Plantinga Is No Longer Responsible for SEP's "Religion and Science"

I have just discovered that Alvin Plantinga's entry on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Religion and Science, has been replaced by a new official version, by a different author:


I haven't read the new version, yet, but the old one has a very interesting argument proposed by Plantinga (and a few others) against naturalism/Darwinism. The argument basically says that if naturalism and Darwinism are true, then epistemological realism is false and knowledge/science is nothing more than an adaptive trait. He makes a more detailed exposition of this in his book, Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism.

Curiously, even though he is a naturalist, Thomas Nagel thinks the argument is sound, so, for being committed to a realist worldview, he rejects Darwinism in his now infamous Mind & Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False.

Whether or not one agrees with these authors, the argument is very powerful and philosophically fruitful, so I hope it's still fairly portrayed in the new version. The old version is still up, so here is Plantinga's entry brief exposition of the argument.

Anyway, besides the fact that Plantinga is no longer in control of the the Religion and Science entry, what seems really strange to me is to see such an impolite and en passant editor's note mentioning this shift:

[Editor's Note: The following new entry by Helen De Cruz replaces the former entry on this topic by the previous author.]

Maybe my English is just too lame, but the sentence doesn't even sound that well to me. I'm not trying to accuse anyone without having any further information, but that really caught my eye and is puzzling me. I hope I can find more information about this.
  

On Utility

Those who know anything about the matter are aware that every writer, from Epicurus to Bentham, who maintained the theory of utility, meant by it, not something to be contradistinguished from pleasure, but pleasure itself, together with exemption from pain; and instead of opposing the useful to the agreeable or the ornamental, have always declared that the useful means these, among other things. Yet the common herd, including the herd of writers, not only in newspapers and periodicals, but in books of weight and pretension, are perpetually falling into this shallow mistake. Having caught up the word utilitarian, while knowing nothing whatever about it but its sound, they habitually express by it the rejection, or the neglect, of pleasure in some of its forms; of beauty, of ornament, or of amusement. Nor is the term thus ignorantly misapplied solely in disparagement, but occasionally in compliment; as though it implied superiority to frivolity and the mere pleasures of the moment. And this perverted use is the only one in which the word is popularly known, and the one from which the new generation are acquiring their sole notion of its meaning. Those who introduced the word, but who had for many years discontinued it as a distinctive appellation, may well feel themselves called upon to resume it, if by doing so they can hope to contribute anything towards rescuing it from this utter degradation.
—John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism

On the Inescapable Reality of Suffering

Are there limits to systematic doubt? Well, in the face of suffering, my ultra-scepticism falters. ["[I]t is true that ‘I seem to see a table’ does not entail ‘I see a table’; but ‘I seem to feel a pain’ does entail ‘I feel a pain’. So scepticism loses its force — cannot open up its characteristic gap — with regard to that which ultimately most concerns us, pleasure and pain." [Galen Strawson, Freedom and Belief, Oxford, 1986, p. 223, n. 29]. Insofar as I have substantive doubts about abolitionism, they revolve around a fatalistic sense that the world's entire structure exists as an unchanging four (or 11?)-dimensional "block" that one is impotent to change. The world just is. Or alternatively, if this fatalism is ill-conceived, there is the opposite worry: perhaps one might unwittingly be causing more suffering by promoting its incompetent abolition. One must hope that La Rochefoucauld is wrong: "Few men are sufficiently discerning to appreciate all the evil they do." 
—David Pearce, DP Drug Regimen: Diary Update and Idle Musings

On the Superfluousness of Life

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
—William Shakespeare, Hamlet
 

The Hall of Idleness

I'm too lazy to read the Taoist classics, for Tao doesn't reside in the books;
Too lazy to look over the sutras, for they go no deeper in Tao than its looks;
The essence of Tao consists in a void, clear, and cool,
But what is this void except being the whole day like a fool?
Too lazy am I to read poetry, for when I stop, the poetry will be gone;
Too lazy to play on the ch'in, for music dies on the string where it's born;
Too lazy to drink wine, for beyond the drunkard's dream there are rivers and lakes;
Too lazy to play chess, for besides the pawns there are other stakes;
Too lazy to look at the hills and streams, for there is a painting within my heart's portals;
Too lazy to face the wind and the moon, for within me is the Isle of the Immortals;
Too lazy to attend to worldly affairs, for inside me are my hut and my possessions;
Too lazy to watch the changing of the seasons, for within me are heavenly processions.
Pine trees may decay and rocks may rot; but I shall always remain what I am.
Is it not fitting that I call this the Hall of Idleness?

