Sunday, August 28, 2016

Learn it, live it, link it


The Best Schools has posted its list of the 50 most influential living philosophers.

New from R. R. Reno: Resurrecting the Idea of a Christian Society.  A podcast with Reno about the book at National Review, a video interview at YouTube, and a print interview at Christian Post.

Is the brain a computer?  Philosopher of biology John Wilkins answers “No.” And physicist Edward Witten doesn’t think science will explain consciousness.  Scientific American reports.

Henri de Lubac, Thomas Aquinas, and the debate over “Pure Nature”: The blog.

William Lane Craig recently gave a pair of lectures at Mundelein Seminary.  Video of the lectures is available at Brandon Vogt’s website.

Science fiction writer Michael Flynn has been blogging the Crusades.  (No, not live-blogging.  At least, I don’t think so…)

Daniel Dennett is not keen on much of contemporary philosophy.




The Chronicle of Higher Education on Tom Wolfe on Chomsky.

At The Hollywood Reporter: Roy Thomas, Stan Lee’s successor as editor-in-chief, recounts what life was like at Marvel Comics in the 1960s.

I’ll give you four nickels for a paradigm.  NPR’s Cosmos and Culture blog reflects on Thomas Kuhn’s key concept. Then there’s the recently published anthology Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions at Fifty, edited by Robert J. Richards and Lorraine Daston.

At Commentary, Terry Teachout asks: Is Rock’n’roll here to stay?

Born that way?  A new study indicates otherwise, reports Ryan Anderson at The Stream.  Meanwhile, John Skalko discusses homosexuality and bad arguments at Public Discourse.


Cardinal Raymond Burke argues that Islam is not politically compatible with Western society.  And at The Catholic Thing, philosopher Howard Kainz compares Islamic moral teaching to the Ten Commandments

Then, at Public Discourse, philosopher Joseph Trabbic offers a Thomistic perspective on Muslim immigration.


A two-part article by Sherif Girgis on Catholicism and contraception, also at Public Discourse (here and here). 

Not unrelated: At The Federalist, David Harsanyi argues that having lots of children is good for the planet.

At National Review, Andrew Stuttaford on Clive James on Mad Men.

163 comments:

Kiel said...

I quite enjoyed this. At Catholic World Report, Brian Jones says "along with philosopher R. J. Snell, that the greatest need of our time, the greatest act of mercy, will be nothing other than “an education in metaphysics.”"

Michele Arpaia said...

You may not be in the top 50 but you are one of the most serious, intellectual honest, and best Thomist living philosopher.
With unchanged conditional love ;-)

Anonymous said...

Really?

"None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself." - Muhammad

If this so-called researcher couldn't find this very famous saying as an example of the golden rule, how could one really trust any interpretation of his?

Agnostic Would Like to Get Thomas said...

Anonymous,

Yes there's a lot of admirable things Muhammad said.

But what about what he did ?

I know for the truce he settled after he took Mecca, that's admirable as well, no problem.

But didn't he also exterminate entire Jew tribes ?

And what about the populations he enslaved ?

Just curious.

If you can change my mind, go for it. I'm just expecting some good, valid argumentation from you.

Anonymous said...

Didn't the Christians slaughter Muslim women and children in Jerusalem during the Crusades?

Didn't Christians torture Jews for the death of Jesus?

Just curious.

Absurd generalizations are just that.

There are plenty of resources out there that can explain these things better than me. When an atheist comes here and makes a caricature of the Cosmological argument for the existence of God, one tells them to go read up on the metaphysics of Aristotle or Aquinas which forms the foundation for it. Pointing out poor scholarship exhibited in a particular instance by an author doesn't entail me to counter all of his points. There are plenty of books out there on Muhammad's life such as "The Life of Muhammad" by Haykal or "Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources" by Martin Lings, and other sources by Western scholars on the religion such as Hamza Yusuf or Timothy Winter and many others who are far more knowledgeable than I am on the subject who can provide all of this information. This combox provided for the topic isn't relevant for it.

Geremia said...

Oderberg, Haldane, and MacIntyre made the list.

Is Putnam the only Peircean mentioned there?

iwpoe said...

Here's the full Mad Men article:

http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/features/the-way-we-werent-clive-james-mad-men-play-all

thefederalist said...

Anonymous at 6:46.

"Didn't the Christians slaughter Muslim women and children in Jerusalem during the Crusades?

Didn't Christians torture Jews for the death of Jesus?"

Some did. Christianity doesn't hold any one of them up as "the perfect man." Jesus Christ and Mohamed both expounded some version of the Golden Rule, and both are held up by the religions they founded as perfect men (stated as such, radically undersells Jesus Christ, by the way). So do we follow the religion that says "be like Jesus" or the one that says "be like Mohamed"?

I guess the advantage with Islam is that the bar is set low enough for anyone to clear. Even the Christians you adduce managed to live up to the Islamic standard.

Anonymous said...

"Perfection" is an attribute of God. To apply it to any human being is wrong in principle. So, while I'm sure there are Muslims who think Muhammad is the "perfect" man, such a designation is a reflection of becoming excessive in praise of the religion. Most Muslims think Muhammad is a man of eminent and noble character and so is worthy of following:

"And you (stand) on an exalted standard of character" [Q68:4]
"In the Messenger of God is a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one whose hope is in God and the Final Day, and who engages much in the praise of God." [Q33:21]

But at the same time:

"Say: We believe in God and that which had been revealed to us, and that which was revealed to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes, and that which was given to Moses and Jesus, and that which was given to the prophets from their Lord, we do not make any distinction between any of them, and to Him do we submit." [Q2:136]

"The messenger believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers; they all believe in God and His angels and His books and His messengers; We make no difference (Arabic: Nufarriqu) between any of His messengers; and they say: We hear and obey, our Lord! Thy forgiveness (do we crave), and to Thee is the eventual course." [Q2:285]

Muslims believe all messengers of God were of noble character, and were effectively "protected" from committing any major sins. So they do not believe Lot got drunk and committed incest, nor did David sleep with another man's wife. And since Muslims believe Jesus to be a messenger of God, no Muslim would find any offense whatsoever to modelling themselves after Jesus either.

Georgios Scholarios said...

For people who want to learn about early Islam, they should consult scholarly resources instead of relying on their own interpretation of Qur'an verses and hadiths. Justice requires us to be fair, after all. Here are some books by well-respected scholars, each with a different perspective:

Muhammad: A Very Short Introduction, by Jonathan A.C. Brown.

The Emergence of Islam, by Gabriel S. Reynolds.

In God's Path: The Arab Conquests and the Creation of an Islamic Empire, by Robert Hoyland.

Hoyland also has a book which compiles and comments on the earliest references to Arabs and Muslims from non-Muslim sources, which is available online here. One should definitely read "The Historical Background" chapter (to which I've directly linked) first.

Anonymous said...

What Dennett says in that link seems like it might deserve a response from Ed. He singles out analytic metaphysics and describes it as "self-indulgent, clever play in a vacuum that’s not dealing of problems of any intrinsic interest.”

Thursday said...

Anon 12:44

Yeah, I don't think Dennett understands metaphysics. Science does point towards an ordered world, but it doesn't justify itself.

Thursday said...

Order erg made it. Maybe our host can knock off Cornel West or Judith Butler next list.

BTW, I'm going to recommend Sarah Salih's intro to Butler. When set out in lucid prose by one of her own sympathizers, Butler comes off as almost unbelievably bonkers. Not a great thinker, but illuminating of our age, and entertaining in a perverse way.

TheOFloinn said...

"Didn't the Christians slaughter Muslim women and children in Jerusalem during the Crusades?

The rules of engagement in that era was that any city that resisted and forced a siege was subject to a three-day sack once it was taken. As wretched and cruel as it seems to people who firebombed Hamburg and Tokyo from the air, it was the way wars were fought back then. That's why some cities were sacked by crusaders and (in the earlier muslim conquest and later re-conquest) some cities (like Caesarea and Antioch) were sacked by muslims.

