Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Bigotry and the Intellectual Climate

The most important thing is that the health of our intellectual environment is damaged when we start throwing around terms like "bigotry" when we don't have a proof that the view is wrong that is so strong that no one who takes the opposing view can be anything but bigoted. The charge of bigotry is an irrationality charge and, as such, requires a very high standard of proof.

What would be required would be evidence not only that there is nothing wrong with homosexual activity, but evidence that anyone, either on theological grounds or any other grounds, who thinks homosexual acts are wrong or sinful is in the grip of bigotry. Unless you want to go the "God Delusion" route (which would require a whole different set of APA policies) you are going to have to think inside the theological box and show that no reasonable person operating within a Christian framework can conclude that homosexual activity is sinful. The insitutions that are being targeted in the petition are colleges like Wheaton and Calvin. Their contributions to the philosophical community are enormous, as, I think, most people realize. That alone is good reason to think, once, twice, three times, and four times before tagging them with bigotry.

And even where there is bigotry, dialogue, not official censure, is the best remedy.


Mike Almeida said...

This is right, but there's more. The genuinely and deeply insulting language, damaging accusations and tone have had a serious cost. Some I considered friends with whom I could (even strongly) disagree, I simply can not consider friends at all. That's a cost to me, if not to them. And I took the side of just not knowing how the issue should be settled. This is strange and unfortunate.

Victor Reppert said...

I sympathize with your personal difficulty with your friends. I think academic philosophy is in danger of losing its civility. Will we someday read Plantinga's account of civilized dialogue with his colleagues at Wayne State and wonder what happened to those days?

IlĂ­on said...

I would say that, for whatever reason or reasons, you (singular and plural) are merely seeing what was always there.