The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice. As someone who isn't able to find an objective basis for morality, I've often wondered what that means for the above statement from Martin Luther King. It certainly feels like we're making moral progress, that the status of previously oppressed or marginalized people … Continue reading Is there a moral arc to history?
Apropos to the previous post, albeit from a different angle. Hovertext: "This comic was posted in order to increase my social status, acquire wealth, and thus improve the reproductive fitness of my offspring." Click through for full sized version and red button caption. via SMBC I've noted many times before that emotions and other instinctual … Continue reading SMBC: Do humans have feelings?
Fears of AI (artificial intelligence) are still showing up the media, most recently with another quote from Stephen Hawking warning that it might be the end of us, with Elon Musk, due to his own anxious statements, now being referenced whenever the subject comes up. I've written many times before why I think these fears … Continue reading When should we consider an AI a fellow being?
Well, in remarks that I'm pretty sure are guaranteed to rile up philosophers, E.O. Wilson, who apparently has a new book out on the meaning of human existence, disses both philosophy and religion, saying that scientists will provide the meaning of of existence. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lx26k8LTCdI I can agree with a lot of what Wilson says in … Continue reading E.O. Wilson: Science, not philosophy, will explain the meaning of existence
It looks like Bill Nye, the science guy, is coming out with a new book on evolution, with an excerpt at Popular Science: Is The Human Species Still Evolving? | Popular Science. We cannot step away from evolution. Our genomes are always collecting mutations, and we are always making mate selections. Are humans preferentially mating with … Continue reading Is the human species still evolving? Of course.
(Click through for full sized version and for the red button caption.) via Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. Of course, as we discussed on the Selfish Gene post, even if we are acting completely altruistically at a conscious level, our impulse to do so is broadly tied up with evolutionary survival advantages.
Today at lunch I listened to the latest Point of Inquiry podcast, which was an interview of Marlene Zuk about her new book on common delusions about evolution and the paleolithic life style. These misconceptions usually run along the lines of assuming that since we evolved to be hunter gatherers, that we should live like those … Continue reading The Paleo delusion, and a delusion about that delusion
Science can't determine values, and this includes aesthetics, beauty. But that doesn't mean science has nothing to say about beauty. As this article at PolicyMic indicates, it can study what most of us see as beauty and explore the reasons why we see it as beautiful. The primary reason we are alive is to reproduce … Continue reading Beauty is determined by both biology and culture
One of the hottest debates in evolutionary biology concerns the origin of behavior: is it genetically encoded or do animals and birds copy their parents or other individuals? A classic experiment published in 2000 seemed to provide overwhelming evidence that a particular behavioral choice (whether individuals of a species of swallow breed in a small … Continue reading The importance of (experimental) design — ScienceDaily
Our recent discussions, particularly on the thread about Jonathan Haidt's response to Sam Harris's challenge, left me thinking about the various scopes of objective facts. In retrospect, it's a bit obvious to me now that a key question in moral philosophy is, if morality is objective, at what scope is it objective? Haidt used the … Continue reading The scope of objective facts and morality