Friday, December 22, 2006

Appearing in Michigan

I will be speaking at an upcoming meeting of the Freethought Association of West Michigan in Grand Rapids, Michigan on Wednesday, January 24 (2007) at 7pm. This is open to the general public. For more information see the appropriate entry on the Association's Calendar page and Directions page. I will be selling and signing my book Sense and Goodness without God after the talk.

The subject will be Sense and Goodness without God, but I will not simply be summarizing my book. I shall focus on the secular foundations of morality and discuss how every other branch of naturalism as a philosophical worldview (epistemology, metaphysics, aesthetics and politics) is inexorably linked to ethical thinking. For this I will draw from my book, but I will also go beyond it, including new discussions of the connection between
moral philosophy and the aesthetics of cinema, the role of moral psychology in religious vs. secular ethical thought, and connections between the formal logic and practical applications of my goal theory of moral propositions.

I will also be speaking earlier in the same day (3-4pm) at Grand Valley State University, on the same topic but focusing even more on issues of moral psychology, but I don't know how open to the public that event will be.

10 comments:

Ryan said...

Not to be mean-spirited here or anything but...

Why don't you publish something on your ethical theory, worldview, or your epistemology for that matter (which looks to be just the standard strong internalist foundationalism), in an actual mainstream peer reviewed philosophical journal, rather than pushing out a book without publically testing your ideas against the critiques of actual naturalist and non-naturalist members of the guild you claim to belong to (philosophers) and preaching to the choir at freethinker rallies? Have any of the philosophical journals even reviewed this book? Or was it intended to fly under the radar?

Since you think epistemology is bound up with normativity, is this really the most truth-conducive (and thus ethical) methodology?

Ryan

NQbass7 said...

A local college campus in Grand Rapids? Calvin College, perhaps? That would be interesting if you were speaking there.

John W. Loftus said...

Richard, I'm putting this on my calander! I'll plan on being there. Look for the guy with the cowboy hat!

Bilbo Bloggins said...

Here's a question for you, Richard.

If epistemology is normative, can there be moral reasons to believe in propositions, even when all of the available evidence weighs heavily against them?

thx,

Bilbo

Juno Walker said...

Richard -

I've enjoyed your articles and essays on the Infidel site, and of course your "Sense and Goodness Without God".

I've recently started a blog called Dasein & Dharma

It's a chronicle of my attempt to live the naturalistic worldview.

It would be great if you could check it out when you have a chance. I'm always interested in having people join the conversation over there.

Best,
Juno

Richard Carrier said...

Ryan: Why don't you publish something on your ethical theory, worldview, or your epistemology for that matter (which looks to be just the standard strong internalist foundationalism), in an actual mainstream peer reviewed philosophical journal...?

I did. I published a paper in Biology & Philosophy (see my entry on Yockey below) and another is due to appear in Philo this year. I have other papers planned. Likewise, a good 90% or more of the claims in my book have already been published in peer reviewed journals--by scientists and other philosophers.

But you can't publish a whole worldview in a single journal article. Hence to explain to people what and why I believe, and to help others in their quest to find the most plausible and useful worldview, I had to publish where I am as far as my worldview beliefs and the reasons for them.

Later I will start addressing specific elements of my worldview in individual articles in peer reviewed journals, and have many half-completed (including one on ethicology and another on naturalist cosmology), though my dissertation work takes precedence until I have my Ph.D., so all those papers have been shelved for now. I also, of course, have a great deal of half-finished papers to publish in the area of ancient history.

Ryan: ...rather than pushing out a book without publically testing your ideas against the critiques of actual naturalist and non-naturalist members of the guild you claim to belong to (philosophers) and preaching to the choir at freethinker rallies?

Publishing a book exactly is an opportunity to test my ideas against critiques of other philosophers (and scientists). I welcome all to read and critique my ideas, and indeed I specifically ask in my book for opportunities to improve or correct my views in light of that. As for why I am only speaking at atheist events, that's because only atheist groups are funding my appearances. As soon as philosophers pay my airfare and hotel, I'll do their conferences, too. Otherwise, how can I afford to go?

