I produced a number of revision documents for my degree course, and maybe someone will find them useful. This is for A222 Exploring Philosophy, Book 2, The Philosophy of Religion.
A philosophical audit trail.
|The Chaplain in The Meaning of Life|
If he does decide to undergo [what lay before him], then some desire propels him on into the future, and that desire at least is not one that operates conditionally on his being alive, since it itself resolves the question of whether he is going to be alive. He has an unconditional, or (as I shall say) a categorical desire. (p.85-86)I’m not sure this distinction is altogether valid. For example, someone might judge that some contingent desires will be satisfied tomorrow; one might not be hungry today, since one's appetite has been satisfied for the moment, but one knows that, come tomorrow, hunger will return, so a fresh opportunity to satisfy one's renewed appetite can be anticipated. Is that not then a categorical desire? Williams suggests this may be when he says that a basic categorical desire might be one ‘that future desires of mine will be born and satisfied’ (p.87). If the categorical desire is to acquire or satisfy future contingent desires then those contingent desires surely become categorical (being the object of a categorical desire)?
|Nadja Michael as Emilia Marty, aka Elina Makropulos, in Věc Makropulos. |
Photo by Cory Weaver.
The point is rather that boredom, as sometimes in more ordinary circumstances, would be not just a tiresome effect, but a reaction almost perceptual in character to the poverty of one's relation to the environment. (p.95)This ‘almost perceptual’ response is a reaction to eternity: what happens to the categorical desires, such as nurturing family, when there is no end in sight? His suggestion is that they will inevitably evaporate, and unless there is a guarantee against this, we should reject immortality. Formally the argument can be stated:
Premise 1: In order for one’s life to be meaningful (and ‘recognisably human’ – Angelic lives are irrelevant), one must have a set of categorical desires that one wishes to satisfy.Bruckner’s objections
Premise 2: Contingent desires alone cannot make life meaningful.
Premise 3: If one lived forever in a recognisably human form, one would exhaust one’s set of categorical desires and become bored and apathetic as a result.
Conclusion: Living forever in a recognisably human form would not be meaningful.
1) That ‘the natural degradation of our memories would help to keep endlessly repeated experiences interesting’ (Bruckner, 2012, p.626)Memory decay
2) That people naturally regain a taste for an activity once some time has elapsed.
3) That human ingenuity will generate new categorical desires.
So pursuing that career again would provide a new-feeling, worthwhile, and enjoyable experience. One would be coming at it fresh. (p.630)
Riding a bicycle is good as a means of transportation and of exercise, but is also enjoyable in its own right. (p.634)True enough, but there are at least two objections here:
1) We are not making the right evaluation of our categorical desires, andFirst, if we take computer programming, for instance, our categorical desire may be to write a ground-breaking piece of software that mediates all international disputes to the satisfaction of all parties. Or, it may be to achieve world peace. The first looks like a new desire, but is in fact a way of achieving the second, pre-existing, desire. The suspicion is that however much technology advances it just provides new ways to pursue a finite list of human categorical desires. Unless the nature of humanity changes, these desires will not, and part of being recognisably human is to have a certain limited set of categorical desires.
2) We are assuming infinite human ingenuity.
One of the driving forces behind the Union’s creation was the remorseless logic that greater economic strength and security come from being united. Not the transient and shifting benefits of international alliance, but the fundamental strength of being one people. Those enduring economic strengths are obvious. Our wholly integrated domestic market for businesses means no barriers to trade within our borders. That has always been of immense value to firms here in ?.
They think independence is the answer to every question in every circumstance, regardless of fact and reality. It simply does not add up and we should never stop saying so.
The broad shoulders of ? provide enviable security for businesses and workers alike.
Ten years ago, banks headquartered in Edinburgh and London, which employ tens of thousands of people and look after the savings of millions, were rescued by the ?. Action that was only possible because of the size and strength of the ? economy.
In the oil and gas sector – a vital industry on oureast coast, from Aberdeen to Lowestoft – the broad shoulders of our wider economy have allowed the ? to take unprecedented action to support the sector following the decline in the international oil price. And public spending here in ? has been protected, even as North Sea tax receipts have dwindled to nothing. Time and again the benefits of the Union – of doing together, collectively, what would be impossible to do apart – are clear. Indeed the economic case for the Union has never been stronger. There is no economic case for breaking up the ?, or of loosening the ties which bind us together.
