Monday, November 30, 2015

East vs. West: Authority and Reason

Nabeel Quresh:

     When my parents taught me to examine my beliefs, I was essentially expected to build a defense for what they had taught me.  In [my philosophy of knowledge class], we were ostensibly doing the same thing--examining our beliefs--but in practice, it was the exact opposite. We were critically probing our beliefs, challenging them, testing them for weak points, pliability, and boundaries. Some students were even replacing them.
     The difference between Eastern and Western education can be traced to the disparity that divides Muslim immigrants from their children: Islamic cultures tend to establish people of high status as authorities, whereas the authority in Western culture is reason itself.  These alternative seats of authority permeate the mind, determining the moral outlook of whole societies.
     When authority is derived from position rather than reason, the act of questioning leadership is dangerous because it has the potential to upset the system.  Dissension is reprimanded, and obedience is rewarded.  Correct and incorrect courses are assessed socially, not individually.  A person's virtue is thus determined by how well he meets social expectations, not by an individual determination of right and wrong.  Thus, positional authority yields a society that determines right and wrong based on honor and shame.
      Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity                            (Zondervan, 2014), pp.107-8.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Defense that the Universe Begins to Exist

A friend recently raised the following interesting, objection to William Lane Craig's Kalam Cosmological Argument for God's existence.  Craig's basic argument is as follows:

1. Anything which begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Thus the universe has a cause.

Craig then proceeds to defend (1)--the causal principle, (2) that the universe does not have an infinite past and thus begins to exist, and finally that the best explanation for the cause of the universe is God.

My friend's objection was to premise two, even conceding that the universe does not have an infinite past.  His objection: just as there is no good reason for thinking that a universe with an infinite past which exists at all times past begins to exist, so too there is no good reason for thinking that a universe which does not have an infinite past and exists at all times past begins to exist.  In short, why should we think that anything which exists at all times past can rightly be said to begin to exist?

A good question, one which I'm unaware that Craig addresses.

Here is an argument in defense of Craig's claim that the universe begins to exist (on the assumption that the universe does not have an infinite past):

1. One is immortal only if one exists at some time and does not permanently cease to exist.
2. If time eventually comes to an end, then someone--Ted--existing for only 30 years right up until the end of time either (a) permanently ceased to exist or (b) does not permanently cease to exist.
3. If Ted does not permanently cease to exist at the end of time, then Ted lives only 30 years in the entire history of time and is immortal.
4. But it is absurd that someone could live for only 30 years in the entire history of time and be immortal.
5. Thus if time eventually comes to an end, then Ted permanently ceases to exist.
6. If 5, then it is sufficient for permanently ceasing to exist that x exists until there is no subsequent time.
7.  So it is sufficient for permanently ceasing to exist that x exists until there is no subsequent time.
8. If it is sufficient for permanently ceasing to exist that x exists until there is no subsequent time, then it is sufficient for beginning to exist that x exists when there is no prior time.
9. Thus it is sufficient for beginning to exist that x exists when there is no prior time.

More on the Clock Boy

Just as I suspected:

Detention wasn’t the worst of it. While his discipline record is confidential and his father didn’t want to discuss it, the file was thick by some accounts.

“I told you one day I’m going to be — and you told me yourself — I’m going to be really big on the Internet one day,” Ahmed said.

Some Courageous Princeton Students Fight Back!

Their letter to the president of Princeton here.

The difference between the activist left and right explained in a single paragraph:
Academic discourse consists of reasoned arguments. We simply wish to present our own reasoned arguments and engage you and other senior administrators in dialogue. We will not occupy your office, and, though we respectfully request a minimum of an hour of your time, we will only stay for as long as you wish. We will conduct ourselves in the civil manner that it is our hope to maintain and reinforce as the norm at Princeton.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Pacifism and Nonviolence

I have seen some Christian pacifists recently aver that Jesus advocated an ethic of nonviolence.  I have written extensively on the blog about pacifism and nonviolence in the past, most notably here.

Pacifism comes in various forms, but let us take the paradigm as our model which is the view that no one (or at least no Christian) should kill another human regardless of the circumstances.  And let us understand violence as the OED's primary definition of "violence":

a. The exercise of physical force so as to inflict injury on, or cause damage to, persons or property; conduct characterized by this; treatment or usage tending to cause bodily injury or forcibly interfering with personal freedom.

