Naturalism and Norms

My recent exchange with Taner on ethical naturalism (EN) prompted a good bit of stimulating comment and criticism. I’ve been out of town for a couple of weeks and away from blogging, so I have not been able to reply to each comment as it arrived. Rather than attempt to do so now, I would like to address the issue that seems to me to be at the heart of much of the discussion: How do naturalists justify norms? The prima facie problem is this: Norms tell us what should be, not what is. Many p … [Read more...]

Response to Taner

Taner, Thanks for the long post and the many insightful points and queries. Since Aristotle is the founder of naturalized ethics, it is really important that we get him right. Aristotle does not base his ethics upon “human nature,” but what he calls “the human function.” (Sorry, I don’t know the Greek) The human function comprises the way of living for which nature has suited humans. That is, just as the Great White Shark is suited (as the Richard Dreyfus character says in Jaws) to swim, eat, … [Read more...]

Rupture, er, Rapture May 21

A little comic relief from all the heavy-duty philosophizing on this site. This is one of the more amusing of these types of stories:http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-preacher-warns-end-of-the-world-is-nigh-21-may-around-6pm-to-be-precise-2254139.htmlYou sinners have only a few days to mend your ways if you don't want to be left behind! I enjoyed the idea that God sent the gay pride movement as a sign of the end times. Best, though, was the guy at the bottom of the story who … [Read more...]

Understanding Our Differences (Maybe)

I hesitate to respond to Victor Reppert’s latest riposte (April 19) on his Dangerous Idea blog, since BDK and others have already hashed it out with considerable sophistication and subtlety. My aim here, however, is not to refute Victor (knockdown refutations in philosophy occupy a shadowy ontological niche somewhere between very rare and nonexistent), but to understand as clearly as possible just where our differences lie. In my experience, intractable disagreements come down to ground-floor, … [Read more...]

Brooks on “The Book of Mormon”

David Brooks is one of the very few conservative commentators I can read without retching. He offers dispassionate, reasoned argument unlike the screeching, foaming rants of Michelle Malkin (I think she should be tested for rabies), and he has nothing of the tinfoil-hat paranoia of Glenn Beck (Sha-na-na-na. Hey, hey, hey. Goodbye.). I like Brooks’ style too—straightforward and unaffected, unlike the prissy pontifications of George Will or the pomposity of Charles Krauthammer. In last Saturday’s ( … [Read more...]

The Problem with Metaphysical Naturalism (According to Victor Reppert)

Victor Reppert and I have had a long series of exchanges (thirty five years) dating back to when we were both graduate students at Emory University. I do not think that we would come to agreement even if we were granted another thirty five years to debate, but I am determined at least to get clear on the grounds of some of our disagreements. As always, philosophical debate is impeded by the slipperiness of definitions. You think that you have ably refuted an opponent’s claim that X is Y, and he r … [Read more...]

C.S. Lewis Pontificates about Something or Other

Victor Reppert has recently posted this quote from C.S. Lewis on his Dangerous Idea blog:“The process whereby man has come to know the universe is from one point of view extremely complicated; from another it is alarmingly simple. We can observe a single one-way progression. At the outset the universe appears packed with will, intelligence, life, and positive qualities; every tree is a nymph and every planet a god. Man himself is akin to the gods. The advance gradually empties this rich and g … [Read more...]

The “Inner Testimony” of the Holy Spirit

I forget whether I have posted this before. If so, pardon the redundancy.Having had on two occasions the privilege of debating Prof. William Lane Craig, I found the experiences both exhilarating and frustrating. One point of frustration was that Prof. Craig often appeals to the "inner testimony" of the Holy Spirit as trumping any evidence or argument that could be adduced. Naturally, this made me wonder about the point of our whole exercise. Why argue if "inner testimony" trumps everything? … [Read more...]


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