Some of the crusading lords tried to protect their prisoners by sequestering them, only to find them killed by other knights in spite of the lord's protection.

Thursday said...

RE: Born that way?

1. Sexual orientation

The authors of the review study (it does not include new results) Anderson points to only show that stable attraction to your own sex cannot be caused by genes, which is absolutely true. But that doesn't mean that the cause is not biological. The best theory for the origin of this tendency in humans is Greg Cochran's theory that it is caused by a virus, something which the original authors don't even consider.

2. Gender identity

Gender dysphoria (dissatisfaction with being a member of your biological sex) is indeed highly unstable over time, particularly from childhood to adulthood. But there is no evidence for such instability when it comes to sexual orientation.

-----

A huge failure of the review study is the failure to distinguish how sexual orientation works in males and females.

-----

Anyone interested in these issues would do well to take them up with Greg Cochran at his blog Westhunt.

Thursday said...

Thus, a person who uses his feet to pedal a bike or kick a soccer ball is still using them for movement, which is the natural purpose of the feet. But in homosexual activity one is not imposing another function onto the natural function of reproduction

Suppose I am lying down reading a book, and I happen to use my (extraordinarily large) piece of manliness as a prop to keep my book upright as I continue to read it, that is not a sin, because while propping up a book is using ones reproductive organs for something that is not its purpose, propping up a book is not contrary to the purpose.

On the other hand, sexual activity with someone of the same sex does contradict the purpose of the sexual organs.

But propping up a book is not really additive. It does not build on the intrinsic purpose of reproductive organs. It just doesn't contradict it.

Hussein said...

Anonymous Agnostic Would Like to Get Thomas, the Jewish tribe in question, the Banu Qurayza, had betrayed an alliance with the Muslims. The judgement given against them was not given by Muhammad, though he concurred. Interestingly, it coincides with law of Moses in Deuteronomy 20:12-14.

Anonymous said...

If we are going to try to keep score in a Judaism vs. Christianity vs. Islam contest by appealing to superficial scriptural accounts of historical events, then I'm afraid all three are going to come out looking pretty awful, at least if the kind of Christianity we're talking about is the kind that regards the Old Testament as canonical. The same bare literal reading of Islamic scripture that makes Mohammed a genocidal maniac would make the God of the Old Testament a genocidal maniac. Joshua's God tells him to slaughter the women and children inhabiting the promised land; why is this somehow less awful than anything in the Quran? I don't doubt that there are numerous readers of this blog ready to offer some kind of rationalization for this, but that is merely a matter of psychology (and perhaps psychosis). Aristotelian metaphysics and natural law theory should lead us to reject any alleged revelation that proposes that God would command such things. Aristotle would have. Absent some non-question-begging reason to find a real difference here, I'm afraid I can't see any reason to grant any more credence to the 'god' of the Old Testament than to the 'god' of the Quran.

The philosophy on this blog is good; the religion, well...it's religion, I suppose.

Jeremy Taylor said...

Anonymous,

Let's leave aside the question of Muhammad (I certainly don't think it is correct to say he is portrayed as a genocidal maniac in the Koran, the conflict with the Banu Qurayza is only obliquely referenced for example), and some of the more far-fetched attempts to sever the Old and New Testament, isn't it question begging to write off all explanations of these potentially immoral acts in the Bible as mere rationalisations, without argument? Surely, a lot depends upon how the Bible is read and the layers of meaning involved.

Then there is the question of morality itself. Not every questionable act should ultimately be deemed immoral. Certainly, contemporary secular morality shouldn't be our guide.

moduspownens said...

How does Cornel West make the list while Alvin Plantinga does not, especially considering William Lane Craig and JP Moreland do? I sense a little PC "fairness" preferred to actual philosophical competency, influence and insight.

Edward Feser said...

The philosophy on this blog is good; the religion, well...it's religion, I suppose.

Dude, it's just a link.

moduspownens said...

@Thursday

Regarding McHugh-Mayer study and "Born that way" narratives:

I always thought science largely is irrelevant, as a matter of normativity, not rhetoric, when it comes to whether homosexuality is morally permissible or impermissible. Not that I've read the Mayer-McHugh study Anderson is touting or many studies purporting homosexuality is an immutable biological feature like melanin levels or sex, but I suspect these pro-LGBT studies have certain progressive values smuggled into their work. At the very least, activist interpretations of them do that.

So scientists found there's correlations between certain hormones in the womb with being gay, for example, but how does it justify homosexual behavior as good? I mean, the predisposition toward alcoholism is thought to be related to genetics. It's similar, I hear, with the inclination toward gambling or other forms of addiction. Does that make gambling or getting drunk any more or less moral or immoral? Furthermore, you could say a man's sexual attraction to a women is rooted in the Y chromosome present in his genes, an immutable characteristic. Does that make his rape of any woman he finds arousing permissible on the grounds he's "born that way" and he didn't "choose his sexual orientation"? Basically, how is this is-ought gap stemmed?

At bottom, the debate when it comes to homosexuality between progressive libertines and social conservatives is one of values. The science is window dressing that needs to be torn down, so the actual frame of the issue becomes visible. The moral permissibility of homosexual behavior itself must be refuted. Anderson, Mayer and McHugh's offensive here, though a step in the right direction, is modest and amounts to holding action. Anderson's still fighting on the narrative's obfuscatory terms, while it's the contemporary paradigm that biology is somehow relevant to the issue that needs to be assertively smashed and not timidly challenged. I think Professor Feser argues something similar in a post entitled something like "Wink, wink."

Anyway, just my humble two cents...

seanrobsville said...

Explaining consciousness...

1. Consciousness is a property of mechanisms.

2. All mechanisms, and indeed all physical systems, can be simulated by a Turing machine (Church Turing Deutsch Principle).

3. All the actions of a Turing machine can be simulated by combinations of the following opcodes (Turing completeness):

SET, MOVE, READ, WRITE, ADD, SUBTRACT, MULTIPLY, DIVIDE, AND, OR, XOR, NOT, SHIFT, ROTATE, COMPARE, JUMP, JUMP-CONDITIONALLY, RETURN

Since the 'problem' of producing and/or explaining the mechanism of consciousness is so trivial, just requiring assembly of the correct sequence of fewer than 20 simple operations, why hasn't it been done long ago?

Or are we up against some sort of pesky category error?

seanrobsville said...

@ Anon

"None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself." - Muhammad

This is NOT an example of the Golden Rule because the Islamic concept of brotherhood does not extend beyond the bounds of the Ummah. Kuffars are untermenschen.

Greg said...

@ seanrobsville

1. Consciousness is a property of mechanisms.

What does this mean?

Greg said...

@ moduspownens

I agree that the moral argument does not depend on the success or failure of Mayer and McHugh's report. They flag that point in their introduction and in their conclusion.

It is correct that the truth of the "born that way" hypothesis would not establish any moral claim on its own. There are, as you point out, conditions like alcoholism acting in accordance with which is immoral, even if they are heritable. Even if one weakens the "born that way" hypothesis so that it is not about genetics, epigenetics, prenatal hormones, or whatever, but just about the phenomenology of having desires beyond your control, nothing, morally speaking, would follow from it.

The Mayer and McHugh report is, I think, still relevant. On the one hand, you can always make your principled philosophical arguments, but it is much more of an uphill battle if all of the scientific evidence says: homosexuality and transgenderism (however you want to define those) are enduring and heritable conditions that, when left unsatisfied and stigmatized, lead to extraordinary levels of distress that can only, and fully, be offset by satisfying and destigmatizing them. That proposition is consistent with moral arguments against homosexual activity and against "gender reassignment" surgery, but it will be much tougher to make those arguments if that proposition is true.

And people have the impression that that proposition is true, and that science has vindicated it, even though there is remarkably little evidence for that.

I don't think the report gives too much of an impression that the moral arguments hinge on these questions. If one reads it, one finds that it is very modest and almost entirely limits its concern to the scientific questions and, as I've said, points out that moral and religious considerations should also be consulted on these matters as well.

