From The Stanford Encyclopedia Of Philosophy: Charles Sanders Peirce

Full entry here.

The previous point must be tempered with the fact that Peirce increasingly became a philosopher with broad and deep sympathies for both transcendental idealism and absolute idealism. His Kantian affinities are simpler and easier to understand than his Hegelian leanings. Having rejected a great deal in Kant, Peirce nevertheless shared with Charles Renouvier the view that Kant’s (quasi-)concept of the Ding an sich can play no role whatsoever in philosophy or in science other than the role that Kant ultimately assigned to it, viz. the role of a Grenzbegriff: a boundary-concept, or, perhaps a bit more accurately, a limiting concept. A supposed “reality” that is “outside” of every logical possibility of empirical or logical interaction with “it” can play no direct role in the sciences. Science can deal only with phenomena, that is to say, only with what can “appear” somehow in experience. All scientific concepts must somehow be traceable back to phenomenological roots. Thus, even when Peirce calls himself a “realist” or is called by others a “realist,” it must be kept in mind that Peirce was always a realist of the Kantian “empirical” sort and not a Kantian “transcendental realist.” His realism is similar to what Hilary Putnam has called “internal realism.” (As was said, Peirce was also a realist in quite another sense of he word: he was a realist or an anti-nominalist in the medieval sense.)

Related On This Site:  Via The University Of British Colombia: Kant-Summary Of Essential PointsFrom Bryan Magee’s Talking Philosophy On Youtube: Geoffrey Warnock On KantSunday Quotation: From Jonathan Bennett On KantVia YouTube: “Cosmic Journeys-Is The Universe Infinite?”

Hilary Putnam On The Philosophy Of Science:  Bryan Magee’s Talking Philosophy On YouTube

Repost-From if-then knots: “Response To Yetter On AGW”

Full post here. (Our author responds to another piece on global warming/climate change)

“A skeptic withholds judgment until evidence is provided. A denier either refuses to look at the evidence or refuses to change his or her judgment in light of the evidence.”

How do you maintain a reasonable skepticism as regards global-warming when so many people are claiming that the “science is settled,” and then using that conclusion to achieve other political and ideological goals?

You can point out the inevitable corruption that will result from mixing grant money and political interests.  You can argue that it may yet be another wave of post-Enlightenment Western Idealism with its own attendant problems:

I will add the following quote by Albert Jay Nock as far as the politicization (which those claiming action are seeking to do):

‘It is a primary instinct of human nature to satisfy one’s needs and desires with the least possible exertion; everyone tends by instinctive preference to use the political means rather than the economic means, if he can do so.

When is it ever settled?

Derek Lowe at In The Pipeline has a good post about politics in the lab.  Does it profit at all to mix politics and theory with the sciences?

Add to Technorati Favorites

Via Breitbart: ‘Five Arrested Over Danish Cartoon Terror Plot’

Full post here.

‘Jyllands-Posten published a dozen cartoons in 2005 of the Prophet Mohammed that triggered violent and sometimes deadly protests around the world.’


‘The Danish intelligence agency PET said Wednesday it had arrested four men suspected of preparing a massacre at a newspaper which published caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.’

Also On This Site: Just after I go out on a limb: From Beautiful Horizons: ‘Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ramadan at the 92nd Street Y’

Free speech (used both well and unwell) meets offended Muslims: Mohammad Cartoonist Lars Vilks HeadbuttedDuring Lecture’From The OC Jewish Experience: ‘UC Irvine Muslim Student Union Suspended’From Volokh: ‘”South Park” Creators Warned (Threatened) Over Mohammed’

If you thought the cartoons were bad, more on the Fitna movie here.  Libertarians stand firm on this issue:  Repost-A Canadian Libertarian Making Noise: Ezra Levant

Christopher Hitchens At Slate: Yale SurrendersYale concluded that the risk of violence and the potential consequences that stemmed from their decision to publish a scholarly work about the Mohammed cartoons (reprinting those cartoons) was not worth the risk.

It’s a big assumption to make: From YouTube: Roger Scruton On Religious Freedom, Islam & Atheism

Add to Technorati Favorites

Denis Dutton R.I.P.-December 28th, 2010

Sadly, like everyone else who visited the Arts & Letters Daily today, I found out that its founder, Denis Dutton, has passed away.

After linking to his turn on Bloggingheads over a year ago, he left a comment and asked me to review his book, ‘The Art Instinct’.  I was flattered, accepted, and wrote what can really only be termed a brief commentary on the book.  While I didn’t know him beyond this contact, his website (one of the best out there), his book, and his thinking have influenced me a good deal. I’m grateful for his example and saddened by his death.

My condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.  R.I.P.

Edge has more here, including a video explaining what might have moved Dutton most.