The ? has led the world in developing a strategy for preventing violent extremism, and we are working with our allies to take on and defeat the ideology of Islamist Extremism. It is firmly in our national interest to defeat Daesh and the ideology of Islamic extremism that inspires them and many others terrorist groups in the world today. In this task, we are fortunate to draw on intelligence provided by the finest security agencies in the world and the greatest armed forces anywhere.
The pooling and sharing of risks and resources on the basis of need across our ? is the essence of our unity as a people. All of the practical benefits which flow from our Union, and which are hallmarks of it, depend on that deep and essential community of interest which we all share. It has been shaped by geography and refined by history. And it has shown itself to be adaptable.
A tunnel vision nationalism, which focuses only on independence at any cost, sells ? short. As Unionists, our job is clear. We know we are united together by a proud shared history, but we are also bound together by enduring common interests.
The ? we cherish is not a thing of the past, but a Union vital to our prosperity and security, today and in the future. The Union I am determined to strengthen and sustain is one that works for working people across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
A ? which everyone can feel secure in. A Union in which our national and local identities are recognised and respected, but where our common bonds are strengthened. Where difference and diversity are celebrated, but where those things we share are celebrated just as much.
Because at the heart of the ? is the unity of our people: a unity of interests, outlook and principles.The question marks refer to Scotland and the UK, or stand-in's for, and their institutions. These can be swapped for the UK and the EU and the arguments stand pretty much as strong. Yet May is hell-bent on ensuring a hard departure from the EU. Strange times.
Because politics is not a game and government is not a platform from which to pursue constitutional obsessions.Ha!
BHA Education Campaigner Jay Harman commented, ‘We’re glad the UK Statistics Authority has taken action on what was a clear attempt by the Government to massage the figures in a way that misleadingly presents the 50% cap as a failure. The idea that allowing schools to admit children from only one particular religion is in any way compatible with promoting integration was counter-intuitive to begin with, and it should come as a surprise to no-one that the figures demonstrate this.’
|From Pew polling, 16th September 2016|
...working-class white people, particularly ones without college education - men and women - deserted the party in droves. Rural voters turned out in high numbers, as the Americans who felt overlooked by the establishment and left behind by the coastal elite made their voices heard.
...he was bulletproof.
Mr Trump's pox-on-them-all attitude is likely to have proved his independence and outsider status at a time when much of the American public reviled Washington (although not enough to keep them from re-electing most congressional incumbents running for re-election).
...Mr Trump's sharpest rise in the standings came in the weeks between that first letter and Mr Comey's second, in which he said he had put the investigation back on the shelf.
[He t]rusted his instincts.
The New York tycoon delivered a message of quick-fix solutions that many found appealing.
“We need a businessman,” [a voter] said. “I think a businessman can get things done.”
Toby and Wendy Shaw said they were tired listening to politicians promising to change things. “People are fed up with the lies,” said Mr Shaw. “How many years have we had these politicians? It’s time for someone with a backbone to stand up and do what needs to be done.”
A total of 90 per cent of his supporters listed the economy as being very important to them when it comes to making their choice, according to a recent Pew poll. (!)
Polls have shown that Mr Trump has received strongest support from white male voters without college degrees, and he has targeted communities in states such as Ohio, Iowa, West Virginia and North Carolina. Frequently he has taken his message to former industrial strongholds such as Youngstown, Ohio, that over the past 20 years has witnessed economic devastation and population decline.
“I think he will do the right thing for America,” [a voter] told The Independent. “He is going to knock the hell out of Isis. He says he will build a wall, I believe he will.”
...exit polling from the primaries found that Mr Trump’s voters made about as much as Ted Cruz voters, and significantly more than supporters of either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.
Trump support was correlated with higher, not lower, income...
Lonnie Looney, a former miner said he would be voting for Mr Trump as he believed he was the best chance the community had of returning to its glory days of well-paid work. He said: “Hillary Clinton should be in jail.”
As the media dumped more and more on Trump while turning a blind eye towards Hillary Clinton and her many follies, people identified with Trump and it made them even madder and more determined to poke a stick into the ruling class’ eye, and they did. Power to the people.
...the democratic party cannot talk to the people from where I came from.