As for conservative commentary on the matter, that is another thing. What I've read from Anderson has been pretty careful on not making the report say more than it does, but that can't be said for many commentators.

Anonymous said...

"This is NOT an example of the Golden Rule because the Islamic concept of brotherhood does not extend beyond the bounds of the Ummah. Kuffars are untermenschen."

Utterly false. Muslims believe that since all of humanity was descended from a single male and female, and hence they form one human family of brothers and sisters. Just because a human being was given free will to choose different paths doesn't deny or limit its scope and meaning.

Count yourself as an extremist, one with the mentality of breaking peoples into rigid dichotomies of "me" and "the other" without any room for nuance.

Fred said...

Teachout lost me when he impugned the quality of Jethro Tull's Aqualung, one of the greatest albums of all time.

TheOFloinn said...

Explaining consciousness...
1. Consciousness is a property of mechanisms.


Consciousness is a consequence of the inner senses, specifically the common sense. Since all sensations enter perception at different instants, there must be some power of the animal soul that knits them together into a common "image," so that the smell, taste, color, shape, and other qualities are pulled together into the same object. This inevitably must result in awareness of the object as distinct from the subject, and thus produce consciousness of self.

Justin said...

Yeah, the top 50 left out one :) I'm working on it though, lol. I've already given away 5 copies of TLS to friends ;)

Thankfully I still have my Kindle edition.

Anonymous said...

Cornell West made that list. That discredits everything about it if that nimrod is on there :)

seanrobsville said...

@ Anon
"the mentality of breaking peoples into rigid dichotomies of "me" and "the other" without any room for nuance."

You mean like Dar al Harb vs Dar al Islam?

seanrobsville said...

@ Greg

1. Consciousness is a property of mechanisms.

What does this mean?


Google 'Computational theory of mind'.

Ian M. said...

Surprised Scruton didn't make the top 50.

Agnostic Would Like to Get Thomas said...

Anonymous,


"Didn't the Christians slaughter Muslim women and children in Jerusalem during the Crusades?

Didn't Christians torture Jews for the death of Jesus?"


Actually, this is the one argument I provide against Islamophobic people every time they use ISIS to argue that Islam is evil : Christians used to be awful too just a few centuries ago, yet Christianity is a religion revolving around peace and love, therefore one religion's members being awful in the name of their religion, doesn't necessarily mean their religion is evil.

However my question was not exactly about Islam, but rather about Muhammad.

Anyhow, let's talk about something else.
I'll just keep on studying his life on my own.

Anonymous said...

"You mean like Dar al Harb vs Dar al Islam?"

Terms that don't appear in the Qur'an or Hadith at all and so have no foundation in the religion. They are later interpolations by various Muslims of later empires, dynasties, ruling parties, political entities, etc.

Thursday said...

I always thought science largely is irrelevant

It is irrelevant, but people like Ryan Anderson keep writing about it, and people like our host keep linking to them writing about it, as if it is relevant.

I suspect these pro-LGBT studies have certain progressive values smuggled into their work

You don't know what you are talking about. There is actually not that much work done in this area. What little has been done shows that genetics are not the primary driver here. But most of that work has actually been by pro-LGBT individuals.

On the one hand, you can always make your principled philosophical arguments, but it is much more of an uphill battle if all of the scientific evidence says: homosexuality and transgenderism (however you want to define those) are enduring and heritable conditions that, when left unsatisfied and stigmatized, lead to extraordinary levels of distress that can only, and fully, be offset by satisfying and destigmatizing them. That proposition is consistent with moral arguments against homosexual activity and against "gender reassignment" surgery, but it will be much tougher to make those arguments if that proposition is true.

If you're a non-consequentialist, sometimes you're just going to have to bite down real hard and accept some really horrible consequences. It's actually really hard to make people believe you actually believe in non-consequentialism when you're always saying out the side or your mouth ". . . besides the consequences really aren't that bad." Sometimes they are that bad.

The link on how more people is always better has the same problem. Julian Simon* may win some battles, but eventually Malthus will win the war.

*Why do so many conservative Catholics go in for intellectual alliances with ultrasecular techno-utopian wackos like this?

-----

BTW, I should correct myself: male sexual orientation does not appear to have much instability, but female sexual orientation is highly unstable.

moduspownens said...

@Thursday,

You don't know what you are talking about. There is actually not that much work done in this area. What little has been done shows that genetics are not the primary driver here. But most of that work has actually been by pro-LGBT individuals.

I originally conceded my ignorance about the subject. What you quoted from my original post was book-ended by "Not that I've read the Mayer-McHugh study Anderson is touting or many studies purporting homosexuality is an immutable biological feature like melanin levels or sex" and "At the very least, activist interpretations of them do that." I weakened my conclusion as to be charitable and suggest the science might be misconstrued by the LGBTSTFU brigade for political reasons. I think you misrepresented me.

You write with the authority of someone who is familiar with the literature, so I'll defer to what seems to be your expertise on the matter. But you do seemingly confirm that whatever physiological mechanism that is responsible for homosexuality is not a cognate, as in analogous, to the physiological mechanisms that underlie other immutable features like skin color or sex.

Like I argued, the science is ultimately irrelevant, as proposed public policy decisions and moral judgments about homosexuality don't follow from whatever science determines about it. The only way that it does is if certain moral values or metaphysical assumptions are smuggled into the scientific findings, which the mainstream left is happy to do and promulgate. For example, the platitude "Born that way" is a loaded phrase and obviously meant to lay claim to the nobility of civil rights movement. But to do so is no longer just science, something you seemingly affirm, as evidenced by the fact you felt compelled to clarify what the science details and defend the integrity of scientists who have and will continue to conduct it.

Granted, all this hinges on if I'm interpreting your response correctly.

Unknown said...

Hello Professor Feser,

I was wondering(relating to the John Skalko link) whether you had read Hsiao very much? I have been following him for sometime thus I was curious what your impressions were.

Anonymous said...

Without looking at the list, let me guess, the dreadful Dan Dennett made that top 100 list?

Daniel Joachim said...

I was somewhat skeptical to the trustworthiness of the top 50 list, since no methodology was supplied. However, I found this on another site. Perhaps of interest to the crowd here:

"A representative of TBS informs that the list was compiled partly using a tool developed by TBS to determine links to the works of the philosophers in question, page views, book and article citations and more. They also used a tool called SEMrush to determine the traffic to home pages, wiki pages, etc., in order to get an estimate of what they call Influence Networks. TBS’s team included four Philosophy PhD’s and in addition they consulted numerous philosophers to balance the quantitative data they collected."

Anonymous said...

But where are the sources for what Mohammad said? Hi first biography doesn't appear until well over 200 years after he died. There's no way the authors in that later era could know what he said.

Elizabeth Gormley said...

Perhaps someone here can answer a question for me. Below is Aquinas' argument against homosexual activity. If this is so, then what is sex between a married man and woman after a hysterectomy? Or menopause?

I am trying to understand the "nature" argument. And what does "education" have to do with the use of reproductive members. Not really following that either.


" According to Aquinas, the argument against homosexual activity is as follows:

1. any action not ordered to its due end is a disordered action,

2. the due end of the use of the sexual members is the generation and education of offspring,

3. so any use of the aforementioned members apart from such ends (as in homosexual activity) is disordered."
http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2016/08/16808/

Tertullian said...

https://www.reddit.com/r/philosophy/comments/50c7yp/i_am_caspar_hare_professor_of_philosophy_at_mit/

So since this is a link thread, I just stumbled upon this Reddit AMA with a professor of an intro-level MOOC philosophy class. He writes:

"There are different senses in which an argument might be hard to refute. One might be that the argument is hard to assess, because it is hard to know how best to present it in a clear and rigorous way. In this sense all the ontological and cosmological arguments are quite hard to refute! Another sense in which an argument might be hard to refute is that it is hard, once the argument has been presented in a clear and rigorous way, to see what is wrong with it. It looks valid. It looks like its premises are true. In this sense all the ontological and cosmological arguments I have ever seen are quite easy to refute!"

