Posted 19 hours ago

Musings on Gettier and the definition of knowledge

Musings on Gettier and the definition of knowledge

Originally posted on Scientia Salon:

knowledge3by Coel Hellier

Philosophers have traditionally defined knowledge as a belief that is both true and justified, a definition that sufficed until, 50 years ago, Edmund Gettier pointed out that the conditions could be fulfilled by accident, in ways that didn’t amount to what we would intuitively regard as knowledge.

Gettier pointed to scenarios such as:

“Smit…

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Posted 3 days ago

People Are the Problem and They Pretty Much Always Will Be

People Are the Problem and They Pretty Much Always Will Be

Originally posted on Whatever:

Today PZ Myers ruminates about the problems he has with the atheist movement here in the US, much of which, from my point of view, boils down to “the problem is that there are people in it.”

Which, I will hastily note, is notme snarking. People are hierarchical, status-sensitive and in many ways fundamentally conservative creatures. We crave structure, hate…

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Posted 3 days ago

Jim Holt: Why does the universe exist?

I did a post a few weeks ago explaining why I’m not much of a fan of the “Why is there something rather than nothing?” question…

Posted 4 days ago

Massimo Pigliucci on the boundary between science and pseudoscience

Massimo Pigliucci on the boundary between science and pseudoscience

In this video, Massimo Pigliucci, the philosopher and biologist who runs the Scientia Salon site, discusses the demarcation problem, the dividing line between what is and is not science.  The distinction is easy for things like astrology and astronomy, but gets more difficult for many other areas.

I’d forgotten about Massimo’s…

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Posted 5 days ago

Virtue Ethics: an ancient solution to a modern problem

Virtue Ethics: an ancient solution to a modern problem

Originally posted on Scientia Salon:

69729_aristotle_lgby Peter D.O. Smith

Introduction

This article is neither a defense of nor an attack against either religion or secularism. It treats them as well established sociological facts and no more than that. I take them as given and argue that a greater moral good can be achieved if the two belief systems find common moral ground in virtue ethics.

Why should we…

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Posted 1 week ago

Cosmic inflation appears to have shifted from settled science back to speculation

Cosmic inflation appears to have shifted from settled science back to speculation

Probably the best thing to do is let the experts weigh in on this.

Planck team measurement consistent with our (Flauger et al.) estimates and extrapolations: polarized dust appears to explain BICEP2 results.

— David Spergel (@DavidSpergel) September 22, 2014

Results in from Planck: seems likely that the famous BICEP2 results were dust, not gravitational waves. http://t.co/5FwBqMoDCy

— Sean…

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Posted 1 week ago

The Great Recession was less severe than the Great Depression because we do learn from history.

The Great Recession was less severe than the Great Depression because we do learn from history.

As is quickly becoming usual, Tina at Diotima’s Ladder asks excellent questions: Roosevelt and Obama: Did we avoid a Great Depression? | Diotima’s Ladder.

For the past week I’ve been rushing home every night to catch The Roosevelts: An Intimate History by Ken Burns. I’m not really a big Ken Burns fan. And yes, it’s the fiddle music. But this one is worth a watch. (And the music is not so…

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Posted 1 week ago

Free will persists even if your brain made you do it

Free will persists even if your brain made you do it

The free will debate has been going on for millenia and, like most philosophical debates, shows little chance of being settled anytime soon.  A significant part of the debate is definitional: what do we mean when we say “free will.”  We can argue endlessly about what the term should mean, but it turns out that what most of us actually mean by it is something that can be studied scientifically.

Fr…

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Posted 1 week ago

The effort at healthy living should be balanced against the fact that we are all mortal.

Ezekiel Emanuel has an interesting article at The Atlantic: Why I Hope to Die at 75 – The Atlantic.

Seventy-five.

That’s how long I want to live: 75 years.

I am sure of my position. Doubtless, death is a loss. It deprives us of experiences and milestones, of time spent with our spouse and children. In short, it deprives us of all the things we value.

But here is a simple truth that many of us…

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Posted 2 weeks ago

Survival machines versus engineered machines; why fears of AI are misguided

Survival machines versus engineered machines; why fears of AI are misguided #ArtificialIntelligence #AI

Bio-inspired Big Dog quadruped robot is being developed as a mule that can traverse difficult terrain. Image credit: DARPA

I’ve seen a lot of posts lately like this one by Ronald Bailey looking at Nick Bostrom’s book on the dangers of AI.  People never seem to get tired of talking about the dangers of AI.  And stories about AIs who revolt against humanity are pretty much a staple of science…

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