One point that is seldom addressed is the fact that pacifism and nonviolence are not coextensive.  Neither of the following propositions are true by definition:

1. If pacifism were true, then no violence is permissible.
2. If no violence were permissible, then pacifism is true.

Start with number one.  One tells us that if pacifism were true, then one should never perform a violent act.  But it does not follow from the proposition that all killing is impermissible that one should never inflict injury upon someone else or damage property.  Even if pacifism were true, it does not follow that it is impermissible for one to destroy weapons intended to be used for terror or that it is impermissible to injure a terrorist.

Turn to number two.  Two tells us that pacifism follows from the impermissibility of violence.  Yet this does not follow, for one could nonviolently kill another person by giving him an overdose of morphine.  Euthanasia is a form of nonviolent killing (sometimes at the request of the one being killed).

So those who hold that Jesus teaches both pacifism and an ethics of nonviolence have not a singular but a dual task of proving both pacifism and an ethics of nonviolence, since the one does not necessarily follow from the other.

Ahmed the "Clock Inventor" is Back!

Surprise, surprise.  The teenager (who I wrote about here)--the one whose father was a politician--is now seeking 15 MILLION dollars in damages.

Please, PLEASE, someone arrest ME!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Quran and the Seige of Paris

David Wood asks which of the following better explain what went down in Paris:

1. Climate Change (Bernie)
2. Income Inequality
3. Islamophobia
4. Joblessness
5. Starbucks Coffee Cups
6. Muhammad's Repeated Commands to Wage Terrorist Attacks

Give it a listen.  It's only 8 minutes.

Friday, November 20, 2015

White Student Union Challenges "Black Lives Matter" Radicals

Cartoon from the Facebook page
Here is the Facebook page.

Well, what do you really expect when the left says that racism can't be eliminated by ignoring race as an insignificant property (even though there is no such thing in exta-mental reality!) and when race is only used one way as a political bludgeon?  

From the Washington Post:
A Facebook page ostensibly created for an audience at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign called “Illini White Students Union” has drawn fire after it characterized the national Black Lives Matter movement as “terrorism.”

The Facebook page seems to be taking a satirical stance with "terrorism."  If the radical protesters intimidating students in libraries--as well as cowardly administrators who have it coming--are genuinely powerless victims (contrast with genuine victims of terror in Paris, not privileged students in college), then their acts of intimidation might as well be labeled acts of terror.

On Ben Carson's "Comparison" of Refugees With Dogs

Ben Carson compares Syrian refugees to dogs.  That's the headline of the Politico article.  I saw a philosopher comment today remarking, "Ben Carson: Syrian refugees akin to 'mad, rabid dogs.'  And some Xians like this creep?"
Here is what Carson said with regard to balancing safety and humanitarian concerns:

“For instance, you know, if there is a rabid dog running around your neighborhood, you’re probably not going to assume something good about that dog, and you’re probably gonna put your children out of the way,” Carson said. “Doesn’t mean that you hate all dogs by any stretch of the imagination.”“By the same token, we have to have in place screening mechanisms that allow us to determine who the mad dogs are, quite frankly,” he added. “Who are the people who wanna come in here and hurt us and wanna destroy us? Until we know how to do that, just like it would be foolish to put your child out in the neighborhood knowing that that was going on, it’s foolish for us to accept people if we cannot have the appropriate type of screening.”
So the headline is misleading and the philosopher dead wrong.  Carson makes an analogy with a terrorist and a rabid dog, not a refugee (since someone entering the U.S. seeking terror is not seeking refuge.)  The salient point of the analogy is that terrorists are like mad dogs, and if you think there might be a mad dog in a group of dogs, you don't let your children play with the dogs until you know which one is rabid.  A fine analogy.  Nothing to see here, though this sort of coverage shouldn't be surprising.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

"Colorblindness Will Not End Racism"

From our Public Broadcasting Network (PBS).

