My recent interview on Daily Wire’s The Andrew Klavan Show has now been posted. You can hear the audio at the Daily Wire website or at Ricochet, and you can see the video either at the Daily Wire (if you are a subscriber) or on Facebook. (Addendum: You can now watch it on YouTube as well.) We talk about The Last Superstition, mechanism versus teleology, natural law, and Five Proofs of the Existence of God.
Also now available online is my recent interview on Bill Martinez Live. The subject is Five Proofs and the segment begins a little over 6 minutes into the show.
If you’re on Facebook, you can listen to my recent appearance on the Catholic Community Radio show Wake Up! The subject is Five Proofs and the segment starts about 25 minutes into the show.
On Forte Catholic today I was interviewed on the subject of By Man Shall His Blood be Shed. You can listen to the podcast here.
I'm really excited that you're getting more exposure (the Shapiro shout-out blew my mind). Hopefully, the Rubin Report will pick you up. The disregard of Aristotelian metaphysics has put the world in a real pickle.
Keep up the good fight!
The Rubin Report seems to be a show directed at sub-80 IQ viewers. That guy is so shallow. And Ben Shapiro commits so many logical fallacies every debate that I have seen him in that I would be reluctant to be promoted by him. Too bad you didn't have a special section in your TLS book on "special pleading" and "tu quoque" fallacies--that would have benefited him. He's nothing more than a fast talking lawyer partisan hack, not interested in serious debate or philosophy.Delete
I don't get the Ben Shapiro hate - Shapiro seems quite sensible to me. I don't remember him using fallacious arguments, and his viewpoints seem pretty solid.Delete
Do you have specific examples of Shapiro using fallacious arguments?
If you really want to have fun, go look up the Shapiro/Uyger debate from politicon on youtube. However bad Shapiro might be, Cenk seems to aim for maximum fallacies per minute.Delete
That's too harsh on Shapiro. I'll grant he does fit the description Newman used of William Chillingworth as "smart but superficial". This is common to bright people who learn quickly; they all too often think that because they got ahead of their classmates, their understanding is greater than it is.Delete
Specifically, I have literally never heard Shapiro make the Tu Quoque fallacy. He does use arguments for both sides being consistent, which someone might mistake for that, but that is really something different.
Special pleading, I'll grant. The question there is just how many political commentators don't use it? Offhand, I can think of none.
Like most classical liberals, both Shapiro and Klavan elide the gap between the classical tradition and the modern, and get very vague about the glaring contradiction. This is a contemporary fault; in early times conservatives used to face up to and debate the problems of reconciling the two. But I don't see it now.
Just listening to the audio: I found your exchange with Andrew Klavan to be rather frustrating. Klavan seemed more interested in discussing the metaphysical implications of teleology (especially as it concerns natural law theory), which you explored at length in The Last Superstition, than in natural theology per se, which is the sole focus of Five Proofs.ReplyDelete
Great work in all these appearances Ed!ReplyDelete
Speaking of the argument from necessary existence, which you roughly alluded to in the interview... I have a question for you, Sir.
At bottom, God is 'necessary existence' -- essence and existence are indistinguishable when it comes to the fullness of Being, which is God --and we accept that as a demonstration, via, reasoning to be the truth. However, Hume questioned the entire notion of necessary existence, itself; he even found the idea to be meaningless, perhaps, nonsense because the idea seemed so radical: "Whatever we conceive as existent, we can also conceive as non-existent. There is no being, therefore, whose non-existence implies a contradiction. Consequently, there is no Being whose contradiction is demonstrable... 'necessary existence, have no meaning; or what is the same thing, none that is consistent.'
In other words, I take him to mean two things, here. First, reason alone cannot bring us to this conclusion (that anything exists of necessity), and that we can easily imagine a world that is without being in the 'absolute sense,' so imagining a world without a Creator is not so hard to conceive. Consequently, I think he's implying that all of our language about God, what he must be, what he is not, and why something has to hold the whole show together, at every moment -- so to speak -- is simply a slippery slope that ends with meaningless jargon that requires more than pure philosophical discourse to uphold.
