Entries by Colin McGinn

Explanations of Life

        Explanations of Life     Suppose we encounter life forms on another planet unrelated to ours and possibly quite unlike ours. Still, there is evident adaptive complexity, so that the laws of physics and chance cannot explain what we observe. What possible explanation might be given for this complexity? How might […]

Plurality and the Big Bang

          Plurality and the Big Bang     It is said that the big bang created space and time—they did not exist beforehand. Thus something existed (a “singularity”) before space and time existed; and it was some sort of empirical particular not an abstract entity. It is generally conceived as superhot […]

Why Sex?

Why Did Sex Evolve?     Some reproduction is sexual and some is asexual. There is no biological necessity about sexual reproduction, despite its prevalence. How could there be any such necessity, given that the basic principle of evolutionary biology is just that organisms are designed to maximize the presence of their genes in later […]

Injustice

Injustice     Injustice directed towards an individual creates a specific psychological response. This response includes anger at the perpetrator, moral indignation, resentment, a sense of futility, a desire for revenge, disillusionment, and general malaise. It can shape a person’s entire life, and destroy his or her wellbeing permanently. The injustice can be of two […]

Evolutionary Causation

Evolutionary Causation     Evolution is a causal process. But it is a causal process unlike any other. It is a causal process in which the effect vastly exceeds the cause, and indeed (in a loose sense) contradicts the cause. The most obvious point is that the effect is much more complex than the cause: […]

Distinctions and Difference

      Distinctions and Differences     There is distinction in the world and distinction in the mind: things differ and so do concepts. States of affairs differ and thoughts about them differ. But how are these distinctions related? Are they dependent or independent? Clearly there can be objective distinctions that are not mirrored […]

Beauty and Objectification

      Beauty and Objectification     Beauty can be found in both people and things. In the case of people it is connected to sexual desire, while not so in the case of things. One finds the object of one’s desire beautiful, but one doesn’t desire all the things one finds beautiful. I […]

Platonic Pragmatism

        Platonic Pragmatism     The pragmatic theory of truth has this going for it: it recognizes that truth is something with value. Truth is something we ought to pursue and hence has a normative aspect. It is good to believe what is true and bad to believe what is false. Truth […]