The Last Dogma

I often get the impression that when people hear me use words like postmodern, narrative, world-view, and the like they think I am basically just making this stuff up or using it in a sense that is peculiar to me.  Well, the truth is that I’m simply not that original or smart.  There is a large body of work out there, and I draw from those resources.
One such resource, that may interest readers of this blog, is this book by Harvard professor Hilary Putnam and this review of the book.  It goes directly to many of the issues discussed recently on this blog.  Basically I believe Burk and Bernard are trying to defend the “final dogma” of empiricism.  Unfortunately, they have not found a way to do so that doesn’t incorporate or rely upon the very issue disputed.  It is a dogma; it is held by faith.  Good luck defending it.    
From the book description:
“If philosophy has any business in the world, it is the clarification of our thinking and the clearing away of ideas that cloud the mind. In this book, one of the world’s preeminent philosophers takes issue with an idea that has found an all-too-prominent place in popular culture and philosophical thought: the idea that while factual claims can be rationally established or refuted, claims about value are wholly subjective, not capable of being rationally argued for or against. Although it is on occasion important and useful to distinguish between factual claims and value judgments, the distinction becomes, Hilary Putnam argues, positively harmful when identified with a dichotomy between the objective and the purely ‘subjective.’”
From the review:
“Putnam has constructed a brilliant, yet concise, exposition and argument for the failure of the fact/value dichotomy in philosophy. We are exposed to what Putnam keenly calls the “Final Dogma of Empiricism,” whereby philosophers of language and science have attempted to expunge values from the hallowed ground of scientific investigation and logic. But Putnam argues that value judgments creep into our preferences for one scientific view over another when we attempt to determine why one view is more reasonable than another. We are typically offered, as a response, the claim that views must be adjudicated on the basis of their plausibility, coherence, or simplicity. Putnam, however, argues that such “standards” of objectivity are themselves infused with value preferences.”
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23 Responses to The Last Dogma

  1. Burk Braun says:

    Darrell-

    “But Putnam argues that value judgments creep into our preferences for one scientific view over another when we attempt to determine why one view is more reasonable than another.”

    Then how do we end up with science and with “facts” anyhow? There must be a criterion that transcends those creeping values. What might that be?

    “When we decide that judgments must be coherent, plausible, reasonable, and simple, we are drawing normative judgments about how we ought to reason.”

    Oh, and how do you like to reason? Through faith, implausibility, and unreason? Be my guest. Values can sometimes be quite simple.

    Postmodernism is not all trash, I will give you that. But you seem to take it much farther than it reasonably reaches. It has some rather idiotic precincts.

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  2. Darrell says:

    “Unfortunately, they have not found a way to do so that doesn't incorporate or rely upon the very issue disputed.”

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  3. Hi Darrell

    I quite like Putnam's work. He's part of the reason I don't defend the empiricist dogma, any more than you do.

    Bernard

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  4. Darrell says:

    “I think the point I would most like to make is that it's not true one must make metaphysical assumptions. For example, one can live perfectly adequately without ever forming an opinion on whether objective truths exist, let alone what they are.”

    What is adequate? One has to appeal to some meta-physical abstract notion here to even make the statement you are making. You assume “adequate” means something. And that “something” is not necessarily commonly held by everyone. And the fact that people can live, eat, survive basically tells us nothing really. You assume it is possible but who actually does live without them? Again, after 2000 years of the metaphysical assumptions of Christianity being a part of the very air you breathe and after building a prosperous and stable civilization it is rather easy to come along in 2013 and assert, “Hey, we don’t need any metaphysical assumptions.”

    I jump in here and bring it up, because this is exactly the sort of think Putnam is talking about. If you agree with him, I certainly don’t see where. The dichotomy he is talking about is critical to the entire reasoning you’ve been pointing to as to what’s behind your distaste issue.

