Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Link it! Link it good!


On BBC Radio 4, Melvyn Bragg discusses Kant’s categorical imperative with David Oderberg and other philosophers

Philosopher of science Bas van Fraassen is interviewed at 3:AM Magazine.


At First Things, Rusty Reno on accommodation to liberal modernity among contemporary American conservatives and in the pontificate of Pope Francis.
 
The Globe and Mail asks why it is so hard for a woman to find a good man these days.  Mark Regnerus has the answer.

At Aeon, Michael Ruse on biology and teleology.


At the Claremont Review of Books, Algis Valiunas on Martin Luther and his revolution.

What Is It Like to Be a Philosopher? interviews conservative philosopher Daniel Bonevac.

Paul Mankowski on the merits of Evelyn Waugh, at First Things.

Cluny Media launches The Thomist Tradition book series.  The inaugural volume is Metaphysics and the Existence of God by Thomas C. O’Brien.

On seeing racism everywhere, via The Maverick Philosopher.

At Public Discourse, Paul DeHart critiques Leo Strauss on reason and revelation.

Kin to the Martini, it’s the Gin & It.  Gin Foundry has the recipe.

At First Things, Fr. Thomas Joseph White recommends three books on Catholicism in the modern world

Donald Fagen’s The Nightfly is 35 years old.  Steely Dan’s Aja is 40Rolling Stone on the late Walter Becker.

The Times Literary Supplement on the relentless honesty of Ludwig Wittgenstein.

David Bentley Hart contra Daniel Dennett, at The New Atlantis.

Standpoint recalls Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind.

First Things on what papal infallibility is not.  Related remarks from canon lawyer Ed Peters

Fresh Air interviews jazz pianist Dave Frishberg.  His memoir My Dear Departed Past was recently published.

Los Angeles Review of Books on Reinhold Niebuhr, David Bentley Hart, and the theologian as public intellectual.

Ray Monk on the character of Gottlob Frege, at Prospect.

A. N. Wilson on the theology of Isaac Newton, at The Spectator.

Den of Geek! interviews Bryan Cranston about the new Philip K. Dick anthology series Electric Dreams.

From Bill Clinton to Harvey Weinstein and back again, at The Weekly Standard


Stephen Kotkin on Stalin versus Hitler, at Foreign Affairs.  Kotkin’s new book on the subject reviewed at The New Criterion.

John O’Sullivan on Islam, liberalism, and the future of Europe, at the Claremont Review of Books.

Far out, man!  First Comics News on Mark Voger’s new book Groovy: When Flower Power Bloomed in Pop Culture

106 comments:

  1. The cover of the Portuguese translation of your book is one of my favorites. Keep up the good work, Dr. Feser!

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  2. Somehow I always had you pegged as a Devo fan.

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  3. Ed, you missed Tollefsen today over at Public Discourse.

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    1. Actually, my three-part reply to Brugger and Tollefsen will run next week at Public Discourse.

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    2. Looking forward to it. I responded to Tollefsen's theory myself: http://whatswrongwiththeworld.net/2017/11/death_for_the_new_natural_lawy.html

      Hope you clean their clocks on the "basic good" novelty. I am curious whether their theory of multiple irreducible basic goods implies that human nature (and thus natural good) is not, fundamentally, hierarchical.

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  4. Interesting how our host once just roasted me for saying that Dawkins was a good rhetorician. Now, in the Pints with Aquinas podcast, he says that Dawkins has some real rhetorical chops. I guess I was right after all.

    I mean, Dawkins is a truly terrible philosopher, but he's quite a good writer and a pretty great science populizer.

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    1. You can be a good rhetorician in the sense that you persuade but be a bad rhetorician in the sense that objectively speaking your techniques are very low level and artless.

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  5. Give me a David Oderberg and Edward Feser duo podcast. It airs for roughly 60 minutes on Tuesdays and Thursdays after 4 PM. They generally open with some cultural commentary, perhaps some funny polemical quips by Feser (a la TLS). Then they move into a more technical mode when they address certain topics pertaining to metaphysics, ethics, ontology, and science. Also on Thursdays they take twenty minutes at the end of the show to answer questions from listeners.

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    1. Is there a link for that podcast?

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    2. No, it's not real--this is my wish.

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    3. Poor Joe, you got his hopes up, and not only him.

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    4. I'm sorry. It would be an amazing podcast though. Name proposals?

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  6. Except for most any version of Jesu Dulcis Memoria, Fagen and Steely have produced my favorite music to play in the background. But lately discovered the "Dukes of September" (Fagen, McDonald, Scaggs), and the bassline on Boz's Miss Sun? Where have I been"?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6u9vPkVr7CU

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  7. The Gin and It page linked to itself had a link to by far the best gin cocktail--the Negroni. Martinis are over-rated but Negronis are delicious, rivaling even the Rusty Nail!

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  8. I hope you don't mind another link, but bad news out of Australia:

    http://www.skynews.com.au/news/top-stories/2017/11/15/wait-over-for-same-sex-marriage-survey-result.html

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  9. I'm curious, how does Prof. Ed Feser reconcile divine simplicity with the distinctions found in the Trinity.

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    1. Probably the way Aquinas does: distinction of Persons does not imply separation of beings or of attributes. All the attributes of divinity are in the Persons without difference.

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    2. What about the Trinity AND God as the act of existence? I'm thinking of how existential Thomists, as I understand them, talk about God as not something, not "is this" or "is that", but as "is". Would not the Trinity be an "is this/that"? How can we reconcile both?

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    3. Anon, if I understand it, each of the Persons "is" God in every respect. So, while one could say "The Trinity is all-powerful", one can also say "The Son is all-powerful". One cannot say the Trinity is all-powerful in a different sense than the Son is.

