Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Skepticism

Against the Stoics, Skeptics, Epicureans, and Buddhists

This is going to be an odd post about Greek philosophy and the contemporary analogues of Greek traditions. Its purpose is threefold. First, I’ll argue that the Stoics, Skeptics, and Epicureans had similar conceptions of the good life, that this conception closely resembles the conception preferred by Buddhists, and that this conception of the good life is mistaken. Second, I’ll argue that the Stoics and Skeptics both make similar–if opposite–errors with respect to meta-ethics, with the Stoics asserting an unrealistically ambitious epistemology and the Skeptics denying that epistemology without acknowledging less ambitious alternatives. Third, I’ll argue that many contemporary political and moral antagonisms are essentially new versions of the Stoic/Skeptic antagonism, and that there is a popular Epicurean response to this antagonism.

Read the rest of this entry »

How Postmodernism Undermines the Left and Facilitates Fascism

Lately when I’ve discussed the implications of political violence with some people on the left, they’ve responded by appealing to postmodernism. These people undoubtedly have good intentions, but I fear many of them are not recognizing the corrosive  and counterproductive effects that postmodernism has on politics.

Read the rest of this entry »

Dialogue with an Egoist

I want to try something a little bit different today and present some philosophical ideas in the form of a dialogue. Our characters are:

  • Chris the Christian
  • Steve the Skeptic
  • Annie the Egoist
  • Randy the Reciprocity Utilitarian

The four characters are housemates who have lived together for a short time.

Read the rest of this entry »

Gaslighting Philosophers

Perhaps you remember last year when American football player Manti Te’o was catfished. An acquaintance of Te’o pretended to be a girl named Lennay Kekua, and Te’o became convinced that he was in an online long-distance relationship with this individual. When Kekua “died of cancer”, Te’o was devastated, and his devastation grew larger still when he discovered that the entire relationship was a lie, that Kekua was not a real person at all. Catfishing happens when the perpetrator manipulates over the course of an extended period of time a victim’s sense of reality to make the victim believe he is in a relationship with a non-existent person. It is a form of gaslighting, a devious strategy by which perpetrators systematically undermine victims’ notions of reality by systematically manipulating them into mistrusting their own senses and experience. My claim today is that there are philosophers who are engaged in gaslighting on a grand scale–those who believe that truth is a social construct.

 

Read the rest of this entry »

The Moral Irrelevance of the God Question

A while back, I wrote about the separation of moral philosophy and metaphysics. I argued in agreement with Dworkin that whether or not a moral claim is true does not rely on objective metaphysical blunt facts about the nature of the universe. It occurred to me today that this makes the entire debate between the new atheism of Dawkins, Hitchens, and the like and traditional religion irrelevant to questions of moral philosophy–the metaphysical debate about whether or not there is a deity and what that deity’s nature might be can have no bearing whatsoever on our moral theory.

Read the rest of this entry »