Culture & Literature
Philosophy Now

Philosophy Now August - September 2015

Philosophy Now is a magazine for everyone interested in ideas. It isn't afraid to tackle all the major questions of life, the universe and everything. It tries to corrupt innocent citizens by convincing them that philosophy can be exciting, worthwhile and comprehensible, and also to provide some light and enjoyable reading matter for those already ensnared by the muse, such as philosophy students and academics. It contains articles on all aspects of philosophy, plus book reviews, film reviews, news, cartoons, and the occasional short story.

United Kingdom
Anja Publications Ltd
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$9.20(Incl. tax)
$33.75(Incl. tax)
6 Issues

in this issue

4 min.
ought-ology? science & ethics

Two of the most obvious and least ignorable features of today’s society are the ever-accelerating advance of science and the ever-increasing urgency of questions about how we should all relate to one another in our changing, crowded world. You might think it would be hard to find two areas of human endeavour less alike, but in fact science and moral philosophy influence each other in both directions, as you’ll see from the first few articles in this issue. Firstly ethicists can contribute in various ways to our use of science. As science has gained ever greater mastery over our world, the potential consequences of misusing it have become terrible indeed. Both research and technology throw up moral dilemmas. Moral philosophers wrestle with such dilemmas and this is why some serve on…

4 min.

• Philosophy benefits children’s education • Dalai Lama: “Ethics more important than religion” • Morality for chimpanzees and robots Dalai Lama: “On Some Days I Think It Would Be Better If There Were No Religions.” As the Dalai Lama turns 80, he has published a surprising appeal to the world, in which he declares ethics to be more important than religion. (It is helpfully titled: An Appeal of the Dalai Lama to the World: Ethics are more important than religion). In this short but tightly argued essay, available as a free e-book, he expresses the view that spiritual wellbeing comes from compassion and moral integrity rather than religion. He also emphasises the importance of dialogue and rejection of violence. Believing religion to have become one of the issues which divide humanity instead of inspiring…

15 min.
science & philosophy: a beautiful friendship

There’s been some very public dig-taking between the science and philosophy camps lately. Lawrence Krauss, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Stephen Hawking, and other scientists are saying philosophy’s become irrelevant, little more than an esoteric Old Boy’s Club. On the other hand, philosophers, theologians, politicians and others criticize ‘scientism’, the conviction that science, and only science, can and should be the source for all human knowledge; that all truth claims – that all ethical, metaphysical, and political beliefs – should not only be informed by or founded on, but entirely determined by, empirical evidence. Michael Shermer doesn’t dismiss philosophy so directly in his article ‘A Moral Starting Point: How Science Can Inform Ethics’ (Scientific American, February 2015). He includes philosophy alongside religion and political theory as arenas of thought in which people seek…

12 min.
einstein’s morality

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) regarded morality as indispensable to the survival of humanity, and he devoted considerable effort to the formulation of a coherent position on the relationship between morality, science, and religion. In his view morality should be decoupled from religion and treated as a secular matter of bringing dignity and happiness, as much as possible, to all people. The main source of disharmony among both individuals and groups seemed to Einstein to be an exaggerated sense of selfimportance. Hence he applied his proven ability for correcting misconceptions to the problem of human conceit; and this led him to point to our feeling that we have autonomous free will as a key mistake. The non-existence of free will seemed to Einstein so obvious that he did not bother explaining his reasoning…

15 min.
the prisoner’s dilemma and the evolution of morality

The Prisoner’s Dilemma is a game that you win by getting the lowest number of years in jail. Imagine you are one of two people who have robbed a diamond merchant. You and your accomplice are both apprehended by the police, and held in separate cells for questioning. The investigating officer offers both of you the same deal. If you confess and thereby incriminate the other, and the other remains silent, then for helping with enquiries your sentence will be reduced to one year, and your silent accomplice will get four years. If you both remain silent you will both get two years. Yet if you both confess and incriminate each other, you will receive three years. You must either betray your accomplice or remain silent. In this game a person…

10 min.
when paths diverge

Back in 2012 I attended a keynote presentation by Bill Clinton. In his speech he said that “our common humanity matters more than our interesting differences.” This statement struck me as being both profound and profoundly disturbing. While it seemed on the surface like an inherently humanist position, it was also a deeply imperialistic one: it’s easy to ignore interesting differences, I thought, when yours is the dominant culture. Prompted by Clinton’s speech, I began questioning some of the contradictions inherent in my own beliefs. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955), a paleontologist, evolutionary scientist and mystic, believed that human beings are evolving towards a state of spiritual convergence he called the Omega Point. By the time I discovered Teilhard de Chardin’s writings, my own theories regarding human evolution were already quite…