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  5. Hi Darrell

    When I use value laden words like adequately, I mean it's adequate for me. I'm fine with it. That's the truth statement I make, and it is true. I really do feel my life is fulfilling, challenging, interest and meaningful, as those terms have personal meaning to me. As always, there's no metaphysical commitment here, when one is speaking simply of one's personal reaction to the world. So, I don't just assume it's possible. I do it. Seriously. And, for me, it's great.

    It's when we extrapolate from the way the world impacts upon our experience, to statements about what this tells us about the world actually is, that we are making truth claims.

    Putnam's point, as best I can tell, is that the process of accumulating facts is underpinned by value judgements, particularly with reference to how we choose which hypotheses to test, but also in terms of the tests we put them too, which observations count as valid, the aesthetic considerations (parsimony, elegance, coherence) we apply, etc. And that's where I agree with him.

    If we reach an agreement about what we want our 'truths' to do, say produce accurate predictions, then we can short circuit some of these objections by reducing the assumptions to 'let the method that best produced predictions in the past be the favoured method in generating future predictions.' You get a much reduced view of science this way, but it's a move I rather like.

    Putnam doesn't then conclude that all processes and conclusions are equal, he is after all a pragmatist. And I share his interest in attempting to figure out how we might reasonably discriminate between processes.

    Oe might make a similar move in religious matters by saying, the work I want my truth to do is make my life satisfying and meaningful. And from there it's reasonable to conclude that a particular religious view is true for you. The difference is that we may collectively agree upon a measurement of predictive accuracy, whereas measures of personal meaning may be divergent. All this means is that we are referring to slightly different things when we say a theory is true.

    Sometimes I think if we could find the right language to describe this difference without setting off people's sensitivities, there'd be a way around the theist/atheist stand-off.

    It's tricky though, isn't it? At no point am I trying to suggest you are wrong to believe in God. I have no idea whether God exists, and if it works for you, why not? Yet, when I try, as gently as I know how, to explain why such a choice wouldn't work for me, I do tend to get a certain amount of denial back. 'No, not true, of course you hold contested beliefs.' You may be right, but an example would, I think, be the way forward here.

    Bernard

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  6. Darrell says:

    Bernard,

    “When I use value laden words like adequately, I mean it's adequate for me.”

    If you are speaking personally, then it isn’t a metaphysical belief. Even then however, it doesn’t matter that you are only speaking personally. It is still a metaphysical assumption that you, even if only for yourself, know or have an idea of what “adequate” means and should entail. There is no “fact” or measurement one can do that equals “adequate.” One can only get there with an a-priori world-view assumption of what that state of affairs would mean, whether personally or for a culture.

    The greater point you are missing is that meta-physical statements are statements of belief in the sense they are held and asserted to be true universally (thus the “meta”). Otherwise a person would just say, “My personal opinion is…” or “My personal taste is such…” or “My personal preference would be for…” When people are speaking of belief in God (or disbelief) or that murder is wrong and helping orphans is right, they are asserting that these things are true for everyone (regardless of differing views); they are asserting metaphysical beliefs not preferences.

    You are equating metaphysical beliefs with personal preferences again. They are entirely different. It is the very dichotomy you rely upon to sustain your “distaste” and reason for your agnosticism. Additionally, it is the very issue disputed. It is begging the question.

    Putnam’s entire point is that there is no dichotomy between fact and value. He collapses the whole subjective/objective boundary. This undercuts your entire line of reasoning going back to the very beginning of this conversation.

    You betray yourself again by suggesting that “truth” is (or we should think of it this way) what “works” for each of us. Truth is not something that “works” for us. Truth is something that we simply acknowledge or we do not, regardless of any pragmatic value. There may be plenty of pragmatic value, but that is not why we believe something to be true. I don’t love my wife because I think there is some pragmatic value in it (although there is); I love her for reasons that far exceed any such calculation. Your way of talking about “truth” is, again, narrative driven.

    All these are beliefs you hold Bernard by your own admission unless words and context have no meaning. And they are contested. I contest them. What do you think I’ve been doing in these conversations?