      The same would go with "exists" and "is" simply: they are used analogically, not univocally with any other beings. But there is no difference in the sense of "exists" for the Trinity and for Son.

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    4. Anon 1:09 am

      >I'm curious, how does Prof. Ed Feser reconcile divine simplicity with the [real]distinctions found in the Trinity.


      The Catholic Church defines the divine simplicity in terms of God not having any real physical and metaphysical distinctions in the divine essence.

      There is nothing in this definition to exclude mysterious real distinctions that are truly real and are neither by definition real physical or metaphysical distinctions.

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    5. Tony,

      I'm not sure I was understood correctly. I am not interested in questions of simplicity (I am a different Anon than the OP, btw; perhaps that's the source of confusion). What I mean is that if the Trinity is a something and thus in possession of an essence, if you will, and the act of existence precedes essence, then how is God both the act of existence and the Trinity? How is God "Be-ing" AND "a being"? I cannot see how personhood could be ascribed to the act of existence, something I understand to be prior to personhood.

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    6. Dos, I don't have any reason to think it suitable to speak of "the Trinity as a something". Classical theists like Aquinas, Aristotle, Duns Scotus, etc generally don't admit that this language can be used for God, and I don't think Catholics would accept it for the Trinity either. God is not "a 'Be-ing' and 'a being'." He is outside the 10 categories, and also not to be considered "a being" like any other being. But just as much, the Trinity is not "a being" and does not "have" an essence. The word "Trinity" is the shorthand word we humans use to stand for the truth that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God - one God only, all the same one substance. "The Trinity" is not "a being" any more than God is.

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    7. Just to be clear, I didn't say God was "a Be-ing" but Be-ing, the hyphen put there to emphasize the act of being.

      > He is outside the 10 categories, and also not to be considered "a being" like any other being.

      That is precisely my point. If God is understood as the act of existence --
      and as I believe Gilson would say existence is something that is apprehended in judgement and not able to be conceptualized precisely because it is not a this or a that, not one being among many -- then it is easy to see, at least in this sense, how God could be understood as transcending the order of things. But as soon as we invoke the Trinity, I can no longer see how God can be both the "I am that I am", the act of existence, AND the Trinity.

      > But just as much, the Trinity is not "a being" and does not "have" an essence. The word "Trinity" is the shorthand word we humans use to stand for the truth that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God - one God only, all the same one substance.

      A shorthand FOR the truth that the Father IS God, the Son IS God, the Holy Spirit IS God, that they are all ONE SUBSTANCE. All of those smack of essence (Tertullian uses the phrase "one in essence - not one in Person" to describe the Trinity), even if there is no plurality of substances. To say that Trinity is only a shorthand "we humans use" is dancing around the question. Clearly, if God EXISTS in three persons, we must mean that that is actually true. So if personhood is essential, and existence precedes essence, and God is the act of existence, then do we not have the situation where God is both the act of existence and a substance whose nature it is to be three persons?

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  10. Loved the interview with van Frassen, however his point on "laws of nature do not exist" is a bit moot, as indeed interactions between particles do follow certain relations (rather than others!).

    Maybe the "laws of nature" are not as they were envisioned in ye olde Newtonian physics, but clearly interactions do follow certain rules (laws if you will).

    -
    Please send Dennett some ice, because if Feser gave him a burn in his critical review of his latest book, Hart practically incinerated him.

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  11. Hi Prof Feser,.. any chance you could include Jim Madden's talk "Neuroscience and the Soul" in your links? You recommended a book of his here once. It's a really interesting talk:

    https://soundcloud.com/thomisticinstitute/prof-james-madden-neuroscience-and-the-soul-march-2017

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    1. Thanks for the link. I read his book about three or four months ago, and it was very, good both in content and style.

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  12. “Dawkins is a truly terrible philosopher, but he's quite a good writer and a pretty great science populizer.”

    That depends on what you mean by science.

    Let’s ask James Conant, chemist and former President of Harvard University: ““The sciences dealing with the past, stand before the bar of common sense on a different footing. Therefore, a grotesque account of a period some thousands of years ago is taken seriously though it be built by piling special assumptions on special assumptions, ad hoc hypothesis on ad hoc hypothesis, and tearing apart the fabric of science whenever it appears convenient. The result is a fantasia which is neither history nor science.”

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  13. Kind of OT, but the Waugh article quoted C S Lewis at one point. Now, both are among my very favorites, and I've read most of what they wrote. I can find no reference in either to the other; as if they'd never heard of one another. Granted, I doubt they'd have got along very well, but they definitely did have friends in common. The intellectual world of England just wasn't that big, especially if you just count Christians. Can anyone give me some grounds to think otherwise?

    (I do note that there is a citation of Evelyn Waugh in the index of the letters to Arthur Greeves, but that's a mistake. The actual reference is to Alec.)

    Another Waugh question. The frontispiece of Waugh's bio of Ronald Knox (someone, btw, whom Lewis knew well enough to refer to him as "Ronnie"), is a bust by Arthur Pollen. No middle name is given. Does anyone know if that is Arthur Hungerford Pollen, the fire control guy? I know he was a Catholic, and son of an artist. This also ties back to Ed, in a way. The article on Hayek on mind cites Hayek as comparing the way the mind works with the way anti-aircraft control systems worked. Well, Pollen was the guy from whom all those systems stem (though he worked on surface to surface fire). Small world.

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    1. The Pollen question is interesting. I think they are father and son. The sculptor's grandfather is John Hungerford Pollen, who converted to Catholicism (Pollen was a friend of Newman and worked on building and furniture design). JH Pollen had quite a few children, one of whom was Arthur Hungerford Pollen; the sculptor was JH Pollen's grandson, and I'm pretty sure that AH was his father. This seems confirmed by this site:

      http://sculpture.gla.ac.uk/view/person.php?id=msib6_1251208571

      An interesting family: the sculptor's son Patrick was a big name in stained glass; that's four straight generations, at least, of major contributors to the arts.

