To exchange all the goodness and grace of every life in Ornelas for that single, small improvement: to throw away the happi- ness of thousands for the chance of the happiness of one: that would be to let guilt within the walls indeed. The terms are strict and absolute; there may not even be a kind word spoken to the child. Often the young people go home in tears, or in a tearless rage, when they have seen the child and faced this terrible paradox. They may brood over it for weeks or years. But as time goes on they begin to rea lize that even if the chi ld could be released, it would not get much good of its freedom: a little vague pleasure of warmth and food, no doubt, but little more. It is too degraded and imbecile to know any real joy. It has been afraid too long ever to be free of fear. Its habits are too uncouth for it to respond to humane treatment. Indeed, after so long it would probably be wretched without walls about it to protect it, and darkness for its eyes, and its own excrement to sit in. Their tears at the bitter injustice dry when they begin to perceive the terrible justice of reality, and to accept it. Yet it is their tears and anger, the trying of their generosity and the accep- tance of their helplessness, which are perhaps the true source of the splendor of their lives. Theirs is no vapid, irresponsible happiness. They know that they, li ke the child, are not free. They know compassion. It is the exis- tence of the child, and their knowledge of its existence, that makes possible the nobi lity of their architecture, the poignancy of their music, the profundity of their sci- ence. It is because of the child that they are so gentle with children. They know that if the wretched one were not there snivell ing in the dark, the other one, the Aute- player, could make no joyful music as the young riders li ne up in their beauty for the race in the sunlight of the first morning of summer. Now do you believe in them? Are they not more credible? But there is one more thing to tell , and this is quite incredible. At times one of the adolescent girls or boys who go to see the child does not go home to weep or rage, does not, in fact, go home at all. Sometimes also a man or woman much older fall s silent for a day or For Further Reading 203 two, and then leaves home. These people go out into the street, and walk down the street alone. They keep walking, and walk s traight out of the city of O rnelas, through the beautiful gates. They keep walking across the farmlands of Ornelas. Each one goes alone, youth or girl, man o r woman. Night fall s; the traveler mus t pass down vill age streets, between the houses with yellow-lit windows, and on out in to the darkness of the fields. Each alone, they go west or north, towards the mountains. They go on. They leave O rnelas , they walk ahead into the darkness, and they do not come back. The place they go towards is a place even less imagin- ab le to most of us than the city of happiness. I cannot describe it at all. It is possible that it does not exist. But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from O rnelas. Probing Questions I. Ho,v does chis story apply ro utilitarian ,noral theories? Does it put these theories in a good light or bad-or son1ething in benveen? 2. Does our happiness in a relatively prosperous nation depend on the suffering of the poorer people of the ,vorld who work for low wages co support our consu,ner society? 3. If you were a citizen of Ornelas, ,vould you walk away from ic as a few have done? Would you chink char che suffering of one child, though regreccable, was justified ro create a utopia for so many ro enjoy? Explain. For Further Reading Robert Audi, Moral Knoiuledge and Ethical Character (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997) . A carefully argued defense of a moral theory that integrates natural ist and rationalistic elemencs. Steven M . Cilin and Joram G . Haber, 1iuentieth Century Ethical Theory (Upper Sad- dle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1995). A comprehensive an thology of some of the most influential moral theorizing of the twentieth century. William K. Frankena, Ethics, 2nd e.dition (Englewood Cliffi, NJ: Pren tice-H all, 1973). A h ighly regarded concise introduction to eth ics. C. E. H arris, Applying Moral Theories (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1997). An intro- duction to ethics that covers moral theories and how they can be applied to real issues. Kai Nielsen, Ethics Without God (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus, 1973). A concise, read- able defense of the proposition that ethics does not require theism. Jennifer O ldstone-Moore, Confucianism: Origins, Beliefi, Practices, Holy Texts, and Sacred Places (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002). Onora O'Neill, "Kantian Ethics," in A Companion to Ethics, ed. Peter Singer (Cambridge: Black,vell , 1993), 175-185. An informative perspective o n Kants ethical theory. Louis P. Pojman, Ethics: Discovering Right and Wrong, 4th edition (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2002). An introduction to ethics that lays out a case for objective morality. 204 Chapter 3 Morality and the Moral life James Rachels, The Elements of Moral Philosophy, 4th edition (Ne\v York: McGra\v- H ill , 2003). A concise guide co ethics and eth ical theories. Russ Shafer-Landau, Whatever Happened to Good and Evil? (New York: Oxford Uni- versity Press, 2004). A readable, carefully crafted defense of objective ethics. Peter Singer, ed., A Companion to Ethics (Cambridge: Blackwell, 1993). A topical anthology covering many issues, including moral theory, theory applications, and challenges co commonsense ethics. Lewis Vaughn, Contemporary Moral Arguments: Readings in Ethical Issues (New York: Oxford University Press, 20 10). A moral- issues anthology organized by topic and by influential, classic arguments. Lewis Vaughn, Doing Ethics: Moral Reasoning and Contemporary Issues, 4th edition (Ne\v York: W. W Norton, 20 10). An introduction co ethical issues featuring a wide range of readings and thorough coverage of moral reasoning and ethical theory. MIND AND BODY CHAPTER OBJECTIVES 4.1 OVERVIEW: THE MIND- BODY PROBLEM • Understand the nature and importance of the mind-body problem. • Deline substance dualism, Cartesian dualism, materialism, logical behaviorism, identity theory, multiple realizability, functionalism, epiphenomena/ism, and property dualism. 4.2 SUBSTANCE DUALISM • Articu late Descartes' conceivability and divisibility arguments and the main objections to them. • Explain why the issue of mind- body interaction is a problem for Cartesian dualism. • Understand why Descartes' theory seems to violate the principle of the causal closure of the physical and the law of the conservation of mass-energy and be ab le to explain why such violations would render the theory implausible. 4.3 M IND-BODY IDENTITY • Articulate the advantages of the identity theory over Cartesian dua lism. • Understand Chalmers's zombie argument and why it seems to pose a threat to the identity theory. • Understand Nagel's bat argument and how it seems to undermine materialist theories. 4.4 THE MIND AS SOFTWARE • Explain functionalism and how the theory differs from substance dualism and the identity theory. • Describe Ned Block's absent qualia argument, explain how it is supposed to show functionalism to be false, and articulate possible responses to the argument from functionalists. • Deline strong Al and explain how functiona lism is supposed to make it possible. • Understand Searle's Chi nese room thought experiment, his distinction between syntax and semantics, and how his argument is supposed to show that strong Al is not possib le. 4.5 THE MIND AS PROPERTIES • Understand how philosophers have reasoned from the failure of prominent mind-body theories to the plausibility of property dualism. • Explain the main philosophica l chall enge to property dualism. 206 Chapter 4 Mind and Body T is true, tis certain; man though dead retains, Part of himself: the immortal mind remains. -Alexander rope The mind- body problem is the issue of what mental phenomena arc and how they rdarc m the physical world . Substance dualism is the norion that mind and body consist of rwo funda- mentally diffcrcnr kinds of stuff, or substances. Cartesian d ualism is the view thar mind (or soul) and body arc completely independent of one an~ o ther and interact causally. Materialism (or physical- ism) is the doctrine that every object and event in the world is physical. 4.1 OVERVIEW: THE MIND- BODY PROBLEM Philosophy is notorious for intruding into facets of life that seem at fi rst glance to get along just fine without philosophical inquiry. People may very well ,vonder, Why do we need philosophy to help us understand what already seems obvious? Why does philosophy see problems where nothing seems problematic? A prime example of a subject matter that may appear to many not to need any philosophical help (but gets it anyway) is mind and body. After all, if there is anything that ,ve seem directly and intimately acquainted with, it's our own minds and our own bodies. And our commonplace theory about these things (usually derived from our culture or religion) seems to be perfectly consistent with our personal experience. So what's the problem? Well, several hundred years of philosophical work have shown that many of our commonplace notions about mind and body are suspect or wrong, and that, for many reasons, we very much need to get them right. The commonplace view goes like this: You have a physical body, a thing that has shape, size, and ,veight, an entity ,vith a physical structure running physical processes subject to physical laws like any rock, tree, or star. You also have a nonphysical mind (or soul), a mental thing that cannot be ,veighed, measured, or dissected, an entity that thinks, feels, and senses. Your body (brain) is nothing like your mind; your mind is nothing like your body. Yet somehow your physical body affects your nonphysical mind, as when your drop- ping a brick on your foot causes you to feel a sharp pain and to ask yourself how you could be so clumsy. And your mind affects your body, as when you experience th irst and then decide to ,valk to the kitchen for a drink of water. Moreover, according to this view, your mind and body are independent of one another, so it's possible for your mind or soul to continue existing after your body dies. But how are interactions between body and mind (or soul) possible? Ho,v can our physical brains cause something to happen in our seemingly nonphysical minds and vice versa? Ho,v can something enti rely physical have anything to do with an entity without any physical characteristics? This is like asking how smoke could interact ,vith a rock-except that the problem is ,vorse than that, because, unlike smoke, the mind is supposed to have no physical properties at all. Has the nature of mind been entirely misconceived? Are the ,videly accepted ideas about the relation- ship benveen mind and body d rastically mistaken? These are the central concerns in what is called the m ind- body problem- the issue of what mental phenomena really are and how they relate to the physical ,vorld. The most important responses to it constitute the foremost theories of mind in West- ern thought. The commonplace theory-the one that you likely hold and may never have doubted-is known as substance dualism. It says that mind and body consist of two fundamentally different kinds of stuff, or substances-the mind being of non- physical stuff, and the body of physical stuff. The mind's mental states-desires, sensations, emotions, and thoughts-are states of nonphysical (or immaterial) stuff. The body's physical states-electrochemical and biomechanical-are states of physi- cal (material) stuff. Together these two substances-this dualism of stuff-make Overview: The Mind- Body Problem 207 up a person. In fact, for substance dualiscs, the enti re universe is constituted by just these nvo substances. Beginning ,vich Plato, many great thinkers have been substance dualiscs, but the most influential proponent of the theory in the modern period (beginning in the seventeenth century) is Rene Descartes (1596-1650). He argues not only chat the body and soul are composed of nvo distinct and independent substances (mental and physical), but chat these two pares of a person interact causally. (Like many ocher substance dualisrs, Descartes uses the ,vord soul instead of mind, but both terms refer roughly co the nonphysical, mental aspect of a person.) The mind, though immaterial, can in- fluence the material body, and the body can affect the mind. This doctrine of distinct but interact ing substances is known, for obvi- ous reasons, as Cartesian dualism or inceractionism. It underpins belief in an immortal soul chat lives on after death. Among contemporary philosophers, however, Descartes' dual- ism has very little credibility (for reasons discussed in the next sec- tion). Mose of chem hold instead co various forms of materialism (or physicalism), the doctrine chat every