"One of the best contemporary writers on philosophy" National Review
"A terrific writer" Damian Thompson, Daily Telegraph
"Feser... has the rare and enviable gift of making philosophical argument compulsively readable" Sir Anthony Kenny, Times Literary Supplement
Selected for the First Things list of the 50 Best Blogs of 2010 (November 19, 2010)
Here we go, another tome on my reading list that I am chipping away at.This may seem abrupt, but the Classical Theism Forum has been unfortunately shut down because of hackers attacking it. The community has been dispersed and we're trying the best we can to reconstitute it. To those unfamiliar with it, it's a great community for open rational discourse on ethics, metaphysics, theology, and philosophy in general. Please consider joining. Here's the link to our current hosting site:https://classicaltheism.createaforum.com/index.php
To be honest, I find the user-interface of the typical forum too frustrating to keep up with. I'd rather see an old-fashioned Usenet newsgroup, or even a mailing-list… something that allows filtering by authors and threads, and replies with proper quoting, etc.
Yeah I assume that we will not settle there for good
This is a Natural Law question, but not specifically related to the book release:Do you think that in many ways a rejection of Aristotelian Teleology in favor of a purely Ciceronian-style teleology naturally leads to consequentialism? The style of teleology I am attributing to Cicero is one where teleology is only ever mind dependent (and often times political). I am not making the claim that Cicero necessarily believed this (I am no expert, so I cannot say one way or the other). However, since his scope of work was primarily political, this is the kind of teleology that he typically employs. An equivocation of this teleology with Aristotelian teleology led to the errors of Renaissance and Modern metaphysics.Now by rejecting this form of teleology, you can cherry-pick what counts as an end and thus allow for consequentialism.To take the example of contraception versus natural family planning or abstinence, the end is to avoid having children, both forms of avoiding children have the same end, therefore not forms of avoiding children are morally equivalent. But this ignores a whole slew of ends that are present in the physical actions (method of intercourse, with whom, when, how, etc.) that constitute the means. Only a consequentialist could say that “the ends justify the means”. An Aristotelian must say that all means are ends in and of themselves even if they are also means to some further end (just as all causes in an essentially ordered series are true causes even if they are ordered to some final cause).I would love to hear people’s thoughts. I hope this comment is not too off-topic to be discussed under this blog.
Consequentialism requires a very controversial assumption about ends, namely, that the only significant ends are consequences of one's actions. As long as this was not accepted, no fiddling with the teleology in any direction will get you consequentialism.I think what you are describing as Ciceronian-style teleology is very close to what New Natural Law Theory is doing; the basic goods of NNL are conditions for having a society in which human beings can sustainably participate. (They are thus, in a sense, abstracted of what societies in general find that they require; this is also why NNL has some difficulty with things like marriage that are in some sense prior to political society.) But NNL is not consequentialist.
I think the question of whether teleology is mind-dependent or not is orthogonal to consequentialism. It is natural to think of a moral anti-realist, for instance, of holding that all teleology is mind-dependent, that is, just a consequence of what people want. And it's also possible to imagine a consequentialist (even if this isn't typical) as holding that teleology is mind-independent, even as holding that what one should maximize is the flourishing of humans, rational subjects, conscious subjects, or whatever.(Brandon, I don't understand your comments about NNL. I would agree that NNL does in a sense hold to Ciceronian-style teleology. Though NNLers recognize mind-independent teleology, they think it is always practically inert, unless rendered practically salient by instantiating some mind-dependent form of teleology. E.g., they would agree that health is a teleological notion, but humans only have a reason to promote health because it is a basic good. They would agree that ears are for hearing but do not think that gives humans reason to go and hear just anything. I do not think that, for them, basic goods have anything to do with political society in particular. A basic good is just something that can be immediately grasped as 'to be done' or as an intelligible reason for action. Basic goods would be the point of any political society, and any non-basic goods like, say, rule of law or political obedience would have to be justified by reference to them.)
In a sense, every thomist believes teleology is ultimately mind-dependent, no? The fifth way itself seems built around the idea. Or, better yet, the idea is rather that immanent teleology might be real, but only insofar as it depends on mental teleology. Things have the natures that they do with their specific final causes because a Supreme Intelligence chose the specific final causes for their ends; such as that the structure of water would start to boil at 100 C and not 99 or 101.There is also the fact that mental teleology is the only kind which really displays intentionality/aboutness in the more common understanding of philosophy of mind. Natural/immanent teleology would exhibit some form of intentionality, but a far cry from mental intentionality. We can describe and understand the intentionality of immanent teleology in terms of causal dispositions. Mental intentionality, by contrast, involves the actual representation of concepts, propositions, etc. Someone could take this distinction to have moral relevance.
@Edward Feser Totally off topic but have you read Oppys new work he recently published on your arguments? Do you plan to write a blog post about his responses?
What "new work" are you referring to? I have checked Oppy's Academia.edu page and Philpapers, but i couldn't find anything regarding prof. Feser's arguments. Has Oppy written a review of Five Proofs?
Oppy's is a well-written and well-reasoned article. In a nutshell, he does not accept two principles, sc. 1) PPC; 2) denial of existential inertia.
2) is harder to argue for, but it is easy to accept within Aristotelian philosophy of nature. 1) though is a hard bullet to bite