Thursday, September 26, 2013

An ethical claim from Hector Avalos

From this discussion.

I would go much further and argue that all theistic ethics are inherently unethical because,
at least from a secular viewpoint, a functional ethical system is one in which all members
of a community have at least the same potential ability to verify the information on which
their actions are based.

Why assume this? In science, different people have different levels of access. Why must egalitarianism of this kind rule in ethics?

40 comments:

jdhuey said...

"Why assume this? In science, different people have different levels of access. Why must egalitarianism of this kind rule in ethics?"

I think that the distinction is that in the realm of science there is no inherent theoretical restriction on access to information. In theory, if not in practice, anyone can acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to assess any scientific claim. The same can be said for secular ethics. However, for theistic ethics that relies on knowing the mind of God, those who claim that knowledge are also claiming an inherently privileged authority.

Think of the difference between the claims of a religious prophet (say Joseph Smith) and a scientist presenting a paper where he is asking other scientists to duplicate his work. It seems to me that the claims of theistic ethics are closer to those of a religious prophet, while the claims of a secular ethics are closer to those of the scientist (loosely speaking, of course).

Jayman said...

I see a few problems that could be teased out:

(1) I believe Avalos is a moral relativist so, on his view of the world, his secular ethics are objectively no more or less ethical than theistic ethics. While this is a minor point, I think it's worth pointing out the inconsistencies many atheists adopt.

(2) I don't think we should be side-tracked into a science/religion dichotomy. Avalos is contrasting secular ethics with theistic ethics. Even on secular ethics we lack the potential ability to verify the information on which actions are based. Secular ethics often focus on something like happiness so I'll use that as an example.

Suppose I can take one of two actions (A1 and A2). If I perform A1 I know this will result in one person (P1) becoming a little happier and another person (P2) becoming a little sadder. If I perform A2 I know this will result in P1 becoming a little sadder and P2 becoming a little happier. Which action should I take to maximize the total happiness of P1 and P2? I can make an educated guess but there's no way to objectively verify which action is best. We can try to assign numbers to P1's happiness and P2's happiness but there is no reason to believe that a 5 out of 10 (for example) means the exact same thing to both people.

By his own inconsistent, morally relativistic standard, secular ethics are inherently unethical.

(3) Theistic ethics can be verified to some extent. We can argue about what religion is true and the moral implications of a religious text.

Crude said...

I think that the distinction is that in the realm of science there is no inherent theoretical restriction on access to information. In theory, if not in practice, anyone can acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to assess any scientific claim. The same can be said for secular ethics.

Putting aside all the other problems for a moment - these don't seem to work. I fail to see how a 'in theory, if not in practice' distinction is at all valuable here.

Not to mention, quite a lot of non-naturalist ethics are open and available to inspection too. See natural law theory.

im-skeptical said...

I'm still waiting to hear anyone's definitive list of objective moral values, as defined by their god or their bible.

B. Prokop said...

Skep,

Read Lewis's Abolition of Man. He talks about such a list there. (And it takes a lot longer than a short blog posting to do it. You can't seriously expect someone to adequately answer such a question in this kind of forum.)

I'm serious about the reading recommendation. I think you'll find your answer there.

Papalinton said...

Dr Avalos has offered a scintillating and erudite critique of the irredeemable and highly problematic nature of biblical interpretive exegesis on the question of ethics and morality.

Even as one distinguishes ethics as the code of morality, and morals as the practice of ethics, on both counts the Bible is sadly ambivalent. The 'good' christian picks the 'good' bits' and the christian that picks the equally Biblically endorsed 'bad' bits, such as W L Craig's defense of divine slaughter of the Amalekites, there is not doubt the bible is little more than a mash of contrasting, conflicting, irreconcilable and unconscionable thoughts, judgements and practices. Certainly not a code from on high.

There are those Christians like Kenton Sparks that tries to sever the cancerous limb of the Old Testament from their body of Christian morality by egregiously deferring to the lessons of the New Testament. But of course that limb cannot be severed. He seems to have conveniently forgotten, " Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or
the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill"
. But of course anything can be ruled in or out at whim. And rightly, Dr Avalos has pulled him to task for the many instances of cherry-picking, unsubstantiated claims and non-sequiturs.