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    2. Thanks. I'd missed that one (knew about AHP's ancestors, but not descendants.) There are several other figures connected with the RN in that era who have family connections with the arts. E.g., Adm H W Richmond was the son of one painter, and grandson of another.

      And with Newman. William Froude, a great figure in ship design in the Victorian era, was brother to Richard Hurrell Froude, who was the most radical of the Oxford Movement. I suspect he'd probably have converted had he not died young. To complete the circle, W H Mallock, whose New Republic was a big favorite of Ronald Knox, was named William Hurrell - yes, his mother was a sister of the above.

      This interconnectedness is why I'm curious about the complete absence of any apparent awareness by Lewis and Waugh of one another.

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  14. A discussion about Hart's and Feser's reviews of Dennett's latest book on Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/philosophy/comments/7btqzy/the_illusionist_daniel_dennetts_latest_book_marks/

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  15. Just what one expect from a philosophy Reddit...a moronic circle-jerk.

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    1. As many of your opponents could say of this site's comments... it goes both ways, pal.

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    2. The lying anon strikes again?

      That discussion is populated by the usual popular science groupies who have read Dawkins and Harris and think that gives them adequate of philosophy. It doesn't. Please show in detail where such philosophical ignorance exists here.

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    3. Lying Anon,

      What people say is irrelevant. What they can prove or support is what matters. You seem to struggle with this distinction throughout your comments.

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    4. One of the Anonymouses: Please show in detail where such philosophical ignorance exists here.

      C'mon, almost every thread lately is full of it! OK, admittedly, it's all from the same person (and/or incredibly buggy AI-simulation), but until SP goes I guess we're stuck with it.

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    5. Touche, though I think the lying anon had the theist/non-naturalist majority in mind. He has a crush on SP.

      I found it funny that one of the Reddit posters takes Hart to task for misunderstanding Dawkins's notion of memes. He didn't seem to get Hart was reviewing the use Dennett made of the idea.

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    6. Not surprised, most of the subreddits generally act as echochambers for various groups.

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  16. " Kin to the Martini, it’s the Gin & It. Gin Foundry has the recipe."

    Geez I don't know ... four parts vermouth to one of gin? And sweet vermouth at that? You are mixing one aromatic with another: a cool ideally clean and sharp sprucey one with a sweet licorice one. Why not toss in a couple bay leaves and some oregano too? Well, to each his own: that's my philosophy ... yuk

    However, if you want a sweeter and lighter on the alcohol drink for the holiday, just make a reverse (2:1) Manhattan; or much better, half and half with lots of ice ... No law says you can't.

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  17. For something completely different re the never ending shouting match between the various self-righteous theists, and the dim-witted atheists why not check out the new book published under the auspices of the Dalai Llama titled The Monastery and the Microscope.
    The work of Amit Goswami who was/is a research scientist.
    The books written by the polymath Irvin Laszlo including What Is Reality? The New Map of Cosmos Consciousness and Existence; The Intelligence of the Cosmos; The Consciousness Revolution.
    Check out the Laszlo Institute of New Paradigm Research too.
    It is interesting to note that the word consciousness seldom, if ever appears on this website.

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    1. I read some of "The Monastery and the Microscope" on Google Books. I have to say, the Dalai Lama's concluding thoughts, especially as regards ethics, are unimpressive.

      "Secular ethics" (especially when naturalistic) is an utterly meaningless concept. It can never be anything more than subjective and a construct. And D.L conflates happiness with ethics.

      Further, If one wishes to begin with the view (as naturalist secularists do) that humans are the purposeless product of a purposeless universe, that our lives are ultimately insignificant etc...then any thinking person will realize morality is merely a useful instrument that can be used as one pleases. If it gets in one's way, one will cease moral reasoning when required.

      Of course, many secularists (of the naturalist bent) refuse to admit this. They want to have it both ways. But, to paraphrase David B. Hart: on naturalism morality is the product of a brute amoral nature. And the naturalist tells us moral reasoning is binding upon all rational persons?

      And the Dalai Lama seems to endorse an absolutely false scientism. It is false to assume that the only real knowledge we have is scientifically discovered. Science itself presupposes various forms of knowledge.

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    2. Jason,

      "'Secular ethics' (especially when naturalistic) is an utterly meaningless concept. It can never be anything more than subjective and a construct."

      1) How does something based in nature become a subjective construct in your mind? Your sentence implies there is no meaning of any sort in nature.

      2) How does an ethics based in 'revelation' make it more than a subjective construct?

      3) Do you think subjectivity is so random that it has no basis in human nature?

      Delete
  18. Jason November 17, 2017 at 4:09 AM

    "Secular ethics" (especially when naturalistic) is an utterly meaningless concept.
    ...
    It can never be anything more than subjective and a construct."
    --Ethics are indeed a construct. That is their meaning, so your use of the word "utterly" is an incorrect absolute.

    Things have meaning relative to each other. One thing means something in relationship to something else. Ethics have relative meaning.

    "It is false to assume that the only real knowledge we have is scientifically discovered. Science itself presupposes various forms of knowledge."
    --What is "real knowledge"? One common definition is justified true belief. But that is circular and unverifiable except for cogito ergo sum and the close derivative that something exists as opposed to absolutely nothing at all.

    If knowledge is justified true belief then how do we know what is true? Well, perhaps one says truth is what is real. Ok, but how do we know what is real? Aquinas started the First Way very well in that regard, by what is manifest and evident to our senses.

