March 19 2012: Week in Review

New and noteworthy philosophy from around the web. Global atheism, religious humans, faith as a delusion, slippery slopes, republicans and linguistics, evidence for bigfoot, moral monsters, JFK, existential psychology.

calendar_smMichael Shermer reports global atheism at about 2% of the population.

A possible explanation for such low numbers for atheism may be grounded in human nature itself. Christian Smith, sociology professor at Notre Dame, wrote an article for First Things titled, “Man the Religious Animal” in which he argues that the religious impulse is natural for humans which puts the prospects for secularism at a distinct disadvantage socially (thanks to Greg Taft for the pointer). Smith’s thesis could be viewed as relatively uncontroversial when we consider the fact that many non-theists would agree and are studying the matter (Dennett, Barrett, Boyer, Becker). Does the fact of this impulse lend any weight to arguments that God exists? Michael Murray and Jeffrey Schloss recently tackled this question at the Bellingham Lectures in Philosophy and Religion. Philosophy News will publishing an interview with Drs. Murray and Schloss on this question.

Peter Boghossian released a trailer for a talk he gave at Portland State University in November of 2011. He claims that faith-based beliefs are delusional and that faith is a process that is unreliable when it comes to getting one closer to the truth.

On the problem of understanding slippery slopes (thanks to Andrew Smith for the pointer)

Latest Republican debate focused on semantic meaning. (Grabbed this gem from Brian Leiter’s blog.) “For perhaps the first time in this year’s primary debates, Romney found himself allied with Paul, arguing that the semantic deference component of Obama’s theory was unnecessary.  ”How experts use words such as ‘arthritis’ or ‘elm’ will naturally influence how the rest of us use those terms,” he claimed.”

Do you believe? Here’s a new bigfoot video with indisputable evidence for the creature . . .

We posted a piece on Howard Darmstadter take on Steven Pinker’s moral philosophy for Philosophy Now. The article touches on the question, “What obligations do those with means have to help those without basic necessities?”

Rick Pimentel looked at epistemological challenges surrounding conspiracy theories. Who was behind the murder of JFK?

Philosophy News welcomes the Existential Psychoanalytic Institute of Seattle as an advertising partner. Check out their 2-year certification program in existential psychoanalysis and phenomenology.

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