Denis Dutton by wnyc

Related On This Site:  Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’

From Bloggingheads: Denis Dutton On His New Book: ‘The Art Instinct’A Few More Thoughts On Denis Dutton’s New Book: ‘The Art Instinct’

Add to Technorati Favorites

Franz De Waal At The NY Times 10/17/10: ‘Morals Without God?’

Full piece here.

“Charles Darwin was interested in how morality fits the human-animal continuum…”


“Unfortunately, modern popularizers have strayed from these insights. Like Robert Wright in “The Moral Animal,” they argue that true moral tendencies cannot exist — not in humans and even less in other animals — since nature is one hundred percent selfish. Morality is just a thin veneer over a cauldron of nasty tendencies.”

And in addressing the Creationist debate:

“Such findings have implications for human morality. According to most philosophers, we reason ourselves towards a moral position. Even if we do not invoke God, it is still a top-down process of us formulating the principles and then imposing those on human conduct.”

Of course, this leaves De Waal in a position against idealism in philosophy (that any of our knowledge exists beyond our senses, either as coming from a transcendent God, Rationalism, Platonism, Kantian Transcendental Idealism, Absolute Idealism/Hegelianism etc).  Everything known is a product of our sensory experience, on this view, including his own theories and empirical research with the primates.  That’s a deep debate:

“Instead, I am a firm believer in the Humean position that reason is the slave of the passions. We started out with moral sentiments and intuitions, which is also where we find the greatest continuity with other primates.”

See Also: David Hume, Idealism,

Addition:  Of course one big fear is that some evo-psy, cog-sci theories converging back to Humean empiricism can be used to support a political ideology that seeks to supplant religious morality, and it might be worth imagining a society in which the chips are down for someone with political and moneyed interest in using like theories to suppress opposition, coercion.  I often think of this when the Catholic church is taken to task by post-modern pop thought (when did psychology become the default undergraduate major anyways?).  A rational fear?  Perhaps, but likely not a sustained response to the depth of the theories.

Also On This Site: Maybe if you’re defending religion, Nietzsche is a problematic reference: Dinesh D’Souza And Daniel Dennett at Tufts University: Nietzsche’s Prophesy…

-Jesse Prinz argues that morals too, have roots in emotions, and argues that evo-psy/cog-sci should get back to British Empiricism, with some Nietzsche thrown in, among other things-More On Jesse Prinz. A Review Of “The Emotional Construction Of Morals” At Notre DameJesse Prinz Discusses “The Emotional Construction Of Morals” On Bloggingheads. Another Note On Jesse Prinz’s “Constructive Sentimentalism”

-Denis Dutton (of The Arts & Letters Daily) suggest art go forth into Darwinian territory:  From Bloggingheads: Denis Dutton On His New Book: ‘The Art Instinct’A Few More Thoughts On Denis Dutton’s New Book: ‘The Art Instinct’

-Does Leo Strauss effectively offer a way around what he saw as an uncessary removal of religious thinking from moral philosophy…do you need the esotericism?:  Harry Jaffa At The Claremont Institute: ‘Leo Strauss, the Bible, and Political Philosophy’

-Taking religion out of the laws, and replacing it with a Millian/Aristelolian framework?: Repost: Martha Nussbaum Channels Roger Williams In The New Republic: The First Founder…From First Things Via The A & L Daily: ‘In Defense Of Disgust’

Add to Technorati Favorites

From Volokh: ‘A Possible Endorsement Test Case for the U.S. Supreme Court?’

Full post here.

In the news:

“Yesterday, the Tenth Circuit voted 5–4 not to rehear the Utah roadside cross memorial case, American Atheists, Inc. v. Duncan. The result, and the forceful dissents from denial of rehearing en banc, make it likely that the Supreme Court will agree to hear the case, and perhaps overturn the Establishment Clause endorsement test.”


“Still, on balance I think it’s pretty likely that the Court will take the case, reverse the Tenth Circuit, and use the opportunity to reject the endorsement test that a majority of the Justices dislike.”

Comments are worth a read.

Related On This Site:  Repost: From The Strasbourg Observers: ‘Remembering Lautsi (And The Cross)’…Sometimes a cross isn’t just a cross, as Stanley Fish notes. From Law At The End Of The Day: ‘Torn Between Religion And Law In Spain’

Add to Technorati Favorites

Alvaro Vargas Llosa At Real Clear Politics: “Pakistan’s Crooked Roots”

Full post here.

Our author suggests:

“Pakistan’s original sin — the reason for its instability, its dysfunctional politics, and the penetration of its state and society by religious fanaticism — was the brutal influence of military rule in that republic’s short life. And it still is.”

Related On This Site:  From Michael Yon: ‘General Petraeus Letter’Dexter Filkins Book On Afghanistan And Iraq: “The Forever War”Greg Mortenson On Charlie Rose: Afghanistan And PakistanFrom Bloomberg: More Troops To Afghanistan? A Memo From Henry Kissinger To Gerald Ford?