    But how do we know our senses convey reality to us? Some take that on faith. The scientist provisionally postulates the basic reliability of the human senses.

    So, science does not "presuppose" various forms of knowledge in the sense of taking such knowledge on faith or certainty. Rather, science is self consciously provisional and founded on provisional postulates that are well known to not be proved, but only apparently true and provisionally accepted for the purpose of continued scientific investigation.

    Thus, scientific materialism is an entirely coherent and self consistent system of thought.

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  19. https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/christians-death-penalty

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    1. David Bentley Hart says of Feser and Bessette...
      repeat two tediously persistent exegetical errors

      What they have produced instead is relentlessly ill-conceived. Its arguments, philosophical and historical, are feeble. Its treatment of biblical texts is crude, its patristic scholarship careless. And all too often it exhibits a moral insensibility that is truly repellant.

      the arguments Feser and Bessette make are mostly blank assertions masquerading as deductions of logic

      It is all quite unconvincing.

      a shocking subversion of the entire idea.

      when Feser and Bessette turn their eyes to the New Testament that their argument goes disastrously awry.

      It is painfully obvious that neither of them bothered to read the patristic texts they cite; they merely went searching for anything that looked like a proof text, no matter how tenuous or fragmentary, and without paying even cursory attention to context.

      The most appalling aspect of this book is finally not its shoddy reasoning or theological ignorance, but its sheer moral coarseness.

      In the end, Feser and Bessette offer a very odd and unsettling picture of Christianity, rather like a familiar and beautiful painting monstrously distorted in a carnival mirror—the lovely rendered hideous, the exquisite grotesque.

      **********

      Gee, even I wasn't that harsh! But then, Hart has equally, or even harsher, things to say about atheists and materialists. He's kind of a critical guy.

      Delete
    2. “He's kind of a critical guy.”

      Despite new atheism’s propaganda, if one actually looks one finds that theistic philosophers tend to be smarter, more diligent, and more interesting than naturalistic philosophers.

      And, I must sadly add, more honest. Naturalistic belief seems to do bad things not only to one’s mind but also to one’s character. Here is a worrying fact: Naturalism entails the non-existence of free will, and it has been experimentally proved (for example see Vohs & Schooler 2008) that those who believe that free will doesn’t exist (or even only have just read a scientific sounding text to that effect) are more apt to lie and to cheat.

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    3. Dianelos Georgoudis November 18, 2017 at 4:48 AM

      SP“He's kind of a critical guy.”

      "Despite new atheism’s propaganda, if one actually looks one finds that theistic philosophers tend to be smarter, more diligent, and more interesting than naturalistic philosophers."
      --Then why don't they understand that the manifest and evident existential inertia of material calls for no changer at all, much less a necessary first changer?

      This is very simple logic, yet so many of your supposedly smart and diligent philosophers just don't get it.


      "Here is a worrying fact: Naturalism entails the non-existence of free will, and it has been experimentally proved (for example see Vohs & Schooler 2008) that those who believe that free will doesn’t exist (or even only have just read a scientific sounding text to that effect) are more apt to lie and to cheat. "
      --At least we are honest about the nature of reality :-)

      Delete
  20. "Things have meaning relative to each other. One thing means something in relationship to something else. Ethics have relative meaning."

    In relation to what?

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    1. Dave Wilson November 17, 2017 at 8:47 AM
      SP Ethics have relative meaning.

      "In relation to what?"
      --Culture, perceived relative good or bad, our personal sense of ought relative to the communicated senses of ought from others, relative to each other.

      Ethics are subjective, or as Jason put it a "construct". We lack a source of objective morality. No person has ever been able to tell me a demonstrably objective moral truth, not even one, ever.

      Delete
    2. Is it objectively morally evil to hack a new born baby in pieces?

      Delete
    3. Remember, everyone, don't feed the troll.

      SP, go away.

      Delete
    4. Almost 2018
      Still seriously replying to strawdusty

      Shiggydiggywigysggnhhj

      Delete
    5. Anonymous November 17, 2017 at 10:49 AM

      "Is it objectively morally evil to hack a new born baby in pieces?"
      --For bible believing Christians, certainly not. W L Craig defends the practice at length.

      1 Samuel
      15:3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

      Delete
    6. Miguel November 17, 2017 at 3:55 PM

      "Almost 2018
      Still seriously replying to strawdusty"
      --You have no displayed capacity to do so. Your replies have not been serious, rather, inconsequential throwaway lines which I always quickly disprove.

      You certainly have never provided an example of a demonstrably objective moral truth. Of course not, no human being ever has, never, not even one.

      Morality is relative and personal, only a personal sensibility, a personal sense of ought lacking a source for objective moral truth.

      W L Craig actually does a fair job of summarizing the lack of an objective morality on Atheism.

      Delete
    7. SP clearly isn't that interested in getting proper responses. He was given a place where he can get them but he'd rather hint where he isn't wanted and is shunned. Seems like the mark of a troll:

      http://classicaltheism.boardhost.com/viewtopic_mobile.php?id=927

      Delete
    8. What is your answer to the question is hacking a new born baby to pieces objectively morally evil?

      Delete
    9. Jeremy Taylor November 17, 2017 at 4:37 PM

      "SP clearly isn't that interested in getting proper responses."
      --What "proper" responses?

      "He was given a place where he can get them "
      --I don't see any here:
      http://classicaltheism.boardhost.com/viewtopic_mobile.php?id=927

      This is a discussion forum, yet somehow discussion is off limits here and must be "properly" conducted there? WTF are you even trying to say?

      Delete
    10. Anonymous November 17, 2017 at 5:07 PM

      "What is your answer to the question is hacking a new born baby to pieces objectively morally evil?"
      --No. No objectively moral evil has ever been identified that I have ever heard of.


