Friday, February 08, 2013

Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition: Keith Burgess-Jackson on Nagel, Plantinga, and Leiter

Here is his response to Plantinga's review of Nagel, and here is his response to the Leiter-Weisberg attack on Nagel.

Some of the attacks on people like Nagel really do remind me of the Spanish Inquisition.

29 comments:

Papalinton said...

Victor
It is perhaps prudent not to embrace Burgess-Jackson to closely to your website.

See HERE and HERE.

In one of your earlier posts HERE, you tilted towards the Burgess-Jackson corner. And it seems you may not have heeded Lippard's earlier cautionary guidance.

"Some of the attacks on people like Nagel really do remind me of the Spanish Inquisition." The irony here is that the gravitas and dignity of your statement is equally as hilarious as the Monty Python skit.

WMF said...

Wow, it appears as if this time, Papalinton, despite his best efforts at making fallacious character assassinations, isn't the biggest lunatic within the first few comments. It seems kilo papa has beaten you to the punch. It seems the master has become the student and the student has become the master.

Papalinton said...

"Wow, it appears as if this time, Papalinton, despite his best efforts at making fallacious character assassinations, isn't the biggest lunatic within the first few comments."

Talking of kunatics:

"A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything." Nietzsche

HyperEntity111 said...

Since Nietzsche was himself a madman I wouldn't put too much faith in his ramblings. WMF: I always kilo papa was just Paps on another account.

Victor Reppert said...

The point of my response to Lippard holds, a bad argument on another subject doesn't make his claim on this subject false.

Papalinton said...

Hyper
To be sure Neitzsche died a mad, from brain cancer. But his words and ideas were anything but.

See HERE

Papalinton said...

"The point of my response to Lippard holds, a bad argument on another subject doesn't make his claim on this subject false."

I read that argument a lot from apologists, a 'bad argument' being a euphemism for something with which you do not agree.

Matt DeStefano said...

The irony of KBJ claiming that Weisberg and Leiter are "drive-by" philosophers (knowing 'just enough to be dangerous') is just too rich.

Victor, why you think this guy has a shred of credibility left is beyond me.

Victor Reppert said...

Why is this an issue of Burgess's credibility? It's not about Burgess, it's what he says in this instance.

Matt DeStefano said...

It's an issue because of his personal obsession (to put it mildly) with Leiter. It's unsurprising he finds a review done by him to be less than stellar.

steve said...

KBJ has a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Michigan-Flint (1979), a master's degree in history from Wayne State University (1983), a law degree from Wayne State University (1983), a master's degree in philosophy from the University of Arizona (1985), and a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Arizona (1989). He's a tenured philosophy prof. In addition, he's an atheist. Seems to me like he has some prima facie credibility to discuss Nagel, Plantinga, and Leiter.

In any event, he's not a witness, so his credibility is a red herring.

As far as that goes, considering that Matt is an apostate who contributes to the Secular Outpost, he's hardly impartial. If KBJ has a credibility problem, where does that leave Matt?

steve said...

Matt DeStefano said...

"It's an issue because of his personal obsession (to put it mildly) with Leiter."

Kinda like Matt's personal obsession (to put it mildly) with KBJ.

Papalinton said...

"KBJ has a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Michigan-Flint (1979), a master's degree in history from Wayne State University (1983), a law degree from Wayne State University (1983), a master's degree in philosophy from the University of Arizona (1985), and a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Arizona (1989). "

A turkey with a PhD is still a turkey. :o)

Papalinton said...

Not that I'm saying Burgess jackson is one; just that he sure acts like one.

But theists need all the help they can get, even if it is to muster Burgess-Jackson as helping the cause of theism. One step forward two steps back.

Matt DeStefano said...

http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2005/10/keith_burgessja_1.html

For those who haven't seen.

Papalinton said...

Yes Matt.

I too thought that posting was appropriate for this discussion embedded in my first comment. :o)

steve said...

DeStefano is a dutiful altar boy at the Church of Freethinkers. Like Nipper (His Master’s Voice), he comes running whenever Matt McCormick whistles.

So-called freethinkers can’t stand real freethinkers. They only applaud freethinkers who happen to think alike. As long as freethinkers think like them, that’s okay. But when fellow atheists exercise genuine intellectual independence (e.g. Thomas Nagel, James Shapiro, Jerry Fodor, John Dupré, Kevin Burgess-Jackson), they are excommunicated in absentia from the Church of Freethinkers). That’s because criticism from within is more threatening than criticism from without.

steve said...

KBJ gets high marks from a number of his students:

http://www.ratemyprofessors.com/ShowRatings.jsp?tid=654311

steve said...

Papalinton said...

"A turkey with a PhD is still a turkey. :o)"

You mean...like Leiter and Weisberg?