There is no hiding from the truth about the tendentious nature of biblical ethics and the sham that it is. And Dr Reppert's rather jejune attempt at deflecting from the substance of Dr Avalos's criticism, with a science comparison, belies the inability of apologists to mount a credible defense of something that is plainly indefensible.

Cale B.T. said...

Papalinton, I’m interested in your thoughts on several ethical scenarios.

First, consider the idea of a “vomitorium”, in which the patrons go through a cycle of eating then regurgitating. (Apparently, contrary to popular belief, vomitoriums as such didn’t actually exist in ancient Rome.)

I could well imagine that for some people, (provided they protected themselves from the damage to the teeth and throat which comes with repeated exposure to stomach acid), a vomitorium could indeed maximise their pleasure.

But, surely the pleasure that we get from eating is coupled to the good of nutrition. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the pleasure which comes with eating, but when the pleasure itself becomes the end and is completely decoupled from the good, then we get this perverse behaviour.

Also, we can refer here to the proper use of the body. Surely it’s a *misuse* of one’s facility of vomiting to deliberately regurgitate healthy food like that?

Consider another example, this time in the sexual sphere. It may indeed be the case that a number of people have the potential to climax sexually via necrophiliac acts. On a utilitarian framework, there would be no harm involved and significant pleasure. But, surely such acts are a profoundly ugly and depraved *misuse* of the human body, and a person who has such urges is ethically obliged to resist temptation.
Do you agree that ethics must include some reference to the proper use of the body?

It seems to me that you have four options:
1. Deny that the two acts I’ve described are actually immoral.

2. Expound an ethical theory which plausibly explains the immorality of these acts, but doesn’t refer to teleology.

3. Concede that there are examples of teleology which aren't a psychological illusion but, rather, a true perception of an independently existing reality.

4. Post a long rant, garnished liberally with irrelevant tangents, quotes and personal attacks.

Which option do you take?

Papalinton said...

B T Cale's obfuscatory necrophiliac and vomitizing contrivances exemplifies the observations contained in the last sentence of my earlier comment. Not only is a credible defense from B T Cale on the substance of the OP missing, but there is both a palpable reluctance to defend the purported Christian ethical claims in the bible, and an unwillingness to engage in conversation about the utterly contrastive and incompatible prescriptions in the 'good book' that characterise divine ethical behaviour. It is fair to say, in light of reasoned discussion, the illustrations of ethical behaviour set out in the bible are an unholy mess, no matter how one tries to slice it or dice it.

BenYachov said...

Avalos is a guy who has a 100% Evangelical Protestant Fundamentalist view of Scripture and a 200% Theistic Personalist view of the nature of God.

He clearly can't think outside these categories or polemic any form of Christian religion beyond them.

He is limited.

Ape in a Cape said...

What in the world are you on about, Wilson? For a change, please, come out from that garrulous hootchie your hiding under and actually interact with your correspondents without all of the evasive nebulosity!

Cale has listed various points of contention, but instead of interacting with any of them you just opine the virtues of your own wisdom. What?! How does that represent any kind of answer except in the context of your own rehearsed spiel? All this chest pounding makes perfect sense to an ape like me, but you’re a Humanist remember? What's more, constantly gibbering Dawkinese is like swearing at your mother – it sounds cool in front of your friends, but you can expect to be singing for your supper.

Ape.

jdhuey said...

@Crude

Putting aside all the other problems for a moment - these don't seem to work. I fail to see how a 'in theory, if not in practice' distinction is at all valuable here.

I do think that the distinction is of some valuable here. Remember that the issue that I was addressing was the "egalitarianism of this kind rule in ethics". Dr. Avalos is maintaining that in a secular argument people have "the same potential ability to verify the information on which
their actions are based". Now, what I was pointing out that is similar to the situation with science. In theory, I, personally, could duplicate any and all scientific studies and either confirm or deny the results. In practice, obviously, I can't do that. But the fact that I could, it theory, do it makes science egalitarian. I see it as analogous to the situation the democracy in the USA - in theory, anyone born in the USA can grow up to become President, in practice that is simply not true. But, even though 99.99... percent of people won't become President, the mere possibility of that happening makes the system more egalitarian than a hereditary monarchy.

ingx24 said...