      We, the USA, blew lots of babies to bits. Now you have a baby, next you have bloody shreds of gore splattered about. The USA did that. Sometimes, we had to. Hacking babies into little pieces is relative to the circumstances.

      Morality is relative.

      Delete
    11. Reminder Strawdusty takes the principle of non-contradiction to be a "postulate" that he just "can't imagine being violated", but it not being in principle impossible for the PNC to be found false.

      Do not discuss with mad men, even if they seem somewhat stable

      Delete
    12. Miguel November 18, 2017 at 4:55 AM

      "Reminder Strawdusty takes the principle of non-contradiction to be a "postulate" that he just "can't imagine being violated", but it not being in principle impossible for the PNC to be found false."
      --What principle(s) do you employ to state this impossibility?

      Hint: Using the PNC to prove the PNC is begging the question.


      "Do not discuss with mad men, even if they seem somewhat stable"
      --You seem to not be aware that the whole of mathematics and logic rests upon axioms or postulates that are not themselves proved, only broadly accepted as true.

      This fact bothered Bertrand Russell a great deal as a young man. He got to the point where the instructor told him that he must accept certain axioms or they could not go on. Russell objected strongly to that, insisting that the axioms be proved, since he had no interest in accepting anything without proof.

      His instructor informed him that in that case they could not go on. And so it is with us all.

      Some people take these principles on faith. Some think they are ordained by god. Some fool themselves into thinking they have actually proved these axioms.

      The scientifically minded person self consciously decides to provisionally accept the axioms for the purpose of making further progress while bearing in mind that they have not and most likely cannot be proved.

      Delete
    13. See? Strawdusty doen't take them to be self-evident, and has also no basic understanding of foundationalism. He thinks PNC could perhaps be false. He's mad, unfortunately.

      Delete
    14. Let this be a warning to anyone who thinks there is still any capacity in Strawdusty to comprehend philosophical arguments. There isn't. He thinks PNC could be false, even if he "provisionally" accepts it.

      Do not debate with mad men, people. We need some of that Thomas Reid treatment here. Gentle ridicule.

      Delete
    15. Complete ostracism. Stop responding to the Troll, ever.

      Delete
    16. What Tony said. Get lost, go away, etc. are acceptable. Otherwise don't take the bait!

      Delete
    17. Stardusty Psyche,

      "Ethics are subjective, or as Jason put it a 'construct'. We lack a source of objective morality. No person has ever been able to tell me a demonstrably objective moral truth, not even one, ever."

      No person has ever been able to demonstrate to me that moral truth is entirely random, not even one, ever.

      No person has been able to demonstrate to me that a 'relative' ethics is in fact entirely divorced from human nature, and is therefore 'relative' in a fundamentally important sense.

      No person has been able to demonstrate to me that one's 'personal sensibility' is entirely free of human nature. If one's 'personal sensibility' is limited by human nature, surely any ethics based on 'personal sensibility' is, at least in part, founded in human nature.

      You say, "The scientifically minded person self consciously decides to provisionally accept the axioms for the purpose of making further progress while bearing in mind that they have not and most likely cannot be proved."

      Yet apply the same to ethics. The ethically minded person self consciously decides to provisionally accept the axioms (moral truths) for the purpose of making further (ethical) progress while bearing in mind that they have not and most likely cannot be proved.

      If you believe, as I believe, that science makes progress towards what is more than less true, why should we scoff at the idea that ethics can do the same? If ethics can make progress (as 'progressives' certainly believe it can) how is progress even possible unless there was some truth in those original axioms -- a direction toward which progress can point?

      I agree with a lot of what you argue on science and reason. I made similar arguments here years ago. But I cannot understand why people like you think your position on objective moral truth is much different than those who argue against objective truths in physics, and even logic and math.


      Delete
    18. Don Jindra November 19, 2017 at 8:30 AM

      "No person has been able to demonstrate to me that a 'relative' ethics is in fact entirely divorced from human nature, "
      --But how do we know human nature is objectively good?

      I agree with W L Craig, and others, on atheism there can be no sound basis for objective morality.

      "and is therefore 'relative' in a fundamentally important sense."
      --Human nature varies. Cultures vary. Moral sensibilities vary. Morality is relative, not objective.

      There is broad agreements on what is good because most of us are fundamentally similar in our physical construction and therefore in our personal nature.

      It's not random, and it's also not objectively good, or bad, or right, or wrong.

      "science makes progress towards what is more than less true, why should we scoff at the idea that ethics can do the same?"
      --Science can make progress toward promotion of human flourishing, but on atheism human flourishing cannot be proved to be objectively good.

      "But I cannot understand why people like you think your position on objective moral truth is much different than those who argue against objective truths in physics, and even logic and math."
      --Ok, we don't know the objective truth about the physical world and logic and math are abstractions that rest on axioms, or apparently self evident truths, that are not proved.

      Delete
    19. You ask, How do we know human nature is objectively good? That's a misplaced question. It's irrelevant whether you call human nature good or evil or indifferent. Your characterization makes no difference as to its existence.

      Human nature varies very little. It varies like height and weight vary. That variation does not mean there is not a norm. Cultures vary, but not by that much. The very existence of culture is part of human nature. Differences in culture do not imply a difference in human nature or an absence of moral absolutes. Culture can be wrong about morality like it can be wrong about the solar system.

      "There is broad agreements on what is good because most of us are fundamentally similar in our physical construction and therefore in our personal nature."

      Exactly. There is a norm. I believe that norm is objectively there.

      "human flourishing cannot be proved to be objectively good"

      That's another misplaced reference to objective good. Of course human good is not "good" from the "subjective perspective" of a rock. The concept is applicable only to human behavior from our perspective, our success as a species.