object and event in the world is physical. So mental states must be physical states or some- how reducible co physical states. Figure 4.1 Is the mind identical to the brain? Or are they two entirely different things, as Descartes thought? If so, how do they interact? One materialise theory is logical b ehaviorism, the idea chat mental states are dispositions co behave in particular ways in certain circumstances. To be in a mental state is just co be disposed co certain kinds of behavior. So co have a headache is co be disposed co wincing and caking an aspirin. To be afraid of thun- der is to be disposed co crying out and covering your head with a blanket when the sky rumbles. The central claim is not that we come co know about a person's mental states by caking note of her behavior, but chat her mental states are d ispositions co behavior. To its credit, logical behaviorism avoids Cartesian dualism's problem of explain- ing mind-body interaction. But co critics, the theory seems co be in denial about the nature of our mental states, for many of our mental states have a particular subjective feel or quality to chem (what philosophers call qualitative content or qualia). It feels a certain way co us co be in pain, to be thi rsty, co want a chocolate sundae, co see and smell a rose, or co experience happiness. Logical behaviorism, however, says chat mental states have nothing co do ,vich our interior feelings; dispositions co behave are all that matter. But chis seems co many people co deny the obvious. Similarly, logical behaviorism is at odds with our commonsense intuition chat mental states often cause behavior. We feel hungry, so we eat lunch. We fantasize about a d ream vacation in Aruba, so ,ve look up Aruba on a map. But because the logical behaviorist recognizes only behavior and essentially discounts the existence of subjective mental states, he cannot countenance any cause-and-effect relationship between our inner life and our outer behavior. A more widely accepted materialist approach co the mind-body problem is the identity theory, the view that mental states are identical co physical brain states. The Consciousness L\ the g lo ry of creation. - James Broughton Logical behaviorism is the idea that mental states arc d L\posicions m behave in particular ways in ccr .. rain circumstances. Identity theory is , he view that mental states arc identical to physical brain stares. 1 At this point in your read ing, does Carte- sian dualism strike you as a plausible theory of mind? Is it obvious to you that people have both a physical body and a nonphysical mind? What reasons do you have for your views? 208 Chapter 4 Mind and Body Consciousness is what makes the mind- body problem really intractable. -11,omas Nagel 2 Do you think it is possible to know everything about a person's mental states just by knowing all the facts regarding his physical states? Do physical states and mental states amount to the same thing? Brain: an apparatus w ith which we think we think. -Ambrose Bierce central claim is not that the meaning of mental terms can be expressed or defined in physical (brain) terms, but rather that it is an empirical fact that mental states are nothing but brain states. The mind and body (brain) are not distinct substances as substance dualism holds; the mind is the brain. Thus the identity theory offers a better explanation of mind-body interaction than Cartesian dualism does because the mind is the body. It provides a better ac- count of mental causation than logical behaviorism does, because mental states are brain states and brain states cause behavior. It also fits well with a massive amount of scientific evidence showing correlations benveen brain states and mental func- tion. Brain research has sho,vn in countless ways that if a person's brain is damaged or physically stimulated, there are corresponding changes in psychological activity. And ,vhen a person engages in some psychological activity (remembering or imagin- ing, for example), there are predictable alterations in brain activity. But several arguments have been lodged against the identity theory, most of them being attempts to show that mental states cannot possibly be brain states. The common argument pattern is this: If the identity theory is true, then we can know or explain everything about a person's mental states by kno,ving or explaining everything about the person's brain states. But it is not poss ible to know or explain mental states by knowing or explaining brain states. Therefore, the identity theory is false. Another kind of argument appeals to our intuitions about the possibility of non- humans having minds. The identity theory claims that since the mind is identical to Figure 4.2 Could a space alien have a mind without having a brain like ours? Overview: The Mind- Body Problem 209 the brain, no being can have a mind unless it has a brain. Bue co some critics, chis conclusion is implausible. Jc seems possible, they argue, chat a being (an alien life- form, for example) could possess a mind (have desires, ideas, emotions, sensations, etc.) without having a brain (the human organ). Consider che fictional alien E.T. or Star Treks android Mr. Data. Jc is conceivable chat such creatures could have minds but be made of an entirely different kind of scuff than \Ve are. If so, there muse be something wrong \vich che identity theory. The assumption behind chis argument is chat mental scares have what philoso- phers call multiple realizability, the capacity co be realized or instantiated in a variety of fo rms and materials. In che theory of mind kno\vn as functionalism, mulciple realizability is a core doctrine. Logical behaviorism claims that che mind is behavioral dispositions, che identity theory holds chat the mind is che brain, but functionalism asserts chat che mind is che functions that the brain performs. The theory maintains chat a mental state is defined by its causal role-by che stimuli that initiate it, che resulting interactions \vich ocher mental states, and che behav- ior chat is subsequently produced. A mental state, then, is just a d istinctive sec of inputs and outputs. Thus functionalism says chat che material or substance chat gives rise co a mind is unimportant; che scuff chat produces a mind can be almost anything. What matters are the functional relations embodied in che scuff. So func- t ionalism can be case as a materialise view (and usually is) or given a nonmacerialisc . . 1ncerprecat1on. by the insight behind functionalism, some theorists have come co chink of che mind as a sophisticated computer chat's running some sore of soft- ware. Functionalism holds chat che mind is the performance of functions, the processing of in- puts and oucpucs-\vhich is what any computer does. A computer runs software chat determines what and how che inputs and outputs are pro- cessed. So some functionalists claim that co have a mind is just co run che appropriate type of soft- ware. The brain is hardware; the mind software. If so, it is possible for computers co have minds as long as they process inputs and outputs in che right way. Multiple realizabili ty is the capacity to be realized or instantiated in a variety of forms and materials. Functionalism is the view that the mi nd is the functions that the brain performs. 3 Is it conceivable that a space a lien could have a mind (feel pa in, perceive colors, etc.) despite h is being made out o f stuff t hat is nothing like our brain stuff? Suppose, for example, he is not a ca rbon-based life-form like us, but a silicon- based creature. This vie\v has come co be known as strong ar- tificial intelligence, or strong AI. (Weak artificial intelligence refers not co che making of a mind but co che use of computer simulations co study the mind.) Many assume that it is only a mat- ter of time before scientists develop a computer so sophisticated chat it will be able co think on its O\vn, co have \vhac \Ve would describe as a mind. After all, don't we already have computers that can do astounding calculations, simulations, and problem solving? Hasn't an IBM computer called Figure 4.3 World chess champion Garry Kasparov playing Deep Blue. The computer beat him. Does this show that Deep Blue has a mind or that it could eventually become conscious? 210 Chapter 4 Mind and Body C uriously enough man's body and his mind appear to differ in the ir climatic adaprations. -Ellsworth Humington Property dualism is the view that mental pro per .. tics arc nonphysical propcrrics arising from, bur not reducible to , physical properties. Minds arc simply what brains do. -Marvin Minsky Epiphenomenalism is the no rio n that mental proper- ties do not cause anything, but merely accompany physical processes. Deep Blue already defeated the ,vorld 's best chess player, Garry Kasparov? And hasn't a computer calle.d Watson beaten nvo human opponents in a game of Jeopardy? But although such fears are indeed impressive, many philosophers remain unconvinced that a computer mind is possible. These theorists take issue with functionalism on the grounds that it does not do justice to the subjective, qualitative nature of our experience-to what is called phenomenal consciousness. They argue that it is possible to be in a mental state that does not correspond at all with a specific functional state. For example, consider the mental state of being in pain. It has a certain qualitative feel to be sure, but it does not seem to be equivalent to any part icular functional situation. Many times pain doesn't seem to have a causal role at all; it just hurrs. Some critics put forth what are called absent qualia objections to functionalism. These arguments try to demonstrate that it is possible for a system to be in a par- ticular functional state and yet be in no mental, qualitative state at all. The system has the right inpurs and outpurs, but no mental state seems to be present. If such arguments are correct, then the notion that an appropriately programmed computer is a mind (the central claim of strong AI) is mistaken. Many philosophers dra,v a similar conclusion about all materialist theo- ries: Materialism is fa lse. If that is the case, they contend, the ,vorld must have both physical and nonphysical featu res, and the latter cannot be reduced to the former. But if the world contains both physical and nonphysical things, aren't we led back to Cartesian dualism, a reality consisting of two substances that may or may not interact? Not necessarily. Some theorisrs defend a different kind of dualism- not Descartes' dualism but property dualism, the view that mental properties, or features, are nonphysical properties arising from, but not reducible to, physical properties. The idea is that there are properties of individuals-mental, experiential properties-that do not constitute an independent substance and that cannot be reduced to physical properties, even though they may somehow depend on physical properties. We may see the color red, feel a pain, or remember our first kiss, and none of these is the same thing as a physical process, although the latter may give rise to the former. Property dualism, ho,vever, has been accused of having some of the same weak- nesses as substance dualism and raising some of the same questions. How can a physical property give rise to a mental property? How can mental events interact ,vith physical events? If mental events produce physical evenrs, doesn't this fly in the face of the laws of physics? Modern physics says that physical matter/energy in the universe cannot be added to or subtracted from. But this seems to rule out any addi- tion of nonphysical energy. If mental evenrs do not cause physical events, we are left ,vith epiphenomenalism, the notion that mental properties do not cause anything, but merely accompany physical processes. This theory suggesrs, for instance, that thinking about being late for an appointment is not what causes you to run. But epiphenomenalism seems to conflict with our commonsense intuitions about ho,v our minds and bodies are related. WRITING TO UNDERSTAND: CRITIQUING PHILOSOPHICAL VIEWS SECTION 4.1 I. Is Cartesian dualism plausible? Can you chink of a \vay chat a non- physical mind and physical body could influence each ocher-chat is, interact causally? 2. How do you chink scientists view che notion of mind-body interac- tion? Are they likely co be skeptical of physical things causally interact- ing with nonphysical entities? If so, \vhy? 3. Is multiple realizability a genuine proper ty of minds? That is, do you chink it plausible chat a mind can be realized in a variety of physical systems? 4. Do you chink che mind is essen tially sofnvare running on a physical system like che human brain? Why or why not? 5. Is epiphenomenalism a credible theory of mind? Does it make sense, for example, chat every time you decide co cross che screec, your body \valks across che street-and yet your deciding co walk has nothing co do with your act ually walking? 