    And back to RonH’s question: What exactly is the objection here to my attempt to put us all on equal footing so as to not a-priori privilege anyone’s narrative?

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  7. Hi Darrell

    You're right, metaphysical statements are statements about underlying truths. If I say it feels adequate to me, and by adequacy I refer only to the fact that I feel no dissatisfaction, that doesn't feel metaphysical. I think I can reliably report my own feeling of satisfaction?

    I don't think we should think of truth in pragamtic terms, I merely point out that if we do think of truth in this way, there are certain implications. Capital T truth, as in objectively true, is quite a different matter. I understand this.

    I don't equate personal preferences with metaphysical truths, not at all.

    This is where we get so quickly mired. You appear to have a set of beliefs you wish to attribute to me, because that would suit your case, and no amount of me pointing out that's not what I believe at all seems capable of shifting you.

    Ron's point is exactly the right one. I do think all metaphysical beliefs deserve equal footing, in absence of some way of judging processes. So I treat your belief that there is a God with exactly the same degree of respect that I treat an atheists belief there is no God. These are beliefs you both hold dear, good on you both. But how am I to choose between them?

    I guess I could believe one world view is more accurate than another, but that doesn't feel much like equal footing to me.

    Bernard

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  8. Darrell says:

    Bernard,

    “Ron's point is exactly the right one. I do think all metaphysical beliefs deserve equal footing, in absence of some way of judging processes…I guess I could believe one world view is more accurate than another, but that doesn't feel much like equal footing to me.”

    It is the right point and it is directed to you because it is you who keeps pushing back on the very idea. And we are not saying that metaphysical beliefs (or narratives)deserve equal footing. We are saying that none have some empirical, foundational, scientific, privilege over the others. They are all held by faith. How we sort out which narratives are better or truer is another matter and question. I tried to address that in the post on category errors.

    And you certainly believe your world-view—one that takes exception, causes you some discomfort, when anyone asserts that a different one is true and others (because logic dictates) false. Again, you are in the same boat as the rest of us. Why do you believe such a “stance” or sensibility is more accurate? If you don’t believe your own take here is accurate, then why do you take exception? Why the discomfort? Why care? Why bring it up then?

    It is you and Burk who keep saying your world-view(s) (or you-just your agnosticism) are not held by faith, but stand on some empirical foundation (or some other), thus the advantage (or privilege).

    But maybe everyone is misreading you Bernard. So, if you agree with everyone here and we are all on the same page, then what is the problem? What are we discussing? What is the issue? After I think we are pointing out areas where there are clear problems, you assure us you actually agree with everything we are saying, but…what? What?

    At this point, what is the question or problem?

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  9. Hi Darrell

    For me, the question is exactly the one you articulate. You write 'how we sort out which narratives are better or truer is another matter and question.'

    For me, it's the interesting question. How indeed? I'm most interested in this.

    Bernard

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  10. Darrell says:

    Bernard,

    I've posted this several times, but here it is again just to address your previous comments:

    “…The matter of all faiths (comprehensive world-views/philosophies) being ultimately unfounded by appeals to evidence and facts alone, is not the same issue as to then how do we know which one is correct (and such an issue and question assumes so much by the way!). That is another question and matter. The first assertion no doubt can lead to the next, but everyone wants to jump there before they sit for a moment and take in the fact that their own faith, their own world-view, sits on an equal plane with other narratives in the sense that it is an interpretation of the facts and evidence—it is not a one-to-one direct correlation between our gaze of the universe and TRUTH. Of course that is what we want, that one-to-one correlation so we can say, “Look at me—I’m right and everyone else is wrong—because I have all the facts and evidence on my side (or the “right” reading of the Bible—“it clearly says…”). It is the fundamentalist temptation, for both the secular and religious, whether it is a “reading” of nature or the Bible or other text.”