Victor Reppert said...

The real issue, in my mind, is whether serious questioning of evolutionary theory ought to be eschewed because it will give aid and comfort to (to quote Leiter and Weisberg) "evolution deniers, intelligent-design acolytes, religious fanatics and others who are not really interested in the substantive scientific and philosophical issues." The reviewers seem to suggest that this for this reason, the book is going to cause "mischief." It seems to me that this is a step on the road to an intellectual McCarthyism where questioning any aspect of Darwinianism is to be discouraged because give aid and comfort to those darned "creationists."

Matt DeStefano said...

It's not the fact that Nagel questions evolution that bothers his critics, it's that he does so by fundamentally misunderstanding much of the science (as Coyne, Leiter & Weisberg, etc. have pointed out).

An unfavorable review of the book is not any sort of "intellectual McCarthyism", and to say such is just an expression of one's persecution complex.

steve said...

Matt DeStefano said...

"It's not the fact that Nagel questions evolution that bothers his critics, it's that he does so by fundamentally misunderstanding much of the science (as Coyne, Leiter & Weisberg, etc. have pointed out)."

Matt,

You're just citing reviewers who agree with you, while ignoring reviewers who disagree.

Moreover, Coyne is the only one of the three who's professionally qualified to discuss the science of evolution. And, of course, he picks fights with other professionally qualified scientists.

Furthermore, there's more to evolution than raw science. There are philosophical presuppositions and ramifications. That's something Nagel *is* qualified to discuss.

Victor Reppert said...

Nagel's argument seems to be against the neo-Darwinian conception of nature, which seems to be broader target than just the practice of evolutionary biology itself. And the review seems to target the book because it gives aid and comfort to "evolution deniers." This seems to me cut out of the same piece of cloth as the fear that questions about the adequacy of evolution as an explanation for something will give grist to the mill of creationists. As a result, it is going to be harder to get a sense of how well-solved, for example, Mivart's problem is in evoutionary biology. If people in evolutionary biology wouldn't admit it even if it turns out the Mivart's problem will not go away, for fear that the dreaded enemies of evolution might use this to fuel their viewpoint, then it seems to me that this hurts science and the quest for truth in general.

Hal said...

There is a rather good review of Nagel's book on the Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews site. It can be found here:
Nagel Review

He ends it with this:

"A final point. I have myself argued that it is a serious mistake to allow fear of creationists and other obscurantists to discourage discussion of the weaknesses and unanswered questions in evolutionary theory. Nagel has no fear of such people and expresses a considerable sympathy with intelligent design. On the basis of his understanding of evolution, he considers that the rejection of their criticisms of evolution is 'manifestly unfair' (p. 10). (This may, of course, reflect on either the understanding or the unfairness.) He just personally feels an aversion to the theistic perspective. The title of the book, however, all too readily interpreted as announcing the falsity of Darwinism, will certainly lend comfort (and sell a lot of copies) to the religious enemies of Darwinism. Notwithstanding my caution about being unduly influenced by such people, this seems unfortunate when so easily avoidable."

BenYachov said...

A clash of fundamentalists.

Young Earth Creationist & or other anti-Evolutionist types vs Darwinian Dogmatic Atheists who think Evolution refutes God.

It's very simple. Problems in evolution don't automatically mean the diversity of animal morphology and species does not have a natural explanation that didn't occur over a long period of Time.

Nor does evolution as a natural explanation of the same exclude a God who guides the process via the traditional doctrine of Divine Providence.

Thus I see no reason to get wee wee'd up over Nagel. He's still an Atheist and believes Evolutionary theory has problems.

I accept evolution & if I rejected Nagel's problems I still believe in God.

One has nothing to do with the other.

Josh said...

What's so awesome about this is that, given that I took two courses from KBJ while doing my undergrad at UTA, I know now exactly how to gauge his detractor's insanities. You people are fools. There's nothing wrong with this guy, and I wish my other philosophy professors were more like him. And that's not a minority opinion among the people who are around him every day.

So he hates Brian Leiter; well, the line forms to the left, gentlemen.

Samwell Barnes said...

That Leiter is a trigger-happy bully is beyond dispute. Take, for example, his unprovoked treatment of Edward Feser:

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2009/03/so-am-i-crank-and-liar-or-not.html

Hal said...

"Thus I see no reason to get wee wee'd up over Nagel. He's still an Atheist and believes Evolutionary theory has problems.

I accept evolution & if I rejected Nagel's problems I still believe in God.

One has nothing to do with the other."

I couldn't agree more.

John Dupre makes pretty much the same point in the review I linked above.

Victor Reppert said...

I'll admit that the exchanges between Burgess-Jackson and Leiter seem to me like a food fight. But are the criticism well-taken, or not?