Philosophers’ Carnival #122

Welcome to the 122nd fortnightly edition of Philosophers’ Carnival!  Without too much ado [ besides a plug for the Carnival’s new FB page ] I present to you a philosophers’ blog carnival that is (this round) predominantly about mostly Philosophy of Religion and mostly Ethics…with a smidge of mostly epistemology and mostly logic at the end…the fields do tend toward tapestry.

Mostly Philosophy of Religion

Alex PrussEpistemicism, vagueness and theism posted at Alexander Pruss’s Blog is presented by enigMan.  If you’re new to this, epistemicism is the position that there is a sharp line determining when someone has become bald (considered a vague concept), or when grains of sand have become a heap (and only after this line is crossed do such only-apparently vague concepts as “bald” or “heap” correspond/refer)we just can’t know the line.  Related to this is the line-drawing fallacy of saying there is no such thing as baldness or heaps (no objective meaning to them) because there is (it is fallaciously argued) no sharp line between a full head of hair and baldness, or one grain of sand and a heap.  Alex fashions an argument for the existence of God that makes this sharp line dependent on God’s sharpening of language (or determining the rules of sharpening), rather than being independent of language.  Besides being a God-of-the-gaps argument and other problems, his argument uses the existence of God to argue for the existence of sharp meaning, while also using the existence of sharp meaning to argue for the existence of God.  It is parallel to using the existence of objective morality to argue God exists (ought-is fallacy) while using God’s existence to argue there is objective morality (is-ought fallacy), with the twist that it is all language-dependent.  Alex writes, “If God, in creating human beings, can create them with a nature that grounds normative facts about them, he can create them with a nature that defines meanings as well.”  As human beings are not perfect, though, how is it that any real (natural) ‘ought’ could correspond (refer) to one?  It could only always correspond to a being who always wills/commands in accordance with an eternally good nature (good being self=Other), resolving Euthyphro’s Dilemma (more on that below).  And why the twist of making it all language-dependent?  This is a field I hope I will eventually have more time to explore.

Roman Altshuler presents The Meaninglessness of Life: Camus vs. Nagel posted at The Ends of ThoughtThere are many misunderstandings (not of Nagel or Camus) packed into this to which I would love to give a reply, but I will only hit a few.  On the one hand, it is true that it is absurd to think that God could put meaning into (ought-is fallacy) our lives which we are incapable of finding meaningful (ought implies can).  On the other hand, it is argued that if we are capable of understanding (or reasoning to) this meaning, we don’t need God in order to enjoy meaning (however, a real ought, real meaning, must correspond to real being).  Also, “What gives meaning to the source of meaning?” makes as much sense as “If God began (temporal) existence, what began (eternal) God’s existence?”.  Further, there is a view here of knowledge that it cannot exist without absolute certainty, and a view of faith that it is necessarily blind.  Faith (in the epistemological sense) is merely believing the strongest evidence while lacking absolute certainty.  Such faith can double as knowledge if it also corresponds.  Lastly, how would it be absurd if we justified through reasoning the conclusion that the ultimate end of both being and doing is Golden Rule love (self=Other), a justified conclusion that is true only if corresponding to a being described by it?  It would be the only thing that could possibly make real meaningful sense and fulfill the “wild longing for clarity whose call echoes in the human heart” (Camus)the only thing that would satisfy our hunger for true meaning.

Kenny Pearce presents Two Bad Footnotes posted at “Leibniz is not a deist.” The first bad footnote claims Hume is offering the alternative of deism, when Hume was actually referring to Leibniz’ thought, which (Kenny explains) is not deism.  The second bad footnote incorrectly refers to the glossary definition of ens per se instead of to one for ens a se as they are not interchangeable, which Kenny shows.

enigMan presents God is Timeless posted at Enigmania. “Concerns what we mean by timelessness.” In this article God’s timelessness does not mean what it usually means to the theist, which is not being limited to the present moment but being in and over every moment.  So in what sense can an Open Theist claim God is timeless, if they limit God to the present (and did he begin with the beginning of the physical?)?  “The deliberate creation of anything contingent surely requires several real possibilities to choose between, as well as a single actuality amidst counterfactuals, and hence some sort of change (not necessarily one that takes place within spacetime).”  What sort of change takes place ‘outside’ spacetime?  What would an Open Theist say to Brian Greene’s thought in “The Fabric of the Cosmos” that “special relativistic reality treats all times equally. …Einstein believed that reality embraces past, present, and future equally and that the flow [ of time ] we envision…is illusory,” (p. 132)?

Mostly Ethics

Matt Hoberg presents Traumatic Harm and the Freedom of Speech posted at The Consternation of Philosophy.  Matt suggests we modify Mill’s harm principle to be a traumatic harm principle when deciding whether or not to protect speech, so that offensive speech would be protected unless causing traumatic harm.

Richard presents Personal Concern and Chains of Counterparts posted at Philosophy, et cetera. “Discusses Caspar Hare’s ‘morphing argument’ for (a kind of) impartiality.”  This reminds me of the original post, in that there is no knowable sharp line between happy (great life) and unhappy (miserable life).  But that is not the focus of this submission.  Look up impartiality and the Pareto principle if you are unfamiliar with them, before you read this submission.  Wouldn’t being impartial actually be a sort of being personal, so that being properly personal would have to involve impartiality, if self=Other?  Much of Richard’s article is new to me and I hope to explore this field further in the future.

