Reductio Against Literalism in Scriptural Ethics?

I’m heartened enough by Jonathan Brack’s response to my Philosophy for Theologians review to put out this rather lengthy open question to them or any readers who might fall into a comparable category: I find it’s easy to be cordial about metaphysical differences and have a live-and-let-live approach (or even something more productive/interactive) to matters […]

“Philosophy for Theologians” on Aquinas and Other Topics


In a recent post I recommended the “Philosophy for Theologians” podcast for more information about Hume on miracles. I’ve now listened to their first several episodes and can give a more comprehensive (both in the sense of covering more of there work and in the sense that I better understand their point) evaluation. First, this […]

Topic for #45: Moral Sense Theory: Hume and Smith

Here’s the recorded episode. In Ep. 41, we discussed David Hume’s ethics both providing a challenge for any naturalist (meaning one compatible with a modern scientific world-view) ethics–you can’t deduce “ought” from “is”–and as providing an approach to moral psychology. In this discussion, we grappled with selections from Hume’s Treatise of Human Nature (1740) and […]

Carol Gilligan vs. Christina Hoff Sommers

In an attempt to provide some of the criticism to Carol Gilligan’s claims about female moral development, I found this exchange from the Atlantic online between Gilligan and “former philosophy professor” Christina Hoff Sommers, who had written an article called “The War Against Boys” in 2000, which blamed Gilligan for establishing a false picture of […]

Against Hume on Miracles: Ronald Nash and Daniel Schrock

No one (I think) came forward with citations against Hume’s stance on miracles in response to my post, so I did a bit of listening to available options on iTunes about this issue to see if it would do the job: First, episode 15 of this “Christian Apologetics” course by the late Ronald H. Nash […]

Film Review: “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men”

Entirely relevant to our feminism episode is this film directed/adapted by John K. from “The Office” from the novel by David Foster Wallace, which I’ve not read. Is it amusing to see numerous comic actors give monologues that display keenly that self-consciousness–philosophical reflection–does not guarantee virtue? Yes. Does it (in its cinematic form) amount to […]

Hume on Miracles Revisited

Chapter 1 of the Mackie book covers Hume’s account of miracles, which we discussed in our Hume epistemology episode. One of our blog commenters here mentioned offhand that he thought that argument had been long discredited, which was a surprise to me. You can review the argument at Wikipedia here. Basically it boils down to […]

An Agnostic Ponders Swinburne’s Simplicity Argument

Mark Vernon, writer and former priest, had a piece on his website a while back addressing Swinburne’s argument for the existence of God. Swinburne’s argument is a a variation on the traditional God as the “uncaused cause” argument, with a twist in appealing to the “simplest explanation is the best explanation” rule.

“The theism hypothesis is that God wills to create something that is good. We are it – inasmuch as we can choose what is good, that is act morally. Alongside the moral universe, the inanimate universe governed by laws of nature is the evidence, as well as being the environment necessary for the existence of creatures with the capacity to do good. And the thesis is simple, though it explains something that is very complicated. It involves postulating one ‘thing’ (God) with two infinite properties (omnipotence and omniscience) and one absence of a property (not subject to the irrational).”

Thomas Aquinas in Three Minutes

[Editor’s Note: I’ve evidently had mixed luck in getting our podcasts guests to join in our blogging (Azzurra, Josh, and Sabrina, this means you!), but Robert here is has been eager to join in. You can read much more of him at  -ML] If you find working your way through the Summa Theologica or […]

Feminist Music Challenge Wrap-Up

OK, I promised (in this post) to report the results of my immersion in all-female music, so here goes: With only female singing voices assailing me, what my ear considered normal quickly adjusted, until a high and sweet voice seemed simply optimal to cut through a musical background: why would low-voice growlers like myself even […]

Partially Naked Self-Examination Music Blog: I Believe

Listen to “I Believe.” This tune owes much in its conception to the old Steve Martin bit “What I Believe,” but I used that rough format to express, back in 2002 when I wrote the bulk of this (calling it “Stalking George Burns”), something about my actual, momentary beliefs (when I’m at worst); or distilling […]

Are Men Naturally Predisposed to Excel in Life?

Watch on YouTube A 1999 episode of In Our Time was ostensibly about “feminism,” but in fact addressed a narrower and more pressing issue: Are men “by nature more competitive, ambitious, status-conscious, dedicated, single-minded and persevering than women”? And if so, doesn’t that mean men are biologically better disposed than women to achieve material success? And […]

Autonomy and Moral Development: Piaget/Kohlberg/Gilligan

For a little more detail on how Gilligan’s account of moral development differs from and responds to those of her predecessors, check out this page from the U. of Illinois Office for Studies in Moral Development and Education. Given that it’s aimed at educators, the emphasis is on how schools can affect moral development. I […]

Topic for #44: “New Atheism”

We have long promised to more systematically cover these guys who generate so much fun sniping on our blog here, and as of last Sunday, the full as-of-now-regular podcaster lineup (myself, Seth, Wes, and Dylan; we will still have some guests on, though) recorded a discussion of: -The first two chapters of Sam Harris’s The […]

Carol Gilligan on Freud and “Voice”

We mentioned on the episode Gilligan’s opposition to Freud. In this clip, Gilligan discusses a methodological difference in analyzing women’s self-reporting (much of the content of In a Different Voice): Watch on YouTube. She claims that rather than imposing your theory (in this case that the patient knows more than she is willing or able […]

Partially Naked Self-Examination Music Blog: Songs for My Parents

Listen to “Mother’s Day” and “Poppo!”. Two very different but equally unfit-for-regular-public-consumption songs here. I wrote “Mother’s Day” in September 2007 to send to my mom. She’d been diagnosed with an especially nasty kind of cancer the previous summer, and I’d spent time with her during her surgery and treatment. I was just depressed, and […]

What is a Philosophical Explanation?

On some comments to a recent post by Mark on Sam Harris and the ought/is distinction, I noted that Harris assumes that “happiness” (or “flourishing”) is an un-problematic concept — a well-established ruler against which one can easily measure the success or failure of behaviors. Hence when he claims that science can tell us what […]