Thoughts? I'm a fan, by the way, so thank you for your modern contributions to this debate; it's much appreciated by many!
Note that we're not conceiving, out of nowhere and for no reason, that there is something in which essence and existence are identical (Necessary being etc.) We deduce that this is so.Delete
Once we've established the reality such a thing (God) we can see the irrelevance of Hume's assertion. It is nonsensical to conceive (or imagine as Hume would) the non-existence of that which just is existence itself, pure actuality which by its nature cannot fail to exist.
And Hume seems to be begging the question: "whatever we conceive as existent, we can also conceive as non-existent" is only so if all we're dealing with is contingent beings, when whether or not there is only contingent beings is the very question at hand (to which we answer: there is not only contingent beings).
I think part of the problem here is Hume's use of "conceiving" and "imagining". He ignores a distinction between our being able to - in a sense, anyway - imagine a self-contradictory state of affairs (on the one hand), and actually conceiving it as a logical thought. This is at least possible where the contradiction is not immediately apparent to us.Delete
Also, Hume was NOT careful to distinguish between logical necessity, metaphysical necessity, nomological necessity, etc.Delete
Wait, human beings can actually imagine logical contradictions?Delete
Is there an example of this, please?
I can imagine, by a series of finite steps, adding sides to a polygon until it becomes a circle. Or a circle of infinite radius. In Jr High math, I sometimes managed to believe as many as six impossible things before lunch.Delete
When you don't realize the logical impossibility of your imaginings, you can do it.
Unfortunately, the talk didn't go long enough to get into the points where Klavan has problems. I did like Ed's making the point that matters of sex are really a small part of natural law theory (a part blown up today because of our culture's special obsession with and warfare over that area of life.) Unfortunately, my earphones are failing, so I may have missed it, but it didn't seem that Ed emphasized that the natural law view is entailed by the underlying assumptions and reasoning. This is one of Klavan's problems; he persistently seems to assume that it's an instance of working up a case for an already chosen position.ReplyDelete
But Klavan's real problem is an underlying emotivism (something he would probably deny, but palpable). I think this comes from a split meaning in the word "spiritual". In some contexts it simply means "not naturalistic or materialistic", but in others it means "beyond the human nature" (including even unfallen nature.) C S Lewis several times makes this distinction, pointing out that there are good which are actually natural, although possible only to us as having an intellectual soul, but which get mistaken for supernatural goods ("spiritual" in the 2nd sense above.) The most often cited of these are erotic/romantic love, and esthetic appreciation. And those are precisely the ones Klavan overrates as being spiritual in the fullest sense.
Don't get me wrong; I like him, as he is both funny and informative about the weirdness of the culture.
" ... natural law view is entailed by the underlying assumptions and reasoning. This is one of Klavan's problems; he persistently seems to assume that it's an instance of working up a case for an already chosen position.Delete
But Klavan's real problem is an underlying emotivism (something he would probably deny, but palpable)."
Yes, exactly. But then, as you implicitly acknowledge, it was by and large merely an informal conversation with an enthusiastic newbie, not a thoroughgoing examination of the process of moral reasoning.
Klavan, is not Bryan Magee. Personally, I still get a great deal out of some of those old episodes.
Sure. The trouble is that I take this seriously, that conservatism is in trouble partly because it's becoming a disconnected series of cocoons, barely communicating. When I started reading NR in the 60s (and added the Spec in the 70s*) there were contending versions in every issue. And all the writers knew it, and debated. I don't see that now. We love to mock the left for their bubbles; a reflexion on motes and beams might be in order.Delete
Tony, in the Radio thread, linked me to a good article of his.
And, BTW, I do enjoy Klavan. He's funny, and informative about Hollywood, and for me, about the current culture, from which I have done my best to detach. He's also a fellow Long Islander, very close to my age.
