Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Social media’s fifth circle

Marshall McLuhan’s famous remark that “the medium is the message” was never more true than in the case of Twitter.  And the message is malign.  I would not go so far as to claim that the platform is a malum in se, but it is close.  The reason is not because of its political biases, though that hardly helps.  It’s because the medium of its nature tends positively to encourage activity contrary to what is good for us given our nature as rational social animals.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Corporate persons

A neglected insight of Scholastic political philosophy and traditional conservatism is that institutions can have a personal nature.  The Church, a government, a business firm, a university, a club, and similar social formations are like this.  They can be said to make decisions, to act and to be morally and legally responsible for the consequences of those actions, and to have rights and duties.  They can be praised or blamed, loved or hated, and loyally supported or betrayed.  They can be born, grow, flourish, decline, and die.  They can exhibit distinctive virtues, vices, and other character traits.  They can become corrupted or be reformed.  Since they have such personal attributes (or something analogous to them, anyway) the tradition refers to them as moral persons or corporate persons.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Voila! An open thread! (Updated)

UPDATE 4/20: Lately the comments sections have been filling up quickly.  Some readers seem unaware that after the count reaches 200 comments, you have to click the "Load more..." prompt that appears in small print at the bottom of the combox in order to view newer comments.  That's part of Blogger's algorithm and out of my control, sorry.  So, if you're worried that your comment is not showing up, never fear.  It's there, but you have to click the prompt to see it.

How does an annoying off-topic comment suitable only for deletion get transformed into a stimulating on-topic conversation starter?  Through the magic of the open thread post.  Whatever is on your mind, from The Prestige to Under Siege, from the Ponzo illusion to jazz-rock fusion, from Paul Bernays to Ricky Gervais, post away and stand back in wonder as your comment not only doesn’t disappear, but may even get a response!

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Aquinas and the problem of evil

My article “The Thomistic Dissolution of the Logical Problem of Evil” has just been published in the journal Religions, and is available online.  (Follow the links to opt for either the HTML format or PDF.)  It is a contribution to a special issue devoted to responses to James Sterba’s recent book Is a Good God Logically Possible? 

Friday, April 9, 2021

What is mathematics about?

I commend to you James Franklin’s latest article “Mathematics as a Science of Nonabstract Reality: Aristotelian Realist Philosophies of Mathematics.”  It’s a helpful brief survey of different ways that an Aristotelian alternative to Platonist and nominalist approaches to mathematics might be developed.  (Franklin explores these issues in greater depth in his book An Aristotelian Realist Philosophy of Mathematics.) 

Friday, April 2, 2021

Frege on objectivity

It can be an interesting exercise every now and then to reread something that had a profound effect on you earlier in life.  In my case, Gottlob Frege’s grand 1918 essay “The Thought” is a piece that I find always repays renewed study.  I think I first read it almost 30 years ago, and it was one of several philosophical works on thought and language that began to break the hold on me of the metaphysical naturalism I had picked up as an undergraduate – though that was a slow process, taking a decade fully to unfold.