And his TA:

"24.00x Introduction to Philosophy: God, Knowledge, and Consciousness has lectures on the Ontological Argument, the Design Argument, the Fine-Tuning Argument, the Problem of Evil, and Pascal's Wager."

So cosmological arguments are impossible to state clearly (except for, you know, all those philosophers who have stated them clearly). But once they're stated clearly they're trivial to refute. But we're not going to bother discussing them at all, even though they are historically the main approach to proving the existence of God. But I could totally refute them in, like, 2 minutes. I mean, if everything has a cause, what caused God, amirite? But anyway, how about that Pascal's Wager?

*Sigh*. Sometimes I wonder if Ed is making any progress at all.

Elizabeth Gormley said...

I suppose what I'm really trying to understand (by my question above) is how is it we can know for sure that two men can't be in love with each other? And if they are, why is the homosexual act more disordered than say two seniors (heterosexual) engaging in sex?

DNW said...

"Elizabeth Gormley said...

I suppose what I'm really trying to understand (by my question above) is how is it we can know for sure that two men can't be in love with each other? And if they are, why is the homosexual act more disordered than say two seniors (heterosexual) engaging in sex?

September 1, 2016 at 8:55 AM"



Hi,

Because "love" is not the sine qua non by which ordinate sexual activity is evaluated.

You know, rather than approach this question through the usual routines of presenting a proposition and having it tested against as yet unspoken or un-thought objections, why not state what your own assumptions are in the matter of ascribing moral value to acts involving the reproductive organs?

For example, are there any sexual acts which you would rule out of bounds as morally objectionable between any persons whatsoever, and if so, on what basis would you rule against them?

Answering this question will help to establish the premises or suppositions which shape your question and avoid retreading old ground as is typical in these matters.

This for example, might cover what status it is you assign to biological sex as a class membership marker , and whether you think it is real or arbitrary, and whether if you think class membership is real and extra-mental in origin; and if so, whether accidents of age or injury or certain types of limitation should affect the rights imputed to the formal members of the class.

In some cases, the law certainly thinks so. For example, children and idiots are not allowed to marry at all, even though they are members of the class of humans, and may fit into the complimentary sub classes of male and female.

Why don't you take it forward from here?

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@DNW

So you're saying that love is not to be considered in the equation of sex at all?

Then I'd have only needed to have sex until I couldn't have children anymore? (I have six).

I agree that setting limits is difficult - hence my question about Aquinas' nature argument. Is sex in old age disordered or a right (from previous ability to fit the requirements of membership, as you say?)

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@DNW

Mentally disabled can marry through the intervention of the courts, but the legal (and ethical) argument against having sex with children and animals (and severely mentally handicapped adults) is that they can't provide informed consent.

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@DNW

Finally, I'm not exactly sure why I have state my assumptions in order to ask a question about Aquinas' argument?

Fred said...

Hi Elizabeth, I'm sure there are people here who can answer your question in more detail and depth than I can (not to mention defend it more effectively), but I'll give it a shot. Sex between a man and a woman is the kind of thing that, under ordinary circumstances, results, or can result, in reproduction. That one or the other or both partners may be sterile does not change the nature of the act itself. It is still of the kind that results, or can result, in reproduction. Homosexual sex, on the other hand, is not the kind of act that can, under any circumstances, result in reproduction; therefore, it frustrates the purpose of sex by its very nature and not just because one partner happens to be sterile. That, at any rate, is the reader's digest version of my understanding of the perverted faculty argument.

DNW said...

" Elizabeth Gormley said...

@DNW

Finally, I'm not exactly sure why I have state my assumptions in order to ask a question about Aquinas' argument?

September 1, 2016 at 11:06 AM"


Hi.

You didn't "have to" of course. It is just that given the manner in which you framed the question, "love" seemed to me to have something to do with it, and possibly marriage as well.


Thus:

Perhaps someone here can answer a question for me. Below is Aquinas' argument against homosexual activity. If this is so, then what is sex between a married man and woman after a hysterectomy? Or menopause?

I am trying to understand the "nature" argument. And what does "education" have to do with the use of reproductive members. Not really following that either.


and,

"Elizabeth Gormley said...

I suppose what I'm really trying to understand (by my question above) is how is it we can know for sure that two men can't be in love with each other? And if they are, why is the homosexual act more disordered than say two seniors (heterosexual) engaging in sex?"


Therefore, it seemed to me at least, to be useful for anyone who might wish to try and answer your question, to be able to grasp your conditioning framework. For example, was "love" in some sense primary?

That probably was nothing you meant to provoke.

And then of course, mixing in contracts which are in essence objectively purposeless contracts, with no obligations or enforceable provisions, and/or foggy pretexts for their formation like "love" in the first place, only makes for a hopeless muddle.

You on the other hand seem to be quite clear that from your point of view (at least according to the law as you understand it, the reason that sexual relations between adults and children, or between humans and animals was wrong, was not because of the intrinsic error and offence involved in the act per se, but because, " ... the legal (and ethical) argument against having sex with children and animals (and severely mentally handicapped adults) is that they can't provide informed consent. "

So, you have clearly stated the limitations you do recognize - at least as seen from the legal perspective you posit.

If however you do however grant that class memberships are real, and that an imputed status or capacity gained under such a legal classification is not in principle lost to accident, and that natures imply ends, then if that is acceptable, and you might not find it so, what your question probably has to do with is the teleology ...

Feser has covered that and more in prior postings which I am sure a quick search will reveal.

You could start here, if you have not seen these already:

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2012/10/whose-nature-which-law.html
http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2015/06/love-and-sex-roundup.html
http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2015/02/whats-deal-with-sex-part-ii.html

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@Fred,

I understand that. I suppose that's the only answer we'll ever get out of that approach - the utilitarian answer. Sadly.

DNW said...

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@DNW

So you're saying that love is not to be considered in the equation of sex at all?

Then I'd have only needed to have sex until I couldn't have children anymore? (I have six).

I agree that setting limits is difficult - hence my question about Aquinas' nature argument. Is sex in old age disordered or a right (from previous ability to fit the requirements of membership, as you say?)

September 1, 2016 at 10:10 AM



Well, presumably you are merely exercising class enabled biological functions which you exercised in your age of majority (and under the rubric of a special socially noteworthy contract) and in a relationship based on these criteria. I don't see what flagging natural powers have to do with it, or why some equivalency should logically appear to arise between perimenopausal marital relations and one guy buggering another.

I'm going to post up a kind of reflective ramble on tangentially related questions which I thought best not to include in comments directed to you.

What the aim of that is, is to consider just what the point of this exercise in recognition and validation is, and whether the entire project of marriage as a socially validated legal contract does not become pointless and even an odious associative burden on third parties, when certain absurd and contemptible activities are presumed to be covered with the mantle of social sanction and privilege.

DNW said...

"Elizabeth Gormley said...

@Fred,

I understand that. I suppose that's the only answer we'll ever get out of that approach - the utilitarian answer. Sadly.

September 1, 2016 at 12:38 PM"


I won't respond further, but I am interested to know just how you mean utilitarian here, and why sadly.

I can see various senses being substituted here.

And now I will bow out.

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@DNW
Thanks - I read through all that. Still doesn't answer my original question. Appreciate it though.

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@DNW
By utilitarian - I mean a dismissal of the question I asked. Nowhere in all this is the question addressed about two people who believe they are in love and are the same sex. How do we know that they are not in love?

We used to think suicidal people were selfish according to Natural Law theory and now we know there are mitigating factors.

I'm just trying to understand how sin "against nature" is "against God" (sin). Wouldn't there be a distinction at least between venial and mortal sin here?

DNW said...

Just a rambling reflection provoked by Elizabeth's remarks. I've tried in the few moments since I made them to mostly remove the tone of a personal response and just leave generalizations.

Bringing in marriage contracts, and the presumed capacity to form them, only leads to purposes, and to the further question as to whether they are subjective or objective purposes and interests.

And, if purely of subjective nature and interest, then, of what putative interest or level of interest they are, or they should be, to the general law and society as a marriage contract; or to the community at large, through their recognition, support, and enforcement under law?