4.2 SUBSTANCE DUALISM For Descartes, che universe consists not merely of che kind of scuff chat science studies, che physical, but also of che nonphysical. The chief characteristic of physical things, he says, is chat they have extemion-chey have length, width, and height and are located in physical space. They are things like pebbles, molecules, water, desks, and scars. Bue nonphysical entities have no molecules, no physical dimensions, and no lo- cation in space. Our bodies are physical chin gs, matter extended in space. O ur minds are nonphysical, mental things-consciousness. O ur true selves consist enti rely of chis mental scuff; our bodies are adjuncts. Despite che profound difference between che mental and physical, they interact causally. The body collects sensory data, which cause che mind co experience sighcs, sounds, textures, and odors; and che choices, be- liefs, and desires of che mind cause che body co respond co che world. A human being, then, is a fusion of body and mind, but che essential person, che self, is pure mind, an immortal soul. You are, in che famous phrase, a "ghost in che machine." Descartes formulated his type of dualism in che seventeenth century \vhen che find ings of science and che doctrines of traditional religion seeme.d co be in conflict. H is dualism helped co ease che tens ion benveen chem by placing science and rel igion in different, noncompeting realms. Science could concern itself with che physical- wich biology, physics, astronomy, and che like. Religion could focus on che mental, on che domain of immor tal souls and religious morality. Substance Dualism 211 You don't have a soul. You arc a Soul. You have a body. - C. S. Lewis 212 Chapter 4 Mind and Body 4 Is your existing with· out a body really con· ceivable? That is, can you conceive of your mind existing without any physical properties at al I, without even a ghostlike quasi· physical presence? D escartes offers several a rg umenrs to support his theory of m ind, including \vhat philosophers call his conceivability argument. In it Descartes contends that \Ve cannot be just physical bodies, as the materialists believe. We must be distinct from our bodies-we must be nonphysical m inds. This is ho\v D escartes lays out the argument: Rene Descartes, Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason And then, examining attentively that which I was, I saw that I could conceive that I had no body, and that there was no world nor place where I might be; but yet that I could not for all that conceive that I was not. On the contrary, I saw from the very fact that I thought of doubting the truth of other th ings, it very evidently and certain ly followed that I was; on the other hand if I had only ceased from th inking, even if all the rest of wha t I had ever imagined had really existed, I should have no reason for th inking that I had existed. From that I knew that I was a substance the whole essence or nature of which is to th ink, and that for its existence there is no need of any place, nor does it depend on any material th ing; so that this 'me,' that is to say, the soul by which I am what I am, is entirely distinct from body, and is even more easy to know than is the latter; and even if body were not, the soul would not cease to be what it is.' Descartes reasons that it is conceivable that he could exist without his body, and that whatever is conceivable is logically possible. (For example, s ilver unicorns are conceivable and thus logically possible; square circles are inconceivable and therefore logically impossible.) So it is logically possible that he cou ld exist without h is body. If it is logically possible that he could exist \Vithout his body, then he is not identical to his body. His nonphysical mind and his physical body are distinct; he is therefore an immaterial, th inking thing. Dualism is true. Philosophers have taken issue w ith th is argument. Their main criticism is that Descartes' first premise (that it is conceivable that he could exist without h is body) is dubious. Theodore Schick, Jr., states the complaint like this: Theodore Schick, Jr., Doing Philosophy The crucial premise here is that d isembodied existence is conceivable. Is it? Try the thought experiment yourself. Imagine you have no body- no arms, no legs, no hands, no eyes, no ears, and so on. Can you do it? If so, are you really imagining existing with- out a body, or are you imagining existing in a ghostlike quasi -physical body? Remem- ber, Cartesian minds have no physical attributes, not even a location in space. You wouldn't be able to do anyth ing (besides th ink) or feel anything because you wouldn't have a body. You wouldn't be able to communicate with others unless you were given Substance Dualism 213 some sort of telepathic ability. But, even then, it's unclear how you would identify () . . . f h c h Id h · h b d I · · My m md 1s incapable o t em, ,or t ey, too, wou ave ne1t er a o y nor a ocat1on in space! . . h h. If disembodied existence is not conceivable, then it is not logically possible and Descartes' argument fa ils. Descartes also cries co prove his dualist theory us ing che divisibility argument. The crux of chis reasoning is chat bodies and minds muse be different things (and thus dualism is true) because bodies can be divided into pares but minds cannot. As Descartes says, Rene Descartes, Meditations on Fir,t Philosophy In order to begin th is examination, then, 1 here say, in the fi rst place, that there is a great difference between mind and body, inasmuch as body is by natu re a lways d i- vis ible, and the mind is entirely ind ivisible. For, as a matter of fact, when I consider the mind, that is to say, myself inasmuch as I am only a th inking th ing, 1 cannot distinguish in myself any parts, but apprehend myself to be clearly one and entire; and a lthough the whole mind seems to be un ited to the whole body, yet if a foot, or an arm, or some other part, is separated from my body, I am aware that nothing has been taken away from my mind. And the faculties of willing, feeling, conceiving, etc. cannot be properly speaking said to be its parts, for it is one and the same mind which employs itself in wi lli ng and in feeling and understanding. But it is qu ite oth- erwise with corporeal or extended objects, for there is not one of these imaginable by me which my mind cannot eas ily divide into parts, and which consequently I do not recognise as being divisible; this would be sufficient to teach me that the mind or soul of man is entirely different from the body, if I had not already learned it from other sources.1 H ere Descartes uses che logical principle chat if two chin gs are one and che same, then they muse have exactly che same properties; conversely, if they have different properties, they muse not be one and che same. So he argues chat if minds are not divisible into pares, and if bodies are divis ible into parts (since they a re spatially ex- tended), then minds and bodies do not have che same properties. They are therefore distinct, and dualism is true. Bodies are divis ible, but is it really true chat minds are indivisible? Two faces give critics reason co chink chat minds are actually div isible. First, psychiatrists have idencifie.d a form of mental illness known as multiple personality disorder in \vhich a person has at lease one a lternate personality that can direct behavior. Those \vho have this disorder a re said to lack the normal unity of consciousness; their m inds appear co be divided. Second, a person's consciousness can apparently be divided through a kind of brain surgery known as cerebral commissurocomy. The procedure, often performed co treat epilepsy, severs che cord of nerves linking the bra in's two hemispheres. The result is a breakdown in communication between che hemispheres, concc1vmg sue a c mg as a soul. I may be in e rro r, and man may have a soul; bur I simply do not believe ir. -Thomas A. Edison Thought is a secretion of the brain. -Pierre-Jean Georges Caban is 5 Is Descartes cor- rect that the mind is ind ivisible? Do the counterexamples of multiple personalities and cerebral commis- surotomy show that the mind can in fact be divided? 214 Chapter 4 Mind and Body WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE? The Immortal Soul Notions about che soul and its possible i1n1nortalicy have changed through che centuries and have been subject ro intense debate and philosophical inquiry. Many ancient Greeks thought chat the soul is a mate- rial thing char animates bodies and is dispersed (and thus destroyed) like s,noke after che body d ies. Plato taught chat che soul is an essential, nonphysical part of an organism and, unlike 1narerial things, is not subject co dissolution. The soul then is immortal, although it is fused with the body for awh ile. Bue souls are nor restricted co persons; living things of all kinds can also have souls. Aristotle had very different ideas about souls. To him, che soul is the form of che body- that is, che abil it ies or capacit ies 1nanifesred through che living body. And since che soul requires a body to ,nanifest itself, rhe soul perishes when che body dies. Aristotle therefore rejects che possibility of i,nmorcaliry, che trans,n igracion of souls, and disembodied existence. The biblical account of che soul is ar odds with che soul- body dual ism of 1nuch contemporary choughc. Biblical scholars generally agree that che scriptural view of body and soul is monisric, not dual istic. The Figure 4.4 A depiction of the soul leaving the body- a dualism at odds with the biblical account of the soul. person is a single, undivided entity- a un ity of soul and body. Ir is nor che case chat che soul takes up residence in the body then departs at death co live a separate, im,norca l existence. Body and soul are one, both therefore being subject co disintegration ,vhen a person d ies. The prevai ling Christian view closely follows Plato's and Descartes' dual istic notion: The soul is che essentia l component of a hu,nan being, a substance both im,nacerial and immor- tal, ,vhile che body is ,nacerial and inessential. Most contemporary philosophers are materia lises regarding ,n ind and body and there- fore reject che substance dualism of Descartes and Western religion. They are also skeptica l of any claims of im,norcalicy. Do you believe that you have an immortal soul? If so, on what grounds? If you do not, why not? Of the theories of soul just mentioned, which do you think is most plausible? Why? third ventric.:_:le>,r;:—-
optic chiasm
(pituitary gland)
cerebral cortex
pineal gland
optic chiasm \ Ii,..,,;.~””
Figure 4.5 Descartes t hought that the material and immaterial substances came together in
the pineal g land. Does this notion remove the mystery of how interaction happens?
which in tu rn leaves the patient with nvo d istinct domains of consciousness. This
seems to sho\v that the mind is indeed divisible.
In addition to trying to undermine Descartes’ arguments for his theory of mind,
philosophers have also launched some strong arguments against it. The primary at-
tack of th is kind concerns the problem of mind-body interaction. In Cartesian du-
alism, mind and body are thought to be two radically different kinds of substances
that someho\v interact causally. But ho\v is such interaction possible? Ho\v can an
object with physical properties affect something \vith no physical properties what-
soever? Ho\v can a mysterious, nonphysical reality influence any event involving
atoms, cells, blood, and bone? Descartes’ theory doesn’t explain how mind-body
interaction occurs and is therefore regarded by many philosophers as inadequate.
He does posit a weak explanation of the causal connection benveen mind and body
by claiming that the nvo substances intermingle in a small appendage of the brain
kno\vn as the pineal gland. But many find this incredible. Whatever the gland’s
function (which was unknown in Descartes’ day), it still is a physical thing, and pro-
posing it as the site of physical/nonphysical interaction does not banish the mystery
of ho\v the material can affect the immaterial.
Another common charge against Cartesian dualism (or any kind of dualism
in which the physical and nonphys ical affect each other) is that it is incompatible
with science. For example, the theory is said to violate the scientific pr inciple of the
causal closure of the physical, \vhich affirms a physical cause for every physical
Substance Dualism 215
6 Is it possib le that
nonphysica l (mental)
causes do not exist,
t hat the world conta ins
on ly physical causes
and physica l effects?
Causal closure of the
physical is the principle
that , he world is a closed
sysrem of physical cause.,
and effecLs.

216 Chapter 4 Mind and Body
Among the facts of the
universe to be accoun ted
for, it may be said, is
Mind; and it is self evident
that nothing can have pro·
duced M ind but M ind .
-John SLuart Mill
John R. Searle,
effect. The world is a closed system of physical causes and effects; nonphysical
(mental) causes are superfluous. It seems that \Ve can explain every event without
reference to the immaterial. For any physical effect, scientists can in principle map
out a detailed series of physical causes leading up to that effect. If so, there seems
to be no need for mental causes.
