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Philosophical Conundrums

The most entertaining and intriguing philosophical paradoxes, dilemmas, and problems.

Paradoxes of Eubulides
A large collection of paradoxes has been collected throughout the history of philosophy. Along with Zeno of Elea, the ancient Greek philosopher Eubulides of Miletus (fourth century B.C.) is perhaps the most re-known discoverer of logical paradoxes. To him are attributed four of the most discussed arguments: the liar’s paradox, the sorites...

Past, Present, and Future
Time is a central and classical theme in philosophy. It can be taken up from several angles, including epistemology (how do we know of the existence of a past or a future?), phenomenology (the time lived and perceived as opposed to external time), philosophy of language (the relevance of tenses in communication), philosophy of mind (e.g. time...

The Liar Paradox
The paradoxicality of certain sentences involving liars has been known for a long time, and in Western philosophy it dates back to the Ancient Greek period. In this article we will concentrate on the formulation of the paradox and some of its implications for the concept of truth, rather than its solutions.

Theodicy and the Problem of Evil
The God of monotheistic religions is said to be infinitely good and infinitely powerful. But, if so, why did God tolerate that there is evil in the world for which no one can apparently be blamed? This is, in a nutshell, the so-called "problem of evil," which gives rise to the quest of justifying our "discourse about God," that is of justifying God’s work in light of our own conception of God.

The Liar Paradox: Solutions
That certain sentences involving liars are paradoxical has been known for a long time. Perhaps the earliest written formulation of the liar paradox within Western philosophy dates back to the Ancient Greek period: it is due to Eubulides of Miletus, author of several other important logical paradoxes too. If a person says that she is a liar, is what she’s saying true or false? Suppose it’s true: then the person is not a liar; but then it’s actually false that she is a liar. If instead what the person is saying is false, then she is a liar; but then what she is saying is true. Either way, we reach conclusions that seem – literally – incredible; that’s the mark of paradoxicality. In this article we will concentrate on the solutions to the paradox.

Free Will
At the center of human agency lies a terrifically simple question: "Am I free?" The problem of free will is the problem of providing an answer to such question that seems able to stand on its feet. The history of philosophy, in all its traditions, written and oral, is rich in attempts at solving the problem of free will. Here we shall survey...

Problems for Realism
Nominalism and Realism are the two most distinguished positions in western metaphysics dealing with the fundamental categories of reality. From the millenary debate between supporters of those two opposed camps spurred some of the most puzzling problems in metaphysics. Here we shall review the problems with realism, that are no less hard than...

Problems for Nominalism
Nominalism and Realism are the two most distinguished positions in western metaphysics dealing with the fundamental categories of reality. From the millenary debate between supporters of those two opposed camps spurred some of the most puzzling problems in metaphysics. Here we shall review the problems with nominalism, that are no less hard than...

The Ethics of Lying
Is lying ever morally permissible? While lying can been seen as a threat to civil society, there seem to be several instances in which lying seems the most intuitively moral option. Besides, if a sufficiently broad definition of "lying" is adopted, it seems utterly impossible to escape lies, either because of instances of self-deception of...

Self-Knowledge in a Cartesian Perspective
Descartes famously affirmed the centrality of the first-person in philosophy. Self-consciousness, to him, is the place from within our understanding of metaphysics and epistemology (and derivatively ethics, aesthetics, and all other philosophical endeavors) ultimately rest. I know that I exist, I am certain of it as I cannot fail to recognizing myself as thinking without actually being thinking; everything else follows.

The Self
The idea of a self plays a central role in Western philosophy as well as in the Indian and other major traditions. Three main types of views of the self can be discerned. One moves from Kant’s conception of rationally autonomous self, another from the so-called homo-economicus theory, of Aristotelian descent. Both those types of views theorize...

Knowledge by Evidence
Most of our knowledge has been learned through testimony. Yet, while testimony is crucial to take up large social enterprises, it has also evident shortcomings, that I have discussed in a separate article. In opposition to knowledge by testimony, we tend to consider what we learn from evidence as being more reliable. Evidence, that is, is central to our own justificatory epistemic practices: we have reasons to believe claims only in the presence of appropriate evidence.

Procrastination and Philosophy
It’s been a while I wanted to write this piece on procrastination, since when I was first inspired by "The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging, and Postponing" (2012, Workman Publishing Company), authored by John R. Perry, Henry Waldgrave Stuart Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University and Distinguished Professor at University of California, Riverside. That was nearly a year ago. I could not get to write this piece for some time. It seemed too important, Perry would probably suggest. But now I found some other important items to replace the commitment to write this article. So I might as well just get it done today.

Boundaries and Philosophy
Boundaries are quirk entities. Their existence depends on the existence of spatially extended entities: if there were no extended entities, there would be no boundaries and boundaries exist only as the most external components of extended entities. Furthermore, boundaries are one-dimensional entities. Although our everyday business makes often reference to boundaries, metaphysically speaking they are peculiar. For instance, you cannot physically split a boundary and you cannot penetrate or grab hold of it. This simple properties of boundaries lead to some serious problems for our conception of reality.

The Enigmas of Possibility
Possibility is a central topic in contemporary and classical metaphysics. It is often taken up along with necessity. Since the two of them represent two modes of existence of an entity, possibility and necessity are also said modalities – to be more exact, they are alethic modalities, that is they are those modalities that pertain to truth and falsity.

The Paradox of Tragedy
How is it possible that human beings can derive pleasure from unpleasant states? This is the question addressed by Hume in his essay "On Tragedy," which lies at the heart of a long-standing philosophical discussion on tragedy. Take horror movies, for instance. Some people are terrified while watching them, or they don’t sleep for days; so, whey are they doing it, why stay in front of the screen for an horror movie?

Philosophy of Progress
The tendency to devise patterns of progress seems to be deeply eradicated within human beings. Just ponder your recent past: how many times have you been led to believe, or at least hope, you made progress over the past few years, be it at riding a bike, understanding matters of finance, loving your loved ones? Statesmen aim for the progress of their people, coaches for the progress of their teams, scientists for the progress of their insight into worldly phenomena...

What Cannot Be Mapped?
Can everything be mapped? Are there relationships among states of affairs or ideas that cannot be represented through a static relationship? To try and answer these questions, we shall first say something about maps.

The Philosophy of Sex and Gender
Is it customary to divide human beings among male and female, men and women; yet, this dimorphism proves to be also ill-taken, for instance when it comes to intersex (e.g. hermaphrodite) or transgendered individuals. It becomes hence legitimate to wonder whether sexual categories are real or rather conventional kinds, how gender categories get...

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