Most of these kinds of discussions naturally go off the rails almost immediately. They devolve into arguments about the supposed current definition of marriage as handed down by various courts in recent years (recall Justice Kennedy's comical mystery of life trilling) as opposed to the historical understanding of the purpose of a marriage; and then ultimately to other kinds of circular, tail-chasing exercises.

The one side states that we now have a new conception of marriage handed down by the courts on the basis of their reinterpretation of other laws; and that therefore to gainsay "gay" marriage, is to deny a fait accompli definitional change. This is a change which supposedly cannot be denied, lest other more remote judicial reinterpretations of the law, i.e., retrofits made in order to justify the proximate change, be refuted. This constitutes a comical demand that one rebut the conclusion of a circular argument, after first acknowledging the soundness of its premisses.

The other side denies the rationale and the sense of the entire project. Whereupon the first side merely replies that the definition of sense and social respectability have also been changed through judicial proclamation; while the limits of a duty to socially affirm have been expanded through this same official fiat. No extra-judicial reference or standard is allowed as relevant.

Of course, and in line with my comment about multiplying principles, and with regard to Elizabeth's question we might as well ask a further question which has occurred to many others many times before :

What of the case of two men who had neither the intention of nor any interest in having "sex" with each other, and who admitted that they were not in "love", and that they intended no reciprocal obligations or duties whatsoever of or toward one another, yet wanted a "marriage contract" for the civil benefits it offered the contractee?

Should they not be allowed to "marry" just as a middleaged heterosexual couple should? Is not their "marriage" just as respectable and valid as any "gay" wedding? If not why not?

What standard under the new rubric, is there to determine a valid from an invalid or nonsensical or sham contract?

Shall there be a sexual intimacy test for all marriages? Is that the criterion of a valid marriage? A sex act?

It used to be of course, back in the days when marriages were about contracts between classes of persons capable of engaging in natural conjugal relations resulting in offspring; and whose party pledges of fidelity and expectations of exclusivity in the production of recognized offspring and of their care, constituted the reason any parties not themselves should take any social notice, or grant them any concessions of formal recognition, in the first place.

But, by the time we get to that question as posed above, we see that marriage as a meaningful and special social contract having some objective sense, and a non self-referential value reflecting an intrinsically respectable, socially critical or noteworthy aim, has instead been emptied of all morally respectable meaning.

It's become the judicially enforced stamp of social approval of an arrangement: and this according to its own proponents. The problem is there is nothing but intellectually and socially negligible nonsense inside.

DNW said...



"Elizabeth Gormley said...

@DNW
By utilitarian - I mean a dismissal of the question I asked. Nowhere in all this is the question addressed about two people who believe they are in love and are the same sex. How do we know that they are not in love? "


I have already bowed out, but the answer is the further question: "What's "love" got to do with it"?

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@DNW

Do you mean What does love have to do with sex or with God?

Vand83 said...

What does love have to do with whether a given sex act is disordered or not?

DNW said...


What Vand83 said ...

Regards

DNW said...



By the way, I would recommend for anyone intending to carry this discussion further, that you reread and quote the actual questions posited. They tend to be lost track of in the give and take, and the arguments, or points addressed, drift awfully.

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@Vand83

1 Again: Why is an act of love without hope of procreation not considered disordered? Is that what Aquinas is saying? This was part of my original question.

2. My question isn't about marriage, it's about sin. Why is homosexual sex between two people who believe they are in love a mortal sin and not a lesser sin?

3. Why would I have sex with someone if I didn't love him?

4. What does love have to do with whether someone is having disordered sex? Okay, specifically then: Why are active homosexuals barred from communion for this particular sin and not others?

I'm trying to understand the seriousness of the sin.

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@DNW

"What Vand83 said ..."

Same answer - Why would I have sex with someone I didn't love. Maybe that's only a woman's question, not a man's.

Woman generally have sex to advance a relationship - that's not always a high priority for men. But my question is about two people who love each other - what rationale can you give them that they would be better off without each other?

Thursday said...

Elizabeth, what you are looking for is an extended treatment of the perverted faculty argument. Lucky for you Feser defends this in an essay which you can find in his book Neo-Scholastic Essays. He also gave a talk on the subject, which you can watch here.

TheOFloinn said...

Why would I have sex with someone if I didn't love him?

a) He's paying me good cash money.
b) Our families made the arrangements long ago.
c) It feels good. (Remembering that love is not an emotional reaction.)
d) It's hip. Everyone is doing it. What am I, a prude?
e) I'm bored and it's something to do.
f) I got drunk and that makes me an easy lay.
g) ......

Tim Hsiao said...

@Elizabeth Gormley

You might be interested in a recent paper I published. I deal with some of the objections you raise: https://www.academia.edu/23301482/Consenting_Adults_Sex_and_Natural_Law_Theory

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@Thursday

Thanks - but that perverted faculty argument is just more of the same thing. I understand the logic of biology. I even understand that homosexuality is biologically a selfish act, but we are considering human beings, not squirrels. The end of sex is to beget more people to have sex, but the end of man is in God.

I'm not sure that you can say for certain that one man can't love another man - and that it won't lead him to God.

But I do love how the logic goes that since I once belonged to the right club, I retain the rights of membership in that club (I am making a joke here - I do understand being conscious of not deliberately thwarting nature). Also, there seem to be more fringe benefits than I once thought - better than Social Security. And some of those benefits sound very similar to homosexual acts I notice. However since I am in the right club - it's okay.) Good to know. ;)

I still don't have an answer as to why it's a mortal sin to be in a homosexual relationship where there might be love than, say for a woman to stay in a heterosexual marriage where the father mistreats the children. One man receives communion, the other does not.

Does homosexual describe the whole person? I'm trying to understand why that sin is a category unto itself so that members of it are excluded while other behaviors slide. Is it simply majoritarianism? The majority population determines what's normal enough to belong to the group?




Anonymous said...

But God gave us our natures. If we misuse them, pervert them, we are setting ourselves against him. In something so important as our sexuality, this surely cannot be a good path to God. I think it is best to compare like for like, and adultery or fornication are also grave sins.

Vand83 said...

"I still don't have an answer as to why it's a mortal sin to be in a homosexual relationship where there might be love than, say for a woman to stay in a heterosexual marriage where the father mistreats the children. One man receives communion, the other does not."

I find it so odd you spend the majority of your time writing on homosexual sex acts as if they're analogous to heterosexual sex. Then shift to comparing them to an abused wife staying with her husband to the detriment of the children.

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@Anonymous,

But adultery doesn't get you kicked out of the communion line. Neither does fornication so long as it's heterosexual.


@Vand83

"I find it so odd you spend the majority of your time writing on homosexual sex acts as if they're analogous to heterosexual sex."

1. Watch the tape Thursday sent me to.
2. I find it odd that no one can imagine that two people of the same sex can't believe they are in love with each other.

Elizabeth Gormley said...

*can believe they're in love with each other (sorry about the double negative).

Vand83 said...

"I find it odd that no one can imagine that two people of the same sex can't believe they are in love with each other."

Who here has defended that position? I think people were criticizing the idea that love somehow makes homosexual sex acts moral.

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth, I'm not a Catholic, so I wouldn't know about that. I would think that if you are denied communion for being a practicing homosexual, then an unrepentant adulterer or fornicator should also be denied. I believe that they are equally mortal sins. I think Aquinas argues homosexual acts are worse than fornication because they are more unnatural, just as bestiality is worse than homosexual acts, but he sees them all as mortal sins.

Is it really a case of what homosexuals believe about their love? Isn't it more about the true nature of that love? If love aims for the good of the person, as Thomists argue, and if the good includes acting according to their nature, then there is a problem here. Love, it seems to me, is a complex thing. One can love a friend deeply without it being sexual, and there are all different kinds of affections and loves. But does affection between two men make unnatural acts natural? I would doubt this. Can this affection be the same as that between a married couple? This I'm less certain about, but I would think the Thomist perspectives suggests not.

TheOFloinn said...