In addition, substance dualism, with its insistence on nonphysical causes of phys-
ical even rs, seems to conflict with a basic law of science-the law of the conservation
of mass-energy. John Searle explains the problem like this:
John R. Searle, Mind
All forms of substance dualism inherit Descartes’ problem of how to give a coherent
account of the causal relations between the soul and the body, but recent versions have
an additional problem. It seems impossible to make substance duali sm consistent
with modern physics. Physics says that the amount of matter/energy in the universe is
constant; but substance dua lism seems to imply that there is another kind of energy,
mental energy or spiritual energy, that is not fixed by physics. So if substance duali sm
is true then it seems that one of the most fundamental laws of physics, the law of con-
servation, must be false.•
One way that dualists of any stripe can respond to criticisms concerning mind-
body interaction and incompatibility \vith science is to embrace epiphenomenalism,
the view that mental properties do not affect physical properties. If the body impacts
the mind, but the mind does not impact the body, then there is no problem with
ho\v the m ind and body interact, and the principle of the causal closure of the physi-
cal is not violated.
But epiphenomenalism seems to many theorisrs to be a denial of common sense.
Searle is one of them:
On this view [epiphenomenalism] consciousness exists alright, but it is like the froth
on the wave or the flash of sunlight reflected off the surface of the water. It is there but
it does not rea lly matter. It is an epiphenomenon. But th is seems too counter intuitive.
Every time I decide to raise my arm, it goes up. I do not say, “Well , that’s the th ing
about the old arm. Some days she goes up and some days she doesn’t.” s

I. What is Descartes’ conceivability argument? Do you think it is
successful in showing that some form of dualism must be true? Why
or why not?
2. Evaluate Descartes’ divisibility argument. Are its premises true? Does
it show that bodies are divisible but minds are not?
3. What is Descartes’ explanation of ho\v mind and body interact? Is it
4. Suppose Descartes is right that bodies are divisible and minds are not.
Would this sho\v that minds can exist independently from bodies?
Why or why not?
5. What is epiphenomenalism? Is it an adequate explanation of the rela-
tionship between mind and body? Is it a better or \vorse explanation
than Cartesian dualism?
The favorite view among materialists is the identity theory, \vhich says that mind
states are brain states. Our apparent sensations, thoughts, perceptions, and emotions
(so-called phenomenal consciousness) are not immaterial phenomena d istinct from
the material brain. These mental states are identical to physical brain states, just as
lightning is identical to an electrical discharge. A pain or a perception is nothing
more than a certain process going on in the brain’s neurons. J. J.C. Smart, one of the
first philosophers to articulate the identity theory, explains it like th is:
J. J. C. Smart, “Sensations and Brain Processes”
Let me first try to state more accurately the thesis that sensations are brain processes.
It is not the thesis that, for example, “after-image” or “ache” means the same as “brain
process of sort X” (where “X” is replaced by a description of a certain sort of brain
process). It is that, in so far as “afterimage” or “ache” is a report of a process, it is a
report of a process that happens to be a brain process. It follows that the thesis does
not claim that sensation statements can be translated into statements about brain
processes. Nor does it claim that the logic of a sensation statement is the same as that
of a brain-process statement. All it claims is that in so far as a sensation statement is
a report of something, that something is in fact a brain process. Sensations are noth-
ing over and above brain processes. Nations are nothing “over and above” citizens,
but this does not prevent the logic of nation statements being very different from the
Mind- Body Identity 217

218 Chapter 4 Mind and Body
7 It seems that
thoughts and mental
images are not located
in physical space. Does
this show that Smart
is mistaken about
thoughts and mental
images being bra in
logic of citizen statements, nor does it insure the translatability of nation statements
into citizen statements. (I do not, however, wish to asser t that the relation of sensation
statements to brain-process statements is very like that of nation sta tements to citizen
statements. Nations do not just happen to be nothing over and above citizens, for ex-
ample. I bring in the “nations” example merely to make a negative point: that the fac t
that the logic of A-statements is different from that of B-statements does not insure
that A’s are anything over and a bove B’s .)
When I say that a sensa tion is a brain process or that lightning is an e lectric dis-
charge, I am using “is” in the sense of strict identity. Oust as in the- in this case
necessary- proposition “7 is identical with the smallest prime number greater than 5.”)
When I say that a sensation is a brain process or that lightning is an e lectric discharge
I do not mean just that the sensation is somehow spatia lly or tempo rally continuous
with the brain process or that the lightn ing is just spa tiall y o r temporall y continuous
with the discharge.6
The identity theory avoids some of the cr iticisms directed at Cartesian dualism
(that m ind-body interaction is mysterious and that the causal closure principle is
violated) and at logical behaviorism (that mental causation is ignored or denied).
And it explains how mental states affect behavior, ho\v mental states can cause other
mental states, and \vhy many mental states are known to be correlated with b ra in
But some philosophers reject the theory using conceivability arguments (a la Des-
cartes) to t ry to show that the theory is deeply fla\ved. A well-known vers ion of
such an argument comes from David Chalmers, who wields it against all materialist
views, not just the identity theory. His argument is based o n, strangely enough, the
poss ibil ity of zombies:
David J. Chalmers , The Conscious Mind
.. . [C]onsider the logical possibility of a zombie: someone or something physically
identical to me (or to any other conscious being), but lacking conscious experiences
altogether. At the global level, we can consider the logical possib il ity of a zombie world:
a world physically identical to ours, but in which there are no conscious experiences a t
all. In such a world, everybody is a zombie.
So let us consider my zombie twin. This creature is molecule for molecule identical
to me, and identical in all the low-level properties postulated by a completed physics,
but he lacks conscious experience en tirely. (Some might prefer to call a zombie “it,”
but I use the personal pronoun; I have grown qui te fond of my zombie twin.) To fix
ideas, we can imagine that right now I am gazing out the window, experiencing some
nice green sensa tions from seeing the trees outside, hav ing pleasant taste experiences
through munching on a chocolate bar, and feeling a du ll ach ing sensa tion in my righ t
What is going on in my zombie twin ? He is physica lly identical to me, and we may
as well suppose that he is embedded in an identical environment. He will certainly be
identica l to me functionally: he will be processing the same sort of information, reacting

in a simi lar way to inputs, with his in ternal configurations being modified appropriately
and with indistinguishable behavior resulting. He will be psychologically identical to
me .. .. He will be perceiving the trees outside, in the functional sense, and tasting the
chocolate, in the psychological sense. All of this follows logically from the fact that he
is physically identical to me, by virtue of the functional analyses of psychological no-
t ions. He will even be “conscious” in the functional senses described earlier- he will
be awake, able to report the contents of his internal states, able to focus attention in
various places, and so on. It is just that none of this functioning will be accompanied
by any real conscious experience. There wil l be no phenomenal feel. There is nothing it
is like to be a zombie.7
Chalmers asserts chat it is conceivable chat such a zombie could exist. That is, it
is conceivable chat there could be a creature physically identical co him in every \vay
but lacking the mental states that constitute conscious experience. If chis zombie is
conceivable, he says, then it is logically possible that the zombie could exist. If it is
logically possible chat the zombie could exist, then physical states muse not be es-
sential co conscious experience. Materialism, therefore, must be false.
This is how Chalmers outlines the argument:
1. It is conceivable that there be zombies.
2. If it is conceivable that there be zombies, it is metaphysically possible that
there be zombies.
3. If it is metaphysically possible that there be zombies, then consciousness is
4 . Consciousness is nonphysical.8
How might a materialise respond co this argument? One
way is co charge chat Chalmers is mistaken, that his zom-
bies are actually inconceivable and therefore not logically
possible. Many people, ho\vever, \vould probably disagree.
Can you imagine an android like Star Trek’s Mr. Data chat
is physically identical co you but lacking any trace of inter-
nal conscious experience?
Another kind of attack against the identity theory
(as \vell as ocher materialise vie\vs) comes in t he form of
knowledge arguments. The basic line is chat brains have
t he property of being known t hrough empirical investi-
gation, but mental states cannot be known chis way. The
qualitative content of mental states has co be experienced
subjectively, from the inside. And since brain states and
mental states have different properties in th is way, brain
states and mental states are not identical. So the identity
theory is fa lse.
M ind- Body Identity 219
8 Can you conceive
of your zombie twin?
If so, what does that
If the human mind was
simple enough to under-
stand, we’d be too simple
to understand it.
-Emerson Pugh
Thomas Nagel makes such an argument using a pro-
vocat ive thought experiment about bats. Presumably bats
have experience (some level of consciousness), he says, al-
though it is radically diffe rent from our own. To say chat
bats have experience is co say chat “there is something
Figure 4.6 David Chalmers, d istinguished profes-
sor of philosophy and d irector of the Centre for Con-
sciousness at the Australian National University.