      "Ok, we don't know the objective truth about the physical world and logic and math are abstractions that rest on axioms, or apparently self evident truths, that are not proved."

      The meaning of that sentence is unclear to me.

      "I agree with W L Craig, and others, on atheism there can be no sound basis for objective morality."

      I do not agree. W L Craig does not speak for me.




      Delete
    20. Don Jindra November 19, 2017 at 1:05 PM

      "Human nature varies very little. "
      ??? You are apparently unaware to the huge variations personality types and beliefs and actions among human beings.

      " That variation does not mean there is not a norm. Cultures vary, but not by that much."
      ???Slavery, women's rights, death to apostates, and on and on and on.

      " The very existence of culture is part of human nature. Differences in culture do not imply a difference in human nature or an absence of moral absolutes. "
      --Morals are all over the map. I have no idea where you are getting all this from.

      " There is a norm. I believe that norm is objectively there."
      --Slavery was a norm. That does not make it objectively good.

      There is some sort of map of morals and perhaps you can find some sort of center. That isn't even a weak argument for the existence of objective morality, it is no argument at all.


      SP"Ok, we don't know the objective truth about the physical world and logic and math are abstractions that rest on axioms, or apparently self evident truths, that are not proved."

      "The meaning of that sentence is unclear to me."
      --You asked me about those subjects. I answered.
      We don't know the objective truth about the physical world. All we have is an incomplete understanding.

      Logic and math are abstractions that rest on axioms, or apparently self evident truths, that are not proved.

      "I do not agree. W L Craig does not speak for me."
      --Nobody gets everything wrong, even Craig. He is right that on atheism there is no sound basis for objective morality.

      Delete
    21. Stardusty Psyche,

      Do you actually believe that slaves thought it was right that they were slaves? If you say yes, please tell me where you get that idea.

      "There is some sort of map of morals and perhaps you can find some sort of center. That isn't even a weak argument for the existence of objective morality, it is no argument at all."

      So why is there a center then? If there is a Gaussian distribution in any set of data, it implies a norm. If you deny that, you deny a lot powerful tool in engineering and science. It's not a "weak" tool.

      "We don't know the objective truth about the physical world. All we have is an incomplete understanding."

      Sorry, but that's lame. Of course we don't know the whole of the truth about anything. That does not mean a truth is not there to be found. It does not mean we cannot approach that truth. This is exactly what science does.

      Delete


  21. By the way, my name is not "Dave Wilson". That is just an e-mail account that the comment box apparently defaulted to.

    ReplyDelete
  22. https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/christians-death-penalty
    Hart is as bad at reviewing Feser as he is at reviewing Dennett (where he for example got Kant wrong, or so Kantians tell me).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. His review of Dennett, whatever errors there were in details, was penetrating and insightful. Of course, it is not hard to be when dealing with the kind of fallacies Dennett's works are filled with.

      Delete
    2. "Moreover," said a man who is confident that dogs are in heaven, "whenever one party to a debate dismisses the ethical concerns of the other side as 'sentimental,' it is usually an indication of the former’s inferior moral imagination."

      Delete
    3. DBH likes continental philosophy. Continental philosophy is rubbish.

      Not to say DBH never writes interesting or insightful things. He does. He's not stupid by any means. But the virus of continentalism shows, sometimes.

      Delete
  23. A recent essay by Michael Pakaluk in First Things contains a couple jabs at Paul Griffith's review in the same magazine.

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    1. That Griffith's review was dreadful. I did give a shot at Derrida, and throughout I was using two word phrases. I was flexible about the first word; sometimes "chicken", sometimes "bull". I pretty much went through the animal kingdom, ending with "whale". But the 2nd word was constant.

      The paragraph on homonyms was, in fact, Derrida-worthy.

      But what can we expect from Duke?

      Delete
    2. George, you're right, that Griffith's review was truly dreadful. It's hard to know which aspect of it is the worst, you have so many to choose from. Was it pitching justice into the "consequentialist" camp? Was it the choice (mere whim) of preferring Derrida's unreflective emotive response of intolerable distaste toward DP rather than a principled conclusion? Was it his idiotic ignorance of natural law traditions that place justice within a framework of many goods, which together make up the common good? Was it his own rationale that because the Declaration calls life an "inalienable right" that's the end of the matter - without bothering to reflect for just one minute that the same passage of the Declaration also calls liberty an inalienable right, and he does not conclude that prison punishment is incoherent? It's so hard to decide.

      I am disappointed in First Things (yet again), and wish that even if they feel they must toe a line more positive about Pope Francis than the average intelligent Christian thinks is justifiable, at least they manage to drum up some truly worthwhile essays on these topics. Griffiths is not one. He has not cast any light, his article is a darkening of the discussion.

      Delete
    3. I thing the argument that achieving justice is consequentialist takes the cake. If I actually reproduced what I said then, Ed would ban me - rightly. (Don't forget, I AM a sailor. And a New Yorker.)

      If I am to listen to someone cite Derrida as some kind of authority or sage, I damned well want to see him first establish some ground to take him as such, and not the fraud he is. (I liked Scruton on the subject.) If I have to read a pomo, at least let it be Fish, who's the only one who I've seen come out and say what he means.

      And yes, you're right about life as an "inalienable right". Since when has Locke been a doctor of the Church? I confess - and I'll probably get my degree taken away for saying this - I've never bought that passage. I don't say they are false, so far as they can be defined, but self evident? No way.

      Delete
    4. I thought the Griffiths review was pretentious and overwrought, but I don't blame First Things for publishing it. I am not sure whether the editorial staff of the magazine endorse the death penalty, but they clearly don't share Griffith's views and sensibilities. As Matthew Schmitz tweeted with the article, "Paul Griffiths rejects any middle ground on the death penalty. Another sign of the JPII settlement breaking up." They presumably asked him to review it; the review wasn't bad enough to turn away, and it is, as Schmitz says, revealing.

