Second Life, an on-line, interactive environment in which users create avatars through which they have virtual experiences, is a contemporary experiment in utopia. While most often it is used for social networking, it also is used for commercial and educational purposes, as well as for political activism. Here, we share the results from a course that uses Second Life as a tool for examining social justice. We examine the notion of utopia, present the results of a pre- and post-survey designed (...) to measure the effectiveness of our Second Life course, and relate insights gleaned from the centerpiece assignment of the course that required students to construct proposals for how $200 best could be spent in Second Life to promote social justice. Finally, we demonstrate how Second Life can be a helpful classroom tool for examining John Rawls’s influential utopian work, A Theory of Justice. (shrink)
Because playing along involves pretence, it is liable to be seen as an objectionable form of deception. In this paper, however, I argue that it is a virtue based on its role in creating and sustaining valuable relationships. According to William of Ockham and Michelle de Montaigne, to love another as a true friend is to will as he or she wills. Given that even the most like-minded individuals often will different things, there is need for a meta-level, at which (...) one can validate the will of the other without actually willing it oneself. This is what it is to play along. (shrink)
William of Ockham was tried for heresy due to his assertion that certain qualities can exist independently of substances. Scholars have assumed he made thisstrange assertion in order to account for the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation. I argue, however, that the assertion was philosophically rather than theologically motivated. Ockham develops a nominalist substance ontology, according to which most changes can be explained as the result of local motion. Knowledge and virtue are changes in human beings that cannot be so explained, (...) however, because they are not entirely passive processes. In fact, knowledge and virtue require free will, which could not be considered truly free if it were not an independently existing quality. In this paper, I explain Ockham’s nominalist substance ontology and show how it functions as the sine qua non foundation for his uncompromising commitment to metaphysical libertarianism. (shrink)
This work criticises Thomas Aquinas’s "Fifth Way," also known as the teleological proof of the existence of God. The author argues that if God existed, one would expect human beings to be well-designed. But it is evident by comparing ourselves to cartoon characters that we are not well-designed. Therefore, God does not exist.
Realism and conventionalism generally establish the parameters of debate over universals. Do abstract terms in language refer to abstract things in the world? The realist answers yes, leaving us with an inflated ontology; the conventionalist answers no, leaving us with subjective categories. I want to defend nominalism in its original medieval sense, as one possibility that aims to preserve objectivity while positing nothing more than concrete individuals in the world. First, I will present paradigmatic statements of realism and conventionalism as (...) developed by Russell and Strawson. Then, I will present the nominalist alternative as developed by William of Ockham. (shrink)