220 Chapter 4 Mind and Body
Aristotle was famous for
knowing everything. He
taught ,hat the brain cxisL< merely to cool ,he blood and is not involved in the process of thinking. This is ttuc only of certain per.sons. -Will Cuppy Figure 4 .7 Ho llywood zombies like these a re a far cry from Chalmers's kind of zombies, which are physically ide nt ical to normal people. Does the possib ility of such zombies show that mate· rialism is false? that it is like to be a bat." Through scientific study, we could come to know everything there is to know about bat neurophysiology and all the other facts of bat biology. Nevertheless, there would still be something that ,ve ,vould not and could not know: what it feels like to be a bat. The bat's conscious experience ,vould be beyond our ken. We could say the same about humans. If we knew all the facts about thei r physical states we still would not know all there is to kno,v about their m ental states. Therefore, it cannot be the case that physical states and mental states a re identical. Nagel decla res, Thomas Nagel, "What Is It Like to Be a Bat?" Whatever may be the status of facts about what it is like to be a human being, o r a bat, or a Martian, these appear to be facts that embody a particular point of view .... This bears directly on the mind- body problem. For if the facts of experience-facts about what it is like for the experiencing organism- are accessible only from one point of view, then it is a myste ry how the true character of experiences could be revealed in the physical operation of that organism. The latter is a domain of objective facts par excellence- the kind that can be observed and understood from many points of view and by individuals with diffe ring perceptual systems. There are no comparable imagi· native obstacles to the acquisition of knowledge about bat neurophysiology by human scientists, and inte lligent bats or Martians might learn more about the human brain than we ever will. .. . In the case of experience, on the other hand , the connexion with a particular point of view seems much closer. It is difficu lt to understand what could be meant by the objective character of an experience, apart from the particular point of view from which its subject apprehends it. After all, what would be left of what it was like to be a bat if one removed the viewpoint of the bat? But if experience does not have, in additio n to its subjective character, an objective nature that can be apprehended from many differ- ent points of view, then how can it be supposed that a Martian investigating my brain might be observing physical processes which were my mental processes (as he might observe physica l processes which were bolts of lightn ing) , only from a different point of view? How, for that matter, could a human physiologist observe them from another point of view?9 Some mater ialises rebut this kind of argument by insisting chat, contrary co Nagel and ochers, consciousness is not a k ind of experience (qualia) that is over and above the b ra in's cognitive or behavioral functions. Consciousness just is che b ra in's cognit ive or behavioral functions. Once we k now a ll about the brain's basic functions-how it accesses information, d iscriminates stimuli, controls behavior, monitors its internal states, and the like-\ve k no\v all there is co know about con- sciousness. And we can know about these things th rough objective, third-person . . . 1nvest1gat1ons. WRITING TO UNDERSTAND: CRITIQUING PHILOSOPHICAL VIEWS SECTION 4.3 1. If Nagel chinks chat bats have minds (chat is, conscious experience), \vhac ocher creatures muse he admit have m inds? Do wrens have minds? Grasshoppers? Lobsters? 2. M use humans have immaterial m inds in o rde r co fa ll in love, \vrice a song, o r remember smelling a rose? Smart chinks not. Do you agree? 3. Imagine a space alien coming co earth and scientists being able co examine its internal organs. And suppose nothing resembling che human b ra in could be found. Accord ing co che identity theory, \vou ld chis being have a mind? Imagine that its behavior was in most ways indistinguishable from human behavior. Would you conclude chat it had a mind? 4. Brain phenomena have a location in space, but thoughts and percep- tions seem not co have a location in space. Does th is show chat the identity theory is false? W hy or why not? 5. When your body dies, w ill you r mind sti ll exist? H ow would identity theorises answer chis? Is their answer plausible? Mind- Body Identity 221 9 Do bats have con- scious experience? Why o r why not? Figure 4.8 Is there something that it is like to be a bat ? If there is and we nonbats could never know what it feels like to be a bat despite our expert knowledge of objective bat facts, what does that prove about t he plausibi lity of materialism? 222 Chapter 4 Mind and Body The brain may be regarded as a kind of parasite of the . . organism, a pensioner, as it were, w ho dwells with the body. -Arthur Schopenhauer 4.4 THE MIND AS SOFTWARE Functionalism says that mental states are neither brain states nor behavioral states. They are states that have causal functions, and it's possible for these functions to play out in just about any kind of stuff, physical or nonphysical (although contemporary functionalists say the stuff is physical). That is, a mind is the functions that the brain carries out, a system of causal relationships that is multiply realizable. A mental state is therefore a causal sequence of inputs and outputs-initial stimuli that cause certain internal events or states (such as beliefs or des ires) that in turn cause external behavior. For example, pain is what is caused by some kind of unpleasant stimuli (such as a burn to Rosa's hand), which causes other mental states (such as Rosa's be- lieving that she should put ice on the burn), which causes external behavior (as when she reaches for ice in the freezer). Pain is whatever manifests such typical functional roles in an organism, and anything that exhibits these kinds of functions is a mind. Here is Jerry Fodor explaining the theory and the reasons why he thinks it is superior to both logical behaviorism and the identity theory: Jerry A. Fodor, "The M ind-Body Problem" In the past fifteen years a philosophy of mind called functionalism that is nei ther du- alist nor materialist has emerged from philosophical reflection on developments in artifi cial intell igence, computational theory, linguistics, cybernetics and psychology. All these fields, which are collectively known as the cognitive sciences, have in common a certain level of abstraction and a concern with systems that process information. Functionalism, which seeks to provide a philosophical account of this level of abstrac- tion, recognizes the possibi lity that systems as diverse as human beings, calculating machines and disembodied spiri ts could all have mental states. In the funct ionalist view the psychology of a system depends not on the stuff it is made of (living cells, mental or spiritual energy) but on how the stuff is put together .... All of this emerged ten or fifteen years ago as a nasty dilemma for the materialist program in the phi losophy of mind. On the one hand the identity theorist (and not the logical behaviorist) had got right the causal character of the interactions of mind and body. On the other the logical behaviorist (and not the identity theorist) had got right the relational character of mental properties. Functionalism has apparently been able to resolve the dilemma. By stressing the distinction computer science draws between hardware and software the functional ist can make sense of both the causal and the relational character of the mental. The intu ition underlying functionalism is that what determines the psychologi- cal type to which a mental particular belongs is the causal role of the particu lar in the mental life of the organism. Functional individuation is differentiation with respect to causal role. A headache, fo r example, is identified with the type of mental state that among other things causes a disposition for taking aspirin in people who believe aspi· rin relieves a headache, causes a desire to rid oneself of the pain one is feeling, often causes someone who speaks English to say such things as " I have a headache" and is brought on by overwork, eyestrain, and tension. This list is presumably not complete. The Mind as Software 223 More will be known about the nature of a headache as psychological and physiological research discover more about its causal role. Functionalism construes the concept of causal role in such a way that a mental state can be defined by its causal relations to other mental states. In th is respect functiona lism is completely d ifferent from logical behaviorism. Another major dif- ference is that functiona lism is not a reductionist thesis . It does not foresee, even in principle, the elimination of mental istic concepts from the explanatory apparatus of psycho logical theories.'0 Despite these advantages of functionalism, critics claim that it has a fatal flaw: It fails to account for the subjective, qualitative feel of consciousness. Thus, the most common arguments against it (absent qualia a rgumenrs) try to show that the theory leaves out conscious experience, or qualia, the seemingly obvious, essential feature of mind. The gist of these arguments is that functionalism must be false because it is possible to introduce an appropriate functional organization into some system and yet, contrary to functionalist claims, no mental states are brought into existence. Consider Ned Block's absent qualia argument in the form of a famous thought experiment: Ned Block, "Troubles with Functional ism" Suppose we convert the government of China to functionalism, and we convince its of- ficials that it would enormously enhance their international prestige to realize a human mind for an hour. We provide each of the bill ion people in China (I chose China be- cause it has a bill ion inhabitants) with a specially designed two-way radio that connects them in the appropriate way to other persons and to [an] artificial body .... [W]e ... arrange to have letters displayed on a series of satellites placed so that they can be seen from anywhere in China. Surely such a system is not physically impossible. It could be functionally equivalent to you for a short time, say an hour .... What makes the homunculi-headed [many-headed] system ... just described a prima facie counter example to (machine) functional ism is that there is prima facie doubt whether it has any mental states at all-especially whether it has what philosophers have variously call ed "qualitative states," "raw feels," or "immediate phenomenological quali- ties." (You ask: What is it that philosophers have called qua litative states? I answer, only half in jest. As Louis Armstrong said when asked what jazz is, "If you got to ask, you ain't never gonna get to know.") In Nagel's terms, there is a prima facie doubt whether there is anyth ing which it is like to be the homunculi-headed system." If functionalism is true, the proper arrangement of inputs and outputs among the billion people should produce a mind having qualitative mental states. That is, from the one billion Chinese people there should arise one more person-the one brought forth by the ,vhole system's functional organization. But, says Block, what makes the Chinese brain a counterexample to functionalism is that it is logically possible that th is "brain" has no qualitative mental states at a ll. If th is is the case, then merely being in certain functional states does not guarantee being in any quali- tative mental states, and functionalism is false. 10 Is functiona lism really a better theory of mind than logical behaviorism and the identity theory, as Fodor says? 11 Does it seem to you that the Chinese brain lacks qualitative states? If not, why not? I have a theory about the human mind . A brain is a lot like a computer. Ir will only take so many facts, and then it will go on overload and blow up. -Erma Bombeck 224 Chapter 4 Mind and Body WHAT DO YOU BELi EVE? Al and Human Rights Should machines with very advanced artificial intelligence be granted the same rights as hu- 1nan persons? Should conscious robots be created with the sa1ne respect char we ,vould give an adult human? In che Al ,vorld, such questions are being taken seriously right now-and the answers are, as you 1nighr expect, varied. Here's a story about a knowledgeable Oxford 1nache1nacician who has so,ne answers of his o,vn: With huge leaps taking place in the world of artificia l intell igence (Al) , right now, experts have started asking questions about the new forms of protec- tion we might need against the formidable smarts and potential dangers of computers and robots of the near future. But do robots need protection from us too? As the "minds" of machines evolve ever closer to something that's hard to tell apart from human intel- ligence, new generations of technology may need to be afforded the kinds of moral and legal protections we usually think of as "human" rights, says mathematician Marcus du Sau toy from the University of Oxford in the UK. Du Sautoy thinks that once the sophistication of computer th inking reaches a level basically akin to human consciousness, it's our duty to look after the welfare of machines, much as we do that of people. Figure 4.9 The intell igent humanlike machine Sonny from the movie I, Robot. The Mind as Software 225 "It's getting to a point where we might be able to say this thing has a sense of itself, and maybe there is a threshold moment where suddenly this consciousness emerges," du Sautoy told media ... this week. "And if we understand these things are having a level of consciousness, we might well have to in troduce rights. It's an exciting time." Du Sautoy thinks the conversation about Al rights is now necessary due to recent advancements made in fields such as neuroscience. The mathema- tician, who appeared at the literature festival to promote his new book, What We Cannot Know, says new techniques have given us a clearer understand- ing than ever before of the nature of mental processes such as thought and consciousness- meaning they're no longer reserved solely for philosophers. "The fascinating thing is that consciousness for a decade has been something that nobody has gone anywhere near because we didn't know how to measure it," he said. " But we're in a golden age. It's a bit like Galileo with a telescope. We now have a telescope into the brain and it's given us an opportunity to see things that we've never been able to see before." That greater insight in to what consciousness is means we should re- spect it in all its forms, du Sautoy argues, regardless of whether its basis for being is organic or synthetic. While the notion of a machine being protected by human rights sounds like something out of science fiction, it's actually a fast-approach ing pos- sibil ity that scientists have speculated about for decades. The big question remains, when will computer systems become so advanced that their artifi- cial consciousness ought to be recognised and respected? Various commentators put the timeframe from 2020 through to some time in the next 50 years, although the rapid pace with which Al is progressing- be that playing games, learning to communicate, or operat- ing among us undetected- means that nobody really knows for sure.