Cale B.T.,

I don't think that the vomitorium scenario *is* morally wrong. It's incredibly strange, yes, and might be physically damaging to the digestive system, but it's not *morally wrong*. At most, it might be a sign of a psychological disorder, but I don't think you can attach the concept of "morality" to that.

As for necrophilia, I think the reason necrophilia is morally wrong is because it desecrates a person's corpse. It's disrespectful and offensive to the person whose body it is, and could be considered rape since they are unable to consent. The idea that there is a way certain faculties are "supposed" to be used (as opposed to how they are normally used, or to the way that it is most advantageous to use them) doesn't really make sense to me.

im-skeptical said...

"Do you agree that ethics must include some reference to the proper use of the body? "

I'll take a stab at this. No. In my opinion, ethics relates to decisions we make that affect other people in some way. What we do with our own body is not anyone's concern unless it affects them in some way. Therefore, it is not an ethical issue.

This might be a little more complicated than it sounds at first. If I decide to kill myself, the decision can affect others. If I leave people without care or a means to live, that would certainly be an ethical issue. But any choice I make that affects only me does not involve obligations I have to others.

Note that a theist might object that I have obligations to his choice of supernatural beings. My reply is that even if there were such a being, I still have no way of knowing what he expects from me. Theists usually attribute their morality to this god, but the fact is that our ethics are grounded in our humanity. They are a product of our evolution. If god wants us to behave in a certain way, he has utterly failed to communicate that to us. There is no clear-cut code of morality that we get from this god.

Crude said...

jdhuey,

But the fact that I could, it theory, do it makes science egalitarian.

In theory, anyone can become a billionaire in a laissez faire capitalist system. Is laissez faire capitalism therefore egalitarian?

I have more I could say, but for now I want to go with this point specifically.

jdhuey said...

@Crude

Yes, laissez faire capitalism is supposed to be egalitarian - in the sense of promoting equal opportunity but not in the sense that wealth inequalities should be reduced.

But, Avalos was referring to equal access to the information inherent in a secular discussion, as opposed to the private privileged information inherent in a theistic discussion. So, I don't think we really need to parse the definition of "egalitarian" to any great degree.

Consider, the secular discussion about vaccinations versus the theistic discussion about, say, blood transfusions. Everyone can access the information about the benefits and (supposed) dangers of vaccines. But most folks don't have a communication line to God to see if He really doesn't want us to get a transfusion. If a JW says that it is wrong to get a transfusion because that's what God intended with those passages in the
Bible, there is no good way to verify that. The JW interprets those words one way, other religions either don't interpret it that way or just choose to ignore the injunction. And there is no way for society to resolve the issue. Now the Jehovah Witnesses don't have a lot of political power, so the impact of their belief doesn't affect the population at large but the same can't be said about the Catholic Churches belief wrt say birth control

Papalinton said...

Avalos is a guy who has a 100% Evangelical Protestant Fundamentalist view of Scripture and a 200% Theistic Personalist view of the nature of God."

Ben, you say that as if it is a bad thing, perhaps immoral or unethical. I'm sure Albert Mohler, Plantinga, and millions of other American Christians would robustly disagree with your perspective.

Peddling the trite same old, same old and incessantly repeating it doesn't turn it into fact. You have to produce evidence, and evidence I'm afraid is a little more substantive and weighty than the supernatural deliberations of the Catholic magisterium. Without said evidence your observation is little more than pious rhetoric, a gratuitous statement at best.

jdhuey said...

Oops. I used a shorthand 'JW' to refer to Jehovah Witnesses but forgot to make that explicit. Sorry.

Ape in a Cape said...

>>In my opinion, ethics relates to decisions we make that affect other people in some way.<<

Suppose an attractive and voluptuous woman decides to go topless at a crowded beach – outraging the sensibilities of many of the other women present, but gratifying the gawking eyes of many of the men. If an ethic is grounded only in how it affects others, then our salacious thespian has committed a single act that is both right and wrong, which is contradictory. To avoid this type of inconsistent ethic and still avoid values that inhere within the person, it would seem that one would have to posit moral indifference to the aforementioned situation. But then, why stop there?