"I find it odd that no one can imagine that two people of the same sex ... believe they are in love with each other."

Who says no one can imagine that? We can imagine loving out enemies, which is something the other side never seems to manage. We have been commanded to love everyone, and I don't recall any exceptions. Two men can love one another as deeply as Jonathon and David, or Cuchullain and Ferdiad, but that doesn't mean one of them has to bugger the other.

The confusion arises from confusing love with sexual attraction. Or worse, with mere sexual practice. Operant conditioning takes care of the rest: have an orgasm often enough with a lady's shoe and you can by mere correlation develop an affection for ladies' shoes. It's enormously easy to suppose that the resulting pleasure is "love."

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@Anonymous,

"But does affection between two men make unnatural acts natural?"

I am not at all saying that love makes an unnatural act natural. A person who commits suicide is also committing an unnatural act, a selfish act against his nature. However, we do not say now that it was necessarily a mortal sin.

"Can this affection be the same as that between a married couple? This I'm less certain about, but I would think the Thomist perspectives suggests not."

That's my question - how do we know it's not possible? If so, it changes the question of mortal vs. venial sin.

On the fairness of Communion, I think we agree that it's unfair.

Brandon said...

Elizabeth,

I'm not sure where you're getting your information, but some of your claims are very strange.

I still don't have an answer as to why it's a mortal sin to be in a homosexual relationship where there might be love than, say for a woman to stay in a heterosexual marriage where the father mistreats the children. One man receives communion, the other does not.

It's not a sin to be in a homosexual relationship; it is in principle possible to be in such a relationship chastely. It's a sin to engage in homosexual sexual activity; and it's a mortal sin rather than a venial one for the reason given by Anonymous. It is likewise not a sin to be in a heterosexual marriage; a father abusing children is obviously committing a mortal sin, but you haven't identified any mortal sin on the part of the mother.

No one, however, who commits a mortal sin of any kind is supposed to take communion; St. Paul is explicit that taking communion unworthily is bringing damnation on oneself. If someone commits a mortal sin, they are supposed to go to confession to get it absolved before they commune again. (But this is not the same as being refused communion, see below.)

But adultery doesn't get you kicked out of the communion line. Neither does fornication so long as it's heterosexual.

Homosexual acts don't get you kicked out either. Canon law is very clear about what is required for a sin to rise to the point where you can be refused communion:

Can. 915 Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.

To be sure, you're not supposed to receive communion if you have committed any grave sins of any kind, unless you've gone to confession for them, but no sin gets you 'kicked out of the communion line' unless it is (1) obstinate; (2) manifest; and (3) grave. Sexual sins are often grave but they are only rarely manifest and it's not always easy to establish obstinacy. Priests are explicitly required to give communion to anyone who does not meet the rather strict requirement.

Vand83 said...

Can you perhaps list what's required for a sin to be classified as mortal?

Vand83 said...

Brandon beat me to it. I was hoping to prompt Elizabeth to research that particular point. Thanks Brandon.

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@Van83

For a sin to be mortal, it must meet three conditions:

1. It must be a sin of grave matter
2. It must be committed with full knowledge of the sinner
3. It must be committed with deliberate consent of the sinner

Basically you have to know how seriously wrong an act is, exactly why it's wrong and then still decide to do it with complete free will.

Fred said...

Not utilitarian at all in the sense that Benham and Mill used that term. Natural law is natural laway and has nothing to do with the greatest good for the greatest number. Nor does it define the good as gaining pleasure and avoiding pain. So I'm not sure what you mean by utilitarian. Also, I find the ethics of consent suspect. If the only legitimate basis of sexual morality, then anything goes as long as there is consent: men with women, with men, women with women, multiple partners of either or both semester, brother-sister incest, parent-adult child incest, arguably a snuff film if the person getting snuffed knows it will happen and consents to it. The only reason you could have for drawing any lines at all visitors a visit consensual sex is your own personal "yuk" factor. I ask you who is more rational, someone who condemns homosexual behavior from a well thought out, systematic, and venerable view of what human beings are and what they are for and what sex is and what it is for or someone who rejects, say, brother-sister incest based only on their own personal yuk factor?

Vand83 said...

So the question is, are sexual sins to be listed in the grave category?

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@Van83

Can we all agree that Aquinas and the Church might have been wrong about suicide being a mortal sin?

And then given that we are all agreed what a mortal sin is, you all see no problem in a practicing homosexual couple receiving communion who can't see what they are doing is wrong (although Aquinas would not agree?)

[And to answer the question about the mother in a marriage with a husband who mistreats the kids - that's the sin of omission (not doing anything to stop the abuse).]

Fred said...

Of course that's natural law is natural law, men with men, either or both sexes, and vis a vis. Damn you autocorrect.

Vand83 said...

"Can we all agree that Aquinas and the Church might have been wrong about suicide being a mortal sin?"

What did we just discuss? Can we just label sins as mortal without the subjective element involved?

The question is, is the matter grave? You really should try to stop muddying the water in hopes that you won't have to address whether certain sins are grave. If you don't think sexual sins are a grave matter then say so.

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@Fred and everyone else:

I think you misunderstand me. In real life, there are couples of the same sex who are in long term relationships (and Christian) who are denied communion because of their belief that they love each other. And so for whatever reason - need for love, weakness, ignorance - stay in that partnership over the objections of their pastor.

I was asking if it's not possible that they might be experiencing love and that there are things we don't understand about this inclination. I was comparing it to the situation with suicide. Now we think that it's not always an act of free will (and therefore not a mortal sin) and the person who commits suicide is allowed a Christian burial.

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@Vand83

"The question is, is the matter grave? You really should try to stop muddying the water in hopes that you won't have to address whether certain sins are grave. If you don't think sexual sins are a grave matter then say so. "

A grave sin is only one of the 3 conditions to make a sin mortal.

Vand83 said...

I'd imagine an active homosexual would be given a Christian burial more often than not Elizabeth.

Vand83 said...

Yes. I realize that is only one condition. Which is why I ask, are sexual sins grave?

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@Van83

"I'd imagine an active homosexual would be given a Christian burial more often than not Elizabeth."

I am asking if the sin can be determined to be mortal and therefore not worthy for the person to receive communion (not a Christian burial).

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@Van83

Not all sexual sins are grave. Is masturbation grave? I'm pretty sure it's not.

Vand83 said...

Lets tackle this a different way. Should an abortionist be denied communion?

Vand83 said...

Debatable. Since you're so confident though, do you mind listing the sexual sins that are grave? Excluding masturbation of course.

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@Vand83

That's why I am asking this question. I don't know. I want to know how anyone does know in regards to homosexuality.

Vand83 said...

Exclude homosexual acts too then. List some grave sexual sins. Please.

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@Vand83

Adultery is one for sure.

Vand83 said...

Why?

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@Vand83

Because you've made a vow to another person and have broken it.

Vand83 said...

What if the individual doesn't understand the gravity of that vow?

Brandon said...

Basically you have to know how seriously wrong an act is, exactly why it's wrong and then still decide to do it with complete free will.

You don't have to know why it is wrong; you only have to know that it is wrong. If a trustworthy authority told you it was wrong, then that still suffices for the knowledge component even if you don't understand why they say it is so.

In real life, there are couples of the same sex who are in long term relationships (and Christian) who are denied communion because of their belief that they love each other.

I don't know of any such case as you've stated it, and as you've stated it, it sounds incoherent. What might happen sometimes is if there were people in clearly long-term homosexual relationships who were public about the sexual nature of their relationship (then it might sometimes fit the criteria of manifest and obstinate). If a priest were to deny someone communion merely because he suspected that they were committing sexual sin, he would be violating the rights they explicitly have under canon law. And even if he knows that they've committed a sexual sin, he often has no way of knowing whether they have confessed it -- it must be obstinate and manifest as well as grave, or it is a violation of canon law.

A grave sin is only one of the 3 conditions to make a sin mortal.

But you keep talking about denial of communion, which is a matter of gravity of the sin. And, in addition, when we talk about mortal sin in the abstract, what that means is 'sin that will be mortal if there are no exculpating factors in the particular case', i.e., grave sin.