      Delete
    5. Well, there's "revealing" in actually presenting some good arguments, and "revealing" in the sense of "look at how awful the opposition's arguments are". If they are willing to settle for the latter, all they can intend is that there are no good or even plausible arguments for abolitionism.

      Delete
  24. SP wrote:

    "The scientifically minded person self consciously decides to provisionally accept the axioms for the purpose of making further progress while bearing in mind that they have not and most likely cannot be proved."

    Sounds like circular reasoning to me, as you seem to be certain that there is no such thing as certainty when it comes to axiomatic principles. If this is indeed the case, then all of your previous tirades about how modern physics has "disproved" Thomistic philosophy don't really mean anything at all, because you have already admitted that almost all scientific knowledge is what we *hope* to be true, rather than objectively set.

    So what are you trying to argue here?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous November 18, 2017 at 11:48 AM

      "Sounds like circular reasoning to me, as you seem to be certain that there is no such thing as certainty "
      --That would be self contradictory, which is why I did not say that. Those are your words, not mine.

      "If this is indeed the case, then all of your previous tirades about how modern physics has "disproved" Thomistic philosophy don't really mean anything at all,"
      --On the acceptance of logical axioms a proposition can be shown to be logically false, and in that sense "destroyed".

      "because you have already admitted that almost all scientific knowledge is what we *hope* to be true, rather than objectively set. "
      --Scientific knowledge is founded on a set of provisional postulates, such as the basic reliability of the human senses, that the universe is intelligible and discoverable at least in part, and that formal logic and maths are valid tools for learning about the universe and how it works.

      Since there is no observed change in the amount of material in existence then there is no call for any changer to account for persistent existence of material. Pretty simple.

      Delete
    2. "That would be self contradictory, which is why I did not say that. Those are your words, not mine."

      You trimmed off a portion of my statement. I was not implying your dismissal of "certainty" qua certainty, rather that you indeed implied that there are axioms which you claim are not proven, only agreed up by consensus, which makes them subjective.

      "On the acceptance of logical axioms a proposition can be shown to be logically false, and in that sense "destroyed"."

      How so? Is logic in itself a given fact or is it dependent upon a subjective ad populum? You've already said:

      "You seem to not be aware that the whole of mathematics and logic rests upon axioms or postulates that are not themselves proved, only broadly accepted as true."

      If that is the case, then all you are arguing is that something only becomes "logic" when agreed upon by a group; not because it is objectively true. Given that, we have no reason to believe that your arguments are valid. You can't "destroy" something when you claim that both the axiom being "destroyed" and the axiom doing the "destroying" are reducible to shear opinions. You keep making arguments around the notion that modern physics has disproved A-T philosophy. Now you are saying that those same axioms and postulates are based upon an agreement. So therefore you have done nothing to objectively disprove anything; you've only made a claim regarding your opinion, per your assumptions of reality.

      "Scientific knowledge is founded on a set of provisional postulates, such as the basic reliability of the human senses"

      I am aware of what science is and how it works.

      "and that formal logic and maths are valid tools for learning about the universe and how it works."

      What makes them valid? That's not meant to be a facetious question, by the way.

      "Since there is no observed change in the amount of material in existence then there is no call for any changer to account for persistent existence of material. Pretty simple."

      What prohibits a changer from sustaining a universe such that it would require a change in the amount of material within that same universe?

      Delete
    3. Stop feeding the troll, please.

      Delete
    4. Yes, right when he backs you into a corner, stop responding to the troll!!!!!

      Delete
    5. >modern physics has disproved A-T philosophy.

      It's like saying moderate realism is disproven by String Theory.

      Or archeologists have disproven the existence of a Higgs Boson by failing to dig one up in a fossil bed.

      Gnu'Atheism is for those whose reasoning ability is sick with category mistakes.

      SP is terminal.

      Delete
    6. Anonymous November 18, 2017 at 3:36 PM

      SP*On the acceptance of logical axioms a proposition can be shown to be logically false, and in that sense "destroyed".*

      "How so?"
      --If a person does not accept the postulates of logic then we are unable to offer a logical argument to that person that is meaningful to that person.

      If a person is willing to accept the postulates of logic at least provisionally then arguments can be shown to be true or false within that closed system of stipulated methodology.

      "If that is the case, then all you are arguing is that something only becomes "logic" when agreed upon by a group; not because it is objectively true. Given that, we have no reason to believe that your arguments are valid."
      --If you choose to reject the postulates of logic then you and I have no common language for reasoning together. You may do so if you wish.

      If you choose to join me in accepting the postulates of logic, at least provisionally, then we have the possibility of proving or disproving propositions to each other within that mutually agreed upon framework.

      " Now you are saying that those same axioms and postulates are based upon an agreement. So therefore you have done nothing to objectively disprove anything; "
      --That depends on the sense of the word "objective" you choose to employ.

      An "objective standard" can be taken to mean merely an agreed upon standard, a set of stipulations of fact and process that a group of individuals enter into by mutual consent. Having established this system of logical standards evaluation of propositions becomes objective in the sense of referring to the agreed upon standard.

      This is a closed system of logic, of evaluation that parties may enter into if they wish to.

      Such an "objective standard" is not demonstrably objectively true in the absolute sense. The standards of logic agreed to are not absolutely proved to be true merely because a group of individuals agreed to them.


      "What makes them valid? That's not meant to be a facetious question, by the way."
      --We don't know that our mathematical abstractions are valid representations of reality, but we have vast evidence they are very nearly correct, if not absolutely correct.

