Monday, June 27, 2011

Routledge Handbook

The Routledge Handbook of Human Rights, edited by Thomas Cushman, will be published this summer.  The book includes my essay “The Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Rights.”  If you have a spare $180, do pick up a copy.  Otherwise, you might look for it in your nearest academic library.

12 comments:

Daniel Smith said...

I guess I'll just keep posting my question in every new thread until Ed (or someone else) takes a stab at it:

If teleology is inherent in nature (even if God put it there), doesn't it logically follow then that nature could continue to exist even if God ceases to exist?

Anyone?

Solomons Chariots said...

Hi Daniel,

I'm not exactly qualified in anyway to answer your question, but I think there are several ways in which that wouldn't neccesarily follow.

Firstly, I would think that while teleology is necessary for nature to exist, it would not be sufficient. If God were to cease to exist there would be a cessation in other things that are necessary to exist (source of being, motion, efficient causes etc... Feser outlines several of these other dependencies in Aquinas ). So even if inherent teleology could continue without God's continual existence, it actually wouldn't, because that would rely on other aspects of existence which neccessarily rely on God's continual existence to be in effect.

Secondly, it's not clear that the inherent teleology in nature doesn't all point to God in some way. There are two ways this could happen, 1) it needs to points to God, so does and 2)it doesn't need to point to God, but everything that exists does anyway. In either situation, it would not logically follow that nature continues to exist if their was a cessation of God.

Thirdly, I would suggest that there are different ways and levels in which we could say that teleology was inherent in nature. Pinpointing exactly in which way we can say this is important, and it doesn't necessarily follow that nature continues to exist without God if teleology in inherent (I have suggested two such ways above).

Anyway, that's my uneducated (unEDucated?) musing on your question.

Edward Feser said...

Daniel,

Briefly, the answer is No, though I'm not sure why you'd think it does follow. Compare: If something is a Euclidean triangle, then necessarily it has angles that add up to 180 degrees. Still, a Euclidean triangle (like anything else) could not from an A-T point of view persist in existence even for an instant without God's sustaining activity (by conjoining its essence and existence, etc.).

Similarly, if something is an acorn, then necessarily it points beyond itself to the oak it is inherently "directed toward" becoming. That is, necessarily, or of its nature, it exhibits teleology. All the same, the acorn couldn't exist even for an instant if God weren't sustaining it in being.

In general, to say "X necessarily has Y given its nature" simply doesn't entail "X can exist without God." It entails only "If God is causing X to exist, then necessarily He is thereby causing something with Y to exist" (where Y in this case is some teleological feature).

mpresley said...

$180.00? Better to opt for the e-book download. That's only $180.00. And I can't even wait to find out how much the paperback will be. Probably $180.00.

Anonymous said...

So what are the metaphysical foundations of natural rights? :)

(my guess is that the answer has something to do with A-T essentialism)

Solomon's Chariots said...

Hi Anonymous (June 27, 2011 8:39 PM)


You can find the metaphysical foundations of natural rights in Ed Feser's Article Classical Natural Law Theory, Property Rights, and Taxation :
https://portfolio.du.edu/portfolio/getportfoliofile?uid=157552

In this article is found a section specifically dealing with the Metaphysical Foundations. :)

Daniel Smith said...

Ed: "Briefly, the answer is No, though I'm not sure why you'd think it does follow."

Well, my position is that the teleology we observe in nature is inherent in God - not in nature - thus if God ceases to exist, so does the teleology. This was part of a longer question I asked in the On Aristotle, Aquinas, and Paley: A Reply to Marie George thread.

"If God is causing X to exist, then necessarily He is thereby causing something with Y to exist" (where Y in this case is some teleological feature).

But then isn't Y just as dependent on God as X? And, if so, how can it be said that Y is "inherent in" X?

I guess my difficulty is in understanding how teleology is different from existence in that respect. IOW, how could anything have properties (including teleology) that are not completely dependent upon God for their existence?

I hope you understand my dilemma! I'm sure this is Philosophy 101 to most here, but my mind is not wrapped around it yet.

Thanks for answering though!!

Edward Feser said...

Hello Daniel,

No one denies that every property is completely dependent on God for its existence. For example, when I said that any Euclidean triangle necessarily has angles that equal 180 degrees -- as I assume you'll agree -- I was hardly denying that nothing could have angles equaling 180 degrees unless God were sustaining it in being. Indeed, I explicitly affirmed this.

Similarly, when I say that nothing could be an acorn (say) unless it had the final causality typical of acorns, I am not denying that the existence of that sort of final causality depends on God. Just as "being a Euclidean triangle" entails "having angles that add up to 180 degrees," without this entailing that anything could exist with angles adding up to 180 degrees apart from God's sustaining action, so too "being an acorn" entails "having the final causality typical of acorns," without this entailing that anything could exist with that final causality apart from God's sustaining action.

Anonymous said...

How can God "cease to exist"? I don't think that is even possible, given what we know about God.

~ Mark

Interstellar Bill said...

Unfortunately the phrase 'Human Rights' has been so inflated by the Left that such a handbook would for the sake of philosophical competance have to include extensive refutations of such notions as 'Gay Rights'.

As for Gay So-Called Marriage, just imagine two fraternal twins separated at birth and unknowingly falling in love as adults. If they're same-sex then finding out their siblinghood would only enhance the occasion, while you know what happens to the brother-sister case.

The only thing to say about 'Civil Rights', for another example, is that whatever Big Govt. grants it can as easily take away. We never needed that act of Congress in 1964, merely the enforcement of the Constitution, namely its guarantee that states have a republican form of government, which would necessarily ban race-based laws and regulations (such as zoning-out black restaurants), as well as gerrymandering.

In general, you don't have a right to do wrong and you don't have a right to unearned property.

Thus I would hope to find numerous articles in this Handbook that address the rampant philosophical abuse of the entire concept of rights.

Daniel Smith said...

Hi Ed,

My original inspiration for this discussion was the following statement from your Teleology: A Shopper’s Guide paper:

"Platonic teleological realism holds that the irreducible teleology manifest in nature is extrinsic, entirely derivative from an outside source. Natural
phenomena as such are not teleological, but they have been ordered to certain ends by (say) a divine mind."


I brought up (again in the other thread) how I felt that the Fifth Way was dependent upon the teleology we observe in nature not being "of nature" but being "of God".

I also expressed some question as to how the Platonic view equates with ID.

I really wish we could have discussed these topics in that thread when it was fresh in my mind!

james said...

Interstellar Bill: "imagine two fraternal twins separated at birth and unknowingly falling in love as adults. If they're same-sex then finding out their siblinghood would only enhance the occasion”

What? I haven’t the faintest idea what you’re talking about. I can’t imagine why finding out that one’s inamorat(o|a) were a sibling would be a welcome occurrence for gay or for straight persons. Why would the occasion be “enhanced”?

“We never needed that act of Congress in 1964, merely the enforcement of the Constitution, namely its guarantee that states have a republican form of government, which would necessarily ban race-based laws and regulations”

Whether or not you believe that civil rights legislation is morally proper, the above statement is patently false—there is nothing in article four of the constitution that bars race-based laws and regulations. The particular section which guarantees “a republican form of government” doesn’t even specify what that means, let alone explicitly bar those kind of laws.