If ethics are ostensibly derived solely from our obligations to others, then the pursuit of any normative foundation becomes fractured by the fancies of those to whom we're obligated. Surely women have a right not to be scandalized? But then again, why aren't men entitled to have their inner senses stimulated by willing contributors?

For these reasons, it seems to me that an obligation based ethic can easily be shunted into consequentialism.

Ape.

Crude said...

jdhuey,

Yes, laissez faire capitalism is supposed to be egalitarian - in the sense of promoting equal opportunity but not in the sense that wealth inequalities should be reduced.

Well, hold on. You say 'supposed to be egalitarian'. First, I'm not sure it's even supposed to be. Some people flat out have advantages over others in LFC, and that's just the end of the story as far as that goes.

But, Avalos was referring to equal access to the information inherent in a secular discussion, as opposed to the private privileged information inherent in a theistic discussion. So, I don't think we really need to parse the definition of "egalitarian" to any great degree.

See, I think we do. I don't think there's 'equal access to the information' inherent in a secular discussion necessarily, certainly not full stop. There's a reason that, say... Sam Harris says that on his view, scientists are the ones who will tell us what is and isn't ethical.

On the flipside: first, it's important to distinguish between 'theistic' ethics and 'non-naturalist' ethics. Quite a lot of non-naturalist ethics (Natural Law would be one example) doesn't require revelation.

If a JW says that it is wrong to get a transfusion because that's what God intended with those passages in the
Bible, there is no good way to verify that.


This presumes that all biblical interpretations are equal, and all religious and sectarian arguments are equally reasonable. I think this is tremendously hard to defend.

And there is no way for society to resolve the issue.

If the standard for resolving is 'all parties agree', I again think secular ethics are clearly in the same or a worse boat.

jdhuey said...

>>In my opinion, ethics relates to decisions we make that affect other people in some way.<<

I would agree. We are communal animals. Morality and ethics are how we go about balancing our own individual wants, needs and desires with the wants, needs and desires of other individuals separately and with the relevant group as a whole.

Papalinton said...

To Ape
"Cale has listed various points of contention, but instead of interacting with any of them you just opine the virtues of your own wisdom."

And yes I would have responded accordingly on those various points of contention. But he soiled his inquiry and any element of genuineness of intent by corralling my response into a multiple-choice of four rather mischievous and loaded alternatives. The ploy is what is commonly considered in law as entrapment and which I also understand is illegal. And while not illegal in the literary sense, there is a discernible trace of immoral behaviour in B T Cale's request, one of malign intent.

Also:
" .. come out from that garrulous hootchie your hiding under..."
Ape, please lift your game from the abject squalor of anonymity. It is a bit rich claiming I am hiding behind or under something. Surely you can appreciate your self-initiated and self-inflicted irony, an irony of unintended consequence at that.

Furthermore:
'What's more, constantly gibbering Dawkinese is like swearing at your mother – ..."
Dawkins? Dawkinese? Swearing at your mother? Me? Nothing more than a classic example of spite, no?

I don't know if you subscribe to superstitious supernaturalism or not. But should you it serves your cause no purpose at all to put your learned biblical ethics on such public display. Of course you could claim you are not. How would I know? But what is known is for christians to happily lie if it is deemed proper to defend the faith. They can always pray for their god's forgiveness post facto knowing full well they will be absolved, particularly in the confessional in the presence of a priest, where the lie is then knowingly shared between two people.

Jayman said...

jdhuey:

If a JW says that it is wrong to get a transfusion because that's what God intended with those passages in the Bible, there is no good way to verify that.

In order for this statement to be true there would have to be no way to verify that the Bible is God's word and no way to interpret the Bible. Yet, in principle, all of us can determine whether the Bible is God's word and whether the interpretation put forth by JWs is reasonable. I fail to see how "secular ethics" rises above problems of disagreement that also occur in "theistic ethics". We're in similar boats.

Ape in a Cape said...

Ok. So I re-read Cale's response to see if he seemed guilty of entrapment or immoral behavior like you intimated. Nope. He seems to be just asking pointed questions.

My statements and arguments have not been anonymous, Mr. Wilson. I've tried to make them plain. But I'm a skeptic, so don't expect me to mince words either. If you're not being obfuscatory, then your lack of clarity must be accidental. Either way, there's room for a lot of improvement.

