To be or not to be. That is the question. (Seriously.) David Benatar’s chapter “Why Coming Into Existence is Always a Harm” from his book Better Never To Have Been (2006) and follow-up paper “Still Better Never to Have Been: A Reply to (More of) My Critics” argues in favor of the latter: it’s better not to be. This comparative claim seemed intuitively plausible at first,1 but upon reflection, I find myself puzzled by it. I worry that this anti-natalism comparison involves contradiction, equivocation, or a false sense of commensurability. In this post, I’ll explain.
Synthese has just published one of my papers on implicit bias. As with all of my papers, you can find a link to the free preprint on my CV: byrdnick.com/cv. The final, corrected, and typeset version is on Synthese’s website and the audio version is on my podcast. In this post, you will find a non-technical overview of the paper’s main point and then the TLDR explainer.
Philosophy takes many forms. So do its podcasts. Here are some of the most popular philosophy podcasts that I have found. I listen to almost all of them, so feel free to contact me if you have questions that are not answered in each podcast’s description below.
Some have said that free will is an illusion (e.g., Wegner, 2002). And some free will skeptics base their claims on evidence that experimenters can predict our decisions before we are aware of making the decision or forming an intention. This leap from pre-decision prediction to free will skepticism seems intuitive at first. Upon reflection, however, it seems odd. In this post, I’ll explain.
I love philosophy and science. I also love flowcharts because they can compress many pages of instruction into a simple chart. And three researchers from George Mason University and the University of Queensland have combined these three loves in a paper about climate change denialism. In their paper, they create a flowchart that shows how to find over a dozen fallacies in over 40 denialist claims! In this post, I’ll explain this argument-checking flowchart. First, we will identify a common denialist claim and then evaluate the argument for it. Continue reading Evaluate An Argument With Just ONE Flowchart
A public figure is accused of a sexual misdeed. You know nothing about the accused besides their name and their alleged crime. And you know nothing about the accuser except their name and their accusation. Can you believe the accuser? We often learn about such sexual harassment accusations. So it behooves us to find a principled response. The Acceptance Principle suggests that we can accept this kind of accusation. Why? I’ll explain in this post. Continue reading Sexual Harassment Accusations & The Acceptance Principle
I recently reread Tyler Burge’s “Our Entitlement to Self-knowledge” (1996). Burge argues that our capacity for critical reasoning entails a capacity for self-knowledge.
Like a lot of philosophy, this paper is barely connected to the relevant science. So when I find myself disagreeing with the authors’ assumptions, I’m not sure whether the disagreement matters. After all, we might disagree because we have different, unfalsifiable intuitions. But if we disagree about facts, then it matters: one of us is demonstrably wrong. In this post I will articulate my disagreement. I will also try to figure out whether it matters. Continue reading Why Critical Reasoning Might Not Require Self-knowledge