Pay attention to 9 and 10:
Our eyes tell us that people look different. No one has trouble distinguishing a Czech from a Chinese. But what do those differences mean? Are they biological? Has race always been with us? How does race affect people today?
There's less - and more - to race than meets the eye:
1. Race is a modern idea. Ancient societies, like the Greeks, did not divide people according to physical distinctions, but according to religion, status, class, even language. The English language didn't even have the word 'race' until it turns up in 1508 in a poem by William Dunbar referring to a line of kings.
2. Race has no genetic basis. Not one characteristic, trait or even gene distinguishes all the members of one so-called race from all the members of another so-called race.
3. Human subspecies don't exist. Unlike many animals, modern humans simply haven't been around long enough or isolated enough to evolve into separate subspecies or races. Despite surface appearances, we are one of the most similar of all species.
4. Skin color really is only skin deep. Most traits are inherited independently from one another. The genes influencing skin color have nothing to do with the genes influencing hair form, eye shape, blood type, musical talent, athletic ability or forms of intelligence. Knowing someone's skin color doesn't necessarily tell you anything else about him or her.
5. Most variation is within, not between, "races." Of the small amount of total human variation, 85% exists within any local population, be they Italians, Kurds, Koreans or Cherokees. About 94% can be found within any continent. That means two random Koreans may be as genetically different as a Korean and an Italian.
6. Slavery predates race. Throughout much of human history, societies have enslaved others, often as a result of conquest or war, even debt, but not because of physical characteristics or a belief in natural inferiority. Due to a unique set of historical circumstances, ours was the first slave system where all the slaves shared similar physical characteristics.
7. Race and freedom evolved together. The U.S. was founded on the radical new principle that "All men are created equal." But our early economy was based largely on slavery. How could this anomaly be rationalized? The new idea of race helped explain why some people could be denied the rights and freedoms that others took for granted.
8. Race justified social inequalities as natural. As the race idea evolved, white superiority became "common sense" in America. It justified not only slavery but also the extermination of Indians, exclusion of Asian immigrants, and the taking of Mexican lands by a nation that professed a belief in democracy. Racial practices were institutionalized within American government, laws, and society.
9. Race isn't biological, but racism is still real. Race is a powerful social idea that gives people different access to opportunities and resources. Our government and social institutions have created advantages that disproportionately channel wealth, power, and resources to white people. This affects everyone, whether we are aware of it or not.
10. Colorblindness will not end racism. Pretending race doesn't exist is not the same as creating equality. Race is more than stereotypes and individual prejudice. To combat racism, we need to identify and remedy social policies and institutional practices that advantage some groups at the expense of others.
RACE - The Power of an Illusion was produced by California Newsreel in association with the Independent Television Service (ITVS). Major funding provided by the Ford Foundation and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Diversity Fund.

9 says that race isn't biological, but racism is real.  Is race biological?  No, if we mean biological in the natural kind sense of the term.  Races are neither like species nor like different breeds of cats or dogs since the people who normally fall under our race terms (e.g. Caucasian, black, etc.) have no significant genetic dissimilarity; for instance, one is likely to find more genetic similarity between some who we call "black" and "hispanic" than between some who we call "black" and others who we call "black."  This leaves open whether races are (a) unreal (that is, there is nothing which our race terms and ideas refer to), or are (b) real but not natural kinds; instead they are social kinds (like citizens or bankers) perhaps partly grounded in phenotypical features, or (c) some other thing altogether.

According to 9, race isn't grounded in phenotypical features at all; rather race is simply an idea. And there seems to be nothing to which the idea of race refers.  Moreover it's an idea which privileges whites. How?  In what way?  No examples are given.  But these advantages are there, even if we aren't aware of it.  (Trust us.  They.  Are.  There.)  Presumably, though, these advantages do not exist in the form of affirmative action programs!

According to 10, we shouldn't presume that race doesn't exist.  What does this mean?  If 9 is correct, race is only an idea--and nothing whatsoever is mentioned about any extra-mental reality to which our idea refers.  Blacks and whites are like unicorns and centaurs.  Still, racism is real.  Even though there are no blacks to which our idea of race refers, a Klansman can still be a racist.  Racism is real, but race is an idea.  Got that?

Still, we need the idea of race.  Why?  10 tells us.  So that we can have social policies and institutional practices that advantage some groups (non-whites) over others (whites).  In other words, even though the idea of a particular race does not refer to anything in the world--it's a mental fiction--we need to pretend there are extra-mental races, so that people like Al Sharpton, race studies professors, diversity officers, etc. have employment and can privilege some over others--in the name, of course, of remedying alleged advantages given to whites by institutions and policies.  Ignoring race as the (alleged) fiction that it is would have the undesirable result that affirmative action policies and institutions go out of business.

One wonders, if colorblindness would not end racism, what would?

National Review The Musical

I make a cameo appearance towards the end as my former incarnation.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

What Is It Like to Be a Progressive?

