Hypatia Symposium: Comments open until July 20th

The discussion isn’t showing any signs of slowing down at the Hypatia Symposium, so we’re extending the comment period for another week, until July 20th. Perhaps even longer if there are still fruitful discussions to be had.

Below, we’ve cherry picked one or two comments ‘overheard’ in the discussion threads of the symposium pieces to give you a quick flavour of discussion taking place. Your voice is welcome.

Recently ‘overheard’ at the symposium…

  • “…But surely animals are not the only objects we fear and cannot neatly define…” http://bit.ly/MqG0g4 
  •  “…I wonder at Steiner’s comment about feminist theory not being “useful” and hope to see an elaboration in future” http://bit.ly/NmiDGf 
  •  “…what would it mean to rethink ethics such that we imagine that we have obligations to those who are not like us?” http://bit.ly/NuRjUL 
  •  “…caring about animal suffering means caring less about the suffering of human women…” http://bit.ly/OCCfWg 
  •  “…Derrida’s writings on animals have opened up Continental philosophy to animal welfare issues…” http://bit.ly/P4uEn5

 

Philosophical Investigations – Free Special Issue

Virtual Issue: Philosophical Investigations from past to present

Founded in 1978 and associated with the British Wittgenstein Society, Philosophical Investigations is published quarterly by Wiley-Blackwell. This international journal features articles, discussions, critical notices and reviews covering every branch of philosophy. Whether focusing on traditional or on new aspects of the subject, it offers thought-provoking articles and maintains a lively readership with an acclaimed discussion section and wide-ranging book reviews.

In this exciting virtual issue, the editorial team have selected some of the best articles, critical notices and reviews published in Philosophical Investigations from 1980 to the present day. We are confident that you will find this virtual issue interesting and informative. See below for a full list of articles, critical notices and reviews. Continue reading “Philosophical Investigations – Free Special Issue”

The Real Problem of Evil

The 17th century German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz famously argued that this world of ours is “the best of all possible worlds”, and in doing so founded the philosophical study that he named ‘theodicy’ – the attempt to answer the question of why we suffer in a world supposedly watched over be an all-powerful and benevolent God. The scenes of devastation created by the tsunami that recently hit the east coast of Japan make these kinds of proclamations hard to swallow to say the least. Some philosophers after Leibniz made a point of how blindly indulgent and insensitive such claims can seem in the face of these reminders of the relentless and destructive powers of nature. Voltaire’s famous literary lampoon Candide: Or, the Optimist mocked the academic sophistry of such arm-chair speculation about suffering, and fellow German Schopenhauer, philosophy’s eternal pessimist, was perhaps the most damning of them all, saying once that:

 

…I cannot here withhold the statement that optimism, where it is not merely the thoughtless talk of those who harbour nothing but words under their shallow foreheads, seems to me to be not merely an absurd, but also a really wicked way of thinking, a bitter mockery of the unspeakable sufferings of mankind. Let no one imagine that the Christian teaching is favourable to optimism; on the contrary, in the Gospels world and evil are used as synonymous expressions. Continue reading “The Real Problem of Evil”

Haiti and the problem of evil

If there is an all-good, all-powerful God, why is there so much wrong with the world? This ancient problem — the problem of evil — receives unfortunate freshness every time something terrible happens.  Philosopher David Bain discusses the problem of evil, and its connection with the Haiti earthquake, in this short and accessible essay.

I usually think that the best hope for a solution to this problem lies in the idea that there is no best of all possible worlds. This view says that, for any possible world God could have created, there is an even better world that God could have created instead. If this were true, then God would have to make a less-than-perfect world — or else nothing at all. And presumably an imperfect something is better than absolutely nothing. Thus we might be able to explain how an all-good all-powerful God could have created an imperfect world. However, it’s another question whether this line of thinking can offer a complete solution to the problem of evil.  For that you’d need to explain how an all-good all-powerful God could allow, not just imperfections, but also hugely catastrophic events — like what has happened in Haiti.

Philosophy of Action and Philosophy of Religion By Stewart Goetz, Ursinus College (Vol. 1, 2006) Philosophy Compass

Morality and Religion By Tim Mawson, St Peter’s College (December 2009) Philosophy Compass

Painless meat

pigsNew Scientist covers the final frontier of factory farming:  animals that don’t mind abominable treatment and slaughter.

My reaction is horror.  What kind of person looks at the suffering in controlled animal feeding operations and thinks:  you know how we could fix this?  By genetically engineering the animals not to care! Continue reading “Painless meat”

Leibniz, freedom, and the problem of evil

Gottfried_Wilhelm_von_LeibnizMisery is all around us.  You don’t even have to look away from The Philosopher’s Eye to learn how hazardous the world is: we’ve discussed on this blog how the deadly swine flu is becoming even more virulent and how 1.4 billion people live on less than $1.25 a day.

The fact that there’s so much suffering is already bad enough.  But it poses a special problem for theists who believe in an omnipotent and good God.  How could such a God allow so many people to suffer so much?  This is the (or a) Problem of Evil.  Leibniz‘s famous, deeply counterintuitive answer to the Problem of Evil is to argue that, despite appearances, we inhabit the best possible world.  Over the weekend, philosophers Jan Cover and Michael Murray appeared on Bloggingheads.tv to discuss this strange idea.

Continue reading “Leibniz, freedom, and the problem of evil”