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Unpleasant Philisophical Positions

July 28, 2014

I think many people believe things because of wishful thinking, or because if those things were true, it might encourage better behavior.

Free will – I don’t believe in free will. It just doesn’t mesh with the rest of physics. It would be nice if we could control our decisions in some metaphysical sense, but it seems implausible.

Permanence of the self – Every moment you die. You 5 years from now will be just as alien to you as another person. Each second is fleeting and forever lost. People care a lot about what happens to them in the future, and sure, you should care by the degree to which you’d care about the welfare of anyone. However, the you of the future isn’t the same person as the you of now. You can’t cross the same river twice, etc.

Meaninglessness of life – Life is meaningless, in the sense that there is no one meaning. You’re born, you live for awhile, and you die. Everyone winds up dead eventually. Although we can make our mark on the world, the world will eventually burn away when the sun explodes. I’m not depressed about this or anything, but it seems obviously true.

Existence of God – While there could be some sort of higher power, the idea of an active God who listens to prayers and intervenes in the world on behalf of people seems completely silly. All holy books were clearly written by human beings and show no sign of divine inspiration. They often advocate poorly thought out archaic moral principles, which if were every followed would result in the collapse of civilization. Generally, anyone saying “God thinks people should do X” is really saying “I think people should do X, but I want it to sound important”.

Utilitarianism – Bryan Caplan argues against utilitarianism by citing the argument from hypocracy objecting. Basically no one is moral enough to fully adhere to utilitarianism, therefore it’s wrong. Just because no one could actually live perfectly devoted to others doesn’t mean it’s not the right thing to do. Just because no one can run 100 mph doesn’t mean that Olympic runners will stop trying to run faster.

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