Ape.

Papalinton said...

Ape
Still haven't declared your position. Are you a superstitious supernaturalist or a pragmatic naturalist?

Even scoundrel journalists appreciate the code of etiquette of identifying by name and organisation before asking a question of the President. I am happy to receive your criticism if I know your name and position; less so by what kind of animal you are. Good manners and all.

Ape in a Cape said...

Still trying to load terms in your favor, Paps? "Superstitious" and "pragmatic" are terms imported by you for no other reason (as far as I can tell) than an attempt at intellectual entitlement.

Now, if you were interested in a neutral discussion, I would think you would be better served by leaving out the self-serving functional modifiers and simply queried my views on supernaturalism and naturalism. Or do you think that supernaturalist's can't also exercise pragmatism? I sure hope not. Indeed, that would be a doctrinaire that you could never hope to adequately substantiate.

The name is Ape, and I did actually inform you previously that I'm a skeptic – which would include various claims made by supernaturalists and naturalists alike.

Ape.

Papalinton said...

"The name is Ape, and I did actually inform you previously that I'm a skeptic – which would include various claims made by supernaturalists and naturalists alike."

Skepticism is an attitude or orientation. It is not a worldview. Are you going to share with us the nature of the "various claims made by supernaturalists and naturalists alike" onto which you have focussed your skeptic eye?

The sum of your contribution to date is simply to badmouth my no-nonsense style towards theistic woo particularly of the Christian variety from all of which I am most familiar.

Ape in a Cape said...

No, Papa. Skepticism is most certainly a worldview and it is still held by some in keeping with its namesake traditions of the Hellenistic era – which was a major school of thought at the time.

As for specific views, I'm sure you’ll see some of them the next time I feel compelled to jump on one of your maladroit caricatures or when eliciting skepticism for yet another Wilson atrocity story.

Two can woo. Then again, so can a few. With all those flight maneuver's under your belt, I'm hoping you'll be able to bring greater dexterity to your arguments next time.

Ape.

im-skeptical said...

"If ethics are ostensibly derived solely from our obligations to others, then the pursuit of any normative foundation becomes fractured by the fancies of those to whom we're obligated."

It gets into the question of what kind of obligations do we have. I am obligated not to hurt or harm people if I can help it. But there are people who are offended by things that are completely benign. The sight of a bare-breasted woman might fit the bill. If it offends you, that's your problem, not mine. I wouldn't suggest that people go around violating societal norms, but my obligations are limited, and they don't equate to meeting everyone's expectations or desires, especially if they aren't reasonable.

jdhuey said...

Yet, in principle, all of us can determine whether the Bible is God's word...

Really?!!!? I know lots of people claim that they can do that but frankly I just don't believe that there is any such way. This is especially so if you start from the position that the existence of God is already problematic . So what is this test that can be applied to Bible or the Book of Mormon, or the Quran, or the Upanishads ?
I fail to see how "secular ethics" rises above problems of disagreement that also occur in "theistic ethics". We're in similar boats

I don't think that Dr. Avalos was saying that 'secular ethics' rises above the problem of disagreement but only that all concerned in the discussion have access to the information. People can disagree as to the importance or the accuracy of some fact but but the facts are there and can be verified, at least, potentially.

Jayman said...

jdhuey:

Really?!!!?

Really. Even atheists think they make a convincing argument against the Bible being the word of God. If my statement is not true I'd expect far more people to be saying we just can't know whether the Bible is God's word.

I know lots of people claim that they can do that but frankly I just don't believe that there is any such way.

Is there any difference in this respect with determining which meta-ethical theory is true? If determining whether the Bible is God's word is a problem for theistic ethics then isn't determining whether moral relativism is true, to take Avalos's position, a problem for secular ethics?

So what is this test that can be applied to Bible or the Book of Mormon, or the Quran, or the Upanishads?

The short answer: how well each book conforms to reality and points to a supernatural source.

I don't think that Dr. Avalos was saying that 'secular ethics' rises above the problem of disagreement but only that all concerned in the discussion have access to the information.

And I think all people have access to the Bible and various objective facts used to argue for or against its divine inspiration.