    “Finally, because all narratives sit on this equal plane, it should not necessarily lead one to conclude that one cannot then ever know which one is true or truer than another. Because to conclude such could only mean that one had a-priori set up a bar (had in mind) for truth that no narrative can reach. Any such bar could only be constructed or arrived at by some other faith, some other world-view or philosophy.”

    Just to state again: We are not asserting that every metaphysical belief or meta-narrative is equal in their assertions, outcomes, truthfulness, accuracy, resonance, or factualness. We are simply noting that all are held by faith (in the sense I've already spoken of) and unfounded by appeals to evidence and facts alone. Empiricism will not get us there—it doesn't even get the atheist there.

    Now, to move on from there, to get to the question you ask, as I note above, we first have to deal with the realization that we all proceed by faith here—on that level we are all indeed equal. Otherwise, to move on and talk about how we might discern the differences in narratives will prove fruitless because it will devolve back into the very discussion we have been having. Does that make sense?

    In other words, it is a tacit admission of one's belief in empiricism (thus, narrative and faith-based) to say something like, “I agree that empiricism will not get us there and that is exactly the problem. How do we then judge which is true?”

    Then we are simply back where we were and moving on to the differences of narratives will prove of little value. This is abundantly clear from most of Burk's comments.

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  11. Burk Braun says:

    Darrell-

    Yes, well, the reason for the persistent critique is that your blanket we-all-live-by-faith fails to make critical distinctions.

    We all have faith in the sun coming up tomorrow. One can call that a richly warranted faith, and cite probabilities, etc. if one likes. Thus far, we are indeed all on the level and working from “faith”, though to call it faith is a matter of philosophical formality, it being as certain as anything- a fact.

    However, believing in the tooth fairy, or in Santa Claus, is a different matter … of faith. No rigorous evidence exists, and indeed the psychological evidence we have in hand indicates pretty strongly that these are figments of the imagination.

    So we turn to theism, and consider.. which sort of thing might this be? Is it something that is a figment of the imagination, or is it a solid description of reality?

    Well, the latter engages in natural forms of demonstration- i.e. evidence and empiricism. If you claim that prayer works, that can and should be tested out. Any field claiming to tell us “truths” about how reality operates submits to this standard.

    The former kind of theory receives a quite different style of analysis. We look at people's motives, their studious avoidance of concrete predictions, their obsession with tangential issues (like morals as being the prime obsession of the creator of the universe), and their anthropomorphism of supposedly inconceivable, cosmic entities. Etc.

    There are very, very different kinds of faith at work. Unless that is acknowledged and addressed, you don't have a prayer of even knowing what the many problems with the theism narrative are, whatever its content.

    But perhaps your approach to “How do we judge what is true?” is to not care about truth at all. To proclaim and feel your belief, but not care about its philosophical status overly much, while loudly proclaiming that philosophy is powerless to support anyone else's beliefs any better than your own. That is my current model.

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  12. Darrell says:

    Burk,

    I’ve addressed every issue you raise here in these two posts:

    http://byzantinedream.blogspot.com/2013/01/category-errors-and-other-problems.html
    http://byzantinedream.blogspot.com/2012/12/faith-intuition-what.html

    If you feel you have responded to the points made in those posts, then we simply disagree and move on. I can only repeat myself so many times.

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  13. Hi Darrell

    Well, I remain interested in the question. Yes, I agree all worldviews require foundations that can only be established from within that world view. The philosopher of science Alan Musgrave makes this point by noting that if any system of belief can be established using premises derived outside the system, then it is those premises that should properly be considered fundamental, and the system is no more than an inference. Hence all knowledge systems involve some degree of circularity, and in this sense there is a faith base to all knowledge.

    And, intriguingly, you argue that not all such systems are equal, so clearly I'm fascinated in how one might go about choosing between them. My preferred method is to start with those statements where best guesses, or consensus, is established. At the point where I know of no other viable explanation being proffered, it seems to me I can be justified taking a belief on board on the grounds that there is no known working alternative. This doesn't imply empiricism, any method that provides consensus can underpin such foundations. And I have argued that one can withhold belief beyond this point, if there's no clear way of choosing between alternative beliefs.

