A Thoroughly American Philosophical Mess

Source: The American Conservative.

This excellent book review captures a number of themes that motivate me to post in this forum. Not that my motives are particularly important in any way, but the writer does a better job of describing them than I could, which I find pleasant.

17 thoughts on “A Thoroughly American Philosophical Mess

  1. There are a lot of words but ONE idea.

    Only God can provide human beings with an inherent dignity that ideas of fairness or justice or morality must rely on. That is, of course, an unprovable postulate based on the postulated existence of a non-existent Being. Those postulates are not as self-evident as Mr. Chalk would like to believe.

    In my college days I took a course in Morality and Ethics where the professor presented a coherent and rational system of morality that was based in natural law and not on theology. His system is outlined in the following article.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernard_Gert

    In the terms of Mr. Chalk’s review, I am NOT relying on a borrowing from theology when I opine that every American SHOULD be treated with, for example, equal justice under the law.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. RE: “There are a lot of words but ONE idea…Only God can provide human beings with an inherent dignity that ideas of fairness or justice or morality must rely on.”

      I don’t see that in the article. Mr. Chalk lists a number of different metaphysical approaches that can serve philosophical purposes in a robust way: “theism, deism, naturalism, nihilism, and existentialism.”

      The commonality among them is rational or coherent thought.

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      1. “I don’t see that in the article”

        Then read more carefully. This passage for example . . .

        “For example, many of the most controversial issues of contemporary politics rest upon conceptions of justice that only make sense given certain metaphysical truths. Whether one is talking about promoting gender equality or opposing racism, such arguments rely upon certain conceptions of fairness and sameness that apply only if individual persons have an inherent dignity that a naturalistic or nihilistic worldview simply cannot provide. If we have no dignity stemming from a transcendent origin and telos, there is no basis for people having “rights” to anything.”

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I don’t read “transcendent origin and telos” as a reference to God. The passage is simply a statement that some ideas are incompatible with a philosophy that recognizes first causes.

          Because our culture is divided in matters of philosophy, we commonly make mistakes in using elements of one philosophy to dispute another. The solution is to raise all our philosophies to the same level of metaphysical rigor or else try to avoid logical errors.

          Had Chalk wanted to promote Christian philosophy, for example, he could have done so directly. As it is he chose to be non-specific.

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        2. I don’t read “transcendent origin and telos” as a reference to God.

          Whatever. It obviously is. And that is especially clear since he is denying the inability of a naturalistic world view to justify their ideas of justice since they do not accept the transcendent origin of human dignity.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. Transcendent origins and purposes are characteristic of supernatural philosophies. Non-supernatural philosophies have nothing comparable to offer in counterpoint. It may therefore seem that supernatural philosophies have a competitive advantage (more to offer). Pointing this out doesn’t necessarily mean choosing sides.

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    1. I get the principle, but it doesn’t accommodate ultimate first causes well. Where, for example, does “ownership” come from? If it comes from nature, how is it different from theft? Or, if if comes from some form of social contract, can it not be abolished by social contract, as well?

      I don’t mean to imply that deity makes solving such puzzles easier, but I’d expect at some point that political science can be reconciled with outside references such as physics.

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      1. Self ownership is a postulate for the philosophy of Liberty. There are other possibilities.

        A theocrat might assert that your life belongs to God. A communist might assert that your life belongs to the collective.

        Perfectly consistent philosophies could be derived from any of them.

        My Libertarian philosophy is supported by my willingness to shoot anyone who tries to impose one of the other philosophies on me.

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        1. “My Libertarian philosophy is supported by my willingness to shoot anyone who tries to impose one of the other philosophies on me.”

          So in your philosophical world it would be OK for me to shoot the Southern Baptist prostelythizers who come to my door and tell me my personal religious beliefs are wrong?

          Have to discuss this with the missus.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. No, attempting to persuade you is not an act of violence or a use of force.

            But if they attempt to burn you at the stake as a heretic or force you to attend thier services, let me know and I’ll shoot them for you.

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          2. How about if they try to use the power of the state to force my daughter to continue with an unwanted pregnancy? Gonna shoot them for me then? Or is that form of tyranny okay with you?

            Liked by 1 person

          3. RE: “How about if they try to use the power of the state to force my daughter to continue with an unwanted pregnancy?”

            Who owns the baby’s life?

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          4. Who owns the child’s life, then? I believe the libertarian postulate would be that the child does, and that would answer your original challenge to Dr. Tabor.

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          5. This is a philosophical thought. And differing philosophies say different things. The common sense philosophy says that until there is a birth, the life belongs to the mother. Some religious philosophies says the opposite.

            Bottom line is until the fetus leaves the womb, the mother is responsible through her physical support. However, if you disagree, who are you to force your philosophy on someone else? If you don’t want an abortion, then don’t have one. But do not legislate YOUR religious philosophy on someone else. That decision is actually protected by the First Amendment. (freedom FROM religion)

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