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Descartes’ Physics

[Revised entry by Edward Slowik on October 15, 2021. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] While Rene Descartes (1596 - 1650) is well-known as one of the founders of modern philosophy, his influential role in the development of modern physics has been, until the later half of the twentieth century, generally under-appreciated and under-investigated by both historians and philosophers of science. Not only did Descartes provide the first distinctly modern formulation of laws of nature and a conservation principle of motion, but he also constructed what would become the most popular theory of planetary motion of the [More]

Hello! I'd like to ask about syllogisms. I have a particular problem when

Logic Read another response about LogicRead another response by Stephen MaitzenShare Hello! I'd like to ask about syllogisms. I have a particular problem when understanding this certain syllogism: Some girls are single. Some girls are sad. Therefore, some girls are single and sad. While I think it is valid, I cannot fully make an accurate explanation as to why it is. Hoping somebody could help me. [More]

Puzzling Conditional Obligations

If you make a promise (and haven't been released from it), then you're obliged to keep your promise.  The obligation is, in a sense, conditional. Note that you've no moral reason to go around making extra promises just so that you can keep them.  Keeping promises isn't a good to be promoted in this way.  (We might instead think that keeping a promise is neutral, while breaking one is bad.)It's natural to think that obligations that are in this way "conditional" should mimic this axiological structure: being bad to violate, but neutral between complying and cancelling. For if they were positively good to comply with, that reason would seem to transmit up the conditional and yield us an unconditional reason to get yourself into a position where the obligation (applies and) can be met.With this in mind, the following putatively conditional obligations begin to look puzzling:(1) The obligation of the rich to donate significant amounts of money to charity.Giving to charity is straightforwardly good.  So there's just as much reason to become rich in order to give more to charity, as there is to give to charity once already rich. (I think Peter Unger was the first to make this point?)  For a concrete illustration, suppose a talented young person is choosing between two life paths: (i) a struggling artist earning $40k and donating 10% of it, or (ii) a financial trader earning $500k per year and donating just 1% of it.  People in [More]