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6/18/2018 7:59 pm  #11


Re: Answering Challenges to "Five Proofs"

I don't think his rejection of Kant's criticism rests on a strawman. I think his point is more that the burden of proof is on the Kantian to really justify their eccentric positions in face of principles as well supported as PC or PSR while avoiding the related problems (really ruling out chaos; maintaining justifications for our beliefs, etc)

Last edited by Miguel (6/18/2018 8:00 pm)

 

6/18/2018 9:14 pm  #12


Re: Answering Challenges to "Five Proofs"

UGADawg wrote:

I think my main problem with the book was that the rhetoric therein often didn't match up with the strength of the argumentation, e.g. his all too easy rejection of Kant rests on a straw man. I was also a bit disappointed he never updated his retorsion argument for PSR; pretty much every philosopher I've talked to about the argument has more or less given the same objection to it, yet Feser has nowhere directly addressed it, as far as I'm aware.

This was my own problem. I was expecting a technical treatment of the subject matter on a par with Real Essentialism, but the book was not that, and I felt like I was reading just another Feser book, as indeed I was.

 

6/19/2018 3:39 pm  #13


Re: Answering Challenges to "Five Proofs"

Ed writes good introductory manuals. The upside of that is that he's able to make complicated-seeming material accessible to lots of non-philosophers. The downside is that he never has enough space to fully, and in detail, answer his opponents. Anyone sufficiently familiar with his more skilled opponents' corpora is going to find a lot of his book-length work unsatisfying. (Of course, as Ed's keen to point out, none of this is properly speaking a criticism of his work. He accomplished what he set out to do.)

I told the gentlemen in the second reading group, a couple months before Five Proofs came out, that I predicted Five Proofs would let people familiar with Ed's corpus and the other relevant literature (on, e.g., the problem of unity) down, and help and impress people unfamiliar. I seem to have predicted right. (Though I confess, it has been a few months since I read the book, and I'm not entirely sure which Kantian objection you're talking about.)

 

6/19/2018 5:06 pm  #14


Re: Answering Challenges to "Five Proofs"

I’m one of those who just began reading Feser (and philosophy for that matter), so I suppose I missed the more knowledgeable readers’ criticisms. If this is a trend with Feser (namely, avoiding the tougher questions, or at least failing to go in depth with the material), perhaps what we could do is compile a list of questions we’d like him to answer and send them to him. I’m not sure if this is possible, but maybe it would work.

 

6/19/2018 5:23 pm  #15


Re: Answering Challenges to "Five Proofs"

I don't mean to suggest that he avoids tougher criticisms, only that he writes in formats that don't let him reply to some of them. You can't give an in-depth reply to some criticisms in the space of a few pages.

Here is an example. Ed devotes a whole chapter to the problem of unity. But he doesn't even mention probably the major non-theist reply to it. I wrote an article on it here. (I didn't mention Ed in it because I wrote it well over a year before Five Proofs came out, originally as notes for a blog only Greg, Dan, and a few other friends had access to.)

(I'm also not just talking about criticisms. There are cases where Ed gives objections, but then omits his opponents' replies to those objections. He does this because the format he chooses to write in doesn't allow him space to go over every reply by every opponent to every argument he makes. (Could you imagine if he had done this in Scholastic Metaphysics?) But people familiar with (say) Armstrong's corpus are going to be sitting there thinking, “Well, yeah. But that's a standard objection to A.'s views. He was aware of it and replied to it.”)

 

6/19/2018 5:34 pm  #16


Re: Answering Challenges to "Five Proofs"

Evander wrote:

I’m one of those who just began reading Feser (and philosophy for that matter), so I suppose I missed the more knowledgeable readers’ criticisms. If this is a trend with Feser (namely, avoiding the tougher questions, or at least failing to go in depth with the material), perhaps what we could do is compile a list of questions we’d like him to answer and send them to him. I’m not sure if this is possible, but maybe it would work.

 
I don't think ir's fair to say he "avoids the tougher questions". He does answer tough questions, even in his books, though these are more often meant to be introductory texts. You have to keep in mind that in philosophy there are pretty much always some objections available; the volume of work in analytic philosophy is very large and it is pretty much impossible to cover everything. This shouldn't mean that his arguments do not work; they do, and his point is to present them in a general form to show how they can be quite powerful (for instance, he quite explicitly says in the book that there can be more discussions about the specific nature and scope of PSR, but nevertheless the arguments should give us very significant reason to beliefe that at least some version or other of PSR is true). He also usually tries to answer the more technical objections in specific articles.

When it comes to Kant and PC, for instance, I think a more charitable reading of Feser is that what he argues is that the burden of proof is up to the Kantian to justify his (rather eccentric) anthropological and epistemological views while still avoiding the relevant principle and the arguments presented. Also actual Kantianism is quite a minority view.

