Unapologetic Review – Part 9: Analysis of Reason #9

Unapologetic Review – Part 9: Analysis of Reason #9 December 28, 2016

A KEY PASSAGE FROM PART 2 OF THIS SERIES:

It appears to me that just as Chapter 5 is the heart of the book, and that the 10 Reasons are the heart of Chapter 5, so also I believe that Reason #9 (which concerns opposition to “faith-based claims”) for ending philosophy of religion is at the heart of the 10 Reasons.

If I can shove a sharp dagger into Reason #9, then I believe that will kill the beast, and stop the beating of the heart of Loftus’ case against the philosophy of religion.

Here is a diagram illustrating my high-level view of Unapologetic  (for a clearer view of the diagram, click on the image below):

Unapologetic - Venn Diagram

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conversely, if I cannot manage to demolish or seriously damage Reason #9, then that will be a good indication that Loftus has made a strong case for his conclusion, even if some of the other points (e.g. the theme about PoR being “parochial” in nature) are weak and inadequate reasons.

Christian apologists are fond of saying that “Christianity stands or falls with the resurrection of Jesus”, and I think a similar kind of point applies here:

Loftus’ case against the philosophy of religion stands or falls with Reason #9.

Thus, a very good place to start an evaluation of this book, is on page 135, where Loftus spells out Reason #9.

 

ANALYSIS OF THE ARGUMENT GIVEN AS REASON #9

The core argument at the heart of the book Unapologetic can be reconstructed from a single sentence:

If PoR is using reason to examine the claims of religion, and if religion is based on faith, then philosophy of religion must end.  (Unapologetic, p.135)

The basic logical structure of this argument is a modus ponens:

IF P, THEN Q.

P

THEREFORE 

Q

Main Argument – Initial version:

IF philosophy of religion is using reason to examine the claims of religion and religion is based on faith, THEN philosophy of religion must end.

Philosophy of religion is using reason to examine the claims of religion and religion is based on faith.

THEREFORE 

Philosophy of religion must end.

For clarity of analysis, let’s separate the conjunction in the second premise into two separate claims.

Main Argument – Revision 1:

1..IF philosophy of religion is using reason to examine the claims of religion and religion is based on faith, THEN philosophy of religion must end.

2. Philosophy of religion is using reason to examine the claims of religion.

3. Religion is based on faith.

THEREFORE 

4. Philosophy of religion must end.

The subject of premise (3) is a bit vague, but based on the content of premise (2) as well as other statements Loftus makes in presenting this argument, it is clear that it is “the claims of religion” that Loftus believes are “based on faith”:

Main Argument – Revision 2:

1a..IF philosophy of religion is using reason to examine the claims of religion and the claims of religion are based on faith, THEN philosophy of religion must end.

2. Philosophy of religion is using reason to examine the claims of religion.

3a. The claims of religion are based on faith.

THEREFORE 

4. Philosophy of religion must end.

Premise (3a) is an improvement over the initial premise (3), but it still has a problem of unclarity, specifically in terms of QUANTIFICATION.  I am going to interpret (3a) as asserting a universal generalization to ensure that the logic of this argument is deductively valid.  If the universal generalization turns out to be false, then (at that point) we can consider weaker versions of this generalization.

Main Argument – Revision 3:

1b..IF philosophy of religion is using reason to examine the claims of religion and ALL of the claims of ALL religions are based on faith, THEN philosophy of religion must end.

2. Philosophy of religion is using reason to examine the claims of religion.

3b. ALL of the claims of ALL religions are based on faith.

THEREFORE 

4. Philosophy of religion must end.

A key point in Loftus’ reasoning is the idea that ALL of the claims examined in the philosophy of religion are based on faith.  If this universal generalization is false, then that would open the door to separating the non-faith-based issues in philosophy of religion from the faith-based issues, and thus potentially leave philosophy of religion standing, just with a smaller scope of relevant issues.  In order to ensure the universal generalization that ALL of the claims examined in the philosophy of religion are based on faith, the scope of philosophy of religion must be restricted to examination of ONLY “the claims of religion”.

Main Argument – Revision 4:

1c..IF philosophy of religion is using reason to examine ONLY the claims of religion and ALL of the claims of ALL religions are based on faith, THEN philosophy of religion must end.

2a. Philosophy of religion is using reason to examine ONLY the claims of religion.

3b. ALL of the claims of ALL religions are based on faith.

THEREFORE 

4. Philosophy of religion must end.

Some key bits of reasoning given in support of premise (1c) are these:

A reasonable faith does not exist, nor can faith be a guide for reasoning to any objective conclusion.  The claims of religious faith via PoR cannot be reasonably defended. (Unapologetic, p.135)

There are some things philosophers should not take seriously to remain as serious intellectuals.  A faith-based claim is one of them. (Unapologetic, p.135)

From these comments by Loftus, I infer that one of his assumptions is this:

5. ANY claim that is based on faith cannot be reasonably defended.

I also infer that one of his conclusions that is based on (5) is this:

6. Philosophers ought NOT recognize and participate in an alleged sub-discipline of philosophy that uses reason to examine ONLY claims that are based on faith.

If I am correct about (5) and (6) being important assumptions in Loftus’ reasoning here, then this indicates a way to further clarify premise (1c) as well as the conclusion of the argument.

Main Argument – Revision 5:

1d..IF philosophy of religion is using reason to examine ONLY the claims of religion and ALL of the claims of ALL religions are based on faith, THEN philosophers ought NOT recognize and participate in the philosophy of religion (as an alleged sub-discipline of philosophy).

2a. Philosophy of religion is using reason to examine ONLY the claims of religion.

3b. ALL of the claims of ALL religions are based on faith.

THEREFORE 

4a. Philosophers ought NOT recognize and participate in the philosophy of religion (as an alleged sub-discipline of philosophy).

Premise (5) is a reason in support of premise (6), and premise (6) is a reason in support of premise (1d).  Premises (1d), (2a), and (3b) work together to form a valid deductive argument for the conclusion (4a).  Here is an argument diagram showing the logic of the main argument in Unapologetic with the conclusion of the argument at the top, and the supporting premises beneath the conclusion (for a clearer view of the diagram, click on the image below):

Reason #9 - Later Analysis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the next post in this series I will evaluate this argument.


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