    What interests me then is this promise of some method for assessing the truth-yielding capacity of various world views when it comes to making contested claims about how the world is. How does that work? I ask this not as a challenge to you, but because if you could show me a method, that would be most excellent. If there are ways of finding truths, it would be great to know about them, clearly.

    Bernard

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  14. Darrell says:

    Bernard,

    “Hence all knowledge systems involve some degree of circularity, and in this sense there is a faith base to all knowledge…And, intriguingly, you argue that not all such systems are equal…”

    To see you explicitly state the above is good, as such has been my point all along. “All knowledge systems” includes philosophical naturalism/materialism and other empirically based world-views, wherein the usual result is either atheism or agnosticism. Thus, we all live by faith. The equality lies there.

    But, you miss the point I made earlier. I do not say they all are equal in content or outcome. I say, as you note here too, that all our differing narratives (and therefore knowledge systems) are ultimately faith based and cannot resort to a strictly empirical founding. But they all do tell different stories. Not all stories are equal. I don’t think the story the Nazis told was equal to others. I do know they tried to “privilege” their story by saying it was based on science. But you get my point I hope.

    I think your approach of sitting back and wondering how I “choose” one is not going to be the best approach. World-views are not like a smorgasbord, wherein we pick and choose what we like. It is rather like meeting and choosing your wife. Or did she choose you? You fell in love. How did that happen? Narratives capture us by how compelling and beautiful they are. If you are going to reduce it to an analytical process, something you would never do in choosing a life-long partner or friend, you miss the point. Part of the narrative you believe Bernard may put you in control of just such a process. What if intrinsic to the narrative of Christianity is the idea of ceding such control and putting one’s self in a position where they first assume they may be fundamentally wrong in their current view?

    “What interests me then is this promise of some method for assessing the truth-yielding capacity of various world views…”

    I certainly made no promise and anyone who would is a fool. All I said was that the question of which narratives are truer or “better” (whatever that might mean) is a different question than how they are founded. When we begin to talk about how we would explore the differences in world-views, there is no “method” there are only hints, things we can gesture toward or point out that seem significant. Why do some narratives seem to resonate more than others? What do some seem to have a significant cultural and historical impact? Why do some inspire and others not? Why are some triumphalistic and others self-critical? Why do some seem to “fit” with our experience and others not so much? Why do some remain for centuries and some pass away? And once again, I will point out that I tried to address some of this in the post regarding category errors.

    With every suggested answer to the above noted questions, however, there will always be a counter or alternative answer offering a different perspective. So even here all one can do is make a cumulative argument that, again, gestures or nods a certain way. There is no certainty or method of “proving” that one narrative is true and another false. At the end of the day, we choose (even if the choice is not to make one!) and our choices are shrouded in mystery and bound up in our ultimate loves and desires—again, much like our relationships. You can’t keep your distance here. You can’t control the process. You can be open however.

    But I will attempt some posts in this area of evaluating differing world-views/faiths/narratives. However it will stand or fall on us leaving behind this discussion of “founding” and moving on. Since Burk cannot get pass that aspect, I’m not sure what that means for him if we move on.

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  15. Hi Darrell

    There is substantial agreement between us here. A couple of points remain open, and it's perhaps helpful to keep them in mind.

    Although you and I agree that there is an element of faith in every world view (and I've seen Burk acknowledge as much here, too), there is no logical implication that such faith statements can not be broken down into further categories. I think this is where the talking past one another sometimes happens. I, and I suspect others here, are not arguing one can construct world views independent of a priori beliefs, but rather that there are different types of foundational beliefs, and that this difference is worth considering.