* In the 2004 movie/, Robot, the robot called Sonny seems to be both con- scious and intelligent. lf that's so, is he a person with full moral rights, and should any human regard him as such? Can an intelligent machine be right· fully regarded as a person even though it is made of metal and plastic, not biological tissue? If in the future, you meet a superintell igent, conscious ro- bot, would you regard her as a person-or treat her as you would a personal computer or cell phone? If you owned such a robot, would it be morally right for you to, say, dismantle her to use her parts for some other purpose? *Peter Dockrill, "Artificial Intelligence Should Be Protected by Human Rights, Says Oxford Mathcmaticiant Science Alert, May 31, 2016, hnps://· intdligcncc· should-be-protected-by-human· rights·says·oxford·mathematician. 226 Chapter 4 Mind and Body John R. Searle, Mind It is open to opponenrs of th is argument to show that it is somehow incoherent, harboring a crippling contradiction. They would need to establish that the condi- tions set forth in the Chinese brain scenario (and similar thought experiments) are not possible. They can also allege bias: They can claim that the intuition behind Block's thought experiment seems strong only because we are prejudiced in favor of minds like ours that arise naturally from human brains. The doctrine of functionalism has led many philosophers and researchers to see the mind as computer software. John Searle describes the early days of heady specu- lation about this ne,v perspective: John R. Sea rle, Mind It seemed that we knew the answer to the question that faced us: the way the system works is that the brain is a digital computer and what we call the "mind" is a digital computer program or set of programs ... . [MJental states are computational states of the brain . ... A principle that formed the foundation for any number of textbooks was this: the mind is to the brain as the program is to the hardware." Searle dubbed this vie,v of the mind strong artificial intelligence (strong AI). "On the strong AI vie,v," he says, "the appropriately programmed digital computer does not just simulate having a mind; it literally has a mind."13 The appropriately pro- grammed computer can demonstrate genuine intelligence, achieving any cognitive capacity such as understanding and believing. It ,vas this astonishing possibility that engendered the field of cognitive science. Many in the discipline also believed there was a way to test ,vhether a p rogrammed computer had attained true intelligence. This test is derived from the work of Alan Turing (1912-1954), the father of contemporary computer science and the genius be- hind today's computers. He invented the Turing machine, a theoretical model that became the blueprint for modern digital computers (,vhich are al l basically Turing machines), and then he devised the Turing test, a method that he thought could deter- mine ,vhether the machines are intelligent. Searle expla ins: There are different versions of [the test], but the basic idea is this: we can side-step all the great debates about the other minds problem, about whether or not there really is any thinking going on in the machine, whether the machine is really intelligent, by simply asking ourselves , Can the machine perform in such a way that an expert cannot distingu ish its performance from a human performance? If the machine responds to questions put to it in Chinese as well as a native Chinese speaker, so that other native Chinese speakers could not tell the difference between the machine and a native Chi- nese speaker, then we would have to say that the machine understood Chinese.'• Those who took the strong AI position bel ieved that eventually a digital com- puter would be able to pass the Turing test and thus prove that it had a mind. Searle, ho,vever, rejects strong AI and tries to refute it with his classic thought experiment The Mind as Software 227 PHILOSOPHERS AT WORK Alan Turing Alan Turing (1912-1954) was the father of che 1nod- ern con1pucer, inventor of che Turing ,nachine, and breaker of che "unbreakable" codes produced by che Gennan Enigma cipher machine in World \Xfar II. Long before his forn1al education at King's College, Cambridge, he ,vas chinking about difficult ques- t ions in philosophy, logic, machen1acics, and science. Figure 4.10 Alan Turing (19 12- 1954). Some say his greatest criu1nph was the invention of the Turing ,nachine, a theorized device (nor actually in existence ar che rime) char could compute the answers co any co1npucable problem. Today's computers are essentially Turing n1achines ,vith universal application. In World War II, Turing ,vorked for che British government deciphering codes. Germany was using a code 1nechanism, che Enigma ,nachine, char could create advanced codes for ,vartime messages. The Enigma codes were thought co be unbreakable-bur Turing broke che,n anY'vay. By doing so, he ,nay have helped co shorten the war. In 1950 Turing publ ished a groundbreaking paper in a major philosophy jour- nal. In it he details che Turing rest, a procedure for discovering ,vhecher machines can ,nake a believable simulation of rhe human 1nind. The Turing rest (also known as the imitation game) had a powerful influence on che field of AI and ,vas even featured in che 2014 1novie about Turing called (what else?) 1he Imitation Game. Despite his genius and his contributions ro che ,var effort, Turing ,vas arrested and stripped of his security clearance by the British government for his homosexu- al icy (then a crime in che UK). He ,vas jai led and subjected co chemical castration through huge doses of estrogen. After che authorities released him from jail, he cook his own life. In 2013 he ,vas given a posthumous royal pardon. kno,vn as che "Chinese room." The idea is chat if strong AI is true, then a person should be able co attain a cognit ive capacity (chinking, understanding, believing, ecc.) simply by implementing an appropriate computer p rogram. Searle chinks che thought experiment shows chat no such capacities are achieved. C-onsider: I do not, as a matter of fact, understand any Chinese at all. I cannot even tell Chi· nese writing from Japanese wri ting. But, we imagine that I am locked in a room with boxes fu ll of Chinese symbols , and I have a ru le book, in effect, a computer program, that enables me to answer questions put to me in Chinese. I receive symbols that, unknown to me, are questions; I look up in the rule book what I am supposed to do; I pick up symbols from the boxes, manipulate them according to the ru les in the pro· gram, and hand out the requ ired symbols, which are interpreted as answers. We can John R. Searle, Mind 228 Chapter 4 Mind and Body John R. Searle, Mind PHILOSOPHERS AT WORK John R. Searle John Searle (b. 1932), an American philosopher, has had an extraordinary influence on che ph ilosophy of language, che philosophy of mind, and philosophical ideas about social reality. He was born in Denver, Colo- rado, but was educated moscly at the Universicy of Oxford, where he obtained his first teaching position Figure 4.11 John Searle (b. 1932), professor of the philosophy of mind and language at the University of California, Berkeley. at Christ Church. For over forty years he has been a philosophy professor at che University of Cal ifornia, Berkeley, ,vhile occasionally serving as a visiting pro- fessor at ,nany ocher universities both in che United Scares and abroad. In che philosophy of mind, Searle has ,nade his mark by offering a widely read and debated criticism of strong AI and by developing innovative theories of consciousness and incencionalicy. Against strong Al , he launched his most fa,nous salvo- the Chinese room argument. Through it, he argues chat an appropriately program,ned computer cannot acquire a cognitive capacity such as understanding and believing. That is, strong AI is fa lse. A progra,nmed co,npurer, he says, works by manipulating che syntax of formal symbols, but char is a far cry fro,n semantics, which concerns che ,neaning of che sy,nbols. His vie,v of consciousness is chat it cannot be reduced co che physica l (brains or neurons). Ir is a pheno,nenon chat can only be observed fro,n a subjective, first- person perspective. Ir has a qualitative feel to it chat ,nay e,nerge fro,n che physical bur cannot be reduced to it. Searle is the author of Mind: A Brief Introduction (2004); 7he Rediscovery of the Mind (1994); 7he Mystery of Consciousness (2002); Mind, language, and Society: Philosophy in the Real World (1998); and Intentionality: An Essay in the Philosophy of Mind (1983). suppose that I pass the Turing test for understanding Chinese, but, all the same, I do not understand a word of Chinese. And if I do not understand Chinese on the basis of implementing the right computer program, then neither does any other computer just on the basis of implementing the program, because no computer has anything tha t I do not have. You can see the difference between computation and real understanding if you imagine what it is like for me also to answer questions in English. Imagine that in the same room I am given questions in English, which I then answer. From the outside my answers to the Engl ish and the Chinese questions are equally good. I pass the Turing test for both. But from the inside, there is a tremendous difference. What is the differ- ence exactly? In English, I understand what the words mean; in Chinese, I understand nothing. In Chinese, I am just a computer. •s The Mind as Software 229 For Searle, the reason a computer cannot think or understand (and \vhy people can) is that a computer processes symbols by their physical properties (like shape, size, and order), and people process symbols by their meaning. That is, computers manipulate symbols syntactically, according to what they look like or where they are positioned; people use symbols semantically, according to \vhat they mean. "Having the symbols by themselves-just having the syntax-is not sufficient for having the semantics," Searle says. "Merely manipulating symbols is not enough to guarantee kno\vledge of \vhat they mean."16 Searle's influential thought experiment has drawn both praise and censure. The objections are many, and he has responded to several of them. Some say that the man in the room doesn't understand Chinese, but he \vould if the system \vere connected appropriately to the rest of the \vorld. Many others argue that the pro- gram \vould understand Chinese if it simulated the brain processes of a Chinese speaker. Probably the most common counterargument is this: In the scenario, the man doesn't understand Chinese, but the \vhole room (the entire computational system) does. In other words, the man is merely part of the whole system made up of the man, the room, the boxes of Chinese symbols, the ru le book, and everything else. The man doesn't understand Chinese, but the iuhole system does understand. Searle replies that \vhether we consider just the man in the room or the \vhole sys- tem, the result is the same: The man doesn't have access to semantics (the meaning of symbols), just syntax (the physical form of symbols). And if the man doesn't have any semantics, neither does the whole room. Without semantics, the system doesn't understand anything. WRITING TO UNDERSTAND: CRITIQUING PHILOSOPHICAL VIEWS SECTION 4.4 1. Does the Chinese brain thought experiment sho\v that functionalism is false? If so, how? If not, \vhere does it go wrong? 2. Searle t hinks that even if a computer passed the Turing test, that \vouldn't prove that the machine had cognitive capacities. W hy does he think this? Do you agree with his reasoning? 3. Is it possible for a computer to process symbols semantically the way people do? Why or why not? 4. Does Searle claim that no machine of any kind can think? Is it physically possible to build a machine that is so advanced that it has conscious experience? 