From The Atlantic: Samuel Huntington’s Death And Life’s WorkA Few Thoughts On The FATA Region Of PakistanFrom The New Perspectives Quarterly: Francis Fukuyama’s ‘Is America Ready for a Post-American World?’

Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa (Alvaro’s father) won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Add to Technorati Favorites

From Reason: ‘Still Rotten’

Full piece here.

Our authors argue:

“Even more worryingly, freedom of expression has become a proxy debate for those on both the left and right, often becoming a debate about being either “for” or “against” Muslim immigration. On the multicultural left in Denmark, many leading figures still view the cartoons at best as an unnecessary and gratuitous offence against Muslims and, at worst, as a form of hate-speech comparable to the infamous anti-Semitic cartoons found in Der Stürmer.”

No surprises, really:

“Not only do the multiculturalists fail to protect freedom of expression against the increasing threat of violence from religious fundamentalists—which is most often directed at the dissident voices of Muslim gays, women, and apostates—but they infantilize Muslims by assuming that they require special protections from criticism and satire.”

and of the right:

“The conservative, nationalist right, which often adopted a libertarian defense of freedom of expression when defending the cartoons, has been less interested in upholding this right when it comes to issues that conflict with its own cherished values.”

Also On This Site:  Let’s continue to avoid that some of that mess:  Many libertarians stand firm on freedom of speech:  Repost-A Canadian Libertarian Making Noise: Ezra LevantFrom Reason: ‘Mohammad Cartoonist Lars Vilks Headbutted During Lecture’From The OC Jewish Experience: ‘UC Irvine Muslim Student Union Suspended’From Volokh: ‘”South Park” Creators Warned (Threatened) Over Mohammed’Christopher Hitchens At Slate: Yale SurrendersYale concluded that the risk of violence and the potential consequences that stemmed from their decision to publish a scholarly work about the Mohammed cartoons (reprinting those cartoons) was not worth the risk.

Via YouTube: ‘Christopher Hitchens Vs. Ahmed Younis On CNN (2005)’

A British Muslim tells his story, suggesting that classical liberalism wouldn’t be a bad idea: From ‘Introduction: How Salman Rushdie Changed My Life’

Add to Technorati Favorites

From Foreign Affairs: ‘From The Archives: Afghanistan’

Full post here.

Foreign Affairs digs through it’s archive to address specific, current problems.

Also On This Site:  From Tom Ricks: ‘Gentile: How I Would Revise The Army’s Counterinsurgency Manual’From March 27th, 2009 At WhiteHouse.Gov: Remarks By The President On A New Strategy For Afghanistan And PakistanRepost-From Michael Yon: ‘The Battle For Kandahar’

Do we try and invest in global institutions as flawed as they are?:  Daniel Deudney On YouTube Responding to Robert Kagan: Liberal Democracy Vs. AutocracyRepost: Daniel Deudney on Bloggingheads… Speaking of Russia:  Obama’s Decision On Missile Defense And A Quote From Robert Kagan’s: ‘The Return Of History And The End Of Dreams’

Add to Technorati Favorites

From First Things Via The A & L Daily: ‘In Defense Of Disgust’

Full piece here.

Our author, Joe Carter, puts up an argument against Martha Nussbaum‘s work:

Those who reject the concept of the wisdom of repugnance must be prepared to deliver solid arguments against incest, bestiality, necrophilia, and other moral horrors that lie within the Pandora’s Box of taboo behaviors. If all ethical arguments must withstand the rigors of analytical reasoning then we will have to reject a great deal of our deepest moral presuppositions. Are we prepared to do that in order that radical individualism may advance unimpeded?

You’ve probably been hearing the slippery slope argument for a while, and may find the logic compelling.  There is a deep debate here, about what moral-philosophical framework we use in order to base our moral thinking and thus our laws (Nussbaum isolates disgust from other emotions as particularly unreliable, and argues it does not justify moral censure through law).  She offers her own framework as an alternative.

The comments hold a lively debate.

Also On This Site:  Taking religion out of the laws, and replacing it with a Millian/Aristelolian framework?: Repost: Martha Nussbaum Channels Roger Williams In The New Republic: The First Founder…From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum

What are some examples of the dangers of post-Enlightenment reason? (Nussbaum offers examples of Nazism taking advatage of disgust):  A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”…did Leo Strauss offer an alternative? (he argued that Nazism is a post Enlightenment pursuit the nihilistic logic inherent in modernity):  From Peter Berkowitz At Harvard: ‘The Reason Of Revelation: The Jewish Thought Of Leo Strauss’…Strauss was worried that even Edmund Burke had succumbed to what he termed ‘historicism’: Some Quotations From Leo Strauss On Edmund Burke In ‘Natural Right And History’

Repost-Steven Weinberg’s Essay ‘On God’ In The NY Times Review Of Books

How does Natural Law Philosophy deal with these problems, and those of knowledge?

Add to Technorati Favorites