    A point the non-theist often makes, and one I endorse, is that the sort of faith claim needed to establish that the earth is round is different in kind to that needed to establish there is a God. I don't step out in front of buses because I believe it would hurt. There is a faith claim embedded in here, I am tacitly assuming consistency in nature's workings, even though I can't show this to be true. Yet, one aspect of this faith claim is that it is made by everybody. All humans do appear to form expectations about the future based upon past experience. Were this not true, they could never have acquired knowledge about anything. So, we might think of a category of faith claims that are in some sense forced moves, ones where no alternative punts appear to be on the table. Hence, in physical matters, convergence of belief often occurs. The person who claims the bus won't hurt is considered, rightly, unreasonable.

    Now, other faith claims lead, as you note, to a range of beliefs, and these are often contradictory. There is no convergence, and as you say, no way of showing that one is a better model of reality than another (although we can show one fits a personal experience better). These claims are often reasonable in the sense that they neither deny known evidence, nor do they produce contradictions. They are not reasonable in the other sense of the word, which is that reason demands one conclusion be preferred to another.

    So, although you claim Burk can't get past the founding aspect, might the more generous assessment be that Burk is more interested than you in the nature of this difference between types of faith (as am I).

    The other claim I make that you often challenge is that, when it comes to these disputed beliefs, one need make no claims on one's faith at all. It is possible, I suspect, to limit one's beliefs to those where no alternative is in play.

    Anyway, interested in your thoughts as always.

    Bernard

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  16. Darrell says:

    Bernard,

    I was getting ready to respond when I came to this:

    “So, although you claim Burk can't get past the founding aspect, might the more generous assessment be that Burk is more interested than you in the nature of this difference between types of faith (as am I).”

    Really? You think we need to read Burk more generously? Have you ever considered that the one whose style of “conversing” is to throw rocks and sling mud might be the one who needs to show more generosity in how he reads others? Again, it seems you have a skewered and unfair (privileged?) evaluation of how we should “read” one another. Is your “distaste” issue a one-way street? Ron and I have been reading Burk rather very generously. The only time our responses are tinged with humor or sarcasm is when it is clear Burk is just throwing rocks again and looking for a fight. Generous? We have been more than generous.

    Are you being generous in your one-sided criticisms here of how we might “read” others?

    And where has Burk admitted that his atheism, his empiricism, (his world-view) is faith based and stands on the same ground (equal plane) as the Christian? Where?

    Wow, this has left me shaking my head and wondering how to proceed.

    Bernard, there is a further method to my madness here. I think your presuppositions, your world-view, are more hidden and unconscious than you realize—even still. It comes through in these very things I keep pointing out—even though you might think them small and me too sensitive. I don’t need any defending from Burk (I've held my own for years now), and Burk isn't really the issue I’m trying to get you to see. Hopefully you see it.

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  17. Hi Darrell

    Burk's last comment on this thread begins with…

    “Yes, well, the reason for the persistent critique is that your blanket we-all-live-by-faith fails to make critical distinctions.

    We all have faith in the sun coming up tomorrow. One can call that a richly warranted faith, and cite probabilities, etc. if one likes. Thus far, we are indeed all on the level and working from “faith”, though to call it faith is a matter of philosophical formality, it being as certain as anything- a fact.”

    I'm intrigued by why it's so easy to get caught in loops in this conversation, and one reason might be that substantive issues remain unaddressed. Often you write as if the problem is we non-theists can't see that all world views require faith. Yet, none of us are disputing this.

    Rather, we are claiming, as Burk does above, that there is a critical distinction that isn't being addressed. I raised this again in my last comment. Some faith positions appear to be forced moves, others appear to leave much more room for flexibility/interpretation/imagination. JP sometimes refers to this as positions being constrained by reality, and I think broadly all three of us are making the same point.

    Some faith positions, then, restrict themselves to these communally established statements, others range more freely, and are speculative in the sense, as you note, that competing explanations can not be adjudged to be more or less likely to be true. In this sense, we're not all on the same plane, despite all having faith-dependent world views.