...people didn’t resonate with Hillary because at a deeper level they could feel that she can’t be trusted.
[T]he Electoral College picks presidents.
...more voters chose third-party candidates.
Clinton did not fire up the Obama Coalition.
Whites without college degrees have fled to the GOP.
Democrats' cratering with blue-collar white voters.
Rust Belt Brexit.
The Last Stand of the Angry White Man.
The Hillary Problem.
The Depressed Sanders Vote.
The Jesse Ventura Effect.From ITV, 9th November 2016:
Appealing to middle America.
A vote against the establishment.
Trump's ability to survive scandal.
Silent Trump vote.
Celebrity beat organization.
A populist revolt against immigration and trade.
Outsiders against insiders.
America, the divided.
Facebook Actually Won Trump the Presidency.
Donald Trump Won Because of Facebook.
Majority of Americans identified with him.
He won the hearts of Clinton’s rejects.
He fed the ravenous bellies of male and white supremacy.
He symbolised the winds of change.
He had what Clinton didn’t – fervent supporters.
He was the ‘scandal-proof’ monk.
The fault in Clinton’s stars.
...humans IN GENERAL are bad at reasoning and seeing through bullshit, which caused particularly bad consequences this time via Trump fans, who made a choice that (if the human brain were better at reasoning) they would have realized was net bad for their overall goals, which presumably include avoiding nuclear war.
...a lot of people in the US seem to be affected by amathia, an ancient Greek word best translated as “un-wisdom.”.
Donald Trump sailed into the White House on an ocean of lies.
I still believe that education has the potential to change our species into rational animals, but I fear that so long as the blind are leading the blind in our colleges and universities, we will continue to face the threat of racist, sexist, bullies and idiots becoming elected to powerful positions where they can continue to shit on all of us.
The American voters essentially said – you can lie to us. You can sell us whatever fiction you think we want to hear, and we will reward you for it. In fact, we will help you spread those lies. They will become our truth.
Throughout the Bible interracial marriage is discouraged.
In the book of Ezra, the Israelites repented of their abandonment of God. As part of this repentance they pledged to end their interracial marriages according to God's will:
“We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the peoples around us. But in spite of this, there is still hope for Israel. Now let us make a covenant before our God to send away all these women and their children, in accordance with the counsel of my lord and of those who fear the commands of our God. Let it be done according to the Law. Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it.” (Ezra 10)
A similar experience is recorded in Nehemiah 13:
“Moreover, in those days I saw men of Judah who had married women from Ashdod, Ammon and Moab. Half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod or the language of one of the other peoples, and did not know how to speak the language of Judah. I rebuked them and called curses down on them. I beat some of the men and pulled out their hair. I made them take an oath in God’s name and said: ‘You are not to give your daughters in marriage to their sons, nor are you to take their daughters in marriage for your sons or for yourselves.’”
Other prohibitions against interracial marriage can be found in Exodus 34:12-16, Joshua 23:12, and Deuteronomy 7:3: “Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons...”
Research has repeatedly demonstrated that interracial marriages end in divorce more often than same-race marriages. For marriages involving a White female and Black male the divorce rate is 200% higher than if the White female had married a White male.I'm sure, however, that most Christians would not give any credence to these views and arguments. The views expressed on homosexual sexual acts in Swinburne's talk were discriminatory in the same way, in the sense that Swinburne identifies a group of people by virtue of an attribute that has no intrinsic moral implications (sexual orientation), and treats the group differently because of that attribute (discourages them from acting on that attribute). Swinburne thinks that this discrimination in the treatment of homosexuals is fair, and, in fact, good; I do not. The notes for his speech are here (but note that this link seems to be working at some times but not others), and there is a video here.
As we all know, traditional Christian teaching on many moral issues, but in particular on sex, family, and life is regarded by all non-religious and some religious believers as totally and evidently mistaken.Pretty much every non-religious organisation that comments on such things would confirm that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality per se. The WHO Bluebook says 'Sexual orientation alone is not to be regarded as a disorder', and nowhere does it say that there is anything wrong with homosexual sexual acts per se. A recent WHO policy document, noting the ruling of a previous bluebook, says:
Although ICD-6 classified homosexuality as a sexual deviation that was presumed to reflect an underlying personality disorder, subsequent research did not support this view....and continued:
Over the last half century, several classification systems, including the ICD, have gradually removed diagnoses that once defined homosexuality per se as a mental disorder. These changes reflect both emerging human rights standards and the lack of empirical evidence supporting the pathologization and medicalization of variations in sexual orientation expression.So, to confirm Swinburne's impression: yes, authorities agree there is nothing wrong with same-sex attraction, or same sex sexual acts, contra Christian teaching. You would hope that these rulings should drive the ethics of Christians, particularly a theologian who prides himself on his natural theology.
