Philosophy and Freethought

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Note: The articles below were written years ago (mostly ~2000-2005). For more recent writings, visit the blog.

Philosophy Articles

The views expressed below should not necessarily be taken as claiming that "this is how things are", but as an attempt to explore an issue, put often jumbled thoughts into words, or simply open up intriguing questions rather than provide answers. My opinions and thoughts on most philosophical issues are complex, ephemeral and in a constant state of flux. Therefore, the ideas expressed herein should be taken less as representative of some sort of permanent position I hold, and more as a collection of places I've visited in my intellectual travels - the positions I tend toward and the things I've found interesting.
Egoism And The Experience Machine - Considering psychological egoism, and looking at the counterexample Experience Machine thought experiment.

The Turing Test - Why I consider the Turing Test for determining intelligence in computers valuable despite the objections raised over the years.

BonJour's Internalist Foundationalism - Examining one of Laurence BonJour's attempts to provide epistemological justification for our beliefs.

Failure Of The JTB Conception Of Knowledge - An objection to the "justified true belief" definition based on the underdetermination of the truth component.

Supposing Truth is a Woman - Riffing off of Nietzsche's "Beyond Good and Evil": is truth really worth more than appearance?

The Problem Of Induction - An attempt to find a way to justify inductive conclusions despite David Hume's famous 'Problem of Induction'.

Maybe^(maybe) - A brief look at some of my skeptical epistemological views.

Saving Physicalism From The Martians - A close look at a paper attacking physicalism; explores a plausible defense that allows for subjective physical facts.

Physical Minds - A post I made explaining why I think the mind could be a physical phenomenon; strongly influenced by the work of Douglas Hofstadter.

Bananas - A silly post I made in response to the common view that abstracts such as numbers cannot be physical things.

Stretching the I - A post I made raising questions about the nature of I and how far the concept can be stretched.

Aimless Wandering: Chuang Tzu's Chaos Linguistics - By Hakim Bey. Language from a Taoist perspective; words overflowing with spontaneous meanings.

Slaughterhouse-Five: or Life as a 4D Object - A different take on time-travel, expanding on the philosophical themes of this classic anti-war novel.

Philosophy in Movies - Occasionally updated with recommendations for and comments on movies that are thought provoking or explore philosophical themes.

Freethought Articles

Freethought can be defined generally as "the repudiation of all coercion of authority or tradition in philosophy, theology, and ideology" (Richard Bozharth); it is simply the dedication to think for one's self and not be swayed by established dogma. However, freethought is often defined more specifically as the rejection of religious dogma, replacing it with an open but critical mind and a healthy skepticism toward theism. For most of my life I was a Christian, but when I grew up and began to really think about it I found I could no longer take my faith seriously and I realized I was an agnostic/atheist. The distinction between those two terms - atheist and agnostic - is heavily debated among the freethought community, but the important point is that I have chosen to attempt to throw off the uncritical dogma of my religious youth in exchange for an open and skeptical view: I have attempted to become a freethinker. Hopefully the material below will help clear up some misconceptions about non-believers, explain the problems with many traditional theological arguments, and present some of my own thoughts on the topic.
The Afterlife: Traditional and Unusual Views - The common story of life after death just doesn't make sense, but does that mean there is no afterlife?

Cosmological Fine-Tuning and the Death of Design - Tackling the modern cosmological fine-tuning argument for intelligent design.

Proving a Negative - Disproving God - People argue that you cannot disprove God's existence, but what does that mean and if it is true what is implied?

To Believe Or Not To Believe: Pascal's Wager - Why I think Pascal's famous Wager is a terrible bet, and why his argument fails.

The Problem of Suffering - Presents what I consider a good reason to think that the traditional Western conception of a deity cannot exist.

Why 'Supernatural' Is Meaningless - Why the concept of 'supernatural' seems meaningless no matter how one looks at it.

Review: No Death, No Fear - Looking at an interesting book by the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, and what useful lessons one can take from it.

The Meaning of Life Without Afterlife - Can we humans lead meaningful lives without an eternal afterlife?

What Is An Atheist/Agnostic? - What do people mean when they apply these labels to themselves, and to what extent are such beliefs compatible?

Creation Wins! Society Loses! - Kids trained as anti-science crusaders, groomed through college to wield political influence and shape our nation.

An Open Letter To Dr. Laura - By Kent Ashcraft. A satire piece aimed at the religious conservative TV/radio personality Dr. Laura Schlessinger.

Links (Offsite)

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy - One of the best philosophy resources on the net, with new in-depth articles fairly regularly.
Perspective of Mind - Hofstadter and strange loops.
Secular Web - Amazing site with an extensive library of freethought and atheism essays and literature.
Talk Origins - An amazing collection of articles and essays dealing with discussion and debate of physical and biological origins.
Bible Study Guide - More of the parts of the Bible you don't hear about in church.
Internet Infidels Discussion Board - Huge, active forum on atheism and related subjects.
Celebrity Atheists List - A long list of celebs that have publicly expressed their atheism or agnosticism in some way; includes quotes.