My wife and I were recently discussing various events in the world.  She was perplexed; it's as if the left has a special power to hold many contradictory things before the mind all at once.

I too find progressivism perplexing.  Sometimes I think I understand how someone could think the way progressives do and see the world as they see it.  I believe I have brief flashes of insight where I understand what it might be like to see the world in that way.  And then it vanishes.  The further the left progresses leftward, the more I simply have no idea how to relate.

Thomas Nagel once explored this very issue.  His essay was called,  "What Is It Like to Be a Bat?"

Muslim and Western Values Collide

Coming to a town near you?

Monday, November 16, 2015

Could God Have Stopped the Paris Attacks?

Theologian and philosopher, Thomas Jay Oord, says, no.  Excerpt:

Too few believers will go so far as to ask this question: “Could God have stopped the Paris attacks?”

Perhaps many believers will not ask this question, because the answer they have been told is not comforting. Most theologians in the past and present, after all, would say God allowed the Paris tragedies and other terrorist attacks. They believe God has the kind of power to prevent this unnecessary death and suffering. But according to most theologians, God permitted this pointless pain in Paris and elsewhere.
I disagree.  A few theologians will say it is logically impossible for God to both give free will and not give free will. So in choosing to give free will to the ISIS terrorists, God was self-constrained.

Quick Solution to the Syrian Immigration Question

If there's no problem (it helps the economy, etc.), Democratic governors (California, New York, Illinois, Washington, Oregon, Massachusetts, Maine, etc.) should just get out in front and volunteer to take all the immigrants* no questions asked.

*Immigrants, not necessarily refugees.  For all anyone knows some of those migrating are not seeking refuge but are instead seeking terror.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Thursday, November 12, 2015

What's Wrong With Calvinism?

Houston Baptist University philosophy professor, Jerry Walls, on Calvinism.
It was actually a conversation I had with Walls (when he taught at a seminary) that solidified my choice to continue my education in philosophy rather than change directions by going to seminary.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Am I Essentially Material, an Animal, a Human?

Here is an inconsistent set of propositions:

1. I am essentially human.
2. Humans are animals essentially.
3. Animals are essentially material.
4. I can exist immaterially with no material parts.

One could deny 1.  Perhaps to be a human just is to be a (rational) animal.  I can survive death and exist immaterially, but since animals are essentially material I would not be an animal and thus not a human.

One could deny 2.  Perhaps I am essentially a human, but one can exist with no material parts and still be a human, since animality is merely a stage in a human life.  Or perhaps I'm never an animal.

One could deny 3.  Perhaps I am essentially a human and humans are essentially animals.  However since I can survive the death of my body, an animal (me) can exist with no material parts.

One could deny 4: Perhaps I am essentially material and cannot exist with no material parts.

My inclination is to deny 2 or 3, leaning towards a denial of 3.  It could be that all humans must begin to exist having a material part but can exist immaterially.  But it could be true that humans are essentially immaterial, in which case one should reject 2.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

ESPN is Wrong (as usual) on Mizzou

Howard Bryant begins his article with the following:

Despite its complex web of allegiances and rivals, the dynamic that doomed Missouri system president Tim Wolfe and school chancellor R. Bowen Loftin was quite simple: It was the workers versus the owners, the little versus the big, the invisible versus the invincible.
The power of the Missouri football team provided the fulcrum, because money ultimately forced the action. But so much of the uprising was rooted in the frustration of minority students facing years of entrenched racism. 
 It all stemmed from a movement addressing major offenses that were deemed too trivial by an administration whose only response had been to advise that the slapped get tougher, have thicker skin, get over it.

First, there are no owners of universities, unless, since Missouri is a state school, one thinks that the owners are the tax-payers.  But the president is no more of an owner than the board which appoints him, and no more of an owner than the faculty or the students.  They all "own" the university if we want to call it that.  Second, it's not true that the administration's only response had been to advise that the "slapped get tougher."  It has been reported that the president met with students personally.  As well, it has been reported that one of the drunken students who made the racial slurs was removed from campus until campus disciplinary proceedings run their course.  Third, the reported evidence of "entrenched racism" consisted of a nut who scrawled feces (!) and a couple jerks who spat racial epithets at a school with over 35,000 students.  Are we to think that the student body, professors, and administration at large are by and large racists?  Fourth, though the football team no doubt provided the final muscle to upend the president from his presidency, the power of the football team is overrated.  It is only the action of the football team in combination with the progressive radicals that provided the impetus.  As David French writes,

