Monday, December 31, 2012

Aquinas versus Newton?

Does Newton’s law of inertia undermine Aquinas’s First Way?  The short answer is No.  I gave a longer answer at pp. 76-79 of Aquinas.  I give a much longer answer still in my paper “The Medieval Principle of Motion and the Modern Principle of Inertia,” which I presented last year at the American Catholic Philosophical Association meeting in St. Louis and which is now available online in Volume 10 of the Proceedings of the Society for Medieval Logic and Metaphysics.  Follow the link to read the paper, which is followed by a response from Michael Rota and my rejoinder to Mike.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Trabbic on TLS

Philosopher Joseph Trabbic kindly reviews The Last Superstition in the latest issue of the Saint Austin Review.  From the review:

[This] is no ordinary book of apologetics.  Edward Feser is a professional philosopher of an analytic bent whose main body of work is in the fields of philosophy of mind, moral and political philosophy, philosophy of religion, and economic theory.  Thus, alongside a number of scholarly articles, Feser has published introductory volumes to contemporary philosophy of mind, John Locke, Robert Nozick, and, most recently, Thomas Aquinas.  He has edited the Cambridge Companion to Hayek (the Austro-British economist and philosopher) as well.  Feser’s qualifications allow him to prosecute his case with a philosophical sophistication that is not found in many apologetic treatises.  One might say that as a Christian apologist Feser is overqualified

Monday, December 24, 2012

Nagel and his critics, Part VI

We’ve been looking at the critics of Thomas Nagel’s recent book Mind and Cosmos.  Having examined the objections raised by Brian Leiter and Michael Weisberg, Elliott Sober, Alva Noë, and John Dupré, I want to turn now to some interesting remarks made by Eric Schliesser in a series of posts on Nagel over at the New APPS blog.  Schliesser’s comments concern, first, the way the scientific revolution is portrayed by Nagel’s critics, and second, the role the Principle of Sufficient Reason plays in Nagel’s book.  Most recently, in response to my own series of posts, Schliesser has also commented on the status of naturalism in contemporary philosophy.  Let’s look at each of these sets of remarks in turn.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Claremont Christmas Reading

The Claremont Institute has posted its annual recommended Christmas reading list, to which I’ve contributed.  You can read my recommendations here.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Nagel and his critics, Part V

Our look at the critics of Thomas Nagel’s Mind and Cosmos brings us now to philosopher of science John Dupré, whose review of the book appeared in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.  The review is pretty harsh.  At his kindest Dupré says he found the book “frustrating and unconvincing.”  Less kind is the remark that “as far as an attack that might concern evolutionists, they will feel, to borrow the fine phrase of former British minister, Dennis Healey, as if they had been savaged by a sheep.”

The remark is not only unkind but unjust.  At the beginning of his review, Dupré gives the impression that Nagel is attacking neo-Darwinian evolutionary biology per se.  Dupré writes: 

Darwinism, neo- or otherwise, is an account of the relations between living things past and present and of their ultimate origins, full of fascinating problems in detail, but beyond any serious doubt in general outline.  This lack of doubt derives not, as Nagel sometimes insinuates, from a prior commitment to a metaphysical view -- there are theistic Darwinists as well as atheistic, naturalists and supernaturalists -- but from overwhelming evidence from a variety of sources: biogeography, the fossil record, comparative physiology and genomics, and so on.  Nagel offers no arguments against any of this, and indeed states explicitly that he is not competent to do so.  His complaint is that there are some explanatory tasks that he thinks evolution should perform that he thinks it can't.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Review of Gazzaniga

My review of Michael Gazzaniga’s recent book Who’s In Charge? Free Will and the Science of the Brain appears in the Fall 2012 issue of the Claremont Review of Books.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Haldane on Aquinas, Anscombe, and much else

3:AM Magazine has posted a long and highly substantive interview with Analytical Thomist philosopher John Haldane.  Lots of interesting stuff in it, so give it a read.  (The discussion of idealism in the second part of the interview recapitulates some important points Haldane has made about Berkeley elsewhere, and which I commented on in the course of my talk at Franciscan University of Steubenville last year.)

The interviewer characterizes John as "the P Daddy of the philosophy of religion" -- and here we all thought he was a Madness fan! 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Gonzaga lectures online

Back in February of 2011, I gave a pair of lectures at the Faith and Reason Institute at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA.  I had no idea until just the other day that the lectures are available on YouTube and apparently have been for some time.  (I thank the anonymous reader who called this to my attention.)  You can view them here: