Son of even more on multicultural dystopias

Time to wrap up.

Russell Blackford has his third response to me up. Looking at that, and going back to look at how all this started, I have to make some concessions.

I overcooked my interpretation of the Bouma-Blackford dispute, pressing it into use for my own agenda. I didn’t, and still don’t, know exactly what Bouma was getting at, and I didn’t give too much thought to the wider context of why Blackford responded as he did. I still maintain that someone who considers secular criticism of religious communities to be liable to cause social division is not necessarily driven by an arbitrary anti-secular animus. But by putting my own spin on a concrete situation of which I have inadequate knowledge, I didn’t get off on the right foot.

Blackford suggests that I should write a book. Actually, a book project is part of my hidden agenda. It’s not a dive into pure political philosophy—that really isn’t my thing. It departs more from my daily concerns about science, science education, religion, and politics. I need a good deal of political philosophy to give me a context for what I’ll be getting at. So yes, I’ve been doing some reading and banging my head against some ideas for the last few years, particularly trying to get a sympathetic understanding of viewpoints I ordinarily disagree with and move on. My views, as is probably obvious, have been shifting and being thrown into confusion in some respects. I expect they will change further. In any case, there are a few more years before I will feel comfortable putting together a book that will heavily depend on taking a political stance—assuming all this works out at all. (That’ll also depend on how much of a brick wall some equations I’m also banging my head against turn out to be.)

About Taner Edis

Professor of physics at Truman State University

  • OB

    particularly trying to get a sympathetic understanding of viewpoints I ordinarily disagree with and move on.

    Always (or almost always) worth doing, but, in doing it, it's surely important, at least when making arguments, not to obfuscate the nature of the viewpoints. It's surely important not to blur certain crucial details for the sake of more sympathy (or even for the sake of brevity etc).

    I think you've been doing that – maybe just because you want to focus on certain aspects, but for people not privy to what's in your head, that creates confusion.

    Out here in discussion-world, you appear to have been ignoring the all-important distinction between freedom for the individual to do X and freedom for the individual to make other people do X. You've also been unclear about what you mean by 'the community' – whether you mean all members of the community or those who have power in the community. This is another all-important distinction. It's useful to talk at a high level of generality for some purposes (I guess – though in practice I always want to nail down the particulars…), but I think it's not useful for this kind of discussion.

    I just re-read your essay in Leaving Islam (which I reviewed for Democratiya a few years ago), and I can see what you're getting at…but I recommend nailing down those particulars!

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