 

6/19/2018 7:04 pm  #17


Re: Answering Challenges to "Five Proofs"

When it comes to Kant and PC, for instance, I think a more charitable reading of Feser is that what he argues is that the burden of proof is up to the Kantian to justify his (rather eccentric) anthropological and epistemological views while still avoiding the relevant principle and the arguments presented.

Sure, but that is the entire point of the CPR and more contemporary works like Allison's Kant's Transcendental Idealism, so clearly this isn't going to be a sufficient rebuttal.

Quick edit: This is w.r.t. the point about the Kantian needing to justify his views; Feser's argument in Five Proofs is different, and rests on the misunderstanding that Kant argues we come to know PC through experience and thereby can only apply it to the realm of experience, when in fact Kant explicitly denies the former, and offers separate reasons for the latter.

Last edited by UGADawg (6/19/2018 7:09 pm)

 

6/19/2018 7:59 pm  #18


Re: Answering Challenges to "Five Proofs"

UGADawg wrote:

When it comes to Kant and PC, for instance, I think a more charitable reading of Feser is that what he argues is that the burden of proof is up to the Kantian to justify his (rather eccentric) anthropological and epistemological views while still avoiding the relevant principle and the arguments presented.

Sure, but that is the entire point of the CPR and more contemporary works like Allison's Kant's Transcendental Idealism, so clearly this isn't going to be a sufficient rebuttal.

Quick edit: This is w.r.t. the point about the Kantian needing to justify his views; Feser's argument in Five Proofs is different, and rests on the misunderstanding that Kant argues we come to know PC through experience and thereby can only apply it to the realm of experience, when in fact Kant explicitly denies the former, and offers separate reasons for the latter.

 
If someone tries to defend Kant's system that's well and good; the point was just the burden of proof w.r.t. PC and its related arguments. If someone somehow finds Kantianism more plausible than the PC even in face of arguments for it, that's their assessment after all.

I don't think Feser says Kant thinks we come to know PC by experience; I think his point just is that we *can* argue for PC from experience, and indeed we can (it is a standard argument found in contemporary defenders such as Pruss, Rasmussen, Norris Clarke, and even classical authors such as Leibniz when he says the method of "experimental philosophy" confirms PSR). The idea is that PC is the best and simplest explanation for why the world seems so orderly: we tend to always find causes when we look for them, and we never really see things coming into being with no cause.

That the metaphysical PC holds of necessity is the best explanation for that. Kant could avoid this with his own system, that it is our experience which is structured in accordance with PC etc., but that of course requires someone to accept Kant's general epistemological and anthropological views. While the simplest and quite straightforward explanation would just be that things can't come into existence without a cause; or that the existence of contingent things require causes; or that potency can only be actualized by something already actual, etc. So all things being equal, experience would support PC, and it is up to the Kantian to resist that inference and instead justify his (more complex) system.

 

6/21/2018 11:15 am  #19


Re: Answering Challenges to "Five Proofs"

John West wrote:

Ed writes good introductory manuals. The upside of that is that he's able to make complicated-seeming material accessible to lots of non-philosophers. The downside is that he never has enough space to fully, and in detail, answer his opponents. Anyone sufficiently familiar with his more skilled opponents' corpora is going to find a lot of his book-length work unsatisfying. (Of course, as Ed's keen to point out, none of this is properly speaking a criticism of his work. He accomplished what he set out to do.)

I told the gentlemen in the second reading group, a couple months before Five Proofs came out, that I predicted Five Proofs would let people familiar with Ed's corpus and the other relevant literature (on, e.g., the problem of unity) down, and help and impress people unfamiliar. I seem to have predicted right. (Though I confess, it has been a few months since I read the book, and I'm not entirely sure which Kantian objection you're talking about.)

I did want to say I pretty much entirely agree with this; he did, after all, manage to knock me out of my agnostic phase years ago when I first read Aquinas and TLS, and I think he's arguably as good or better than any other philosopher of religion at popularizing difficult topics. That by itself is highly valuable.

Not that it's my place (or anyone else's, for that matter) to tell him what to work on, but I do wish he'd write a few more academic articles addressing some of the more controversial theses he endorses. I'd love to see him fully flesh-out his retorsion argument for PSR, perhaps in a manner similar to what Michael Della Rocca did in his excellent article on PSR and explicability arguments.

 

6/21/2018 5:48 pm  #20


Re: Answering Challenges to "Five Proofs"

So after I finish Five Proofs (I have still a few more questions I'd like to post here), what would you all recommend for more advanced writings on classical theism? I hear people mention David Oderberg and Brian Davies. Anyone else that is worth reading, given that I am still relatively new to this area of study?

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