If you think football players are suddenly all-powerful, imagine a counter-factual — like a “strike” by a few players in solidarity with an athlete wrongfully convicted by a campus sex assault tribunal, or a stand in solidarity with a team chaplain under fire for allegedly offending the LGBT community. Would ESPN fawn all over them, celebrating their courage? Would faculty and radical students extol them as heroes? Would a university president and chancellor step down within 48 hours in response to an athletic cry for religious liberty? Student-athletes can’t even figure out a way to be fairly compensated for the billions in revenue they bring to college athletics. Powerful? Only when weaponized by the campus Left. The story at Mizzou is the same old story we’ve reading and watching since the Sixties. Radicals rule.
Read French's other devastating critique.  Excerpt:
Closeted campus conservatives are worse than useless. Indeed, their very timidity contributes to the narrative that there is something shameful about their beliefs. To read anonymous letters from professors who are afraid to “out” themselves in a hostile campus culture is to read the sad dispatches of people too pitiful for their profession. Do something else, anything else, than merely sit and watch while the revolutionaries shred the Constitution, reject our culture, and assert their own will to power.The true shame is that it doesn’t even require actual courage to defeat the university Left, just a tiny bit of will — a small measure of staying power. No one is shooting at trustees. No one is beheading professors. There’s no guillotine in the quad. Instead, campus “leaders” tremble before hashtags and weep at the notion of losing a football team so inept that it couldn’t score a touchdownthrough most of the month of October. Let them strike. With an offense that inept, the SEC won’t even notice.These are the times that try men’s souls? No. These are the times of men without chests. The Left has the will to power. University leaders have no will at all. They have earned nothing but contempt.

George Will on the Hack Calling the Kettle Black

More on the entertaining exchange.

If you haven't seen the video here it is:

The Washington Post weighs in.

True Liberals...

...are now conservatives and libertarians.  Progressives are too totalitarian to warrant the "liber" label.  That's why I've tried to start referring to whom many still refer to as "liberals" simply as "leftists."  There is still ambiguity with the term but not as much.

The left is the side of brainless emotion.   Here too is a reminder of how Democrats can easily turn out the youth vote with appeal to pity, anger, and the like.  The left owns the youth as they own the poor--two of the most susceptible groups to being politically herded by emotional appeal.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Was Jesus in the Tomb?

In a recent discussion I objected to the following premise by J.S. in a theological argument on theological grounds:
Premise: Humans are essentially embodied.
There are at least two theological counterexamples.  One is that humans survive death until the resurrection.  The other is that Jesus descended into hell while his body was still in the tomb.  If either are true then humans are not essentially embodied (provided that one is a human essentially).

To that, M.C. responded that there is no good Biblical evidence that Jesus went to hell, citing 1 Peter 3:19, Revelation 20:3, and that in the Creed it refers to Hades where dead bodies go.

Here, I do not wish to argue for any definitive theological proposition, rather I will point out potential options available to make sense of the empty tomb.  This is a rough sketch.  I will avoid arguments in favor of and problems with each view, though for a couple I point out some difficulties.

Update on Liberal Use of Words

Like manna from heaven (or maggots from hell), I see this today from a liberal on Facebook:


Unless like a socialist you believe in a huge, centralized government, you're an asshole.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Liberal and Conservative Use of Words

According to a study of the use of words on Twitter, liberals tend to swear more and use words such as "I" and "me," whereas conservatives tend to use "we" and "our" more.  Conservatives tend to mention "Nancy Pelosi," "Barack Obama," and "Harry Reid," whereas liberals are more likely to mention "Dick Cheney" (as in, "Dick Cheney is a like totally a dick").

Other examples we might add:

"Republicans are f#$@ing fascists!"
"I hate Bush!"
"I want free college!"
"I want free health care!"
"I want someone else to pay for it!"
"Give me free condoms!"
"What's in it for me?"

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Why Does the Left Hate Black Conservatives?

Now that the media full-court press is on to destroy black candidate, Ben Carson, Bill Vallicella's recent posts look prescient...

Several days ago, philosopher Bill Vallicella asks, "what explains the Left's hatred of black conservatives?"