Ape in a Cape said...

Actually your response just confirms my quotation, Scep. To say that we're obligated not to harm others is itself a subjective evaluation. For instance, you might like to have your body whipped and scoured by a butch dominatrix, whereas others might insist on having their hands and feet impaled in a crude attempt at religiosity. Both are harmful and arguably an unhealthy violation of societal norms. Ahh, but these practices are engaged in willingly, right? Sure. But that makes them no less harmful. Now consider the terminal cancer patient that willingly wishes to die by lethal injection, but whose family has organised a preventative injunction. Examples like these can be compounded ad nauseum to demonstrate the difficult subtleties in which obligation ethics require some sort of qualification – resulting in the ethos morphing into more than mere obligations.

There are certainly merits to a harm-centric obligation ethic, so if you think it's a useful paradigm then go for it. But know that it's a not a normative position and it is one that can be easily collapsed into consequentialism.

Ape.

im-skeptical said...

Ape,

It was my point that there is no definitive set of objective morals. The ethics we abide by are our own conception of what is right. And that is generally guided by our naturally evolved morality. We all share a general sense of what is right (that involves not harming others), but in any specific situation, it comes down to a subjective judgement. There are no rules specific enough to provide a clear answer in every situation.

What kind of obligations do we have? It's up to us to decide, not others. And that determines how we respond to a situation. of course it's subjective. How could it be otherwise? We all decide for ourselves what the right thing to do is.

Anyone who claims that morals are objective could easily refute what I'm saying by telling us what they are. Or short of that, at least have a clear answer for any given scenario. I've never seen one who is so wise.

Papalinton said...

Ape
Everyone is entitled to his opinion. Skepticism as a worldview? I don't think so. I am pretty comfortable in understanding what a worldview is, generally, though I could be needing some correction. But scepticism falls far short of being an ideology. To be a skeptic all that is required is the demand for strong evidence before believing anything. And as I reiterate, it is just an approach to evidence, an attitude towards the information before you. Because it is compatible with all sorts of beliefs about the nature of reality skepticism can in some ways be deemed licentious. Even woo believers can be skeptics, of a sort, although their core belief of a three-day old putrefying carcass magically revivifying to full physical health without compromise, is sacrosanct from scrutiny.

So no, whatever it is you believe is simply bumfluff. Indeed from the tenor and direction of your commentary to date, and of all the contributors to this thread, targeting the atheists me and Im-skeptical, one can pretty much pencil in your theistically-derived skepticism. And if what I have noted is not the case, and only you can respond with honesty at the forefront [though who would be any the wiser and perjury a known blight] then there is a considerably weighted dose of contrarianism in your stance.

Your contribution is self-serving and remains unconvincing.

Ape in a Cape said...

Simply amazing! Thanks for informing me what my worldview is, Linton. Shall I add mind-reading to your repertoire of unsubstantiated claims? A supernaturalist naturalist!? Instead of expressing inordinate presumption, why not just read up on pre and post Socratic philosophical thought? I doubt such expositors will give you the fatuous emotional appeasement of a Dawkins or Hitchens, but you might just come away with a less moribund perspective.

If you’ve taken umbrage at my words, that's too bad. All I attempted to do was highlight your word-whiskered sleight of hand. As far as im-skeptical is concerned, he replied well to my last post and I largely agree with him, all things being equal. Then again, I'm skeptical of im-skeptical's subjectivism also, but that's just me.

Ape.

Papalinton said...

Ape
I haven't prophesied your worldview. I simply debunked the notion that skepticism is in and of itself a worldview. Nothing more nothing less. Whatever you have read into my words over and above this is fanciful. The fact you targeted the two clearly identified atheists in which you initiated the contact in both instances simply underscores the probability that your skepticism is drawn from a different pool to that of an atheist; I suggested a theistically-derived one. But that doesn't come anywhere near to mindreading a worldview, simply commenting on the flavour of your skepticism.

The irony is of course, is that you have not as yet posited a worldview, notwithstanding your bravado. The double irony here though, is your demonstrable capacity for self-harm, of shooting oneself in the foot. Couple this little charade with the kettle/black irony of a pseudonymous commenter whining about my 'hiding behind' or 'under' some 'garrulous hootchie'.

