Saturday, July 08, 2017

What Lewis did to Miracles

Arend Smilde chronicles the post-Anscombe changes in Lewis's Miracles here and here. 


Starhopper said...

Is there a meaningful difference between non-rational and a-rational?

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

Debating the Existence of God with atheist Bradley Bowen on Metacrock's blog. He has attacked my arguments this is my first defense.


Starhopper said...

I don't get it - why all the fuss? The changes to me don't seem terribly substantive. Maybe that's because I'm not a "philosopher"?

Victor Reppert said...

Irrational has two meanings. It can be just not rational, and it can mean contrary to reason. Lewis himself makes this distinction in The Abolition of Man, four years before he wrote Miracles and five years before he faced off with Anscombe:

Now the emotion, thus considered by itself, cannot be either in agreement or disagreement with Reason. It is irrational not as a paralogism is irrational, but as a physical event is
irrational: it does not rise even to the dignity of error.

Anscombe insisted on using the word "nonrational" for the second sense instead of irrational, but contrary to what I thought originally, I think he could have stood his ground and said that he was using the word "irrational" in a perfectly good, but different sense, from the one Anscombe was using. But even if Anscombe is right about this distinction, it really does nothing to sink Lewis's argument, since reason implies that we are coming to hold our beliefs in a rational way, not in an irrational or a nonrational way.

Steve Lovell said...

I agree with VR's comment here. However, I still think that Lewis did well to rewrite this argument as in doing so he avoided it being misinterpreted. On the misinterpreted argument, irrational and rational are "competing" designations of a thought: if is a thought is irrational it is therefore not rational. Non-rational is not introduced as a third competitor with these two but as a categorisation quite orthogonal to them. Anscombe and others seemed to think that when this is clearly understood, the presence of non-rational explanations for our beliefs and thoughts would not be a matter of concern since it wouldn't exclude the possibility of a thought or belief also being rational. But for reasons I won't go into now (due to lack of time), that is not the case.