5. Suppose that instead of hand ling symbols, the man in the Chinese room somehow simulated nerve firings like the kind in the human brain. Would the man then understand Chinese? 12 If a computer passed the Turing test, wou Id that demonstrate that the computer had genui ne intell igence? If not, would passing the test be evidence that t he computer might have genuine intelligence? 13 Does this thought experiment show that functionalism is fa lse? 230 Chapter 4 Mind and Body PHILOSOPHY NOW Al, Ethics, and War Wherher strong AI (artificial intelligence) is true, and wherher advanced AI sysce,ns ,viii prove it true, is an open quesrion. But autorwmous AI sysrems- chose char can decide and act on their own-are already close at hand. They are expected co prolif- erare rapidly in rhe future, especially for milirary purposes. Patrick Lin, an expert on rhe milirary uses of aucono,nous robors, declares, "Robors are now replacing human soldiers in dull, d irry and dangerous missions, like searching runnels and caves for rerrorists, rescuing ,vounded soldiers, spy- ing on ene,nies and even killing hu,nans. In Iraq, ' • robors have defused over 10,000 roadside bombs, Figure 4.12 An Explosive ordnance Disposal Robot ,vhich are responsible for 40% of U.S. casualties gripping a mortar round. there. In 2003, rhe U.S. had no ground robots in Iraq or Afghanisran; no,v we have over 12,000 robots on the ground and 7,000 in the air in chose conAicr areas. By all accounrs, the Robotic Revolution is here." And ,vich the revolution, Lin says, comes a host of erhical questions char were almost unrhinkable a few years ago17: • Who should be blamed and punished for improper robotic conduct, such as illegal or accidental killings, if a robot can make its own attack decisions? • Does the option of military robots make it easier for one nation to wage war, since they help reduce risk and friendly casualties , which both bear a heavy poli tica l cost? Just-war theory, which dates back to Aristotle and 4.5 THE MIND AS PROPERTIES After pondering the full range of mind-body theories (including chose covered in the p rece.ding sections), some philosophers reason like chis: Whatever che m ind is, it cannot be a Cartesian immaterial s ubstance that interacts causally w ith the physi- cal world. For it seems p rofoundly puzzling (not co mention highly improbable) that these two could affect one another. In addition, Descartes' dualism violates the principle of che causal closure of the physical and the law of the conservation of mass-energy. The main a lternative co Descartes' view is che identity theory, which The Mind as Properties 2 31 other ancient philosophers, requ ires war to be the very last option, since it is so terrible. • Should we allow robots to make some attack decisions by themselves- choices that would lead to human deaths? • If we seek to guide robots in an ethical framework, which ethical theory should we use? The obvious choices have both advantages and serious li - abilities. Should we let a robot decide that it is permissible to sacrifice one innocent person (for instance, a child) to save ten or a hundred others? • If robots advance to the point of having animal-level intelligence, or can mimic human decision-making capabilities, or perhaps satisfy condi- tions for personhood, would we be morally requ ired to give rights to these th inking machines? After all, we already count as legal persons, and give rights to, such things as corporations and ships. And some animals, such as dolphins and chimpanzees, arguably deserve rights, especially since they may be more capable than some rights-endowed humans who are born with or suffer severe cognitive impairments. Patrick Lin, "The Ethical War Machine, •, June 29, 2009, hrtp:!/1uww.forbes. com/2009!06/J8/milirary-robors-ethics-opinio11s-contrib11tors-artificial-intellige11ce-09-patrick-li11.hrml. Do you think autonomous robots should be trusted to make life-and-death decisions on the battlefield without human supervision? Is it possible to build good moral decision-making into them? tells us that mental states are identical to physical brain states. But thought experi- ments featuring Chalmers's zombie and Nagel's bat suggest that mind-brain iden- t ity is implausible. Likewise, arguments using scenarios like Ned Block's Chinese brain and John Searle's Chinese room show that functionalism is also dubious, for it seems possible to introduce an appropriate functional organization into a system and still not attain conscious experience or a cognitive capacity. According to these philosophers, the failure of these views suggests an alternative theory of mind, one that posits no mysterious immaterial substance, denies no scientific principles, and is neither materialist nor functionalist. We are driven, they say, to the hypothesis that It seems impossible to make substance dualism consistent w ith modern ph)"'iCS. -John R. Searle 232 Chapter 4 Mind and Body 14 Do you agree that there is no room for a '"ghost in the machine' to do any extra causal work"? Why or why not? No explanation given wholly in physical terms can ever account for the emergence of conscious cxpcncncc. -David J. Chalmers the mind is an arrangement of nonphysical properties arising from-yet dependent on-physical properties. We are led, in other words, to property dualism (or nonre- ductive materialism). As Chalmers says, David J. Chalmers, The Conscious Mind The best evidence of contemporary science tells us that the physical world is more or less causally closed: for every physical event, there is a physical sufficient cause. If so, there is no room for a mental "ghost in the machine" to do any extra causal work .... In any case ... it remains plausible that physical events can be explained in physical terms, so a move to a Cartesian dualism would be a stronger reaction than is warranted. The dualism implied here is instead a kind of property dual ism: conscious experi- ence involves properties of an ind ividual that are not entailed by the physical properties of that individua l, although they may depend lawfu lly on those properties. Conscious- ness is a feature of the world over and above the physical features of the world. This is not to say it is a separate "substance"; the issue of what it would take to constitute a dualism of substances seems quite unclear to me. All we know is that there are proper- ties of individua ls in this world- the phenomenal properties- that are ontologically independent of physical properties.'8 The biggest challenge facing property dual ism is ho\v to explain the relationship benveen the mental and the physical. The main worry is that how mental properties could ever cause any changes in the physical \vorld is extremely puzzling. If the mind is entirely physical (that is, if the mind is the brain), ho\v it causes physical move- ments of the body is no mystery: The physical brain causes effects in the physical body. But how are nerves, blood, and bone supposed to be altered by nonphys ical properties of the mind? (This problem is essentially the same one that Descartes faced in explain ing ho\v a nonphys ical, spiritual substance could affect a physical, extended substance.) Some property dualisrs avoid these difficulties by accepting epiphenomenalism, the doctrine that the mental does not influence the physical. But others reject epi- because it conRicrs with commonsense intuitions about the nature of human actions. It seems obvious to them that the mind does indeed bring about changes in the body-that, for example, thinking about a friend causes you to call her on the phone, or that having a headache leads you to reach for aspirin. So these theorisrs usually embrace \vhat is called downward causation, the vie\v that causal sequences can run from mind to body (from higher levels do\vn to lower ones) as \veil as from body to mind (from lower levels up to higher ones). Their task, then, is to explain ho\v do\vnward causation can occur without running afoul of the causal closure of the physical or the conservation of mass-energy. Much is riding on the outcome of the debate between materialists and property dualists. If the materialists are right, human beings are physical through and through; there is no immaterial essence or soul or self Survival after death is impossible. If The Mind as Properties 233 PHILOSOPHY LAB - Imagine chat all che critics have been ,vrong, and Bigfoot lives! One specimen- which appears co be che only one on the planet- is locked away in a government laboratory. You, however, have full access ro Bigfoot because you are che scientist who muse decide how the world is supposed co creac the creature. If he has roughly the same physical and mental makeup as an ape, you ,viii recommend chat we creac him accordingly- keep him in captivity, perhaps in a zoo, and maybe do some experiments on him. He would have the same righrs char an ape does. Bue if he is obviously inrelligenr (even able ro reason) , self-conscious, self-aware, and self- mocivaced, you ,viii recommend- what? He has all the high-level characcerisrics chat we see in humans, che same rraics chat oblige us ro crear humans ,vich respect, co grant chem full moral righcs- ro call chem perJons. Bue Bigfoot is not a human, though he seems co be a person. You are faced with deep philosophical questions: Can a nonhuman be a person? Do only humans have full moral rights? To answer no to the first question and yes to the second is to take the traditional view embraced by many cultures and religions. To answer yes to the first question and no to the second is to say that personhood does not depend on what species a creature is. So what are you going to do with Bigfoot? epipheno menalism is true, then our mental states can cause nothing; our choughcs have no effect on our behavior. If property dualism is true, then the world is more com- plicated than most scientists believe. In addition co physical objects, the universe con- tains nonphysica l consciousness, a mysterious something chat we barely understand. And how this immaterial reality relates co material things such as human bodies and the external world is almost as baffling as Descartes' interacting substances. 234 Chapter 4 Mind and Body WRITING TO UNDERSTAND: CRITIQUING PHILOSOPHICAL V IEWS SECTION 4.5 1. Which is the better theory of mind-proper ty dualism or substance dualism? Why? 2. Is property dualism a better theory than identity theory? Why or why not? 3. Is epiphenomenalism an adequate theory of mind? What considera- tions count against it? 4. Is downward causation possible? Can you think of a way that the mind could affect behavior without violating the causal closure of the physical or the conservation of mass-energy? 5. What \vould be the religious or scientific implications of the identity theory? Review Notes 4.1 OVERVIEW: THE MIND- BODY PROBLEM • The mind-body problem is the issue of what mental phenomena really are and how they relate to the physical world. The most important responses to it constitute the foremost theories of mind in Western thought. • Substance dualism is the doctrine that mind and body consist of nvo fundamen- tally different kinds of stuff, or substances. The most influential form of this view is Cartesian dualism, \vhich says that the separate substances interact. Most philoso- phers hold to various forms of materialism (or physical ism), the vie\v that every ob- ject and event in the \vorld is physical. Major materialistic theories include logical behaviorism (the idea that mental states are dispositions to behave in a particular way in certain circumstances) and identity theory (the view that mental states are identical to physical brain states). Functionalism (the doctrine that the mind is the functions that the brain performs) is usual ly interpreted as a materialist theory. Property dualism is the vie\v that mental properties, or features, are nonphysical properties arising from, but not reducible to, physical properties. 4.2 SUBSTANCE DUALISM • To defend his brand of substance dualism, Descartes offers argumenrs based on conceivability and divis ibility. Critics have found fault \Vith both of these and charge that Cartes ian dualism violates the principle of the causal closure of the physical and the law of conservation of mass-energy. 4.3 M IND- BODY IDENTITY • The identity theory avoids some of the problems that beset Cartesian dualism, but theorists have rejected it using conceivabil ity argumenrs (such as Chalmers's zombie thought experiment) and kno,vledge argumenrs (such as Nagel's bat scenario). 4.4 THE M IND AS SOFTWARE • Functionalism has been accused of faili ng to account for the subjective, qual itative feel of consciousness. Absent qualia argumenrs (such as Ned Block's Chinese brain thought argument) try to demonstrate th is. Searle's Chinese room argument tries to debunk the functional ist view that the mind is essentially software. 4.5 THE MIND AS PROPERTIES • For some philosophers, property dualism is the most plausible theory of mind, in light of the failures of substance dualism, identity theory, and functionalism. !rs big- ges t challenge is explaining the relationship between the mental and the physical. WRITING TO UNDERSTAND: ARGUING YOUR OWN VIEWS CHAPTER 4 1. Critique Descartes' substance dualism. Explain the t heory, discuss the strengths and weaknesses of Descartes' conceivability and divisibil ity arguments, and defend your verdict regarding the theory's adequacy. 