Incidentally, please enlighten us all on which of the pre- or post-Socratic movements founded their worldview on skepticism. And whatever you do refrain from trotting out Pyrrhonism.

Sheesh!

Ape in a Cape said...

Goodness, Linton. Did you really have to spend an entire paragraph attempting to rebut an innuendo that was intentionally a wry jest? (mind reading... sheesh indeed!)

>>And whatever you do refrain from trotting out Pyrrhonism.<<

It seems to me that you are attempting to limit the boundaries of discussion to that which is most expedient for you. Why do that? It simply smacks of a self-serving rhetoric and alerts your readers that you just might not be interested in the facts after all... You can eat anything in the restaurant Mr. Wilson; anything at all except that produced by the Chef. Huh? With a selective bias like that, people will just want to eat elsewhere.

Your tendency to want to control the flow of discussion by unjustifiably and selectively choosing what constitutes evidence is, to say the least, a big disappointment. In fact, if it wasn't for your voluntarism and the exceptional work that you've done with and for the indigenous community in your country, I probably wouldn't be bothered to have engaged you this far. Even if your arguments are dowdy and a ground swell of contrivances, at least there is a diligent and more authentic man behind your keyboard.

Ape.

Papalinton said...

Ape
" you are attempting to limit the boundaries of discussion .... and .... tendency to want to control the flow of discussion by unjustifiably and selectively choosing what constitutes evidence ...."

No. The 'control of discussion' or 'setting the boundary limits' never crossed my mind I'm afraid. Nothing so adventurous. Just trying to warn of further self-inflicted harm for which you have a propensity. I simply attempted to head you away from the one significant school of classical Greek philosophical thought that indeed practiced skepticism as a central feature of their school, the Pyrrhonists. Indeed skepticism was so central in the forming of their philosophical beliefs they were unaware of the quite silly heights they took it. And that is the reason why I noted earlier that skepticism is and of itself not immune from a dabble of licentiousness if practiced indiscriminately. As you are doing. Even though historians have variously labeled Pyrrhonism the 'school of skepticism', skepticism was not their worldview. For Pyrrhonists, their worldview was predicated on the central idea that nothing can be known for certain.

Pyrrhonists are those who suspend judgment (practice epochē) and take no part in the controversy regarding the possibility of certain knowledge." [Picked this up for Encyclo... Britannica]. But the amusing bit is, even the most ardent Pyrrhonist skeptic must resile to the trudge of ordinary life, as noted below:

"According to the Pyrrhonists, it is our opinions or unwarranted judgments about things which turn them into desires, painful effort, and disappointment.[3] From all this a person is delivered who abstains from judging one state to be preferable to another.[3] But, as complete inactivity would have been synonymous with death, the skeptic, while retaining his consciousness of the complete uncertainty enveloping every step, might follow custom (or nature) in the ordinary affairs of life.[3]" Wiki

So much for the grandiloquent skeptical worldview of the Pyrrhonist, only to have it subsumed into the mire and humdrum of ordinary life.

So if as you declare skepticism is your worldview, and the closest of classical Greek philosophical thought that identifies with deep skepticism, then you must be a Pyrrhonist. What other of the pre- and post Socratic schhols declares skepticism as its worldview as you claim? Tell us for goodness sake. We want to know.

I will be making no further comment unless you have something of substance to offer.

BenYachov said...

Paps is complaining that another poster has nothing serious to offer in terms of intelligent argument?.

No seriously.............:-)

Ape in a Cape said...

BenYachov, Linton seems to think he knows what people believe more than they do of themselves. I can only imagine that this must flatter the self-interested parodies that keep getting barfed up in his writings. Does anyone really think that all philosophies remain stagnant over time? If humanity evolved, then it is trivially true that beliefs, reasonings and worldviews evolve also. Surely Mr. Wilson believes in evolution, right?

Linton, like a small child's hand that meanders across a cookie jar, you keep wanting one more swipe. If you'll be making no further comment unless something is said of substance, then do us all a favor and consider this post as lacking substance... Unless you really do want that cookie after all?

Ape.

Dan Gillson said...

Thanks for the amusement, Ape. The commentariat at DI gets tired of Linton's nattering triumphalism.