    Now, of course, it may be true, as you say, that I am making hidden assumptions that I'm not aware of. And so, as always, I am open to specific examples of a belief you think I hold that requires a faith position that isn't held communally held. You make this claim often, but an example would be the game changer.

    Bernard

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  18. Darrell says:

    Bernard,

    I’m well aware of what Burk wrote. And I responded that I have written quite a bit about the very distinctions you both speak of. I’m sorry it hasn't adequately addressed every one’s concerns. All I can do is keep trying, although it does seem I’m just repeating the same thing over and over. I think once we understand philosophical category errors that the distinctions you speak of melt away. That was also the whole point of bringing up Putnam and the “fact/value” distinction, which seems to be the very one you and Burk keeping bringing up. I don’t believe there is a distinction (or one that is relevant) for most of the same reasons Putnam articulates.

    What else am I to say? I feel no one as given me any reason to believe I haven’t addressed those issues (other than they don’t like my answers). In fact, I thought we were in agreement here but it appears not.

    As to the hidden assumptions, you missed it completely. My whole point there revolved around your suggestion of generosity and how misplaced it was. I see you didn't have much to say about that and, again, I wonder if that is because you can’t “see” it. Is this not a hidden bias, an unacknowledged prejudice? Your whole “taste/distaste” issue seems to run one way.

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  19. Darrell says:

    Bernard,

    Oh, I forgot to ask you again: “And where has Burk admitted that his atheism, his empiricism, (his world-view) is faith based and stands on the same ground (equal plane) as the Christian? Where?”

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  20. Hi Darrell

    I meant generosity in the intellectual, rather than moral sense. The idea that we are most likely to advance our understanding by attending to the strongest, rather than weakest, version of the opposing argument.

    I quoted Burk because I detect in here an admission that of course there are assumptions at work before physical beliefs can get off the ground. What he appears to be interested in, and I am interested in this also, is the way these assumptions differ from those required for religious belief.

    Bernard

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  21. Darrell says:

    Bernard,

    And I would agree with Ron. We have been generous in the intellectual sense. Very generous. And I'm afraid you have not been generous in your one-sided criticism especially when this was the very issue you went on and on about (distaste for this very thing). You've had opportunity after opportunity to show your distaste and yet have failed to do so. Why?

    If the only sense he may mean some assumptions (faith) are necessary is entirely divorced from admitting his atheism is faith-based or means he thinks his atheism and philosophical naturalism are still founded empirically then why would that even matter? This is after all the very issue disputed.

    Again, where has Burk admitted that his atheism, his world-view, is faith-based? That is the only sense we are discussing here and the only relevant sense. Where has he done that? Please just provide me one quote where he admits his atheism is faith-based in the same sense of the Christian’s belief in God.

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  22. Hi Darrell

    The why is nothing more than my assessment that making any stand on the etiquette of this discussion is more likely to increase, rather than decrease, mudslinging.

    The thing about this faith-based notion is that I agree with you that all intellectual stances require faith, but I don't agree it is necessary to make commitments to belief on issues that are contested.

    Atheists, I think, do make such commitments, and as such are on a level playing field with other stripes of believers. I'm not always sure whether Burk considers himself more an atheist of an agnostic, as these terms are used in a variety of ways, and often he nods towards agnosticism, with regards to the big issues (why something and not nothing?) in which case there may well be nothing for him to admit.

    Bernard

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  23. Darrell says:

    Bernard,

    You are the one who took the stand already. That is the point. You are the one who said his issue was his “distaste” for the very type of thinking and argument demonstrated by Burk, which is basically, “I’m right, and everyone else is an idiot.” We just thought you might take issue with that, since it was so important to you. No one was asking you to sling mud back. A simple recognition would have sufficed.

    We were further bothered by the seeming willingness on your part to monitor and take a stand on the “etiquette” of mine and Ron’s assertions. That seemed unfair and not very generous at all given the blatant lack of generosity on the part of Burk.

    I think we've made our point. I've wasted enough time on this. I do think it is something you need to be sensitive to in the future.

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