      Consider a mission to Pluto, all the mathematical and scientific work, from the smallest metal part to the rockets, the fuel, computers, sensors, cameras, signals sent back and forth to the spacecraft, the trajectories, thrust calculations and on and on.

      We can't say we know precisely what the ultimate reality of existence is, but the images that come back to us as encoded electromagnetic radiation confirms very strongly our models converge on reality to a very high degree of precision.


      "What prohibits a changer from sustaining a universe such that it would require a change in the amount of material within that same universe? "
      --Nothing, and you may make that speculation if you wish. There is no upper bound on the number of variations of particular formulations of such speculations.

      However, the A-T claim that such a speculation is necessary is demonstrably logically false.

      A-T claims a hierarchical first mover in the present moment is logically necessary. That claim is false.

      You may make the speculation that to account for manifest existential inertia an invisible being is continually changing things in just the right way to make them appear unchanged.

      But that speculation is unnecessary and superfluous.

      To account for existential inertia all we need is the simple fact that material does not change in its existential respect. No change necessitates no changer. Done.

      Delete
    7. Lol SP actually doesn't think PNC violations are in principle impossible. I thought that maybe he was just unable to state his position. But he actually believes PNC is just a provisional postulate. What a moron.

      Delete
  25. Starhomo is the poster girl for Gnu'Atheism.

    100% void of any rational content or reasoning ability and strangely proud of it.

    So gay and not in the fun Milo way.

    ReplyDelete
  26. "100% void of any rational content or reasoning ability and strangely proud of it."

    Just like your comment huh?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. BTW Anon 5:53.

      I think everybody here is wise to the fact you are SP.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous,

      Strawdusty thinks the principle of non-contradiction is a provisional postulate. He's a moron. You can't expect someone to be able to understand and discuss advanced equations with you if the person can't even understand that 2 + 2 is 4 and not 5.

      He takes PNC to be a provisional postulate. He's a moron. If you do too, you are a moron too :)

      Cheers

      Delete
    3. Miguel November 19, 2017 at 4:12 AM

      " You can't expect someone to be able to understand and discuss advanced equations with you if the person can't even understand that 2 + 2 is 4 and not 5. "
      --Math is founded on axioms which are not themselves proved.

      You don't know that? This is introductory material, simple stuff. If you don't even know that math rests upon axioms that are not proved then you don't know anything about the philosophy of logic.

      Given your lack of understanding on such basic material I suppose it is unrealistic to think you will be able to grasp the logical defects in A-T.

      Existential inertia is accounted for very simply because continued existence of material is no change in its existential respect. No change does not necessitate a changer.

      That is very simple logic. Are you able to follow it?

      Delete
    4. You don't understand analogies as well, good job man.

      Yes, I am able to follow logic, that's why I can see it's wrong. You're wrong. Are you able to follow that?

      What do you mean by logic? You cannot use logic. You deny logic, you deny PNC as a self-evident absolute truth. I thereby forbid you to speak of logic ever again.

      I like your posts Strawdusty, you smart dude, you prove metaphysics wrong with your scientific worldview, you're almost turning me into an atheist. I get really impressed man, if everyone was like you we could be like exploring the stars and shit and maybe gettin some ice with martians and shit. Brrrr!

      Peace

      Delete
    5. Miguel

      Stardusty is a ho......yeh I promised Prof Feser didn't I?

      Dispute not with those who deny first principles as it is a futile exercise.

      This is the best a Gnu'Atheist can do. They are intellectually inferior. They are to philosophy and reason what Antifa is to polite political discourse and twice as comical.

      I am kind of disappointed. Can't the Gnu's produce anything more challenging then a spambot?

      There was a reason why I just called him names. He is not worth anything else & who knows maybe it will make him cry?

      Cheers man.

      Delete
  27. This thread is dead already so why bother man

    Strawdusty man you've been refuted man but you inspire everyone here to become physicists themselves and reach your understanding of SCIENCE, your scientifically minded critique of metaphysical notions is anazing and you should publish it in articles, academic magazines would be dying to get them. They're so strong they made me question my faith several times, you smart dude, bye

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Strawdusty if you are still reading this please tell me where Santa really lives, some say Greenland some say Finland, I don't know. I wanna write him a letter. Christmas is almost here and I'd love to gain your intellectual prowess and SCIENTIFIC(tm) understanding of metaphysics and logic. Thanks.

      Delete
    2. Miguel, we don't want him taking over even dead threads (and this thread is still the second closest to the top). Please don't feed him at all. Anything substantive he can latch onto can be enough.

      Delete
  28. Not a fan of that article on sex and resources. What an insult to marriage. What a disordered view of sexual relations. What the author describes is the whore's ethos, the exchange of sex for resources. Does she not comprehend that a man provides to his wife out of love for her, and she gives to her husband out of love for him? Does she not understand that this love also forms the foundation of the family for whom both parents provide in their own ways? The shallowness and bleakness of her disordered, nihilistic, transactional view of male/female relations are a vision straight from hell. I pity her and her ilk.

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    Replies
    1. Does she not comprehend that a man provides to his wife out of love for her, and she gives to her husband out of love for him? Does she not understand that this love also forms the foundation of the family for whom both parents provide in their own ways?

      You are writing in the indicative: a man provides, his wife gives. But you are presumably proposing norms rather than making an empirical generalization about what actually happens.

      People have sex and marry for all sorts of reasons, good and bad. The hypotheses that men tend to want sex and women tend to want stability are explanatorily robust.

      But the theory is not necessarily shallow or bleak. On the one hand, humans are animals, and their sense desires are part of what drive them to a great good like marriage. That's just how humans are designed.

      Of course, our sexuality is also disordered due to the fall. Marriage redeems it. But the perfection of love, when it occurs, occurs over time as one is receiving the graces of marriage.

      Delete