Monday, May 23, 2016

P.F. Strawson

In the same book I mentioned browsing through in my last post I also came across an interesting section on Oxford philosopher P.F. Strawson.  It quoted him as saying that he preferred analytic philosophy because it asks basic questions and does so in order to get a foundation in place.  This helped me think about the origins of analytic philosophy and the benefits it can produce when done properly as articulated by Austin or Strawson:

1.  getting the meaning of a term fixed to avoid ambiguity
2.  understanding meaning before asking about truth
3.  that questions are ordered from not so basic to basic
4.  that basic questions serve as a foundation for a worldview

Saturday, May 21, 2016

John Austin

When I was at Princeton last week I stopped by the Princeton Seminary library where I had done work on some of my books. I was browsing through the new arrivals section and read some from a volume on modern English philosophy. One chapter was about the Oxford philosopher John Austin. A quote stood out to me which said that Austin felt sick about the failures of philosophy and that it hadn't seemed to get anywhere after 2000 years. He thought the solution could be to simply try to get one basic thing correct. I have a lot of sympathy for this view. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

How Great Thou Art

I was listening to Johnny Cash sing "How Great Thou Art." This is another hymn that affirms the role of natural theology. It mentions the works of creation and providence. It begins:

Oh Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the works Thy hands have made . . .

Then it lists a number of examples from the creation. I'm impressed that it affirms a robust or full account of general revelation in focusing on all the works of God. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Moral Sense

One question that came up in the reunion at Princeton this week was about the moral sense.  One presenter said that all humans have the same moral sense and that to explain evil deeds we must say that persons suppress their moral sense.  Another presenter said that persons who are operating out of "good faith" can have competing conclusions from their moral senses.  What is important on this view is that each person is indeed operating out of good faith.  This is a kind of honesty in knowing oneself and reporting on the moral sense.

A third option is that no one has a functional moral sense, and a fourth option is that there isn't a moral sense.  The reliance on a moral sense for moral knowledge seems to be a kind of empiricism.  The idea is that just as one sees the world and is immediately aware of colors and shapes, so too we see the world and are immediately aware of moral judgments.  The difference between these two seems to be that people can readily agree on colors and shapes whereas there are deep differences about morality.

These differences seem, in part, to be due to the worldview framework out of which the person is operating.  While we can agree on colors and shapes, people will disagree about the nature of these depending on their worldview.  So too, one's worldview produces moral judgments.

So the "good faith" explanation is a partial explanation.  A further addition would be an evaluation of the worldview that the person is using to arrive at moral judgments and report them in "good faith."