The Catholic ‘natural law’ tradition has sought to show that [divorce, fornication, homosexual sexual acts, contraception] are 'disordered' or 'unnatural' actions, and for that reason wrong. The best contemporary statement of this tradition known to me is Alexander Pruss’s book One Body. Pruss argues that bodily organs have ‘functions’ and they ‘strive’ or ‘try’ to ‘fulfil’ their functions. For example, Pruss argues, the penis has the function in intercourse of omitting (sic) semen into a vagina which it strives to do; and to prevent it from doing this is unnatural and so wrong. It seems to me that to ‘strive’ or ‘try’ is an intentional action which only intentional agents can do; and that even if I am mistaken about this, it still doesn’t follow that it would be morally wrong to do what is unnatural.Quite. But he still wants to defend the traditional view that these things are immoral, so he has to make an argument to this effect. For background, he doesn't think that homosexual sexual acts are intrinsically immoral (bad in themselves), but extrinsically immoral. He says:
God, like any other benefactor such as parents or the state, has reasons also to command humans to do actions which would not otherwise be obligatory. These reasons include (A) coordinating imperfectly obligatory actions so as to ensure the realization of a good overall goal. This may involve telling different humans to do different actions...God may tell all Christians to worship together each week on a Sunday rather than on a Thursday, in order to ensure that the Christian community worship together.The idea here is, I think, that there are practices that will encourage good outcomes, and, further, that this practice of doing certain things, or refraining from certain things, will encourage actions over and above our normal obligations ('supererogatory'), and that is virtuous.
Having homosexual orientation is a disability – for a homosexual cannot beget children through a loving act with a person to whom they have a unique lifelong commitment.Without refinement, this looks like a definition of disability that is going to be too wide; that is, it is going to include people who would not normally be considered disabled, such as the infertile, older people, those with a low sex drive, unattractive people, and even Catholic priests and nuns (priests and nuns are people with a clerical leaning, and that leaning means they 'cannot beget children through a loving act with a person to whom they have a unique lifelong commitment'. Should society therefore discourage the young from developing leanings to serve Christ?).
P1 Homosexuals are “unable to enter into a loving relationship in which the love is asHe thinks the words 'as such' are doing a lot of work here, but I confess I don't see it. There is no doubt that homosexuals are quite capable of entering 'into a loving relationship in which the love is as such procreative', since a non-sexual procreative act can be inspired by love, and in any case sexual procreative acts can be performed lovingly without feeling lust for the partner.
I’m going to assume , despite the effects (sic) of many to show that the Bible and various theologians all meant something different by (what seems to many of us to be) apparent condemnations of such acts, that some such passages as I Corinthians 6:9-10 and Romans 1:24-27 and the continuing weight of subsequent tradition does condemn such acts.I see no more reason to think that these appeals to scripture have any more value than the appeals to scripture against interracial marriage.
Where, after all, do we ever find before the twentieth century any explicit approval of such acts by any theologian orthodox in other respects?That, sadly, is more a condemnation of theologian orthodoxy than homosexuality; as a proponent of evidence-based thinking, Swinburne should really recognise that the opinion of the medical establishment outweighs the views of mere theologians. He chooses to demur on the evidence:
And, as I read the much disputed evidence available on line about whether children nurtured by homosexual parents flourish as well as other children, the balance of that evidence seems to me to indicate that children whose nurturing parents are also their male and female biological parents in a happy marriage flourish better than all other children.Recall that the racist said above:
Research has repeatedly demonstrated that interracial marriages end in divorce more often than same-race marriages. For marriages involving a White female and Black male the divorce rate is 200% higher than if the White female had married a White male.Even if these assertions were true (and that is very debatable), it would not be a reason to condemn same-sex marriage or mixed race marriages. This sort of evidence is very prone to confounding variables; most obviously with race and sexual orientation, the centuries of prejudice that forms the societal backdrop to mixed race and same sex marriages. But, more importantly, we have been given no more reason to think that we should analyse such statistics by orientation or race than we should analyse them by, say, religious belief. If the statistics showed that the children of protestant evangelicals flourish less than those of Catholics, would that be a reason to conclude that protestant evangelical sexual acts are a bad thing? No, of course not, and likewise for same-sex sexual acts.