I present Jonathan PhillipsThere Is No Such Thing As Art posted at Yeah, OK, But Still (correction:  that’s Nicks’ blog; someone must’ve given Jonathan credit for something Nick wrote in a past carnival! arg). Jonathan faithfully submits others’ blogposts behind the scenes and it’s time to see what he has to offer (except, this is Nick’s blog!).  This topic is particularly on my mind as my community’s college is suffering from a massive cut to its art program.  Nick notes that carpentry survived the death of guilds, and it is interesting that Plato, in his metaphor of the three beds, held carpentry in higher esteem than poetry.  One could argue that anything one puts one’s mind to is art, is creative (hence placing this in the “Mostly Ethics” category).  If the title “There Is No Such Thing As Art” perked up your ears because it reminds you of Sartre’s “There Is No Human Nature”…

…you might enjoy Human nature and the human condition by Tom, who initially submitted Morality vs Ethics: The Trolley Problem, both posted at The Philosopher’s Beard (but at what point did it become a beardperhaps there are no beards?).  In “Human nature and the human condition” Tom suggests the latter is socially evolved.  He puts religion (among other things) on the ‘condition’ (‘nurture’) side of things, but even the self-titled Four Horsemen (our thoughts are with Mr. Hitchens) are not so quick to put religion there.  It is too bad he does not cite how he knows some of the things he claims (would be interesting to learn more about them).  In “Morality vs Ethics” Tom emphasizes the importance of Ethics using the Trolley Problem.

Matthew Pianalto presents Human/Animal Similarity & Unwarranted Doom posted at The HEP Spot.  Matthew critiques Mortimer Adler’s claiming that if other animals are similar to humans, 1) we are doomed to treat them the same as us, and 2) our rights are doomed.

Mike Billy presents Is Piracy Theft? posted at Voluntary Thought. He is referring to copyright infringement, matey, and his answer to the question is “No.”

Skyler Mann presents The Moral Cause of Arson posted at Metaphysician’s Diagnosis. “Just my take on a part of Francisco Suarez’s treatment of efficient causes.” The difference between a moral (efficient) cause and a physical cause comes out when talking about prevention.  This seems to raise intention above the physical.  Think of this as pertains to what roll environment plays in evolution as you read the next submission…

David Michael presents Evolutionary moral pragmatism posted at Perplexicon. “An attempt to derive an objective morality from evolution.” Species survival is taken as the ultimate end, but no reasoning is given for why (he admits at the end).  More on deriving ought from is below the following submission, which ties in well with fitness…

David Fryman presents Exercise and Ethics posted at The Bennett Commentary, saying “Regular exercise fosters [ethical] values by . . . demanding that we overcome pain and resistance, conquer laziness, and delay gratification. In this sense, physical courage can cultivate moral courage by enhancing our ability to control our bodies and thus, our behavior.”

Keenan Steel presents The Is-Ought Problem: Hume’s Fallacy posted at Egoist Philosophy Blog. “The argument that a normative or prescriptive statement cannot be derived from a descriptive statement is clearly false if we speak more precisely.”  See my submission directly below.

A smidge of mostly epistemology

My offering to this carnival is Hume’s is-ought, Plato’s true-justified, Euthyphro’s dilemma and Gettier’s problem posted here at Ichthus77This is what I’ve been thinking for a while in the fewest words possible, relevant to Philosophy of Religion, Ethics, epistemology and perhaps even…

A smattering of mostly logic

Rico Vitz submits Edgar Aroutiounian‘s An Interview With Noted Logician, Graham Priest (discussion of dialetheism, Sylvan’s Box, Disjunctive Syllogism and more is in  part two) posted at Florida Student Philosophy Blog.


Our hearts go out to the survivors of the Japan earthquakes and tsunami.  For those motivated to help, please read this article from The GiveWell Blog.


Thanks to all who contributed submissions to this carnival.  About half of the submissions were rejected on the basis of being “top ten list” types of articles or the advice variety, or written up very hastily merely to promote their site unrelated to philosophy.  These are submission no-nos, if you have done this in the past (please don’t do it on the FB page, either).  The next carnival will be April 4 at Faith in Philosophy.  Philosophy of religion submissions are especially called for.  Submit articles for that here, and don’t forget to check out our new FB page :) 

Happy blogging!

Many of the photos come from here.

This entry was posted in Carnival, Divine Essentialism, Euthyphro Dilemma, Faith, Golden Rule. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Philosophers’ Carnival #122

  1. Matt says:

    The call for submissions for the next carnival is here:

    Philosophy of religion submissions are especially encouraged.

  2. Keenan Steel says:

    Thanks for hosting the carnival! I enjoyed reading some of the posts. Seems a lot of us are still talking about Hume..

  3. enigMan says:

    Thanks for including my post. Re:
    In this article God's timelessness does not mean what it usually means to the theist, which is not being limited to the present moment but being in and over every moment.

    I was actually taking 'timeless' to mean just what it usually means to the theist, and showing that open theism isn't incompatible with that.

    Under open theism, God is not limited to the present moment, as though He was not at other times. At all times God exists, but at each time He exists then. And the open-theistic God is also above time, in the sense that in the beginning there was God, and then time was created by God having the ability to change.

    I should point that out because it was at just such confusions that my post was directed. (Regarding Einstein, it can similarly be asked what any theist has to say about Darwin, of course.)

  4. enigMan, we'll have to agree to disagree on the meaning of timeless. If you are saying God is in the present moment and other times (past and future moments…as opposed to having an open future) then that does not conflict with Einstein/Greene (but change is meaningless from a perspective of transcendence, even though it includes immanence, and always did). As for Darwin, theists have answered: :)

  5. Skyler says:

    Thank you for including my piece on Suarez & moral causes, especially since I am a new (and young) blogger. I enjoyed reading the other posts in the Carnival and I will get around to commenting on them at some point. :D

  6. Matt, I updated this carnival with a link to your call for submissions. Keenan and Skyler, thanks so much for your submissions :)

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