*Actually, National Lampoon was a source of conservative humor, sometimes, in the 70s, thanks to PJ. Of course, left wing humor was often funny back then.
Great interview Prof. Feser!ReplyDelete
Klavan is a Trumpist. I have to question the ethics of a Christian dignifying such a moral degenerate by appearing on his show. But of course many millions of so-called Christians chose that creature as their president. How they can claim to worship Jesus is quite beyond my ken.ReplyDelete
He is explicitly a reluctant and partial "Trumpist"; a half-a-loaf man. That means his position is no different than a Protestant who supported Henry VIII or Oliver Cromwell. The doctrine that, in politics, one may vote only for saints, is one I missed.Delete
Sogn, calm down before you pop a blood vessel from all that impeccable logical - well, it's not quite thinking - that's not what I'm looking for. And it's not quite rational either. Ah, here's what I want: self-righteous ranting.Delete
I think Jesus said a thing or two about judging. Not never to judge pure and simple; but you best have your facts and thinking in order before you spout off.
Also, you don't happen to be Mark Shea in disguise, do you?
I didn't know who Mark Shea is, but Google tells me he's a Catholic, so that let's me out.Delete
My judgement about Trump voters can be summed up concisely: Not all Trump voters are racist. Not all Trump voters are misogynists. But all of them decided that racism and misogyny are not deal-breakers. I would apply that to all Trump supporters even if for some reason they didn't vote. And I find it inexcusable. Everyone saw what he was; his character couldn't have been more blatantly on display. Funny thing is, when I was young I think most Christians would have seen a candidate of his character as the anti-Christ. How times have changed. Now he's God's man.
Religion wasn't the commonality I suspected between you and him, it's the self-righteous tone you take.Delete
Anyway, is it really so obvious that his moral failings are deal breakers? In light of the alternative - a Clinton presidency and all that would bring? One doesn't intend the evil he will do, but intends to vote for him because of the good - Gorsuch, for example - and so it seems the principle of double effect applies, and voting for him is morally justifiable. (At least it isn't obvious that this isn't so.) Pray tell, then, how those who voted for him are just inexcusable?
I think you'll find that 95% of the Christians who react so positively to Donald Trump will freely admit his many faults, if they are given an opportunity to speak about him in a nuanced way.
The last presidential race was particularly difficult to cope with because neither candidate was a person whom any sane person would willingly allow into one's life. But one of them was going to win, no matter what. What to do?
After listening to various opinions, including those who said, "vote for McMullin or write in None Of The Above," I concluded that the best case was the case for Trump-To-Prevent-Hillary.
That case acknowledged Trump's crudity and obnoxiousness: One went in with one's eyes open. However, it highlighted four critical points:
1. There was a non-zero chance that, in actual policies pursued and implemented, Trump would be better than Clinton. At worst, he would be as bad as she was.
2. Clinton was so adored by the press, the D.C. establishment, and the corrupt federal bureaucracy that any crooked thing she opted to do would be enabled and hushed-up; but Trump was so hated by those same groups that he would be hemmed-in on all sides by hectoring voices and investigations. So, even presuming the two candidates were equally bad, Clinton would be more enabled to act on her badness than Trump.
3. The persons surrounding Trump, who would be likely to influence policy, were superior-in-character to those surrounding Clinton.
4. The Federal Judiciary, especially the Supreme Court.
All of these four items have been proven true over the last nine months. This particular pro-Trump argument, in a nutshell, was simply right.
Weighing against that is Trump's obnoxious Twitter feed and his failure to have the Charlottesville protestors shot by snipers. (I kid, I kid. Mostly.)
But those annoyances simply don't outweigh the other arguments.
Anyway, the important assumption underlying all of this is: Voting for a candidate does not constitute an endorsement of all aspects of their personality. It SOLELY constitutes a preference for the likely results of them being elected, over the next-most-likely alternative. That's it.