Is masturbation grave? I'm pretty sure it's not.

Catholic doctrine is that it is; at least without any qualification, it's an act with no motivations but those appropriate to the vice of lust.

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@Vand83

"What if the individual doesn't understand the gravity of that vow?"

According to the Church that's grounds for annulment.

@Brandon

All that's good to know. I thought homosexuals in a committed relationship were denied communion. I was wrong about that. Thanks for letting me know. Such a relief.

As to masturbation being a form of lust - that's a deadly sin meaning it leads to mortal sin (not necessarily mortal itself).

Brandon said...

'Deadly sin' and 'mortal sin' are synonyms ('deadly sin' is just an older English translation of the same Latin phrase).

Vand83 said...

Perhaps. That doesn't make the matter any less grave though.

Thursday said...

[W]e are considering human beings, not squirrels. The end of sex is to beget more people to have sex, but the end of man is in God. The end of sex is to beget more people to have sex, but the end of man is in God.

Ah, it seems you've taken the extreme gnostic position that our bodies don't have inherent meaning and what really matters is our subjective consciousness. But we're actually unities, with our bodies being as spiritually charged as our consciousnesses, which means their natural ends are binding on us.

Vand83 said...

So you listed the conditions for a sin to be classified as mortal as follows.

1. It must be a sin of grave matter
2. It must be committed with full knowledge of the sinner
3. It must be committed with deliberate consent of the sinner

You are now, seemingly at least, advancing the position that conditions 2 and 3 are what decide condition 1. A grave sin is only present if it's recognized as so. How can it be recognized as so if we fail to define it as grave to begin with?

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@Brandon

Cardinal (meaning "hinge") sins and deadly sins (vices) are synonymous. They are lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, pride. As I said, they are not serious, but not necessarily mortal.

@Vand83
"Perhaps. That doesn't make the matter any less grave though."

okay - I'm not sure what we're arguing about anymore. I said that was grave.

@Thursday

"Ah, it seems you've taken the extreme gnostic position..."

I did not take the extreme gnostic position at all. I meant that humans are weak and we look for love - perhaps in the wrong people - but possibly for the right reasons.

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@Vand83


"So you listed the conditions for a sin to be classified as mortal as follows.

1. It must be a sin of grave matter
2. It must be committed with full knowledge of the sinner
3. It must be committed with deliberate consent of the sinner

You are now, seemingly at least, advancing the position that conditions 2 and 3 are what decide condition 1. A grave sin is only present if it's recognized as so. How can it be recognized as so if we fail to define it as grave to begin with?"

First - I didn't make that list - the Church did.
Second - I never said that suicide or homosexuality was not a grave matter. I said that the persons committing them may not be committing a mortal sin.

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@Brandon

Sorry this should read:

Cardinal (meaning "hinge") sins and deadly sins (vices) are synonymous. They are lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, pride. As I said, they ARE serious, but not necessarily mortal.

Vand83 said...

"First - I didn't make that list - the Church did.
Second - I never said that suicide or homosexuality was not a grave matter. I said that the persons committing them may not be committing a mortal sin."

You dismissed masturbation then latched onto adultery. You then qualified adultery as only being grave if the adulterer recognized it as so. Point blank, are homosexual sex acts objectively sinful or not? If they are, is this a grave matter?

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@Vand83

"You dismissed masturbation then latched onto adultery. You then qualified adultery as only being grave if the adulterer recognized it as so. Point blank, are homosexual sex acts objectively sinful or not? If they are, is this a grave matter?"

You asked those questions of me. I didn't dismiss masturbation - you did. Then you asked to name another grave sexual sin - which I said "adultery". As to homosexuality - please read above. I have answered that question about the gravity of the matter and whether it's natural or not.

The question I asked originally was how serious a sin is it? For umpteenth time: I don't know.

Vand83 said...

Trust me, I understand the Church laying out the conditions as it does. You seem to believe sin only qualifies as grave if it's committed with full knowledge. Tell me how much sense that makes when you read the list again? It starts with the matter being grave. Then moves on to conditions to consider afterward. Which is why I brought up abortionists. I can imagine an abortionist buying in to the idea he's performing a merciful, even loving, act by destroying a fetus. We know better though don't we? It's a grave matter. Horrifying really. The gravity of the matter isn't reduced because the abortionist doesn't know any better.

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@Vand83

Is aldultery as grave as abortion? I don't think so. Are they all grave matters? Yes. The same level of gravity? No.

Can an abortionist think he's performing a merciful act? Yes.

I have said that homosexuality is a grave matter, suicide is a grave matter, adultery is a grave matter.

I really don't know what you want me to say.

Vand83 said...

"You asked those questions of me. I didn't dismiss masturbation - you did."

When? I wrote "debatable", then moved on. Brandon corrected you on what the Church teaches on the issue.

Vand83 said...

"I have said that homosexuality is a grave matter, suicide is a grave matter, adultery is a grave matter."

I'll give you ten bucks if you can copy and paste where you actually wrote these were grave matters (excluding adultery of course). In those exact words. Because I asked you specifically.

Vand83 said...

"Is aldultery as grave as abortion? I don't think so. Are they all grave matters? Yes. The same level of gravity? No."

Ugh, yeah. I agree. I'm just trying to determine your methodology for deciding what's grave and what's not. If you would just come out and say you don't consider sexual sins grave, we could move on. I'd actually have some sympathy. Lust is the most understandable of the "Cardinal" sins.

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@Vand83

"When? I wrote "debatable", then moved on. Brandon corrected you on what the Church teaches on the issue. "

Brandon did not correct me - so I don't get what you mean about that.

And yes - you moved on. Which means you moved on.

Vand83 said...

I said "debatable". Which is more than you did. Done and done according to Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@van83

"Ugh, yeah. I agree. I'm just trying to determine your methodology for deciding what's grave and what's not."

That's above my pay grade. I don't think I ever said I had one.

Vand83 said...

And yes, Brandon did correct you. Shall I get specific?

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@Van83

"I said "debatable". Which is more than you did. Done and done according to Elizabeth. "

I don't understand the reason for this statement.

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@Van83

Why are you so upset with me?

Vand83 said...

"That's above my pay grade. I don't think I ever said I had one."

All the more reason to trust the Church.

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@Van83

I really don't understand what this is about anymore.

Vand83 said...

"I don't understand the reason for this statement"

You claimed that I was dismissive when I said the issue was debatable. I didn't even say you were wrong. I just said it was debatable. Your the one who made a positive claim on the issue of masturbation. Brandon corrected you.

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@Vand83

This is what you want to fight about now? Why?

Vand83 said...

Upset? Good Lord. I apologize. I didn't realize I was dealing with such a sensitive individual.

Vand83 said...

Thank God, you don't know what a fight is. This is a discussion. Stop taking everything so personal. I only think the position you've presented is ridiculously incoherent. I'm sure you're a nice person.

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@Vand83

We're still debating? About what?

Vand83 said...

I guess we're going to debate the issue of me
acting like a big ole meanie.

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@Vand83

No, we're not. Have a good night.

Fred said...

I think other folks have made the point, but I think it bears repeating: Whatever emotions two men may feel for each other no emotion of any sort, however genuine it may be, excuses homosexual behavior. If the behavior has been engaged in, any emotions associated with it simply do not matter.

Jim S. said...

That list of philosophers is odd. It includes William Lane Craig and J.P. Moreland but does not include Plantinga or Swinburne (although it does have van Inwagen). I concede that Craig and Moreland are influential, and I appreciate that that influence is reflected by their inclusion in the list -- but they are not more influential than Plantinga or Swinburne, at least within philosophy.

Taylor Weaver said...

@Jim S.
Daniel above (on August 31) noted the method of compilation, pointing to this website: https://nordicmetaphysics.org/2016/08/25/ingvar-johansson-on-tbss-list-of-50-most-influential-living-philosophers/

I wonder if the point is not necessarily influential *within philosophy* but influential broadly within culture. I'm willing to bet that more gnus, for instance, know of Craig than Plantinga or Swinburne. And, they probably spend more time attacking Craig because of his ministry, which is certainly well-known at this point.