—Po Yüchien
 

Pai Nosso

Bentham nosso, que estais no zero absoluto,
Popularizado seja o vosso nome
Venha a nós o bem-estar supremo,
Seja feito o vosso ideal,
Assim entre os humanos como entre os animais
 
A utilidade nossa de cada dia nos dai hoje
Perdoai-nos os nossos maus cálculos felicíficos,
Assim como nós perdoamos a má-fé alheia
E não nos deixeis cair em tribalismo,
Mas livrai-nos do mau senso comum
 
Amém! 

 

Extinguir e/ou Reprogramar Predadores: Uma Questão Utópica ou um Problema Filosófico? [draft]

por Danielli M. Arpino [mirror]

Se devemos, ou não, extinguir e/ou reprogramar predadores para evitar o sofrimento dos animais predados, é uma questão moral e de Ética Prática, logo, um problema filosófico a ser discutido. Mas de que maneira isso se torna um problema filosófico propriamente dito?

Segundo o filósofo britânico David Pearce, em seu artigo Reprogramar Predadores (2009), uma biosfera sem sofrimento é tecnicamente viável. Em O Projeto Abolicionista (2007) o filósofo defende a abolição do sofrimento em todo mundo vivo e a inadiável urgência moral do projeto abolicionista, sejamos ou não adeptos de um utilitarismo ético de qualquer tipo. Dessa forma, a discussão sobre reprogramação e/ou extinção de predadores se insere nesse quadro de defesa da abolição do sofrimento; embora, cabe salientar, não seja necessário que estejamos comprometidos com esse projeto tão ambicioso para defendermos a reprogramação e/ou extinção de predadores.

A preservação de espécies é um tema amplamente divulgado e apoiado em diversas esferas sociais. Uma das motivações mais citadas para esse tipo de ação é a ameaça da humanidade frente à sobrevivência das espécies. Segundo um estudo recente (Revista Science, 2014) as espécies estão se extinguindo pelo menos 1.000 vezes mais rápido do que o fariam sem a influência humana. Os esforços humanos para preservar espécies em extinção geraram, inclusive, uma subdisciplina científica, a Biologia da Conservação, que considera a extinção de qualquer espécie um desastre para a natureza.

No entanto, o filósofo David Pearce se opõe a essa noção axiomática de preservação irrestrita de todas as espécies, levantando algumas questões importantes para essa discussão, como, "Qual deveria ser o destino último de espécies icônicas como os grandes carnívoros?":

Na sua maioria as cerca de 50.000 espécies vertebradas do planeta são vegetarianas. Mas entre a minoria de espécies carnívoras encontram-se algumas das mais bem conhecidas criaturas do planeta. Dever-se-ia permitir que estes assassinos em série continuem a predar indefinitivamente outros seres sencientes? [PEARCE, David. 2009]

Fica claro que, a questão que o autor traz a discussão é a de que, uma vez que devemos estender nosso círculo de considerações morais aos animais sencientes — vide Peter Singer, Tom Regan e outros filósofos que trataram da questão animal na Ética — deveríamos também estender nossas considerações morais e preocupações com o bem-estar dos animais selvagens. Sendo assim, o autor propõe a reprogramação de predadores e/ou a extinção desses para evitar o sofrimento dos animais que diariamente são mortos de forma cruel na natureza selvagem.