R.C. Anyway, the important assumption underlying all of this is: Voting for a candidate does not constitute an endorsement of all aspects of their personality. It SOLELY constitutes a preference for the likely results of them being elected, over the next-most-likely alternative. That's it.Delete
Let's suppose so. But what is Christian about it? "I vote for Julius Caesar over Nero, because Caesar merely corrupts people with populism, whereas Nero kills them in fits of madness." It's a completely worldly argument.
Thanks for the replies. Now I'm kicking myself for posting what was essentially a venting comment on a Catholic blog run by an extremely conservative Catholic. It was silly and served no one's interests. I had intended to never comment here on any moral issue and confine any comments to A-T metaphysics, fascination with which is my sole reason for reading this blog, or anything by Feser, and which I try to keep separate from the natural law moral concepts that Feser claims are entailed by A-T metaphysics. It's counterproductive to intrude my values in this venue since we probably share almost no common ground in morality, as is borne out by the replies I've elicited, and emphatically true of Feser.Delete
So it would waste everyone's time for me to engage in a point-by-point reply to my respondents. Let me just say that RC's closing comment is obviously true - viz. "Voting for a candidate does not constitute an endorsement of all aspects of their personality. It SOLELY constitutes a preference for the likely results of them being elected, over the next-most-likely alternative." - except I would omit "solely." That makes it literally ANY means to an end, which is why I've often thought many Christians would make a deal with Satan if it would get them a desired sociopolitical goal. My previous remark on the anti-Christ was thus not wholly facetious. I do think there ought to be some limits to what's tolerable in a person's character. But I don't know what monstrous qualities it would take for a right-wing Christian to, say, pass up an opportunity to seize the Supreme Court.
I know you mean that as a sign-off, but the last paragraph is puzzling. I do not see how you get from R.C.'s " It SOLELY constitutes a preference ...? to your own "That makes it literally ANY means to an end...". That seems a massive unsupported jump.Delete
Nor do I see where a sane person can call, frankly, either Trump or Clinton "monstrous". Bad, yes, but just look around the world, reflect on the 20th C, and that sounds silly.
Finally, "seiz[ing] the Supreme Court" is good. Since JFK appointed Byron White, not a single Democrat-appointed justice has had an ounce of moderation in them. But Republicans have appointed three strong liberals (Blackmun, Stevens, and Souter), plus three genuine moderates (Powell, O'Connor, Kennedy). And note that no one ever identifies a liberal judge as the "swing vote".
Sean Killackey, Anyway, is it really so obvious that his moral failings are deal breakers? In light of the alternative - a Clinton presidency and all that would bring?ReplyDelete
How is it unclear that a lesser evil is still evil?
Hi E.Seigner, My point is that though Trump himself is a bad man, and as president a mixed bag (who will fail to do good, or do evil sometimes) voting for him isn't evil (lesser or otherwise) - at least not obviously so. We take plenty of actions that have positive and negative outcomes. If we couldn't do anything that had bad outcomes, we couldn't do anything at all. As long as the principle of double effect is observed, ones action is at least permissible. Why voting for Trump should be different because he's an odious man, I don't know.Delete
Sean Killackey, As long as the principle of double effect is observed, ones action is at least permissible. Why voting for Trump should be different because he's an odious man, I don't know.Delete
Can you elaborate on how there is anything like a double effect when voting for Trump? All I see is one, in your own words: "...a bad man, and as president a mixed bag (who will fail to do good, or do evil sometimes)..." As president, he continues to behave according to his nature, just like Hillary would have. The same single easily foreseeable effect.
Would Clinton's SCOTUS nominee(s- perhaps), or federal judicial appointees would have been the same or better than Trump's? I doubt it, so if one voted for Trump because they believed that he would appoint good people to the SCOTS or various other judgeships, I think they're doing so is justified by the PDE. At least, you can't say it was obviously wrong of them to do so.Delete