My comment:
The Ben Carsons are simply a huge political and existential threat.
Political: If the black vote were suddenly split, that would spell doom for Democrats.
Existential: The elite left needs to be needed. Ben Carson is a perfect example of someone who should but doesn't need the left.
Here are a few more explanations and thoughts from others:
They hate black conservatives the most because blacks are to them the ultimate left-wing argument against America. They are, even more so than indigenous populations, the group that has endured all that is wrong with our civilization, which they are endlessly trying to destroy and change. For a black person to then actually accept and champion elements of that civilization against them is the ultimate sickness within the black community. He's a traitor working with the "colonizers" and those keeping his own people down. He's equivalent in a way to a jew who is a Nazi, or the "house slave". That's why someone can call him "the most thoroughly despicable person" to run for president in modern times when he's neurosurgeon who's been helping to save people's lives for over 20 years. 
Liberals see a man like Carson as an apostate, and to the faithful, an apostate is far worse than a mere infidel. You've seen the same attitude at work in the university, where conservative professors are held in greater contempt than, say, conservative lawyers. Like conservative Blacks, conservative professors are seen as traitors to the tribe, apostates. Traitors are always dealt with more harshly than mere enemies.
Bill, the "race is a social construct" doublethink is one of the hardest self-delusions of the Left for a rational person to get his head around. On its face it seems an obvious absurdity to build so much of one's ideology, and to expend so much effort and political capital, on something that, according to one's own dogma, has no reality.
The only way it can even begin to make sense is if race is superficially real, but only "skin deep". In other words: yes, there are ancient human subpopulations that differ in their pigmentation -- but these variations in skin color absolutely must not be imagined to correlate, even statistically, with any other human qualities (unless, of course, the comparison with whites is a positive one). In this way race becomes just "real" enough for right-wing bigots to pick out their victims, and for liberals to succor these victims as an oppressed class.
So: to be a member of the victim class, but then to turn your back on your saviors on the virtuous Left and associate with your oppressor, is not only to betray your race, but to reject the Good. (And to insult the good people of the Left -- but I repeat myself.)

See also the smearing of Ben Carson.

And don't forget Herman Cain.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Dems Fear Rubio?

Here I averred that Rubio will get the same treatment that the left gives black conservatives.  Now early in the primaries the DNC has released this ad:


Thursday, November 5, 2015

Robbing Peter to Pay Paul Could Hurt Mary

Harry Frankfurt on the inflationary effect that is likely caused by the government taking money from the rich and redistributing it (only) to the poor:

     The supply of goods available for consumption does not increase, after all, when money is redistributed.  On the other hand, the demand for certain goods by people who were formerly too poor to afford them is very likely to increase.  Thus prices of those goods will probably rise.
     This inflationary pressure will entail a corresponding reduction of consumption, perhaps not by the very rich--who will still have plenty of money with which to cope with the price increases--but by members of an intermediate class, who will be unable to maintain their accustomed level of consumption in the face of higher prices.  The reduction of their standard of living will tend to offset the gain made by the formerly poor.  This trade-off will mean that aggregate utility does not increase.  The aggregate of utility cannot reliably be increased, then, by taking money from the rich and giving it to the poor.  On Inequality, (Princeton University Press, 2015), pp. 19-20.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Father to Marry Adopted Son

Eh, why not?  If you're going to pretend you're a son (in this case) might as well pretend that you're married.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Don't Uncritically Read Kant's Critique to Children!


Where to begin? First, we must point out Wilder Publications’ strange certainty that a hypothetical Kant of today would express his ideas in tolerant and liberal language. The supposition has the effect of patronizing the dead philosopher and of absolving him of any responsibility for his blind spots and prejudices, assuming that he meant well but was simply a blinkered and unfortunate “product” of his time.
But who’s to say that Kant didn’t damn well mean his comments that offend our sensibilities today, and wouldn’t still mean them now were he somehow resurrected and forced to update his major works? Moreover, why assume that all current readers of Kant do not share his more repugnant views? Secondly, who is this edition for? Philosopher Brian Leiter, who brought this to our attention, humorously titles it “Kant’s 3 Critiques—rated PG-13.” One would hope that any young person precocious enough to read Kant would have the ability to recognize historical context and to approach critically statements that sound unethical, bigoted, or scientifically dated to her modern ears. One would hope parents buying Kant for their kids could do the same without chiding from publishers.

Determinism is Incompatible With Moral Responsibility

Monday, November 2, 2015

Rubio's Secret Weapon

I expect if Rubio continues to make a show (or Cruz), he will get the same treatment the left gives to black conservatives.