Certamente, é inquestionável, que não temos, ainda, nenhum vislumbre de tecnologias próximas capazes de ter a acurácia necessária para levar a cabo um projeto tão delicado e complexo como esse. No entanto, segundo Raymond Kurzweil, célebre cientista e pesquisador futurista, autor do livro The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology (2006), uma vez que a tecnologia progride de forma exponencial, estamos próximos a um salto qualitativo de avanço tecnológico extremamente robusto que gerará inteligências artificiais que ultrapassam as capacidade de inteligência humana — evento comumente chamado de “singularidade” — o que poderia nos dar condições de realizar esse projeto de intervenção na natureza, a partir de cálculos precisos feitos por super computadores, de forma segura.

Contudo, ainda que não aceitemos essas previsões futuristas, é inegável que, se de fato algum dia tivermos tecnologias boas e seguras o suficiente para reprogramar e/ou extinguir predadores de forma que possamos gerir a economia da natureza sem causarmos nenhum desastre natural, a questão continua posta: temos o dever moral de fazê-lo? Se não, por quê?

Não raro, a filosofia antecipa discussões importantes para compreendermos o mundo e pensarmos o futuro da humanidade. A exclusão dos animais selvagens do nosso círculo de considerações morais é injustificável, porém se dá pela naturalização do sofrimento desses animais - ou o apelo a natureza -, a falta de tecnologia para intervir de forma segura na rede complexa de sistemas da natureza e, até mesmo, pela ineditez de tal ideia. Contudo, amanhã o cenário tecnológico pode ser favorável a essas intervenções, sendo assim, o problema filosófico em questão é de ordem moral e gera uma implicação de ação prática:

Se um dia pudermos intervir para evitar o sofrimento desses animais, quais são as justificativas que temos para não intervir se não o preconceito a favor do status quo?

——————
Trabalho de aula cujo o objetivo era apresentar um problema filosófico, em no máximo mil palavras, para a disciplina de Introdução à Filosofia do curso de Filosofia da UFRGS

  

The Basic Argument for Veganism [draft]

Most people believe that inflicting unnecessary suffering or killing is wrong. This common sense morality also implies that each and every one of us should be vegan. This argument is known as The Basic Argument for Veganism (BV), and goes as something like this:

P₁ It is wrong to inflict unnecessary suffering or to kill without a good reason.

P₂ Some non-human animals can suffer and be killed.


It is wrong to inflict unnecessary suffering or to kill without a good reason some non-human animals.

Someone trying to dismiss the inclusion of some non-human animals on this concern could argue that they don't feel pain, they are not sentient beings.

I won't argue against this directly, because it is common sense and scientifically proven that at least some non-human animals can experience physical and psychological pain — e.g., cows, chicken, pigs, dogs, cats, etc. So this counter-argument may work for some kinds of animals, but for most of the animals that we exploit, this doesn't follow.

The other way to try to dismiss it, is by saying that that BV is poorly defined, that we don't know what it is meant by "unnecessary" or "without a good reason".

Well, we don't need to create a perfect definition of what "necessity" and "a good reason" mean in this context, we just need to know what people usually would think of as an unnecessary or bad reason for inflicting suffering or killing and to see if it also applies to the way we usually treat animals. What kinds of motives people would regard as unnecessary or as a bad reason for inflicting suffering or killing? All people would agree that inflicting suffering or killing for pleasure, amusement or convenience is wrong, or else they would be condoning rape, sadistic torture and slavery.

But most of the suffering and killing of animals is done for pleasure, amusement or convenience. For example, since we don't need to eat animal products to survive, it isn't necessary to inflict the suffering and killing that factory farms and other forms of animal exploitation usually require.

Thus, common sense morality implies The Basic Argument for Veganism. Just for the sake of clarity, we could rewrite it as follow:

P₁ It is wrong to inflict suffering or to kill any sentient being only for pleasure, amusement or convenience.

P₂ Some non-human animals are sentient, i.e., capable of suffering.


It is wrong to inflict suffering or to kill non-human animals that are sentient, i.e., capable of suffering, only for pleasure, amusement or convenience.