The evidence seems to me to indicate clearly that genes and environment (nature and nurture) both play a role in determining sexual orientation; and also that this orientation is sometimes to a considerable extent reversible.Sadly for Swinburne's case, this is unsupported by the evidence. If sexual orientation can be conditioned in some way, then presumably heterosexuality could be conditioned away too? In fact, that's entailed by Swinburne's view that homosexual practice causes homosexuality. Many of us experience orientation differently, however, as something intrinsic to our identity, not a 'here today, gone tomorrow' preference - I can't imagine my heterosexuality being conditioned away, and I suspect those of a homosexual tendency can't imagine their orientation being conditioned away either. Philosopher Rob Hughes points out on the Leiter Report:
Swinburne's assertion is at odds with the evidence that a person's future sexual orientation is determined before school age and possibly much earlier. He provides no evidence for his assertion that sexual experimentation influences orientation, either in his 2007 book Revelation, or in his 2008 reply to critics, or in the text of his recent talk.He notes the problem with the scant evidence Swinburne cites for his view, and quotes the apology from Alan Chambers after the closure of the 'ex-gay' organisation Exodus International. Hughes says:
After the 2013 closure of the leading "ex-gay" organization, Exodus International, no informed person can seriously entertain the suggestion that "reparative therapy" works.Hughes concludes:
In 2016, it is intellectually and morally irresponsible to assert without evidence that sexual experimentation causes homosexuality or that people can change their sexual orientations through "reparative therapy".The WHO policy document quoted before cites this document on the pointlessness, and bankruptcy, of homosexual 'cures':
Health professionals who offer “reparative therapies” align themselves with social prejudices and reflect a stark ignorance in matters of sexuality and sexual health. Contrary to what many people believe or assume, there is no reason – with the exception of the stigma resulting from those very prejudices – why homosexual persons should be unable to enjoy a full and satisfying life. The task of health professionals is to not cause harm and to offer support to patients to alleviate their complaints and problems, not to make these more severe. A therapist who classifies non-heterosexual patients as “deviant” not only offends them but also contributes to the aggravation of their problems.
“Reparative” or “conversion therapies” have no medical indication and represent a severe threat to the health and human rights of the affected persons. They constitute unjustifiable practices that should be denounced and subject to adequate sanctions and penalties.So given this overwhelming consensus among the relevant authorities, why doesn't Swinburne defer to them? In Swinburne's response to Pleitz, he only claims that his view is 'plausible', given the evidence, but it is clear that it is not. He is far too well informed to be ignorant of this literature.
Swinburne’s argument against homosexuality is a clear-cut case of homophobia (section 4). The criticism of the premises of Swinburne’s argument shows that some premises are wrong and badly argued for and that there is an equivocation which renders the argument invalid (section 2). If Swinburne’s conclusion gained wider acceptance in the contemporary Western societies, this probably would lead to grave consequences for homosexuals (section 3). Thus, there is an extreme imbalance between Swinburne’s brief argument and the great harm that the endorsement of its conclusion would probably lead to. I conclude that Swinburne in his argument against homosexuality has moved beyond the limits of scientific philosophy, and into the realm of homophobia.Christian response
If Christian philosophers face censure within the Society of Christian Philosophers for articulating a dispassionate philosophical critique of homosexuality, then where can they express those views?...and many, often thoughtful, commentators agree with him. I think, rather, that if Christian philosophers should expect no censure when discussing their views amongst other Christian philosophers then that discipline would have stagnated, signalling an end to normal debate on such matters among thoughtful Christians. Rea's comment is not the severest censure, in any case, and pales against the censure delivered to homosexuals by Swinburne in his talk. Imagine being a practising gay Christian in the audience listening to the professor blithely describing her having a homosexual orientation as a 'disability', and that she should be 'cured'.