TheOFloinn said...

Cardinal (meaning "hinge") sins and deadly sins (vices) are synonymous. They are lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, pride. As I said, they are not serious, but not necessarily mortal.

That is because they are the roots of sins, ways of classifying them. There are sins that are sins of gluttony, others that are sins of wrath, and so on. One cannot commit "greed," because greed is not an act of will, but one may commit theft out of greed.

Note that Aquinas held that a man could commit mortal sin by having sex with his own wife: But sometimes it [the conjugal act] is performed with mortal sin, as when concupiscence is carried beyond the limits of the marriage; for example, when the husband approaches the wife with the idea that he would just as gladly or more gladly approach another woman. IOW, if he treats his wife as a sex-object.

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@TheOFloinn

Thanks for the added info about the deadly sins. And about Aquinas, I'm sure we're all guilty about so many more things than we like to admit. Intent is a difficult thing to identify in others and in ourselves. Thanks. :)

Thursday said...

I did not take the extreme gnostic position at all.

You strongly denigrated the body.

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@Thursday

Did not.

Thursday said...

@Elizabeth

You compared the ability to have babies to being a squirrel. Jeez.

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@Thursday

That's what you got out of that? lol

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@Thursday

I was saying we are more than just animals. That hardly makes me a Gnostic.

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@Tim Hsiao

I'm sorry. I missed your comment yesterday. Thanks for the article. I will look into it.

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@Tim Hsiao

I understand this argument. My question wasn't directed at challenging Natural Law. It was about human weakness and the appropriate response to it. Thanks, though.

Brandon said...

Cardinal (meaning "hinge") sins and deadly sins (vices) are synonymous. They are lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, pride. As I said, they are not serious, but not necessarily mortal.

This is incorrect.

(1) Vices and sins are not the same. Vices are stable dispositions to particular kinds of sin; sins are actions, not dispositions.

(2) There are cardinal virtues but no cardinal vices. The label for vices is capital (head) vices, not cardinal vices. This is because the reason why the primary virtues are primary is rather different from the reason why the primary vices are primary. Capital vices are called such because they serve as the sources of other vices -- if you develop a capital vice, you have already begun to develop other vices beside it. The basic account of a capital vice comes from St. Gregory the Great's Moralia in Job.

(3) The deadly sins are the typical acts associated with the capital vices. As with all cases of sin and vice, you can commit the sin without the vice -- it's committing the sin that makes you develop the

(4) 'Deadly sin' and 'mortal sin' are, as I already pointed out, synonyms, as one should expect from the fact that 'deadly' and 'mortal' are synonyms. They are just different translation of exactly the same Latin name.

(5) All of the seven deadly sins are thus by definition grave sins, and thus they are mortal sins whenever committed with deliberate consent by someone who knows what they are doing. As I noted previously, when talking in the abstract without looking at particular cases, 'mortal sin' usually means 'sin that will be mortal if there are no exculpating factors in the particular case'.

(6) If you want to insist on the distinction between mortal sin and grave sin, you need to be consistent; I explicitly made the comment about lust only in terms of talk about grave sin -- it was you who changed the topic to mortal sin.

Thursday said...

That's what you got out of that? lol

You're trying to wiggle out of it now, but your disdain for the body was quite apparent. You said what you said.

Arghh said...

If most of these people disappeared today, the world would hardly notice or care, nor would it make a difference one way or another--although global warming might drop a bit.

Ventosa loquacitas philosophorum, rightly observed St. Bernard.

FM said...

Am I the only one who sees how ironic that Dennett of all people would make such statements are?

FM said...

minus the final "are", pardon

Brandon said...

FM,

I had a similar response; the "cute counterarguments that require neither technical training nor empirical knowledge" criticism was a bit odd coming from Mr. Intuition Pump.

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@Thursday

I do know what I said. I repeat: I was saying we are more than just animals. That hardly makes me a Gnostic.

You don't seem to know what a gnostic is.

MrMosis said...

@Elizabeth

// In real life, there are couples of the same sex who are in long term relationships (and Christian) who are denied communion because of their belief that they love each other.//

I'll just repeat what Fred said, since the above comment excerpt and Fred's response get at what most of this discourse is at root about.

Here's @Fred

//I think other folks have made the point, but I think it bears repeating: Whatever emotions two men may feel for each other no emotion of any sort, however genuine it may be, excuses homosexual behavior. If the behavior has been engaged in, any emotions associated with it simply do not matter.//

Also, in particular, as per the "denied communion because of their belief that they love each other" bit- I find such framing of the issues at hand to be quite disingenuous. You may be confused, but you are not THAT confused.

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@MrMosis

I think you have missed my point entirely. I am not "framing" the issue. I am stating a reality for many people. I never said it wasn't a sin.

I am not confused about the issue at all. I was asking for compassion for those who are.

But thanks for trying.

Vand83 said...

"I am stating a reality for many people."

Relativism at its finest.

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@Vand83

Now you're just making stuff up to fight about.

You don't think people can be confused and need compassion?

Vand83 said...

I don't think it's compassionate to sweep confusion under the rug.

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@Vand83

What does that even mean? I'm not sweeping it under the rug - that's my main point.

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@Vand83

I was and have been asking how to address this particular confusion with compassion. I got my answer that the Church is already doing that from Brandon - who corrected me about my understanding of Communion regarding homosexuals for which I thanked him.

So I do not know why I keep getting questions. Nor do I understand the continued misrepresentations of what I have said or what I believe.

I hope that it's clear now.

Vand83 said...

"that's my main point."

Elizabeth, I think it's safe to say that nobody who has responded to you understands exactly what your point is.

If I had to try to put my finger on it, I'd say you don't believe homosexual sex acts should be characterized as a grave matter. Then to add to the confusion, you seem to be under the impression that the terms grave matter and mortal sin mean the same thing. Now, you're talking about "reality for many people" when the reality is that individuals that are confused on this issue need to be educated (compassionately that is) on what it is they're confused about. I'm by no means saying that this is where anybody should begin when addressing the issue. I believe developing a relationship built on love and trust would be the only way forward when attempting to clarify what the Church teaches here. Nobody that I've seen in this comment box has suggested homosexuals (or heterosexuals for that matter) actively engaging in immoral sexual acts should be ran off with flame throwers. If you want to in a fruitful discussion here, I think it'd be best to begin with whether homosexual sex acts are grave matter. State your position on that point, then move from there.

Elizabeth Gormley said...

@Vand83

How many times do I have to state that same position before you'll believe me?

I don't think there's any point of moving on if you can't accept I mean what I say.

Vand83 said...

Say whether sexual sins are of a grave matter or not. I asked you to list those you considered grave. You listed adultery as so, and stated masturbation was not so. Now I think you did state you believed (this is how I understood you anyway) that most sexual sins were venial sins. That's further down the line though. I'm asking you, point blank, are sexual sins that of grave matter. Like I said, I think you belive grave matter= mortal sin. In reality, whether a sin is of grave matter is the first condition to address when attempting to establish whether a particular sin could possibly be considered mortal.

Anonymous said...

Oh for crying out loud...In the eyes of the church, and subject to the caveats in the catechism;
1- Is adultury a mortal sin-yes
2- Is being homosexual a mortal sin-no
3-Is being a homosexual and forming loving relations with other homosexuals a mortal sin-no
4-Is engaging in homosexual sexual acts a mortal sin-yes
Well anything unclear here? Right continue.

Vand83 said...

"1861 Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God's forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ's kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. However, although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God."

I think the last sentence is important here.

Thursday said...

I think it's safe to say that nobody who has responded to you understands exactly what your point is.

She's completely incoherent, and really doesn't belong at a philosophy blog.

Thursday said...

You don't seem to know what a gnostic is.

It's a denigration of matter and the body in favour of a "higher" immaterial spirituality.

An example would be exalting people's subjective feelings and desires over the purposes intrinsic to their bodies. Which you've done.