Meanwhile, by getting my book widespread attention in the atheist community, I have already brought my book to the attention of naturalist and anti-naturalist philosophers, and the more I do, the more attention my book gets, which will hopefully generate useful criticism from my philosophical peers. Since the atheists are paying for this, it's the only publicity I can afford.

But if I could pay every philosopher in the country to read and respond to my book, I would do so. Are you offering to finance such a project?

Ryan: Have any of the philosophical journals even reviewed this book? Or was it intended to fly under the radar?

Certainly not. It is actually not possible to compel a philosophy journal to review a book. They rarely even accept unsolicited books for review. So if you know of any way to get any professional journal to write a review of my book, by all means make it happen.

Ryan: Since you think epistemology is bound up with normativity, is this really the most truth-conducive (and thus ethical) methodology?

I'm not sure what the word "this" refers to in the above sentence. Do you mean my methodology? Then the answer is yes, I do believe my methodology is (in outline) the most truth-selective and ethical methodology I know, which is precisely why I employ and endorse it. But I am keen to hear of anything you think is better. Read my book and then explain in an email to me (following the instructions and using the email address in the first chapter of my book) how your candidate methodology is better.

Richard Carrier said...

Bilbo Bloggins: If epistemology is normative, can there be moral reasons to believe in propositions, even when all of the available evidence weighs heavily against them?

In my worldview this state of affairs is logically impossible. As my book argues, since moral conclusions must be based on what the true facts are (in order for those moral conclusions themselves to be true), it would not be logically possible for moral conclusions to override conclusions about the facts, since the former are constructed from the latter and therefore they must be consistent.

Since moral facts are constructed from all other facts, there is never a case where a "moral fact" dictates any other fact, since it must always be the other way around. In other words, if a moral fact contradicts any other fact (as would have to be the case if you imagined you had a moral reason to deny what is otherwise obviously true, or believe what is otherwise obviously false), it is the moral fact that is proved false by that contradiction, not the pre-moral fact. Thus, on my worldview, if you think you have a moral reason to deny the obvious, there must be something wrong with your morals.

As to why this follows, you will have to read my book, to understand how and why moral facts are constructed from basic facts. Nothing further of much use could be said on this obscure question without a concrete example to analyze.

All this, however, is different from the question of, say, white lies (which do not pertain to what you actually believe) or warranted risk-taking.

For an example of the example, a gambler does not need to believe he will win in order to be warranted in placing a bet. In fact, he can (and usually ought to) believe he will probably lose. But so long as he can afford to lose the bet, or has no realistic option but to bet, placing the bet can be justified. But since this does not require harboring false beliefs, it is not relevant to your question.

Richard Carrier said...

I've just learned I will be speaking at a local college as well (Grand Valley State University) earlier in the same day. I've amended my original post accordingly. But as I note there, I don't know how open to the public this event will be.

John W. Loftus said...

Richard, just contact the philosophical journals you want to review your book. I know it's hard with self-published books, since mine is too. But a couple of evangelical journals (one very prominent) have promised reviews of my book. I just aksed them if they would want to review it and they said yes.

I would love for some rich atheist to buy up thousands of copies of our books and have secular student organizations distribute them for free on university campuses just like Christians fund the distribution of Josh Mcowell's books. I think this money would be better spent than on the funding of litigatons in our court systems for atheist rights, don't you...in the long run, yes?

By the way, there is a raging debate going on with David Wood and others on the problem of evil. Our reviews of the debate have been posted here, and my opening statement has been posted here. My further responses to David Wood can be found by clicking on a few of the top links here.

I know how much you and Mr. Wood get along *cough*. Maybe you'd want to weigh in?

Richard Carrier said...

John, just for time management I'll leave that battle to you. Let me know how it turns out, after the dust has settled.