Getting an ought from an is


0. Introduction

In the Treatise of Human Nature, Hume outlined the ‘is-ought’ problem, sometimes referred to as ‘Hume’s Guillotine’. The idea is that it is not possible to argue validly from ‘descriptive’ statements (about how things are) to ‘normative’ conclusions (about how things ought to be). 

Hume describes how he often notices a change that takes place when he is reading certain passages on moral philosophy:

“I am surprised to find, that instead of the usual copulations of propositions, is, and is not, I meet with no proposition that is not connected with an ought, or an ought not. This change is imperceptible; but is, however, of the last consequence” (Section 3.1.1)

Examples of this switch include the move from 1 to 2 in the following examples:


  1. X makes people happy
  2. Therefore, people ought to do X


  1. God commands people to do…

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Debunking The Holocaust Denial Documentary Judea Declares War on Germany (Part 1)

via Debunking The Holocaust Denial Documentary Judea Declares War on Germany (Part 1)


Fight Club: Jordan Peterson vs. Cathy Newman

She constantly repeats the phrase “So you’re saying” and goes on to fully misrepresent what he just said.

Why Evolution Is True

The first rule of Fight Club is to prepare for Fight Club.

This video, in which journalist Cathy Newman interviews psychologist Jordan B. Peterson on Britain’s Channel 4, is an object lesson in how NOT to do an interview, even though I found the exchange entertaining. Newman didn’t do her homework, and her conversation is motivated not by curiosity or an attempt to draw out the subject, but to attack him—without ammunition. Newman fails because she’s angry and invested in her narrative, leading her to ignore what Peterson says (she makes some of her arguments over and over again) and to constantly mischaracterize his views.

As I’ve said before, I don’t have a well-formed opinion about Peterson, because I haven’t spent a lot of time listening to him. I know he’s religious and doesn’t like New Atheists, which turns me off; but on other issues, like the ones in this discussion…

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Alex Jones is either a clever poe or a delusional nutjob.

via Debunking Alex Jones and Wolfgang Halbig’s ludicrous Sandy Hook Conspiracy Theories


#192 – Get Your Life Back Now

via #192 – Get Your Life Back Now


How big was the human population bottleneck? Another staple of theology refuted.

Why Evolution Is True

A new paper in Nature by Heng Li and Richard Durbin contains estimates of the “effective population size” of our ancestors at different points in evolutionary time. (Effective population size isn’t the same as census size, as it reflects things like unequal sex ratios—unlikely in our ancestors—or variation in family size, but it’s probably not too far off.)  These are the best estimates of our demographic history to date, as they rest on fewer assumptions than previous methods, and have been validated by computer simulation studies.  They bear not only on what happened when early humans were in Africa and then left Africa, but also on our recurrent discussion of the scientific evidence that absolutely rebuts the Adam and Eve story.

The data come from “coalescent” models—estimates of the time in the past at which two copies of genes from different people, or from the same person, last shared a…

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