2. Examine Chalmers's zombie argument against the identity theory. Do you think t he argument is successful? Why or ,vhy not? 3. Do you think the brain is a computer running some sort of sofnvare? Defend your view by evaluating the standard argumenrs for and against functionalism. 4. Do you think epiphenomenalism is true? Evaluate what you take to be the strongest argu ments for and against it and then render your verdict. 5. Do you believe that you have an immortal soul? Explain and defend your view, taking into account the principle of the causal closure of the physical, the la,v of conservation of mass-energy, and the brain research sho,ving countless correlations between mental properties (bel iefs, perceptions, etc.) and physiological activity. Review Notes 235 236 Chapter 4 Mind and Body Key Terms Cartesian dualism The view that mind (or soul) and body are completely in- dependent of one another and interact causally. (206) causal closure of the physical The prin- ciple that the ,vorld is a closed system of physical causes and effeccs. (215) epiphenomenalism The notion that mental properties do not cause anything, but merely accompany physical pro- cesses. (21 O) functionalism The view that the mind is the functions that the brain performs. (209) identity theory The view that men- tal states are identical to physical brain states. (207) logical behaviorism The idea that men- tal states are dispositions to behave in particular ways in certain ci rcumstances. (207) materialism (or physicalism) The doc- trine that every object and event in the ,vorld is physical. (206) mind- body problem The issue of what mental phenomena are and how they re- late to the physical world. (206) multiple realizability The capacity to be realized or in a variety of forms and materials. (209) property dualism The view that men- tal properties are nonphysical properties arising from, but not reducible to, physi- cal properties. (210) substance dualism The notion that mind and body consist of two funda- mentally different kinds of stuff, or sub- stances. (206) They're Made out of Meat 237 FICTION They're Made out of Meat Terry Bisson Terry Bisson is a much-lauded science fiction writer, author of seven novels (includ- ing Talking Man, Fire on the Mountain, and Voyage to the Red Planet) and numerous short stories (including "Bears Discover Fire" and the following selection). "They're made out of meat." 0 Meat?" "Meat. They're made out of meat." 0 Meat?" "There's no doubt about it. We picked up several from different parts of the planet, took them aboard our recon vessels, and probed them all the way through. They're completely meat." "That's impossible. What about the radio signals? The messages to the stars?" "They use the radio waves to talk, but the sig- nals don't come from them. The signals come from machines." "So who made the machines? That's who we want to contact." "They made the machines. That's what I'm trying to tell you. Meat made the machines." "That's ridiculous. How can meat make a machine? You're asking me to believe in sentient meat." "I'm not asking you, I'm telling you. These creatures are the only sentient race in that sector and they're made out of meat." "Maybe they're like the orfolei. You know, a carbon- based intell igence that goes through a meat stage." "Nope. They're born meat and they die meat. We studied them for several of their life spans, which didn't take long. Do you have any idea what's the life span of meat?" "Spare me. Okay, maybe they're only part meat. You know, like the weddilei. A meat head with an electron plasma brain inside." "Nope. We thought of that, since they do have meat heads, like the weddilei. But I told you, we probed them. They're meat all the way through." Terry Bisson, Omni, 1990. From http://www.terrybisson .com/page6/page6.html. "No brain?" "Oh, there's a brain all right. It's just that the brain is made out of meat! That's what I've been trying to tell you." "So ... what does the thinking?" "You're not understanding, are you? You're refusing to deal with what I'm tell ing you. The brain does the thinking. The meat." "Thinking meat! You're asking me to believe in thinking meat!" "Yes, thinking meat! Conscious meat! Loving meat. Dreaming meat. The meat is the whole dea l! Are you beginning to get the picture or do I have to start all over?" "Omigod. You're serious then. They're made out of meat." "Thank you. Finally. Yes. They are indeed made out of meat. And they've been trying to get in touch with us for almost a hundred of their years." "Omigod. So what does this meat have in mind?" "First it wants to talk to us. Then I imagine it wants to explore the Universe, contact other sentiences, swap ideas and information. The usual." "We're supposed to talk to meat." "That's the idea. That 's the message they're send- ing out by rad io. 'Hello. Anyone out there. Anybody home.' That sort of thing." "They actual ly do talk, then. They use words, ideas, concepts?" "Oh, yes. Except they do it with meat." "I thought you just told me they used radio." "They do, but what do you think is on the rad io? Meat sounds. You know how when you slap or flap meat, it makes a noise? They talk by flapping their meat at each other. They can even sing by squirting air through their meat." "Omigod. Singing meat. This is altogether too much. So what do you advise?" "Officially or unofficially?" 238 Chapter 4 Mind and Body "Both." "Officially, we are required to contact, welcome and log in any and all sentient races or multibeings in th is quadrant of the Universe, without prejudice, fear or fa. vor. Unofficially, I advise that we erase the records and forget the whole thing." "I was hoping you would say that." "It seems harsh, but there is a limit. Do we really want to make contact with meat?" "I agree one hundred percent. What's there to say? 'Hello, meat. How's it going?' But will th is work? How many planets are we dealing with here?" "Just one. They can travel to other planets in special meat containers, but they can't live on them. And being meat, they can only t ravel through C space. Which lim· its them to the speed of light and makes the possibility of their ever making contact pretty slim. Infinitesimal, in fact." "So we just pretend there's no one home in the Universe." "That's it." Probing Questions "Cruel. But you said it yourself, who wants to meet meat? And the ones who have been aboard our ves- sels, the ones you probed? You're sure they won't remember?" "They'll be considered crackpots if they do. We went into their heads and smoothed out their meat so that we're just a dream to them." "A dream to meat! How strangely appropriate, that we should be meat's dream." "And we marked the entire sector unoccupied." "Good. Agreed, officially and unofficially. Case closed. Any others? Anyone interesting on that side of the galaxy?" "Yes, a rather shy but sweet hydrogen core cluster intelligence in a class nine star in G445 zone. Was in contact two galactic rotations ago, wants to be friendly again." "They always come around." "And why not? Imagine how unbearably, how un- utterably cold the Universe would be if one were all I .. a one . .. I. Why is chis srory cold from rhe perspective of inrelligenr bur alien (co us) beings? Whar can you learn about minds from ch is way of looking ar realiry? 2. What point does chis srory make about the relationship between menral scuff and physical scuff? 3. Are alien bur inrelligenr beings ,virhour brains conceivable? Thar is, is ir logically possible char such creatures exist? For Further Reading David J. Chalmers, The Conscious Mind (Ne,v York: Oxford University Press, 1996). A clear introduction to issues regarding consciousness by one of the leading thinkers in the field. Offers a sustained critique of physicalism. David J. Chalmers, ed., Phiwsophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Readings (Ne,v York: Oxford University Press, 2002). A comprehensive collection of readings covering all the key issues. James Cornman and Keith Lehrer, "The Mind-Body Problem," in Philosophical Problems and Arguments (New York: Macmillan, 1982). A straightforward examina- tion of many of the main arguments in philosophy of mind. Daniel C. Dennett, Consciousness Explained (Boston: Little, Bro,vn, and Company, 1991). A plainspoken discussion of consciousness as a physicalist phenomenon. Brian P. McLaughlin, with Ansgar Beckermann and Sven Walter, The Oxford Hand- book of Philosophy of Mind (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009). A large, com- prehensive set of readings. Ian Ravenscroft, Philosophy of Mind· A Beginner's Guide (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005). A clear and concise introduction to the central theo ries in the philoso- phy of mind. John R. Searle, Mind: A Brief Introduction (Ne,v York: Oxford University Press, 2004). A fine introduction for beginners to al l the leading theories of mind. For Further Reading 239 CHAPTER 5 FREE WILLAND DETERMINISM CHAPTER OBJ ECTIVES 5.1 OVERVIEW: THE FREE WILL PROBLEM • Understand the nature and im portance of the free will problem. • Define determinism, hard determinism, incompatibilism, indeterminism, compatibilism, and libertarianism. • Give an overview of the three major philosophical responses to the free wil l problem. • Understand the main reasons why people think the issue of free wil l matters. 5.2 DETERMINISM AND INDETERMINISM • Understand d'Holbach's position on free will and the main reason he takes it. • Explain how science is used to argue for determin ism. • Understand how quantum physics seems to provide a counterexample to determinism. • Summarize James's indeterminist view and why some philosophers have rejected it. 5.3 COMPATIBILISM • Explain the compatibil ist position on free wil l. • Understand how compatibilists define "could do otherwise." • Summarize Rowe's object ion to compatibilism. • Critically examine Stace's compatibilism. 5.4 LIBERTARIAN ISM • Understand the three types of arguments that libertarians have put forth to support their view. • Understand the Consequence Argument . • State and evaluate the libertarian's argument from experience. • Explain agent causation and know the main arguments for and against it. 5.5 SARTRE'S PROFOUND FREEDOM • Understand Sartre's existentialist freedom. • Explain his notion of "existence precedes essence." • Evaluate his idea of radical freedom. Overview: The Free Will Problem 241 5.1 OVERVIEW: THE FREE WILL PROBLEM Few th ings in life are more valuable co us than freedom. We ,vane it, we demand it, we say we cannot live without it. We yearn for and expect social or political freedom, the freedom co go where we wane, say what we please, and do as we may with in broad legal and social limits. Bue we also want-and usually assume ,ve have-a more profound kind of freedom, ,vhac philosophers call free wil l. This type of freedom is the power of self- decerminacion: If we possess it, then at lease some of our choices are not decided for us or forced upon us but are up to us. If we don't possess it, our social and political freedoms would seem co be considerably less valuable. If our actions are not our own because, say, someone has brain,vashed or d rugged us co control how ,ve vote, then being free co vote would seem co be an empty liberty. So the central question in free will debates is whether we in face have chis more fundamental form of freedom. The question arises because, as in many ocher issues in philosophy, nvo of our basic beliefs about ourselves and the ,vorld seem co conflict. On one hand, ,ve tend co chink we have free wi ll in the sense just described. On the ocher, we also usually assume chat every event has a cause. Or, as philosophers would say, we accept determinism, Figure 5.1 Are all of our actions produced by a chain of events that stretches back into t he indefinite past? the doctrine chat every event is determined or necessitated by preceding events and the laws of nature. Determinism says chat all events-including our choices and actions-are produced inexorably by previous events, ,vhich are by sti ll ear- lier events, which are caused by still ochers, the chain of causes leading back into the indefinite past. Since every cause always results in the same effect, the future can unfold in only one ,vay. Everyth ing chat happens must happen in an unalterable, preset fashion. Bue if determinism is true, ho,v can any choices we make or any ac- tions we perform be up co us? How can we do anything "of our own free will"? If determinism is true, your reading chis book right now was caused by prior events such as certain states in your brain, body, and environment, and these events were in turn caused by sti ll ochers, and the causal sequence muse screech back councless years co a time before you existed. You had no say in the movement or d irection of chis causal t rain, no control over how it went. Your reading chis book right no,v could not have tu rned out any ocher way. You could not have done otherwise. How, then, could your actions be free? D eterminism is the doctrine that every cvcnr is de,ermined by preceding even rs and , he laws of nature . 242 Chapter 5 Free Will and Determinism You must believe in free will~ there is no choice. -Isaac Bashevis Singer The problem of free will is the challenge of reconcil· ing determi nism w ith o ur intuitions o r ideas about personal freedom. 1 Are yo u bothered by the thought of a rigidly determined existence? Does the idea that all yo ur actions are deter- mined disturb you- or reassu re you? Men arc deceived if rhcy think themselves free, an opinion which consists only in this, that they arc conscious of their ac~ tions and ignorant of the cau.