What is race? Is race based on biological facts, social facts, or is it simply made up? Does race matter? Should race matter?
What is the value of art?
Does art have any intrinsic value? Does value of art go beyond mere entertainment? If so, what else gives art value? Is some art actually better than other art, or is the quality of a work of art just a matter of personal taste? How important is art to a well-lived life or a good society? Should the government support the arts or should artists be expected to compete for support in the free market? What are the pros and cons of each alternative means of financial support? What role should the arts play in education?
Sometimes there are conflicts between scientific progress and ethics. Should scientists care about the ethical implications of their research? Should scientific progress ever be halted on the basis of ethical concerns? Should scientists have ethical training? If so, what would their ethical training be like? How should scientists respond to ethical concerns when there is so much controversy about what is ethical and what is not ethical? How can anyone know what is ethically acceptable and what is ethically wrong when there is deep disagreement? If there is deep disagreement, with no uncontroversial position in sight, why should scientists try to satisfy ethicists?
What are we? Are we just complex physical organisms with brains, or do we also have a soul? Is there a fundamental aspect of our identity that cannot be explained by the physical sciences? If there is a fundamental aspect of our identity that cannot be explained by the physical sciences, is that a good reason to accept a non-physical explanation? Is it possible that we survive, in some form, after the death and total destruction of our bodies? Would life after death require the existence of a soul? Is there any evidence for souls, or is belief in souls based on hope (or fear)?
How should we live? What are the fundamental components of a well-lived life?
Happiness? Financial success? Independence? Developing an accurate understanding of reality? Making a deep and sustained positive impact on the world? Should we care about future generations of people with whom we have no personal relationship? How much of our time and energy should we spend on people with whom we do not have a close friendship? Should we be living with an emphasis on the future or with an emphasis on the present?
What does it take to be a great leader? In this issue of THE QUESTION, we have six interesting guests to help get the discussion started.
Dr. Sharon Ryan (WVU Philosophy Chairperson and Creator of THE QUESTION) and Dr. JoNell Strough (WVU Psychology Professor and Coordinator of the Life-Span Developmental Program at WVU) sat down to dissuss “What is Intelligence?”
Can God Forgive?
Divine forgiveness is an important element in most major religions. But can a supremely perfect and divine being actually forgive? Forgiveness often involves learning new information, reversing a moral judgment about a person, changing one’s mind, or giving up on resentment. Those attitudes appear in conflict with a perfect God. It looks as though a perfect God could not forgive. Let’s take a close look at the argument against divine forgiveness and see if there’s any way to make sense of divine forgiveness. Please note that this puzzle is intended as a puzzle for a divine being who is: all knowing, all loving, all powerful, and wholly good. This puzzle is not aimed at imperfect deities.
On March 28, I (Sharon Ryan, creator of THE QUESTION) had a great time philosophizing with Ms. Ami Measer?s 9th grade English classes at Lancaster High School, in Lancaster, NY. (Lancaster is near Buffalo.) We discussed the following list of questions, and the class is going to blog in and share their ideas. Please share your own ideas in the blog!
Some people in the United States have the right to vote and some do not. Over time, some excluded groups, such as women and African-Americans, fought for the right to vote and won it.
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